Vatican City, Jun 25, 2021 / 12:00 pm. Pope Francis told a group of Lutheran leaders on Friday that the desire for unity grows the more Christians understand how much Christ suffers over our divisions.
In a June 25 meeting with representatives of the Lutheran World Federation, the pope said: “The passion for unity matures through the suffering that is felt in the face of the wounds we have inflicted on the Body of Christ.”
“When we feel pain for the division of Christians, we get closer to what Jesus experiences, continuing to see his disciples disunited, his garments torn apart,” he said.
Archbishop Panti Filibus Musa, president of the Lutheran World Federation, and the Rev. Martin Junge, the organization’s general secretary, were among those who met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday.
In his speech, the pope thanked the group for gifting him a paten and a chalice made in the studios of the ecumenical community Taizé. “I thank you for these gifts, which evoke our participation in the Passion of the Lord,” he said. “In fact, we too live a sort of passion, in its double meaning: on the one hand suffering, because it is not yet possible to gather around the same altar, the same chalice; on the other, ardor in serving the cause of unity, for which the Lord prayed and offered his life.”
Francis said: “Let us therefore continue with passion on our journey from conflict to communion on the road of crisis.”
The next stage of Catholic-Lutheran dialogue, Pope Francis said, “will concern the understanding of the close links between the Church, ministry and the Eucharist.”
“It will be important to look with spiritual and theological humility at the circumstances that led to divisions, in the confidence that, if it is impossible to undo the sad events of the past, it is possible to re-read them within a reconciled history.”
He said that the Lutheran World Federation’s general assembly in 2023 could be an important step in this regard.
The pope also urged those engaged in ecumenical dialogue to continue their work in prayer and charity.
“I would like to encourage all those engaged in Catholic-Lutheran dialogue to continue with confidence in incessant prayer, in the exercise of shared charity, and in the passion for research aimed at greater unity among the various members of the Body of Christ,” he said.
Pope Francis explained that “the path that goes from conflict to communion, on the road of crisis, is not easy, but we are not alone: Christ accompanies us.”
Before leading everyone in praying the Our Father, he concluded by thanking those present for their visit.
“I invite you to pray the Our Father together, each in his own language, for the restoration of full unity among Christians,” he said. “And we leave the way to do it to the Holy Spirit who is creative, very creative, and also a poet.”
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