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Pope Francis receives document from Lutheran Church of Finland bishops

In honor of the Feast of St. Henrik, bishops from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland made their annual pilgrimage to Rome to further ecumenical dialogue with the Holy See. On this occasion, the delegation presented Pope Francis with a document to address differences. 

Bishop of Lapua, Lutheran Church of Finland

“The document was prepared in Finland in the last three years, and it was published first at the end of last year. Now, we are going to hand it over to the Holy Father and wish that it might be one of the decisive steps between Lutherans and Catholics on their common pilgrimage towards visible unity of the churches.”

The Lutheran Catholic Dialogue Commission for Finland issued the paper in late 2017, entitled “Communion in Growth. Declaration on the Church, Eucharist and Ministry.”

The pope reminded the delegation of the joint celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation last year, which he said “strengthened and deepened” communion between ecumenical partners.

“This joint commemoration remains a fruitful opportunity for ecumenism, for it marked not a goal but rather a point of departure in the ecumenical quest for full and visible unity between Christians, under the threefold sign of gratitude, repentance and hope, all three of which are indispensable if we truly desire to heal our memory.”

While topics of discussion still exist between the two churches – such as the pope's role or ordination of women – the Finnish bishops expressed their appreciation for continued dialogue. 

Bishop of Espoo, Lutheran Church of Finland

“As an ecumenical delegation, and as representatives of churches of both west and east, we are grateful for the rich blessing Christian faith has bestowed on our northern land.”

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland was founded in the early 1800s. Today, it has nearly four million believers among nine dioceses.