Cardinal Arborelius: 400 years after death penalty for Catholic Swedes, numbers are rising

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Sweden is a country with a troubled history when it comes to religion. After the Protestant Reformation, Catholics were faced with penalty of death. However, in 2000, the country has finally recognized Catholicism as a religion, and even welcomed Pope Francis in 2016.

Archbishop of Stockholm (Sweden)

“Four hundred years ago, death penalty was introduced for Catholics in Sweden, but since then, much has changed, thanks to God. So now we have equal rights, since the year 2000. The Catholic church was recognized as a church and we have the same possibilities.”

There are currently 117,000 registered Catholics in the secular country with a population of almost 10 million. However, the Swedish Cardinal ensures that the number of Catholics is growing, mainly due to immigrants. Additionally, while many are not native-born Swedes, the resulting generations are and are revamping the Church. 

Archbishop of Stockholm (Sweden)

“The Swedish Catholics are a minority in their own church. Gradually the second generation of immigrants become Swedish. So we could say that more and more, the Catholic Church is a part of the Swedish society. We have to build new churches because the numbers of Catholics are growing. So that's also very hopeful because Sweden is also a very secular country. Of course, there are also people who lapse from the faith, who leave the Church, but still it's a growing Catholic Community and that's quite seldom of Europe today.”

Just as the pope went to Sweden, when the Cardinal participated in the consistory, many leaders from the Lutheran Church also came, because as he expressed, they feel like he is their cardinal as well. With this new status, he hopes Catholics will be given more credit throughout the country. 

Archbishop of Stockholm (Sweden)

'In Sweden, Sweden being a country where the Lutheran church is the biggest church, it's a very important fact. But I could say that all the other churches and denominations in Sweden are eager to work together in the National Council of Churches.' “We know we have passed through centuries of persecution and still some Catholics kind of feel like they are second-class citizens. They don't feel accepted. But gradually, we've become more and more part of society and maybe this fact of me becoming a cardinal can help to feel that well, we are a part of the society.”

Whether or not they will be more accepted, Anders Arborelius becoming cardinal is surely a significant event that will go down in Sweden's history.

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