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Dear brothers and friends from Finland,
“Grace to you and peace from God, Our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 1:7). I address to you my most heartfelt welcome, as my Predecessors have done for the past 25 years, Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI, receiving your ecumenical delegation’s visit on the occasion of the feast of Saint Henry, patron saint of Finland.
To the members of the community of Corinth, who were marked by divisions, the apostle asked: “Is Christ divided?” (1 Cor. 1:13). This question was chosen as the theme of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which we will begin tomorrow; today, it comes to us. In front of some voices that do not recognize anymore the full and visible unity of the Church as an actionable objective, we are invited to not give up on our ecumenical strength, faithful to what the Lord Jesus invoked to the Father: that “they may be one” (Jn. 17:21).
Currently, even the ecumenical path and the relations between Christians are crossing significant changes, due in the first place to the fact that we find ourselves professing our faith in the context of society and culture where the reference to God is always less present and all that recalls the transcendent dimension of life. We note it above all, but not only, in Europe.
For this reason, our witness needs to concentrate on the center of our faith, on the announcement of the love of God that has been manifested in Christ His Son. Here we find space to grow in communion and in unity between us, promoting spiritual ecumenism, that is born directly from the commandment of love left by Jesus to his disciples. The Second Vatican Council made reference to this dimension: “This change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and merits the name, spiritual ecumenism.” (Decr. Unitatis redintegratio, 8). Ecumenism is in fact a spiritual process, that is realized in the faithful obedience to the Father, in the fulfillment of the will of Christ and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Let us unceasingly invoke, therefore, the help of the grace of God and the illumination of the Holy Spirit, that introduces us in the whole truth, bearer of reconciliation and of communion.
Renewing my heartfelt welcome, i wholeheartedly invoke over you, over all Christians in Finland and over your country the blessing of God.[Translation by Junno Arocho Esteves]