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Cardinal Koch: Pope shares healthy impatience for Christian unity

Twenty-five years ago, Pope John Paul II sent a clear message of unity to all Christians. It was the encyclical 'Ut Unum Sint,' in which he proposed following the path of ecumenical action between Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Anglicans and members of every other Christian denomination.

President, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
“Pope John Paul II wrote this encyclical 30 years after the end of the Second Vatican Council. In it, he said ecumenism is the way of the Church, and that it is irreversible. That means there is a task, a duty, for all the faithful of the Catholic Church, to participate in the ecumenical movement.”

It's a relevant message today, and one of Pope Francis' top priorities. He has warned of the temptation Christians of any given denomination can face, to feel superior to other Christians.

Jan. 18, 2019
It is a grave sin to belittle or despise the gifts that the Lord has given our brothers and sisters, to think that God somehow holds them in less esteem. When we entertain such thoughts, we allow the very grace we have received to become a source of pride, injustice and division.

On the 25th anniversary of the publication of 'Ut Unum Sint,' Pope Francis sent a letter to Card. Kurt Koch, to remind him of the progress made and to discuss what's left to do.

President, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
“Pope Francis, in his letter, said he shares a healthy impatience for the unity of the Church. He also says we should be grateful for all the efforts made and the steps already taken.”

Pope Francis acknowledges in the letter that unity is not primarily the result of human action, but rather, a gift from the Holy Spirit.

Card. Kurt Koch says the pope encourages a deeper understanding of three elements needed to promote unity: walking, praying and collaborating. He also says it's a path that passes through two key points.

President, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
“Ecumenism of charity means going deeper into the relationship with other Churches and their leaders. The ecumenism of truth is the theological analysis of the obstacles still present in those relationships. However, a dialogue of truth can't exist without a dialogue of charity.”

The cardinal also recalls some of Pope Francis' gestures to promote ecumenism. One was gifting the relics of St. Peter to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Another was his meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church in Cuba. In March, he was scheduled to visit South Sudan with the leader of the Anglican Church.

Daniel Díaz Vizzi

Translation: Claudia Torres