From the Vatican Information Service:
The Week is promoted by the World Council of Churches (WCC), a worldwide fellowship of 349 Churches seeking unity, common witness and Christian service. The Catholic Church participates in this ecumenical initiative, despite not being a member of the WCC.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally celebrated from 18 to 15 January in the northern hemisphere, and around the time of Pentecost in the southern hemisphere. It brings together Christian parishes and congregations from different confessional families all over the world, who meet and pray together in special ecumenical celebrations.
Each year ecumenical partners in a particular region are asked to prepare a basic text on a biblical theme. Then an international group with WCC-sponsored (Protestant and Orthodox) and Roman Catholic participants edits this text to ensure it is linked with the search for Christian unity. The text is jointly published by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and by the WCC’s Commission on Faith and Order which also accompanies the entire production process of the text. The final material is sent to member Churches and Roman Catholic dioceses, which are invited to translate the text and contextualise it for their own use.
This year’s theme comes from St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians which promises the transformation of human life – with all its apparent dimensions of ‘triumph’ and ‘defeat’ – through the victory of Christ’s resurrection.
Following the Angelus prayer on Sunday, Benedict XVI invited the faithful, “as individuals and in communities, to participate spiritually, and where possible practically in the Week of Prayer, to ask God for the gift of full unity among the disciples of Christ”.
In the CWR feature article, “God’s Ecumenical Co-Pilot”, veteran journalist (and translator extraordinaire) Michael J. Miller profiles Cardinal Kurt Koch, who has been President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity since July 2010. Miller highlights Cardinal Koch’s recent remarks on some of the most significant changes and challenges in the Church’s ecumenical dialogue:
For example in several churches we have a new reflection on their own confessional identity. That can be a great advantage, because one must have a clear identity in order to be in dialogue. It can also happen, though, that a group distances itself somewhat from ecumenism.
A second challenge is that the actual goal of ecumenism is becoming increasingly unclear. We have various concepts of unity, but we have no common goal. And that makes it difficult. After all, we cannot act according to the motto of the [late] Viennese comedian [Helmut] Qualtinger: “Well, I don’t know where I’m going, but that way I get there sooner.” Instead we must seek anew what the real goal is. And the reason why we have no common goal is actually because each church has its own notion of the unity of its church, and therefore it is necessary for us to reflect on what the nature of the Church really is.
If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!