The Church of Skandinavia
|Den Skandinavisk Kirke|
|Head||Frederik II of Skandinavia|
|Erkebiskop av Nidaros|
Archbishop of Nidaros
|Separated from||Roman Catholic Church|
Den Evangelisk Lutherske Frikirke av Skandinavia|
The Evangelical Lutheran Free Church of Skandinavia
|Members||27,859,700 baptized members|
Den Skandinaviske Kirke (Chuch of Skandinavia), is the established, state-supported church in Skandinavia that serves as people's church as set forth in the Act of Union. Although it is considered a people's church, it functions as an independent entity rather than as a branch of civil service. The reigning Monark is the supreme secular authority in the church with the Erkebiskop av Nidaros (Archbishop of Nidaros) acting as the most senior cleric. As of 1 January 2017, 81.7% of the population of Skandinavia are members, though membership is not mandatory. Among the members 47 percent say they regularly go to religious services, a figure that rises at holidays such as Christmas or Easter. This implies that more than 13 million people actively participate in the Church, one of the highest figures in the world.
It is classified as Protestant and Nordic-Catholicism oriented. It is liturgically and theologically "high church", having retained priests, vestments, and the Mass during the Reformation. In common with other Evangelical Lutheran churches, Den Kalmarunionen Kirke maintains the "historical episcopate" and theological authority is vested in bishops.
The Christianization of Scandinavia took place between the 8th and the 12th centuries. The realms of Scandinavia proper, Denmark, Norway and Sweden (Sweden is an 11th or 12th Century merger of the former countries Götaland and Svealand), established their own Archdioceses, responsible directly to the Pope, in 1104, 1154 and 1164, respectively. The conversion to Christianity of the Scandinavian people required more time, since it took additional efforts to establish a network of churches. The Sami remained unconverted until the 18th century. Newer archeological research suggests there were Christians in Götaland already during the 9th Century, its further believed Christianity Came from the South-West and moved towards the North.
Denmark was also the first of the Scandinavian countries which was Chritistianised, as Harald Bluetooth declared this around 975 AD, and rose the larger of the two Jelling Stones. Also the oldest still existing church built in stone, is found in (former) Denmark, Dalby Holy Cross Church from around 1040 AD. Swedish King Olof was the first Christian king of Sweden, who ascended to the throne in the 990s, while in Norway King Olaf I was the first Christian King and built the first Christian church in Norway in 995. After Olaf's defeat at the Battle of Svolder in 1000 there was a partial relapse to paganism in Norway under the rule of the Jarls of Lade, but in the following reign of King Olaf II (Sankt Olav), pagan remnants were stamped out and Christianity entrenched.
Christianity was present from the beginning of human habitation in Iceland, a fact that is unique to Iceland among the European nations. The first people setting foot on Icelandic soil were Chalcedonian Irish hermits, seeking refuge on these remote shores to worship Christ. Later, Norse settlers are thought to have driven them out. Some of the settlers were Christians, although the majority were pagan, worshipping the old Norse gods. When Iceland was constituted as a republic in 930 CE, it was based on the pagan religion. In the late 10th century missionaries from the continent sought to spread Catholicism among the population and when Olaf Tryggvason ascended the throne of Norway, the effort to Christianize Iceland was intensified.
Although the Scandinavians became nominally Christian, it took considerably longer for actual Christian beliefs to establish themselves among the people in some regions, while the people were Christianized before the king in other regions.
All of Scandinavia ultimately adopted Lutheranism over the course of the 16th century, as the monarchs of Denmark (who also ruled Norway and Iceland) and Sweden (who also ruled Finland) converted to that faith.
Danish and Norwegians were Catholic until the Danish king Christian III of Denmark ordered Denmark to convert to Lutheranism in 1536 and as Norway was then ruled by Denmark, the Norwegians converted as well. The Danish Church Ordinance was introduced in 1537 and a Norwegian Church Council officially adopted Lutheranism in 1539.
