European bishops meeting in Genoa, Italy, have appealed to the continent’s Christians to work for a “common witness” in society.
The Presidency of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences, a group of bishops from 33 European episcopal conferences, made the appeal during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Jan. 18-25).
This year’s theme for the week is “Is Christ Divided?”.
“Is Christ divided is an invitation not to use Christ to justify our misunderstandings and our divisions,” the bishops said. “Christ is not owned by anyone, but gives himself.”
They added that the search for, and acceptance of, the Christian message “can only lead to a common witness, to the recognition and welcome of the gifts which the Lord has desired to give to each of his faithful as gifts of the whole Church.”
They went on to say that the theme for this year “is a challenge to deliver the proclamation of salvation for humanity in all its integrity.” It is a challenge, they added, not to close the figure of the God made man in representations, “which do not affect or justify our conveniences.”
The theme is a “stimulus for our evermore multi-denominational societies in Europe, for a common testimony to God’s closeness to contemporary humanity.”
Furthermore, they said “Is Christ divided” is an appeal to Europeans “not to separate out the religious dimension of their faith into the public and private spheres, and not to disdain the gift of life, by deciding alone which lives are worth living and which are not, and not allowing themselves to be guided by false delusions, but to make room for hope.”
“Christ cannot be divided is a certainty that nothing can ever divide the love God has for humanity,” they said.
The bishops closed by saying that the council “looks carefully at the situation in Syria, especially the one of the Christian communities, and joins the Holy Father in prayer for peace.”
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