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Pope Francis apologizes openly to Protestant churches for past persecutions by Catholics

Pope Francis gathered with the faithful of the diocese of Rome and with representatives of the different Pentecostal Churches and Ecclesial Communities in the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls to celebrate the conclusion of the week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Pope Francis prayed that the Lord would help all Christians to grow in unity, he also asked Pentecostal churches and other Christian Churches for forgiveness for their past persecution at the hands of Catholics.

“As bishop of Rome and pastor of the Catholic Church, I want to beg for mercy and forgiveness for un-Gospel-like behavior on the part of Catholics against Christians of other churches. We ask most of all for forgiveness for the sin of our divisions, which are an open wound on the body of Christ," Pope Francis said.

“At the same time, I ask all my Catholic brothers and sisters to forgive if, today or in the past, they were hurt by other Christians," he said. “We cannot erase what happened, but we do not want to allow the burden of past faults to continue to poison our relationships."

The Pope concluded the yearly Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on Monday, the feast of the Conversion of St Paul. Theme for the 2016 week of prayer is : “Called to proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord"

According to the tradition, Pope Francis led the service at Rome’s Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, the burial site of the apostle Paul. Orthodox Metropolitan Gennadios, representing the ecumenical patriarch, and Anglican Archbishop David Moxon, representing the archbishop of Canterbury, united with the pope in prayer at St Paul’s tomb at the beginning of the service.

During his homily,the Holy Father told the faithful gathered in the Basilica that St Paul and countless Christian martyrs throughout the centuries gave their lives for their faith in Christ and now enjoy “full communion in the presence of God the father," he also prayed the martyrs would intercede on behalf of today’s Christians to God so that they would be able to follow their footsteps.


Still speaking to the gathering he said, “Beyond the differences that still separate us, “we recognize with joy that at the origin of the Christian life there is always a call whose author is God himself."

The path to Christian unity, he said, is not simply about drawing closer to one another, but has more to do with each person drawing closer to Christ and finding each other there.

“When all Christians of different churches listen to the word of God and try to put it into practice," the Pope said, “they truly take important steps toward unity."

Concluding his Catechesis he said, “It is not only the call that unites us. We are joined by the same mission: to proclaim to all the mighty acts of the Lord. Walking together and working together, we will become aware that we are already united in the name of the Lord. Unity is made by walking.




  1. Patrick Gannon Reply

    Good luck with that. I don’t find Christians of any flavor to be particularly forgiving. Besides, from the RCC standpoint, they’re all going to Hell anyway, right? Surely all of them have committed mortal sins by the standards of the RCC and only a priest can forgive sins, so they’re all doomed to Hell anyway, right?

    1. Okokhue Ferdinard Reply

      Wrong! Wrong!! Wrong!!! Only God can forgive sin. The Roman Catholic Church (RCC) Never teachers that only Priest can forgive sin.

      1. Patrick Gannon Reply

        Okukhue, you are correct in saying that only God can forgive sins, but only an ordained priest can hear a confession, so doesn’t it amount to the same thing?

        1. Okokhue Ferdinard Reply

          No it is not the same thing. When you go for confession, the priest remit you from your sins. But the guilt is still there. the extra sacrifice you make (e.g. charity) for you sin you committed is what wipe you clean if accepted by God. The bible verse below show you how the Roman Catholic Church got the power to hear confession

          John 20:19-23

          19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

          21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

          RCC is the first Church with St Peter (The first Pope) as the head. The man Jesus gave the key to the kingdom of heave and earth.

          1. Patrick Gannon

            Okukhue, please read the discussion carefully. I suggested that non-Catholics are going to Hell (according to Church doctrine as I understand it), because they do not have their sins forgiven in the appropriate manner. You just said that the RCC alone was given the power to hear confessions. That means a non-Catholic who goes to their own minister or simply prays to God for forgiveness, and does not have their confession heard by a priest, cannot be forgiven, doesn’t it?
            I agree that priests don’t forgive sins, but apparently God can’t or won’t hear confessions unless they go through a priest. Am I right or wrong on that according to the RCC? Sources?
            When I said “Good luck with that” I was referring to reconciliation with Protestants, and sarcastically pointing out that from the Catholic point of view, most if not all Protestants are going to Hell anyway, because almost everyone has mortal sins (as defined by the RCC) staining their soul, and unless someone goes to a proper, ordained Catholic priest to have their confession heard, the mortal sin remains. You were correct, insofar as I misspoke about priests forgiving sins – but priests have to hear the sins in order for them to be forgiven, right? And Protestants don’t go to priests for confession, right? So Protestants who have mortal sins, even if they confess them through direct prayer to God or to their own minister, do not have those sins forgiven, do they? You have to go through a Catholic priest. That’s the point I’m getting at. If a Protestant doesn’t go to Catholic confession and they have a mortal sin – they’re screwed, no matter how sorry they are, right?
            I’m happy to be wrong here – just looking for the Church’s positions today. When I was a kid, only Catholics went to heaven. Period. No exceptions. What was the old tune… “Catholics, Catholics, ring the bell. Protestants, Protestants, go to Hell!” We had great songs when I was a kid!

