17-January-2014 -- ZENIT.org News Agency |

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Pope Stresses Need For Witness of Spiritual Ecumenism

Addresses Delegation From Finland on Feast of Saint Henry

VATICAN CITY, January 17, 2014 (Zenit.org) - Addressing a delegation from Finland, Pope Francis stressed the importance of ecumenism and faith in a society where God is becoming less present.

The delegation was in Rome for an annual visit with the Holy Father on the feast of Saint Henry, the patron saint of Finland.

The Pope began by reflecting on the theme of the upcoming Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which is derived from St. Paul's question to the community of Corinth: "Is Christ divided?" The theme, he said, comes in a time where some "do not recognize anymore the full and visible unity of the Church as an actionable objective."

"Currently, even the ecumenical path and the relations between Christians are crossing significant changes, due in the first place to the fact that we find ourselves professing our faith in the context of society and culture where the reference to God is always less present and all that recalls the transcendent dimension of life," the Holy Father said. "We note it above all, but not only, in Europe."

Because of this, the Holy Father stressed the need for a Christian witness that places at its center the announcement of the love of God, manifested in Jesus Christ. Such a witness would promote a "spiritual ecumenism that is born directly from the commandment of love left by Jesus to his disciples."

"Ecumenism is in fact a spiritual process, that is realized in the faithful obedience to the Father, in the fulfillment of the will of Christ and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit," the Holy Father said.

Concluding his address, Pope Francis prayed for the grace of God that brings the light of the Holy Spirit, an illumination that brings reconciliation and communion.

"Renewing my heartfelt welcome, I wholeheartedly invoke over you, over all Christians in Finland and over your country, the blessing of God," the Pope concluded. (J.A.E.)

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