St. Bridget a "Witness of Ecumenism," Says Pope

Presides Over Ecumenical Vespers

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 7, 2002 ( John Paul II proposed St. Bridget of Sweden, co-patroness of Europe, as a «woman of unity» and a «witness of ecumenism» when he presided over solemn ecumenical vespers.

Last Friday evening, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, and the Lutheran archbishops emeritus of Uppsala, Bertil Werkstrom and Gunnar Weman, were among those who gathered in St. Peter’s Basilica to pray for Christian unity. Anglican and Orthodox and other Protestant representatives also joined in the prayer.

On the eve of the seventh centenary of the birth of the Swedish saint (1303-1373), much loved by Christians of various denominations, the Pope highlighted the example given by this «great missionary of the faith,» reflected in her «active and diligent aspiration for Christian unity.»

«At a complex and difficult time in the history of the Church and of Europe, this tireless disciple of the Lord did not cease to work for the cohesion and authentic progress of the unity of believers,» John Paul II said.

Because of this, the Pope continued, «as a woman of unity, she is presented to us as a witness of ecumenism,» an ecumenism he described as «spiritual and at the same time active.»

«This is a spiritual legacy that must be accepted, a common commitment that must be continued with joyful generosity,» the Pope emphasized.

«However, given that the unity of the Church is a grace of the Spirit, we are conscious that it is necessary above all to implore for it constantly in prayer, and then to build it with tireless tenacity, each one making his own personal contribution,» the Pontiff concluded.

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