Swedish bishop surprised to be named cardinal by Pope Francis

5:33 min

The bishop of the Roman Catholic Church in Sweden, Anders Arborelius, was caught by surprise on Sunday, when Pope Francis announced that he would become one of five new cardinals in the church.

Anders Arborelius was in a small parish in Blekinge, when he was told the news, by two other priests, who just happened to have come across it on internet.

"It was a complete surprise to me. At first I did not really believe it, but then they showed me the news on the internet."

This is the first time ever that there has been a cardinal from Sweden, where the Catholic community - these days - is one of the smallest religious congregations. But it is growing, mainly because of immigrants coming here with the Catholic faith.

As a member of the College of Cardinals, Arborelius will be among those choosing a new pope. He also hopes to raise some of the issues close to his heart, and to the Catholic Church in Sweden.

"If I had the possibility, I would either stress the ecumenical situation, or the process of migration and integration, because that is our experience here. We live in a very ecumenical climate in Sweden, with the other churches, and we are also very much involved in the process of integration of people from all over the world," he said.

So why does he think he was he chosen to be a cardinal? Is it because the Catholic Church is growing in Sweden, albeit from a small number?

"I don't think it was only for that reason. But think they are interested in many parts of the Catholic world to see what it is to see what it is to live in a secular society and still be able to develop the church, because for many people a secular society is a kind of opposite reality towards a christian church, but more and more we see that it is possible also in a very secular atmosphere to be a prophetic sign, speaking about certain values that otherwise would be forgotten," he said.