Foreign News: SIN & SWEDEN

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THREE years ago the Lutheran bishops of Sweden caused an uproar by coming out against sin. The occasion was a pastoral letter on sexual morality. Tactfully vague, and generous toward "weaknesses of the flesh," the letter said in effect that the Lutheran Church was opposed to birth control, abortion and promiscuity, especially among the young. In no other country would the letter have caused more than a ripple. But in modern Sweden, where sociology has become a religion in itself, and birth control, abortion and promiscuity —especially among the young—are recognized as inalienable rights, there was a tidal wave of indignation. Newspapers thundered that the bishops had no business meddling in such matters; citizens told them to mind their own business, and even a few parsons accused their superiors of aspiring to emulate the Church of Rome. Aghast at the controversy they had started, the bishops retired to the shelter of their churches and have not ventured into the market place since. "One must remember," one of Sweden's leading Lutheran bishops explained to me, "that in Sweden the church, from the point of view of the visitor from a country where there is no 'official' church, has a very peculiar position. The Swedish State Church is part of the government. It is expected to support the government laws, even though"—and he shrugged resignedly —"it does not always agree with them." Secure & Static. In Sweden the church has knuckled under to the state since the 16th century, when King Gustav Vasa led Sweden's break from Rome during the Reformation. Today the church's activities and its concepts are so closely tied to the state that it enjoys the status and security of a government department—a department no more or less important than any other. In its efforts to please the government, it has become so watered down as an institution that to the average Swede it has lost most of its spiritual meaning. The Swedes regard the church as a proper place to marry in or be buried from; only a handful go to Sunday worship. The bishop with whom I spoke—one of those who signed the notorious letter—personally opposes abortions and birth control "except in cases of dire medical necessity." But he admitted to me that he had never spoken out against either of these things in church, because he "did not think it would be proper, as long as they are legal." Whatever the cause, sexual moral standards in Sweden today are jolting to an outsider. Statistics show that there are at least 27,000 unmarried mothers. The birth rate of only 110,000 babies a year in a country of 7,000,000 is in itself a hazard to Sweden's future. Fully 10% of the babies are illegitimate. One of every two unmarried women who conceive a child has a legal abortion. All a woman need do to have one is to convince a social worker that the birth is "unsuitable." About 5,000 women, married and unmarried, are admitted to hospitals each year for legal abortions. A professor at Stockholm's largest women's clinic was reported for "cruelty" because he told a patient that the abortion she was about to have was the same as murdering one of her previous children. An Uppsala doctor was called a "fascist" in letters to the press because he made the statement that Sweden loses the equivalent of one regiment a year through

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