In Sweden, the Reformation was spearheaded by Gustav Vasa, elected king in 1523. Friction with the pope over the latter's interference in Swedish ecclesiastical affairs led to the discontinuance of any official connection between Sweden and the papacy from 1523. Four years later, at the Diet of Västerås, the king succeeded in forcing the diet to accept his dominion over the national church. The king was given possession of all church property, church appointments required royal approval, the clergy were subject to the civil law, and the "pure Word of God" was to be preached in the churches and taught in the schools – effectively granting official sanction to Lutheran ideas.
Luther's influence had already reached Iceland before King Christian's decree. The Germans fished near Iceland's coast, and the Hanseatic League engaged in commerce with the Icelanders. These Germans raised a Lutheran church in Hafnarfjörður as early as 1533. Through German trade connections, many young Icelanders studied in Hamburg. In 1538, when the kingly decree of the new Church ordinance reached Iceland, bishop Ögmundur and his clergy denounced it, threatening excommunication for anyone subscribing to the German 'heresy'. In 1539, the King sent a new governor to Iceland, Klaus von Mervitz, with a mandate to introduce reform and take possession of church property. Von Mervitz seized a monastery in Viðey with the help of his sheriff, Dietrich of Minden, and his soldiers. They drove the monks out and seized all their possessions, for which they were promptly excommunicated by Ögmundur.
Once the ideas of the Reformation had settled in Scandinavia, each of the three Kingdoms established their own national churches. Over the years, each of them was developing its particularities while maintaining common ties as the rest of society and culture.
After the unification of the three Scandinavian kingdoms (Denmark, Norway and Sweden) to form the Kingdom of Skandinavia, it seemed evident that a similar process would occur between the different national churches, especially considering that the churches were one of the social forces that prompted the Union. From the moment of the coronation of the new King, he became the head of the three national religions and this would facilitate the religious unity. While waiting for the new parliament and the necessary legal changes, the representatives of the three religions began to work together in the spring of 1932, especially in doctrinal and theological aspects.
From the first preparatory meetings it was found that there were important differences among the different bishops as to what should be the doctrinal principles on which the new unified church would be built. On the one hand, a group of bishops argued that the founding of the new Church should be seized as an opportunity to reinforce traditional doctrinal principles, while another group thought that the new church should be more liberal. Immediately the King aligned himself with the most traditionalist ones that were in line with the idea of the new nation that was intended to built. In February 1933 the King entrusted the traditionalist Bishops of Oslo (Johannes Smemo), Vivorg (Christian Baun) and the Archbishop of Uppsala (Ynge Brilioth) to start the preparations for the realization of a national synod as soon as possible. First Skandinavisk Kirkemøtet (General Synod of Skandinavian Church) was inaugurated by the King on September 17, 1933 and its conclusions were presented in June 1934. The meetings of the synod counted from the beginning with the participation of the Bishop of Iceland.
In his opening speech, the King spoke to the bishops on the need to strengthen the social role of the Church, as well as that of maintainer of the kingdom's traditions. He stressed again the idea that the nation must be stronger than any current, fashion or particular or short-term interest and that Skandinavia has to be "the great society of the living, the dead and those who are about to be born". Den Skandinaviske Kirke would have a fundamental role in the construction of the new nation.
The first Skandinavisk Kirkemøtet (General Synod of Skandinavian Church) was in charge of organizing and structuring the new Church, respecting the existing dioceses in the previous countries and establishing six archdioceses in Nidaros, Oslo, Uppsala, Göteborg, Vivorg and Copenhagen, as well as the primacy of the archbishop of Nidaros. The synod left some doctrinal aspects pending, although it served to establish the bases of what would be the future of the unified church. Among the most important doctrinal discussions was the ordination of women as priests, which was rejected by the synod. The ideas of what would later be called Nordic-Catholicism began to be forged during the synod, based on those of the Oxford Movement, well known by Archbishop of Uppsala (Ynge Brilioth), the Anglo-Catholicism and the High Church Lutheranism.
