- May 30, 2020
In a consistory ceremony on Tuesday widely seen as a surprise when Pope Francis announced it in May, the pontiff created five new cardinals, including four from countries that have never had one before. Francis told the new cardinals they were not being called to become “Princes of the Church,” but rather followers of Jesus with their eyes open to the realities of sin.
Although the plates were already shifting towards Sweden as the lead actor for Catholicism in the Nordic countries before Francis came along, the signs of interest and favor have multiplied on his watch, including giving Sweden its first-ever cardinal this week. Evangelical opportunities, immigration and ecumenism may all lie in the background of the pope’s Swedish outreach.
Pope Francis named Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm, Sweden, to become the first cardinal in the country since the Protestant Reformation. Though surprised by the appointment, Arborelius said that he was “very happy about it,” and that he plans on focusing on issues such as immigration and ecumenical dialogue between churches.
In what has become a trademark of this pontificate, Francis blindsided long-time Vatican watchers and even most of his closest collaborators when he announced the names of five new cardinals today. He did so at the end of his Sunday Regina Coeli prayer, which during the Easter season replaces the traditional Angelus.