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CHURCH

Ex-dean: ‘blow up unused Swedish churches’

As the number of churchgoers in Sweden dwindles ever further, a former dean has suggested the best thing to do with the almost unused buildings is demolish them.

Ex-dean: 'blow up unused Swedish churches'

H.B. Hammar, former dean and associate professor of ethics, writes in an opinion piece in the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper, that as so many churches are used rarely if ever across the country, pulling them down entirely would cause less uproar than selling them on for speculative redevelopment.

The figures are alarming, he writes.

The number of confirmations has dropped from around 80,000 in 1970, to some 35,000 today and over the same period, regular church visitors on a Sunday have slipped from nine million to about 4.6 million.

Today, says Hammar of the 3,384 churches in Sweden, many are used at most, once a month.

This leaves many lying empty and in great need of repair. With paying members of the church decreasing by the year, there is a clear economic crisis looming, argues Hammar.

The choices left are to carry on regardless, ”mothball” those hardly ever being used, sell them to raise funds for the church, or finally, the best option according to him, to tear them down.

Hammar emphasises that he would not wish to pull down churches surrounded by cemeteries, but others could give way for other communal activities.

”To pass on the inevitable decision to future generations is an expression of cowardice. To dare to tear them down is to show courage. A church where they willingly come together to worship does not risk becoming a ruin,” Hammer concludes.

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SEX

Swedish pastor admits to buying sex

A pastor from central Sweden has been convicted of buying sex from a prostitute after being nabbed when police broke up a major pimping operation.

Swedish pastor admits to buying sex

The pastor, a man in his early fifties, was ordered to pay a fine of 15,000 kronor ($2,300) and has been temporarily relieved of his duties with the Church of Sweden (Svenska kyrkan).

“What I did was really stupid and it’s something I deeply regret,” the pastor told the Expressen newspaper.

The pastor was home by himself looking at the websites of various escort services before deciding to call one of the numbers.

He requested to have a woman come to his home address where police, who had been tracking a suspected pimping operation with ties to Romania, were on hand to watch the pastor let the woman into his home.

The pastor then paid the woman 1,500 kronor before they both disrobed and engaged in sexual intercourse, he admitted to police during a subsequent interrogation, Expressen reported.

The case was tied to a large pimping operation through which young women from Romania were sold for sex to clients in Sweden. The operation was managed through a call-centre based in Romania.

“These woman were used as if they were on a conveyor belt,” detective Anders Nilshagen of the police’s human trafficking section told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

Four men have since been convicted for their role in running the pimping ring, which was in operation for 18 months.

Meanwhile, he pastor has been temporarily stripped of his duties in the wake of the sex buying scandal.

“This can’t happen. It’s totally unacceptable,” Church of Sweden spokesman Pär Sandberg told DN.

The cathedral chapter is set to review the pastor’s case later this month and take a stand on his future with the church.

TT/The Local/dl

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