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Pope crosses the Holy Door in Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls with an Orthodox and Anglican

2016-01-25

The ceremony began this way...

The Pope, an Orthodox representative, and an Anglican walked together through the Holy Door in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls.

Afterward, they stayed to pray before the tomb of Saint Paul.

It was another year that the Pope presided over Vespers to mark the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

For more than a century, Catholics have met with members of other Christian confessions during this week to pray for unity. The tradition began in 1908 when the Anglican pastor Paul Wattson promoted January 18th to 25th as days for prayer for Christian unity.

Members of other Churches and communities from Rome also attended the ceremony. The Pope explained that simple gestures can encourage unity.

POPE FRANCIS
"When Christians of different Churches listen to the Word of God together and try to put it into practice, they make important steps toward unity. 'The call' not only unites us, it also brings us together for the same mission: To announce to everyone the wonderful works of God.”

He also repeated his call for forgiveness from Christians of other confessions, as he has done on other occasions.

POPE FRANCIS
"As bishop of Rome and pastor of the Catholic Church, I want to invoke mercy and forgiveness for the non-evangelical behavior on the part of Catholics against Christians from other Churches.”

But, at the same time, he invited them to not dwell on bad times and to instead advance toward full unity.

POPE FRANCIS
"We cannot eliminate what has happened but we do not want to permit the weight of our past mistakes to continue poisoning our relations. The mercy of God will renovate our relations.”

The Pope called on them to follow the faithfulness of the Christian martyrs of all confessions and for them to invite their intercession to arrive at full unity.

And at the end, Pope Francis asked the Orthodox and Anglican representatives to impart their blessing from the altar.


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