In the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, Pope Francis led the Vespers, to mark the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul and also the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Representatives of other Christian denominations were also there. Along with them, the Pope prayed before the tomb of St. Paul.
The Pope explained that differences among Christians can be overcome by setting aside all polemical or apologetic approaches. Instead, he said, the focus must be on what unites all Christians.
"The unity of Christians will not come from sophisticated theoretical discussions, where people try to convince others of their own fundamental opinions.”
He then made a reference to modern day martyrs who give glory to God, to the point of giving their lives. That, said the Pope, is the ecumenism of blood, where Christians are persecuted for professing their faith.
"They are hunted and killed for being Christian. They are persecuted, regardless of what denomination they belong to. They are Christian and they are targeted. This is, my brothers and sisters, the ecumenism of blood.”
Imposing uniformity is not the best way to reach unity, he explained. All Christian Churches, he added have one mission in common: To transmit the message of the Gospel.
Focusing on this aspect, he explained, can overcome the temptation of competition.