Many months have passed since Rev. Eva Brunne was consecrated as (the Lutheran) bishop of Stockholm. Shortly after it’d happened, we posted a short note on this event with two links – to an interview with Rt. Rev. Brunne in Gazeta Wyborcza and to a German text about her in Frankfurter Rundschau. We promised then to translate the latter article into English and Polish. Recently Lisette and Matthias reminded us that we have never fulfilled this promise. What is more, they offerrd their help. Lisette translated it into English, and Matthias into Polish. Naturally, we accepted their assistance with gratitude and now publish both the translations.
She is a bishop – and a lesbian
In Sweden the 55 year old Eva Brunne was consecrated bishop of Stockholm. Small notice: Brunne is openly lesbian. By Hannes Gamillscheg
There are churches in which women are not allowed to be consecrated, let alone to be in the office of a bishop. There are churches that consider homosexuality sin and exclude gays and lesbians from the sacraments. And there are churches that have left behind discrimination on the ground of gender or sexual preference.
The Lutheran Church in Sweden belongs to the latter category. In this church the 55 year old Eva Brunne has now been chosen bishop of Stockholm. She is, as far as known, the first woman worldwide in such a high church office to come out into the open as lesbian.
Characteristic of the atmosphere in Sweden is that Brunne’s homosexuality did not play any role in the election. The fact that the candidate, consecrated in 1978 as a pastor, is living in a registrated partnership with Gunilla Lindén – also a pastor in the “Svenska Kyrkan”- is well known and only for a small fundamentalist minority a reason for agitation. Brunne was the favorite of the church basis in the election by the pastors of the diocese of Stockholm.
Her adherents speak highly of her “natural authority”, her ability to rouse to enthusiasm and her proficiency in “seeing the whole” and not loosing oneself in details. In the first voting she already led the way among eight candidates, in the second ballot she won with 413 against 365 votes against the last competitors.
She stands up for an open church and mentions the change-over to adjustment to a multiethnic multireligious society as the biggest challenge. “Diversity is a great treasure” she says. “Glad and proud” she says she is, to be part of a Lutheran church, in which “independent people take position themselves and take up responsibility.”
After 16 years as a pastor in Stockholm, she has recently been working in the bishop office. In her spare time she reads crime novels along with theology and she practices carpentry . “What one wouldn’t to become like Jesus…”, she comments on her hobby with her specific self irony
While there are more gay bishops in the world – in the USA Gene Robinson was given the opportunity to lead prayer at the inauguration of president Obama – Brunne is the first lesbian bishop. This will not change much as to how she runs her office. In the case of solemnization of homosexual marriages she doesn’t have to reform the attitude of the church.
The attitude is already there. Her predecessor Caroline Krook was the first woman on the bishop seat of Stockholm. In Swedish church circles too there was controversy about the question if gay marriage should be blessed in church. She clearly pronounced a positive judgment on this. The fact that Brunne has a three year old son born from her female partner, is “no big issue”, according to her, “in the bishop yard there is much room. Why shouldn’t a female bishop have little children?”