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Pope Says Prayer Got Ecumenical Wheels Turning

Only God Can Accomplish Union, Affirms Pontiff

ROME, JAN. 25, 2008 ( Prayer is the current that — along with the breath of the Holy Spirit — has moved the “ship of ecumenism” out of port, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope affirmed this today at the celebration of vespers in St. Paul Outside the Walls to close the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Christian leaders, such as the president of the World Council of Churches, Reverend Doctor Samuel Kobia, attended the celebration. Father James Puglisi, successor of Father Paul Wattson, the Anglican priest who began the octave of prayer for unity 100 years ago, also attended.

Recalling this year’s theme — “Pray Without Ceasing” — the Holy Father asked: “What would the ecumenical movement be without the personal and common prayer that ‘they may be one, Father, as you and I are one,’ which Jesus lifted up at the Last Supper? Where would be found the impulse of faith, charity and hope of which our search for unity has particular need today?

“The path of prayer has opened the path of the ecumenical movement as it is known today.”

The Pontiff continued: “Unity with God and with our brothers and sisters is a gift that comes from on high, that surges up form the communion of love between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and grows and is perfected in it.

“It is not within our possibilities to decide when and how this union will be fully accomplished. Only God can do this!”

Benedict XVI gave thanks to God “for the great movement of prayer that for the last 100 years has accompanied and supported believers in Christ in their search for unity. The ship of ecumenism would never have been able to leave its port if it had not been moved by this broad current of prayer and pushed by the breath of the Holy Spirit.”

The Pope concluded his address recalling that the Year of St. Paul will be inaugurated this June in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls: “May his tireless fervor in the building up of the Body of Christ in unity help us to pray ceaselessly for the full union of all Christians.”

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