Today Catholics comprise only about 2% of the total Swedish population but they are one of the fastest growing areas of the Church in Europe, attracting increasingly large amounts of converts from the domestic population annually - and it should be noted that traditional Catholicism has been playing an important role. The Swedish Friends of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest is a lay association which has worked tirelessly for years to propagate the traditional Mass in the country and is largely responsible for bringing the Missal Parvum into reality. Bishop Arborelius, whose imprimatur appears on the new Missal, has proven to be a true friend to tradition and has cooperated with the ICRSP to bring the traditional Mass to four different parishes in the diocese – including the Cathedral! Some Masses are offered by diocesan priests, others by priests of the ICRSP. In addition to these there is a Sunday Mass offered at Gothenburg by the parish priest and another offered by the Friars of the Franciscan Conventual Chapel at Jonsered. The SSPX also offers a Mass in Stockholm.
The majority of the roughly 200,000 Catholics in present-day Sweden belong to non-Swedish ethnic groups with Poles being the largest of these, followed by Croats and Hispanics. Interestingly it is ethnic Swedes, most of whom are converts from Swedish Protestantism, who form the bulk of the traditional Catholic community. How things will develop from here will be worth keeping an eye on. The Church which had once almost completely disappeared from Sweden is now returning to, what is in some ways, a clean slate. Swedes in general did not suffer from the post-conciliar tumult that ravaged the Catholic world in the late 20th century largely because the Church was only marginally present among, or accessible to the Swedish people during most of that period. Today’s emerging convert population has a choice between two rites of equal footing. What we will be witnessing in the coming years is something never before seen: A test case that will show which liturgical path a historically Catholic European population will choose when given clear options as it re-embraces the Faith. In the unique situation of the Swedes, it is a choice between the rite which was pried from the hands of their Catholic ancestors by protestant rebels, and the rite devised 40 years ago by the post-conciliar Church in exile. Let us remember to pray for the sons and daughters of St. Bridgit as they usher Christ’s Church back into their kingdom – they may very well be constructing the model for the western Church in the 21st century.