VATICAN CITY, JAN. 18, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Saturday upon receiving in audience an ecumenical delegation of the Lutheran Church of Finland, on the occasion of its annual pilgrimage to Rome to celebrate the feast of St. Henrik of Uppsala, the country’s patron.
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Dear Friends from Finland!
With great joy I welcome you on the occasion of your annual ecumenical pilgrimage to Rome to celebrate the feast of St. Henrik, patron of your beloved land. Every year, in this period, your traditional pilgrimage attests to the sincere, friendly and collaborative relations which have been established between Lutherans and Catholics and, in general, between all Christians of your country.
Although we have yet to attain the objective of the ecumenical movement or the full unity of the faith, many elements of agreement and rapprochement have matured, which reinforce us in our general desire to fulfill the will of Our Lord Jesus Christ “[t]hat all may be one” (John 17:21). A recently achieved result worthy of attention is the final report on the question of justification in the life of the Church. This report was written by the group of Nordic Catholic-Lutheran dialogue in Finland and Sweden, whose members held meetings during last year.
In theology and in the faith everything is united; hence a greater and profound common understanding will also help us to understand better, together, the nature of the Church and, as mentioned, the episcopal ministry, so that the unity of the Church can be found in a concrete way and thus be able to explain the faith to the men of today who question themselves, and make it more comprehensible, so that they see that He is the answer, that Christ is the Redeemer of us all. Therefore, our hope is alive that, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, many diligent and competent persons who work in the ecumenical realm, will be able to make their contribution to the achievement of this great ecumenical endeavor always guided by the Holy Spirit.
This said, it is understood that the efficacy of our efforts cannot come solely from study and debate but depends above all on our constant prayer, on our life in keeping with the will of God, because ecumenism is not our work but the fruit of God’s action.
At the same time, we are conscious of the fact that, in the last years, the ecumenical path has become, from some points of view, more difficult and certainly more exacting. Questions will be posed in regard to the method and ecumenical achievements of the last years, in addition to the uncertainty of the future, the problems of our time with faith in general.
From this perspective, your annual pilgrimage to Rome for the feast of St. Henrik is considered an important event, a sign and reinforcement of our ecumenical efforts, and of our certainty that we must walk together and that Christ is the way for humanity. Your pilgrimage helps us to look back with joy to see what has been achieved up to now and to look to the future with the desire of assuming a task full of responsibility and faith. On the occasion of your visit we all wish to strengthen our belief that the Holy Spirit, who awakens us, supports us and has made the ecumenical movement fruitful, will continue to do so in the future.
I firmly hope that your visit to Rome will strengthen the future collaboration between Lutherans and Catholics, between all the Christians of Finland. In view of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we want to pray so that the spirit of truth will lead us to an ever greater love and fraternity. May God give you his abundant blessings in this New Year that has just begun.[Translation by ZENIT]