  2. Okokhue Ferdinard Reply

    Patrick Gannon. If I can understand you very well, we are going same point of view. Christianity is a borrowed religion here in Africa. I’m from Nigeria to be precise. Is like you are more granded in catholism than I am right? From your last comment, I understand you better. But I want to point something out. Vatican 1 document says that there is no element of salvation in other churches. After the review of this document came Vatican 2 document, which say that there are little element of salvation in other churches. Since the church is infallible let’s hope that God has room for everybody in heaven, those that do what he required, Catholics or non catholics. I’m a Catholic, I don’t know about.

    Thanks, Okokhue Ferdinard.

    1. Patrick Gannon Reply

      Thanks for your note Okekhue. I do a little business in Nigeria from time to time (broadband satellite services). Just to play out our discussion a little further, if the Church is infallible, then why was it necessary for Vatican 2 to change Vatican 1? Doesn’t that imply that Vatican 1 was wrong? As I understand it, this is what the RCC has done with abortions, miscarriages, or deaths in childbirth prior to baptism. They used to go to Limbo – which was horrible enough – but now Church doctrine really gives them nowhere to go, if unbaptised, except Hell. The Church has indicated that they have a “hope” for salvation – I guess just like the non-Catholics; but the deck is stacked against anyone who doesn’t do it the Catholic way according the Church doctrine. Billions of people are going to Hell – many apparently who never even heard of Jesus, or learned the “wrong” thing about him, like the Muslims. Billions of people going to Hell for something totally beyond their control – it’s all rather hideous. Fortunately Hell is not real, as the original words in the bible (Sheol, Gehenna, Hades and Tartarus) do not mean the pagan “Hell” of the Norse underworld into which they were translated to, and which was embellished by Dante’s Inferno and Milton’s Lost Paradise.

      Hmm. Thinking out loud, this may be part of the problem the RCC faces. They’ve dug themselves into this infallibility hole. If they recognize that the stance against contraception makes no sense, they don’t have an easy way to change their minds, other than admitting they were wrong before – and they can’t have ever been wrong or the entire authority of the Church collapses. So they can’t go forward and they can’t go backwards. It must be interesting to be a Catholic theologian these days. You’ve got Popes accepting evolution, yet no good answer for why that doesn’t eliminate original sin, and you’ve got the insanity of being opposed to contraception given a world that is drowning in its own poisons and sucking up limited resources at unprecedented rates – and now this Zeka virus thing – if you’re familiar with that. Now the RCC is surely going to force women to give birth to children with shrunken, deformed heads and brains, rather than have abortions. The next generation of Catholics, if this Zika virus gets out of hand, is going to look like the guy on Beetlejuice (google “shrunken head Beetlejuice”).

      1. Okokhue Ferdinard Reply

        I believe the infallibility is in terms of dogma not tradition. Tradition can change any time any day

        1. Patrick Gannon Reply

          “Though Catholics commonly assert the pope’s teachings are only to be considered infallible when – and only when – the pope is speaking ex cathedra, the dogmatic constitution of Vatican II clarifies that a catholic must submit their will to the authority of the pope’s words in or out of the chair..

          “In matters of faith and morals the bishops speak in the name of Christ, and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent of soul. This religious submission of will and of mind must be shown in a special way to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, ch. 3, n. 25

          The infallible teachings of the ecumenical councils consist of the solemn dogmatic, theological or moral definitions as contained in declarations, decrees, doctrines and condemnations (traditionally expressed in conciliar canons and decrees) of councils consisting of the pope and the bishops from all over the world.

          A teaching of ordinary and universal magisterium is a teaching of which all bishops (including the Pope) universally agree on and is also considered infallible.”
          Accepting the authority of the Church is to turn over your brain and reasoning so that others might do your thinking for you. I find it hard to imagine a good God, if such exists, that would want this from His creation, given that the gift of reason and intelligence was part of the package.

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