"In a Catholic parish in Sweden we find between 50 and 100 nationalities."

Cardinal Anders Arborelius, Bishop of Stockholm was the guest of the Omnes Forum that took place yesterday evening via Youtube. He was joined by Andres Bernar, Vicar for Evangelization of the Diocese of Stockholm.

Maria José Atienza-March 11, 2021-Reading time: 3 minutes
anders arborelius

Photo: Cardinal Anders Arborelius

"The return from a secularized society"was the title of the Omnes Forum, which focused on the timid but constant awakening of interest in religion, especially the Catholic Church, in Sweden and the new multicultural face that migrations are bringing to Catholic communities in a country where Lutheranism is considered part of "being Swedish". These were the main themes of this digital meeting, which was attended by the first native Swedish bishop since the Reformation, Anders Arborelius, as well as the Spanish priest living in Sweden, Andrés Bernar, Vicar of Evangelization of the diocese.

Migration is changing the face of the Church in Europe

Migration is one of the key factors in the changing trend and perception of the Catholic Church in Sweden. In this sense, the Cardinal pointed out that the "traditional" animosity against the Catholic Church is fading, especially among the younger people. "It must be remembered," the Cardinal stressed, "that Sweden was formed as a modern state by taking a stand against the Catholic Church".

Multiculturalism is a particularly evident reality in the Catholic Church in Sweden. "Every Sunday, in a parish, we can find between 50 and 100 nationalities". Diverse origins that, at times, can cause controversy among themselves, but which, at the same time, the Cardinal emphasized, make visible "that the Church can understand people of all kinds, of all political options or nationalities, and that faith can be a point of union among these very different people".

After World War II, Sweden became one of the main destinations for migrations from all over the world: Latin America, Asia, Africa... "Sweden hosts the largest Chaldean Catholic community after Iraq", Arborelius pointed out, "they were excited by the recent trip of Pope Francis to their country of origin". Arborelius also pointed to the nationalist movement that is growing in Sweden and that hardens, for example, the entry to immigrants "The Catholic Church can be a bridge, as the Pope tells us".

Interest in the Catholic faith

Catholics in Sweden account for just 2% of the population. Every year, Cardinal Arborelius pointed out, about a hundred people convert to Catholicism and they do so from very different starting points such as Lutheran pastors, spouses of Catholics, a Muslim or completely pagan people, with no previous religion.

While the Catholic faith is having a good reception in intellectual circles, politics continues to be a difficult field "since the existing political options contemplate points such as abortion, which are incompatible with the faith". He also explained the difficulty in setting up, for example, Catholic schools, due to the opposition of some parties to this type of schools, "mainly for fear of Islamic fundamentalist schools, but in the end, they lump everyone together".

In this regard, Andrés Bernar, responding to one of the questions from the audience, stressed the importance of faith education in the family "here the catechesis is family. Not only the child goes, but, at the same time, the parents also receive formation". "Accompanying Catholics is fundamental," Cardinal Arborelius stressed, because the environment is still very adverse, "being a Catholic in Sweden is a vocation in itself. Along with this, there is a growing interest in the Catholic faith, the moral life and the sacraments that "gives signs of hope" to the Church in Sweden.

Omnes Forum

The Omnes Forum takes up the baton of the on-site forums organized for years by the magazine Palabra, now Omnes. The forums bring together experts on topics of interest and topicality for social and ecclesial life, giving the participants the opportunity to ask questions on issues related to the topic presented.

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