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Prayer is best approach to Christian unity, Pope tells audience

Catholic World News - January 20, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI devoted his regular weekly audience to a plea for all the faithful to join in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The unity of the Church, he remarked, is “first and foremost a gift from God,” for which all Christians should pray.

“In Christ, the distant God becomes close,” the Pope told his audience. Christians have a responsibility to bear witness to that truth, and bring others closer to God. However, he continued, “we can only be witnesses of Christ by knowing Him personally.” To know Christ is to honor His prayer for union among his followers.

Pope Benedict observed that in the years since Vatican II the ecumenical movement has “forged fraternal relations with all the churches of the East and ecclesial communities of the West.” In the ensuing dialogue, theological concerns have been primary, he said, and in particular the dialogue with Orthodox churches has rightly centered on the role of the papacy.

"Ecumenical work is not a linear process,” the Pope said, explaining that old difficulties recede but new differences often arise. “For this reason we must always be willing to accept a process of purification,” he said, returning to his opening theme that the best approach to Christian unity is through prayer.

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