At the end of the first Skandinavisk Kirkemøtet (General Synod of Kalmar Union Church), it was clear that it was necessary to think about the realization of a second one in a short space of time. Too many doctrinal and theological aspects had remained unresolved and it was necessary to clarify them. In the years that passed until the celebration of the second synod, the differences between the growing and majority conservative ideas and those defended by liberal bishops became much greater, to the point that the Bishop of Strängnäs, Gösta Lundström, challenged the guidelines set out in the first synod and ordained a woman priest in 1949.
On January 9, 1965, the Frederik IX of Skandinavia inaugurated the second Skandinavisk Kirkemøtet. From the first discussions it was seen that some of the positions were irreconcilable and that the Church was moving towards the schism. Bishop Lundström left the synod in the month of April and was immediately dismissed. In the weeks that followed, two more bishops resigned their positions and went into retirement. At the beginning of June all the Bishops were aligned with the Royal and Primate directives.
While all this was happening, the theologians worked on the drafting of the doctrinal documents that would define the future of the Church. These documents were presented before the summer to the Bishops, who held open discussions during July and August. At the beginning of September the new doctrinal and theological texts were agreed upon and presented to the synod for approval. Among the most important changes were:
- An express renunciation of Pietism as the fundamental idea of the Church. Lay people had to participate in the daily life of the Church, in its organization and even in its management, but the theological, doctrinal or faith issues are exclusive to the assembly of bishops. Only bishops and priests possess the authority to explain and teach the doctrinal position of the Church in matters of faith, morals and discipline.
- The appointment of new Bishops is a Royal Prerogative, being the assembly of Bishops who proposes to the King a list of candidates. In no case shall the laity participate in this matter.
- The legislative authority of Den Skandinaviske Kirke is vested in the Skandinaviske Kirkemøtet (General Synod of Skandinavian Church), the Special Synod, the Diocesan Synod and the Parish Meeting. In financial and administrative matters, the parishioners possess administrative authority. Representatives elected at the Annual Parish Meeting, and confirmed by the diocesan Bishop, exercise their legal authority in cooperation with the pastor. The composition of the General Synod includes clergy and laity. Each parish is entitled to send lay delegates depending on their active members.
- Adherence to Nordic Catholic spirituality, which is characteristically more theocentric and christocentric than that of Pietist, rationalistic, and Liberal Protestant Lutheranism. In addition to the Theology of the Cross there is usually emphasis on Christus Victor, which makes it clear that Easter is more important than Good Friday. Theocentricism makes salvation history and the cycle of the church year important, from point of view of the incarnation.
- It is necessary to reinterpret the sacrifice of the Mass in order to provide a more theocentric view to Real presence. According to the synod papers, "the whole of Lutheranism is contained in the Sacrament of the Altar. Here all of the chief doctrines of Christianity, especially those highlighted by the Reformation, have their focal point." So in Nordic Catholic spirituality the Mass is thus considered the heart of Christianity as it encapsulates the one, but eternally efficacious, sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. Den Kalmarunionen Kirke doctrine believes and accept the doctrine of transubstantiation, that the two species used (bread and wine) become the literal Body and Blood of Christ at the consecration, and also the doctrine of real presence that Christ's body and blood are truly and fully present in the Eucharist.
- Confession as a sacrament is part of Lutheran tradition. Den Skandinaviske Kirke regards a confession of faults to God, followed by the assignment of penance and absolution given by the priest, to be the way the congregation normally obtains forgiveness of sins. The sacrament may be administered in one of two ways: public or private.
- The synod encourage a wider use of the word "sacrament" by considering Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation, Confession, Holy Matrimony, Unction, and Holy Orders to be Sacraments.
- Den Skandinaviske Kirke believes that "Marriage is the sacrament which makes a Christian man and woman husband and wife, gives them grace to be faithful to each other and to bring up their children in love and devotion to God." The Church does not recognise civil divorce and requires an annulment before parishioners can remarry. Every diocese has a matrimonial commission that studies each request for marriage by persons who have been divorced. The commission presents its findings and recommendation to the bishop, who makes the final decision. The Church permits divorced people to participate fully in the Mass and to receive the Eucharist.
