Archbishop reacts to church trips investigation
After Swedish Radio revealed certain parishes in the Swedish church had taken lavish trips using member fees, Archbishop Antje Jackelén, the head of the Swedish Church, says she understands the angry reactions.
"All of us who are members, that's our money," she says to Swedish Radio. "Of course we have an interest in their being managed responsibly. If you take a trip, you should be able to motivate it and show a way the parish benefits from it," said Jackelén.
Jackelén said that she didn't think church-wide guidelines were the answer. The church isn't a company, she told Swedish Radio. Parishes have a certain autonomy. And she wouldn't even say that an alcohol policy was clearly called for.
"Because we're involved in different cultural areas, you can't just apply a yardstick right over everything."
She says, "Alcohol is, in a Swedish context, especially sensitive. And that's not the case in other countries. The most important thing is moderation and responsibility."
Jackelén said that the bishops would meet to discuss what they could do.
"My first responsibility is to take this seriously. And then we bishops will talk about what we can do in our diocese. But as I said, we're not company presidents."
An expert at the tax agency tells Swedish Radio that some of the trips seem to have little connection with work or business, and therefore might be counted as free holidays and be taxed. Skatteverket legal expert Yngve Gripple says there is a lot of time for sightseeing in the trips he has been shown, and this is something for the participants' employer to think about.