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Church unity will come 'in God's time, not ours,' Pope says

Catholic World News - January 26, 2012

At an ecumenical service closing the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Pope Benedict XVI called for both patience and perseverance in ecumenical work.

Presiding at a Vespers service on Wednesday evening, January 25, the Pope compared the quest for Church unity with the conversion of St. Paul. “This transformation was not the fruit of long inner reflection nor of individual effort,” he said. “It was, first and foremost, the grace of God working in its mysterious ways.”

Church unity too will come when it is God’s will, the Pope said. Therefore the key to ecumenical progress is prayer, combined with a determination to be guided by God’s will. Success will come when we are “conformed to the image of Christ,” the Pontiff said.

While the realization of full Christian unity will be a great victory, the Holy Father cautioned that Christians have a special vision of victory, seeing it not as a sudden success but as a “process of transformation and development in goodness. It comes about in God's times, not ours.”

The Pope made his remarks in a homily during the Vespers service that was celebrated at the Roman basilica of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls. The service was attended by ecumenical officials including representatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Patriarchate of Moscow, and the Anglican communion.

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  • Posted by: koinonia - Jan. 26, 2012 7:13 PM ET USA

    I hope no offense is taken by those "separated brethren." The conversion of St. Paul was violent. It is true that the working of God's grace can certainly be violent at times. Two quotes from Flannery O'Connor. “It's easier to bleed than sweat, Mr. Motes" and “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.”

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