"Lutherans and Catholics, we are walking on the road that goes from conflict to communion".
This is the "joy" expressed by Pope
Francis in the encounter with a thousand participants in the pilgrimage
of the Lutherans from the German region of the Anhalt, received in the
Paul VI Hall at the Vatican.
"I am very happy - he told them - am very
happy to meet you on the occasion of your ecumenical pilgrimage, it
started from the land of Luther, Germany, and ended here at the seat of
the Bishop of Rome".
"We give thanks to God because today, - he continued - we Lutherans
and Catholics, are walking on the road that leads from conflict to
communion. We have come together already an important part of the way.
Along the way we experience mixed feelings: grief for the division that
still exists between us, but also joy for fraternity already found".
"At the end of this month, God willing, I will go to Lund, in Sweden,
and together with the Lutheran World Federation, we will remember,
after five centuries, beginning of Luther's reform and thank the Lord
for fifty years of official dialogue between Lutherans and Catholics. An
essential part of this commemoration will turn our gaze towards the
future, with a view to a common Christian witness in the world today,
which so thirsts for God and His mercy. The witness that the world
expects from us is mainly that of making visible the mercy that God has
toward us through service to the poor, the sick, those who have left
their homeland to seek a better future for themselves and for loved
ones. In being of service to the most needy we experience already that
we are united: it is the mercy of God that unites us"
The hope is "that it mutual understanding can continue to grow " in
the awareness that "by virtue of our baptism," "beyond many open issues
that still separate us, we are already united. What unites us is much
more than what divides us".