Rorate Caeli

“Jag skall träda fram till Guds altare”

Sweden recieves a new Missal
This morning’s mail brought a package from a good friend in Stockholm: The newly published Missale Parvum. Although not as extravagant as some of the new Missals seen in recent years, the appearance of this Latinsk-Svensk Missal is in many ways far more significant as it is the first Swedish language edition of the 1962 Missal to be published in more than forty years and is arguably the first to bear the imprimatur of a Swedish bishop in centuries. Publication of the new Missal was prompted by the growing number of traditional Catholics in the country who were highly instrumental in bringing it about.

The Cathedral of St Erik – Seat of the Diocese of Stockholm
The Church in Sweden has suffered greatly since the 16th century when King Gustav I broke with Rome and established the protestant Church of Sweden, rendering it more or less illegal to be Catholic. Over the years, practice was tolerated among foreigners and there were numerous “closet Catholics” who managed to quietly kindle the Faith as best they could under the threat of expulsion from the country for being identified as Catholic. An Apostolic vicariate was erected in 1783 to serve Catholic immigrants. It was subordinate to the Archdiocese of Paderborn in what is now Germany. As of 1873, native Swedes who had reached their eighteenth year were free to leave the state Church and join other religious societies; however proselytizing was strictly forbidden and such converts found many other official obstacles strategically strewn in their path. The vicariate was only elevated to the status of diocese in 1953 and it wasn’t until the year 2000 that the state Church of Sweden was disestablished and it finally became possible for the Catholic Church to register and be officially recognized by the government. Today, the Diocese of Stockholm encompasses the entire country and consists of 42 parishes. It has been served by five bishops in succession and is presently shepherded by His Excellency Anders Arborelius, OCD. Bishop Arborelius is a convert to the Faith and is the first ethnic Swedish bishop since the kingdom fell to the protestant conquest.

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.

Father Marcus Kunkel ICRSP elevates the Chalice during Low Mass at St Erik’s Cathedral in Stockholm – the seat of Sweden’s sole diocese

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.

Diocesan priest, Fr. Ingvar Fogelquist says the Ecce Agnus Dei at Low Mass in Annunciation church on Stockholm’s east side

The Missale Parvum is a leather bound hardcover volume printed on very fine gilt edged paper. It contains the Ordinary of the Mass, Requiem Mass, a treasury of popular prayers and prayers to particular saints, liturgical calendar, formula for Confession, and numerous other useful items for today’s traditional Swedish Catholic. Perhaps the most relevant feature in the Missal is the complete text of the papal letter, Summorum Pontificum with a commentary by Bishop Arboralius himself. Anyone wishing to own a copy of the Missale Parvum may order it directly from the publisher, Catholica