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Monday, June 4, 2018

Pope Francis to Lutherans "With the help of God, we hope for a future striving towards the complete overcoming of divisions"


ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO THE DELEGATION OF THE GERMAN LUTERAN EVANGELICAL CHURCH

Monday, 4 June 2018

Dear Bishop Ulrich, dear friends,

I give you my warm welcome, pleased with your presence. I sincerely thank you, Bishop Ulrich, for the words he addressed to me and which testify to your ecumenical commitment. I also cordially greet the other representatives of the German National Committee of the World Lutheran Federation and of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany, together with their guests.

With joy I remember the moments shared last year on the occasion of the Common Commemoration of the Reformation. Already on 31st October 2016 we had met in Lund to characterize in a spirit of fraternal communion what, for the wounds of the past, could instead have provoked controversy and hatred. Grateful to God, we have seen that the five hundred years of history - sometimes very painful - that have seen us opposed and often in conflict, have left space, in the last fifty years, to a growing communion. Thanks to the work of the Spirit, fraternal meetings, gestures based on the logic of the Gospel rather than human strategies, and through the official Lutheran-Catholic dialogue, it has been possible to overcome old prejudices on both sides. With the help of God, we hope for a future striving towards the complete overcoming of divisions. We have to move on.

The Common Commemoration of the Reformation has confirmed to us that ecumenism will continue to mark our path. It is increasingly becoming a necessity and a desire, as shown by the various prayers in common and the many ecumenical meetings that took place last year in the world. Let us not forget to start from prayer, so that it is not human projects that indicate the way, but the Holy Spirit: He alone opens the way and enlightens the steps to be taken. The Spirit of love can not but push us on the paths of charity. As Christians, Catholics and Lutherans we are called above all to love "intensely, of one true heart, one another", because "they are regenerated through the word of God alive and eternal" (1 Pt 1,22-23). But we are also called to alleviate together the miseries of the needy and the persecuted. The sufferings of many brothers oppressed because of faith in Jesus are also a pressing invitation to reach an ever more concrete and visible unity among us. The ecumenism of blood.

Let us support one another in the journey, also by carrying forward the theological dialogue. No ecumenical dialogue can advance if we remain still. We must walk, continue: not with the enthusiasm of running forward to earn coveted goals, but walking patiently together, under the gaze of God. Some themes, I think of the Church, the Eucharist and the ecclesial ministry, deserve precise reflections and well shared. Ecumenism also asks not to be elitist, but to involve as many brothers and sisters as possible in the faith, growing as a community of disciples who pray, love and proclaim. It is on this basis that ecumenical dialogue will help us to progress, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, in the common understanding of divine revelation, which is deepened by knowing and loving together the Lord Jesus Christ, because "it is in him that he inhabits all fullness bodily. of the divinity "(Col 2: 9) and" it pleased God [...] that through him [...] all things be reconciled "(Col 1: 19-20).

May the Lord accompany us, so that our Christian being may be more centered in him and courageous in his mission; because pastoral care is enriched with service and, in its various dimensions, is more imbued with an ecumenical spirit. I invoke upon you all the blessing of the Lord: let the Holy Spirit descend and unite what is still divided.

It would be nice, at the end of these words, to pray together the Our Father: "Vater Unser ...".
Text Source Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation - Image Vatican News


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