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Chaplaincy

Hospital chaplaincy

There is presently no specific Swedish law regulating the presence of religion in the medical care system apart from general laws against discrimination and equal treatment of all people (...)

There is presently no specific Swedish law regulating the presence of religion in the medical care system apart from general laws against discrimination and equal treatment of all people regardless of ethnic belonging, religion, or other beliefs (SFS 2008:567). The role of the state is limited to giving support to faith communities outside the Church of Sweden and to coordinate pastoral care in the medical care system. The Swedish Commission for Government Support to Faith Communities (Nämnden för statligt stöd till trossamfund, SST) which is a state authority under the Ministry of Culture, has given the Swedish Free Churches Coordination Committee the task to coordinate pastoral care at hospitals and in other parts of the medical care system. Two persons are employed for this task. They cooperate with the Church of Sweden, the Roman Catholic Church, the Islamic Cooperation Committee and the Orthodox Churches Cooperation Committee. The Church of Sweden has one part time coordinator for their work in this field.
Altogether, there are around 350 persons working with pastoral care at the hospitals under the common label Hospital Church (Sjukhuskyrkan). About 300 of them are Church of Sweden pastors and deacons, and 40 are from other traditional Swedish Christian denominations. The Roman Catholic Church have eight priests or nuns connected to this work; three in Stockholm, one in Gothenburg and five in Malmö. The Orthodox Churches have two 25% priests at the hospitals in Linköping and Gothenburg. Three Muslim coordinators working 25% are linked to the hospitals in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Örebro (figures are from 2011).
The Church of Sweden personnel are paid by Church of Sweden at local and regional level without any state support, while the other faith communities get financial support from the state covering approximately 25% of the personnel cost. This state support is administered by the Swedish Free Churches Coordination Committee on behalf of the Swedish Commission for Government Support to Faith Communities, SST. It is regulated by two acts and one regulation: The Act on Faith Communities (SFS 1998:1593), The Act on support to Faith Communities (SFS 1999:932) and the Regulation on State Subsidies to Faith Communities (SFS 1999:974). In 2010, 570.000 Euro were distributed from the state to the faith communities (excluding the Church of Sweden) for this work.

D 21 May 2014    APer Pettersson

Prison chaplaincy

Swedish prisons are administrated by the Swedish prison and probation service (Kriminalvården). All inmates are entitled to pursue their faith or religion and to follow the dictates of that faith (...)

Swedish prisons are administrated by the Swedish prison and probation service (Kriminalvården). All inmates are entitled to pursue their faith or religion and to follow the dictates of that faith while they are in prison, regardless of which particular faith the inmate follows.
Most institutions have a priest from the Swedish Church and a pastor from a free church. At the larger institutions, there may be priests from the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, Muslim imams, lay workers or parish assistants. These usually hold religious services and other meetings. The larger institutions have special chapels or special rooms for worship or for religious meetings. There are roughly 140 priests, pastors and deacons in the Swedish prison service. Their task is to meet the inmates’ needs of private conversation, arrange group meetings and church services, and provide education and guidance in ethical and existential issues. Part of the prison chaplains’ work is to help those in prison to find a representative of their faith and religion.
Each prison has a council for spiritual welfare called Nav. This group is responsible for the spiritual welfare of the inmates, in other words it aims at helping those in prison with, for example, questions about faith and the meaning of life. Nav includes prison chaplains and others. The Christian Council of Sweden (SKR) trains prison chaplains so
that they are specially geared to ministering to the spiritual needs of prisoners. SKR is an ecumenical organization in which nearly all the churches in Sweden are active. On a national level, this work is coordinated by The Christian Council of Sweden (SKR). The Muslim Council of Sweden (SMI) has a similar function within the Islamic faith. In 2002, a declaration of mutual support and exchange between SMI and SKR concerning spiritual care of prisoners was issued.
At the most secure prison for men, Kumla prison, a special division called “the Monastery” opened in 2003. At the Monastery, prisoners can after a special application procedure participate in a silent retreat. It is described thus: “This means that you are given time to contemplate yourself and try to understand who you are. The Monastery is not a course in Christianity, but if you are there, you are allowed to read the Bible, meditate and think. At the Monastery you have the chance to find the courage to stop pretending and to dare to see both yourself and reality clearly. You may apply to attend the Monastery no matter which institution you are serving your sentence at. To attend the Monastery you must be sentenced to a long prison term” (Swedish prison and probation service website 2011-09-02).

