On Monday, Pope Francis made the following request for forgiveness during closing Vespers at the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in the Basilica of St. Paul: "As Bishop of Rome and pastor of the Catholic Church, I want to ask for mercy and forgiveness for the behavior of Catholics towards Christians of other Churches which has not reflected Gospel values."
The Pope also requested, " forgiveness for the sin of our divisions, which are an open wound on the body of Christ."
He also called on Catholics to, "forgive if they, today or in the past, have been offended by other Christians. We cannot cancel out what has happened, but we do not want to let the weight of past faults continue to contaminate our relationships."
During his homily, the Pope mentioned, "When Christians of different churches listen to the Word of God together and seek to put it into practice, they make important steps towards unity. It is not only the call which unifies us, but we also share the same mission to proclaim to all the marvelous works of God."
The Pope has been "heavily criticized for his openness towards other religions," notes rt.com. It added that Pope Francis makes attempts to, "blur lines and embrace dialogue," and that these efforts, "have reached new highs lately. He was spotted visiting the Lutheran Church of Rome, as well as Rome's synagogue and the Waldensian protestant community in northern Italy. Moreover, the Pope is planning his first-ever visit to a mosque in Rome.
The issue that has stirred the most controversy, however, could be Francis' perceived concessions to Lutherans, including the 'common prayer.'"
Interestingly, on Tuesday the Pope met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the Vatican, according to CNN. In a general statement, the Vatican said, "The parties highlighted the importance of inter-religious dialogue and the responsibility of religious communities in promoting reconciliation, tolerance and peace."
It also noted that the 40 minute meeting included, "cordial discussions" about, "the Islamic Republic of Iran's nuclear accord and problems afflicting the Middle East."
The Pope is planning to go to Lund, Sweeden on October 31. Lund is credited as being the locaiton where the Luthern World Federation was founded in 1947. The purpose of the visit is, "for a joint service with Lutherans to launch Reformation commemorations that will continue throughout the world next year," according to Times of Malta.