Unity, a moral imperative for all Christians, Pope says
Representatives of other Churches and Ecclesial communities present in Rome took part in the ceremony in Rome’s Saint Paul Basilica Outside-the-Walls. They included a delegation of the German Lutheran Church as well as members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, whose meeting is scheduled in Rome a few days from now. “Let us entrust the success of your meeting to the Lord,” the Pope told the latter, “so that it may be a step towards the much hoped for unity.”
In his remarks about the Week and “united in the teachings of the Apostles, in the communion, breaking bread and praying,” Benedict XVI spoke about the first community in Jerusalem, “a community that was not closed onto itself, but was instead form the start, Catholic, universal and capable of embracing people of different languages and cultures as the book of the Acts of the Apostles shows. The community was not founded on a pact between its members, or on the simple sharing of a project or an ideal, but on a deep communion with God, who revealed himself through his Son and through the meeting with Christ, dead and risen.”
“The teachings of the Apostles, the brotherly communion, breaking bread and praying are the actual forms the life of the first Christian community of Jerusalem took, united by the action of the Holy Spirit. However, they are also the essential features of all Christian communities, in every age or place. In other words, we can say that they represent the fundamental characteristics of the unity of the visible Body of the Church.”
For this reason, the unity to which Christians aspire “cannot be reduced to the recognition of each other’s differences and achieving peaceful coexistence. What we want is the unity for which Christ prayed and which by its own nature manifests itself in the communion of the faith, the sacraments and the ministry.”
“The journey towards unity must be felt as a moral imperative, as a response to a specific call of the Lord. For this reason, we must defeat pessimism and the temptation to give in, which represents a lack of trust in the power of the Holy Spirit. Our duty is to continue the journey towards this goal with passion, in an open and rigorous dialogue to deepen our shared theological, liturgical and spiritual heritage, in mutual knowledge, in the ecumenical training of new generations, and especially in the conversion of the heart and in prayer.”
As the Second Vatican Council noted, “human powers and capacities cannot achieve this holy objective-the reconciling of all Christians in the unity of the one and only Church of Christ. It is because of this that the Council rests all its hope on the prayer of Christ for the Church, on our Father's love for us, and on the power of the Holy Spirit” (Unitatis redintegratio, 24).