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Rome Reports

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Former Protestant pastor evangelizes Sweden for the Catholic Church

Cardinal Anders Arborelius is the bishop of the diocese of Stockholm, which covers all of Sweden. Currently, the Catholic Church has a small presence in the country but it is growing thanks to immigration and conversions. One person helping the Church grow is Ulf Ekman, a former Protestant pastor.

Bishop of Stockholm, Sweden

We want our churches to become more active in evangelization. That's why we prepared the program with Ulf Ekman. We think that every baptized person has a responsibility to show the gospel to those around them.

As a Protestant pastor, Ekman was very successful—he established a church which attracted thousands of people. However, after years of studying and meditation, he and his wife joined the Catholic Church in 2014. Now, he serves a key role in the Church's mission of evangelization.

Theologian and writer

The idea is that friendship is key. Animosity and heated debates don't lead people to being one with the Lord. Maybe a few, but mostly, it's when they see the love of Christ in your life. It's when we walk together...And when we ask honest questions, and answer honestly back, that people begin to trust us.”

Ekman is spreading his message of friendship to parishes throughout Sweden. He teaches that people don't need to be scholars to share their faith with others.

Theologian and writer

This idea is meant to inspire every member of the Church, particularly in the local parishes. If you are a witness to the faith then you are also an evangelizer. And to be a witness, you don't need to have an encyclopedic knowledge of everything.

In a society where faith isn't very common, Ekman finds it especially important to have conversation with those close to us.

Theologian and writer

I think every Catholic knows one or two people who are curious. Whether it be at work, in their studies, in the family or in the neighborhood— there are people who might have a question or two and that is where you start.

There are just over 126,000 Catholics in Sweden—a country with more than 10 million people. While Catholicism is the minority for now, enthusiasm for spreading the Gospel in Sweden continues to grow.