Antje Jackelén

Antje Jackelén[a] (née Zöllner;[b] born 1955) is the Archbishop of Uppsala and primate (prima inter pares) of the Church of Sweden, the national church. On 15 October 2013, she was elected the 70th Archbishop of Uppsala and formally received through a service in Uppsala Cathedral on 15 June 2014, making her Sweden's first foreign-born archbishop since the 12th century, and the first female archbishop.[3][4]

Antje Jackelén
Archbishop of Uppsala
Primate of Sweden
Antje Jackelén 2013-05-21 001.jpg
Jackelén in 2013
ChurchChurch of Sweden
Elected15 October 2013
Installed15 June 2014
PredecessorAnders Wejryd
by Lars Carlzon
Consecration15 April 2007
by Anders Wejryd
Personal details
Birth nameAntje Zöllner
Born (1955-06-04) 4 June 1955 (age 64)
Herdecke, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany
Heinz Jackelén (m. 1979)
Previous postBishop of Lund (2007–2014)
Alma mater
MottoGud är större ("God is greater") [1][2]
Coat of armsAntje Jackelén's coat of arms

Jackelén was ordained a priest in the Church of Sweden in 1980 and became Doctor of Theology at Lund University in 1999. Previously she was Bishop of Lund from 2007 to 2014.


Jackelén was born 4 June 1955 in Herdecke, West Germany. She studied Lutheran theology at the University of Tübingen and Uppsala University.

Jackelén served as a priest in Tyresö parish in the Diocese of Stockholm 1981–1988, in Gårdstånga parish in the Diocese of Lund 1988–1994 and in the Cathedral parish of Lund 1995–1996. After finishing her doctorate, she worked at Lund University 1999–2001 and was assistant professor of Systematic Theology/Religion and Science at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago 2001–2003. From 2003 she was Associate Professor and Director of the Zygon Center for Religion and Science until 2007.

Jackelén was elected Bishop of Lund in 2006, and succeeded Christina Odenberg in 2007. Unlike Odenberg Jackelén obliged clergy who did not recognize her ministry to attend a eucharist at which she presided. Odenberg had been the first woman to become a bishop in the Church of Sweden, and Jackelén became the third. Jackelén was the first woman to be appointed as bishop after a popular vote in the diocese, the two former (Odenberg in 1997, and Caroline Krook, Bishop of Stockholm, in 1998) having both been appointed by the Swedish government before the separation of the Church of Sweden from the state in 2000. Jackelén was ordained Bishop of Lund by Anders Wejryd, Archbishop of Uppsala, in Uppsala Cathedral on 15 April 2007, and was received in her diocese through a service in Lund Cathedral on 21 April.

As her official motto, she chose Gud är större ("God is greater"), referring to a passage in the First Epistle of John (1 John 3.18–20) and this also became the title of her pastoral letter, published in 2011. For her coat of arms, she chose an oval shield design by Jan Raneke displaying triple oak leaves from her home town Herdecke's coat of arms with triple mantuan pilgrim's crosses, quartered with the flag of Scania symbolising her episcopal see of Lund. The oak leaves are also featured on the coat of arms of Blekinge which constitutes the easternmost part of the Diocese of Lund.[5]

As Bishop of Lund, Jackelén was one of the assistant officiants during the state wedding of Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden, and Daniel Westling, in 2010.[6]

She has served as representative of the Church of Sweden on the Lutheran World Federation council.

Jackelén (center) as Archbishop of Uppsala on 6 September 2015, with Johan Dalman, Bishop of Strängnäs (left), and Mikael Mogren, Bishop of Västerås (right)

She was elected Archbishop of Uppsala on 15 October 2013 and was officially received in Uppsala Cathedral on 15 June 2014, in the presence of Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Queen Silvia of Sweden, after the retirement of Anders Wejryd.[7] In March 2014, Johan Tyrberg was elected to succeed her as Bishop of Lund.

On Monday, 4 May 2015, she had an official audience with Pope Francis in Rome.[8] This made her the first woman and archbishop to be welcomed at the Vatican.[9] Her and the Pope's churches, while having very important and major differences (the stances on the state of ordination and the clergy, Marian beliefs, and their stances on some contemporary social issues, for example), did publish a document on the push toward theological dialogue and communion regarding the anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. She has several points of agreement, notably on evolution and the climate, the need for dialogue between science and religion, and the need to care for the poor, and to support some continued role for the Churches in public life, even in secularized societies which tend to want to separate the two.[10]

She once again met Pope Francis when he visited Sweden during the turn of the 2016 October–November month switch, beginning the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.[11]


Her doctoral dissertation Zeit und Ewigkeit: die Frage der Zeit in Kirche, Naturwissenschaft und Theologie (Lund 1999) was later republished on Neukirchener Verlag under the same title in 2002. A Swedish translation came in 2000 and an English translation Time & eternity: the question of time in church, science, and theology was published in 2005. She was the speaker at the 2003 Goshen Conference on Religion and Science, a conference that features noted academics in the field of religion and science. The proceedings were published by Pandora Press.

