Pope calls for Christian unity and peace

 Before praying the Angelus on Peace Sunday with pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square, Pope John Paul reflected on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which is now underway and on the need for peace in the world. He noted that the words of Jesus: "'I leave you my peace' are the theme of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It is significant that this theme was proposed by the Churches of the Middle East where unity and peace are the most heartfelt priorities. Over the next eight days, in every part of the world, Christians of diverse denominations and traditions will gather together to pray intensely to the Lord that He will strengthen the common commitment for their full unity." "In promising His peace, Christ assured the disciples of His support in trials. And is not the lasting division between Christians a very painful trial? This is why they feel the great need to turn to their One and Only Lord, asking that He help them overcome the temptation of discouragement along the difficult path which leads to full communion. In a world thirsting for peace, it is in fact urgent for Christian communities to announce the Gospel in a unified way. It is indispensable that they witness to the divine Love that unites them, that they be bearers of joy, hope and peace, becoming leaven for all of mankind." The Holy Father said he hoped that this week of prayer "will bear copious fruits for the cause of Christian unity." After praying the Angelus, John Paul II expressed his wishes for "serenity and prosperity" for the "great peoples of the East" as they celebrate in coming days the lunar New Year. He also noted that today Rome is marking the Day of Catholic Schools, whose celebration is part of the diocesan pastoral ministry on the theme "Together with families, let us build a better society." And lastly, he greeted the Minim Sisters of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ as they mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of their institute. Yesterday morning the Pope welcomed an ecumenical delegation from Finland. He said: "In this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, I wish to express my gratitude for the ecumenical progress made between Catholics and Lutherans in the five years since the signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. A promising sign of this progress on our path to full and visible unity has been the establishment of a new dialogue group between Lutherans and Catholics in Finland and Sweden. It is my hope that Lutherans and Catholics will increasingly practise a spirituality of communion, which draws on those elements of ecclesial life which they already share and which will strengthen their fellowship in prayer and in witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Upon all of you I cordially invoke God's abundant blessings." Source: VIS

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