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Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2018

For years, I collected and collated the calendar for the celebrations during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity here in Rome. Thankfully, Churches Together in Rome has taken up the task this year! Here are the events we know of; probably, there are others. Please let me know and I can add them.

WPCU poster


Thursday 18th

16.30 An afternoon of prayer and reflection,
with an address by Mgr. Paul Mc Partlan, on
“Chieti and the Trajectory of Orthodox-Catholic Dialogue”,
followed by an Ecumenical Celebration of the Word:
Presider: Rev. Tony Currer (PCPCU); Preacher: Rev. Ruth Frampton (Salcombe England).
At Centro Pro Unione, via Santa Maria dell’Anima, 30, 1st Floor (Piazza Navona)

18.00 Evensong (Evening Prayer) with the Anglican community of All Saints
at the Papal Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls.
Presider: Rev. Jonathan Boardman

Friday 19th

18.00 Evening Prayer with the Evangelical Lutheran community of Rome.
At St. Paul’s Outside the Walls. Presider: Rev Jens-Martin Kruse

Saturday 20th

17.00 First Vespers at St. Paul’s Outside the Walls
18.00 Vigil mass at St. Paul’s Outside the Walls

Sunday 21st

10.30 Morning service at Ponte Sant` Angelo Methodist Church
Preacher: the Most Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi, the new
Director of the Anglican Centre

11.00 Eucharist at Caravita (Oratory of St Francis Xavier).
Preacher: Rev. Dr. Tim Macquiban,
Director of the Methodist Ecumenical Office Rome

17.00 Churches Together in Rome service at St. Patrick’s
(American Catholic Parish, Via Boncompagni, 31),
Rev. Tony Currer, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

18.00 Mass (Basilica Polyphonic Choir) at St Paul’s Without the Walls

Monday 22nd

18.00 Evening service at St. Paul’s Outside the Walls
led by the Methodist Community in Rome.
Presider: Rev. Dr. Tim Macquiban

18.30 Christian Unity Service, Diocese of Rome/Vicariate for the City
With Walk of Witness from Piazza di Spagna to S. Andrea della Fratte.

Tuesday 23rd

16.00 to 18.30 Communion in growth: Declaration on the Church, Eucharist, and Ministry – A report from the Lutheran- Catholic Dialogue Commission for Finland,
Presentations by: Bishops Teemu Sippo and Simo Peura
Rev. Dr. Raimo Goyarrola and Rev. Dr. Tomi Karttunen
Rev. Dr. James F. Puglisi; Thanksgiving for the Dialogue: Kurt Cardinal KOCH
At Centro Pro Unione

17.45 Evening Liturgy St. Paul’s Outside the Walls led by the Romanian
Orthodox community. President: Bishop Siluan

Thursday 25th

17.00 Papal Vespers at St. Paul’s Outside the Walls
(ticket only – apply through your local churches)

Image result for st pauls outside the walls

Papal Major Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2014 (Rome)


The schedule of events that i could collect to be celebrated here in Rome for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This excludes several parishes which dedicate daily liturgy and/or devotions to the theme. 

Settimana di preghiera per l’unità dei Cristiani

Has Christ Been Divided? Cristo non può essere diviso! (I Cor 1.1-17)

General information on the Week of Prayer can be found here.




Thursday, 16 January:  Day of Jewish-Christian Dialogue and Reflection

 18.00      Jewish-Catholic Dialogue Fifty Years after Nostra Aetate: A Latin-American Perspective
Rabbi Abraham Skorka at the Pontifical Gregorian University
Moderated by Cardinal Kurt Koch

 Saturday, 18 January

16.30       Incontro di preghiera dei consacrati/e della Diocesi di Roma
Basilica San Lorenzo fuori le Mura

 17.30       Vespers at Capella di Santa Brigida, Piazza Farnese  96
Cardinal Kurt Koch, Archbishop Leo (Chiesa di Finlandia), Bishop Makinen (Luterano),
Bishop Sippo (Diocesi Cattolica di Helsinki),  and Bishop Brian Farrell

[invite]      Vespers at Pontifical Beda College, Viale San Paolo 18
Very Rev. Ken Howcroft preaching

20.00      Ukrainian Catholic (Byzantine Rite) Divine Liturgy – Basilian Fathers, Santa Maria in Via Lata, Via del Corso 306

 Sunday, 19 January

 11.00       Catholic Eucharist with Archbishop David Moxon Preaching
Caravita Community, Via del Caravita 7

12.00       Angelus with Pope Francis, Piazza San Pietro

16.00      Celebrazione Ecumenica Finlandese
Bishop Teemu Sippo, SCI (Catholic), Bishop Kari Mäkinen (Lutheran), Archbishop Leo (Orthodox)
Santa Maria Sopra Minerva ,Piazza del Minerva 42

18.00      Incontro di preghiera del Gruppo Romano del SAE
Capella delle Suore Francescane di Maria, Via Macchiavelli 32

18.30       Celebrazione Ecumenica Tedesca with German/Hungarian College, S. Maria dell’Anima
At Christus Kirche Via Sicilia 70

20.00      Roman Catholic (Latin Rite) Eucharist– Archbishop Piero Marini, presiding
Santa Maria in Via Lata, Via del Corso 306

 Monday, 20 January

18.00      Anglican Choral Evensong  with Ven. Jonathan Boardman Preaching
Basilica San Paolo fuori le mura

18.30       Santa Messa at Parocchia di S. Maria delle Grazie alle Fornaci
19.30       Conferenza “Il movimento ecumenico, la santità”, Padre Ciro Bova

20.00      Greek Catholic (Byzantine Rite) Divine Liturgy – Pontifical Greek College
Santa Maria in Via Lata, Via del Corso 306

Tuesday, 21 January

11:45       Anglican Center Eucharist, Piazza Collegio Romano 2

18.30       Santa Messa, Parrocchia S. Maria delle Grazie alle Fornaci
19.30       Conferenza: L’ecumenismo, il punti di vista dei fratelli ortodossi”, P. Vladimir Zelinsky

