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Pope Francis to Hong Kong Christian Council: Let us pray for unity together

Pope Francis emphasized the importance of unity among Christian denominations, invoking the wisdom of late Orthodox Bishop Zizioulas and recalling historic moments of ecumenical dialogue. 

In his message to a delegation from the Hong Kong Christian Council on Wednesday, the pope focused on the quest for unity across the Christian spectrum.

“A great Orthodox bishop, Zizioulas, who died more or less a year ago, used to say that we would have unity between the Christian Churches only on the day of the final judgment,” the pontiff said. 

“But, ‘in the meantime’, he said, ‘we must pray together and work together’. This is very important: working together because we all believe in Jesus Christ; praying together, praying for unity,” Pope Francis added. 

Reflecting on historical interactions, Pope Francis mentioned an exchange between the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople and Pope Paul VI, which humorously proposed isolating theologians to let the broader Christian community “go ahead in peace.” 

He quoted the Patriarch: “Let us do something: let us put all the theologians on an island, so they can argue amongst themselves, and we can go ahead in peace.”

Moreover, the Pope acknowledged external challenges facing Christians worldwide, stressing that “we have many enemies outside. We are friends! Enemies outside; here, friends.” 

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The pontiff also touched on the theme of martyrdom, recalling the universal reverence for martyrs within the Christian community, regardless of their denominational affiliations.

“Something very beautiful happened when Paul VI went to Uganda. He spoke about Catholic and Anglican martyrs. They are martyrs. And I myself, when those Coptic people were martyred, immediately said that they are also ‘our’ martyrs, they are martyrs for all,” he said.

Pope Francis said that there are two baptisms. One is the Baptism that every Christian receives and “the other, that which the Lord calls ‘the Baptism of blood’: martyrdom. And we all know what martyrdom is for the many Christians who have given their life for faith.”

“The important thing: we have the same Baptism and this makes us Christians,” he said, highlighting the shared foundations that transcend denominational lines.

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