Do we really care about Christian unity? That was the challenging question posed by of one of my colleagues this morning, as he perceived a lack of interest in ecumenical issues in the Catholic community. His observation prompted a few questions of my own. Why might some Catholics feel that ecumenism isn’t a priority? And, more to the point, why is ecumenism needed today?
Pope Benedict addressed this topic today at Vespers. The liturgy, which took place in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, marked the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul and the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Vatican Radio summarized the Holy Father’s homily:
“In today’s society,” he said, “it seems that the Christian message is less and less a presence in personal and community life, and this is a challenge for all the Churches and Ecclesial Communities.” He went on to speak of unity as itself a privileged means and even almost a prerequisite for a more efficacious evangelization, both of those who have never heard the Good News, and of those who have lost touch with its healing and saving power. Pope Benedict said, “The scandal of division that undermines missionary activity was the impulse under which began the ecumenical movement that we know today.”
The Pope makes a compelling argument for the link between ecumenism and the New Evangelization. Anyone who cares about the renewal of our culture needs to take seriously the practical and spiritual consequences of a divided body of believers.
We encourage you to pray for Christian unity as you watch our re-broadcast of today’s liturgy. Vespers will air on S+L Television tonight at 8:30 pm ET/5:30 pm PT and again at 12:30 am ET/9:30pm PT. To pray along, you can download the online booklet for the celebration, which contains the English translation of the Latin prayers.
Credit: CNS photo/Paul Haring