VATICAN CITY, 22 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which runs from 18 to 25 January, was the theme for the Pope's reflections before praying the Angelus this morning, as he invited the faithful "to join the prayer which Jesus addressed to the Father on the eve of His Passion: 'That they may all be one, so that the world may believe'".
The theme of the texts for this year's Week of Prayer has been taken from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians: "We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ". The Pope explained how "we are all called to see Christ's victory over sin and death - that is, His Resurrection - as an event which radically transforms those who believe in Him and opens their way to incorruptible and immortal life. Recognising and welcoming the transforming power of faith in Jesus Christ supports Christians in their search for full unity among themselves".
Benedict XVI affirmed that "our search for unity will be realistic if change first comes about within us, if we let God act, if we allow ourselves to be transformed in the image of Christ, if we enter into new life in Christ Who is the true victory. The visible unity of all Christians always comes from on high, from God; it requires humility to recognise our weakness and to accept the gift. However, to use a phrase often repeated by Blessed Pope John Paul II, each gift is also a task. And so the unity that comes from God requires a daily commitment on our part to open ourselves to one another in charity. ... The time we dedicate to prayer for the full communion of Christ's disciples will give us a deeper understanding of how we will be transformed by His victory, by the power of His Resurrection".
In concluding the Pope recalled how the Week of Prayer will conclude this Wednesday with the celebration of Vespers in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls for the Feast of the Conversion of the Apostle Paul. The event will be attended by representatives from other Churches and Christian communities, he said, "and together we will renew our prayer to the Lord, source of unity".
After the Angelus prayer, Benedict XVI expressed his best wishes for a happy New Year to countries in the Far East which are celebrating the new lunar year. "In the present global economic and social crisis, my hope for those peoples is that the new year may be marked by justice and peace, and bring relief to the suffering. My particular wish is that the young, with their enthusiasm and ideals, may offer a new hope to the world".
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