“Ecumenism is not optional” – strong words of the Holy Father Francis to the Lutheran community

Ecumenism is a process that (…) is irreversible. This is not an optional way. Unity among us is growing along this path, “said the Pope, accepting representatives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church from Finland, who came to Rome with an annual ecumenical pilgrimage for the patron saint of this country, Saint Henry.

A shared commitment to ecumenism is a fundamental requirement of faith that we profess, a requirement that arises out of our identity as Jesus’ disciples, the pope pointed out at the beginning. – And as disciples, when we follow the same Lord, we understand more and more that ecumenism is a process which, as repeatedly stated by different popes from the Second Vatican Council, is irreversible. This is not an optional way – he added, thanking the Finnish Lutherans for coming to Rome at the same time.

The Holy Father also pointed to the necessity of common prayer and works of mercy: When we pray together, when we proclaim the Gospel together and serve the poor and the needy, we are on our way, and this road is heading towards visible unity – he admitted.

He also added not to be afraid of ecumenical processes: We can be sure that if we obey, the Holy Spirit will guide us in a way that we cannot even imagine.

The Pope also indicated that the different Churches would share their traditions and did not use them as something that make divisions: – Tradition is not something that can be appropriated, to be different, but a message that has been entrusted to us, to be enrich one another. We are always called to return to the original message from which the Tradition flows: this is the open side of Christ on the cross. There he gave himself to us and gave us his Spirit (see Jn 19:30) – said Francis.

He also indicated that the Week of Christian Unity celebrated on from January 18th to 25th is a valuable action for unity, but also for peace in the world. In a world torn apart by war, hatred, nationalism and division, common prayer and commitment to greater justice cannot be postponed. These are negligence that we cannot afford – said Pope Francis. He also asked the Lutherans for prayer. KAI