VATICAN CITY, FEB. 10, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI today invited a Lutheran delegation from the United States to treasure the accomplishments of ecumenism and work so that full unity can one day be realized.
The Pope made this invitation while greeting Lutheran Bishop Mark Hanson and the delegation accompanying him at the general audience in Paul VI Hall.
“Since the beginning of my pontificate, I have been encouraged that relations between Catholics and Lutherans have continued to grow, especially at the level of practical collaboration in the service of the Gospel,” the Holy Father said.
He expressed hopes that “continuing Lutheran-Catholic dialogue both in the United States of America and at the international level will help to build upon the agreements reached so far.”
Last year, the 10th anniversary of the joint Catholic-Lutheran declaration on justification was celebrated.
The Pontiff noted dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans “so promisingly started after the Second Vatican Council,” and he said an “important remaining task will be to harvest the results.”
“To build on what has been achieved together since that time,” Benedict XVI proposed “a spiritual ecumenism should be grounded in ardent prayer and in conversion to Christ, the source of grace and truth. May the Lord help us to treasure what has been accomplished so far, to guard it with care, and to foster its development.”
The Bishop of Rome concluded citing words from Pope John Paul II, “during whose pontificate so much was accomplished on the road to full visible unity among Christians.”
He said: “You are most welcome here. Let us rejoice that an encounter such as this can take place. Let us resolve to be open to the Lord so that he can use this meeting for his purposes, to bring about the unity that he desires. Thank you for the efforts you are making for full unity in faith and charity.”
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