“We draw here the mystery of God's mercy and choice: the Father loves everyone and wants to save everyone, and for this it is called by some 'conquering' with his grace, because through them his love reaches everyone.”
Reflecting on the Week for Christian Unity, Pope Francis noted how all believers in Christ are called to proclaim his wondrous works.
He spoke of moving toward “full visible communion among Christians,” not only in becoming closer, but in being converted by the Lord's grace, and the call to be his disciples.
We are united not only by the same call but by the same mission, the Pope said: “to proclaim to all the wonderful works of God.”
“As we journey towards full communion between us, we can already develop multiple forms of collaboration in order to promote the spread of the Gospel,” he said. “And walking and working together, we realize that we are already united in the name of the Lord.”
Reflecting on the current Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis said the authentic search for Christian unity depends on being fully entrusted to the Father's mercy.
“First of all we ask forgiveness for the sin of our divisions, which are an open wound in the Body of Christ,” he said.
Speaking as Bishop of Rome and leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis asked for mercy and forgiveness on account of the “non-evangelical” behavior on the part of Catholics toward their separated brethren.
He also called on Catholics to forgive wrongs done to them by other Christians.
“We can not undo what has been, but we will not allow the weight of past sins continue to pollute our relationships. The mercy of God renewed our relationships.”
Pope Francis welcomed the representatives of all the various Churches and ecclesial communities present at the gathering.
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“With them we passed through the Holy Door of this Basilica to remember that the only door which leads us to salvation is Jesus Christ our Lord, the merciful face of the Father.”
“Unity is the gift of the mercy of God the Father,” the Pope said.
Concluding his homily he indicated the tomb of St. Paul, who is buried under the main altar of the basilica.
“Here before the tomb of St. Paul, apostle and martyr, kept in this splendid basilica, we feel that our humble request is supported by the intercession of the multitude of Christian martyrs of yesterday and today.”
“They have responded generously to the call of the Lord, they gave faithful witness, with their lives, the wonderful works that God has done for us, and experience already in full communion with the presence of God the Father.”
“Sustained by their example – as we see, for instance, in the ecumenism of blood – and comforted by their intercession, we turn to God our humble prayer.”