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Posted January 04, 2011 in The Pope's Corner:
The Challenge of Ecumenism

by Pope John Paul II.

The call for Christian unity made by the Second Vatican Ecumenical council with such impassioned commitment is finding an … echo in the hearts of believers….

Believers in Christ, united in following in the footsteps of the martyrs, cannot remain divided. If they wish truly and effectively to oppose the world’s tendency to reduce to powerlessness the mystery of the Redemption, they must profess together the same truth about the Cross….

No one is unaware of the challenge which this poses to believers. They cannot fail to meet this challenge.

Indeed, how could they refuse to do everything possible, with God’s help, to overcome obstacles and prejudices which thwart the proclamation of the Gospel of salvation in the Cross of Jesus, the one Redeemer of every individual?

I thank the Lord that he has led us to make progress along the path of unity and communion between Christians, a path difficult but so full of joy. Interconfessional dialogues at the theological level have produced positive and tangible results: this encourages us to move forward.

Nevertheless, besides the doctrinal differences needing to be resolved, Christians cannot underestimate the burden of long-standing misgivings inherited from the past and of mutual misunderstandings and prejudices.

Complacency, indifference, and insufficient knowledge of one another often make this situation worse.

Consequently, the commitment to ecumenism must be based upon conversion of hearts and prayer, which will lead to the necessary purification of past memories.

With the grace of the Holy Spirit, the Lord’s disciples, inspired by love, by the power of the truth, and by a sincere desire for mutual forgiveness and reconciliation, are called to re-examine together their painful past and the hurt which that past regrettably continues to provoke even today.

All together they are invited by the ever-fresh power of the Gospel to acknowledge with sincere and total objectivity the mistakes made and the contingent factors at work at the origins of their deplorable divisions.

What is needed is a calm, clear-sighted, and truthful vision of things, a vision enlivened by Divine Mercy and capable of freeing people’s minds and of inspiring in everyone a renewed willingness, precisely with a view to proclaiming the Gospel to the men and women of every people and nation.

Excerpted from Ut Unum Sint, the encyclical on Christian Unity, (1995), #1.

 

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