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In a bid to promote unity between Catholics and Protestants, Pope Benedict XVI visited an evangelical Lutheran Church in a largely German-speaking community on Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday during Lent.
According to Zenit News Agency, the Catholic leader warned those present against being content “with the successes of the ecumenism of recent years,” regretting that Protestants and Catholics still “cannot drink of the same chalice and we cannot be together around the altar.”
“This should make us sad because it is a sinful situation, but unity cannot be created by men,” the agency reported him as saying.
“We must entrust ourselves to the Lord, because he is the only one that can give us unity,” he said, later stating, “Let us hope that he will bring us to this unity that we now await.”
During the German-language service, President of the Lutheran Community of Rome Doris Esch remarked that this was the church’s second papal visit. The first was made by Pope John Paul II in 1983.
“May you feel at home here, Your Holiness,” she said while concluding her speech (ibid.).
As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict XVI visited the Lutheran community in 1998. He also supported the signing of the joint declaration by the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation on spiritual justification signed on October 31, 1999, and has continued to stress unity between the two churches since assuming the papal role.