 20.00      Syro Malankara Catholic (Antiochene Rite) Holy Qurbana – Damascene College

Santa Maria in Via Lata, Via del Corso 306

Wednesday, 22 January

10.30       General Audience with Pope Francis, Sala Audienza Paolo VI

[Invite]   Vespers at Pontifical Irish College, Archbishop David Moxon preaching

18:30    Venerable English College, Rev. Keith Pecklers, SJ, preaching

18.30       Santa Messa at Parrocchia di S. Maria delle Grazie alle Fornaci
19.30 Confronto e dibattito sul tema della santita nell/’ecumenismo: P. Ciro Bova, P. Vladimir Zelinsky

20.00      Armenian Catholic (Armenian Rite)  Divine Liturgy – Armenian College
Santa Maria in Via Lata, Via del Corso 306

 Thursday, 23 January

16.30    Mixed Salad Ecumenism in the Caribbean: Is there a Future? 
Archbishop Donald Reece, Archbishop Emeritus of Kingston, Jamaica;
Followed by a Celebration of the Word with
Rev. Willie McCulloch presiding, and Very Rev. Ken Howcroft preaching
At Centro Pro Unione, Via S. Maria dell’Anima 30 (Cosponsored by Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas)

18.30       Diocesan vespers at with Ven. Jonathan Boardman preaching,
SS. Martiri dell’Uganda, Via Adolfo Ravà 31

20.00      Maronite Catholic (Antiochene Rite) Divine Liturgy – Maronite Order of the BVM
Santa Maria in Via Lata, Via del Corso 306

Friday, 24 January

 20.00      Gruppo Incontro at Chiesa Valdese, Piazza Cavour

20.00      Romanian Catholic (Byzantine Rite) Divine Liturgy – Romanian College
Santa Maria in Via Lata, Via del Corso 306

 Saturday, 25 January

 17.30       Papal Vespers, Basilica San Paolo fuori le mura (tickets required)

20.00      Ethiopian Catholic (Alexandrian Rite) Divine Liturgy – Pontifical Ethiopian College
Santa Maria in Via Lata, Via del Corso 306

 Sunday, 26 January

16.00      Churches Together in Rome Unity Service
Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton, Secretary General of Canadian Council of Churches
Basilica San Silvestro in Capite, Piazza di San Silvestro 17A

Monday, 27 January

14:30     Il concilio e ecumenismo: Lectio Conclusiva di ‘Il Concilio Vaticano II: Storia e Sviluppi
Bishop Charles Morerod, OP,  bishop of Lausanne, Genève et Fribourg
at Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum)



Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2013 – Rome

[From the archives, published for record only]

A list of events in Rome for the WPCU 2013:

Thursday, 17 January:  Giornata di Riflessione Ebraico-Cristiana
17:30  – Pontificia Università Lateranense, Aula Pio XI –
Non commettere adulterio

–          Rabbino capo della Comunità ebraica di Roma, Riccardo Di Segni;

–          Padre Reinhard Neudecker sj., professore emerito del Pontificio Istituto Biblico;

–          Rettore Magnifico dell’Università Lateranense, S.E. Monsignor Enrico Dal Covolo.

Friday, 18 January

07:45 – Pont. Univ. Gregoriana, Cappella Comunitaria –

Santa Messa Presiede: P. Adrien Lentiampa

17:30 – Cappella di Santa Brigida –

Celebrazione ecumenica dei Vespri

  • S.E. Cardinal Kurt Koch
  • S.E. Kari Mäkinen, Arcivescovo della Chiesa evangelico-luterana di Finlandia

19:00 – Chiesa Valdese di Via IV Novembre 107 –
celebrazione ecumenica in apertura della settimana di preghiera
organizzata dalla consulta delle chiese evangeliche di Roma

19:00 – Parrocchia di S. Gioacchino in Prati, Piazza dei Quiriti, 17 –
celebrazione ecumenica di preghiera e inaugurazione della mostra biblica ecumenica

19:30 – Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas –

Vespers with Rev. Milan Žust, SJ,
Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity

Presentation on the Week of Prayer by Prof. Teresa Francesca Rossi, Centro Pro Unione

And students of The Catholic University of America (Washington, DC)

Saturday, 19 January

16:00 – Basilica di Santa Maria sopra Minerva –

Celebrazione ecumenica finlandese della festa di S. Enrico di Finlandia

–          Sua Eccelenza Kari Mäkinen, arcivescovo della chiesa evangelica-luterana di Finlandia

–          S.E.R. Mons. Teemu Sippo, SCI, vescovo della diocesi cattolica di Helsinki

–          Sua Eminenza Leo, arcivescovo della chiesa ortodossa in Finlandia

I canti saranno eseguiti dai cori giovanili della Cattedrale di Turku.

Dopo la celebrazione ci sarà un rinfresco nella casa di Santa Brigida, piazza Farnese 96.

18:00 – Pontificio Collegio Beda, Viale San Paolo 18 –
Celebrazione per la Settimana di preghiera per l’unità

 Sunday, 20 January

10:00 – Christus Kirche, Chiesa evangelica luterana, Via Toscana –
Eucaristia presieduta dall’Arcivescovo Kari Mäkinen (Turku, Finlandia),

11:00 – Caravita Community at Oratorio San Francesco Saverio, Via del Caravita –

Sunday Eucharist with Ecumenical Guest Preacher

Very Rev. Canon David Richardson, ChStJ, Preaching

16:30 – Chiesa battista, Via della Bella Villa, 31 (Centocelle) –
pomeriggio ecumenico di fraternità e preghiera, organizzato dal gruppo romano del SAE e dalla Chiesa battista di Centocelle presso i locali della

 18:00 – Chiesa metodista, Via Firenze 38 –

celebrazione per la Settimana di preghiera per l’unità
Churches Together in Rome

Monday, 21 January
12.25 – Cappella Universitaria, Pont. Univ. Gregoriana
Momenti di Preghiera Ecumenica
(Ortodossa): Ivan Plavsic

Tuesday, 22 January

11:00 – Parrocchia della Trasfigurazione, Piazza della Trasfigurazione (Monteverde Nuovo) –
Incontro e Agape fraterna con la Chiesa copto-ortodossa,

 12.25 – Cappella Universitaria, Pont. Univ. Gregoriana
Momenti di Preghiera Ecumenica (Protestante): Taneli Ala-Opas

12:45 – Anglican Centre of Rome –

Eucharist for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Lunch following

