Benedict XVI Encourages Work of Christian Unity

Says Task Is Urgent in Society Marked by Division

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 18, 2009 ( Benedict XIV is encouraging Christians to not tire of working to overcome the obstacles that have caused division among Christ’s apostles.

After praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope noted that today begins the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which will conclude Jan. 25.

The theme for the week, he said, «was suggested by an ecumenical group from Korea and is taken from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel: ‘One in your hand’ (Ezekiel 37:17).»

«Let us too welcome this invitation and pray with greater intensity that Christians walk in a resolute way toward full communion with each other,» the Pontiff said. «I especially address Catholics throughout the world that, united in prayer, they do not tire to work to overcome obstacles that still impede full communion among Christ’s disciples.

«The ecumenical task is even more urgent today, to give to our society, which is marked by tragic conflicts and lacerating divisions, a sign and an impulse toward reconciliation and peace.»

The Holy Father will preside at the week’s concluding prayer service at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 25, the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally celebrated Jan. 18-25 in the northern hemisphere, though in the south there is some variation on the dates.

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