During today’s audience with the World Evangelical Alliance, the Pope said such situations weaken the Church’s ability to proclaim the Gospel. The Secretary General of the organisation talked about a new stage in relations between Catholics and Evangelicals
During today’s audience with the World Evangelical Alliance, the Pope said such situations weaken the Church’s ability to proclaim the Gospel. The Secretary General of the organisation talked about a new stage in relations between Catholics and Evangelicals.
“The reality of our divisions disfigures the beauty of the seamless garment of Christ but never completely destroys the profound unity generated by the grace in all the baptized.” Francis quoted the Second Vatican Council during this morning’s audience with representatives of the World Evangelical Alliance. Meanwhile, Secretary General Geoff Tunnicliffe spoke of a “new stage” in relations between Evangelicals and Catholics.
The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) is made up of Pentecostals, Reformed Churches, Baptists and Protestants from 129 countries.
The Pope began his speech with a quote from the Letter of St. Paul to the Galatians: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins that He might rescue us from the present evil age in accord with the will of our God and Father:” “With these words,” Francis said, “the Apostle Paul expresses our common faith, our common hope. I would like for this my greeting, which proclaims that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour, to also reach the members of your communities of origin.
“The Sacrament of Baptism,” the Pope continued, “reminds us of a fundamental and very consoling truth: that the Lord always goes before us with His love and His grace. It precedes our communities; it precedes, anticipates, and prepares the hearts of those who proclaim the Gospel and of those who welcome the Gospel of Salvation.” “From the beginning,” Francis pointed out, “there were divisions among Christians, and even now unfortunately rivalries and conflicts remain between our communities. Such situations weaken our capacity to fulfil the command of the Lord to preach the Gospel to all nations. The reality of our divisions disfigures the beauty of the seamless garment of Christ but never completely destroys the profound unity generated by the grace in all the baptized. The efficacy of the Christian announcement would certainly be greater if Christians would overcome their divisions and could celebrate together the Sacraments and together spread the Word of God and witness to charity.”
“I am pleased to learn that, in different countries in the world, Catholics and Evangelicals have established relations of brotherhood and collaboration. Furthermore, the joint efforts of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance have opened new perspectives, clarifying misunderstandings, and showing ways to overcome prejudices. I hope that such consultations can ultimately inspire our common witness and our efforts as evangelizers: “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 hope, too, that the document “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct” may become a motive of inspiration for the proclamation of the Gospel in multi-religious contexts.Dear brothers and sisters, I am confident that the Holy Spirit, who inspires in the Church, with his mighty breath, the courage to persevere and event to seek new means of evangelization, can inaugurate a new stage in the relations between Catholics and Evangelicals—a stage that allows us to realize more fully the will of the Lord to bring the Gospel even to the furthest ends of the earth I assure you of my prayers for this, and I ask you also to pray for me and for my ministry.”
“As we try to obey Christ, let us see this time as a new stage in relations between Evangelicals and Roman Catholics,” said Geoff Tunnicliffe, Secretary General for the World Evangelical Alliance. He underlined the importance of a deeper theological and ethical exchange on aspects that unite and divide us. The WEA, which also met heads of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, presented Francis with the Shahbaz Bhatti Freedom award in recognition of his peace-building and reconciliation efforts.
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