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Thursday, January 19, 2006


VATICAN CITY, JAN 19, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI received an ecumenical delegation from Finland for the occasion of today's Feast of St. Henry, patron saint of that country.

  After recalling how, over many years, John Paul II welcomed the members of the delegation on their annual pilgrimage to Rome, the Pope said: "These visits are an occasion for further productive work, as well as for a deepening of the 'spiritual ecumenism' which prompts divided Christians to appreciate how much already unites them."

  The Holy Father then highlighted how "the present Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue Commission in Finland and Sweden builds upon the substantial accomplishment of the Joint Declaration on Justification (1999). In the specific context of the Nordic countries, the Commission is continuing to study the achievements and practical implications of the Joint Declaration. In this way it seeks to address the still existing differences between Lutherans and Catholics concerning certain questions of faith and ecclesial life while maintaining fervent witness to the truth of the Gospel.

  "During these days of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we are especially aware that unity is a grace, and that we need continually to ask the Lord for this gift."

  Benedict XVI concluded by saying: "Let us thank God for all that has been achieved so far in Catholic-Lutheran relations and let us pray that He may fill us with His Spirit Who guides us towards the fullness of truth and love."
AC/.../FINNISH ECUMENICAL DELEGATION                VIS 20060119 (260)

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