 18:30 – Parrocchia di San Barnaba –

Veglia Ecumenica Diocesana

Preside: Cardinale Agostino Vallini, Vicario Generale di Roma

 Wednesday, 23 January

12.25 – Cappella Universitaria, Pont. Univ. Gregoriana
Momenti di Preghiera Ecumenica (Cattolica): Michel e Deema

19:00 – Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas –

Community Evening and Eucharist with Rev. Prof. Frederick Bliss, SM,
Professor of Ecumenism and Dialogue, Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas

(residents only)

Thursday, 24 January
12:30 – Pont. Univ. Gregoriana, Aula Magna

Film sull’ecumenismo “Bells of Europe”

 16:30 – Centro Pro Unione –

Cosponsored by the Centro Pro Unione and the Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas

 Dignitatis Humanae: What has it given to the Church and the World?
Lecture by Rev. Prof. Ladislas Orsy, SJ
Visiting Professor of Law, Georgetown University

Followed by an Ecumenical Celebration of the Word

Presider: Very Rev. Canon David Richardson, ChStJ, Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See
Rev. Austin K. Rios, Rector of St. Paul within the Walls

Friday, 25 January

07:45 – Pont. Univ. Gregoriana, Cappella Universitaria –
Santa Messa conclusiva, presiede: P. JÁN ĎAČOK

17:30 – Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls –

Solemn Vespers with Pope Benedict XVI

Closing of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and the Feast of the Conversion of Paul

18.30 – Oratorio San Francesco Saverio del Caravita –
Free Organ recital and dedication of newly restored 1790 Priori Organ,

19:00 – Pontifical Gregorian University, Aula F007

Dialogue and Reconciliation Today: The Irish Process

Mary McAleese, President emeritus of the Republic of Ireland

Sunday, 27 January

10:00 – Parrocchia della Trasfigurazione, Piazza della Trasfigurazione (Monteverde Nuovo) –
Santa Messa presieduta dal Cardinale Walter Kasper, Presidente emerito del Pontificio Consiglio per la promozione dell’unità dei cristiani, con la partecipazione dell’Istituto Ecumenico di Bossey (Svizzera),

Divina Liturgia nei vari riti cattolici

dei giorni di Settimana di Preghiera per l’unita dei Cristiani

– Basilica Di Santa Maria in Via Lata –

alle ore 20:00


–          Venerdì, 18                  Rito Armeno                                           Pont. Collegio Armeno

–          Sabato, 19                   Rito Siro-maronita                                 Ordine Maronita della B.M.V.

–          Domenica, 20              Rito Romano                                          Presiede: Mons. Matteo Zuppi

–          Lunedì, 21                    Rito Siro-malabarese                             Pont. Collegio Damasceno Venerdì

–          Martedì, 22                  Rito Bizantino-romeno                         Pont. Collegio Romeno

–          Mercoledì, 23               Rito Bizantino-greco                             Pont. Collegio Greco

–          Giovedì, 24                  Rito Bizantino-ucraino                         Padri Basiliani di S. Giosafat

–          Venerdì, 25                   Rito Etiopico                                          Pont. Collegio Etiopico

“We Will All Be Changed By the Victory of Our Lord Jesus Christ”

ROME, JAN. 26, 2012 ( Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave Wednesday evening at Vespers on the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. The celebration closed the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

It is with great joy that I address a warm greeting to all of you who are gathered in this basilica on the liturgical fest of the Conversion of St. Paul to conclude the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in this year in which we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II, which Blessed John XXIII announced here in this basilica on Jan. 25, 1959. The theme offered for our meditation during the Week of Prayer that we are concluding today is: “We Will All Be Changed By the Victory of Our Lord Jesus Christ” (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:51-58).

The meaning of this mysterious transformation, of which the second short reading this evening speaks, is marvelously shown in the event of St. Paul. Following the extraordinary happening on the road to Damascus, Saul, who distinguished himself by the zeal with which he persecuted the young Church, was transformed into an indefatigable apostle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the event of this extraordinary evangelizer it is clear that such a change is not the result of a long interior reflection nor the fruit of a personal effort. It is first of all the work of the grace of God operating in its inscrutable way. This is why Paul, writing to Corinth some years after his conversion, states, as we heard in the first reading of these vespers: “By the grace of God … I am what I am, and his grace in me has not been ineffective” (1 Corinthians 15:10). Moreover, considering the event of St. Paul we understand that the transformation that he experienced in his existence was not limited to the ethical dimension — as a conversion from immorality to morality — nor to the intellectual dimension — as change in his way of seeing reality — but it is a matter rather of a radical renewal in his own being, similar in many aspects to a rebirth. Such a transformation has its foundation in the participation in the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and it is delineated as a gradual journey of conformation to Christ. In light of this awareness, St. Paul, when he will later be called to defend the legitimacy of his apostolic vocation and the Gospel that he proclaimed, will say: “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. And this life that I live in the body I live in the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).

The personal experience lived by St. Paul allowed him to await with a reasonable hope for the fulfillment of this mystery of transformation, which will affect all those who have believed in Jesus Christ and all humanity and the whole of creation as well. In the second short reading that was proclaimed this evening, St. Paul, after having developed a long argument aimed at reinforcing hope of the resurrection in the faithful, using the traditional images of the contemporary apocalyptic literature, describes in a few lines the great day of the final judgment in which the destiny of humanity is met: “In an instant, the twinkling of an eye, at the sound of the last trumpet … the dead will rise uncorrupted and we will be transformed” (1 Corinthians 15:52). On that day, all believers will be conformed to Christ and all that is mortal will be transformed by his glory: “It is necessary, in fact,” says St. Paul, “that this corruptible body be clothed in incorruptibility and that this mortal body be clothed in immortality” (15:53). Then the triumph of Christ will finally be complete, because, St. Paul continues, showing how the ancient prophecies of the Scriptures will be realized, death will be definitively vanquished and, with it, sin that brought death into the world and the Law that determines sin without giving the power to overcome it: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? Death is the sting of sin and the Law is the power of sin” (15:54-56). St. Paul tells us, thus, that every man, through baptism in the death and resurrection of Christ, participates in the victory of him who first defeated death, opening a path of transformation that is manifested from thence in a newness of life and that will reach its goal in the fullness of time.

