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Monday, January 21, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 20 JAN 2008 (VIS) - Shortly before midday today, the Pope appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the 200,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square and its surroundings.

  In remarks before the Marian prayer, Benedict XVI mentioned the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity during which Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, "aware that their divisions represent an obstacle to their acceptance of the Gospel, together implore the Lord, even more intensely, for the gift of full communion".

  The Holy Father recalled how the initiative began a hundred years ago when Fr. Paul Wattson suggested an "Octave" of prayer for the unity of all Christ's disciples, and he greeted some of the priest's followers, the Friars and Sisters of the Atonement, who were present in St. Peter's Square.

  "We all", said the Pope, "have the duty to pray and to act in order to overcome the divisions between Christians, and to respond to Christ's express wish 'Ut unum sint'. Prayer, conversion of hearts and the strengthening of spiritual bonds of communion represent the essence of this spiritual movement which we hope may soon lead Christ's disciples to the joint celebration of the Eucharist, the expression of their full unity".

  Mentioning the theme of this year's Week, "pray without ceasing", taken from St. Paul's Letter to the Thessalonians, the Holy Father explained how the Apostle had sought to show that "new life in Christ and in the Holy Spirit" gives each of us "the capacity to overcome all forms of selfishness and to live together in peace", as well as "willingly to lift the burdens and suffering of others. ... The Church's evangelising mission follows the path of ecumenism, the path of the unity of faith, of evangelical witness and of true fraternity".

  Benedict XVI concluded by recalling that on Friday, 25 January, he will close the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in a ceremony at the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, and he invited Romans and pilgrims to participate in the event.
ANG/CHRISTIAN UNITY/...                    VIS 20080121 (350)

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