Benedict XVI welcomed members of the World Council of Churches and a delegation of Catholics at the Vatican today, thanking them for their work towards achieving Christian unity.
Speaking in English to the group, the Holy Father pointed out that the relationship between the World Council of Churches and the Catholic Church stretches back to “the time of Vatican Council II.”
“The Joint Working Group,” the Pope said, “has worked assiduously to strengthen the 'dialogue of life' which my predecessor, Pope John Paul II, called the 'dialogue of charity'. This co-operation has given vivid expression to the communion already existing between Christians and has advanced the cause of ecumenical dialogue and understanding.”
The 100th celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity", he added, "offers us an opportunity to thank Almighty God for the fruits of the ecumenical movement”.
"On this day, then, we think back with gratitude to the work of so many individuals who, over the years, have sought to spread the practice of spiritual ecumenism through common prayer, conversion of heart and growth in communion. We also give thanks for the ecumenical dialogues which have borne abundant fruit in the past century," the Pope said.
The Holy Father also highlighted the value of praying for unity, saying that prayer “is itself 'an effective means of obtaining the grace of unity', since it is a participation in the prayer of Jesus Himself. When Christians pray together, 'the goal of unity seems closer'".
Pope Benedict closed his address by counseling that the fruits of dialogue cannot be overlooked, noting that "the reception of those fruits is itself an important step in the process of promoting Christian unity….”