January 18-25 is a week to always be marked with hope and nonstop prayers seeking divine intercession to attain the long-aspired wish, namely Christian unity.
It is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that is marked every year with strong devotion, solemn and sincere prayers to the Mother of the Church, Blessed Mary, and to Lord Jesus Christ seeking divine help to bring about the desired unity which is the hope of billions of Christians worldwide.
In his catechesis at the General Audience on January 20, Pope Francis reflected on Lord Jesus’ invitation to overcome discord and sow reconciliation. He also reminded Christians that "unity is achieved only with the grace of God, and not through our own force of will."
Hoping that unity might prevail over conflicts, he called on Christians to pursue the path of visible unity, and recalled the Holy Bible's verse “That they may all be one.” (John 17:21).
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)
The Catholic Church has continuously embarked on the quest for 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 of an authentic ecumenical spirit according to the conciliar decree Unitatis Redintegratio.
In an earlier statement by His Holiness Pope Francis, he 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 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.
With His Holiness Pope Francis going to Iraq in March 2021, he will give hope to all the Christians regardless of their denominations that Lord Jesus is with them all the time and the He wants them to be united seeking his mercy, grace and help. The Pope will reflect on 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.
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. Our Lord is the focus of all Christians. He serves as the blessed cornerstone for Christian unity. At any rate, Christian unity will definitely be attained, for Jesus Christ promised its attainment when he addressed Saint Peter saying, " And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)
We join all the Christian masses worldwide imploring divine mercy to attain urgently needed Christian unity which will definitely restore the beauty of humanity.