During his Wednesday’s general audience, Pope John Paul recalled that this week is dedicated to prayer and reflection for Christian unity on the theme, “I leave you my peace,” and said that Christians have a responsibility in responding to the world’s yearn for peace.
Describing the theme, taken from Jesus’ words at the Last Supper, the Pope said that “in a certain way, it is a spiritual testament.”
John Paul said also that “the world yearns for peace, needs peace, today like yesterday, but it often seeks it with improper means, even to the point of resorting to force or by the balance of opposing powers.”
“In these situations man lives with a troubled heart in fear and uncertainty. Christ's peace, however, reconciles souls, purifies hearts and brings about conversion,” he added.
“The theme of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was proposed this year by a ecumenical group from the city of Aleppo, Syria,” he said, adding: “This brings to mind the pilgrimage that I had the joy of making to Damascus. That encounter still represents a sign of hope for the ecumenical path.”
“Deep spirituality is ever more necessary,” he continued, “not only for those who are directly involved in ecumenical work but for all Christians. The cause of unity concerns all believers, called to form part of the one people of those redeemed by the blood of Christ on the Cross.”
“It is heartening that the search for unity among Christians is expanding more and more thanks to opportune initiatives that interest different aspects of ecumenical commitment.”
Among the “signs of hope,” he mentioned the “increase in fraternal charity and the progress made in theological dialogue with various Churches and ecclesial communities,” which has brought about “important accords on topics which were very controversial in the past.
“Keeping in mind these positive signs, we should not be discouraged in the face of the old and new difficulties that we encounter, but we must confront them with patience and understanding, always counting on divine help.”
“The Pope concluded by assuring those present that “peace and unity among Christians, who can offer a decisive contribution so that humanity will overcome the reasons for division and conflict, comes from reciprocal charity and love. Together with prayer, dear brothers and sisters, let us feel strongly stimulated to make an effort to be authentic ‘peace workers’ in the environments in which we live.”
After the audience, a brief liturgical celebration took place during which prayers were recited for Christ's Church in the East and West, for the Pope and pastors of all Christian communities, for peace and the leaders of nations and international organizations so that their actions would be guided in solidarity, justice and respect for creation, and for those who suffer due to war, injustice and oppression.
Also, on the occasion of the memorial liturgy of St. Agnes, the Pope blessed two lambs whose wool will be used to make the palliums that will be imposed on the metropolitan archbishops on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles on June 29.