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    Lutheran Swedes to Cough Up Millions of Kronor for Papal Visit

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    Despite being a Lutheran nation in the periphery of the Catholic world, Sweden is proud to welcome Pope Francis in late October. The short papal visit to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation is expected to last only a few hours, yet will cost Swedish tax-payers millions of kroner.

    Stockholm metro train on a metro bridge.
    © Sputnik / Vladimir Presnya
    Despite Pope Francis' well-known humility, concern for the poor and a humbler approach to the papacy than most of his predecessors, the papal visit is estimated to cost Sweden about 8 million SEK (roughly $900,000). The Church of Sweden is ready to account for about half of the cost. The rest of the cost will be shared between the Vatican, the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church in Sweden. The costs include rental fees of Malmö arena and various security measures.

    During the visit, which commences on October 31, Pope Francis will be preaching together with Lutheran World Federation President Bishop Munib Younan during an ecumenical service at the Lund Cathedral before 450 invited guests. The Lund Cathedral was built as a Catholic episcopal see, but has since the Reformation served as the seat of the Church of Sweden. At the same time, over 10,000 spectators will follow the service from Malmö Arena, where the Pope and Bishop Younan will connect when the service in Lund is over. The following day, the Pope will serve a Catholic mass at Swedbank stadium in Malmö.

    ​Police security efforts will be very large and probably on par with US President Obama's visit to Stockholm, when 2,000 police officers (roughly a tenth of the country's total police force) were engaged in security measures. Accordingly, city centers in both Malmö and Lund will be blocked from traffic.

    October 31 will be the first time that the Catholic Church and the Lutheran churches hold a worship service together. Unlike the past, none of them is formally a guest of its counterpart. According to Swedish Radio, the joint service took 50 years of dialogue to organize.

    According to police estimates, between 30,000 and 150,000 visitors and tourists will gather in Lund, which today is famous as a university town with a population of 80,000, southern Swedish newspaper Sydsvenskan reported. According to Swedish religious newspaper Dagen, the papal visit is expected to dwarf the triumphal return of Lund native Måns Zelmerlöw from the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest, when tens of thousands of cheering fans filled town square in Lund.

    ​Pope Francis has become world-famous for his modesty and restraint. Among other things, he has been credited for favoring a simple life devoid of luxuries. Pope Francis chose to discard the papal apartments of the Apostolic Palace and is known for preferring regular cars to bulletproof limousines. If the October weather permits, Pope Francis will be expected to arrive in an open jeep.

    ​Lutheran Christianity is officially the largest religion in Sweden, with 6.2 million Swedish citizens being members of the Church of Sweden, despite the marked drop in membership since the 1960s. Islam is the second largest religion in Sweden.


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    Christianity, Religion, Pope Francis, Vatican, Scandinavia, Sweden
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