Benedict XVI: Ecumenical Cause Is Advancing

Encourages Cooperation Among Christians for Unity

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 25, 2008 ( Over the last 100 years, the Holy Spirit has been fostering growth in unity among Christians, Benedict XVI affirmed.

The Pope said this today when he received in audience members of the Joint Working Group between the World Council of Churches and the Catholic Church, in Rome to begin a new phase of work.

“The Joint Working Group, which began in 1965, has worked assiduously to strengthen the ‘dialogue of life,’ which my predecessor, Pope John Paul II, called the ‘dialogue of charity,'” Benedict XVI said, citing “Ut Unum Sint.” “This cooperation has given vivid expression to the communion already existing between Christians and has advanced the cause of ecumenical dialogue and understanding.”

The Holy Father and Reverend Doctor Samuel Kobia, the secretary-general of the World Council of Churches, along with high-level representatives of both the Catholic Church and the council, marked together the 100th anniversary of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

“The centenary of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity offers us an opportunity to thank almighty God for the fruits of the ecumenical movement, in which we can discern the presence of the Holy Spirit fostering the growth of all Christ’s followers in unity of faith, hope and love,” the Pope said. “To pray for unity is itself ‘an effective means of obtaining the grace of unity’ since it is a participation in the prayer of Jesus himself.

“When Christians pray together, ‘the goal of unity seems closer,’ for the presence of Christ in our midst fosters a profound harmony of mind and heart: We are able to look at each other in a new way, and to strengthen our resolve to overcome whatever keeps us apart.”

The Pope invited his listeners to give thanks for the progress made in communion.

“Dear friends,” he concluded, “I pray that the new Joint Working Group will be able to build on the commendable work already done, and thus open the way to ever greater cooperation, so that the Lord’s prayer ‘that they all may be one’ will be ever more fully realized in our time.”

The Joint Working Group, or experts from panels invited by the group, examine doctrinal issues, issues related to mission, justice, peace and reconciliation, ecumenical formation and youth.

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