Church of Sweden sacks bishop over extramarital affair

AFP/The Local
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Church of Sweden sacks bishop over extramarital affair
In a rare move, the Church of Sweden has sacked the bishop of Visby. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

The Church of Sweden has fired a bishop for 'breaking his marital vows', officials said.


It's the first such dismissal since the Lutheran Church and Swedish state formally separated in 2000.

Thomas Petersson, bishop of the Visby diocese on the island of Gotland, was fired after he and seven clerics reported the extramarital affair, which lasted several years, to the church's disciplinary board.


The bishop "effective immediately no longer has the authority to serve as a bishop, priest or deacon in the Church of Sweden", the disciplinary board said.

"This is the first time since the separation of the Church of Sweden and the state in the year 2000 that a bishop is banned from performing the church's services," said Robert Schott, head of the disciplinary board, calling it a "unique and historic decision".

The bishop had "broken his marital vows" in the relationship with a member of his diocese and his actions "considerably damaged the reputation a bishop should have", the board added.

"Such an event is of course painful for everyone involved and for the whole church," Archbishop Antje Jackelen told a press conference.

The Church of Sweden counts around 5.8 million members, in a country of 10.3 million. Before 1996 children automatically became members if their parents were members.


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