By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis has thanked the Lutheran Catholic Dialogue Commission for Finland for a recently issued ecumenical document.
The Pope was receiving in audience the Finnish Ecumenical Delegation as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity drew to an end on Thursday, 25 January.
As per tradition, in the evening of January 25th, on the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Francis presides over the celebration of Vespers in the Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls.
Various Christian denominations participate in the celebration that marks the close of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which unfolded this year, under the theme: "Your Right Hand, O Lord, Glorious in Power."
Important ecumenical document
To the Ecumenical Delegation Pope Francis said the document for which he is grateful, contains ecclesiological implications that must be part of the agenda of ecumenical dialogues.
It is entitled: “Communion in Growth. Declaration on the Church, Eucharist and Ministry”, and Francis noted that it reflects decisive issues to which ecumenical dialogue can and must now turn its attention.
Joint commemoration of the Reformation
He looked back “with joy on this past year’s joint commemoration of the Reformation, which, he said, strengthened and deepened, in our Lord Jesus Christ, the communion between Lutherans and Catholics and their ecumenical partners throughout the world”.
The Pope described the joint commemoration as a “fruitful opportunity” and 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, he said, are indispensable if we truly desire to heal our memory”.
Service to society
He said that in increasingly secularized societies “our service to ecumenism consists in bearing witness to the presence of the living God” and that it is all or our duties to come to the aid of those in need “united by our shared ecumenical commitment” and acting as instruments of peace.
May our Lord Jesus Christ, the Pope concluded, help us Christians, 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.