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 CNS Story:

POPE-LUTHERANS Jan-17-2014 (220 words) xxxi

Pope encourages ecumenism in response to secularism

By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis said the evangelization of secular society requires focusing on the essentials of Christianity in collaboration with other Christian churches.

The pope made his remarks Jan. 17 at a meeting with representatives of the Lutheran Church in Finland, who were making their annual ecumenical pilgrimage to Rome on the feast of Finland's patron, St. Henry. The meeting occurred one day before the start of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Pope Francis told the group that ecumenical relations lately have been undergoing "significant changes, owing above all to the fact that we find ourselves professing our faith in the context of societies and cultures every day more lacking in reference to God and all that recalls the transcendent dimension of life."

"For this very reason, our witness must concentrate on the center of our faith, on the announcement of the love of God made manifest in Christ his son," the pope said. "Here we find space to grow in communion and in unity, promoting spiritual ecumenism."

Pope Francis quoted the Second Vatican Council's decree on ecumenism, which described "spiritual ecumenism" as consisting of "conversion of heart and holiness of life, together with private and public prayer for Christian unity," which form the "soul of the whole ecumenical movement."

END


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