The historical visit is actually happening: il Papa, the Pope, S.t Francis arrived in Sweden yesterday morning. He was greeted by the swedish prime minister, and later had a meeting with the king and queen. Since the world Lutheran conference had its origin in Lund, that was the natural spot to have this meeting. There has been plenty of disagreements and fighting over the centuries, and so many tears have been shed over the broken bonds. Reformation gave common people a bible to read, a church open to everyone and a new hope for sinners, so it seemed. What was lost was the unity of siblings and the sharing of the holy communion. That has caused so much pain and that pain lingers on. Yes, there are many wounds to heal, but Luther never meant to cause pain, he just wanted people to get closer to the gospel.What the Pope Francis now does is to come here and speak about the blessings of the reformation and the great need to forgive and embrace those who are no enemies but loved brothers and sisters. He is the heart and center of the worldwide catholic church and have to hold together the many branches. Still his choice is to take part of the celebration of Martin Luther!
Thousands of young catholics came to see their big boss, their hero, hoping to get a selfie, thousands of other catholics but also thousands of protestants singing, praying and talking together. He was also greeted by the archbishop Antje, a woman!! And the bishop of the swedish catholic church, Anders Arborelius. A convert, actually.
Last time a pope was here was 1989 but that was nothing like this. Mind you, John Paul was also loved and respected among protestants.
The visit began in the cathedral of Lund, my dioces that is, where Johan Tyrberg is bishop. There he celebrated an eccumenical service with about 400 invited guests from all over the world. The head of LWC, Martin Junge, was there as well as LWCs bishop Munib Younan. It was a moment of great joy when they signed the agreement that actually started to grow 50 years ago!! To unite the churches and seek common goals, for the sake of hope and mercy! Because we all gather around the same Saviour. There was singing, dancing, praying and preaching during that service.
The event was broadcasted live on tv and radio as well as large screens in town.
After the service the Pope took off to Malmoe to join the party with 10.000 people waiting there for him to arrive. There he spent a few hours, enhancing the joy!! After that I gather the old man was a bit tired and so the brothers in a small monastery housed him for the night.
Early this morning he went to celebrate mass with the swedish catholic church, busloads of people came from everywhere to celebrate with their beloved Papa.
We were planning to take part of this historical moment, we really wanted to see this with our own eyes but personal reasons have prevented us and so I have no pictures of my own to present to you. Regrettably. I borrowed a small clip from Youtube. You see the university and all the people around. First the king and queen arrives at the "Kings house", then the Pope Francis arrives. After that meeting they hurried up to the cathedral close by.
And yes, I really wish I was there.
This Pope has brought the church closer to people and their everyday life. His focus has been the poor and small, his focus has been reconciliation, to recognize the wounds caused both by the church and others, and speak out about the way to mend. He has been called progressive and liberal, but there is still much to do. He is opening up for a greater understanding, he wants to start with the importance of love between human beings, rather than moral impacts. The question of women priests, abortions, divorce, and many other theological and moral issues are being dealt with, very very slowly but in earnesty. He has to step very carefully and not rush. But the movement is on.
The fact that he has his roots in the latinamerican context, with a background f.i as a guard, makes him easier to approach and he has shown a warm and very real interest for the life of the less fortunate and for the environment. He also has his favourite football team!
I am not a catholic but I do think this Pope is a sign of light and strong hope for the future. His approach is warm, open and loving, he is willing to listen and he has also been very determined to clear out old skeletons from the vatican wardrobes, in order to restore faith. He has apologized to many abandoned groups of people, and he keeps doing it.
The world needs a church united against evil, even if we still have many unsolved problems between us. 2017 will be a year to remember what Luther really wanted to achieve and we have a responsibility to keep the church open, truthful and bright like a lantern of hope, God knows this world needs it!
I'm not defending any of the bad things that has been done in the name of either catholics or protestants, I just wan't to see a trace of the Lords footsteps, heading through the crowds, urging us to forgive each other and keep following, together. I never claimed to hold any answers, I just wanted to write about at least one, bright and hopeful thing among all these dark and malvolent happenings hammering down on us. Hope prevails!!!