Vatican City, 24 January 2015 (VIS) – At midday in the Consistory Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father met with the participants in the ecumenical colloquium of men and women religious organised by the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life, on the occasion of the Year for Consecrated Life. He highlighted that it is particularly meaningful that the meeting took place during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: “Each year this [week] reminds us that spiritual ecumenism is the soul of the ecumenical movement”. He went on to share with those present some thoughts regarding the importance of consecrated life to Christian unity.
“The wish to re-establish unity among all Christians is present naturally in all Churches, and regards both clergy and laypeople”, he began. “But religious life, which is rooted in Christ's will and the common tradition of the undivided Church, has without doubt a particular vocation in the promotion of this unity. … The search for union with God and unity within the fraternal community is proper to religious life, which thus realises in an exemplary fashion the prayer to the Lord that 'that they all may be one'”. Religious life, he continued, “shows us precisely that this unity is not the fruit of our efforts, but is a gift of the Holy Spirit, Who realises unity in diversity. It also shows us that this unity can be achieved only by journeying together, if we take the path of fraternity in love, in service, and in mutual acceptance”.
The Pontiff emphasised that there is no unity without conversion, prayer, or holiness of life. He remarked that religious life reminds us that “at the heart of every search for unity, and therefore every ecumenical effort, there is above all the conversion of the heart, that leads to asking for and the granting of forgiveness”, and that the commitment to ecumenism responds, first and foremost, to the prayer of the Lord Jesus and it is based essentially on prayer”. He added that “religious life helps us to become aware of the call addressed to baptised persons: the call to holiness of life, that is the one true path towards unity”. He concluded by expressing his gratitude for the witness to the Gospel given by men and women religious, and for their service in the cause of Christian unity.