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Cardinal Brings Pope's Greeting to Stockholm

posted on 12 October 2003
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, will this weekend celebrate Mass at Stockholm Cathedral to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Diocese of Stockholm. The Cardinal, who is representing His Holiness Pope John Paul II at the celebrations will say in his Homily:

'It is a great privilege for me to come here to your country and to this Cathedral at Stockholm for a celebration of its Golden Jubilee. I come as the representative of Pope John Paul II, who has asked me to convey to you his congratulations, his greetings and his hopes for evangelisation in your country.

' The history of the Catholic Church in Sweden is not unlike our own in Britain. The re-establishment of the Church here over the past one hundred and fifty years began slowly. The first Catholic Church, after the Lutheran Reformation, was erected in 1837. By the beginning of the 20th century the number of Catholics began to increase mainly due to immigration from Italy. Later, after the Second World War, more people came, especially from Poland, Hungary, Germany - and later, from Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. It is this community of people from many backgrounds who have written the story of the Catholic faith in Sweden. And you have done it with great steadfastness and faithfulness over so many years.

' Now, as I come to visit you on behalf of the Holy Father, it seems to me that there is a new story to be written. Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. All Catholic people living in this country have a task and a mission in the years ahead. Now as the Church continues on its pilgrim way in this country there is a continuing need for faithfulness and for a new kind of evangelisation. Your ancestors wrote the story of the faith in this land; it is your task to write the next chapter of that faith.

' So who do you look to for example and inspiration? I feel a genuine pleasure to be in the land that has St. Bridget as its Patron Saint, especially as this is the 700th anniversary of her birth. Her example of constant prayer, of building Christian community and of reaching out to those in need in other parts of Europe inspired Christians in the 14th century, through the past seven hundred years and can still inspire us today. It is so important for us to remember and make real in our own faith today those three elements of our faith to which she gave such strong and powerful witness: to the importance of prayer, of community and of reaching out to those around us.

' It is our praise, our thanksgiving and our contemplation of Jesus Christ which calls us into an ever more intimate communion through Him with the Father. 'I bless you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children.' St Bridget was renowned for her very real and tangible experience of Jesus Christ and, in particular, His suffering. We should imitate St Bridget in her contemplation of the face of Jesus Christ. It is in our personal prayer and in our praise of God in the liturgy that we draw closer to the God who desires to reveal Himself to each one of us.

' St Bridget founded an Order of Sisters to continue her work. For her, community was important in her life, both as a place of healing and as a place of mutual support and encouragement. This must be true for our own communities of faith. We cannot live the Christian faith in isolation. We need to gather together in order to deepen our own faith and to support one another in witnessing to Christ in our world. Our communities need to be places of welcome and healing, where the poor and weak in particular can find a home.

' Finally, our work of evangelisation begins with the support that we receive from each other. It is in our families, in our small communities, and in our parishes that we begin the work of reaching out to others. It is by our love for one another that they begin to understand what Jesus Christ means for us. So many in our world hunger for meaning and purpose and look in the wrong place for the answer to those hungers - power, material wealth, drink, sex, drugs. None of these ultimately satisfy.

' We know that the purpose and meaning to our lives is found not in an idea or a thing, but in a person, Jesus Christ. He is the answer to all our thirsts. It is in contemplating His face that we find true purpose and meaning. It is this truth that St Bridget grasped so powerfully. It is this same truth that we also need to understand and live more deeply in our own lives. In a world given over largely to secularism and materialism it is in the quality of our witness to this same truth that we will touch the lives of others. I know that under the leadership of your good Bishop, Bishop Anders, that work will continue in all kinds of different ways in the years to come.

' Last week I was privileged to have an audience with our Holy Father Pope John Paul together with the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was good to see him, frail, yes, but indomitable in his spirit and his care for the Church. The Archbishop of Canterbury's visit to Rome was a strong sign of the continuing efforts being made towards closer ecumenical relations between the two main Christian churches in the United Kingdom.I know the Holy Father, when he visited Sweden, spoke of the importance of the ecumenical endeavour. This must continue whatever present difficulties on the ecumenical path. The more that Christians pray together and come together to manifest their communion with our One Lord Jesus Christ, the more effective will be the witness of the Gospel in our time.

' As the Legate of the Holy Father, whose twenty-fifth anniversary we celebrate this week, there is one last thing I would like to say to you today. When I was in Rome I had the opportunity to talk to someone who is very close to Pope John Paul II. I asked him what he thought had most powerfully inspired the Pope during his Pontificate - the third longest in history. He told me that Pope John Paul II had spent 25 years pondering six words in the Gospel of St John: The truth will make you free. In the second reading from the letter to the Corinthians, St Paul speaks of the hidden wisdom of God which we teach in our mysteries… the wisdom that God predestined to be for our glory before the ages began. It is a wisdom that none of the masters of this age have ever known or they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. That wisdom of God is the truth that God reveals to us about our nature, about our hope, about our destiny as His children. We can only live a full life, a true life, if in freedom we choose to follow the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

' I am confident that there is a great future for the life of the Church here in Sweden and in this Diocese in the years to come because I know that you will continue to witness to this truth. Your witness will not be achieved without sacrifice, without suffering, and without keeping in touch with the wellspring of truth revealed to us in Jesus Christ. As our reading says, We teach what scripture calls the things that no eye has seen and no ear has heard, things beyond the mind of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him. It is the love of God that urges us on to be faithful to His Son Jesus Christ and to spread the Good News of His love and forgiveness for all people.

' I congratulate the Bishop, the clergy, religious and people of this Diocese most warmly on this Golden Jubilee. And in the words of our Holy Father Pope John Paul II, extend in his name, his congratulations, his encouragement and his blessing.

' In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.'

Contact Details:
Austen Ivereigh
Telephone: 020 7798 9045 or 07905 224860
posted on 12 October 2003

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