Christian Unity Is a Priority, Pope Declares in Sweden

Hearing witnesses of faith and determination, encourages, “let us not become discouraged in the face of adversity”

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“Christian unity is a priority, because we realize that much more unites us than separates us,” Pope Francis affirmed today in Sweden, at a series of ecumenical events during his 24-hour trip to the country to commemorate the anniversary of the start of the Reformation.
Noting the 50 years of ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans, the Pope said that the journey to attain unity is “itself a great gift that God gives us.”
One of the fruits of this dialogue, the Holy Father noted, is cooperation in works of mercy. The Pope’s address followed four testimonies from people who spoke of the needs of the world. Following Francis’ speech, a bishop of Aleppo also gave his testimony.
The Pope said these “powerful witnesses,” make us “think of our own lives and how we respond to situations of need all around us.”
“For us Christians,” he said, “it is a priority to go out and meet the outcasts and the marginalized of our world, and to make felt the tender and merciful love of God, who rejects no one and accepts everyone.”
Speaking specifically of Syria, Pope Francis noted how every day, the news tells us of the “unspeakable suffering caused by the Syrian conflict, which has now lasted more than five years.”
He said that every one of the Syrian people “is in our hearts and prayers.”
“Let us implore the grace of heartfelt conversion for those responsible for the fate of that region,” he said.
Finally, the Pope exhorted: “Dear brothers and sisters, let us not become discouraged in the face of adversity. May the stories we have heard motivate us and give us new impetus to work ever more closely together. When we return home, may we bring with us a commitment to make daily gestures of peace and reconciliation, to be valiant and faithful witnesses of Christian hope.”

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Kathleen Naab

United States

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