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Tuesday, January 17, 2012


VATICAN CITY, 17 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is due to begin tomorrow, 18 January, under the theme "We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ". The Week is promoted by the World Council of Churches (WCC), a worldwide fellowship of 349 Churches seeking unity, common witness and Christian service. The Catholic Church participates in this ecumenical initiative, despite not being a member of the WCC.

  The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally celebrated from 18 to 15 January in the northern hemisphere, and around the time of Pentecost in the southern hemisphere. It brings together Christian parishes and congregations from different confessional families all over the world, who meet and pray together in special ecumenical celebrations.

  Each year ecumenical partners in a particular region are asked to prepare a basic text on a biblical theme. Then an international group with WCC-sponsored (Protestant and Orthodox) and Roman Catholic participants edits this text to ensure it is linked with the search for Christian unity. The text is jointly published by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and by the WCC's Commission on Faith and Order which also accompanies the entire production process of the text. The final material is sent to member Churches and Roman Catholic dioceses, which are invited to translate the text and contextualise it for their own use.

  This year's theme comes from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians which promises the transformation of human life - with all its apparent dimensions of 'triumph' and 'defeat' - through the victory of Christ's resurrection.

  Following the Angelus prayer on Sunday, Benedict XVI invited the faithful, "as individuals and in communities, to participate spiritually, and where possible practically in the Week of Prayer, to ask God for the gift of full unity among the disciples of Christ".
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VATICAN CITY, 17 JAN 2012 (VIS) - Today in Italy marks the Day for Dialogue between Catholics and Jews, an initiative launched by the Italian Episcopal Conference in 1990 with the aim of increasing mutual understanding among the members of the two religions.

  In an interview with Vatican Radio Rabbi Giuseppe Laras, president emeritus of the Italian Rabbinic Assembly, explained that the aim of the Day "is to simplify and intensify Jewish-Christian dialogue. To this end, Jews and Catholics meet to reflect especially on those themes we can confront together, such as the search for peace and mutual understanding after two thousand years of misinterpretation and distressing events. Thus, both the Catholic and Jewish worlds await this Day with high expectations, because the more dialogue is consolidated the more the risk of anti-Semitism diminishes".

  Some years ago the Italian Episcopal Conference and the Italian Rabbinic Assembly agreed to dedicate the Days to the Ten Commandments, and the theme for 2012 is "Thou shalt not kill". Rabi Laras commented: "The command not to kill is vital for men and women, irrespective of their membership of one religion or the other. It is vital to respect and honour human life in all its sacredness and uniqueness. This is an important theme for our own times, in which throughout the world respect for human life is often ignored and violated".

  For his part, Fr. Gino Battaglia, director of the National Office for Ecumenism and Inter-religious Dialogue, observed that "the rich Jewish tradition, developed through millennia of studying the Law, makes a fundamental contribution. Yet the validity of this Commandment is evident, and not only in the literal sense of murder being a crime. I am thinking, for example, of the battle to abolish the death penalty, the problem of widespread violence, ... and of respect for life. In this sense, Jesus-Christian dialogue takes concrete form in its commitment to society and to the world".
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VATICAN CITY, 17 JAN 2012 (VIS) - Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. has appointed Fr. Sergio Pellini S.D.B. as director general of the Vatican Press.
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