- May 27, 2020
Even though it is one of the most secularized nations in the world, Sweden is one of the few countries in Europe where the Catholic Church is growing, said the country’s first cardinal.
Pope Francis on Monday called out U.S. President Donald Trump for threatening the DACA program, but also told Italians he recognized the need for limits and “prudence” on immigration. One way to explain the apparently different emphasis is that when Francis addresses immigration, he usually makes a (sometimes silent) distinction between spiritual and moral dispositions, and concrete acts of governance.
Although newly minted Cardinal Anders Arborelius of Sweden is a convert from Lutheranism and believes in the press for closer ties with the Lutheran church, he’s also realistic about the present limits of that quest, saying that given different understandings of the real presence in the Eucharist, right now Lutherans and Catholics “cannot possibly celebrate together.”
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.
Despite the stereotypical American conceit that the world revolves around us, Pope Francis almost certainly wasn’t thinking of Donald Trump when he named five new cardinals on Sunday, just ahead of his meeting today with the U.S. President. Still, the timing is arresting: Just ahead of receiving the de facto leader of the center, the pontiff made a powerful statement about the peripheries.