Hope for unity before upcoming visit

Hope for unity before upcoming visit

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@Paula Dubbink
Photo: Jeffrey Bruno/Aleteia

At the end of October, Pope Francis will visit Lund and Malmö to commemorate the start of the Reformation in 2017. Lundagård spoke to a Catholic and Protestant student about their feelings and hopes before the visit. 

On October 31st 1517, the German monk Martin Luther nailed ninety-five thesis on a German church with demands for change in the Catholic Church. This event started the Reformation and was the foundation of the Protestant Church, which next year will have existed for 500 years.

At the start of this anniversary year, Pope Francis will meet representatives of the Lutheran Church in Lund Cathedral and 10.000 people will gather to see him in Malmö Arena.

Psychology student Nicolaus Fredestad is excited about the upcoming visit:

“The pope is the successor of the apostle Peter and it is his role to maintain the Catholic Church’s tradition and keep it united. It is a big
honor that he will come here.”

Nicolaus is Catholic and chairman of the southern region of Swedish Young Catholics, an organization coordinating Catholic youth work. He comments on the reason for the pope’s visit, which in some way is ironic for Catholics:

“We Catholics don’t celebrate the Reformation after all. In my eyes it is one of the worst things that has happed in Swedish church history. A lot of culture and piety has disappeared when Sweden converted to Lutheranism in the 16th century. But that is why it is good to give attention to it now and to try to build bridges between Catholics and Protestants. What happened to make the church divide? We are looking for unity.”

On the last point Veronica Pålsson, a theology student at Lund University  completely agrees with Nicolaus. She aims to work as a minister in the Swedish Church, and is involved in organizing a youth meeting linked to the papal visit.

“We will gather with about one hundred Catholics and Protestants age 18 to 25 from Southern Sweden in Lund during the two days before the pope comes. We will have discussion groups together, lectures by both Catholic and Protestant church leaders and we will pray together.”

Even though Pope Francis is not the leader of her own church, Veronica is very excited for his visit:

“This is a historic event. It is only the second time ever that a pope visits Sweden, so it is awesome to witness it. And Pope Francis engages himself in important questions: the refugee crisis, the environment, the acceptance of homosexuals… Of course, these issues will not be solved overnight, but the pope dares to start the discussion.”

She hopes that both the visit and the youth gwathering will lead to more understanding and unity between Catholics and Protestants.

“There is much more that unites us than that separates us, we are all God’s children. And we might even be able to discover the richness in the traditions of the other.”


 

About the pope visit and Chrisitianity in Sweden:

  • On Monday October 31st, Pope Francis will arrive in Lund. He comes to commemorate the start of the Reformation in 1517, when Martin Luther’s criticism on the Catholic Church led to the foundation of Protestantism.
  • Lutheran Protestantism has been the main denomination since the 16th century. Nowadays, about two-third of the Swedish population is a member of the Swedish Lutheran Church. About one percent of the Swedes are Catholic.
  • The pope’s visit starts with an ecumenical service in the Cathedral, only open to invitees. Among those attending are a.o. the Swedish royal family, the president of the Lutheran World Federation and Swedish Catholic and Protestant church leaders. The service will be broadcasted live on Swedish television and will be shown on large screens in Lund.
  • On Monday afternoon, there will be a larger event in Malmö Arena. The 10.000 tickets for this were sold 1,5 hours after their released Some tickets have, however, been reserved for youth people and will be sold later.
  • On Tuesday morning the pope will celebrate a Catholic Mass in Malmö, before returning home. At the moment, it is not yet known where the Mass will be held, nor is anything known about the sale of tickets.
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