"Jesus Christ is the heart of ecumenism": Pope Francis to Lutherans

Pope Francis meets with a delegation from the Lutheran World Federation on June 20, 2024, in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican.

Pope Francis this morning received a delegation from the Lutheran World Federation at the Vatican and stressed that “Jesus Christ is the heart of ecumenism.”

In his talk given during the audience held in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican, the Holy Father called this encounter “an important gesture of ecumenical fraternity.”

The pontiff recalled the visit of this delegation to Rome three years ago, an occasion in which they reflected on the upcoming 1,700th anniversary of the First Council of Nicaea in 2025 as an ecumenical event.

In this context, he noted that it is “a beautiful sign of hope that has a special place in the history of reconciliation between Catholics and Lutherans.

“Jesus Christ is the heart of ecumenism,” Pope Francis highlighted, at the same time noting that “he is divine mercy incarnate, and our ecumenical mission is to bear witness to this.”


The Holy Father also recalled the “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification,” signed 25 years ago, as “another sign of hope in our history of reconciliation.” Thus the pontiff encouraged his listeners to keep it “in our memory as something always living” and to celebrate this anniversary “as a feast of hope.”

“May the God of hope be with us and continue to accompany our dialogue of truth and charity with his blessing,” Pope Francis said.

Finally, the Holy Father recalled “something beautiful” from the Orthodox bishop Zizioulas, a pioneer of ecumenism, who “used to say that he knew the date of Christian union: the day of the final judgment!”

“But in the meantime, he said, we must walk together: walk together, pray together and do works of charity together, on the way toward that ‘hyper-ecumenical’ day that will be the final judgment,” the Holy Father concluded, adding that “Zizioulas had a good sense of humor!”

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This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.