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Rome Reports

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Swedish Card. Arborelius talks poverty and immigrants in new titular church in Rome


With six months of experience in his new position, Sweden's first cardinal has received his titular church in Rome, the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and Martyrs. After celebrating his first Mass there, he says there are already connections between him and the parish. 

CARD. ANDERS ARBORELIUS
Cardinal of Stockholm (Sweden)

“An Iraqi priest, Fr. Ragheed, was ordained in this church and he worked in Sweden. Then he went back to Iraq, where he was killed. So he's one of the modern martyrs and this is also a church of martyrs. During the penal centuries, Catholics in Sweden had a very, very hard time, so gradually I find many connections between this church and our Swedish reality.”

This reality, he states is coming from a poor, persecuted Church that suffered for centuries in Sweden. Now, he tries to turn their suffering into good by welcoming immigrants and helping those persecuted in other parts of the world, despite new restrictive immigration laws in Sweden.

CARD. ANDERS ARBORELIUS
Cardinal of Stockholm (Sweden)

“For the moment, Sweden has changed policy, so many refugees are sent back and, together, with the other Christian churches, we try to speak up in favor of all those people. Especially, it's very difficult to reunite families. Still, refugees from Syria and Eritrea mostly get permission to stay. Many of them are Catholic, so we try to integrate them.”

Even with previously vast numbers of migrants coming to the country, he says there is not much physical poverty in the cities due to the social security. However, he says poverty still exists, just in a different way. 

CARD. ANDERS ARBORELIUS
Cardinal of Stockholm (Sweden)

“We have this spiritual poverty. So many have physiological problems, so many need someone to speak to to get help to overcome their isolation. So many old people are alone and have no one to take care of them.”

Meanwhile, the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and Martyrs also serves the material needs of the poor, by giving the homeless in Rome lunch in this little chapel each Thursday. They also have a little residence so homeless women can safely sleep indoors. These are initiatives Card. Arborelius is eager to join as he now has his parish in Sweden and also one in Rome.