It is quite significant that the passage concludes with a thanksgiving: “May thanks be given to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (15:57). The canticle of victory over death becomes a canticle of gratitude lifted up to the Victor. We too this evening, celebrating the evening praises of God, would like to join our voices, our minds and our hearts to this hymn of thanksgiving for what divine grace has worked in the Apostle of the Gentiles and through the wondrous salvific design of God the Father has accomplished in us through the Lord Jesus Christ. As we lift up our prayer, we are confident that we too will be transformed and conformed to Christ’s image. This is particularly true for the prayer for the unity of Christians. When we in fact implore the gift of unity of Christ’s disciples, we make our own the desire expressed by Jesus Christ in the prayer to the Father on the eve of his passion and death: “that all may be one” (John 17:21). For this reason, the prayer for the unity of Christians is nothing other than a participation in the realization of the divine plan for the Church, and the active commitment to the re-establishment of unity is a duty and a great responsibility for all.

Despite experiencing in our days the painful situation of division, we Christians can and must look to the future with hope insofar as the victory of Christ means the overcoming of all that prevents us from sharing the fullness of life with him and with others. Jesus Christ’s resurrection confirms that the goodness of God defeats evil; love overcomes death. He accompanies us in the struggle against the destructive force of sin that damages humanity and the entire creation of God. The presence of the risen Christ calls all of us Christians to act together in the cause of the good. United to Christ we are called to share his mission, which is that of bringing hope where injustice, hatred and desperation dominate. Our divisions dim the luminousness of our witness to Christ. The goal of complete unity that we await in active hope and that we pray for with confidence, is not a secondary victory but has importance for the good of the human family.

In today’s dominant culture the idea of victory is often associated with an immediate success. In the Christian perspective, however, victory is a long — and in the eyes of us men — not an always linear process of transformation and growth in the good. It happens in God’s timeframes, not ours, and it demands of us a profound faith and patient perseverance. If it is true that the Kingdom of God definitively irrupts in history in the resurrection of Jesus, it is still not fully realized. The final victory will happen only with the Lord’s second coming, which we await with patient hope. Even our expectation of the Church’s visible unity must be patient and confident. Our daily prayer and efforts for the unity of Christians have their meaning only in such a disposition. The attitude of patient waiting does not entail passivity or resignation but a prompt and attentive response to every possibility of communion and fraternity that the Lord grants us.

In this spiritual climate I would like to offer some special greetings, in the first place to Cardinal Monterisi, archpriest of this basilica, to the abbot and the community of Benedictine monks who host us. I greet Cardinal Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and to all the members of this dicastery. I offer my cordial and fraternal greetings to his Eminence the Metropolitan Gennadios, representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch, and the Reverend Canon Richardson, 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.

I entrust to the intercession of St. Paul all of those who with their prayer and their work commit themselves to the cause of the unity of Christians. Even if we can at times have the impression that the road toward complete re-establishment of communion is still very long and full of obstacles, I invite everyone to renew their determination to continue, with courage and generosity, the unity willed by God, following St. Paul’s example, who, in the face of difficulties of every sort always maintained firm confidence in God, who brings his work to completion. After all, along this journey there are not lacking positive signs of a rediscovered fraternity and of a shared sense of responsibility before the great problems that afflict humanity. All of this is reason for joy and great hope and must encourage us to continue our commitment to arrive together at the final goal, knowing that our toil is not in vain in the Lord (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:58). Amen.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
Vatican original here

Pope Benedict Angelus address for WPCU

Every Sunday noon when he is in Rome, the pope prays the Angelus with pilgrims in the Piazza San Pietro, and gives a short address. This week’s focused on the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity…


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This Sunday falls in the middle of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which is celebrated from 18 to 25 January. I cordially invite everyone to join in the prayer that Jesus addressed to the Father on the eve of his Passion: “that they may all be one… so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21). This year in particular our meditation during the Week of Prayer for Unity refers to a passage of St Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, from which the theme was formulated: “We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (cf. 1 Cor 15:51-58). We are called to contemplate Christ’s victory over sin and death, that is, his Resurrection, as an event that radically transforms all who believe in him and gives them access to incorruptible and immortal life. In addition, recognizing and accepting the transforming power of faith in Jesus Christ sustains Christians in the search for full unity among themselves.

This year the resource material for the Week of Prayer for Unity has been prepared by a Polish group. Indeed Poland has lived through a long history of courageously fighting various adversities and time and again has given proof of great determination, motivated by faith. For this reason the words of the above-mentioned theme have special resonance and effectiveness in Poland. Down the centuries Polish Christians have spontaneously perceived a spiritual dimension in their desire for freedom and have understood that true victory can only be achieved if it is accompanied by a profound inner transformation. They remind us that our quest for unity can be realistically conducted if the change takes place within us first of all and if we let God act, if we let ourselves be transformed into the image of Christ, if we enter into new life in Christ who is the true victory.

The visible unity of all Christians is always a task that comes from on high, from God, a task that demands the humility of recognizing our weakness and of receiving the gift. However, to use a phrase which Bl. John Paul II liked to repeat, every gift also becomes a commitment. The unity that comes from God therefore demands of us the daily commitment to open ourselves to each other in charity.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has been a central feature in the Church’s ecumenical activity for many decades. The time that we devote to prayer for the full communion of Christ’s disciples will enable us to understand more deeply that we will be transformed by his victory, by the power of his Resurrection.

Next Wednesday, as is the custom, we shall conclude the Week of Prayer with the solemn celebration of Vespers on the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, in the Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls at which representatives of other Churches and Christian Communities will also be present. I expect many of you to come to this liturgical encounter to renew together our prayer to the Lord, the source of unity, with filial trust, to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.

After the Angelus:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In these days, various countries in the Far East are joyfully celebrating the lunar New Year. In the present global situation of economic and social crisis I express to all those peoples the hope that the New Year will be concretely marked by justice and peace, that it will bring relief to the suffering and, especially, that young people will offer new hope to the world with their enthusiasm and their idealism.

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Angelus. This week, Christians throughout the world mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. We are confident that, as St Paul says, “We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (cf. 1 Cor 15:51-58). Let us renew our prayer for the unity of all of Christ’s followers, and deepen our resolve to be one in him. Upon each of you and your loved ones at home, I invoke God’s blessings of peace and joy.

I address a cordial greeting to the Italian-speaking pilgrims, in a special way to the parish groups and families, and I wish everyone a good Sunday. A good Sunday, a good week to you all!

Vatican Original

Pope Benedict General Audience for the WPCU

“The Unity for Which We Pray Requires Interior Conversion, Both Communal and Personal”

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 18, 2012 ( Here is a translation of the Italian-language catechesis Benedict XVI gave today during the general audience held in Paul VI Hall. The Pope reflected on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which begins today.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today marks the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which for more than a century has been celebrated by Christians of all Churches and ecclesial Communities, in order to invoke that extraordinary gift for which the Lord Jesus Himself prayed during the Last Supper, before His Passion: “that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:21). The practice of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was introduced in 1908 by Father Paul Wattson, founder of an Anglican religious community that subsequently entered the Catholic Church. The initiative received the blessing of Pope St. Pius X and was then promoted by Pope Benedict XV, who encouraged its celebration throughout the Church with the Brief, Romanorum Pontificum, promulgated Feb. 25, 1916.

The octave of prayer was developed and perfected in the 1930s by Abbé Paul Couturier of Lyon, who promoted prayer “for the unity of the Church as Christ wills, and in accordance with the instruments He wills.” In his later writings, Abbé Couturier sees this Week as a way of allowing the prayer of Christ to “enter into and penetrate the entire Christian Body”; it must grow until it becomes “an immense, unanimous cry of the whole People of God” who ask God for this great gift. And it is precisely during the Week of Christian Unity that the impetus given by the Second Vatican Council toward seeking full communion among all of Christ’s disciples each year finds one of its most forceful expressions. This spiritual gathering, which unites Christians of all traditions, increases our awareness of the fact that the unity to which we tend will not be the result of our efforts alone, but will rather be a gift received from above, a gift for which we must constantly pray.

Each year, the booklets for the Week of Prayer are prepared by an ecumenical group from a different region of the world. I would like to pause to consider this point. This year, the texts were proposed by a mixed group comprised of representatives of the Catholic Church and of the Polish Ecumenical Council, which includes the country’s various Churches and ecclesial Communities. The documentation was then reviewed by a committee made up of members of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity and of the Faith and Order Commission of the Council of Churches.  This work, carried out together in two stages, is also a sign of the desire for unity that animates Christians, and of the awareness that prayer is the primary way of attaining full communion, since it is in being united with the Lord that we move toward unity.

The theme of the Week this year — as we heard — is taken from the First Letter to the Corinthians: “We Will All Be Changed By the Victory of Our Lord Jesus Christ” — His victory will transform us. And this theme was suggested by the large ecumenical Polish group I just mentioned, which — in reflecting on their own experience as a nation — wanted to underscore how strong a support the Christian faith is in the midst of trial and upheaval, like those that have characterized Poland’s history. After ample discussion, a theme was chosen that focuses on the transforming power of faith in Christ, particularly in light of the importance it has for our prayer for the visible unity of Christ’s Body, the Church. This reflection was inspired by the words of St. Paul who, addressing himself to the Church of Corinth, speaks about the perishable nature of what belongs to our present life — which is also marked by the experience of the “defeat” that comes from sin and death — compared to what brings us Christ’s victory over sin and death in His paschal mystery.

The particular history of the Polish nation, which knew times of democratic coexistence and of religious liberty — as in the 16th century — has been marked in recent centuries by invasions and defeat, but also by the constant struggle against oppression and by the thirst for freedom. All of this led the ecumenical group to reflect more deeply on the true meaning of “victory” — what victory is — and “defeat.” Compared with “victory” understood in triumphalistic terms, Christ suggests to us a very different path that does not pass by way of force and power. In fact, He affirms: “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35). Christ speaks of a victory through suffering love, through mutual service, help, new hope and concrete comfort given to the least, to the forgotten, to those who are rejected. For all Christians, the highest expression of this humble service is Jesus Christ Himself — the total gift He makes of Himself, the victory of His love over death on the Cross, which shines resplendent in the light of Easter morning.

We can take part in this transforming “victory” if we allow ourselves to be transformed by God — but only if we work for the conversion of our lives, and if this transformation leads to conversion. This is the reason why the Polish ecumenical group considered particularly fitting for their own reflection the words of St. Paul: “We will all be changed by the victory of Christ, Our Lord” (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:51-58).

The full and visible unity of Christians for which we long demands that we allow ourselves to be ever more perfectly transformed and conformed to the image of Christ. The unity for which we pray requires interior conversion, both communal and personal. It is not simply a matter of kindness and cooperation; above all, we must strengthen our faith in God, in the God of Jesus Christ, who has spoken to us and who made Himself one of us; we must enter into new life in Christ, which is our true and definitive victory; we must open ourselves to one another, cultivating all the elements of that unity that God has preserved for us and gives to us ever anew; we must feel the urgency of bearing witness before the men of our times to the living God, who made Himself known in Christ.

The Second Vatican Council put the ecumenical pursuit at the center of the Church’s life and work: “The Sacred Council exhorts all the Catholic faithful to recognize the signs of the times and to take an active and intelligent part in the work of ecumenism” (Unitatis redintegratio, 4). Blessed John Paul II stressed the essential nature of this commitment, saying: “This unity, which the Lord has bestowed on his Church and in which he wishes to embrace all people, is not something added on, but stands at the very heart of Christ’s mission. Nor is it some secondary attribute of the community of his disciples. Rather, it belongs to the very essence of this community (Ut unum sint, 9). The ecumenical task is therefore a responsibility of the whole Church and of all the baptized, who must make the partial, already existing communion between Christians grow into full communion in truth and charity. Therefore, prayer for unity is not limited to this Week of Prayer but rather must become an integral part of our prayer, of the life of prayer of all Christians, in every place and in every time, especially when people of different traditions meet and work together for the victory, in Christ, over all that is sin, evil, injustice, and that violates human dignity.

