.- Citing the reading in Sunday's liturgy from First Corinthians, Pope Benedict XVI used St. Paul's comparison of the Church to the body in his words before the Angelus. He then expressed his hope for continued progress among believers on the occasion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
In describing the Church in its unity as a body under the "head" of Christ, Pope Benedict explained that the Apostle Paul aimed to "communicate the idea of unity in the multiplicity of the charisms, which are the gifts of the Holy Spirit."
"Thanks to these the Church presents itself as a rich and vital organism, not uniform, fruit of the only Spirit that guides all to a profound unity, assuming diversity without abolishing it and realizing a harmonious whole."
The Pope mentioned that he wished to emphasize the role of the Church in maintaining the "presence of the risen Lord" during the current Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. He said, "It's really in Christ and the Spirit that the Church is one and holy, it is an intimate communion that transcends human capacity and sustains it."
"We will invoke from God the gift of the full unity of all disciples of Christ and, in particular, according to the theme of this year, we will renew the commitment to being joint witnesses to the crucified and risen Lord.
Benedict XVI reiterated the sentiment that he has expressed so often, that "The communion of Christians... makes the announcement of the Gospel more credible and effective, as affirms Jesus himself praying to the Father on the eve of his death, 'that they may all be one... that the world may believe’."
The Holy Father finished the address with a prayer for the intercession of Mary to achieve continued progress in the communion of Christians in order to "transmit the beauty of being one in the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will conclude Monday, January 25, coinciding with the feast of the conversion of St. Paul. The Pope and members of the various other Churches ecclesial communities in Rome will join together for Vespers in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-walls.