By Christopher Wells
A group of some five hundred young Lutheran pilgrims from Germany greeted Pope Francis with song as he welcomed them to the Vatican on Monday morning.
The Holy Father took up the musical theme in his remarks to the pilgrims, saying, “Singing unites,” and explaining that “In the choir, no one is alone: it is important to listen to others.”
Pope Francis said he desired “this willingness to listen for the Church,” which is “learning it anew in the synodal process.”
He encouraged the pilgrims to also listen for “the melody of God” in their own lives, calling on them to open not only their ears, but also their hearts. “Whoever sings with an open heart,” he said, “already touches the mystery of God, perhaps without even realizing it.” This mystery, he said, “is love, the love that in Jesus Christ finds its splendid, full, and unique sound.”
And this, he said, “is also how ecumenism takes place,” not only in Germany, but throughout the world.
‘With Luther to the Pope’
The 2021 Ecumenical Pilgrimage has as its motto “With Luther to Rome,” and is intended to help pilgrims get to know Rome and their faith from a new perspective. It is focused on the elements that unite Christians, the obstacles that have already been overcome in the journey to unity, and the challenges that must still be faced.
It is the second time the group has come to Rome, with the group meeting previously with Pope Francis in 2016. On that occasion, the Holy Father invited the pilgrims to be “witnesses of mercy,” and to continue to get to know one another better, to pray and help one another, and to assist those in need.
In this way, he said, “free from prejudice and trusting only in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, proclaiming peace and reconciliation, you will be the true protagonists of a new season of this journey which, with God’s help, will lead to full communion.”
The 2021 pilgrimage, which is taking place from October 23-30, is supported by major Christian communities in the region of Saxony Anhalt, including the Diocese of Magdeburg, the Evangelical Church of Anhalt, and the Evangelical Church in Central Germany.