Rom in Schweden? Die katholische Offensive im ökumenisch-nationalen Kontext

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Rome in Sweden? The Catholic Offensive in Ecumenical-National Context
Since World War II, ecumenical principles have been used as historical measures. This has led to re-interpretations of historical events and to alterations of sources, for example the letters and diaries by Elisabeth Hesselblad, the renewer of St. Birgitta’s order. In the literature on the Swedish Archbishop Nathan Söderblom, this shift has been more subtle. Söderblom’s critical attitude towards the Roman Catholic church has been suppressed. To Söderblom, the opposites were not the Evangelical and the Catholic confessions, but the Ecumenical world movement and the Roman Catholic world Church.
Catholic and other dissenters were accepted in 1860. Swedish priests and converts were eager to give the Church a Swedish impression. In 1921, Archbishop Söderblom had consecrated the Lutheran Archbishop Kärlis Irbe in St. Jacob’s Church in Riga. The concordate between the Latvian republic and the Holy See in 1922 led to the transformation of the very same Church to the Catholics. Söderblom critisized this ’most cunning and ruthless manifestation of the Counter-Reformation’. In the middle of the Swedish protest actions, Cardinal Willem van Rossum came on visitation to Sweden. This led to heavy attacks on the Roman Church from the Swedish press. The Catholic offensive was understood as an expression of aggressive missioning and as a threat against the national identity.
In order to collect money for the Nordic Mission, Cardinal van Rossum published a booklet, where he criticized the Protestant churches in a partly ridiculous way. Bishop Müller, too, lectured in 1925 in Munich on the Catholic Mission in Sweden, picturing the discrimination of the Swedish Catholics. These activities meant an effort to establish a Catholic Scandinavism, though partly understood as a declaration of war against the Church of Sweden.
The answer of Archbishop Söderblom was the emphasis on ’evangelical catholicity’ as a contrast to Roman catholicity. ’Catholic’ meant comprehensive, universal, and ecumenical. To Söderblom, the Church of Sweden was identical to the medieval Church in Sweden., while he criticized the actual Roman Church. Thus, the Stockholm conference in 1925 may be interpreted as a Pan-Protestant counter-offensive. Only in his last years, Söderblom’s interest was widened above the Catholic Modernists to more orthodox ones.
In 1941, a Catholic Bishop took part in an open Church conference of the Church of Sweden, and during and after World War II, a more ecumenical attitude gradually was accepted. National integrity was still a decisive factor, and the debate in Parliament on the abolition of the prohibition of monasteries in 1951, made it clear that Rome in Sweden was gradually accepted, while Rome over Swedish citizens still was rejected.

SpecialistpublikationKirchliche Zeitgeschichte
FörlagVandenhoeck & Ruprecht
StatusPublished - 2005

Bibliografisk information

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Centre for Theology and Religious Studies (015017000)

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