From the time the modern ecumenical movement was born over a century ago, there has always been a clear recognition of the fact that the lack of unity among Christians prevents the Gospel from being proclaimed more effectively, because it jeopardizes our credibility. How can we give a convincing witness if we are divided? Certainly, as regards the fundamental truths of the faith, much more unites us than divides us. But divisions remain, and they concern even various practical and ethical questions — causing confusion and distrust, and weakening our ability to hand on Christ’s saving Word. In this regard, we do well to remember the words of Blessed John Paul II, who in the Encyclical Ut unum sint, speaks of the damage caused to Christian witness and to the proclamation of the Gospel by the lack of unity (cf. no. 98,99). This is a great challenge for the new evangelization, which can be more fruitful if all Christians together announce the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and give a common response to the spiritual thirst of our times.

The Church’s journey, like that of all peoples, is in the hands of the Risen Christ, who is victorious over the death and injustice that He bore and suffered on behalf of all mankind. He makes us sharers in His victory. Only He is capable of transforming us and changing us — from being weak and hesitant — to being strong and courageous in working for good. Only He can save us from the negative consequences of our divisions. Dear brothers and sisters, I invite everyone to be more intensely united in prayer during this Week for Unity, so that common witness, solidarity and collaboration may grow among Christians, as we await the glorious day when together we may profess the faith handed down by the Apostles, and together celebrate the Sacraments of our transformation in Christ. Thank you.

[Translation by Diane Montagna]

[In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which begins today invites all the Lord’s followers to implore the gift of unity. This year’s theme – We Will All Be Changed By The Victory Of Our Lord Jesus Christ – was chosen by representatives of the Catholic Church and the Polish Ecumenical Council. Poland’s experience of oppression and persecution prompts a deeper reflection on the meaning of Christ’s victory over sin and death, a victory in which we share through faith. By his teaching, his example and his paschal mystery, the Lord has shown us the way to a victory obtained not by power, but by love and concern for those in need. Faith in Christ and interior conversion, both individual and communal, must constantly accompany our prayer for Christian unity. During this Week of Prayer, let us ask the Lord in a particular way to strengthen the faith of all Christians, to change our hearts and to enable us to bear united witness to the Gospel. In this way we will contribute to the new evangelization and respond ever more fully to the spiritual hunger of the men and women of our time.

* * *

I offer a cordial welcome to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience. My special greeting goes to the Lutheran pilgrims from Finland. I also greet the group of sailors and marines from the United States. Upon all of you and your families I cordially invoke God’s abundant blessings!

© Copyright 2012 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Zenit original:
Vatican original with video:

Settimana di Preghiera per l’unità dei Cristiani 2012 in Roma

If you ever thought that Rome was not interested in ecumenism, you should think again. The calendar below is an unofficial list of everything going on during these days that has been advertised in connection to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, or the preceding Day of Reflection on Jewish-Christian Dialogue.

ROMA + 18 – 25 JANUARY 2012

Tutti Saremo Trasformati dalla Vittoria di Gesu Cristo, Nostro Signore”
“We will all be transformed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ”

Tuesday, 17 January

1730     Giornata di Riflessione Ebraico-Cristiana: La Sesta Parola: «NON UCCIDERAI»
S. E. Mons. Benedetto Tuzia Commissione diocesana per l’Ecumenismo e il Dialogo Rav Riccardo Di Segni Rabbino Capo della Comunità Ebraica di Roma
Prof. Mauro Cozzoli Professore Ordinario di Teologia Morale, Pont. Università Lateranense
Pontificia Universitá Lateranense, Aula Pio XI

Wednesday, 18 January

1730      The Encounter of the African Traditional Religions, Islam and Christianity in Northeastern Nigeria:
Toward a Contextual Theology of Interreligious Dialogue
Doctoral Defense of Rev. John Bogna Bakeni, Russell Berrie Alumnus
Pontificia Universitá San Tommaso, Aula X

1830       The Venerable English College – Celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

1900      Celebrazione, Consulta delle Chiese Evangeliche Romane
Pastore Herbert Anders, Chiesa Luterana
S. E. Mons. Benedetto Tuzia Commissione diocesana per l’Ecumenismo e il Dialogo
Chiesa luterana, via Toscana 7

Thursday, 19 January

1600     Celebrazione ecumenica finlandese, festa di S. Enrico di Finlandia
S.E.R. Mons. Teemu Sippo, vescovo della diocesi cattolica di Helsinki. Seppo Hakkinen, vescovo della diocesi evangelico-luterana di Mikkeli.
Basilica di Santa Maria Sopra Minerva

1630      Impulses of the Spirit: Promotion of Human Rights, Justice, and Peace since Vatican II
Rev. Drew Christiansen, SJ, editor-in-chief of America Magazine
Ecumenical Celebration of the Word
Canon David Richardson, ChStJ, Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See
Monsignor Mark Langham, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
Centro Pro Unione, Via del Anima 30 (Piazza Navona)

1830       Veglia Ecumenica Diocesana di Preghiera
Basilica Santa Maria in Trastevere

Friday, 20 January

1730      Vespri ecumenica Seppo Hakkinen, vescovo della diocesi evangelico-luterana di Mikkeli
S.E. Teemu Sippo, vescovo della diocesi cattolica di Helsinki
S.E. Mons. Brian Farrell e Mons. Mathias  Türk.
Chiesa di S. Brigida, Piazza Farnese 96

Saturday, 21 January

1000      Abdullahi An-Na’im Human Rights Theory and Jacques Maritain’s Natural Law: A Comparative Study
Doctoral Defense of Dott.ssa. Paola Bernardini, Russell Berrie Alumna
Pontificia Universitá San Tommaso

Sunday, 22 January

1100      Catholic Eucharist with guest preacher,
Canon David Richardson, ChStJ, Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See

Oratorio di San Francesco Saverio del Caravita

1830       Ecumenical Prayer Service/Churches Together in Rome
Prof.ssa Donna Orsuto, DSG, Preaching
Ponte Sant’Angelo Methodist Church, Piazza di Ponte Sant’Angelo

Tuesday, 24 January

1245      Anglican Eucharist with guest preacher
Rev. Kenneth Howcraft, Methodist Representative to the Holy See
Anglican Center in Rome, Piazza del Collegio Romano 2

1830       Dialogo Interreligioso in Chiara Lubich e nel Movimento dei Focolari
Dott. Roberto Catalano, Centro Dialogo Interreligioso
Istituto Tevere – Centro pro Dialogo, Via di Monte Brianzo 82

