.- Pope Benedict XVI received this morning a delegation from the Christian World Communions, an organization comprised of leaders from several Christian denominations who meet to encourage ecumenism. The Successor of Peter reminded the group that the Holy Sprit will continue to guide and strengthen Christians in overcoming their human weaknesses and bringing all Christians back to unity.
The Holy Father noted the theme of the group’s meeting, “Visions of Christian Unity,” and encouraged them in their goals. “I am glad to meet all of you here today, and to encourage you in your work,” the Pope said. “Every step towards Christian unity serves to proclaim the Gospel, and is made possible by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ who prayed that his disciples might be one, ‘so that the world may believe’ (Jn 17:21).”
“It is clear to us all that today’s world is in need of a new evangelization, a fresh accounting on the part of Christians for the hope that is in them (cf. 1 Pet 3:15). Yet those who profess that Jesus Christ is Lord are tragically divided and cannot always give a consistent common witness,” Pope Benedict lamented. “Herein lies an enormous responsibility for us all.”
“However daunting the journey,” the Holy Father continued, “we must not lose sight of the final goal: full visible communion in Christ and in the Church.”
Pope Benedict continued, noting the difficult path of Christian unity. “We may feel discouraged when progress is slow, but there is too much at stake to turn back,” he said. “On the contrary, there are good reasons to forge ahead, as my predecessor Pope John Paul II pointed out in his Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint on the Catholic Church’s ecumenical commitment, where he speaks of brotherhood rediscovered and greater solidarity in the service of humanity (41ff.).”
“The Apostle assures us that ‘the Spirit helps us in our weakness’ (Rom 8:26),” Pope Benedict noted. “Though there are many obstacles still to be overcome, we firmly believe that the Holy Spirit is ever present and will guide us along the right path.”
“For decades the Conference of Secretaries of Christian World Communions has provided a forum for fruitful contacts between the various ecclesial communities,” the Pope noted, mentioning how their Conference of Secretaries, “continues to grapple with important questions of its identity and its specific role in the ecumenical movement. Let us pray that such reflection will bring fresh insight regarding the perennial ecumenical question of ‘reception’ (cf. ibid., 80f.) and that it will help to strengthen the common witness so necessary today.”
“Let us continue our journey with patience and determination as we offer all our efforts to God, ‘through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever’ (Rom 16:27).”