Pope celebrates ecumenical Vespers

2013-01-26 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI presided over an ecumenical Vespers service on Friday evening in the Basilica of St Paul outside the Walls. The liturgy marked the close of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity – an annual effort of prayer, dialogue and action begun by the Catholic convert, priest and founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, Fr. Paul Wattson, in 1908. In his homily, the Holy Father spoke of the threats that contemporary societies are facing, and the challenges they pose to the cause of the Gospel. “In today's society,” he said, “it seems that the Christian message is less and less a presence in personal and community life, and this is a challenge for all the Churches and Ecclesial Communities.” He went on to speak of unity as itself a privileged means and even almost a prerequisite for a more efficacious evangelization, both of those who have never heard the Good News, and of those who have lost touch with its healing and saving power. Pope Benedict said, “The scandal of division that undermines missionary activity was the impulse under which began the ecumenical movement that we know today. The full and visible communion among Christians is to be understood, in fact, as a fundamental characteristic of ever clearer witness. While we are on the path towards full unity, it is necessary that all Christ’s disciples pursue practical cooperation for the sake of passing on the faith to the contemporary world. “Today,” he said, “there is a great need for reconciliation, dialogue and mutual understanding,” for a stronger presence in the contemporary culture. Listen: