Vatican City, Jan 18, 2008 / 08:59 am
This morning, Benedict XVI received an ecumenical delegation from Finland for the Feast of St. Henry, their country’s patron saint, whose feast day is celebrated tomorrow. In his talk, the Holy Father stressed the importance of prayer and dialogue for achieving Christian unity.
“Christian unity is a gift from above, stemming from and growing towards loving communion with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The joint prayer of Lutherans and Catholics from Finland is a humble but faithful sharing in the prayer of Jesus, who promised that every prayer raised to the Father in His name would be heard,” the Pope told the Finns.
He continued, “This indeed, is the royal door of ecumenism: such prayer leads us to look at the Kingdom of God and the unity of the Church in a fresh way; it reinforces our bonds of communion; and it enables us to face courageously the painful memories, social burdens and human weaknesses that are so much a part of our divisions.”
Reminding his audience that today begins the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with the theme “pray without ceasing”, the Pope said, “We must be grateful for the fruits of the Nordic Lutheran-Catholic theological dialogue in Finland and Sweden concerning central matters of the Christian faith, including the question of justification in the life of the Church.”