ROME, JAN. 25, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Though Christians are still far from the unity that Jesus prayed for at the Last Supper, resignation and pessimism are a lack of trust in the Holy Spirit's power, says Benedict XVI.
The Pope affirmed this today as he closed the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with a service at St. Paul's Outside the Walls. Today's feast of the Conversion of St. Paul brought the prayer week to a close.
The Holy Father called the faithful to gratitude, since the ecumenical movement over the last few decades has "taken significant steps forward," such that there is "encouraging convergence and consent on varied points," as well as "mutual esteem and respect" and "concrete collaboration."
"We are well aware, however, that we are still far from that unity for which Christ prayed and which we find reflected in the portrait of the first community of Jerusalem," the Pontiff acknowledged. His reference to Jerusalem alluded to the theme for this year's week of prayer, which was prepared by the Church of Jerusalem and pointed to the community of the first Christians.
Benedict XVI affirmed that the unity Christ desires is not only at the level of structures, but also in the confession of one faith and the common celebration of worship.
"The search for the re-establishment of unity among divided Christians cannot therefore be reduced to a recognition of the reciprocal differences and to the obtaining of a peaceful coexistence," he said. "What we long for is that unity for which Christ himself prayed and which by its nature is manifested in the communion of the faith, of the sacraments, of the ministry.
"The path toward this unity must be seen as a moral imperative, response to a precise call of the Lord."
In this light, the Pope asserted, "the temptation must be overcome to resignation and pessimism, which is lack of trust in the power of the Holy Spirit."
"Our duty," he said, "is to continue passionately on the path toward this goal with a serious and rigorous dialogue to deepen the common theological, liturgical and spiritual patrimony; with reciprocal knowledge, with the ecumenical formation of the new generations and, above all, with conversion of heart and prayer."
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