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Pope explains 4 keys to ecumenical work

Catholic World News - January 19, 2011

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was the theme of the weekly public audience by Pope Benedict XVI on January 19, with the Holy Father underlining “the providential fact that prayer is at the center of the journey to unity.”

“We do not 'construct' unity,” the Pope explained. “God 'constructs' it, it comes from Him, from the mystery of the Trinity.” Pope Benedict went on to observe that the four “pillars for the life of all Christians communities” are mentioned in one phrase from the Acts of the Apostles (2:42 ): “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

Regarding teaching, the Pope said that “even today, the community of believers recognizes the norms of its own faith in that reference to the teaching of the apostles.” Despite doctrinal differences, he said, there must be a fundamental understanding that unity can only be built on “the depositum fidei handed down to us by the apostles.”

As for fellowship, the Pope continued, ecumenical work is necessarily marked by “a history of fraternity, of cooperation, and of human and spiritual sharing.”

Pope Benedict noted that “the breaking of the bread,” with its reference to the Eucharist, marks “the pinnacle of our union with God and, therefore, it also represents the completeness of the unity of Christ's disciples, full communion.” The fact that not all Christians can share communion, he said, is a source of sadness that “gives a penitential dimension to our prayers” and a goal toward which we must strive.

The final characteristic of apostolic activity, prayer, “means being ready for forgiveness and reconciliation.” All Christians must beg God for a restoration of full unity, he said. “He must still help us a lot because without Him, alone—without ‘abiding in Him,’ we can do nothing.”

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