Christian Unity Would Be a Gift of God, Says John Paul II

Voices His Hopes on Occasion of Week of Prayer

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 19, 2003 ( John Paul II says that full unity among Christians is possible, with God’s grace.

The Pope today spoke about the the goal of full communion among believers, as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity entered its second day.

From Jan. 18-25, representatives of the world’s 2 billion Christians — including Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and Protestants — will meet for ecumenical prayer with the motto «We Have This Treasure in Clay Jars.»

Before praying the midday Angelus with the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father explained more fully the meaning of this motto, taken from the Apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 4:7.

«The knowledge of divine glory, reflected in the face of Christ, shines in our hearts; however, we carry this treasure in clay jars, that is, in the frailty of our human condition, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us,» he explained.

«The reconstruction of the unity of all the baptized is, in effect, a gift from God, and our effort alone is not sufficient to bring it about,» he added. «But when Christians come together, see themselves as brothers, collaborate to alleviate sufferings, and pray for unity, they contribute to make the face of Christ and his glory shine.»

The Pontiff urged the faithful in their prayers this week to «ask the Lord to make the communion among Christians grow to fullness, in truth and charity.»

John Paul II will close the week of prayer on Jan. 25, when he presides over the celebration of vespers in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

The texts that accompany the intentions for this week of prayer were prepared by a panel made up of Catholic representatives and of the Faith and Constitution commission of the World Council of Churches.

The week’s program may be read at the ZENIT site.

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