(Vatican Radio) The Moderator of the Church of Scotland on Monday invited Pope Francis to visit the country which, he says, has overcome sectarian strife to become a place where ecumenical relations "have never been more cordial and productive".
During a meeting with the Right Reverend John Chalmers, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Pope said all Christians are called to seek ever more effective ways of overcoming old prejudices and to find new forms of understanding and cooperation.
Speaking in Italian, Pope Francis said our Churches “are presently confronted by 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”.
The Kirk, as it’s is known, is the national Church of Scotland, founded in the wake of the Scottish Reformation of 1560. Over the centuries since then, the country has been plagued by bitter sectarian divisions between Catholics and Protestants. But as Philippa Hitchen discovered when she spoke to Rev John Chalmers, those conflicts have been replaced by a common Christian witness at the service of those most in need ….
Below please find the English translation of Pope Francis’ words to the Right Reverend John Chalmers, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I am happy to have this opportunity to meet this delegation from the Church of Scotland, and to reaffirm our common commitment to the Gospel and to the cause of Christian unity.
Scotland’s rich cultural and historical traditions have been shaped by outstanding saintly witnesses to Christ from various confessions. 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.
It is heartening for me 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 globalized and often confused world, a common Christian witness is a necessary requisite for the effectiveness of our efforts to evangelize.
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” (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 244).
Faith and Christian witness are presently confronted by 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 (cf. Jn 10:10).
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