Finnish Ecumenical Delegation Meets Pope

No Turning Back on Ecumenical Road, Says John Paul II

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 22, 2002 ( There is no turning back on the Catholic Church´s commitment to ecumenism, John Paul II told a Finnish ecumenical delegation at the Vatican.

The Finnish Christians were visiting on Saturday to celebrate the feast of St. Henrik, their country´s patron saint.

During the meeting, the Holy Father highlighted the «happy coincidence» of their visit with the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

«It is vital that Christians should pray incessantly for unity, which will come not as the fruit of human effort, but as a grace given at a time and in a way that we do not know,» the Pope said. «Our prayer, however, must be joined by a determination to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ with one heart and voice, so that the world may believe.»

This commitment calls for sacrifices, but it is based on faith in the power of the cross, he said. «From the side of the crucified Lord there flows the life-giving stream that will heal the wounds of division,» John Paul II said.

He continued: «We have already traveled far on the ecumenical journey, and there can be no turning back. Certainly the Catholic Church remains committed irrevocably to following the path of the ecumenical venture.»

«The Spirit must lead us, step by step, to discover the things that we can do together to hasten the full and visible communion of all Christians. May he who can ´do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine´ help us in this task,» the Pope continued. His text cited Ephesians 3:20 for the quote.

«Finland, too, needs Christ,» the Holy Father said. «The depths of the Finnish soul can be read in the saints of your history and in buildings such as Turku Cathedral. And who but Christ can satisfy the desires rising from those depth?»

St. Henrik of Uppsala was of English origin. Bishop of Uppsala in Sweden, he was killed around 1156 by a pagan peasant during a mission of evangelization in Finland. Since then he has been considered a martyr and in time became the patron of Finland.

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