Pope Francis will make a one-day visit to Sweden in October, and while it is still more than six months away, details of the visit remain scarce. All we know for certain is that the Holy Father will take part in the opening of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in Lund, together with the World Lutheran Federation, which was established in that city in 1947.
The president of the Scandinavian Bishops’ Conference, Copenhagen’s Bishop Czeslaw Kozon, noted yesterday that there is a desire among Catholics for a specific event with the Pope for them, and there have indeed been rumours that the Holy Father is to celebrate a Mass in either Lund or nearby Malmö. Bishop Kozon also observed that, despite all intents and purposes, the Pope will mostly be seen as the Pope, and not chiefly as a participant in the Reformation anniversary, “and people will be coming more for the Pope’s sake than for the sake of the Reformation”.
The papal visit, on 31 October, will be co-organised by the World Lutheran Federation, the Diocese of Stockholm and the Council of Churches of Sweden.
Photo credit: Peter Kristensen
The Scandinavian bishops, who form one bishops’ conference spread over five countries, recently met to elect a new president. After ten years, Bishop Anders Arborelius steps down, and he is succeeded by the bishop of Copenhagen, Czeslaw Kozon. He had already been serving as vice-president, a function Bishop Arborelius now takes over in a game of musical Church chairs. The third member of the standing council of the conference is Bishop Teemu Sippo of Helsinki. Other members of the conference are Bishop Pétur Bürcher, whose resignation remains pending, Bishop Bernt Eidsvig of Oslo and Bishop Berislav Grgic of Tromsø.
^Bishops Sippo, Kozon and Arborelius, with Sr. Anna Mirijam Kaschner, cps, the general secretary, at left
Usually, a bishops’ conference is headed by the metropolitan archbishop of the corresponding Church province (although there are exceptions, and the bishops are not bound by law to elect the metropolitan as president), but since the Scandinavian dioceses do not form a Church province – as there is no metropolitan archbishop – their presidency is not bound by expectation or tradition. That said, the presidency of the Nordic bishops’ conference has never been held by the bishop of Copenhagen. In fact, since its establishment in 1970, the presidency has alternated between Oslo and Helsinki, with Stockholm bookmarking the run until now.