Aide: Unity Requires More Than Tolerance

Father Lombardi Reflects on Ecumenical Week of Prayer

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 30, 2011 ( Christian unity requires much more than simple tolerance and pluralism. True “conversion” is necessary, claims the director of the Vatican press office.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi made this observation during the most recent episode of Vatican Television’s “Octava Dies.” He reflected on the admonition made by Benedict XVI during vespers at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls on Jan. 25, to conclude the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

“The search for the re-establishment of unity among the divided Christians cannot therefore be reduced to recognition of the reciprocal differences and the achievement of a peaceful coexistence,” the Pontiff said on that occasion.

Father Lombardi stressed that often “faced with the difficulties of confrontation and dialogue, we retreat to our positions and we content ourselves with avoiding tensions, politely recognizing reciprocal distances, but refusing to expose ourselves to more demanding steps, seen perhaps as a risk to one’s habits or certainties.”

“A culture of tolerance and pluralism makes this attitude natural, which many times presents itself as the most realistic and wise. But is it?” he asked

“Unity is something else,” Father Lombardi asserted.

As the Pope said, “what we yearn for is that unity for which Christ himself prayed and which, by its nature is expressed in the communion of faith, of the sacraments, of the ministry.”

In the face of “the temptation to resignation and pessimism,” Benedict XVI “invites us to revive confidence in the ‘power of the Holy Spirit’ and to ‘continue enthusiastically on our way.'»

“St. Paul falls from his horse when he meets Jesus, and his life changes. Conversion.”

“What does Christ want of us?” the Vatican spokesman asked. “Certainly not that we stay where we are.” In such a case “our ecumenical meetings would be nice scenography, and they would be a mirror of past divisions, more than seeds of the future and more credible witness to the presence of the Spirit of God.”

“One Spirit, for whom we must make room in our world permeated by hate. With realism of love,” he concluded.

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Pope’s homily at vespers:

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