Pope Francis told Pentecostal bishops visiting him in Rome that Catholics and Evangelicals should “walk together”, adding that focusing on differences amounted to “sinning against God’s will”.
His meeting earlier this month with the ruling body of the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches was in honour of Bishop Tony Palmer, a friend of Francis’ killed in a motorbike accident.
He said Christians should not wait for theologian documents before forging closer ties.
“We each have in our Churches excellent theologians. That’s another way to walk together also. But we shouldn’t wait for them to reach agreement! That’s what I think.”
An historic joint declaration between evangelicals and Catholics that Francis and Palmer had worked on is to be continued by Palmer's widow Emiliana.
He went on to say that Christians’ shared baptism was more important than the differences between denominations.
He highlighted the persecution of Christians of all denominations in the Middle East and Africa, who he said shared “an ecumenism of the blood”.
"Everyone has their own identity, and I assume that each one of us seeks the Truth. But while we do that we should walk together, and pray for each together, and together let’s do works of charity together,” he said.
Francis opened his address by thanking participants for their courage, adding: “Yesterday I was at the door of the synod hall with a Lutheran bishop. I said, ‘You’re a brave man! In a previous age they burned Lutherans here!’”