After greeting a throng of some 200,000 people who came to St. Peter’s Square to prayerfully support Pope Benedict, the Holy Father turned to the subject of his Angelus address, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The Pope exhorted the faithful in his reflections to “never grow tired of praying for unity among Christians!”
During this week of prayer, Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and Protestants, "implore the Lord together, in a more intense way, for the gift of communion," the Pontiff reminded the faithful.
The Pope acknowledged the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Atonement, the "spiritual sons and daughters" of Fr. Paul Wattson, who began the initiative 100 years ago and who was dedicated entirely to the work of healing divisions between Christians.
This year's theme for the week of prayer for Christian unity, "Pray always," is a "biblical theme that is dense with significance."
The Holy Father said, "With this appeal, St Paul wanted to make it understood that new life in Christ and in the Holy Spirit brings the capacity to overcome selfishness, to live together in peace and fraternal unity, and to bear willingly the sufferings of others. We must never grow tired of praying for unity among Christians!"
He continued, "When at the last supper, Jesus prayed that "they all might be one", he had in mind the precise end, "that the world believe." The evangelical mission of the Church is thus an ecumenical walk, a journey of unity in faith, in evangelical witness and authentic fraternity."
Concluding his Angelus reflection, the Pope invited everyone to participate in solemn Vespers on January 25, the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, at the basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.