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Pope Francis in Switzerland: We must all “go out losing” in ecumenism for God to win

Until now, no pope had traveled to Switzerland strictly to visit the world's major ecumenical center, the World Council of Churches. 

This institution, composed of 350 churches, is celebrating 70 years and represents 560 million Christians. Among them are Orthodox, Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists and those of other denominations. It's a very plural organization, as demonstrated by the welcoming committee that received Pope Francis. 

After visiting the chapel, a simple but deep ecumenical ceremony began. They prayed for unity and asked for forgiveness and reconciliation.

“Holy Father. Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, Welcome to this ecumenical prayer service which commemorates the 70th anniversary of the World Council of Churches.”

“We are glad to welcome at this historic commemoration the Holy Father, Pope Francis, whose vision and work has inspired and enthused and strengthened the relationship and the cooperation with the World Council of Churches on the common journey of the pilgrimage of justice and peace.”

In his address, the Holy Father reminded that human life on Earth can be summarized in one phrase: walking in search of something more.

“Walking, in a word, demands constant conversion. That is why so many people refuse to do it. They prefer to remain in the quiet of their home, where it is easy to manage their affairs without facing the risks of travel.”

The pope also said one can walk in two ways: by following the Holy Spirit or by following personal desires. 

“It is easy to see the result of this tragic loss of direction. The thirst for material things blinds us to our companions along the way, and indifference prevails in the streets of today’s world. Driven by our instincts, we become slaves to unbridled consumerism, and God’s voice is gradually silenced.”

Pope Francis said this selfish path was the one that caused rifts in Christianity, when, instead of supporting God, people tried to satisfy the desires of a particular community. 

“We belong to the Lord before identifying with right or left; to choose, in the name of the Gospel, our brother or our sister over ourselves... In the eyes of the world, this often means operating at a loss. Ecumenism is 'a great enterprise operating at a loss.' But the loss is evangelical, reflecting the words of Jesus: 'Those who want to save their life will lose it.'”

The Holy Father explained that the obsession of hoarding and possessing leads to being excluding. Thus, he urged Christians to return to the way of humility, thinking back to the Church's beginnings, to Christ, and following His example.

The tone of the encounter was solemn and deep, but not sad. The chorus made their presence felt, single-handedly earning a main role as they expertly complemented the ecumenical prayer.