Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity

Source: FSSPX News

The Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity concluded on Sunday, January 25, 2015, on the Solemnity of the Conversion of Saint Paul, with the celebration of Evening Prayer II in the Roman Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls. Several representatives of other Christian denominations were present and participated in the ceremony, with the Supreme Pontiff presiding.

Among them were the Orthodox Metropolitan of Italy and Malta, Gennadios Zervos, the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch; the head of the Anglican Center in Rome, David Moxon, the representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Holy See, whom the Pope greeted personally at the conclusion of his homily, as well as the member of the Joint Commission for theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Francis focused his homily on the Gospel account of the Samaritan woman (Jn 4:5-42) which was the theme for the Octave of Unity this year. He stressed that Jesus’ attitude toward the Samaritan woman “helps us to realize that encounter with those who are different from us can make us grow”. “So many past controversies between Christians can be overcome when we put aside all polemical or apologetic [sic] approaches, and seek instead to grasp more fully what unites us, namely, our call to share in the mystery of the Father’s love revealed to us by the Son through the Holy Spirit,” he added.

Christian unity, which is desired so much by “all of us who thirst for peace and fraternity” “will not be the fruit of subtle theoretical discussions in which each party tries to convince the other of the soundness of their opinions”. (Is the Catholic faith a personal opinion?) On the contrary, Pope Francis decreed, it is by recognizing that “we need one another, we need to encounter one another and to challenge one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who overcomes conflicts,” that we will attain the depths of the mystery of God.

Mentioning “the martyrs of today”, the Pope declared that “they are persecuted and killed because they are Christians,” without distinction among confessions, which is “the ecumenism of blood”. He also asserted that “a shared knowledge of the different traditions of consecrated life, and a fruitful exchange of experiences, can prove beneficial for the vitality of all forms of religious life in the different Churches and Ecclesial Communities.”

Recalling his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, the Supreme Pontiff emphasized that “Our shared commitment to proclaiming the Gospel enables us to overcome proselytism and competition in all their forms.” And he exclaimed: “All of us are at the service of the one Gospel!” (A Gospel in which the Protestants do not see Mary’s virginity and the Orthodox do not find the primacy of Peter.)

(Sources: apic/radiovatican/vis/vatican.va – DICI no. 310 dated February 13, 2015)

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