In an effort to strengthen unity among Christians, Pope Francis welcomed a delegation of the Bishops Conference of the Union of Utrecht, also known as 'Old Catholics.'
The division between the two came about in 1870 during the First Vatican Council, when a group of bishops rejected the notion of papal infallibility. Today, there are more theological and ecclesiological differences between the two, but the Pope said, they must focus on moving forward.
"It has been possible to build new bridges of a more profound mutual understanding and practical co-operation. Convergences and consensus have been found, and differences have been better identified and set in new contexts.”
Europe is confused about its vocation and identity, said the Pope. This, he explained, opens a new door for Catholics and so called Old Catholics to collaborate and help people in their spiritual journey.
He then added that the separation between the two, triggered grave sins and human faults on both sides, but mutual forgiveness and humble repentance are key for reconciliation.