Pope calls for Pope ‘unity’ with other religions

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Pope Francis led prayers for the anointed virgin Teresa of Calcutta

Pope Francis has urged Catholics and Orthodox churches to put aside their differences and work towards reconciliation.

He spoke during a prayer service for Mother Teresa, the much-admired nun whose work among India’s poorest people inspired both Catholics and Orthodox churches.

The Catholic Church considers Mother Teresa a saint of Christ, while the Orthodox Church rejects her iconisation by the Catholic Church.

But the Argentine Pope urged churches to “undertake the work of uniting our hearts to hold hands and heal our wounds”.

Mother Teresa and Pope Francis are friends, in spite of the deep disagreements between their churches over Mother Teresa.

The ancient religions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism share similar rituals and beliefs

“Mary of Nazareth did not rise on wings like an eagle. She was born into a manger. We are not yet free from this nightmare, our world, our world in which we live,” Pope Francis said.

No significant tension

He also warned that the world faced “an imminent threat which only stops us becoming better” – conflict and violence.

“The greatest sacrifices will be paid in blood,” he added.

Pope Francis was speaking at St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on Tuesday during a ceremony marking Mother Teresa’s canonisation.

Religious belief has long been at the centre of the dispute between the Orthodox and the Catholics.

As the Christian majority in Europe and the US, the Catholic Church took over the leadership of the Orthodox Church.

Mother Teresa was a close confidante of Pope Francis, who was at the scene of her death on 8 August 1997 and has referred to her as the “good saint” who saved his life.

She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.

Her devotion to the poor, first as a doctor and later as a nun who spent five decades spreading the Gospel in India, inspired many Catholics to enter the church.

But she has also been seen as a representative of Eastern Orthodoxy, which usually forbids women from entering its holy places, in line with its unique beliefs.

The Orthodox Church does not recognise her being canonised and allows only men to be called saints – a system used by Protestant churches.

However, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the head of the world’s Orthodox Christians, met Pope Francis on Sunday and urged him to appoint a fifth saint, the Polish Catholic Czeryzwender also said.

“There is no significant tension with the Orthodox community and there is no threat to Pope Francis’ authority. [Their] relationship is healthy,” Vatican spokesman Greg Burke told reporters.

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