VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Although great strides have been made through 50 years of ecumenical dialogue, Catholics and Lutherans must continue to work toward becoming a full and visible sign of unity for the world, Pope Francis said.
A continued “communion of harmony” will allow Catholics and Lutherans to “find further convergence on points of doctrine and the moral teaching of the church,” the pope told members of a pilgrimage from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland Jan. 19.
“I pray to the Lord that he may bestow his blessing on the Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue Commission in Finland, which is working diligently toward a common sacramental understanding of the church, the Eucharist and ecclesial ministry,” he said.
The pope met the Finnish delegation during the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The theme chosen for the 2017 observance was: “Reconciliation: The love of Christ compels us.”
The week of prayer, Pope Francis said, urges Catholics and Lutherans to reconcile and “draw closer to one another anew through conversion.”
“True ecumenism is based on a shared conversion to Jesus Christ as our Lord and redeemer. If we draw close to him, we draw close also to one another,” the pope said.
Recalling his visit to Sweden last October to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s efforts to reform the church, the pope said Luther’s intention “was to renew the church, not divide her” and that the joint commemoration “was important on both the human and theological-spiritual levels.”
“The gathering there gave us the courage and strength in our Lord Jesus Christ to look ahead to the ecumenical journey that we are called to walk together,” he said.
Helping those who suffer persecution and violence, he added, can further unite Christians “on the journey toward full communion.”
In doing so, the pope said, Catholics and Lutherans can put their witness of faith into practice “through concrete acts of service, fraternity and sharing.”
Speaking off-the-cuff, Pope Francis thanked Lutheran Archbishop Kari Makinen of Turku for bringing his grandchildren to the meeting.
“We need the simplicity of children; they teach us the way to Jesus Christ,” the pope said.
In a time of crisis CatholicPhilly.com keeps the information flowing
During the current coronavirus crisis, you can help CatholicPhilly.com deliver the kind of news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live ― every day.
Budgets are tight at this time, and CatholicPhilly's is no different than those of most families. We make sure your donation in any amount will go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103