By Lisa Zengarini
Meeting in the Vatican with an ecumenical delegation from Finland on Thursday, Pope Francis spoke about the importance of fully living the common call, shared by all Christians baptized in Christ, to work tirelessly for reconciliation, and to be agents of reconciliation in a war-torn world.
The group is visiting Rome as part of a customary ecumenical pilgrimage celebrating the Feast of Saint Henrik, an English-born Bishop martyred in Finland, who is venerated both by Catholics and Lutherans, as well as several Protestant Churches and the Anglican Communion.
Along with Catholic and Lutheran members, the delegation also included Orthodox and Methodist representatives.
Pope Francis began his address by thanking the Finnish Christian leaders for their condolences for the recent death of Pope Benedict XVI.
Recalling the recent celebration of the Baptism of Jesus, on 8 January, the Pope reminded those present that our common baptism in Christ calls on us to promote reconciliation among Christians, and in a divided world.
“Having received the one baptism, we, as believers, are called above all to give thanks because, starting with the waters of baptism, our very existence has been reconciled with God, with others, and with all creation. As reconciled sons and daughters, we are called to work tirelessly for reconciliation among ourselves, and to be agents of reconciliation in our world.”
Concrete closeness to victims of injustice and war
The Pope remarked that this aspect is particularly relevant as Churches worldwide celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity from 18-25 January, focused this year on the theme: “Do good; seek justice” (Is 1:17).
“In those words,” he noted, “we hear an echo of our baptism, which calls us, justified by grace, to carry out works of justice and to offer concrete gestures of closeness to the victims of injustice, marginalization and various forms of oppression, especially war.”
“As witnesses of faith in Christ, who immersed Himself in the frailty of our human condition, we are duty bound to immerse ourselves in the wounds of all those in need. And to do this together.”
Walking on the footsteps St. Henrik
Recalling Saint Henrik as a “witness of faith, messenger of hope and instrument of charity”, the Pope insisted on the importance of recognizing the greatness of the unity we share, of praying together and working intensively to overcome divisions, and to be one "so that the world may believe”.
However, he said, awareness of this reality is not enough. We need to nourish a genuine passion that springs from “the desire to overcome the counter-witness given by the historical divisions among Christians that have harmed the unity of the Body of Christ. Above all today," stressed the Pope, "we need an ardent zeal for evangelization.”
He therefore reiterated his call “to never tire of loving and, in hope, seeking those who are far off” and to “nurture a deep and ardent desire to proclaim Jesus and to build up the unity that He so desires.”
Concluding, Pope Francis invited those present to pray together the Lord’s Prayer which he said, “more than any other prayer, manifests the reality of our baptism.”