This morning, Pope Francis received a delegation from the Lutheran World Federation as well as representatives of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic International Commission on Unity during an audience today at the Vatican Apostolic Palace.
The Holy Father began his address by expressing his gratitude at the steps taken in improving relations between Lutherans and Catholics through theological dialogue and collaboration in pastoral areas. Such advances, he said, constitute “the soul of our journey to full communion.”
“In approaching, with a humble spirit, Our Lord Jesus Christ, we are sure to move closer together, and insofar as by invoking the Lord’s gift of unity, we are sure that He will take us by the hand and will be our guide,” the Holy Father said.
Commenting on the 50 years of theological dialogue between the two faiths, the Pope stressed the importance of continuing efforts in healing old wounds between Catholics and Lutherans.
“Catholics and Lutherans can ask for forgiveness for the evil caused to one another and for the offenses committed before God, and together to rejoice for the nostalgia of unity that the Lord has reawakened in our hearts, and which makes us look ahead with a look of hope,” Pope Francis said.
The Pontiff also told the delegation said that, comforted by the decades of fraternal communion, he was confident that the path of dialogue and communion will continue in addressing various divergences and questions between the Catholics and Lutherans. “We know well – as Benedict XVI reminded us many times – that unity is not primarily the fruit of our effort but of the action of the Holy Spirit, to whom we must open our hearts with trust so that He can lead us on the path to reconciliation and communion,” the Holy Father said.
Concluding his address, Pope Francis called for prayer between the two faiths in order to sustain theological dialogue, as well as sustaining “the renewal of life and the conversion of hearts.” In doing so, he said, “we are able to walk towards the fulfillment of the desire of the Son, Jesus Christ, that all may be one.”