Pope Begs Protestants' Forgiveness

Talks unity ahead of visit to Sweden for Reformation anniversary
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 26, 2016 11:17 AM CST
Pope Begs Protestants' Forgiveness
Pope Francis kisses the altar as he arrives to lead the second Vespers prayer in Rome, Monday, Jan. 25, 2016.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Pope Francis has concluded an annual weeklong prayer for Christian unity by making a sweeping apology for Catholic wrongs committed against other Christians, reports the AP. On Monday, Francis asked forgiveness for the "sin of our divisions"—an appeal he made in June last year during a visit to a small evangelical house of worship in Italy. "I would like to invoke mercy and forgiveness for the non-evangelical behavior of Catholics toward Christians of other churches," he said. "At the same time, I invite all Catholic brothers and sisters to forgive if today, or in the past, they have suffered offense by other Christians ... We cannot cancel what has happened, but we don't want to let the weight of past harm continue to pollute our relations."

Earlier Monday, Francis announced he will visit Sweden, home to about 150,000 Catholics, to mark the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation. The one-day trip Oct. 31 to the southern city of Lund, where the Lutheran World Federation was founded in 1947, will be the first papal visit to Sweden since 1989. The Vatican said the visit will "highlight the important ecumenical developments that have taken place during the past 50 years of dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans" and will include a common worship service. Martin Luther's challenge to the Catholic doctrine of indulgences in 1517 is remembered as the start of the Reformation, from which the Protestant churches originated out of criticism of the Church of Rome led by the pope. (Read more Pope Francis stories.)

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