In a meeting with the World Evangelical Alliance Thursday, Pope Francis expressed his hope in greater unity and collaboration between the two faith communities. “If we really believe in the abundantly free working of the Holy Spirit,” he said, “we can learn so much from one another!”
Francis went on to say that it is “not just about being better informed about others, but rather about reaping what the Spirit has sown in them, which is also meant to be a gift for us.”
Speaking in English, the Pope greeted his hearers with the familiar words of Saint Paul: “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,” a greeting which “expresses our common faith and our common hope,” Francis said.
“From the beginning,” the Pope said, “there have been divisions among Christians, and sadly, even today, conflicts and rivalries exist between our communities.” The Pope acknowledged that “the effectiveness of the Christian message would, no doubt, be greater were Christians to overcome their divisions.”
On the other hand, the Pope also expressed his deep hope “that the Holy Spirit, who inspires the Church to persevere in seeking new methods of evangelization, will usher in a new era of relations between Catholics and Evangelicals, so that the Lord’s will that the Gospel be brought to the ends of the earth may be more fully realized.”
“It pleases me to know that in various countries, Catholics and Evangelicals enjoy good relations and work together as brothers and sisters,” he said.
The Pope also underscored the communal and charitable dimensions of Christianity. “Reading the Scriptures,” he said, “makes it clear that the Gospel is not merely about our personal relationship with God.” On the other hand, loving God is not just “an accumulation of small personal gestures to individuals in need,” which would be “aimed solely at easing our conscience,” he said. Fundamentally, the Gospel “is about the kingdom of God; it is about loving God who reigns in our world,” the Pope said.