Pope: Catholics, Lutherans must continue to seek common ground

By Junno Arocho Esteves

CITY (CNS) — Although great strides have been made through 50 years of ecumenical dialogue,
Catholics and Lutherans must continue to work toward becoming a full and
visible sign of unity for the world, Pope Francis said.

A continued
“communion of harmony” will allow Catholics and Lutherans to
“find further convergence on points of doctrine and the moral teaching of
the church,” the pope told members of a pilgrimage from the Evangelical
Lutheran Church of Finland Jan. 19.

pray to the Lord that he may bestow his blessing on the Lutheran-Catholic
Dialogue Commission in Finland, which is working diligently toward a common sacramental
understanding of the church, the Eucharist and ecclesial ministry,” he

The pope met
the Finnish delegation during the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
The theme chosen for the 2017 observance was: “Reconciliation: The love of
Christ compels us.”

The week of
prayer, Pope Francis said, urges Catholics and Lutherans to reconcile and
“draw closer to one another anew through conversion.”

ecumenism is based on a shared conversion to Jesus Christ as our Lord and redeemer.
If we draw close to him, we draw close also to one another,” the pope

his visit to Sweden last
October to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s efforts
to reform the church, the pope said Luther’s intention “was to renew the
church, not divide her” and that the joint commemoration “was
important on both the human and theological-spiritual levels.”

gathering there gave us the courage and strength in our Lord Jesus Christ to
look ahead to the ecumenical journey that we are called to walk together,”
he said.

those who suffer persecution and violence, he added, can further unite
Christians “on the journey toward full communion.”

In doing
so, the pope said, Catholics and Lutherans can put their witness of faith into
practice “through concrete acts of service, fraternity and sharing.”

off-the-cuff, Pope Francis thanked Lutheran Archbishop Kari Makinen of Turku for bringing his
grandchildren to the meeting.

need the simplicity of children; they teach us the way to Jesus Christ,”
the pope said.

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Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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