Due to the pandemic, many meetings took place with very few people but with live streaming. Bishop Machado of Vasai stressed “prayer and commitment to reconciliation and unity among the Churches, in the human family and in creation.”
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The restrictions on religious celebrations caused by the pandemic have not stopped activities in India for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which, like every year, Churches around the world are holding from January 18 to 25.
“We have printed booklets in English and Marathi (the local language) and every day during Mass we offer the faithful reflections,” said Bishop Felix Machado of Vasai, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, during the presentation of the initiatives organised in his diocese.
The booklets are taken from the aid prepared by the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and by the Ecumenical Council of Churches. Each year a verse from the Bible is chosen as the theme, which this year is: “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit” (Jn 15.5-9).
“Tomorrow we will hold an online meeting and prayer service; many pastors of other Churches will take part with their respective congregations,” said Bishop Machado. “I will propose the reflection, while the local pastor of the Bible Society of India will comment on the Word of God during the celebration.
“We always do this in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity; this year it will be in virtual form. We already had a preparatory meeting which the pastors attended. It was encouraging to see the common commitment to prayer and Christian unity.”
“In this week's Masses, every day we propose reflections on our vocation to prayer and commitment to reconciliation and unity in the Church, in the human family and in creation,” explained the bishop of Vasai.
“The commitment to Christian unity is part of our faith and we must make all Christians understand that they are called to live it personally.”
In the Archdiocese of Bombay (Mumbai), a liturgical service was already held in the presence of a limited number of people but with live streaming, led by Auxiliary Bishop John Rodrigues, responsible for ecumenism, together with Pastor Abhijeet Sasane of the Methodist Church and Fr Jakob of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, in the presence of the Daughters of St Paul.
“We followed the Benedictine tradition,” Bishop Rodrigues told AsiaNews, “proposing three moments in the rite. In the first we put the unity of the person in Christ at the centre; in the second, the desire to rediscover visible unity among Christians; and in the third, unity among peoples and with creation.”
After the homily by the Methodist pastor, all those present lit a candle from the paschal candle because, as Bishop Rodrigues explained, “each of us is called to illuminate the world around us with the light of Christ and his Gospel. And we can do it only if we always remain united to him.”