VATICAN CITY, JAN. 10, 2006 (Zenit.org).- This year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity emphasizes that the promotion of such unity is a means to foster peace in the world.
Hence, the phrase of Matthew’s Gospel “Where Two or Three Are Gathered in My Name, I Am There Among Them” (18:20) has been chosen as the theme of the event, to be observed in most of the world Jan. 18-25.
The event will close in Rome, on the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, with the celebration of vespers attended by ecumenical delegates and presided over by Benedict XVI in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
The new Pope has made the promotion of Christian unity a priority of his ministry as Bishop of Rome.
The texts have been jointly prepared and published by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches.
The initial draft of this material was prepared by an ecumenical group in Dublin, Ireland, made up of Orthodox, Coptic-Orthodox, Methodists, Presbyterians, Catholics, Lutherans and members of the Church of Ireland.
The material reached its present form at a meeting of an international preparatory group, held at a Focolare center in County Kildare, Ireland.
Hope in Ireland
The introduction to the texts explains that they are “an invitation to find opportunities throughout the whole year to express the degree of communion which the churches have already received, and to pray together for that full unity which is Christ’s will.”
“There is more that unites us than divides us — this is the great discovery that lies behind the thrust of the ecumenical movement,” it states. “The greatest uniting point of all is the presence of the Risen Christ who promised his disciples he would be with them till the end of time.”
The meeting of the group that wrote the texts took place with “the backdrop of a decreasing level of violence” in Ireland and “an increased hope for a Christ-filled peace,” state the writers in the introduction.
“The members of the source group wished to draw attention to the simplicity of two or three coming together in Christian mutual love as a vital means of building up relations between divided peoples and communities,” they add.
“It is often the case that small gatherings, local relations and friendships, can have a powerful impetus in creating a spirit of peace and reconciliation,” they affirm. “Many experiences in Ireland’s recent history bear witness to this.”
The texts may be read in the Roman Curia section of the Holy See’s Web page, under the Council for Promoting Christian Unity.