By Sarah Mac Donald - 19 January, 2014
Faced with those who no longer believe unity among Christians is an achievable goal, Pope Francis has urged ecumenists to redouble their efforts.
“We are invited to not give up our ecumenical efforts, faithful to what the Lord Jesus himself asked of the Father: ‘That they may all be one’,” the Pontiff told a visiting Lutheran delegation from Finland on Friday.
He said it was necessary for the common witness among Christians to concentrate upon the centre of our faith, upon the announcement of God’s love that is made manifest in Christ, his Son.
“Here we find the room to grow in communion and in unity, promoting spiritual ecumenism, which is born directly from the commandment of love that Jesus left his disciples,” Pope Francis said.
Referring to the Second Vatican Council, the Pope called for “spiritual ecumenism” which was born of a change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians.
Ecumenism is, in fact, a spiritual process, which is carried out in faithful obedience to the Father, in fulfilment of Christ’s will, and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”
The Pope reminded the Finnish delegation that St Paul chastised the early Christian community in Corinth because of its divisions, and asked: “Is Christ divided?” That question, he said, today “is addressed to us.”
The Pope also reminded the Lutheran delegates of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which would began yesterday, 18 January and continues until 25 January.
This year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in Ireland will be formally inaugurated by an interdenominational service at St Fintan’s church in Sutton today (19 January) at 8pm.
Canon Desmond Sinnamon of the Church of Ireland, on the invitation of the Dublin Council of Churches, will preach the homily.
The theme, ‘Is Christ Divided?’ was chosen by the Churches of French Canada and comes from St Paul’s question in 1 Corinthians, “Has Christ been divided?”
The Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown, is to preach at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast and St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Church of Ireland said that the Nuncio would preach at a special service in St Anne’s at 7pm on Tuesday 21st January and at St Patrick’s (Church of Ireland) Cathedral, Armagh at 7.30pm on Wednesday 22nd January.
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