Pope on Ecumenism: Despite What's Unresolved, Let's Focus on Next Steps

Speaks to Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany on ‘Common Ecumenical Journey’

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Pope Francis says that despite open questions in ecumenical dialogue, Christians should not resign themselves to a lack of unity and should instead “concentrate on the next step possible.”

The Pope said this today in an address to representatives of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Germany and the Ecumenical Commission of the German Bishops’ Conference during their ecumenical visit to Rome.

The Pope reminded them that the common goal is unity and we shouldn’t let theological differences halt the “common ecumenical journey” taking place.

“Let us not forget that, together, we are following a path of friendship, of mutual esteem and of theological research, a path that makes us look to the future full of hope,” the Pope underscored.

The official dialogue between Lutherans and Catholics, after almost 50 years of intensive work, Francis noted, has achieved remarkable progress.

Saying this was made possible with the help of God, he noted there currently exists a solid foundation of sincere friendship lived in faith and spirituality.

“Despite the theological differences that remain on various questions of faith, collaboration and fraternal coexistence characterize the life of our Churches and Ecclesial Communities, committed today in a common ecumenical path,” he said, noting the Catholic Church considers ecumenism as one its essential responsibilities.

The Pope acknowledged that “the common objective of the full and visible unity of Christians sometimes seems to be distant due to the different interpretations, within the dialogue, on what the Church is and her unity.”

But he lauded work being done by the Commission of bilateral dialogue between the German Bishops’ Conference and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany on the question of “God and the dignity of man.”

Of great relevance, he noted, are issues related to the dignity of the human person at the beginning and end of his life, as well as those related to the family, marriage and sexuality.

“Ecumenical dialogue can no longer be separated from the reality and the life of our Churches.,” he said, noting both religions should be encouraged to, with God and the Spirit’s help, “further steps towards unity and not to limit ourselves simply to what we have already achieved.”

“In the hope that your fraternal visit contributes to reinforce the good collaboration that exists between Lutherans and Catholics in Germany and in the world,” the Pope concluded, “I cordially invoke from my heart God’s blessings on you and your community.”

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Translation: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-s-address-to-german-lutheran-delegation

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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