As he does every year, the pope presided over vespers on the solemnity of the conversion of St. Paul and the end of the week of prayer for Christian Unity.
Representatives of other Christian confessions also attended the ceremony that took place in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
That is why, before they began, they all prayed for a few moments in front of the apostle's tomb.
The pope explained that reconciliation cannot come from human efforts but is a gift from God. He also spoke of the paradox of announcing the Gospel of reconciliation after centuries of divisions. He said that unity will be achieved through concrete sacrifices.
'This was the revolution experienced by Paul, but it is, and always has been, the Christian revolution. We live no longer for ourselves, for our own interests and 'imageâ?, but in the image of Christ, for him and following Him, with His love and in His love.â?
He assured that this is why each confession must walk with a focus on what unites them, in the cross of Christ, not in certain fashions or programs.
'A true reconciliation among Christians can take place when we recognize the gifts of others and are able, with humility and docility, to learn from one another, without expecting others to learn before us.â?
Above all, the pope recommended a formula to continue walking in favor of the full unity of all Christians.
'To look back is helpful, and indeed necessary, to purify our memory, but to be fixated on the past, lingering over the memory of wrongs done and endured, and judging in merely human terms, can paralyze us and prevent us from living in the presentâ?.
Pope Francis recalled his trip to Sweden to participate in the commemoration of the 500 year anniversary of the Reformation and he defined it as an important milestone.
He also asked to continually pray for the gift of unity and invited all Christians to continue to collaborate closely, especially for those who need it most.
Finally, the Anglican representative, the Ecumenical Patriarchate representative and the pope shared in the final blessing together.