Conversion Will Bring Unity, Says Pontiff

Reflects on Paul’s Change of Heart

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 25, 2009 ( If Christians allow themselves to be continually converted to the Lord, the day will come for full Christian unity, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope affirmed this today before praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square. He dedicated his reflection to today’s feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.

“Paul’s conversion matured in the encounter with the Risen Christ; it was this encounter that radically changed his existence,” the Holy Father said. “[…] Saul converted because, thanks to the divine light, ‘he believed in the Gospel.’

“His conversion and ours consists in this: in believing in Jesus dead and risen and in opening up to the illumination of his divine grace. In that moment Saul understood that his salvation did not depend on good works done according to the law, but on the fact that Jesus died even for him — the persecutor – and he was, and is, risen.”

The Pontiff said that converting means believing that Jesus died on the cross “for me,” and that risen, he lives “with me and in me.”

“Entrusting myself to the power of his forgiveness, letting myself be led by the hand by him, I can get out of the quicksand of pride and sin, of lies and sadness, of selfishness and every false certainty, to know and live the richness of his love,” he said.

Benedict XVI contended that the call to conversion has particular urgency today, on the final day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

“Of course we Christians have not yet achieved the goal of full unity, but if we let ourselves be continually converted by the Lord Jesus, we will certainly arrive there,” he affirmed. “May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the one, holy Church, obtain for us the gift of a true conversion, so that the desire of Christ, ‘ut unum sint,’ be realized.”

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