Wednesday, 25 January

1730      Vespers at the Papal Basilica of San Paolo fuori le Mura
Pope Benedict XVI Solemn Closing of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

2000     Veglia di preghiera ecumenica
Mons. Charles Scicluna
Chiesa Santa Brigida, Piazza Farnese 96

Thursday, 26 January

1800      Chiesa Cattolica: Essenza – Realtà – Missione
Presentazione: Dott. Rosino Gibellini
Intervento: S.E.R. Cardinal Walter Kasper
Responso: S.E.R. Cardinal Kurt Koch
Centro Pro Unione, Via Santa Maria dell’Anima 30

Catholic – Oriental Orthodox Dialogue in Rome

While waiting with some classmates to meet with the German Salesian responsible for staffing the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, I ran into a friend of my on the Via della Conciliazione. He was in Rome for the week-long meeting of the Catholic-Oriental Orthodox International Commission on Dialogue. The participants, including representatives of the Coptic, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Armenian, Syriac and Malankara churches, participated in the vespers concluding the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at St. Paul Outside the Walls as their opening activity.

Vatican Radio recorded a thirteen minute interview with the officer responsible for dialogue with the Oriental Orthodox in the PCPCU:

They’re among the most ancient churches in the world, founded according to tradition by the apostles in Egypt, Armenia, Syria, India and Ethiopia in the decades following Christ’s death and Resurrection. Yet they have not been in communion with either the Roman Catholic world or the Eastern Orthodox world since they officially severed ties in the 5th century – hence very little is known about their rich heritage and traditions outside those countries where they are still based.

They are of course the Oriental Orthodox Churches and here in the Vatican on Friday, their representatives concluded a meeting of the mixed commission for theological dialogue with their Catholic counterparts.

To find out more about the meeting and about the impact of the recent attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt, Philippa Hitchen talked to Fr Gabriel Quicke, who’s in charge of relations with these Churches at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity….

Listen Here

Highlights of the Week of Prayer

A few highlights of the week here in Rome I thought I would share. Clearly, there was too much going on for me to even make it to most of the services and events, and even those I did get to would take too long to recount in full.

St. Paul Within the Walls, Rome

The pope called ecumenism a moral imperative. That does not leave much wiggle room for the doubtful, dissenting, or disinterested. Definitely a highlight, though already mentioned here.

One of the most beautiful moments was a concert by four Roman choirs at St. Paul Within the Wall, the Episcopal Church of Rome (That is, Anglican Communion, American branch). After an ecumenical evensong that was well-attended, these four choirs provided us with a live, surround-sound rendition of Thomas Tallis’ Spem in Alium. This is a ten minute, 40-part motet from 1570, an English response to the Italian mastery of Renaissance music. Given the timing, I suppose a little ecclesiastical/nationalistic competitiveness was not surprising. In any case, what Tallis produced is moving, and though listening to it on YouTube does not do justice to the experience, the parish has kindly provided a recording of the event here.

On Sunday, I celebrated the Eucharist with the Caravita Community, which I have mentioned before, as they are one of the Anglophone locales for events ecumenical. In addition to three of the Gregorian’s Muslim students there for part of their research into Christian worship (having already been to a  mass in Italian), there were some Anglican priests present, including a visiting professor from Virginia Theological Seminary, who was the guest homilist (and whose homily he brought to the ambo on his iPad). It was a good homily, but the most striking part of the liturgy came during the communion rite. As the Anglican priests, including the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See, Canon David Richardson, came to the presider to receive communion, they inclined their heads for a blessing. After blessing each, however, the minister inclined his own head and asked for a blessing from them. A fitting sign and ecumenical gesture – we are, painfully, still divided, but equally in need of each others’ prayer and benediction, especially in the sacramental moment that lays bare the imperfect state of our communion.

I should also note that here, as everywhere else during the week, including the papal liturgy, prayers during the general intercessions were offered for the pope, the ecumenical patriarch, and the archbishop of Canterbury, something which has been a decades-old (but often ignored) recommendation of the Holy See to churches around the world – and something which ought to be practiced more often!

Canon David Richardson, Archbishop of Canterbury's Representative to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome

A couple of days later, I was at the Anglican Centre, located within the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj off the Piazza Collegio Romano. Every Tuesday they offer mass and lunch for residents and visitors, Anglicans and Catholics alike. The small chapel accommodated the 30-35 people present, but snugly. Canon David was presider, and delivered what I think is the best homily of the week. Here, the intimacy, the noble simplicity of the rite, the familiarity and theology of the liturgy all coalesced to provide one of the more literally gut-wrenching moments of being unable to share communion. One of my friends who had not been to many Anglican liturgies asked me afterwards, “So… that was Anglican? But it was almost identical to [the Catholic] mass!”

About the only difference was the location of the sign of peace before the preface to the Eucharistic Prayer, a move which even our current pope has suggests we ought to emulate.

The whole point of being unable to share communion is that we are motivated by the pain of this that we work ever the harder for full unity. But if people are never in the position where they experience this, how can they be so motivated? A thought for a later post there…

Cardinal Kurt Koch

Finally, during the closing liturgy of the week, the papal vespers for the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul Outside the Walls, there was another interesting little thing. In addition to the ecumenical guests offering prayers and readings, which is quite standard, the Latin-chanted Lord’s Prayer included the doxology. There were actually audible responses from the seats around me along the lines of, “huh, that’s interesting!” – at least from the people who know enough Latin to have noticed. One of the choirs even stopped, perhaps out of habit, a line early and had to jump back in to finish the prayer. Reflecting on the addition, it occurred to me that while it could well have been an ecumenical gesture, it was also a more authentically accurate move from a purely Catholic liturgical point of view, as well. More on that below.

Oh, and i got to meet Cardinal Koch, Cardinal Kasper’s successor as President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Papal Homily at Vespers Closing Week of Prayer


Video can be found here: 

“The path toward this unity must be seen as a moral imperative, response to a precise call of the Lord.”

ROME, JAN. 25, 2011 ( Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered today at the closing vespers of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, held at the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls. Today’s feast of the Conversion of St. Paul brought the prayer week to a close. 

