01/18/2004, 00.00
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World Peace in unity among Christians

John Paul  II, while praying for peace, wishes a Happy New "Year of the Monkey" to Chinese, Vietnamese and Koreans


Vatican City (AsiaNews) – At today's Angelus, from his apartment window, the pope reminded those gathered below of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Jan. 18-25). In his 2004 Peace Message the pope stressed that unity among Christians is the catalyzing element in obtaining world peace. After the prayer, while waving to pilgrims below in St. Peter's Square, he wished a happy new year to those following the lunar calendar, that is, Chinese, Vietnamese and Koreans. The new lunar year beginning on Jan. 22 is the year of the monkey.  "I promise to remain close to those people of the Orient, especially Chinese, Vietnamese and Koreans, who in the next few days will joyously celebrate the new lunar year. I sincerely wish them peace and prosperity," he said. 


Below is the original text of the pope's words said prior to the Angelus (translation by AsiaNews):


"My peace I leave you."  These words of Jesus, from the John's gospel (cf. 14,27) are the theme for the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which begins today. It is significant that the theme was proposed by Middle Eastern Churches, where unity and peace are the highest felt priorities.

Over the next 8 days, in every part of the world, Christians of various denominations and traditions will gather to pray intensely to the Lord, so that he strengthen their common effort for complete unity. They will do it, beginning with the richness of the meaning contained in Christ's promise, while meditating each day on the gospel's gift of peace and on the commitment that it involves.

In promising his peace, Christ assured his disciples of his support during times of trial. And is the longstanding division between Christians not a painful trial? This is why they feel so strongly the need to turn to their one Lord, so that he help them to overcome the temptation of discouragement along a difficult road to full communion.  

In a world thirsting for peace it is indeed urgent that Christian communities proclaim the Gospel in a like-minded way. It is indispensable that they bear witness to the divine love that unites them and that they spread joy, hope and peace, thereby stimulating the rise of new humanity. 

I sincerely hope that this week of prayer bears copious fruit for the cause of Christian unity. May it be a suitable occasion so that believers in Christ may exchange a brotherly embrace in the peace of their Lord. May the motherly intercession of Mary the Virgin, Mother of Christ, help us obtain this gift."
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“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”