Jan 15 (KATAKAMI.COM / VATICAN RADIO) — Pope Benedict XVI greeted an ecumenical delegation from Finland on Saturday. The group of Lutherans were making their annual pilgrimage to Rome to mark the feast of Saint Henry, the patron of their country. The meeting is coming just before the celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which begins next week.
The majority of Finns belongs to The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, which has nearly 4 ½ million members.
Speaking in German, the Pope reminded the delegation that Christian unity is ultimately a fruit of the action of God, and its success depends on the effectiveness of efforts which come from persistent prayer.
He noted the recent final report on Justification in the Life of the Church prepared by the Nordic Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue Group in Finland and Sweden, whose members he was able to meet last year.
He said a deepening of the understanding of justification will help Catholics and Lutherans reach a common view regarding the nature of the church and the episcopal office.
He also drew attention to the awareness that the ecumenical journey has become in many ways more difficult and more challenging. The Pope said questions have been asked about the ecumenical method and the achievements of recent decades, and some express uncertainty about the future.
In this light, the Holy Father said this annual pilgrimage to Rome for the feast of St. Henry is important, and an encouragement for ecumenical efforts. (*)