Pray for Christian unity to heal the pain of division – Pope

Pray for Christian unity

Pope Francis said divided Christians should suffer because they cannot share the Eucharist. However, that suffering should spur them to work and pray harder for Christian unity.

On the 491st anniversary of the Augsburg Confession, the pope held an audience with members of the Lutheran World Federation in the Vatican.

In his address to the representatives, Pope Francis took note of the anniversary and thanked the delegation for coming to Rome “to foster our unity.”

“It will be important to examine with spiritual and theological humility the circumstances that led to the divisions. Although it is impossible to undo the sad events of the past, it is possible to reinterpret them as part of a reconciled history,” said the pope as he welcomed the LWF delegation to the library of the Apostolic Palace.

Nigerian Archbishop Panti Filibus Musa, president of the LWF, told Pope Francis that 2021 “is marked by one of those difficult memories: the 500 years of the excommunication of Martin Luther.”

“We cannot change history, but we can retell it in a way that it carries the promise of a better future. Thus it becomes our story of reconciliation. Sharing the Lord’s Supper together is also bearing the burdens of all those who have lost everything,” the archbishop told the pope.

The solidarity shared at the altar “shapes who we are and ought to become: a people who, seeing the transfigured face of Christ, walk into the valley to see Christ in the disfigured faces of the exploited, the hungry and the poor. In this journey, we become fully church, together. Let us act together now, deepening into visible solidarity our union in prayer.”

Pope Francis described the five centuries of Catholic-Lutheran division as a “journey from conflict to communion.”

He encouraged Lutherans and Catholics to persevere in dialogue to achieve greater unity among members of the body of Christ.

The pope continued reflecting on the theme of Christ’s “one body”, which he said we have wounded with our divisions.

“When we are pained by divisions between Christians,” he said, “we draw close to Jesus’ own experience of seeing His disciples still disunited, His tunic rent.”

Pope Francis added that we experience the Lord’s passion by not being able to share the same altar, even though we are filled with enthusiasm in pray for Christian unity.


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