The “challenge of ecumenism” according to John-Paul II

Source: FSSPX News


John-Paul II, during the Angelus on Sunday, January 16, invited the Christian communities to come together and engage in ecumenical dialog. Just before the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the pope asked that “each community make significant gestures to meet and engage in ecumenical dialog and to ask God for the gift of full unity for all the disciples of Christ”. Preceded by the Day of Judeo-Christian Dialog, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity began January 18th and ended the 25th.

On Wednesday, January 19, during the general audience, John-Paul II reaffirmed the necessity of the return to full unity among the different Christian churches and confessions. He dedicated his traditional Wednesday catechesis to the ecumenical challenge, before 7,000 pilgrims in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican. “The Lord permits us, he noted, to make important contacts of dialog and of collaboration.” But, according to the pope, the desire for unity must also elicit initiatives and new reflections.

This week of prayer, affirmed the pope, “reminds us that the concern to achieve unity, according to the ardent desire of Jesus, involves the entire Church, the pastors and each of the faithful”. “The sorrow of separation, he added, makes itself felt with an ever greater intensity”, specifying that “the world awaits a clear and unanimous evangelical testimony on the part of all who believe in Christ”. The pope recalled that this week of prayer takes place a few months from the fortieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s decree Unitatis redintegratio, “a key text which placed the Catholic Church, in a firm and irrevocable way, in the wake of the ecumenical movement”.

On January 25, the last day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, there was a celebration of Vespers in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls in the presence of representatives of the different Christian confessions. Cardinal Walter Kasper, the President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, represented the pope at this event.