Why Pope Francis' Trip to Sweden is A Really Big Deal

Pope Francis will travel to Sweden for a joint commemoration of the Reformation.

There was once a time when Europe was torn violently apart between Catholics and Protestants. The nailing of the 95 Theses by Martin Luther on the doors of Catholic churches in Germany heralded an age of utter violence and hatred between Catholic Europe under the Vatican See, and the rebels under Martin Luther.

We are now living in times when these two major contenders for power over Europe are planning on putting an end to all hostilities to finally come together.

While previous popes have already laid the foundation for friendship between Christianity's two major factions, the movement has rocketed with Pope Francis holding regular meetings with Protestant leaders. This has not gone too well with Catholic traditionalists. His visit to a Protestant church in Rome, where he even prayed, was met with criticism from traditional Catholics. However, Francis does not seem to be afraid of how his radical moves will be taken by people. Undaunted, he now announced his plan to visit Lund, the scene of the creation of the Lutheran World Federation, on October 31. The Pope is also going to participate in a joint service with the Lutheran leaders.

Sweden has been one of the most Protestant countries in Europe. Therefore, the Pope's decision comes as a very strategic one, by making a predominantly Protestant country the scene of this inter-communion between Catholics and Protestants, he is making a very bold statement. The Vatican does not seem interested in continuing the hostilities anymore, despite the archaic views some traditionalists still hold. Pope Francis seems to have realized the future of Christianity lies in communion between all denominations of Christianity, and this is something that simply had to start with whom this centuries-long fight began, Lutherans.

In the past, Pope Francis openly acknowledged the unfairness of the violence Catholics committed against Protestants and even openly sought the forgiveness of the Church's foremost nemesis. However, as he did not address the incidents of violence that were committed by Protestants on the Catholics, traditionalists cried foul at this.

This will be the first Papal visit to Sweden since Pope John Paul II made a stop at the country during his historic visit of all Scandinavian nations in 1989 . It looks like Pope Francis is on a mission to complete the unfinished business of Pope John Paul. However, whether these efforts at inter-communion will cause a revolt within the Church, further divisions is the bigger question here.

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