The Catholic Church in Sweden is a relatively small but growing branch of the Roman Catholic Church in the predominantly Sweden. It is one of the fastest growing Catholic Churches in Europe, despite the wide-spread secularism in Sweden.
The Roman Catholic Church was the established church of Sweden from the Middle Ages until the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century, when the King Gustav I broke off relations and established the Church of Sweden, based on the teachings of Martin Luther. It was the single church in Sweden, until the middle of the 19th century when other churches were allowed. However, it remained a state church until it was made independent in 2000. The Catholic Church, which prior to this had only existed in the form of independent congregations in Sweden, like the Diocese of Stockholm that was founded in 1953, but the changes in 2000 made it possible to become officially registered.
Members of the Swedish Catholic Church can be divided in four main groups:
Ethnic Swedes form a minority of the Church's members.
The Polish members are most numerous, and in most parishes people of Polish decent can be found. In the greater towns they have their own masses, and in Stockholm one of the Protestant churches is used twice on Sunday since the Catholic churches are too small. Approximately one of three priests (42 of 150) are born in Poland, and several others are Swedish-born but of Polish descent.
The believers from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina also typically have their own priests, a number which increased during the wars that followed the break-up of Yugoslavia.
Spanish speakers typically come from South America, mainly Chile, and most were political refugees who never fully integrated. Their number has been increased with Mexicans.
Since the 1980s an increasing number of people of Middle Eastern descent have arrived in Sweden, and in Greater-Stockholm each sunday there are several masses in the Melkite, Maronite, Armenian and Syrian Eastern Rites. Swedish_born priests from these groups have also exist, and the first Swedish born maronitic priest was sanctified in August 2002 in Beirut. (The Armenian Catholics are primarily from Poland, and not from the older Armenian Catholic Church.)
Maria Elisabeth Hesselblad
In 2000 the Swedish woman Maria Elisabeth Hesselblad was elevated to sainthood: she founded the Swedish chapter of the Catholic order of the Bridgettines.
- Catholic Church in Sweden (http://www.catholic.se/)