Francis wrote a letter for the 25th anniversary of John Paul II encyclical ‘Ut unum sint,’ noting that “many steps have been taken in these decades to heal the wounds of centuries and millennia.” The pontiff mentions two initiatives, an ecumenical Vademecum for Bishops, which will be published in the autumn, and the launch of a journal, Acta Œcumenica.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis marked the 25th anniversary of Saint John Paul II’s encyclical Ut unum sint in a letter addressed to Card Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
In the letter, made public today, the pontiff reiterates the Catholic Church’s desire to achieve full Christian unity. He writes that “many steps have been taken in these decades to heal the wounds of centuries and millennia. Mutual knowledge and esteem have grown and helped to overcome deeply rooted prejudices. Theological dialogue and the dialogue of charity have developed, as well as various forms of cooperation in the dialogue of life, at both the pastoral and cultural level.”
Francis notes that Pope John Paul II thought that in her “journey towards the third millennium, [the Church] should be ever mindful of the heartfelt prayer of her Teacher and Lord ‘that all may be one’ (cf. Jn 17:21). For this reason, he issued the Encyclical that confirmed ‘irrevocably’ (UUS, 3) the ecumenical commitment of the Catholic Church.
John Paul II published the encyclical “on the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, placing it under the sign of the Holy Spirit, the creator of unity in diversity. In that same liturgical and spiritual context, we now commemorate it, and propose it once more to the People of God.”
In thanking “all who have worked and continue to work” in the Pontifical Council, Francis stressed “two recent initiatives. The first is an Ecumenical Vademecum for Bishops that will be published this autumn, as an encouragement and guide for the exercise of their ecumenical responsibilities.”
In fact, “the service of unity is an essential aspect of the mission of every Bishop, who is ‘the visible source and foundation of unity’ in his own Particular Church (Lumen Gentium, 23; cf. CIC 383 §3; CCEO 902-908). The second initiative is the launch of the journal Acta Œcumenica which, by renewing the Dicastery’s Information Service, is meant to assist all who work in the service of unity.
“On the path that leads to full communion it is important to keep in mind the progress already made, but equally important to scan the horizon and ask, with the Encyclical Ut Unum Sint, ‘Quanta est nobis via?’ (no. 77).
“One thing is certain: unity is not chiefly the result of our activity, but a gift of the Holy Spirit. Yet ‘unity will not come about as a miracle at the very end. Rather, unity comes about in journeying; the Holy Spirit does this on the journey’ (Homily at the Celebration of Vespers, Saint Paul Outside the Walls, 25 January 2014).
“With confidence, then, let us ask the Holy Spirit to guide our steps and to enable everyone to hear the call to work for the cause of ecumenism with renewed vigour. May the Spirit inspire new prophetic gestures and strengthen fraternal charity among all Christ’s disciples, ‘that the world may believe’ (Jn 17:21), to the ever-greater praise of our Father in heaven.”