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Pope calls for 'revolution of tenderness' towards refugees

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Pope calls for 'revolution of tenderness' towards refugees
Pope Francis speaking in Malmö. Photo: Emil Langvad/TT
10:40 CET+01:00
BLOG: The Local followed the Pope's visit to Sweden live from Malmö and Lund.

READ ALSO: Pope on 'why Swedish men prefer non-Swedish women'

READ ALSO: Pope holds Catholic mass in secular Sweden

18:55 That's a wrap

And with that, the event at the Malmö Arena is over. 

Tomorrow the Pope will hold a mass at 09:30 at Malmö’s Swedbank Stadion, then a farewell ceremony will take place at Malmö airport around 12:30 before he flies back to Rome. We'll have coverage of both events.

Thanks for reading our live blog on the first day of the Pope's visit to Sweden. We hope you enjoyed it.

18:40 Sweden's government speaks

Sweden's foreign minister Margot Wallström has commented on the Pope's visit to the country on her Twitter account.

Back in Malmö meanwhile PM Stefan Löfven is speaking.

The Pope's comments on refugees touched on a familiar theme for Löfven, who highlighted in his speech at the Malmö Arena that everyone has a responsibility to come together and create peace.

Sweden understands what the opposite can create pretty well, receiving a record 163,000 asylum applications last year.

18:20 Pope Francis calls for 'revolution'

The typically outspoken Francis really hit his stride in the latter parts of his speech.

“I think all governments who have helped displaced people,” and “We Christians should be protagonists of the revolution of tenderness,” are some of his most striking comments on the refugee crisis, as he discarded the script.  

“The stories we’ve heard today should give us motivation to work more united every day, when we return home we should take with us the guarantee of realizing every day a gesture of peace and reconciliation, to do brave things and be faithful to Christian hope,” he finished.  

The Pope is speaking, in Spanish. There's an English translation but sounds like he's occasionally going off script. pic.twitter.com/htapYgFXAw

— Emma Löfgren (@ekjlofgren) October 31, 2016

18:10 The Pope speaks

Pope Francis has started his speech at the Malmö Arena. “Give thanks to God for this joint commemoration of the 500 year anniversary of the Reformation. We are conscious of the union between Christians. There is much more which unites us than separates us,” he began, adding:

“Dialogue between us has allowed us to strengthen reciprocal comprehension. And to confirm the desire to walk towards communion. One of the fruits of this dialogue is the collaboration between different organizations in the World Lutheran Federation and the Catholic Church."

His Holiness then moved on to the subjects of climate change and refugees.

“The biggest impact often hurts the most vulnerable people with the least resources, who are forced to emigrate to save themselves from the effects of climate change. As we say in my country, in the end, poor people end up paying for the big party," an emotional Pope emphasized.

“We’re all responsible for the preservation of creation. We Christians, our style of life, our behaviour should be coherent with our faith," he noted. 

17:55 'Welcome the strangers among us'

The Pope is expected to speak again shortly. Prior to that, Lutheran World Federation President Munib Younan has given a passionate address to the Malmö Arena crowd, with refugees a key theme.

“I call on all churches in the world, and even politicians of the world, to welcome the strangers among us,” he said.

17:10 Pope says thanks

The Pope’s brief opening words in Malmö were a simple thanks for being invited to attend, once again delivered in Spanish.

17:00 The Pope arrives in Malmö

Pope Francis has taken the stage in Malmö a touch later than scheduled, driving into the arena in a small vehicle (a Popemobile, if you like). Judging by the reaction from the crowd, they don’t mind the delay.

His Holiness is due to give another speech here, which is expected to be about as long as the one he delivered in Lund. Swedish Church archbishop Antje Jackelén is also in attendance.

16:45 The second event kicks off

We're reliably informed that Pope Francis has now arrived at Malmö Arena for the second ecumenical event of the day and will make his way in any minute now. A solo performance of Gerry & The Pacemakers' hit "You'll Never Walk Alone" greeted him as he arrived outside the venue. The football-mad Pope will no doubt recognize the song, perhaps best known these days as the anthem of Liverpool FC.

16:00 A symbolic gesture

In the latter part of the service Pope Francis and LWF President Younan signed a joint statement calling on Lutheran and Catholic parishes and communities to be “bold and creative, joyful and hopeful in their commitment to continue the great journey ahead of us”.

The Pope is now departing Lund and is on his way to Malmö for the next service, which is due to start at 16:40. We’re about to find out how fast that Fiat is.

15:40 The service so far

For those who missed the earlier part of today’s ceremony, Pope Francis and the General Secretary of The Lutheran World Federation Rev. Dr Martin Junge jointly preached on the gospel of the true vine at the ecumenical event commemorating the Reformation.

