Vatican City, 16 February 2015 (VIS) – The Right Rev. John P. Chalmers, moderator of the Church of Scotland, accompanied by a group of representatives of the same Church, were received this in audience this morning by the Holy Father who, in his greeting, expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to meet and share with them a common commitment to the service of the Gospel and the cause for Christian unity.
“Scotland’s rich cultural and historical traditions have been shaped by outstanding saintly witnesses to Christ from various confessions”, he observed. “The present state of ecumenical relations in Scotland clearly shows that what we, as Christians, hold in common is greater than all that divides us. On this basis the Lord is calling us to seek ever more effective ways to overcome old prejudices and to find new forms of understanding and cooperation”.
The Pope remarked that he was heartened to see that “the good relations between the Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church have borne fruit in shared reflection on the challenges posed by contemporary society, and that in many cases we are able to speak with one voice on issues which deeply affect the lives of all Christians. In our globalised and often confused world, a common Christian witness is a necessary requisite for the effectiveness of our efforts to evangelise.
“We are pilgrims and we journey alongside one another. We need to learn to have ‘sincere trust in our fellow pilgrims, putting aside all suspicion or mistrust, and turn our gaze to what we are all seeking: the radiant peace of God’s face’, he continued, citing his Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii gaudium”. He went on to reiterate that faith and Christian witness current face such great challenges that “only by working together will we be able effectively to serve the human family and enable the light of Christ to reach every dark corner of our hearts and of our world”.
“May the journey of reconciliation and peace between our communities continue to draw us closer, so that, prompted by the Holy Spirit, we may bring life to all, and bring it in abundance. Let us pray for one another, and continue to advance in the way of wisdom, good will, strength and peace”. Pope Francis then added, in his native Spanish, “allow me to use my mother tongue to express a profound and sad sentiment. Today I have read about the execution of those twenty-one or twenty-two Coptic Christians. They said only: ‘Jesus, help me’. They were assassinated for the mere fact of being Christians. You, Brother, in your discourse, referred to what is happening in Jesus’ land. The blood of our Christian brothers is a testimony that calls to us. Regardless of whether they are Catholic, Orthodox, Coptic, Lutherans – this does not matter, they are Christians. And blood is the same. Their blood confesses Christ. In remembrance of these brothers of ours who have died for the mere fact of confessing Christ, I ask that we encourage each other to go ahead with this ecumenism, that is giving us strength, this ecumenism of blood. The martyrs are all Christians. Let us all pray for each other”