Christ’s call for his disciples to be one requires that even as they try to resolve their differences on doctrinal and moral questions, they must get used to working and praying together, Pope Francis said.
“Increasingly we are learning to ask ourselves: This initiative, can we share it with our brothers and sisters in Christ?” the pope said on 6th February in a speech to leaders of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, a body representing Lutherans, Reformed and United communities.
“The differences in questions of faith and morals, which still exist, remain challenges on the path toward the visible unity for which our faithful yearn,” the pope said. “The pain is noticed particularly by couples who belong to different confessions.”
Lutheran Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, chair of the evangelical church council, told the pope, “It is sometimes a painful reality in families: couples who share children, grandchildren and friends are divided at the Lord’s table.”
He told reporters later that the group had discussed the question of Eucharistic hospitality – sharing Communion in certain circumstances – with Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. In general, the position of the Catholic Church has been that regular Eucharistic sharing is not possible until full unity has been restored.
Picture: Pope Francis and Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, meet at the Vatican on 6th February. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano).