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  • » 01/25/2007, 00.00


    Christians are “too silent” in bearing witness to the world, says Pope

    At the close of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Benedict XVI urges Christians to ask themselves if they “have become too silent”. Unit requires prayer and dialogue, but also bearing witness.

    Rome (AsiaNews) – Christians must ask themselves if they “have become too silent” and “lost the courage to speak and bear witness”. The Pope raised these questions in his address today during vespers on the Feast Day of the Conversion of Saint Paul, apostle, which is the traditional event that marks the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in Rome’s Basilica.

    In addition to the need to pray, engage others in dialogue, ask for God’s help and better know our fellows in the faith, the Holy Father laid emphasis on the need to “bear witness” and of doing so together.

    Benedict XVI, who in Wednesday’s general audience mentioned last year’s moments of dialogue and spoke about ecumenism as “a slow and uphill road, like every path of repentance,” that must be traveled, today stressed the need for Christians to bear witness together on the path towards full unity.

    During the solemn ceremony attended by representatives of other Christian Churches and communities the Pope spoke about unity starting with the Gospel story about the healing of the deaf mute, this year’s theme. Remembering that this theme—“He makes the deaf hear and (the) mute speak (Mk 7, 37)” —was proposed by Christian communities from South Africa, Benedict XVI said that “situations of racism, poverty, conflict, exploitation, sickness, and suffering, in which they find themselves because of the impossibility of explaining their own needs, create in them an acute need to listen to the word of God and to speak with courage.”

    More generally, the first lesson the Pope took from this episode in the Bible is that “from a Christian perspective, listening takes priority. Jesus, for instance, explicitly says: “[B]lessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it (Lk 11, 28).”

    In fact, to Martha, ever so worried, He said “[t]here is need of only one thing (Lk 10, 42):” listening to the Word. This comes first in our ecumenical commitment. It is not us who make or organise the unity of the Church. The Church does not make itself and does not live of itself, but [stems] from the creative word that comes from the mouth of God. Listening together to the word of God; practicing the lectio divina of the Bible, i.e. the reading tied to prayer; letting oneself be surprised by the newness of the word of God which never ages and is never used up; overcoming our deafness for words such as these that do not correspond to our prejudices and our opinions; listening and studying within the communion of believers those who in view of this long and rich tradition of listening; all this represent a path we must follow to reach the unity of the faith as a response to listening to the Word.”

    “But the seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit (cf Mt 13, 22). We must ask ourselves: Have we Christians perhaps become too silent? Have we lost the courage to speak and bear witness?”

    “Our world needs this witness. It is especially waiting for Christians to bear witness together. Hence listening to God who speaks requires us to listen to others and to the other Churches. An honest and loyal dialogue represents the typical and essential means to seek unity. The Decree on Ecumenism by the Second Vatican Council II emphasised that if Christians do not know each other progress towards communion is unimaginable. In dialogue we listen and communicate, we compare and, with God’s grace, converge around his Word, accepting its demands, which are valid for all.”

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    See also

    25/01/2013 VATICAN
    Pope: Christian unity, a privileged way to announce the faith
    At the end of the Week of Prayer, Benedict XVI said that doctrinal issues that still divide Christians "should not be overlooked or minimised. Instead, they must be faced with courage in a spirit of brotherhood and mutual respect." He also went on to say that Indian Christians are "at times called to bear witness to their faith in difficult conditions."

    23/01/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: The world wants to see "the face of God", but only in unity can Christians display it
    Benedict XVI's address for the general audience is dedicated to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. In the 100 years since its institution, Christians have established friendly relations and theological dialogue, but above all they have learned to pray together for the return to full communion.

    21/01/2007 VATICAN
    Ecumenism, prayer and sharing are everyone's responsibility, says Pope
    Benedict XVI invites the faithful to come and celebrate ecumenical Vespers on January 25, in St Paul Outside the Walls Basilica. He makes an appeal against toy guns.

    23/01/2011 VATICAN
    Pope: Ecumenism, close to the Churches of Jerusalem
    Benedict XVI recalls the trials faced by Christians in the Holy Land and the Middle East, even to the sacrifice of life. Every division is "an offense to Christ." This requires a process of conversion of the Church. Appointments for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: the meeting of the Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Ancient Oriental Churches, Vespers in the basilica of St. Paul, on 25 January.

    25/01/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: Christian unity requires "all of our energy and efforts", but prayer above all
    At the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Pope Benedict XVI recalls that this event has existed for one hundred years, and that for 40 years meditations and prayers for this appointment have been prepared together with the World Council of Churches. In this bimillennial Pauline year, the effort for unity takes on special significance.

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