Pope's Address to the Ecumenical Meeting of Bishops, Friends of the Focolare Movement

“We must speak and act as brothers, and in such a way that all can easily recognize it”

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At 11:45 this morning, Pope Francis received in audience the participants of the Ecumenical Meeting of Bishops, Friends of the Focolare Movement, on the theme “The Eucharist, Mystery of Communion” (Grottaferrata, November 3-6, 2014).

The following is a translation of the Pope’s address to those present.

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Dear Brothers,

My heartfelt welcome to you on the occasion of your Ecumenical Meeting, whose theme is: “The Eucharist, Mystery of Communion.” This annual meeting, which sees you gathered not only from different countries but from different Churches and Ecclesial Communities, is an expression, fruit of what the love of the Word of God produces and the will to conform your existence to the Gospel: these attitudes, aroused and supported by the grace of the Holy Spirit, make many initiatives germinate, they make solid friendships flower and intense moments of fraternity and sharing. I encourage you to make a treasure of this rich experience and to continue with courage, always attentive to the signs of the times and asking the Lord for the gift of mutual listening and docility to His will.

I would like to pick up, in particular, an aspect that was touched by all three Brothers who spoke a short while ago, and whom I thank cordially. I am referring to the acute awareness of the value, in our troubled world, of a clear witness of unity among Christians and an explicit acknowledgement of esteem, respect and, more precisely, of fraternity among us.

This fraternity is a luminous and attractive sign of our faith in the risen Christ. If, in fact, we intend as Christians to seek to respond incisively to the many problems and tragedies of our time, we must speak and act as brothers, and in such a way that all can easily recognize it. This is also a way – perhaps the first for us – of responding to the globalization of indifference with the globalization of solidarity and of fraternity, which must shine among the baptized in a still clearer way.

The fact that in several countries the freedom to manifest one’s religion publicly and to live openly according to the exigencies of Christian ethics  is lacking; — the persecutions in Christians’ dealings with other minorities; the sad phenomenon of terrorism; the tragedy of refugees caused by wars and other reasons; the challenges of fundamentalism and, from the other extreme, of exasperated secularism  — all these realities challenge our conscience as Christians and as pastors. These challenges are an appeal to seek with renewed commitment, constancy and patience, ways that lead to unity, “that the world may believe” (cf. John 17:21), and so that we, first of all, can be filled with trust and courage. And among these ways there is one that is a masterful path, and it is precisely the Eucharist as mystery of communion. In his First Letter to the Corinthians – in which the subject of divisions is the priority – the Apostle Paul indicates clearly the Lord’s Supper as the central moment in the life of the community, “moment of truth.” Verified there in the highest degree is the encounter between the grace of Christ and our responsibility; there, in the Eucharist, we feel clearly that unity is a gift and that time itself is a responsibility, a grave responsibility (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:17-33).

Dear Brothers, I hope your Congress will bear abundant fruits of growth in communion and in the witness of fraternity. May the Virgin Mother sustain you in this commitment and in your whole ministry. I ask you, please, to pray for me and I bless you from my heart together with the communities entrusted to you.

[Translation by ZENIT]
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