- The synod encourages the creation of monastic congregations and associations that enrich the spirituality of the Church.
- The synod recognizes and encourages devotion to Sankt Olav declared patron of Skandinavia and given the title Rex Perpetuus Skandinavia (English: Eternal/Perpetual King of Skandinavia).
DSK in the 21th century
In the years following the second special synod, the Church was fixing the theological positions that had been accepted in the synod. In addition, the organization of the Church was restructured again with the creation of new dioceses and archdioceses up to the current map.
At the beginning of the new century in 2003, Queen Margrethe presided over a new Special Synod, the Third Skandinavisk Kirkemøtet. Most of the synod's deliberations were about the organizational aspects of the Church and the role of the laity in its structure, accepting and encouraging a greater participation of the laity in the daily life of the parishes. Regarding theological aspects, two main points were discussed in the synod: Feminine ordination and homosexual marriage. As regards women's ordination, the deliberations of the synod referred to what had been fixed in previous synods and rejected again. Regarding the second point, the deliberations of the synod were clear: "Christian marriage must be between a man and a woman. Any other form of union should not be called marriage or receive any kind of ecclesial blessing".
Den Skandinaviske Kirke is divided into thiry eight Bispedømmer (dioceses) being seven of them Erkebispedømmer (archdioceses), each with a Biskop (bishop) or and Erkebiskop (archbishop) and Katedral Kapittel (cathedral chapter). Priest and deacon members of a cathedral chapter are elected by priests and deacons in the diocese.
A diocese is divided into Provstier (deaneries), each with a Provost as the leader. Deaneries with a diocesan cathedral are called Katedral Provstier. The dean and head minister of a cathedral is called "Katedral Provost", and is a member of the cathedral chapter as its vice chairman.
At the parish level a parish is called Sogn. One or several parishes can be grouped with a head minister or vicar called Sognepræst and sometimes other assistant priests.
In addition to the 38 national dioceses, Den Skandinaviske Kirke i Utlandet, DKKUT, (Skandinavian Church Abroad) maintains more than 90 overseas parishes with their own diocesan structure to form the 39th diocese.
(Archdiocese of Nidaros)
|1068||Nidaros Cathedral||Archbishop Valdemar Haugen|
Bishop Egil Sorensen
(Diocese of Nord-Hålogaland)
|1952||Tromsø Cathedral||Bishop Olav Øygard|
(Diocese of Sør-Hålogaland)
|1952||Bodø Cathedral||Bishop Sigurd Ostberg|
(Diocese of Iceland)
|1540||Reykjavík Cathedral||Bishop Karl Sigurbjörnsson|
(Diocese of Garðar)
|1124||Nuuk Cathedral||Bishop Ólafur Pedersen|
(Archdiocese of Bjørgvin)
|1068||Bergen Cathedral||Archbishop Thorfinn Gormsdóttir|
Bishop Harald Sigurdson
(Diocese of Møre)
|1983||Molde Cathedral||Bishop Las Stolsner|
(Diocese of Stavanger)
|1112||Stavanger Cathedral||Bishop Ivar Nordhaugh|
|Agder og Telemark Bispedømme
(Diocese of Agder og Telemark)
|1536||Kristiansand Cathedral||Bishop Bersi Madsen|
(Diocese of Faroe Islands)
|1076||Tórshavn Cathedral||Bishop Jógvan Næs|
(Archdiocese of Oslo)
|1068||Oslo Cathedral||Archbishop Solveig Midttømme|
Bishop Ole Fiske
(Diocese of Borg)