D 21 May 2014    APer Pettersson

Military chaplaincy

The presence of religion within the military has historically been regulated by a law which existed until the separation between church and state in the year 2000. It marked the close connection (...)

The presence of religion within the military has historically been regulated by a law which existed until the separation between church and state in the year 2000. It marked the close connection between the Armed Forces and the Church of Sweden. After the separation between Church and state, the awareness of issues of ethnic and religious diversity and equality increased. There is currently no law regulating the presence of religious denominations in the Armed Forces, and official documents stress principles of equal treatment regardless of ethnic belonging, religion or other beliefs, and respect for diversity. A special document on policy concerning freedom to and from religion was written and adopted in 2001. This document is now under revision in close contact with representatives of different faith communities. In 2009, a “Steering-Document for Equality 2009-2011” clarifying the official policy by referring to the Swedish discrimination law as the foundation was adopted by the Armed Forces (SFS 2008:567). The steering document state that the unit officers should establish contact with representatives of the confessions that are represented at the unit. When needed, a confessionnally neutral room should be provided for prayer to all, regardless of religion. Alternative protein-rich food should always be offered when required according to the beliefs of the conscripts. It is also stressed that it is an objective to increase consciousness among the Armed Forces personnel about their own attitudes and values in relation to ethnical and religious diversity, any structural hinder to the achievement of ethnic and religious diversity should be eliminated. This means e.g. flexibility within all areas such as permitting time off, food provision, prayer and religious rites, personal integrity and clothing.
However, even if respect for religious diversity is stressed, the situation today is an almost total dominance of the presence of the Church of Sweden within the military system when it comes to pastoral care, even after the separation between the Church and the state. According to the Swedish armed forces website, the Church of Sweden has offered its resources to the Swedish Armed Forces, concerning pastoral counselling (Swedish Armed Forces website 2011-09-01). The task in military pastoral care is described as listening and supporting those preparing for or acting in very difficult situations, and contributing to reflection on ethical issues which often can be ambiguous.
The military pastoral care has an interreligious perspective, and takes into account different religious confessions. The chaplains represent their respective faith community, but function as mediators to other confessions. The organisation of the military pastoral care counts altogether 138 positions spread out in different parts of the Armed Forces. Organisationally military pastoral care is an integrated part of the military organisation but the personnel is employed by their respective faith community, except for two positions at the Swedish Armed Forces headquarter and eight positions in the Armed Forces international operations.
The two positions at headquarter are the “Field-Dean” (Sw: Fältprost) who is responsible for the national organizing of the military pastoral care, and the “Staff-Pastor” (Sw: Stabspastor) who is responsible for pastoral care of the personnel of the headquarter and support the Field-Dean in the national function. The Field-Dean is financed 75% by the Church of Sweden and 25% by the Armed Forces and the Staff-Pastor is financed 100% by the Armed Forces.
Presently (2011), there are Swedish international military operations in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Somalia, with one pastor attached to each operation. Plus there are four pastors serving the Swedish part of the Nordic Battle Group.
Altogether, 28 pastors are working at the military basic training units, 20 pastors are working as field-pastors on a regional county level, 20 pastors are working in the “operation organisation” (insats-organisationen) and 60 pastors are linked to the home defence battalions. Almost all of these pastors, at the local, regional or national level, are working part-time, and almost all of them are employed and paid by the Church of Sweden. Only a few of the pastors linked to the home defence system are employed and financed by other Christian faith communities.

D 21 May 2014    APer Pettersson

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