.- Before praying the midday Angelus today, the Pope reminded the thousands of faithful gathered in St Peter's Square that "the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is being held over these days.”
“It will end,” he said, “as it usually does in Rome, with the celebration of Vespers, on January 25 in the Basilica of St Paul's Outside-the-Walls.”
I will be spiritually present at that liturgy in which representatives from other Churches and Christian confessions will also participate, and which will be presided by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity."
John Paul II invited Christian communities "to experience with intensity this annual spiritual appointment which, in a certain way, gives us a pre-taste of the joy of full communion, at least in the aspiration and the choral invocation.”
Indeed, there is an ever growing awareness that unity is in the first place a gift of God, to be tirelessly implored with humility and truth."
"May Mary Most Holy, Mother of the Church,” the Pope prayed, “help us to overcome all obstacles and obtain this gift as soon as possible.”
I make a heartfelt plea to all the faithful, especially the young, to extend their ecumenical commitment throughout the year and everywhere to become instruments and witnesses of the full communion invoked by Christ at the Last Supper."
After the Marian prayer, the Holy Father recalled that today in Rome is the Day for Catholic Schools, which has as its theme "Church, family and school: together for education."
He said, "In order to renew this commitment directors, teachers, parents and students of the Catholic schools of Rome are present in St Peter's Square, together with pastoral leaders of the diocese. I greet them with affection and gratitude, and in the hope that the precious service offered by Catholic schools may always be appreciated and supported by the ecclesial and civil communities."