Pope Francis has reminded the faithful that “Ecumenism is not something optional”.
Speaking during the weekly General Audience, the Pope looked ahead to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that takes place from 18 to 25 January.
He noted that the annual “Week of Prayer”, on the theme “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue”, kicks off with the celebration of Vespers in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls on Friday.
“Again, this year we are called to pray so that all Christians may once again be a single family, according to God’s will ‘so that they may all be one’” he said.
Pointing out that “ecumenism is not something optional,” he said it aims “to develop a common and consistent witness that promotes true justice and support for the weakest through responses that are concrete, appropriate and effective”.
The annual “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity” is a time in which Christians are reminded of Jesus’ prayer for His disciples that “they may be one so that the world may believe” (John 17.21).
It is an occasion for Christians of different denominations to come together to pray for their unity and participate in special ecumenical celebrations and prayer services.
One reason the Pope keeps beating the unity drum is that Christian churches all over Europe are closing and being replaced by mosques. He knows as Islam continues to grow, if Christianity does not have a central voice, namely himself, it will be fragmented and lose its political clout.