The Old Catholic bishops in the Netherlands wish Pope Francis God’s blessings as he begins the difficult task of leading a global church in times of increasing secularization in many parts of the world.
The Bishop of Rome has special significance to all Christians, including the Old Catholic Church. He presides over the global episcopate, and as such is the face of the universal church. The values he stands for are important to all: solidarity with the poor, humility and simplicity, prayer and spirituality. We look forward to hearing Pope Francis’s thoughts on these values and hope that he will be able to give them room to grow in the Roman Catholic Church.
The example of Francis of Assisi has much to teach our culture about the urgently needed values of compassion and solidarity. This can open the windows onto a view of God’s union with humanity and the world. Francis of Assisi travelled to Egypt to persuade the Sultan to put an end to conflict there. With his wisdom and humility he was a man of dialogue – including interreligious dialogue. The newly elected Pope’s choice of name therefore gives us hope for ecumenical dialogue that urgently requires clear steps towards real church communion. In particular we hope that the dialogue between the Roman Catholic and Old Catholic Churches will be able to count on Pope Francis’ support and inspiration. The role of the Pope in the global church is currently a central topic of discussion in this dialogue.
Amersfoort, 14 March 2013