Vatican City, 6 November 2014 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received in audience a delegation from the World Evangelical Alliance, a network of evangelical churches in 128 nations, based in New York, U.S.A., which has formed an alliance with over 100 international organisations, giving voice to more than 400 million evangelical Christians throughout the world.
The Holy Father began his address to the Alliance by emphasising that Baptism is a priceless gift from God, which we have in common. “Thanks to this gift, we no longer live a purely earthly existence; we now live in the power of the Spirit”. He went on to remark that from the beginning, there have been divisions among Christians and “sadly, even today, conflicts and rivalries exist between our communities. This weakens our ability to fulfil the Lord’s commandment to preach the Gospel to all peoples. Our divisions mar the beauty of the seamless robe of Christ, yet they do not completely destroy the profound unity brought about by grace in all the baptised. The effectiveness of the Christian message would no doubt be greater were Christians to overcome their divisions, and together celebrate the sacraments, spread the word of God, and bear witness to charity”.
The Bishop of Rome went on to express his joy to know that “in various countries Catholics and Evangelicals enjoy good relations and work together as brothers and sisters. The joint efforts of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance have also opened up new horizons by clarifying misunderstandings and by showing the way to overcoming prejudices”. He continued, “It is my hope that these talks may further inspire our common witness and our efforts to evangelise: if we really believe in the abundantly free working of the Holy Spirit, we can learn so much from one another! It is not just about being better informed about others, but rather about reaping what the Spirit has sown in them, which is also meant to be a gift for us. I am confident that the document 'Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct' can prove helpful for the preaching of the Gospel in multi-religious contexts”.
“I trust that the Holy Spirit, who inspires the Church to persevere in seeking new methods of evangelisation, will usher in a new era of relations between Catholics and Evangelicals, so that the Lord’s will that the Gospel be brought to the ends of the earth may be more fully realised. I assure my prayers for this cause, and I ask you to pray for me and for my ministry”, concluded Pope Francis.