ROME, January 21, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A group of Finnish Lutherans were offered Holy Communion by priests at a mass held in St. Peter’s Basilica following a meeting with Pope Francis on January 15, according to a report by the Finnish periodical Kotimaa 24.
Lutheran bishop Samuel Salmi was visiting the Vatican as the head of a delegation that included a youth choir that was to perform there. Salmi says he met privately with Pope Francis.
After the personal audience with the pope, the delegation was present at a celebration of the Catholic mass. According to Salmi, at the time of communion the non-Catholics placed their right hands on their left shoulders, a traditional way of indicating that they were ineligible to receive the Eucharist. However, the celebrating priests insisted on giving them communion.
Salmi told Kotimaa 24 that “I myself accepted it [Holy Communion].” He added that “this was not a coincidence,” and nor was it a coincidence when last year the pope seemed to accept the notion of a Lutheran woman receiving communion with her Catholic husband. The original article, written in Finnish, was translated for LifeSiteNews by Voice of the Family’s Maria Madise.
At that time the pope acknowledged that “explanations and interpretations” of communion may differ between Catholics and Lutherans, but “life is bigger than explanations and interpretations.” He advised the woman to “Talk to the Lord and then go forward.”
“At the root of this there is, without a doubt, the ecumenical attitude of a new Vatican,” Salmi told Kotimaa 24. “The pope was not here at the mass, but his strategic intention is to carry out a mission of love and unity. There are also theological adversaries in the Vatican, for which reason it is difficult to assess how much he can say, but he can permit practical gestures.”
The visit took place just three days before an annual ecumenical delegation to Rome on the part of Catholic, Orthodox, and Lutheran Finns to celebrate the feast day of St. Henry of Uppsala, who is credited with the evangelization of Finland in the 12th century. Full Report