Sweden's Lutheran Church Ordains First Openly Gay Bishop

Sweden's Lutheran church said Monday it had ordained its first openly gay bishop, just two weeks after it gave priests the right to wed same-sex couples.

Eva Brunne was ordained as bishop of Stockholm's diocese in a ceremony on Sunday.

She lives in a "registered partnership" with another woman, a civil union between gays used in Sweden before same-sex marriages were legalized this year. The couple also has a child.

"It is very positive that our church is setting an example here and is choosing me as bishop based on my qualifications, when they also know that they can meet resistance elsewhere," the 55-year-old Brunne told The Associated Press by phone.

Brunne's spokeswoman Annika Sjoqvist Platzer said she didn't know of any openly gay women who had reached the position of bishop in other countries.

However, the United Church of Christ, a liberal denomination in the U.S., has several openly gay and lesbian "conference ministers," said the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, a church spokesman in Cleveland. That designation is similar to that of bishop.

In 2003, the Episcopal Church in the U.S. consecrated its first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Brunne, who was elected as bishop of Stockholm in a May but officially ordained on Sunday in Uppsala Cathedral, said she hadn't encountered much resistance within the church because of her sexual orientation.

The Church of Sweden has become more open toward sexual minorities in recent years, though there still is resistance from individual priests. Church leaders voted two weeks ago in favor of allowing priests to wed same-sex couples in church ceremonies.

The church counts about 6.7 million members though few of them regularly attend services in the largely secular country.