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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Differences spur us to look for common ground, pope says

Divided Christians are called to see theological and liturgical differences that are rooted in the apostolic tradition not as a threat but as an impetus for Christian unity, Pope Francis said.

Suppressing unity in diversity “goes against the Holy Spirit” who enriches Christian communities and “urges us to live this variety in the communion of the church,” the pope said to members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity on 10th November.

In reflecting on models for full communion, the council’s plenary assembly addressed an issue “that is one of my principle concerns” and an “essential requirement of our faith that flows from within our being as believers in Jesus Christ,” the pope said.

“It is not enough to be in agreement in understanding the Gospel, but it is necessary that all of us believers be united to Christ and in Christ,” he said.

The pope warned of several false models of communion that seemingly promote unity but instead “contradict its very essence.” Chief among those false models, he said, was the belief that unity “is a fruit of our own human efforts.”

Picture: Pope Francis leads a prayer service at the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls on 25th January 2016. The service concluded the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).