(Vatican Radio) Cardinal Anders Arborelius has been named “Swede of the Year”, the first ever Catholic prelate to receive the prestigious accolade.
“Swede of the Year” is a title given annually, since 1984, to a person who during the year has distinguished her or himself in a way that has changed Sweden for the better.
An independent jury set up by the nation’s leading news magazine Fokus revealed on Thursday evening that Cardinal Arborelius, Bishop of Stockholm came out tops on its list of candidates who are “interesting and challenging: not simply well-known.”
This is the motivation of the jury:
"Nineteen years ago, the Swede of the year stepped into a role that no Swede had played since the 16th century. This year he became the first Swede ever to wear the red biretta. The Swede of the year has already made history, but he is also a person who, ever since his appointment in 1998, has been part of Swedish public debate. To represent the Catholic Church in a country, whose identity is mainly secular and otherwise Lutheran, requires a fearless attitude. As bishop of the diocese of Stockholm the Swede of the year also plays an essential role in bringing native Swedes and immigrant Swedes together. The Swede of the year is Anders Arborelius, bishop and cardinal."
Commenting on the recognition, Cardinal Arborelius told Vatican Radio that people sometimes ask him whether he really is Swedish because they think that it is impossible for a Swede to be a Catholic priest, bishop and cardinal!
“I am happy for the nomination and I think Fokus showed courage in having chosen me. It is a sign that the Catholic Church is increasingly becoming a reality in Sweden and part of Swedish culture. It is part of a process of integration that one can be Swedish and a cardinal at the same time” he said.