Pope praises courageous, prophetic work of ecumenical scholars
By Christopher Wells
Pope Francis praised the work of an ecumenical group of scholars dedicated to the scriptural letters of St Paul, explaining that their “great contribution” is “the encounter between Christians who are diverse among themselves, yet united by the wisdom of Pauline teaching.”
In an address to participants of the 26th Pauline Ecumenical Colloquium, the Holy Father also emphasized the “rigourous and scholarly exegetical exchange” among academics that allows “the beauty of the Apostle’s letters and their importance for Christian and ecclesial life” to emerge.
A courageous and prophetic initiative
The Pope described the initiative as courageous in overcoming “barriers of defensiveness”; and prophetic in promoting a “healthy ‘impatience of the Spirit’” for fullness of unity and commitment to bearing witness.
“If throughout history divisions have been a source of suffering,” he said, “today we must commit ourselves to reversing course, moving forward on the paths of unity and fraternity, which begin precisely by praying, studying, and working together.”
God does not fail in His promises
Noting that Colloquium participants are focusing chapters 9-11 of St Paul’s Letter to the Romans, the Pope highlighted the “irrevocable” gifts and call of God described in Romans 11:29.
Here, he said, St Paul hands on to us a message of fundamental importance: "God does not fail in His promises of salvation and patiently carries them out, even through unexpected and surprising ways.”
Pope Francis said his support for the Colloquium’s work is based precisely on the foundation of our confidence in “the mercy and promises of God.”
While encouraging them to continue their fraternal and academic dialogue, he also invited them, “above all else,” to allow themselves “to be amazed by the countless spiritual resources contained in the Pauline letters, in order to offer Christian communities ‘new words’, able to communicate the Father’s merciful goodness, Christ’s newness of salvation and the Spirit’s renewing hope.”
He concluded with the hope that their work might foster “the ecumenical spirit” among believers, as an aid to “our common journey of seeking the Lord.”
Read the full text of the Pope's Address to Participants in the Twenty-sixth Pauline Ecumenical Colloquium.