On Wednesday before the general audience Pope Francis received in audience the participants in the Conference of Secretaries of Christian World Communions, the international ecumenical association that meets annually in October, each year in a different country, to improve mutual awareness.
The conference is made up of the Anglican Communion, the World Baptist Alliance, the Disciples Ecumenical Consultative Council, the Ecumenical Patriarchate (Eastern Orthodox), General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, the International Old Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the World Lutheran Foundation, the Mennonite World Conference, the Moravian Church Worldwide Unity Board, the Patriarchate of Moscow (Eastern Orthodox), the Pentecostals, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (Catholic Church), the Reformed Ecumenical Council, the Salvation Army, the Friends World Committee for Consultation (Quakers), the World Convention of Churches of Christ, the World Evangelical Alliance and the World Methodist Council. A representative of the World Council of Churches is also usually present.
Here is a ZENIT translation of his address, given off-the-cuff:
Two things you [the Head of the Delegation] said caught my attention. First thing: Jesus is with us. Second thing: Jesus sets out with us.
These things make me reflect and pose two questions to myself: Am I capable of believing that Jesus is with us? Am I capable of walking together with all, also with Jesus?
So often we think that the ecumenical work is only that of theologians. It is important that theologians study, come to an agreement and express their disagreement; this is very important. However, in the meantime, ecumenism is done by setting out – and setting out with Jesus: not with my Jesus against your Jesus, but with our Jesus.
The way is simple: it is done with prayer, and with helping others. To pray together: <it is> the ecumenism of prayer, for one another and for unity. And then, the ecumenism of work for so many needy, for so many men and women who today suffer injustices, wars … such terrible things. All of us, together, must help; <it is> charity to our neighbor. This is ecumenism. This is already unity — unity on the way with Jesus.
There is another ecumenism, which we must recognize and which is so timely today: the ecumenism of blood. When terrorists or world powers persecute Christian minorities or Christians, when they do this, they do not ask: But are you Lutheran? Are you Orthodox? Are you Catholic? Are you reformed? Are you Pentecostal? No. “You are Christian.” They recognize only one: the Christian. We are witnesses, and I am thinking, for instance, of the Coptic Orthodox brothers beheaded on the beaches of Libya: they are our brothers. They gave witness to Christ and they died saying: “Jesus, help me!” With the name: they confessed Jesus’ name.
So, ecumenism of prayer, ecumenism of the way; and the enemy teaches us the ecumenism of blood. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for this visit.
[Translation by ZENIT]