01/18/2012, 00.00
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Pope: Christian unity for "a common response to the spiritual hunger of our times."

Benedict XVI dedicates his general audience to the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. On the fundamental truths of faith, " unite us much more than divide us. But divisions remain, and also cover various practical and ethical issues, causing confusion and mistrust. " The achievement of full unity "demands that we allow ourselves to be transformed in an ever more perfect image of Christ."
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The search for unity among Christians "is not an accessory", it "belongs to the very essence of the Christian community", "it is the responsibility of the whole Church, of all baptized, who must nourish the partial communion that exists between them, until full unity is achieved"," waiting for the glorious day when we can proclaim the Gospel together and celebrate the sacraments "and give" a common response to the spiritual hunger of our times. "

Benedict XVI dedicated his reflection for the general audience today to the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, underlining the essentiality of asking God for "that extraordinary gift evoked by Jesus himself at the Last Supper, 'that we all be one so that the world may believe. '"

To the more than eight thousand people present in the Paul VI at the Vatican, the Pope recalled that "the initiative of the Week was introduced in 1908 by Father Paul Wattson, founder of an Anglican religious community that later became part of the Catholic Church. The initiative received the blessing of Pope St. Pius X and was later promoted by Pope Benedict XV, who encouraged the celebration throughout the Catholic Church. "

The Second Vatican Council gave a new impulse to the prayer for unity that "increases our awareness of the fact that the unity towards which we strive can not only be the result of our efforts, but that it is a gift from above."

Each year the theme of the week is chosen by an ecumenical group of a different region of the world. This year it was chosen by representatives of the Catholic Church and the Polish Ecumenical Council. The theme is taken from the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians: "All shall be changed by the victory of Jesus Christ our Lord."

"The particular history of the Polish nation, which experienced a period of democratic life and religious freedom in the sixteenth century, in recent centuries has been marked by invasions and defeats, but also by the constant struggle against oppression and thirst for freedom. All this has led the ecumenical group to reflect more deeply on the true meaning of victory and defeat. "

"Compared to victory meant in terms of triumphalism, Christ suggests a very different way: his victory was not one of power and force. For he says: 'If one wants to be first, be last of all and servant of all'. Christ spoke of a victory through suffering, love, service to others, mutual help, new hope and practical relief given to the last, the forgotten, the rejected. For all Christians, the highest expression of that humble service is Jesus Christ himself, who makes the total gift of himself, his the victory of love over death on the Cross. "

The words of Saint Paul, the Pope added, indicate that the achievement of full unity "demands that we allow ourselves to be transformed to an ever more perfect image of Christ. The unity for which we pray requires an interior conversion, both in communion and personnel. It is not just a question of cordiality and cooperation, we must strengthen our faith in God. "

For this reason, "the prayer for unity should not limited to this week, but must become an integral part of the life of prayer, of all Christians in any place and at any time, especially when people of different traditions meet and work together for the victory in Christ, over all that is sin, evil, injustice, violation of human dignity. "

Since the modern ecumenical movement was born, in fact, "there has always been a clear awareness that the lack of unity among Christians prevents a more effective announcement of the Gospel, because it destroys or endangers our credibility." "Certainly, - said the Pope - as regards the fundamental truths of the faith, much more unites us than divides us. But divisions remain, and also cover various practical and ethical issues, causing confusion and mistrust, weakening our ability to convey the saving word of Christ ".

"It is a great challenge for new evangelization, which may be more fruitful if all Christians proclaim together the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and give a joint response to the spiritual hunger of our times."
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