Ecumenism of blood
· At the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity the Pope celebrates Mass at St Paul's and recalls the martyrs of today ·
The memory of the “the martyrs of today”, who “are witnesses to Jesus Christ”, and “are persecuted and killed because they are Christians”, characterized the celebration of Second Vespers at which the Pope presided on Sunday afternoon, 25 January, in the Basilica of St Paul's Outside-the-Walls. Francis invited those present to pray for all the victims of indiscriminate violence. “Those who persecute them make no distinction between the religious communities to which they belong”. “This”, he said, “is the ecumenism of blood”.
During his homily, the Pontiff also recalled that “unity grows along the way; it never stands still”, explaining that he is convinced that it “will not be the fruit of subtle theoretical discussions in which each party tries to convince the other of the soundness of their opinions”. Rather it is an experience of encounter “under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who harmonizes diversities, overcomes conflicts, reconciles differences”. Therefore, he affirmed, “we need to stop being self-enclosed, exclusive, and bent on imposing a uniformity based on merely human calculations”. The shared commitment to proclaiming the Gospel “enables us to overcome proselytism and competition in all their forms”. Everyone, he said, must feel the call to serve the one Gospel.
Earlier in the day, the Pope prayed the Angelus with the faithful in St Peter's Square. Underlining the necessity for “commitment to full unity of all Christians”, he recalled that “the devil is father of all division, he is always divisive and always causes war. He does so much evil”. At the end of the prayer, the Pontiff expressed his concern for the fighting in Ukraine. “As I assure you of my prayers for all who suffer,” he said, “I renew a heartfelt appeal for a resumption in dialogue and an end to all hostilities”. The Pope's thoughts also went to those sick with leprosy, calling for solidarity in removing “the causes of the disease, that is, living conditions unworthy of man”.
St. Peter’s Square
Jan. 23, 2019
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