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Monday, May 11, 2015

Pope: "Signs of the Times" Demand Christian Unity

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According to Pope Francis, the “signs of the times” are calling “all Christians to unity and common witness.” The pope welcomed members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission to the Vatican on May 1. The commission is seeking to dialogue and find common ground for ecclesial unity between Anglicans and Catholics. 

The pope noted that many barriers to unity between both groups still exist—including the ordination of women by the Anglican Communion—but he said, "The cause of unity is not an optional undertaking and the differences which divide us must not be seen as inevitable," adding, “We must trust even more in the power of the Holy Spirit, who can heal and reconcile us, and accomplish what humanly does not seem possible" (Zenit, 5-1-15).

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Pope Francis told the delegation that the condition of the world right now—especially the increase of Christian martyrdom and persecution—will only serve as a catalyst for Christian ecumenical relations: “The blood of these martyrs will nourish a new era of ecumenical commitment, a fervent desire to fulfill the last will and testament of the Lord: that all may be one." 

Only a few days later, Pope Francis welcomed an Evangelical Lutheran delegation from Sweden and reiterated his belief that the persecution of Christians should bring about ecumenical unity between Catholics and non-Catholics—what the pope called a drive “to grow in fraternal communion” (Zenit, 5-4-15).

He noted that the Second Vatican Council’s decree Unitatis Redintegratio (is the Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism) continues to represent “the fundamental point of reference for the ecumenical efforts of the Catholic Church.” He told the Lutheran delegation, “This document is an invitation to all Catholics to undertake the path of unity to overcome division between Christians,” adding that Lutherans and Catholics are not adversaries or competitors, but “brothers and sisters in the faith.”

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