Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "New perspectives" are opening up in relations between Catholics and evangelicals, "misunderstandings" have been clarified, "ways to overcome prejudices" shown and in various countries around the world "relations of brotherhood and cooperation have been established". The meeting this morning with a delegation from the World Evangelical Alliance allowed Pope Francis to reaffirm the notion, dear to him, that "the Lord precedes us always with His love and grace. He precedes our communities; He anticipates and prepares the hearts of those who proclaim the Gospel and of those who accept the Gospel of salvation".
"From the beginning - he continued - 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 (cf Mt 28:19-20). 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 (cf. Ec. Conc. Vat. II, Decr. Unitatis redintegratio, 13). 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" (Ev. gaud., 246). 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 (cf. Acts 1:8). I assure you of my prayers for this, and I ask you also to pray for me and for my ministry. Thank you!"