Svenska kyrkan

The Church of Sweden to apologise for abuse of the Sami at special service of worship

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During the special service of worship concluding the General Synod on 24 November, Archbishop Antje Jackelén will make an official apology from the Church of Sweden to the Sami for historical abuse.

Photo: Gustaf Hellsing/IKON
Photo: Gustaf Hellsing/IKON

On Wednesday 24 November, the Church of Sweden will make an official apology to the Sami. This will take place at a special service of worship in Uppsala Cathedral in the presence of the General Synod, representatives of the Sami and Swedish society and international witnesses. For the church, it is natural that an event of such great importance takes place within the setting of a service.  The service is the General Synod’s special service of worship held every four years, when the outgoing and incoming General Synods come together.

“We must acknowledge the dark history, even though it is painful. When we have failed the Sami, we have also failed ourselves and God,” says Archbishop Antje Jackelén and continues: 
“This is an important step forward following the Sami Council of the Church of Sweden’s statement that the truth and reconciliation process has reached the point where it is appropriate for the Church of Sweden to issue an apology.”

In June 2021, the Central Board of the Church of Sweden decided that an official apology would be made to the Sami. As part of the reconciliation process, work is also underway on eight commitments, and objectives for the Church of Sweden’s work on the process over the next ten years. The Central Board is allocating SEK 40 million in strategic development funds for the work during the ten-year period 2022–2031 to meet the Church of Sweden’s commitments.

The eight commitments of the Church of Sweden

  • Preach the gospel in the Sami languages and in a manner that is culturally relevant for the Sami, while respecting the Sami spiritual and ecclesiastical tradition.
  • Make Sami spirituality, theology and ecclesiastical tradition visible within the Church of Sweden.
  • Help strengthen and revitalise the Sami languages in the activities of the Church of Sweden.
  • Increase knowledge and awareness of the Church’s historical relations with and abuse against the Sami and the consequences of these.
  • Expand knowledge of and respect for the principles of indigenous rights within the Church of Sweden and in society.
  • Increase the influence and participation of the Sami in the Church of Sweden.
  • Strengthen the identity and spiritual development of Sami children and young people.
  • Promote transnational Sami ecclesiastical life.

The commitments, affirmed by all diocesan boards, provide a clear direction for the Church of Sweden’s continued work on reconciliation with the Sami. On this basis, the dialogue with the Sami Council and dioceses on an action plan will continue, including measures to implement the respective commitments and follow up the apology by taking practical action.

The official apology will be made on two occasions: firstly at the General Synod’s special service of worship on Wednesday 24 November at 2:30 pm in Uppsala Cathedral, and secondly at the planned Ságastallamat conference 2 in Luleå on 21–23 October 2022.

PRESS ACCREDITATION AND PRESS CONFERENCE

Please send your name, editorial office and mobile phone number in an email to press@svenskakyrkan.se by 5pm on Monday 22 November at the latest. Enter “Accreditation” in the subject line.

Journalists/photographers covering the General Synod’s special service of worship with the apology to the Sami must wear name tags. These can be collected from the vestry in Uppsala Cathedral. Press seats will be located at the front of the side aisle, near the high altar, and must be occupied by 2:15 pm at the latest.
Immediately after the service, a short press conference with several of the participants will be held by the choir steps towards the front of the church.

PHOTOGRAPHY
During the service, photographs may only be taken from the vantage point set up for this purpose at the front beside the high altar, and only during certain parts of the service. More information will be provided on site.

WATCH THE SERVICE LIVE
The service will be broadcast live via the Church of Sweden’s website https://www.svenskakyrkan.se/nyheter/kyrkomotets-hogtidsgudstjanst-med-ursakt-till-det-samiska-folket

MORE INFORMATION

Press realeses:

Eight commitments in the work on reconciliation with the Sámi people

Official apology will be made to the Sami people

Contacts

Images

Photo: Gustaf Hellsing/IKON
Photo: Gustaf Hellsing/IKON
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The Church of Sweden is a national church, open to everyone living in Sweden regardless of nationality. It is a place for church services, meetings and dialogue. The Church of Sweden is an Evangelical Lutheran church with 5,9 million members. There are 3500 churches in Sweden, and 13 dioceses.

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Collaborating and cooperating with other churches and organisations is at the core of the Church of Sweden´s international mission.  As a church, we are part of the worldwide community of churches.

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