2017-05-22 17:42:00

New Swedish cardinal elect affirming Church in peripheries

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday announced a Consistory calling for the creation of five new cardinals, each of them hailing from a different part of the world.

Speaking to the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Regina Caeli, the Pope said “Their origin, from different parts of the world, manifests the universality of the Church spread out all over the Earth.”

Among the group is the 67 year old Catholic bishop of Stockholm in Sweden, Bishop Anders Arborelius.

It’s the first ever red hat for the tiny Catholic Church in the majority Lutheran nation, which Pope Francis visited last October for the joint commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Charlotte Smeds, head of Vatican Radio’s Scandinavian Section, spoke to Bishop Arborelius to find out what this appointment will mean for Catholics in Sweden.


Cardinal elect Anders Arborelius concedes that the announcement came as a big surprise for the Catholic Church in Sweden and says that “of course, up to now, people have been very happy about it!”

The question, he says, is to reflect on what could be behind the Pope’s decision.

“Maybe the Holy Father has seen that the Catholic Church in Sweden is a very small minority in a very secular society. But still, we have a very important mission here at various levels” he said. 

Arborelius points out that “We have been able to integrate many refugees and we know that this is a very important issue for the Pope, and we also have a very broad ecumenical dialogue with all the Christian Churches”.

“So, maybe we have something to offer as a tiny, humble minority to the Church as a whole, and of course we will try to serve the Holy Father even more faithfully after this”.

Noting that never in its history has Sweden had a Cardinal, Arborelius reflects on whether the appointment will mark a big change.

“It’s really a historical event and I think it’s typical of Pope Francis that he looks to those parts of the world that are far away - other Cardinals were named for the first time for Laos and for Mali – so he wants to encourage those minorities scattered all over the world and show that they are important in God’s eyes and in the eyes of the Church even if they are very small realities” he said.

Pope Francis will formally elevate the appointed Bishops to the rank of Cardinal's rank in a ceremony at the Vatican on June 28. 

Then, they will celebrate Mass together with the Pope the next day, the Feast Day of Saints Peter and Paul.

Pope Francis’ visit to Sweden last year where he participated in the joint commemoration for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation was hailed as an important step forward in ecumenical relations between Lutherans and Catholics.

Arborelius, who is 67, converted to Catholicism when he was 20. In 1998, when he was consecrated as a bishop in Stockholm's Catholic cathedral, he became Sweden's first Catholic bishop, of Swedish origin, since the times of the Reformation.


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