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Pope Francis’ meeting with leaders of Lutheran World Federation is ‘important gesture of ecumenical fraternity’

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Pope Francis holds a gift from a delegation of the Lutheran World Federation, a vase made from a bullet casing holding flowers twisted from wire, during a private audience at the Vatican June 20, 2024. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY — Jesus Christ is the heart of ecumenism, Pope Francis told leaders and representatives of the Lutheran World Federation.

“He is divine mercy incarnate, and our ecumenical mission is to be a witness for him,” the pope said.

Pope Francis meets with a delegation of the Lutheran World Federation during a private audience at the Vatican June 20, 2024. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The pope met with: Danish Lutheran Bishop Henrik Stubkjær, the federation’s president; Rev. Anne Burghardt, the federation’s general secretary; regional delegates; and other representatives during an audience at the Vatican June 20.

He called their meeting “an important gesture of ecumenical fraternity” and recalled the progress Lutherans and Catholics have made over the years in understanding each other, including the “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification,” which provided a common basis for understanding how people are justified and saved.

That declaration was signed 25 years ago, he said, expressing his hope that this important anniversary would be “celebrated in our communities as a celebration of hope.”

“Let us remember that our common spiritual origin is ‘one baptism for the forgiveness of sins,'” according to the Nicene Creed, and “let us continue with confidence as ‘pilgrims of hope,'” the pope said, referencing the theme for the Holy Year 2025.

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