Don’t wait for theologians – share the Eucharist now

Until now, church officials have always said theological agreement between the various Christian churches is needed before Christian unity or Eucharistic sharing could be possible.

That may have changed during an in-flight press conference on Sunday as Pope Francis returned to Rome after visiting Romania.

Asked what advice he could offer Romanians about the relationship between the Catholic Church and Orthodox, Francis began by saying the first thing was to develop “relationship in general … the relationship of the outstretched hand when there are conflicts.”

Then, after noting his sense of brotherhood with the Orthodox Patriarch Daniel, he continued:

“I always have this idea: Ecumenism is not reaching the end of the game, of the discussion.

“Ecumenism is walking together, walking together, praying together… The ecumenism of prayer.

“In history, we have the ecumenism of blood. When they killed Christians they did not ask: Are you Catholic? Are you Orthodox? Are you Lutheran? No, [they asked] are you Christian! And the blood mixed together. It is the ecumensim of witness. Another ecumenism, of prayer, of blood.

“… and then the ecumenism of the poor, those that work together. That we must work to help the sick, the infirm, for example, the people that are a little at the margin, below the poverty line, to help,” Francis said.

He then went on to say “Matthew: 25 is a beautiful ecumenical programme, it comes from Jesus.

“To walk together: this is already Christian unity, but do not wait for theologians to agree to arrive at communion.

“Communion happens every day with prayer, with the memory of our martyrs, with works of charity and even of loving one another.

“Ecumenism is not getting to the end of discussions, it’s done walking together,” Francis said.

In his view, the journey is more important than the destination.

“There is already Christian unity” he pointed out.

“Let’s not wait for the theologians to come to agreement on the Eucharist.”

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