The two spoke of Christ uniting Lutherans and Catholics.

“We have the opportunity to mend a critical moment of our history by moving beyond the controversies and disagreements that have often prevented us from understanding one another,” Pope Francis stated in his sermon.

“We acknowledge that there is much more that unites us than that which separates us. We are branches of the same vine. We are one in Baptism,” said General Secretary Junge in his.

The historic event, which is the first joint Catholic-Lutheran commemoration of the Reformation at a global level, was witnessed by 450 ecumenical guests in Lund Cathedral. Further south at the Malmö Arena meanwhile an additional 10,000 watched live.

Pope Francis will travel to Malmö after the ceremony in Lund for another ecumenical event at the arena in Sweden's third-largest city.

15:30 The lucky few

It hasn't been the sunniest day in southern Sweden but that didn't stop hopefuls coming out in their droves in an attempt to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis on this special visit. Some were even lucky enough to meet him.


Photo: Drago Prvulovic/TT


Photo: Drago Prvulovic/TT


Photo: Drago Prvulovic/TT

15:20 A 'crucial moment'

The Pope is currently delivering a lengthy speech in Spanish on Christ’s desire for unity between everyone who believes in him. Here’s a brief excerpt:

“In this meeting, we want to manifest to God our common desire to remain united. This is also a moment to say thanks to God for the effort from so many of our brothers from different churches not to divide, but to keep the hope of reconciliation alive that we all want. Catholics and Lutherans, we have started to walk together on the path of reconciliation. Now in the context of the commemoration of the Reformation, we have a new opportunity to take a common path which has been forming in the last 50 years through the ecumenical dialogue between the Lutheran and Catholic churches. We cannot resign ourselves to the division and distance of the separation between us. We have the opportunity to repair at a crucial moment in our history.”

15:10 Over 500 years in the making

For an idea of how historic today is, this is the first time since the 1500s that a Catholic priest has stood and given a sermon on Lund Cathedral’s altar

Sweden’s Lutheran archbishop Antje Jackelén, who has been notably quiet so far, has now said her first words of the service. She read a passage from the Gospel of John.  

15:00 A solemn sermon

As expected the tone has been a solemn one in Lund. So far Pope Francis has asked for forgiveness for violent acts committed by both Catholics and Protestants during the Reformation. “Christ is our peace, who breaks down the walls that divide us,” he said.

14:50 Swedish enthusiasm

Simon, Johan, Emil and Nils are students at Lund University. They had a break between classes and came here to check out the event, but didn’t manage to catch a glimpse of the Pope.

“It’s pretty cool, but doesn’t affect us in our daily lives,” says Nils.


Photo: Emma Löfgren

14:45 Linguistic diversity

The ceremony at Lund Cathedral is a truly international one. Pope Francis has been speaking in Argentinian Spanish, while hymns have been sung in German and Latin and other words have been said in English.

14:35 The service begins

Archbishop Antje Jackelén has led a content but serious looking Pope Francis out as the ecumenical service at Lund Cathedral begins.

The congregation at the cathedral is like a Swedish who’s who. PM Stefan Löfven is there, as is foreign minister Margot Wallström, the royal family and religious leaders from different faiths.

14:30 The first big meeting

Here's a great picture from King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia's meeting with Pope Francis. Oh to be a fly on the wall in that room.


Whatever's being said it looks interesting. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

14:25 To the cathedral

Pope Francis is now on his way to the ecumenical service at Lund Cathedral which marks the beginning of celebrations for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. He will be led out by Swedish Church archbishop Antje Jackelén

The event comes eight months after he became the first pope in almost 1,000 years to meet the Russian Orthodox Patriarch, while he has also reached out to Anglicans.

The words of his sermon in Lund will no doubt be closely scrutinized, as will remarks from Mounib Younan, the Palestinian president of the World Lutheran Federation, who is also due to speak.

14:15 Catholicism on the rise

While the Pope chats to the royals it’s worth pointing out that it’s a pretty good time to be a Catholic in Sweden. The Catholic Church now has 113,000 members in the country compared to only 87,000 in 2000. The church itself says it estimates the number of Catholics in Sweden could actually be as high as 150,000.

The opposite trend is occurring for the Lutheran Swedish Church. Membership numbers have taken a particularly big hit this year, and have been dropping slightly year on year as old members die and fewer children are baptized. One important part of the change is that children whose parents were members of the Swedish Church are no longer automatically enrolled at birth as they were before 1996.

It should be said that in general Swedes are a secular bunch. According to state-funded number crunchers Statistics Sweden, only five percent of Swedes are regular church goers. There's still a healthy crowd in Lund for the Pope's visit today however.

