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Christ cannot be divided

· Pope Francis concludes the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in the Basilica of St Paul's-Outside-the-Walls ·

Greeting the representatives of various Christian denominations one by one, Pope Francis concluded the ecumenical celebration of Vespers on Saturday afternoon, 25 January, in the Basilica of St Paul's-Outside-the-Walls. Joining him in this gesture of brotherhood and friendship was the Orthodox Archbishop Gennadios Zervos, Metropolitan of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople to Italy and Malta and Exarch of Southern Europe, and David Moxon, the Archbishop of Canterbury's representative to the Holy See, and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome.

 The Pope prayed with them before the tomb of St Paul at the beginning of the celebration. Assisting him in the recitation of second Vespers – on the Solemnity of the Conversion of St Paul and the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity – were Cardinal James Michael Harvey, archpriest of the basilica, and his predecessor Cardinal Francesco Monterisi.

Sixteen other cardinals were present, including Angelo Sodano, the Dean of the College of Cardinals and Agostino Vallini, Vicar General of Rome. A number of archbishops and bishops also attended, among them Archbishop Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State; Archbishop Angelo Becciu, Substitute of the Secretariat of State; and Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Prefect of the Pontifical Household. At the conclusion of Vespers, on behalf of President Cardinal Kurt Koch, who was unable to attend, Bishop Brian Farrell, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, thanked Pope Francis for his attention to ecumenical dialogue. He remarked on how the gift of unity requires conversion from all people, avoiding particularism and classifications. Also present were members and officers of the ecumenical dicastery, with under secretary Msgr Andrea Palmieri, 30 students from the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, and many of the Orthodox and Eastern rite youth who are studying in Rome. Welcoming the Pope and accompanying him in the celebration was Fr Edmund Power, the Abbot of the Basilica, with other Benedictine monks.

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