Catholics in Norway celebrate

Photo: Wikimedia Photo Commons

Norwegian Catholics gather to celebrate the election of Pope Francis

Staff Compilation

Norwegian American Weekly

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina was elected pope by his fellow cardinals in a historic papal election last week.

The first South American pope, Pope Francis, or Pave Frans as he is called in Norway, was hailed as Catholics around the world celebrated their new spiritual leader.

Norwegian Catholics also celebrated the new Pope Francis.

There were 102,286 Roman Catholics in Norway in 2012, according to Statistics Norway. This number has more than doubled since 2005,  possibly because of the arrival of more immigrants from predominantly Catholic countries such as Poland and Lithuania.

In Oslo there was a spontaneous mass held at St. Olav’s Church  the evening of the election to pray for and to honor the new pope. In an interview with NRK, vicar Arne Marco Kirsebom of St. Olav’s Church said it was an exciting election.

“We have a pope from a completely different part of the world, and I think among many Catholics there will be a great happiness that we have a pope from South America,” he said.

“We now have a  pope who is idealogically conservative, but socially radical,” said Father Haavar Simon Nilsen, of St. Dominick’s Church in Oslo, who also approves of the new South American pope.

Brynjulv Norheim Jr., Catholic theologian and former member of editorial board in the Norwegian Catholic Journal, “St. Olavs tidsskrift,” spoke to the Norwegian American Weekly about the election. He believes the new pope will challenge wealthy Norway.

“Catholics in Norway and the general public followed the conclave closely and were very happy about the election of Pope Francis. His choice of name impresses us all. Norwegians are very fond of Francis of Assisi, who loved nature profondly, and the Pope’s ideal of Church for the poor challenges us in a special way, since we now live in one of the richest countries in the world.”

Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, the Norwegian General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, offered his congratulations.

“We in the community of WCC ask for God’s blessing on Francis in his selection as the new pope. We pray for his health and strength as he assumes this role of peace and righteousness. This is a turning point in the Roman Catholic Church’s life, but it also affects other churches and religious forms,” said Tveit.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg joined in offering his congratulations. “I congratulate the Catholic Church with the election of Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the new Pope, the first Latin American to hold the office,” said Stoltenberg in a press release from the Office of the Prime Minister on March 14. “I wish Pope Francis all the best in a service which is important for the Church as well as for the world,” said Stoltenberg.

This article originally appeared in the Mar. 22, 2013 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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