13:55 A royal meeting

Pope Francis has just been brought by police escort to the King’s House in Lund and is now meeting Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. Spectators created plenty of noise as they caught a glimpse of His Holiness getting out of a pretty modest looking car (a Fiat, naturally). He even gave the followers a wave before disappearing into the building.  

13:45 The location

For anyone who hasn’t been fortunate enough to visit the Pope’s first big stop on his Sweden trip, Lund is a picturesque city in the south of the country which is best known for its university and its cathedral. Think quaint cobble-stoned streets lined with people on their bikes.

In around five minutes Pope Francis is due to meet Sweden’s royal family at the King’s House (Kungshuset) before moving on to the cathedral at 14:30 for the ecumenical service that is his principle reason for being here.


Lund Cathedral. Photo: Emil Langvad/TT

12:45 A helping hand

Along with extra security, extra bodies have been deployed in Lund to help visitors. This is Hedvig Wrede, who works for Lund Council. She’s here, stationed halfway between the train station and Lund Cathedral, to help visitors with any questions they may have.


Hedvig Wrede. Photo: Emma Löfgren

“It has been pretty calm so far. We were expecting more people, but of course it doesn’t start until later,” she told The Local.

12:20 All eyes on Lund

The Pope’s visit means a major security operation for Sweden, and police from across the country have been brought down to southern region Skåne to help. Our editor Emma Löfgren has spotted plenty of police on the streets of Lund, and it seems they’re attracting more attention than the main attraction at the moment.


Lund local Susanna. Photo: Emma Löfgren

“I don’t know what to say but I guess it’s kind of exciting. A lot of police here. I came down just to check it out but it’s pretty calm. I would have thought there would be more things going on,” said Lund local Susanna, who also added she isn’t going to stick around for the Pope’s arrival later.

Her thoughts are echoed by many, with most people fascinated by the massive police presence in usually calm Lund rather than the imminent visit of His Holiness.

One woman who did not want to have her picture taken admitted to The Local however “It’s kind of fun. Not that I’m religious, but to see a pope in tiny Lund!”. Her friend added: “But it’s nice that Lutherans and Catholics are doing something together. We still believe in the same God.”

11:10 Sweden and Christianity

Sweden seceded from the Catholic Church back in the 16th century, and has a strong Lutheran heritage, which is why the Pope’s visit is so unusual. Compared to Catholicism the Swedish church is pretty liberal: women holding office is approved, gay marriage is backed and there are openly lesbian and gay bishops.

Intriguingly, it’s the anniversary of the Reformation that Pope Francis is here to mark. The ecumenical ceremony he will attend in Lund kicks off a year of celebrations for the 500th anniversary of German monk Martin Luther nailing his ‘95 theses’ t the door of a church in Wittenberg on October 31st, 1517.

But the ceremony and the visit will also mark 50 years of reconciliatory dialogue between the Catholic Church and Lutheranism. The Pope’s attendance is a notable gesture that shows significant progress on that front.  

11:00 First impressions

A jovial looking Pope Francis descended from the airplane and onto the red carpet alongside PM Stefan Löfven as the Swedish national anthem played. He was also greeted by archbishop Antje Jackelén, the head of the Swedish Church. They’ll have plenty of contact today, which brings us to our next point…  

10:50 The Pope has landed

The Pope has landed at Malmö airport and is about to be greeted by Swedish PM Stefan Löfven. 


The Pope's plane landing in Malmö. Photo: Emil Langvad/TT

10:40 A rare occurrence

This is the only the second time in history that a pope has visited Sweden. The last was when Pope John Paul II came to Stockholm in 1989, where he held a mass for 16,000 people at the Globe Arena.

It’s such a rare occurrence in fact that Anders Arborelius, Bishop of the Catholic Church in Sweden admitted to The Local that they were “very surprised” when Francis said he wanted to come.

10:00 A big day begins

Good morning and welcome to The Local’s coverage of the Pope’s visit to Sweden. This is an historic day by any standard, with the visit by Pope Francis only the second time ever that a pope has come to the country. We’ll have more on that and other important details shortly.

It’s a busy day for Francis. He’s due to arrive at Malmö’s Sturup airport at 11:00 Swedish time, where he will be greeted by an official delegation including Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. The Pope will then travel north to Lund, where he’ll pay a visit to the Swedish Royal Family at 13:50.

After that, one of the biggest events of the day will kick off at 14:30 as Francis participates in an ecumenical service at Lund Cathedral, then a couple of hours later at 16:40 he’ll travel south again to join an ecumenical event at the Malmö Arena. His day will end with meeting the ecumenical delegation at the arena at 18:10.

On the ground in Lund and Malmö today is our editor Emma Löfgren. She’ll be tweeting from the events and speaking to the excited worshipers in both cities, as well as attending the press centre right next to Lund Cathedral. Reporter Lee Roden will be running the live blog here meanwhile. 

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