No one is excluded from the mercy of God, pope says at audience

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant
Christians are called to work together in order to be a visible sign that God’s
mercy excludes no one, Pope Francis said during his general audience Jan. 20.

The pope reflected on the theme of the annual week of Prayer
for Christian Unity which was
taken from the first letter of St. Peter and was selected by an ecumenical group from Latvia. The
Lutheran cathedral of Riga, Latvia,
he noted, contains a 12th-century
baptismal font that serves as a sign of the common baptism that unites
Catholics, Protestant and Orthodox Christians.

“St. Peter’s first letter is addressed to the first
generation of Christians to make them aware of the gift received through
Baptism and the requirements it entails,” the pope said. “We too, in
this week of prayer, are invited to rediscover this and do this together, going
beyond our divisions.”

The pope said that although divisions are often caused by
selfishness, the common baptism shared by Christians is an experience of being
“called from the merciless and alienating darkness” to an encounter with
God who is “full of mercy.”

“To start once again from baptism means to rediscover
the source of mercy, the source of hope for all, so that no one is excluded
from God’s mercy,” he said. “No one is excluded from the mercy of

The grace of God’s mercy, he added, is stronger than what
divides Christians and in the measure one receives that grace, one becomes
“capable of preaching to all his merciful deeds,” especially through
a witness of Christian unity.

“We Christians can announce to all the power of the
Gospel by committing ourselves to share the corporal and spiritual works of
mercy,” he said. “This is a concrete witness of unity among us
Christians: Protestants, Orthodox and Catholics.”

Pope Francis emphasized that the week of prayer serves as a
reminder that Christians share a common mission in passing on to others the
mercy they have received, especially with “the poor and the

“During this week of prayer, let us pray so that all of
us, disciples of Christ, may find a way to work together to bring the mercy of
the father to every part of the earth,” the pope said.

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