Pope Benedict XVI said that Christian unity can be achieved only through personal conversions rooted in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“We are called to contemplate the victory of Christ over sin and death, that his resurrection is an event that transforms those who believe in him and opens them up to them a incorruptible and immortal life,” said the Pope during his Sunday Angelus address from the window of his Apostolic Palace on Jan 22.
He told the pilgrims gathered in St. Peters Square to “recognize and accept the transforming power of faith in Jesus Christ that sustains Christians also in the search for full unity among themselves.”
The Pope’s comments come in the middle of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which runs from Jan. 18-25. It is being marked by over 300 churches and Christian communities around the world.
Pope Benedict paid particular attention to the words of St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians, which state that “we will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The phrase was chosen as the motto for this year’s Christian Unity Week by the Polish Ecumenical Council.
“Poland has known a long history of courageous struggles against various adversities and has repeatedly shown great determination, animated by faith,” the Pope observed.
“Over the centuries, Polish Christians have instinctively perceived a spiritual dimension in their desire for freedom,” and have realized that “true victory can only come in accompanied by a profound inner transformation.”
The experience of the Polish nation should illustrate to everybody, the Pope suggested, that “our search for unity can be conducted in a realistic manner if change occurs primarily within ourselves.”
Christian unity can be more readily achieved if “we allow God to act, if we let ourselves be transformed in the image of Christ, if we enter into new life in Christ, which is the real victory,” he said.
The “visible unity,” of all Christians “is always a work that comes from above, from God, by asking for the humility to recognize our weakness and to accept the gift.”
The Pope then reminded pilgrims of the words of his predecessor, Blessed Pope John Paul II, who used to say that “every gift also becomes a commitment.”
Thus, he added, “our daily commitment is to be open to one another in charity.”
The Pope concluded by looking forward to the Vespers of the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul which he will preside over at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls on Jan. 25. There he will be joined by the leaders of numerous other Christian Churches and communities.