* * *

Brothers and Sisters,

Following the example of Jesus, who on the eve of his Passion prayed to the Father for his disciples “that they may all be one” (John 17:21), Christians continue to invoke incessantly from God the gift of this unity. This request is made more intense during the Week of Prayer, which ends today, when the Churches and ecclesial Communities meditate and pray together for the unity of all Christians.

This year the theme offered for our meditation was proposed by the Christian communities of Jerusalem, to which I would like to express by heartfelt gratitude, accompanied by the assurance of affection and prayer either on my part or on that of the whole of the Church. The Christians of the Holy City invite us to renew and reinforce our commitment for the re-establishment of full unity meditating on the model of life of the first disciples of Christ gathered in Jerusalem: “They — we read in the Acts of the Apostles (and we heard it now) — devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). This is the portrait of the early community, born in Jerusalem the same day of Pentecost, aroused by the preaching of the Apostle Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, addressed to all those who had arrived in the Holy City for the feast. A community not shut-in on itself, but, from its birth, catholic, universal, capable of embracing people of different languages and cultures, as the book of the Acts of the Apostles itself testifies. A community not founded on a pact among its members, or the simple sharing of a project or an ideal, but from profound communion with God, who revealed himself in his Son, from the encounter with Christ dead and resurrected.

In a brief summary, which ends the chapter that began with the account of the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, the Evangelist Luke presents synthetically the life of this first community: how many had heard the word preached by Peter and were baptized, listened to the Word of God, transmitted by the Apostles; were happily together, taking charge of the necessary services and sharing freely and generously their material goods; celebrated the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, his mystery of Death and Resurrection, in the Eucharist, repeating the gesture of the breaking of the bread; they continually praised and thanked the Lord, invoking his help in their difficulties. This description, however, is not simply a memory of the past, and even less the presentation of an example to imitate or of an ideal goal to reach. It is rather the affirmation of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit, uniting all in Christ, who is the principle of the unity of the Church and makes believers one.

The teaching of the Apostles, fraternal communion, the breaking of the bread and prayer are the concrete ways of life of the first Christian community of Jerusalem gathered by the action of the Holy Spirit but at the same time they constitute the essential features of all Christian communities, of all times and all places. In other words, we can also say that they represent the essential dimensions of the unity of the visible Body of the Church.

We must be grateful because, in the course of the last decades, the ecumenical movement, “arising from the impulse of the grace of the Holy Spirit” (“Unitatis Redintegratio,” No. 1), has taken significant steps forward, which have made it possible to attain encouraging convergence and consent on varied points, developing between the Churches and the ecclesial communities relations of mutual esteem and respect, as well as of concrete collaboration in face of the challenges of the contemporary world. We are well aware, however, that we are still far from that unity for which Christ prayed and which we find reflected in the portrait of the first community of Jerusalem. The unity to which Christ, through his Spirit, calls the Church is not realized only on the plane of organizational structures, but is configured, at a much more profound level, as expressed “in the confession of only one faith, in the common celebration of divine worship and in the fraternal concord of the family of God” (ibid., No. 2). 

The search for the re-establishment of unity among divided Christians cannot therefore be reduced to a recognition of the reciprocal differences and to the obtaining of a peaceful coexistence: What we long for is that unity for which Christ himself prayed and which by its nature is manifested in the communion of the faith, of the sacraments, of the ministry. The path toward this unity must be seen as a moral imperative, response to a precise call of the Lord. Because of this, the temptation must be overcome to resignation and pessimism, which is lack of trust in the power of the Holy Spirit. Our duty is to continue passionately on the path towards this goal with a serious and rigorous dialogue to deepen the common theological, liturgical and spiritual patrimony; with reciprocal knowledge, with the ecumenical formation of the new generations and, above all, with conversion of heart and prayer. In fact, as Vatican Council II declared, the “holy intention to reconcile all Christians in the unity of the one Church of Christ, surpasses human forces and talents” and, because of this, our hope is placed first of all “in the prayer of Christ for the Church, in the Father’s love for us and in the power of the Holy Spirit” (ibid., No. 24).

On this path for the search of full visible unity among all Christians we are accompanied and sustained by the Apostle Paul, of whom today we celebrate solemnly the feast of his conversion. He, before the Risen One appeared to him on the road to Damascus saying to him: “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting!” (Acts 9:5), was one of the most ferocious adversaries of the early Christian communities. The evangelist Luke describes Saul among those who approved the killing of Stephen, in the days when a violent persecution broke out against Christians of Jerusalem (cf. Acts 8:1). He left from the Holy City to extend the persecution of Christians to Syria and, after his conversion, he returned to be introduced to the Apostles of Barnabas, who made himself guarantor of the authenticity of his encounter with the Lord. From then on Paul was admitted not only as a member of the Church but also as preacher of the Gospel together with the other Apostles, having received, as them, the manifestation of the Risen Lord and the special call to be “chosen instrument” to carry his name before the Gentiles (cf. Acts 9:15).

In his long missionary journeys, Paul, journeying through different cities and regions, never forgot the bond of communion with the Church of Jerusalem. The collection in favor of Christians of that community, who, very soon, had need of being helped (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:1), occupied an important place in Paul’s concerns, which he considered not only a work of charity, but the sign and the guarantee of the unity and the communion between the Churches founded by him and the early community of the Holy City, as sign of the one Church of Christ.

In this climate of intense prayer, I wish to address my cordial greeting to all those present: to Cardinal Francesco Monterisi, archpriest of this Basilica, to Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, to the other cardinals and brothers in the episcopate and priesthood, to the abbot and to the Benedictine monks of this ancient community, to men and women religious, to the laity that represent the entire diocesan community of Rome. In a special way, I would like to greet the brothers and sisters of the other Churches and ecclesial communities represented here this evening. Among them, it is particularly gratifying to me to address my greeting to the members of the International Mixed Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Ancient Eastern Churches, whose meeting will take place here in Rome in the next few days. Let us entrust to the Lord the good outcome of your meeting, so that it can represent a step forward toward the much hoped for unity.


Dear brothers and sisters, trusting in the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church, we invoke, therefore, the gift of unity. United to Mary, who on the day of Pentecost was present in the Cenacle together with the Apostles, we turn to God source of every gift to have renewed for us today the miracle of Pentecost and, guided by the Holy Spirit, may all Christians re-establish full unity in Christ. Amen.

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