‘The Catholic Danger’: Liberal Theology and Anti-Catholicism in Sweden



Anti-Catholicism is a phenomenon as old as the Protestant Church, and tales of scheming popes and treacherous Jesuits have historically formed an important part of Scandinavian culture. But whereas topics such as anti-Semitism in recent years have had increased attention from scholars, the Scandinavian history of anti-Catholicism has been notable for its continued neglect. True, there are several studies on Catholicism in the Nordic countries in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but they generally focus on Catholic missionary and pastoral activities, theological controversies, or reactions to spécifie Catholic activities, not on anti-Catholicism.1 This chapter seeks to begin to fill this gap by offering a case study of Sweden in the first half of the twentieth century located in the wider Scandinavian context. What makes anti-Catholicism into such an interesting object of study, is its spread and growth in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, when it was established as a transnational frame of reference articulated all over Europe, as well as in North America. Secular liberals and conservatives, Protestants and others, in both predominantly Catholic and Protestant countries all used similar negative images of the Catholic Church to position themselves politically and culturally. This anti-Catholic discourse served as a kind of uniting framework for European and North American Protestantism in its different forms until the 1960s, when the Second Vatican Council and the following reforms disarmed much of the previous anti-Catholic rhetoric.


Nordic Country National Identity Christian Faith Missionary Activity Nazi Regime 
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Copyright information

© Yvonne Maria Werner 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LundSweden

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