Pope to visit Sweden to commemorate 500 years of Reformation

2016-01-25 19:39
Pope Francis prays at the end of his weekly general audience in St Peter's Square. (Alessandra Tarantino, AP)

Pope Francis prays at the end of his weekly general audience in St Peter's Square. (Alessandra Tarantino, AP)

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Vatican City - Pope Francis will visit Sweden in October to participate in commemorations kicking off a year of events marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the Vatican announced on Monday.

The one-day trip to the southern city of Lund, where the Lutheran World Federation was founded in 1947, will be the first papal visit to Sweden since Pope John Paul II toured five Scandinavian nations in 1989.

The visit, which comes ahead of the Reformation anniversary in 2017, will "highlight the important ecumenical developments that have taken place during the past 50 years of dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans", the Vatican said. It will include a common worship service based on a recently published Catholic Lutheran liturgical guide to help churches commemorate the Reformation anniversary together.

Martin Luther's challenge to the Catholic doctrine of indulgences in 1517 is remembered as the start of the Reformation, from which the protestant churches originated out of criticism of the Church of Rome led by the pope.

Lutheran World Federation general secretary, the Reverend Martin Junge, said the organisation, representing over 72 million Christians in 98 countries, is approaching the Reformation anniversary from an ecumenical spirit.

"I'm carried by the profound conviction that by working toward reconciliation between Lutherans and Catholics, we are working toward justice, peace and reconciliation in a world torn apart by conflict and violence," he said in a statement.

One of Sweden's oldest cities, Lund is known for its university and its 12th century Cathedral. The city has been the seat of both Catholic and Lutheran bishops. It belonged to Denmark until 1658.

The Catholic Church estimates there are about 150 000 Catholics in Sweden, including 113 000 registered members, according to Kristina Hellner of the Catholic Diocese of Stockholm.

Read more on:    pope francis  |  the vatican  |  sweden  |  religion

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