Pope Francis urges Methodists and Waldensians to walk in unity with Catholic Church

Pope Francis has encouraged Methodist and Waldensian Churches to continue walking in unity with the Catholic Church, as he highlighted the importance of sharing the Christian message of brotherhood in a world torn by violence.

(REUTERS / Alessandro Garofalo)Pope Francis celebrates a Holy Mass in Carpi, Italy, April 2, 2017.

In his message to the annual Synod of the Italian Methodist and Waldensian Churches on Aug. 21 in Torre Pellice, Pope Francis emphasized friendship and closeness among Christians. The gathering, which runs from Aug. 20 to 25, will see around 180 representatives of the two churches who will decide on church programs the following year and vote for their executive and administrative bodies, the Vatican Radio detailed.

"May Jesus' gaze brighten our relationship so that it is never just formal or proper, but fraternal and lively," said Pope Francis. "The Good Shepherd – he continued – wants us to walk together and his gaze embraces all of his disciples whom He wants to see fully united."

In addition, Pope Francis urged the Methodists and Waldensians to stay united, knowing that God is stronger than evil forces. He said Christians must not give in to the world's logic and instead lead each other to the "logic of Christ."

Last month, the World Communion of Reformed Churches signed up to the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification which took place in Wittenburg, Germany. The WCRC stands for around 80 million Christians belonging to the Congregational, Presbyterian, United, Uniting, Reformed, and Waldensian church in various countries, the Vatican Radio said in a separate report.

Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity secretary Bishop Brian Farrell recalled that churches in the 16th century were divided on the theological and spiritual understanding of the effect of Christ's salvation on people's lives. The signing of the joint declaration conveys that the churches now have a common understanding of the issue, that people are "saved by grace" but salvation should be reflected by one's good works.