VATICAN – Religion – Pope Francis received in audience an ecumenical delegation from the Lutheran Church of Finland during their annual pilgrimage to Rome. They have been celebrating the feast of Saint Henry of Uppsala, patron saint of Finland, in this manner for 25 years now.
The Holy Father addressed them, saying: “The Apostle asks the members of the community of Corinth, marked by divisions, ‘Is Christ divided?’ This question has been chosen as the theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian unity, which begins tomorrow. Today it is addressed to us. Faced with voices that no longer recognize the full and visible unity of the church as an achievable goal, we are invited to not give up our ecumenical efforts, faithful to what the Lord Jesus himself asked of the Father: ‘That they may all be one’.”
“At the present moment, the ecumenical path and relations among Christian are undergoing significant changes due primarily to the fact that we must profess our faith in the context of societies and cultures where reference to God, and everything that recalls the transcendent dimension of life, is always less present. We notice it especially in Europe, but not only here.”
“It is precisely for this reason that it is necessary for our witness to concentrate upon the centre of our faith, upon the announcement of God’s love that is made manifest in Christ, his Son. Here we find the room to grow in communion and in unity among, promoting spiritual ecumenism, which is born directly from the commandment of love that Jesus left his disciples. The Second Vatican Council also made reference to this dimension: ‘This change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and merits the name, “spiritual ecumenism”.’ Ecumenism is, in fact, a spiritual process, which is carried out in faithful obedience to the Father, in fulfilment of Christ’s will, and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”
Pope Francis bid the delegation from Finland farewell, inviting them all to “call tirelessly upon the help of the grace of God and the illumination of the Holy Spirit, bearer of reconciliation and communion, who leads us into full truth.”