Pope Francis: conversion leads Christians closer to full communion
January 26, 2016
Pope Francis concluded the 2016 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity by celebrating Vespers at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls on January 25.
St. Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus was “not primarily a moral conversion but rather an transforming experience of the grace of Christ, and at the same time, a call to the new mission of announcing to everyone the Jesus that he previously persecuted by persecuting the disciples of Christ,” Pope Francis preached.
“For those first Christians, like today for all of us baptized Christians, it is a source of comfort and of constant amazement to know that we have been chosen to be part of God’s plan of salvation, put into effect through Jesus Christ and through the Church,” he continued. “The Father loves us all and wants to save us all, and for this reason He calls some people, conquering them through His grace, so that through them His love can reach all people.”
Stating that Christians progress on the road to full communion “above all as we convert ourselves to the Lord, who through His grace, chooses and calls us to be His disciples,” the Pope asked for forgiveness for the sins of Catholics and encouraged Catholics to forgive non-Catholic Christians:
In this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, we must always keep in mind that there cannot be an authentic search for Christian unity without trusting fully in the Father’s mercy. We ask first of all for forgiveness for the sins of our divisions, which are an open wound in the Body of Christ. As Bishop of Rome and pastor of the Catholic Church, I want to ask for mercy and forgiveness for the behavior of Catholics towards Christians of other Churches which has not reflected Gospel values. At the same time, I invite all Catholic brothers and sisters to forgive if they, today or in the past, have been offended by other Christians.
- Concluding the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2016.01.25 (Holy See Press Office)
- Celebrazione dei Secondi Vespri della Solennità della Conversione di San Paolo Apostolo, a conclusione della Settimana di preghiera per l’Unità dei Cristiani, 25.01.2016 (Holy See Press Office)
- Pope Francis: homily for Christian Unity Vespers (Vatican Radio)
- Background: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (CWN, 1/18)