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Ecumenism is obligatory, Pope says

January 26, 2011

At a January 25 Vespers service closing the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Pope Benedict XVI said that ecumenical work is a “moral imperative” for all Christians.

The Holy Father reminded the congregation at the basilica of St. Paul-outside-the-Walls that Jesus prayed for unity among the faithful. That unity, he said, “cannot be reduced to recognizing our reciprocal differences and achieving peaceful coexistence.” The followers of Christ cannot be satisfied until they have achieved full communion, he said.

True Christian unity, the Pope continued, “cannot be realized only at the level of organizational structures,” but must be forged among the faithful, “confessing the one faith, celebrating divine worship in common, and keeping the fraternal harmony of the family of God.”

The Pope acknowledged that ecumenical work faces significant obstacles, and many Christians have begun to question whether progress toward unity has stalled. But in light of Christ’s command, he said, the faithful must “overcome the temptation to despondency and pessimism, which is a lack of faith in the power of the Holy Spirit.”


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