“Let us ask our Lord Jesus Christ that by his grace we Christians throughout the world may be instruments of his peace.”
Pope Francis has stressed this to a delegation from Finland who were celebrating the feast of Saint Henry, patron saint of Finland. It is an annual tradition of the delegation to make the pilgrimage to Rome for the feast.
As the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity draws to an end, the Pope stressed, we think back with joy on this past year’s joint commemoration of the Reformation.
The Pope made a Oct. 31 – Nov. 1, 2016 Apostolic Visit to the Swedish cities of Malmo and Lund to commemorate the 500th year anniversary.
This encounter, the Pope said, strengthened and deepened, in our Lord Jesus Christ, the communion between Lutherans and Catholics and their ecumenical partners throughout the world.
“This joint commemoration remains a fruitful opportunity for ecumenism, for it marked not a goal but rather a point of departure in the ecumenical quest for full and visible unity between Christians, under the threefold sign of gratitude, repentance and hope, all three of which are indispensable if we truly desire to heal our memory,” he said, noting: “It is not by chance that our efforts are moving towards the study of a major ecumenical question that we intend to discuss in the future, namely, the nature of the Church.”
An essential part of the joint commemoration of the Reformation worldwide has been the ecumenical aspect of our prayer and our meetings, no longer marked by the disputes and conflicts of the past.
Our commemoration took place in a quite different spirit, for we understood the event of the Reformation as a summons to confront together Christianity’s loss of credibility, and to renew and strengthen our common confession of the Triune God. The year just ended reminded us of a time when Christian unity was not yet sundered.
“At a time when societies are increasingly secularized, our service to ecumenism consists in bearing witness to the presence of the living God.”
Your pilgrimage, the Pope told those present, which coincides each year with the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, whose theme this year is “Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power” (cf. Ex 15:6), reminds us “of the situation of dire need in which countless people live in many parts of our world.”
“It is our duty to come to their aid, united by our shared ecumenical commitment,” the Pope said, noting we must all try to be instruments of peace.
Pope Francis concluded, saying, “May he help us always, amid divisions between peoples, to work together as witnesses and servants of his healing and reconciling love, and in this way to sanctify and glorify his name,” and “Let us constantly implore the support of God’s grace and the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, who guides us to the fullness of truth.”