Like every year, Pope Francis prayed together with representatives from other confessions for the unity of all Christians. Representatives from the Orthodox and Anglican churches were present, as well as Methodists and Episcopalians.
The encounter took place in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls to conclude the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Before beginning, the pope prayed with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and a representative from the Anglican Church before the remains of St. Paul the Apostle, who is venerated by all the denominations present.
In his homily, the Holy Father reflected on baptism, the sacrament that all Christians have in common.
“When we say we recognize the baptism of Christians from other traditions, we confess that they have also received the Lord's forgiveness and that his grace works through them. We accept their worship as an authentic expression of praise for what God achieves. Also, when differences separate us, we recognize that we belong to the redeemed people, to the same family of brothers and sisters loved by the same Father.”
Pope Francis has asked for Christians from all denominations to collectively remember the good things God has done for them. The pope has also referenced Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic martyrs who have given their lives for Jesus.
“How many brothers and sisters today suffer persecution for following Jesus! When their blood spills, though they belong to different faiths, together they become witnesses of faith, martyrs, united by the link of baptismal grace.”
It was not a Mass, but an ecumenical ceremony, which even had an effect on the music. One choir was composed of Lutherans from Germany