Vatican City (AsiaNews) - History has separated Christians, "but we're on the way to reconciliation and communion". Pope Francis dedicated his address to the 50 thousand people in St Peter's Square for the general audience to ecumenism. The audience began as is tradition with a long tour among the crowd in his white jeep, during which he surprisingly invited two excited boys to joining him onboard.
"During the journey through history - he said - the church has been tempted by the devil who tries to divide it, and unfortunately has been marred by serious and painful separations. These divisions have sometimes lasted for a long time, some until today, so much so, that it is now difficult to retrace all the reasons [for these divisions] and find possible solutions. The reasons that led to such fractures and separations can be varied and diverse: from differences in dogmatic and moral principles; differences in theological and pastoral conceptions; politically motivated reasons or those of convenience, even clashes due to personal dislikes and ambitions ... what is certain is that, in one way or another, behind pride and selfishness are always these tears which are the cause of all disagreement and make us intolerant, unable to listen and accept those who have a different vision or a position from ours".
"Many have resigned themselves to this division - even in our Catholic Church - which throughout history has often been a cause of conflict and suffering, even of wars. This is a shame! Even today, relationships are not always based on respect and cordiality ... But, I wonder: How do we react to all this? Are we also resigned, if not indifferent to this division? Or do we firmly believe that we can and we must walk in direction of reconciliation and full communion? ... the full communion that will allow us to participate together in the body and blood of Christ".
"The divisions between Christians injure the Church, wound Christ, and divided we wound Christ: the Church is in fact the body of which Christ is the head. We know only too well how dear it was to Jesus that his disciples remained together in his love. Just thinking about his words in the seventeenth chapter of John's Gospel, his prayer addressed to the Father on the eve of the Passion: "so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us". "This unity was already threatened while Jesus was still among his disciples: in the Gospel, in fact, it should be noted that the Apostles were arguing among themselves about who was the greatest, the most important. The Lord, however, insisted so much on 'unity in the name of the Father, making us understand that our proclamation and our testimony will be more credible if we are able to live in communion and love each other".
Faced with the reality of the divisions that still exist today the Pope, said, "is there something that each of us, as members of Holy Mother Church, we can and should do? Prayer should never be lacking, in continuity and in communion with that of Jesus, prayer for the unity of Christians. And together with prayer, the Lord asks of us a renewed opening, He asks us not to be closed to dialogue and encounter, but to grasp all that is valid and positive that is offered by those who think differently from us or which arises out of different positions. He asks us not to fix our gaze on what divides us, but rather on what unites us, trying to better know and love Jesus and to share the richness of his love. This means concrete adherence to the truth, along with the ability to forgive, to feel part of the same Christian family, considering ourselves a gift for each other and doing many good things together, many works of charity".
"It is painful but there are divisions, there are divided Christians, we are divided among ourselves. But we all have something in common: we all believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. We all believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and thirdly, we all journey together, we are on a journey. Let's help each other! But you think this way, you feel that way ... But in every community there are good theologians: they discuss, they seek the theological truth because it is their duty, but we walk together, praying for each other and doing works of charity. And this is how we practice communion on our journey. This is called spiritual ecumenism: to walk the path of life together in our faith in Jesus Christ the Lord. Some say we should not talk about personal things, but I cannot resist the temptation. ... we're talking about communion, communion among us. And today, I am so grateful to the Lord that 70 years ago today I made my first Communion. Making our First Holy Communion we all need to know that to enter into communion with others, in communion with our brothers and sisters of our Church, but also in communion with all who belong to different communities but believe in Jesus. Let us thank the Lord for our Baptism, let us thank the Lord for our fellowship, and communion so that in the end we may all be together".
"Dear friends - he concluded - onwards towards full unity! History has separated us, but we are on the path to reconciliation and communion! And this is true! And we have to defend it! We are all on the journey towards communion . And when the goal may seem too far away, almost unreachable, and we feel caught in despair, we must take heart at the idea that God cannot close His ears to the voice of His Son Jesus and not fulfill his and our prayer, so that all Christians may really be one".