January 18-25 marks the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. On this week, Christians worldwide make solemn and sincere prayers seeking Lord Jesus Christ's mercy and inspiration to help attain the long-inspired Christian unity.
Over the past years, the Catholic Church left no stone unturned in its quest for the attainment of genuine Christian unity. This unity has always been the dream of all Christians, and the urgency of its attainment is not a matter of courtesy, but a duty or rather an exigent need.
The Holy Bible includes a glaring verse calling for unity. It states, “There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope when you were called — one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6)
Based on this verse, His Holiness Pope Francis is going to Iraq to give hope to all the Christians regardless of their denominations. This step reflects the true message of Christianity where all Christians are the flock of the Lord and the successor of St. Peter, namely His Holiness Pope Francis, who is taking "a divine trip" designed to help the helpless and to map out a bright future for all the depressed.
The Catholic Church had earlier embarked on Christian unity with the establishment of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, whose origins are associated with the Second Vatican Council which met intermittently from 1962 to 1965. It is a pontifical council whose main objections are developing dialogue and collaboration with the other churches and world communions, in addition to promoting within the Catholic Church an authentic ecumenical spirit according to the conciliar decree Unitatis Redintegratio.
In a statement by His Holiness Pope Francis, he earlier said, “The Lord asks us for unity; our world, torn apart by all too many divisions that affect the most vulnerable, begs for unity.”
The unstinting efforts to attain unity was evident during the first meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill, patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, in February 2016, where they issued the Joint Declaration known as the Havana Declaration. It included 30 points containing a joint call by the two church primates for an end to the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and to wars in the region. They expressed their hope that the meeting might contribute to the re-establishment of Christian unity between the two churches.
In 2014, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and His Holiness Pope Francis crossed a fifty-year milestone by continuing the legacy of their predecessors Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras when they signed a Joint Declaration affirming their commitment to seek unity between their respective ecclesial bodies. Moreover, they expressed their profound concern for the situation of Christians in the Middle East and for their fundamental right to remain full citizens of their homelands.
This is the optimum time to restore the brightness of Christian unity--particularly at the current time of difficulties and hardships which the Christians are encountering--by seeking the help of Blessed Mary and the love of Lord Jesus Christ.
May the year 2021 witness the emergence of Christian unity which will help restore the beauty of humanity.