10/31/2016, 20.14
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Pope in Sweden: Catholics and Lutherans to work together to promote mankind and social justice

At the end of the ecumenical day, Caritas Internationalis and the Lutheran World Federation World Service signed an agreement. Aleppo is “a city brought to its knees by war, a place where even the most fundamental rights are treated with contempt and trampled underfoot.”

Malmö (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis took part in today’s last "ecumenical event" in Malmö Arena. In his address, he stressed that dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans " has helped us to grow in mutual understanding” as evidenced by his trip to Sweden, ecumenical prayer and Joint Declaration with the Lutherans.

Dialogue, the Holy Father noted, has also enabled Catholics and Lutherans develop and consolidate a culture of collaboration for the promotion of human dignity and social justice, as indicated in the agreement signed today by Caritas and its Lutheran counterpart.

The pope arrived on an electric car, together with the president of the Lutheran World Federation, Bishop Munib Yunan, Secretary General, Rev Martín Junge, and the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Card Kurt Koch. During his speech, he also mentioned the suffering of Aleppo.

A few thousands of people filled the arena, and four people gave their testimony followed by the pope’s greeting. After Francis, the Chaldean bishop of Aleppo, Mgr Antoine Audo spoke, followed by a Call to action and finally the signing of the Declaration of Intent, titled Together in Hope, by Caritas Internationalis and the Lutheran World Federation World Service.

When he spoke the pope stressed “the recognition that Christian unity is a priority, because we realize that much more unites us than separates us.”

“Our dialogue,” he went on to say, “has helped us to grow in mutual understanding; it has fostered reciprocal trust and confirmed our desire to advance towards full communion. One of the fruits of this dialogue has been cooperation between different organizations of the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church. Thanks to this new atmosphere of understanding, Caritas Internationalis and the Lutheran World Federation World Service will today sign a joint agreed statement aimed at developing and strengthening a spirit of cooperation for the promotion of human dignity and social justice. I warmly greet the members of both organizations; in a world torn by wars and conflicts, they have been, and continue to be, a luminous example of commitment and service to neighbour. I encourage you to advance along the path of cooperation.”

Speaking about those who gave their testimony, Francis said “I share your concern about the abuses harming our planet, our common home, and causing grave effects on the climate. [. . .] All of us, and we Christians in particular, are responsible for protecting creation. Our lifestyle and our actions must always be consistent with our faith. We are called to cultivate harmony within ourselves and with others, but also with God and with his handiwork.”

“I would like to thank all those governments that assist refugees, displaced persons and asylum-seekers. For everything done to help these persons in need of protection is a great gesture of solidarity and a recognition of their dignity. For us Christians, it is a priority to go out and meet the outcasts and the marginalized of our world, and to make felt the tender and merciful love of God, who rejects no one and accepts everyone.

Francis also mentioned Bishop Antoine “who lives in Aleppo, a city brought to its knees by war, a place where even the most fundamental rights are treated with contempt and trampled underfoot. Each day the news tells us about the unspeakable suffering caused by the Syrian conflict, which has now lasted more than five years. In the midst of so much devastation, it is truly heroic that men and women have remained there in order to offer material and spiritual assistance to those in need. It is admirable too, that you, dear brother, continue working amid such danger in order to tell us of the tragic situation of the Syrian people. Every one of them is in our hearts and prayers. Let us implore the grace of heartfelt conversion for those responsible for the fate of that region.”

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