|1069||Fredrikstad Cathedral||Bishop Olaf Hermansen|
(Diocese of Hamar)
|1152||Hamar Cathedral||Bishop Ulf Østberg|
(Diocese of Tønsberg)
|1948||Tønsberg Cathedral||Bishop Hakon Strand|
(Diocese of Kalmarunionen Kirke Abroad)
|2003||Oslo Cathedral||Bishop Martin Varland|
(Archdiocese of Vivorg)
|1537||Vivorg Cathedral||Archbishop Jørgen Pulsen|
Bishop Christian Lintrup
(Diocese of Aalborg)
|1554||Aalborg Cathedral||Bishop Peter Engel Lind|
(Diocese of Aarhus)
|948||Århus Cathedral||Bishop Andreas Schiøler|
(Diocese of Ribe)
|948||Ribe Cathedral||Bishop Peder Jensen|
(Archdiocese of Schleswig )
|1537||Slesvig Cathedral||Archbishop Yorick Sinason|
Bishop Klas Gjertsen
(Diocese of Haderslev)
|1922||Haderslev Cathedral||Bishop Frode Møller|
(Diocese of Funen)
|988||Odense Cathedral||Bishop Hans Knudsen|
(Diocese of Lolland–Falsters)
|1803||Maribo Cathedral||Bishop Johan Ammundsen|
(Archdiocese of Copenhagen)
|1537||Københavns Cathedral||Archbishop Jacob Ostenfeld|
Bishop Jesper Herslev
(Diocese of Helsingør)
|1961||Helsingør Cathedral||Bishop Mathias Bjarnesen|
(Diocese of Roskilde)
|1922||Roskilde Cathedral||Bishop Hadar Hjort|
(Diocese of Lund)
|1048||Lund Cathedral||Bishop Anders Engeström|
(Archdiocese of Gothemburg)
|1537||Göteborg Cathedral||Archbishop Espen Strand|
Bishop Gustaf Blom
(Diocese of Skara)
|1014||Skara Cathedral||Bishop Daniel Lundblad|
(Diocese of Växjö)
|1165||Växjö Cathedral||Bishop Erik Wallquist|
(Diocese of Visby)
|1572||Visby Cathedral||Bishop Nils Anderberg|
(Archdiocese of Stockholm)
|1942||Stockholm Cathedral||Archbishop Göran Alfsson|
Bishop Kjell Ulfsson
(Diocese of Karlstad)
|1581||Karlstad Cathedral||Bishop Herman Borgenstierna|
(Diocese of Strängnäs)
|1129||Strängnäs Cathedral||Bishop Thure Lundström|
(Diocese of Linköping)
|1138||Linköping Cathedral||Bishop Magnus Pilkvist|
(Archdiocese of Uppsala)
|1123||Uppsala Cathedral||Archbishop Carl Fredrik Söderblom|
Bishop Erik Wingård
(Diocese of Västerås)
|1219||Västerås Cathedral||Bishop Sven Björling|
(Diocese of Härnösand)
|1647||Härnösand Cathedral||Bishop Lars Bergman|
(Diocese of Luleå)
|1904||Luleå Cathedral||Bishop Oscar Ingesson|
The spirituality of Nordic-Catholicism has encouraged the creation and establishment of numerous monastic orders under the auspices of the Church. Some of the most important are:
- Lutheran benedictine
- Lutheran franciscans
- Daughters of Mary
- Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary
- Sisters of the Holy Spirit
Doctrine and practice
The Church is aimed at having a wide acceptance of theological views, as long as they agree with the official symbolic books as stipulated in the Danish Code of 1683. These are:
- The Apostles' Creed
- The Nicene Creed
- The Athanasian Creed
- The Augsburg Confession
- Luther's Small Catechism
Today's Den Skandinaviske Kirke is based in the Nordic-Catholicism ideas, which valued highly the tradition of the early, undivided Church, they saw its authority as co-extensive with Scripture. They re-emphasized the Church's institutional history and form. Nordic Catholicism is emotionally intense, and yet drawn to aspects of the pre-Reformation Church, including the revival of religious orders, the reintroduction of the language and symbolism of the eucharistic sacrifice, and the revival of private confession. Its spirituality is Evangelical in spirit, but High Church in content and form.
