Pope to reporters: “The trip to Sweden is very important”

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It’s landed to Malmoe airport the flight that is bringing Pope Francis in Sweden for his 17th international trip.“It’s a very important trip – the Pope said to the journalists who were with him on board – because it is very ecclesial in the field of ecumenism and your work will help  people to understand.”The plane carrying the Holy Father (an A321 of Alitalia) took off from the international airport of Rome-Fiumicino airport at 08.25 a.m , landing is scheduled at 11 a.m, after about 2 hours and 40 minutes. While leaving the Italian territory, Pope Francis has sent to the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, the usual telegram in which he hopes “the spiritual welfare, civil and social of the Italian people to whom I send my blessing.”

The Mattarella Telegram

The Head of State in his response to the Pope wrote: “Italy looks carefully at this mission, which is a stage of primary importance in the ecumenical dialogue. His presence at the joint commemoration of the Lutheran-Catholic reform throws a message of harmony and peace to Europe and the whole world and it is testimony to the commitment alive to feed a dialogue to overcome the divisions in the Christian world. ”

The invitation

The Pope was invited by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) to participate in the commemoration ceremony of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s reformation.The trip has this strong ecumenical connotation, and when Pope Francis welcomed the desire of the small Swedish Catholic community and neighboring countries, to celebrate a Mass, he wanted to happen to another day and in another place than the ecumenical celebrations, just to emphasize the importance and specificity of these celebrations, considering the fact that in the past similar occurrences had been cause for controversy and opposition and now it wants to give continuity to the dialogue initiated after Vatican II.The motto of the trip, in fact, takes the title of the joint document signed in 2013 (“From conflict to communion”) with the significant addition of “Together in Hope”.

The program

Today, the program includes two ecumenical meetings, the first is a ritual in the cathedral of Lund, a place chosen as the home of the birth of the Lutheran World Federation. The second event will be held instead in the Malmoe Arena, where they provided testimonies related to Caritas Internationalis and the World Service, the same charitable organization of the Lutherans. Tomorrow, All Saints Day, the Pope will celebrate Mass at “Malmo Stadium“.

While traveling in Sweden, the Pope will deliver four public interventions, including homilies, speeches and Angelus, and it is expected that he speaks in Spanish. Sweden has already welcomed a pope in 1989, when St. John Paul II made a trip to Scandinavia.Pope Francis will be received by the Swedish prime minister, Stefan Löfven and the Minister of Culture, Mrs. Alice Bah-Kuhnke. There will also be other authorities and members of the Lutheran Federation. The welcome is simple and there will be no speeches. Soon after, in the VIP section of the airport, the Pontiff will meet privately Prime Minister and the Minister of Culture. Soon after, he will be transferred to drive about 42 kilometers to Igelosa, where the Pope will be accommodated during this trip and he can rest a bit ‘in the large medical research facility that it has hosted the meetings of the Swedish Bishops’ Conference.The Pope then reach Lund by car (about 10 km), where at the Royal Palace at 01.35 a.m. he will make a courtesy visit to King Carl Gustaf XVI and Queen Silvia. With kings, then, the Pope will walk one hundred meters that it separates the royal residence from the cathedral. Here at 02.30 a.m. there will be a common ecumenical prayer. Both the Pope and the president of the LWF, Munib Younan, will pronounce a speech.

Later, the Pope together with the card. Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, to Younan and the general secretary of the Lutheran Federation, rev. Martin Junge, will travel in the van 28 kilometers that divide Lund from Malmoe. The journey together wants to be a visible sign of this renewed ecumenical dialogue. Religious leaders will travel to Malmo Arena, where, at around 04.40 p.m., it is expected the second ecumenical event. First, however, the religious leaders will meet in the Green Room of the Arena. At 6.10 p.m. always in the Malmoe Arena, the Pope, Junge and Card. Koch, individually greet the 30 heads of Christian delegations present at the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. At 7.00 p.m, Pope Francis will return to Igelosa, for dinner and night. Tomorrow morning arrival at Malmo Stadium for the Mass is scheduled at 9.15 a.m.and, after Mass and Angelus Pope Francis will start again from Malmo at 12.45 a.m. The arrival to Ciampino airport is expected around 03.30 p.m.

 

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