Private lifeEdit

Antje and Heinz Jackelén during the royal wedding gala in 2010

Her husband, Heinz Jackelén, is a retired priest, also originally from Germany, and they have two daughters and several grandchildren. The couple met as undergraduate theology students at Uppsala University. The name Jackelén is believed to come from French-German Huguenot ancestors. The couple lives in the Archbishop's official residence (Ärkebiskopsgården) in Uppsala.[3]

Theological viewsEdit

Jackelén has published several works which deal with the relationship between the natural sciences and religious faith, as well as the role of religion in modern society. She endorses the theory of evolution and sees no contradiction in believing both in God and in evolution.[12][13][14][15][16]

Her election to archbishop sparked controversy as she during the election made statements about the virgin birth and the validity of Islam. In an interview with Swedish Christian newspaper Dagen, she stated that the virgin birth of Jesus is a "mythological term to explain the unique. Those who interpret the virgin birth as a biological issue have completely missed the point."[17] She later clarified her statement as being intended to emphasise that in her view, neither a strictly literal interpretation of the virgin birth, nor a rejection of the virgin birth on the grounds of scientific impossibility, can capture the theological tradition surrounding the virgin birth.[18]

Before the archbishop election Jackelén was asked the question "Does Jesus give a better picture of God than Muhammed?", to which she answered "To me it is obvious that Christians, Muslims and Jews worship the same God". For this she was both criticized and praised within the church. [19]

She supports same-sex marriage in church, while calling for the state to support the institution of marriage as such.[20]

Political positionsEdit

Jackelén has spoken out against a ban on school graduation ceremonies in churches, believing a total ban on religious influences in public schools to be detrimental to the spiritual development of children, while emphasising the role of the Church of Sweden in Swedish civil society.[21]

Together with the bishops' conference she has also addressed climate change in a Bishops' letter in 2014 and again 2019, calling for the members of the Church of Sweden as well as the Swedish state to set goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and for Sweden to enter binding international agreements on the issue. In the revised version 2019 she and the bishops stressed the importance of meeting the goals in the Paris Agreement[22][23] She sees a role for the Church in the existential and spiritual parts of the climate debate, such as eco-anxiety.[24] She is a vocal supporter of Greta Thunberg and has called her prophetic. [25]


In June 2017, Jackelén was awarded The Lambeth Cross for Ecumenism by the Archbishop of Canterbury "For her services to ecumenism - especially her leadership in addressing human, theological and social issues in partnership and dialogue".[26]


  1. ^ German: [ˈantjə jakəˈleːn], Swedish: [ˈǎnːɕɛ jakɛˈleːn].
  2. ^ German pronunciation: [ˈtsœlnɐ].


  1. ^ 1 John 3.18–20
  2. ^ Church of Sweden: Bishop Antje Jackelén's motto – God is greater Archived 13 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b Svenska Dagbladet :Klimatet är en högst teologisk fråga. 15 June 2014.
  4. ^ Fox News/Associated Press: Sweden elects its first female archbishop, the German-born bishop of Lund
  5. ^ "Ärkebiskopens valspråk och vapen". Church of Sweden. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  6. ^ "Officiating clergymen appointed for wedding between Crown Princess Victoria and Mr Daniel Westling". Swedish Royal House.
  7. ^ "The King and Queen and The Crown Princess attend the archiepiscopal ordination of Antje Jackelén". Swedish Royal House.
  8. ^ "Ärkebiskopen mötte påven" (in Swedish). Uppsala nya tidning. 4 May 2015. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  9. ^ "Vatican: Pope Francis meets with female Archbishop". 2015. Retrieved 2015-05-08.
  10. ^ "Web Translator".
  11. ^ Odd Clausen (1 November 2016). "Påvens besök fortsätter med mässa" (in Swedish). Sveriges radio. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  12. ^ Antje Jackelen elected Sweden's first woman archbishop 15.10.2013 BBC News
  13. ^ Sweden elects first female archbishop Archived October 19, 2013, at the Wayback Machine 15.10.2013 The Local
  14. ^ Antje Jackelen is Sweden’s first female Archbishop Archived 2013-10-19 at the Wayback Machine 16.10.2013 CERF Institute
  15. ^ Sweden Follows Suit, Elects Jackelen As First Female Archbishop 18.10.2013 World Religion News
  16. ^ Church of Sweden chooses first female archbishop 17.10.2013 Ecumenical News
  17. ^ Antje Jackelén becomes Sweden's first female archbishop after historic Church election 16.10.2013 Radio Sweden
  18. ^ Jackelén, A. Svenska Dagbladet. Jesustron ska inte reduceras till biologi 23 October 2013
  19. ^ "Antje Jackelén blir ny ärkebiskop i Svenska kyrkan" [Antje Jackelén becomes the new archbishop in the Church of Sweden] (in Swedish). Sveriges radio. 15 October 2013. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  20. ^ Jackelén, A. Svenska Dagbladet. Äktenskapet inte sämre för att fler inkluderas July 28, 2009
  21. ^ Svenska Dagbladet: Unga får signalen att kyrkan kan vara farlig. December 2, 2012.
  22. ^ Church of Sweden: : A Bishops’ letter about the climate (pdf)[permanent dead link]
  23. ^ "Ett biskopsbrev om klimatet" (PDF). Church of Sweden. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  24. ^ Åsa Asplid (20 January 2019). "Ärkebiskopen använder bibelord i klimatkampen" [The Archbishop uses scripture in the climate fight] (in Swedish). Expressen. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  25. ^ Karin Sörbring (28 September 2019). "Ärkebiskop Antje Jackelén: "Greta Thunberg är profetisk"" [The Archbishop Antje Jackelén: "Greta Thunberg is prophetic"] (in Swedish). Expressen. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  26. ^ "The Archbishop of Canterbury's Awards: Citations in Alphabetical Order" (PDF). Archbishop of Canterbury. 9 June 2017. Archived from the original (pdf) on 2017-06-19. Retrieved 14 July 2017.

External linksEdit

Titles in Lutheranism
Preceded by
Christina Odenberg
Bishop of Lund
Succeeded by
Johan Tyrberg
Preceded by
Anders Wejryd
Archbishop of Uppsala
Primate of Sweden