ROME — The divisions among Christians are a result of sin and must be overcome with new efforts at reconciliation and unity so that the world will believe that the Gospel truly is good news, Pope Francis said.
“We have sinned against God and against our brothers. We are divided, we have broken into a thousand pieces what God so lovingly, passionately and tenderly made,” the pope said in a video message broadcast May 22 during an ecumenical charismatic prayer vigil in Jerusalem.
The Pentecost vigil, at the Anglican’s Christ Church in Jerusalem, was organized by Charis, the Vatican-based international coordinating office of the Catholic charismatic renewal.
Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury offered a meditation and told participants, “Across every church that bears the name of Christ, the Holy Spirit makes the distance up (between communities) by filling the space we put between us, by calling us into unity and love — God willing, by grieving us when we grieve one another.”
The archbishop urged people to pray more urgently for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit “that the life of Christ may be renewed in us and his church begin to look like Christ for the sake of the world he loves.”
Pope Francis said that reading the biblical story of Pentecost, he always is struck by its description of “the community of believers in Christ: No one was in need because they held everything in common. And the people said of them, ‘See how they love one another.'”
“Brotherly love defines them,” the pope said.
But “how sad it is when people say of Christians, ‘Look how they quarrel,'” he said. “Can the world today say of Christians, ‘Look how they love each other,’ or can it truthfully say, ‘Look how they hate each other’ or ‘Look how they quarrel’? What has happened to us?”
Christian unity and love for one another “is more urgent than ever,” the pope said. The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear that the world is suffering the effects “not only of a virus, but also of the selfishness and greed that make the poor poorer and the rich richer. Nature is reaching the limit of its possibilities because of man’s predatory action — yes, man, to whom God entrusted the care and fruitfulness of the earth.”
Across the world on Pentecost, he said, Christians of every denomination pray that God will send out the Holy Spirit again and renew the face of the earth.
“Let us be changed by the Holy Spirit so that we can change the world,” Pope Francis said.