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Pope Francis to ecumenical pilgrimage from Finland: differences “must not discourage us”

2016-01-18

In a show of ecumenical spirit, Pope Francis met with bishops from Finland's three largest Christian denominations and addressed a larger ecumenical group.

The Pope warned that differences in "doctrine and practice” are real but that they "must not discourage us.”

POPE FRANCIS
"These steps forward, made together, lay a solid basis for a growing communion of life in faith and spirituality.”

The vast majority of Finnish people identify as Lutherans. About one percent are Orthodox, and 12,000 identify as Catholic.

In honor of the meeting, the Lutheran Bishop of Helsinki announced that they had made a donation in the Pope's name.

"We have bought a donation from the environmental foundation in Finland. The donation will protect 1,000 square meters of Finnish forest for the generations to come.”

The donation is meant as a concrete gesture to add to their moral support of the Pope, who the bishop said is well-respected in her country.

IRJA ASKOLA
Lutheran Bishop of Helsinki
"I was telling him how much he is also loved and appreciated in a country which is predominately, very, very Lutheran. So he is known and also myself personally, have been touched and inspired by his many symbolic acts.”

Christians must especially be united during turbulent times like these, the bishop explained. She added that issues like climate change, refugees, and solidarity with the poor can bring the different Churches together.

IRJA ASKOLA
Lutheran Bishop of Helsinki
"I think we Lutherans have a special responsibility, first of all, to make sure that we cooperate. And that we don't have this kind of majority attitude, so to say. And we do cooperate. So this pilgrimage of three bishops here is not theater.”

The meeting concluded in a familiar way, as Pope Francis made a simple request to his guest: Pray for me.


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