In a surprise announcement on Sunday, Pope Francis named a total of five new cardinals, from Mali, Laos, El Salvador, Spain – and Bishop Anders Arborelius from Sweden.
Except for Spain, all countries are peripheral in the Catholic world. Particularly Sweden, with its strongly secular profile, stood out, said Douglas Brommesson, a political scientist at Lund University who has studied the role of the Catholic church in international politics.
“But this is somewhat in line with the Pope's way of thinking. He has named cardinals in countries that are poor or that are located far away from Rome previously. It is likely a way of getting perspectives from other countries than the typically Catholic countries,” Brommesson told TT newswire.
“I suppose this is a great encouragement for the Catholic church in Sweden. The Pope visited Sweden recently, and Sweden has in a short period of time ended up at the centre of the life of the Catholic church. That is, of course, encouraging,” he added.
Apart from being the first ever Swede to be appointed as cardinal, 67-year-old Anders Arborelius became the first Catholic bishop of Swedish descent since the reformation in the 16th century in Sweden when he was named Bishop of Stockholm in 1998.
The cardinals belong to an elite group of members of the Catholic church, acting as the closest advisors to the Pope. Cardinals aged under 80 are also allowed to take part in the naming of a new Pope, which is why the Catholic church aims for having approximately 120 cardinals aged under 80.
The five cardinals will be elevated to their new positions at a ceremony on June 28th.
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