Pope Francis on a landmark visit to Sweden

Pope Francis presides over an ecumenical event at the Malmo arena, Sweden, Monday, Oct. 31, 2016. (L’Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)
Pope Francis presides over an ecumenical event at the Malmo arena, Sweden,
Monday, Oct. 31, 2016. (L’Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)

Malmö, Sweden – Pope Francis thanked all the governments of the world that assist refugees and migrants at the second major ecumenical event in Sweden commemorating the Reformation which had a clear focus on Catholics and Lutherans working together for peace and justice. […]

Marguerite Barankitse, a Burundi refugee, spoke of the charity she founded to help her country’s war-affected children, Maison Shalom, and how she was forced to leave following threats. “Please accept to be crazy like me!” she urged. “Don’t forget to dream, because each of our dreams makes the world better!”

Rose Lokonyen, a refugee from South Sudan who took part in the Rio Olympics. “Refugees should be treated equally to others,” she said. “May people all over the world talk to their leaders so they help people to go back and rebuild their countries,” she asked.

Responding to the testimonies, Younan told of his own past as a Palestinian refugee, and how he was cared for by the Lutheran Church. “Welcome the stranger among us,” he urged.

“We are experiencing the modern miracle of the Holy Spirit as the disciples experienced it in my home town, Jerusalem, 2,ooo years ago,” he said, adding that the services in Lund showed that “when religious people work for reconciliation, religion can provoke the flourishing of human communities.”

“We pray that God will bless our deepening relationship with each other so that the world may believe,” he concluded.

In his address, Pope Francis gave thanks for the joint commemoration and for the “new atmosphere of understanding” between the LWF and the Catholic Church, before responding to each of the testimonies.

“I share your concern about the abuses harming our planet, our common home, and causing grave effects on the climate,” he told Pranita, adding that “the greatest impact is on those who are most vulnerable and needy.”

“As we say in my country,” he added off-the-cuff, “in the end it’s the poor who pay the price for the big party.”

Responding to Fabio Henao, he asked for prayers “in a special way for that great country, so that, through the cooperation of all, peace, so greatly desired and necessary for a worthy human coexistence, can finally be achieved.”

“Of course, it’s the craziness of the love of God and of neighbour” behind what you are doing, he told Barankitse. “If only this could be propagated!

“Rose, I thank you from the heart for your commitment to encouraging other young women to go back to school, and for the fact you daily pray for the peace in the young state of South Sudan,” he told Lokonyen.

Francis went on to thank “all those governments that assist refugees, displaced persons and asylum-seekers.”

“For us Christians, it is a priority to go out and meet the outcasts and the marginalized of our world, and to make felt the tender and merciful love of God, who rejects no on and accepts everyone,” Francis added, before adding, again off-the-cuff, that “Christians today are called to lead a revolution of tenderness.”

Read the full report by Austen Ivereigh, contributing editor for Crux.