John Paul II Says All the Baptized Have Duty to Seek Christian Unity

Not a Mission Reserved to Pastors and Theologians, He Insists

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 22, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II says that the restoration of full communion among Christians is not only the duty of pastors and theologians, but of every baptized person.

Addressing the 3,500 people who attended the general audience at the Vatican today, the Pope dedicated the meeting to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants and others are observing the Jan. 18-25 event.

“In virtue of the strength of the faith that unites us, we Christians, therefore, are obliged, each according to his own vocation, to restore full communion, precious treasure left to us by Christ,” the Holy Father said in a firm voice.

In order to restore the lost unity, “it is necessary to cultivate among Christians a love that is committed to surmounting the differences,” he added. “It is necessary to make the effort to overcome every barrier with incessant prayer, with persevering dialogue, and with a fraternal and concrete cooperation in favor of the poorest and neediest.”

However, this does not mean that the dialogue between pastors and theologians is not important, the Pope continued.

He recalled the proposal he made in 1995 in the encyclical “Ut Unum Sint” (No. 95) to “find a form of exercise of the primacy that, although in no way giving up the essence of his mission, is open to a new situation.”

This commitment is decisive for two fundamental reasons: “on one hand, unity expresses fidelity to the Gospel; on the other, as the Lord himself has indicated, it is a condition in order that all will believe that He is the one sent by the Father,” the Pontiff explained.

In fact, the present division “constitutes a ‘scandal’ for the world and ‘harm’ for the preaching of the Gospel.”

Because of this, John Paul II concluded with an intense call to prayer, so that Christians will recover the lost unity and be able to proclaim to the world that Christ “is alive and that he is at work among us.”

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