Europe

Pope urges Lutherans to set aside doctrine to work together

  • Pope Francis delivers his message during an audience with Lutheran pilgrims in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)

    Pope Francis delivers his message during an audience with Lutheran pilgrims in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Pope Francis attends an audience with Lutheran pilgrims in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)

    Pope Francis attends an audience with Lutheran pilgrims in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Pope Francis arrives for an audience with Lutheran pilgrims in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

    Pope Francis arrives for an audience with Lutheran pilgrims in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)  (The Associated Press)

Pope Francis is urging Lutherans to set aside doctrinal differences and work with Catholics to care for the poor, the sick and refugees as he lays out his vision for greater communion ahead of his visit to Sweden later this month.

Francis greeted about 1,000 Lutherans on Thursday. The group was visiting the Vatican after Germany, where Martin Luther famously sparked the Protestant Reformation by nailing his 95 theses to a church door to challenge the abuses of the Catholic Church.

Like his predecessors, Francis has reached out to Protestants, Orthodox and other Christians to heal Christianity's divisions. But unlike his predecessors, Francis has said theological differences should be put aside so Christians can work together on issues of pressing social concern, including caring for the poor and the environment.