Eva Brunne, who was made the world’s first openly lesbian bishop by the church of Sweden in 2009, and has a young son with her wife and fellow lesbian priest Gunilla Linden, made the suggestion to make those of other faiths more welcome.
The church targeted is the Seamen’s mission church in Stockholm’s eastern dockyards. The Bishop held a meeting there this year and challenged the priest to explain what he’d do if a ship’s crew came into port who weren’t Christian but wanted to pray.
Calling Muslim guests to the church “angels“, the Bishop later took to her official blog to explain that removing Christian symbols from the church and preparing the building for Muslim prayer doesn’t make a priest any less a defender of the faith. Rather, to do any less would make one “stingy towards people of other faiths”.
The bishop insisted this wasn’t an issue, after all airports and hospitals already had multi-faith prayer rooms, and converting the dockyard church would only bring it up to speed. Regardless, the announcement has aroused protest.
Father Patrik Pettersson, one of the priests in her diocese and active in the same parish as the Seaman’s mission church has hit back in a blog of his own, complaining there is no way you could equate a consecrated church with a prayer room, remarking “I should have thought a bishop would be able to tell the difference”.