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Saturday, November 5, 2016

FRANCIS SCORNED IN SWEDEN

FRANCIS SCORNED IN SWEDEN 
Reading the preparatory articles for the papal visit to Sweden, I noticed an important detail that the Vatican and the media failed to give due prominence. It was Francis who asked to be invited to the commemorations of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and not the other way around, as has been insinuated in almost all news reports.

The clear affirmation of this came to light in an article by Enzo Bianchi, founder of the ecumenical monastic community of Bose in Northwest Italy. Indeed, Bianchi states: “Pope Francis, with his capacity to make prophetic gestures, manifested his desire to take part in the commemoration to be celebrated at Lund. And, in response to his audacity, the equally hard and courageous decision of the Lutheran World Federation was to welcome the unexpected request and formally invite the Pope.” (L’Osservatore Romano, October 31, 2016, p. 7)

So, if Benzio is objective in his report, it was Francis who went running to the Protestants and begged to be present at the beginning of the year of glorification of the great heresiarch. It adds further gravity to this act of apostasy.

The interview of Antje Jackelén, the woman-archbishop of Stockholm, confirmed Bianchi’s scoop when she explained that the initiative for the visit came from the Catholic Church, along with the LWF. (video here) Her words sound like: “We are glorifying Luther’s revolt against the Pope; but if a Pope wants to come here to take a stand with us against the Papacy, it is his choice… He will be just one among many.”
Scorned by the authorities

Arrival of Pope Francis in Stockholm 
The ‘welcome’ protocol was the minimum indispensable to not break diplomatic relations
It was shocking to see the extremely cold welcome Francis received from the Swedish government when his airplane landed in Sweden. Present were the Prime Minister and two other members of the government, a 15-men platoon to present arms and a small military band to play the anthems. To this feeble reception committee should be added four Protestant representatives and five Swedish Catholic Prelates who had the obligation to be there to receive the “boss.” (full 12-minute footage here)

None of the general public, no folkloric Swedish groups to wish him a good stay, not even a group of Catholic children to be kissed by Bergoglio, the most prodigal baby-kisser of modern times. After some formal handshakes and the perfunctory performance of the anthems, he entered a shuttle that took him to his lodgings. I would say that this kind of cool reception is the minimum one might expect, without running the risk of breaking diplomatic relations, for a president of some small island in the Indian Ocean arriving in Stockholm, but not for the Sovereign Pontiff of the world’s largest religion, who is also the head of the Vatican State.


King Carl Gustaf receives Pope Francis 
A remarkable simplicity bordering on an offense -
larger photo here
From his room – strangely located in a medical facility – he went to visit the royal family. King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia received the Pope with a remarkable frugality. The picture at right reveals the lack of solemnity they chose for the Pope. I would not be surprised if Francis would have requested such a display of simplicity.

But, if he did not, what the Swedish sovereigns offered the Pope – two pears and few clusters of grapes in a bowl, three plastic bottles of water with a vulgar glass, plus the proletarian table displaying these meager “offerings” and the general nakedness of the ambience – seems to be a means chosen by the royal couple to show their scorn for the Papacy. Their message appears to be: “Since you begged us to receive you here, this is what we have to offer you. It is what we would offer any beggar. In other words, we could not care less about your Papacy.”

Next, in the address of bishop Munib Younan, president of the Lutheran World Federation in Malmö, as well as in that of its secretary, pastor Martin Junge in Lund, there was not one single honorific mention of the titles of the Pope. None of his titles – Vicar of Christ, Roman Pontiff, Your Holiness, Sovereign Pontiff, not even simply the Pope or the egalitarian Bishop of Rome chosen by Francis to replace the Pope – was used by the Lutheran dignitaries. This omission by the religious authorities also reveals a desire to belittle the Papacy and the Catholic Church.

Thus, there is a common denominator in the receptions of the Swedish government, the Crown and the Lutheran religious authorities. All stressed by means of symbolic protocol that the Papacy was not welcome in Sweden.


Protest agains Pope Francis in Sweden 
Protesters wear white miters to ridicule the Pope
But not only this: As soon as the Pope entered the Lutheran temple of Lund, a demonstration – probably orchestrated by the same religious authorities – took place in front of it. Among the protesters were several dozen youth wearing white habits and miters, with the clear intent to ridicule the Papacy, as shown in the picture at right.

Another symbolic fact: Francis initially did not plan to say a Mass for Catholics in Malmö. As reported in L’Osservatore Romano, it was the resentment of the Swedish Catholics that forced his hand. In fact, since the whole papal program consisted of events with the Lutherans, the disgruntled Catholics showed their disappointment and complained. Only at the last moment did Bergoglio decide to say a Mass for the Catholics. In that Mass, however, he did not lose the opportunity to give them the bad counsel to work together with Protestants.

The conclusion is simple: Francis shamefully self-invited himself for a commemoration against the Papacy, was scorned as much as possible, and left recommending the few Catholics of Sweden (1% of the population) to follow his humiliating example.

In the next article I shall look at the doctrinal consequences of this visit and no longer at the matter of protocol.