Current theology is based in an express renunciation of Pietism as the fundamental idea of the Church. Lay people had to participate in the daily life of the Church, in its organization and even in its management, but the theological, doctrinal or faith issues are exclusive to the assembly of bishops. Only bishops and priests possess the authority to explain and teach the doctrinal position of the Church in matters of faith, morals and discipline. It is based in Nordic Catholic spirituality, which is characteristically more theocentric and christocentric than that of Pietist, rationalistic, and Liberal Protestant Lutheranism. In addition to the Theology of the Cross there is usually emphasis on Christus Victor, which makes it clear that Easter is more important than Good Friday. Theocentricism makes salvation history and the cycle of the church year important, from point of view of the incarnation.
The sacrifice of the Mass has been reinterpretated in order to provide a more theocentric view to Real presence. So in Nordic Catholic spirituality the Mass is thus considered the heart of Christianity as it encapsulates the one, but eternally efficacious, sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. Den Kalmarunionen Kirke doctrine believes and accept the doctrine of transubstantiation, that the two species used (bread and wine) become the literal Body and Blood of Christ at the consecration, and also the doctrine of real presence that Christ's body and blood are truly and fully present in the Eucharist.
Den Skandinaviske Kirke theology uses a wider use of the word "sacrament" than other lutheran churches by considering Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation, Confession, Holy Matrimony, Unction, and Holy Orders to be Sacraments. Confession as a sacrament is part of Lutheran tradition. Den Kalmarunionen Kirke regards a confession of faults to God, followed by the assignment of penance and absolution given by the priest, to be the way the congregation normally obtains forgiveness of sins. The sacrament may be administered in one of two ways: public or private.
Den Skandinaviske Kirke believes that "Marriage is the sacrament which makes a Christian man and woman husband and wife, gives them grace to be faithful to each other and to bring up their children in love and devotion to God." The Church does not recognise civil divorce and requires an annulment before parishioners can remarry. Every diocese has a matrimonial commission that studies each request for marriage by persons who have been divorced. The commission presents its findings and recommendation to the bishop, who makes the final decision. The Church permits divorced people to participate fully in the Mass and to receive the Eucharist.
Church recognizes and encourages devotion to Sankt Olav declared patron of Skandinavia and given the title Rex Perpetuus Skandinavia (English: Eternal/Perpetual King of Skandinavia) as well as encourages the creation of monastic congregations and associations that enrich the spirituality of the Church.
Formal liturgy based on the western Catholic Mass with varying degrees of chanting, the use of organ music, crucifixes, silver chalices, hosts and the use of vestments for Holy Communion has always been characteristic of Lutheran worship.
- Eucharistic vestments.
- Eastward-facing orientation of the priest at the altar, but some priests prefer "facing the people".
- Unleavened bread for the Eucharist.
- Mixing of water with the eucharistic wine.
- Incense and candles.
- Eucharistic adoration with a complete eucharistic prayer (i.e. including the epiclesis rather than merely Christ's Words of Institution).
- Genuflection, together with the elevation of the host and chalice.
- Use of altar bells during the elevation (to draw the attention of the congregation during the Words of Institution).
- Use the older "Tridentine" Catholic rite of Mass, in Danish-Norwegian or Latin.
- Use of the Rite of Nidaros in special ceremonies such as Easter, Christmas and high celebrations of the state and the monarchy.
According to the Act of Union the Monark is the supreme governor, Head and protector of the Church. He formally decides who is to become bishops and oversees that the church conducts its business according to the norms prescribed for them, the maintenance of fundamental principles of the Christian faith and the observance of the traditional moral precepts.
On 21 May 2012, the Unionsparlamentet passed a constitutional amendment that granted the Church increased autonomy, and states that "Den Skandinaviske Kirke, a Nordic-Catholic Evangelical-Lutheran church, remains the public religion of the State, and is supported by the State as such". The constitution also says that Skandinavia's values are based on its Christian heritage, and according to the Constitution, the Monark is required to be member of the Church. The government will provide funding for the church and other Church-based institutions.
After the changes in 2012, all clergy remain civil servants (state employees), the central and regional Church administrations remain a part of the state administration, Den Skandinaviske Kirke is regulated by its own law (Kirkeloven) and all municipalities are required by law to support the activities of the Church and municipal authorities are represented in its local bodies.