Finnish Lutheran Evangelicals Encouraged in Unity

John Paul II Receives Representatives at Vatican

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 19, 2001 (
John Paul II pressed for Christian unity when he met with representatives of the
Lutheran Evangelical Church of Finland, whose visit came during the Week of Prayer
for the Unity of Christians.

The Pontiff, who received his guests cordially this morning, recalled
the most important ecumenical moments of the Jubilee that just ended.
In particular, he mentioned the opening of the holy door of St. Paul Outside the Walls
together with Christians of other denominations, and the commemoration in the Colosseum
of the 20th-century witnesses of the faith.

John Paul II, who visited Finland 11 years ago, applauded this Nordic
country´s numerous ecumenical initiatives during the Jubilee Year, with the theme
“Millennium 2000 — Year of Hope.”

The Pontiff mentioned specifically the seventh centenary anniversary
of the cathedral of Turku, in which many ecumenical delegates participated,
and which became an opportunity for Christians of the country to remember their common history.

“The Jubilee was also the occasion to ensure that issues of justice for the poor
and marginalized become more central not only to Christians in Finland but to
Finnish society as a whole; and this, too, was an area in which Christians in
your land worked together effectively,” the Pope said.

He added: “As we enter the third millennium, we are conscious of the need
to commit ourselves ever more deeply to the task of restoring full and visible
unity among all the disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that the saving
truth of the Gospel may be preached more effectively to the people of Europe today.”

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