Vatican City, 18 January 2016 (VIS) – This year, as is traditional, an ecumenical delegation from Finland, led this year by the Lutheran bishop of Helsinki, Irja Askola, came to visit the bishop of Rome for the feast day of St. Henry of Uppsala, patron of the country.
"Your ecumenical pilgrimage is an eloquent sign of the fact that, as Lutherans, Orthodox and Catholics, you have recognised what unites you and together you wish to bear witness to Jesus Christ, Who is the foundation of unity", said the Pope, expressing his joy at their visit.
"In a special way, we can thank the Lord for the fruits of the dialogue between Lutherans and Catholics", he continued. "Here I think in particular of the common document on 'Justification in the Life of the Church'. Building on these foundations, our dialogue is making promising progress towards a shared understanding, on the sacramental level, of Church, Eucharist and Ministry. These steps forward, made together, lay a solid basis for a growing communion of life in faith and spirituality, as our relations develop in a spirit of serene discussion and fraternal sharing".
Although in this dialogue, differences still remain in doctrine and in practice, "This must not discourage us, but instead spur us along our journey towards ever greater unity, not least by working to overcome old ideas and suspicions. In a world frequently torn by conflict and marked by secularism and indifference, we are called to join in professing our faith in Jesus Christ, and thus to become ever more credible witnesses of unity and promoters of peace and reconciliation", concluded the Holy Father.