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Imitate Christ to restore Church unity, Pope urges ecumenical assembly

January 27, 2014

As the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity came to a close, Pope Francis reminded an ecumenical congregation that "we may may not regard divisions in the Church as something natural."

Preaching at the Roman basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, the Pope cited the words of Vatican II in decrying divisions among the followers of Christ: "Such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the sacred cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature." He reminded his listeners that St. Paul, in his letter to the early Christian community at Corinth, had condemned divisions of all sort. "Paul could not even praise those who claimed to belong to Christ, since they were using the name of the one Savior to set themselves apart from their other brothers and sisters within the community."

?"The communion for which the Apostle pleads, however, cannot be the fruit of human strategies," the Pope said. The restoration of unity, he said, will come only conformity to Jesus Christ, "to his complete and confident surrender into the hands of the Father, to his radical self-emptying for love of humanity. Christ alone can be the principle, the cause and the driving force behind our unity."


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