10.03.29 - Benedict XVI Visits Rome's Evangelical Lutheran Church

VATICAN CITY, 14 MAR 2010 (VIS) - This afternoon, Benedict XVI visited the Evangelical-Lutheran church of Rome, a building inaugurated in 1922, where he was welcomed by Jens-Martin Kruse, pastor of the city's Lutheran community. John Paul II visited the same church in December 1983, for the fifth centenary of the birth of Martin Luther.

As the Pope and the Lutheran pastor advanced towards the altar, a choir of Lutherans and Catholic seminarians sang Mozart's "Jubilate Deo".

Following a greeting from the president of the Lutheran community, Pastor Kruse and the Pope both delivered homilies. Benedict XVI gave thanks for the fact that "we are gathered here on this Sunday, singing together, listening to the Word of God, listening to one another and looking towards the One Christ, bearing witness to the One Christ".

Continuing his homily, delivered off-the-cuff in German, the Holy Father noted how "we hear many complaints about the fact that there are no longer any new developments in ecumenism. Yet", he insisted, "we can say with gratitude that there are many elements that unite us".

"We must not content ourselves with the successes of ecumenism over recent years, because we still cannot drink from the same chalice or gather together around the same altar", he said.

"This", he went on, "cannot but make us sad because it is a situation of sin; and yet unity cannot be achieved by men. We must entrust ourselves to the Lord, because He is the only one Who can give us unity. Let us hope that He brings us to that goal".

Recalling words used by Pastor Kruse in his homily, the Holy Father agreed that the main common ground between Lutherans and Catholics "must be the joy and hope we are already experiencing, and the hope that our current unity may become even deeper".

At the end of his visit the Pope gave the Lutheran community of Rome, which is made up of 350 faithful, a mosaic depicting Jesus Christ, reproduction of an original located under the Altar of the Confession in St. Peter's Basilica.

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