Rome (AsiaNews) - "Today the Petrine ministry cannot be fully understood without this openness to dialogue with all believers in Christ. We can say also that the journey of ecumenism has allowed us to come to a deeper understanding of the ministry of the Successor of Peter, and we must be confident that it will continue to do so in the future". "The road to unity," thanking God for any progress and "without hiding the difficulties" was at the center of Pope Francis' reflection as he closed the 47th Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on the theme : "Has Christ been divided" (cf. 1 Cor 1:1-17 ) .
In the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, where Second Vespers of the Solemnity of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle is traditionally celebrated, the Pope recalled Paul's admonition to the Christians in Corinth that they must be united in "by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" to be in agreement, so that divisions will not reign among them, but rather a perfect union of mind and purpose (cf. v. 10). The communion for which the Apostle pleads, however, cannot be the fruit of human strategies. Perfect union among brothers and sisters can only come from looking to the mind and heart of Christ Jesus". "Christ alone can be the principle, the cause and the driving force behind our unity".
"As we find ourselves in his presence, we realize all the more that we
may not regard divisions in the Church as something natural, inevitable in any
form of human association. Our divisions wound Christ's body, they impair the
witness which we are called to give to him before the world". Francis
then recalled the Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism (UR , 1 ) , for
which "such division openly contradicts the
will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the sacred cause of
preaching the Gospel to every creature. " All of us have been damaged
by these divisions. None
of us want to become a scandal, this is why we all walk along the path towards
"Christ dear friends, cannot be divided! - repeated the Pope - This conviction must sustain and encourage us to persevere with humility and trust on the way to the restoration of full visible unity among all believers in Christ. Tonight I think of the work of two great Popes: Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II. In the course of their own lives, both came to realize the urgency of the cause of unity and, once elected to the See of Peter, they guided the entire Catholic flock decisively on the paths of ecumenism. Pope John blazed new trails which earlier would have been almost unthinkable. Pope John Paul held up ecumenical dialogue as an ordinary and indispensable aspect of the life of each Particular Church. With them, I think too of Pope Paul VI, another great promoter of dialogue; in these very days we are commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of his historic embrace with the Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople".
"The work of these, my predecessors, enabled ecumenical dialogue to become an essential dimension of the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, so that today the Petrine ministry cannot be fully understood without this openness to dialogue with all believers in Christ. We can say also that the journey of ecumenism has allowed us to come to a deeper understanding of the ministry of the Successor of Peter, and we must be confident that it will continue to do so in the future. As we look with gratitude to the progress which the Lord has enabled us to make, and without ignoring the difficulties which ecumenical dialogue is presently experiencing, let us all pray that we may put on the mind of Christ and thus progress towards the unity which he wills". "Walking together is already working toward unity".
"In this climate of prayer for the gift of unity, I address a cordial and fraternal greeting to His Eminence Metropolitan Gennadios, the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch, and to His Grace David Moxon, the personal representative in Rome of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and to all the representatives of the various Churches and Ecclesial Communities gathered here this evening".
"Dear brothers and sisters, let us ask the Lord Jesus, who has made us living members of his body, to keep us deeply united to him, to help us overcome our conflicts, our divisions and our self-seeking, and to be united to one another by one force, by the power of love which the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts".