Yesterday Archbishop of Uppsala, Antje Jackelén, led a delegation of Lutherans to the Vatican 26 years after Pope John Paul II visited the Nordic nations. Archbishop Jackelén is head of the Lutheran Church of Sweden. Vatican Radio reports that Archbishop Jackelén is the first female head of the Church of Sweden and the first female archbishop to be welcomed to the Vatican for an official papal audience.
In her address to Pope Francis, Archbishop Jackelén spoke about the progress made between Catholics and Lutherans in their joint dialogues. She spoke about the joint document “From Conflict to Communion” and the joint commemoration of the start of the Reformation. She also spoke about the challenges facing the world, including poverty, injustice, the plight of Christians in the Middle East, the death of migrants in the Mediterranean, and climate change.
In his address to Archbishop Jackelén, Pope Francis warmly greeted the archbishop and reminded her that last year was the fiftieth anniversary of Unitatis redintegratio, the decree on ecumenism. In speaking about the decree he noted that it…
expresses a profound respect and appreciation for those brothers and sisters separated from us, to whom in daily coexistence we at times risk giving little consideration. In reality, they are not perceived as adversaries or as competitors, but instead acknowledged for what they are: brothers and sisters in faith. Catholics and Lutherans must seek and promote unity in dioceses, in parishes, in communities throughout the world.
He also noted that much work still has to be done, but that we must to work towards full unity in the sacraments and ecclesial ministry.
Pope Francis also drew attention to the common ministry of both churches to the plight of people around the world. The need for unity implies…
a pressing exhortation to joint commitment at the charitable level, in favour of all those who suffer in the world as a result of poverty and violence, and have a special need for our mercy; the witness of our persecuted brothers and sisters in particular drives us to grow in fraternal communion.
More information about their visit can be found at Vatican Information Service.
I join Archbishop Jackelén and Pope Francis in their hope that one day Lutherans and Catholics might again share the body and blood of Christ together in communion with one another.