05/06/2022, 16.02
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Pope says that divisions among Christians provide a fertile ground for wars

Francis told the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity that the war in Ukraine challenges the “conscience of every Christian and every Church.” Sadly, “some countries” saw “certain egocentric revivals” in “certain Christian communities that” have led them “backwards”. The pope hopes that the 1700th anniversary of the Council of Nicaea in 2025 will have an ecumenical dimension.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis met in the Consistory Hall with participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity,

In his address, the pontiff said that the war in Ukraine challenges the “conscience of every Christian and every Church.” For this reason, he said that no one should ignore the fact that “divisions between Christians” go in hand with conflict situations.

Taking advantage of the Council’s first meeting in person after the pandemic, Francis noted that COVID-19 has offered the various confessions a chance to journey together.

Indeed, “today, for a Christian, it is not possible or practicable to go alone [. . .]. [T]he awareness of ecumenism is such that one cannot think of journeying on the path of faith without the company of brothers and sisters from other Churches of ecclesial communities.”

“In some countries there are certain egocentric revivals – so to speak – of certain Christian communities that either go backwards, or cannot advance. Today, either we all walk together or we do not walk.”

This issue is that more urgent because like conflicts in other parts of the world, Myanmar for example, the war in Ukraine, “cruel and senseless like every war, has a greater dimension and threatens the entire world, and cannot but question the conscience of every Christian and every Church.

For this reason, “We must ask ourselves: what have Churches done, and what can they do, to contribute to ‘the development of a global community of fraternity based on the practice of social friendship on the part of peoples and nations’.”

“In the last century, the awareness that the scandal of the division of Christians had historic relevance in generating the evil that poisoned the world with grief and injustice had moved communities of believers, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to desire the unity for which the Lord prayed and gave his life. Today, faced with the barbarism of war, this longing for unity must once again be nurtured.

“Ignoring the divisions between Christians, out of habit or resignation, means tolerating that contamination of hearts that creates fertile ground for conflicts. The proclamation of the gospel of peace, that gospel that disarms hearts even before armies, will be more credible only if it is announced by Christians who are finally reconciled in Jesus, Prince of peace; Christians inspired by his message of universal love and fraternity, which transcends the boundaries of their own community and nation.”

The pope also spoke about the ongoing discussions within the Pontifical Council on how to celebrate in an ecumenical way the first Council of Nicaea (325 AD) in 2025.

“Despite the troubled events of its preparation and above all the subsequent long period of reception, the first ecumenical Council was an event of reconciliation for the Church, which in a synodal way reaffirmed its unity around the profession of its faith.

“The style and the decisions of the Council of Nicaea should enlighten the current ecumenical journey and lead to practical steps towards the full reestablishment of Christian unity. Given that the 1700th anniversary of the first Council of Nicaea coincides with the Jubilee year, I hope that the celebration of the next Jubilee may have a relevant ecumenical dimension.”

Francis also urged bishops’ conferences to listen to the brothers and sisters of other Christian confessions during the synodal process to which the Catholic Church has been called. “If we truly want to listen to the voice of the Spirit, we must not fail to hear what he has said and is saying to all those who have been born again ‘of water and the Spirit’.”

Last but not least, the pope noted that while “It is true that theological work is very important, [. . .] we cannot wait for theologians to agree before we embark on the path of unity”.  Hence, “Journey as brothers, in prayer together, in works of charity, in the search for truth. Like brothers. And this brotherhood is for all of us.”

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