Pope Francis and the “ecumenism of blood”

 In a recent interview with Vatican Insider’s, Andrea Tornielli, Pope Francis talked about Christmas and addressed a few popular misconceptions about his new exhortation. For example, the Pope confirmed that Marxism “is wrong”, supported breast-feeding in public, and said that those who think there will someday be women Cardinals “suffer from clericalism.”

These snippets you have, no doubt, already read in the press, but what you may not have seen are the sections in which Pope Francis reaffirms his commitment to Christian unity.

This Christian soldier of the Syrian Arab Army was immediately executed
upon capture by the Ansur Al Mujuhideen 12/22/2012 (Syrian Free Press)
The Pope draws attention to what he calls an “ecumenism of blood.” Francis reminds us that: “Those who kill Christians don't ask for your identity card to see which Church you were baptized in.” 

The following segments are from Tornielli’s interview:

Is Christian unity a priority for you?

Pope Francis: Yes, for me ecumenism is a priority. Today there is an ecumenism of blood. In some countries they kill Christians for wearing a cross or having a Bible and before they kill them they do not ask them whether they are Anglican, Lutheran, Catholic or Orthodox. Their blood is mixed. To those who kill we are Christians. We are united in blood, even though we have not yet managed to take necessary steps towards unity between us and perhaps the time has not yet come. Unity is a gift that we need to ask for.

I knew a parish priest in Hamburg who was dealing with the beatification cause of a Catholic priest guillotined by the Nazis for teaching children the catechism.  After him, in the list of condemned individuals, was a Lutheran pastor who was killed for the same reason. Their blood was mixed. The parish priest told me he had gone to the bishop and said to him: "I will continue to deal with the cause, but both of their causes, not just the Catholic priest's." This is what ecumenism of blood is. It still exists today; you just need to read the newspapers. Those who kill Christians don't ask for your identity card to see which Church you were baptized in. We need to take these facts into consideration.

This coming January marks the 50th anniversary of Paul VI’s historic visit to the Holy Land. Will you go?

Pope Francis: Christmas always makes us think of Bethlehem, and Bethlehem is a precise point in the Holy Land where Jesus lived. On Christmas night, I think above all with the Christians who live there, of those who are in difficulty, of the many people who have had to leave that land because of various problems. But Bethlehem is still Bethlehem. God arrived at a specific time in a specific land; that is where God’s tenderness and grace appeared. We cannot think of Christmas without thinking of the Holy land. Fifty years ago, Paul VI had the courage to go out and go there and this marked the beginning of the era of papal journeys. I would also like to go there, to meet my brother Bartholomew, the Patriarch of Constantinople, and commemorate this 50th anniversary with him, renewing that embrace which took place between Pope Montini and Athenagoras in Jerusalem, in 1964. We are preparing for this. 

Patriarch Twal of Jerusalem confirmed today in his Christmas message that in May 2014, Pope Francis plans to visit Jordan, Israel, and Palestine. This is an historic visit since Pope Paul VI embraced Patriarch Athenagoras in Jerusalem 50 years ago this January. Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople will meet him there to renew their fraternal bonds and discuss the way ahead for Christian unity.

[Read the full post at Catholic World Report]