Pope Francis is greeted during a meeting with members of the Lutheran World Federation at the Vatican Oct. 21. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope says Catholics, Lutherans must ask pardon for harming one another

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  • October 21, 2013

VATICAN CITY (CNS) - As the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation approaches, "Catholics and Lutherans can ask forgiveness for the harm they have caused one another and for their offenses committed in the sight of God," Pope Francis said.

Meeting Oct. 21 with representatives of the Lutheran World Federation and members of the Catholic-Lutheran international theological dialogue, Pope Francis said commemorations in 2017 of the beginning of the Reformation must take place in a spirit of dialogue and humility.

"I believe that it is truly important for everyone to confront in dialogue the historical reality of the Reformation, its consequences and the responses it elicited," the pope told the group.

While the Reformation fractured Western Christianity, he said, for the past 50 years Catholics and Lutherans have been committed to dialogue in an effort to restore full unity.

"Together we can rejoice in the longing for unity which the Lord has awakened in our hearts, and which makes us look with hope to the future," Pope Francis said. "Patience, dialogue and mutual understanding" will be necessary as the two communities seek to overcome what separates them.

While theological dialogue is important, he said, the key to unity lies in prayer and trying to follow more closely the teachings of Jesus.

"In the measure in which we draw closer to our Lord Jesus Christ in humility of spirit, we are certain to draw closer to one another," he said. "We must let ourselves be taken by the hand by Jesus Christ."

Lutheran Bishop Munib Younan of Palestine and Jordan, president of the Lutheran World Federation, told Pope Francis that Catholics and Lutherans must solemnly vow to never again use violence against one another or use the power of being a majority to silence their minority counterpart. Instead, he said, they must be committed to "listening and learning from one another."

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