One of the gravest sins “that disfigure the Church’s face”is the sin “against her visible unity”, and, in particular, “the historical divisions which separated Christians and which have not yet been surmounted”. The Holy Father said this at the Angelus on Sunday, 20 January, in St Peter's Square, speaking of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that is being celebrated from 18 to 25 January on the theme “What does the Lord require of us?”, from the words of the Prophet Micah.
The Pope considers that the annual ecumenical meeting is always “an event much appreciated by believers and communities which reawakens in all the desire for and spiritual commitment to full communion”. In this regard Benedict XVI mentioned the “very important” experience of the prayer vigil, celebrated last 29 December in St Peter's Square with thousands of young people from across Europe and with the ecumenical community of Taizé: “a moment of grace in which we experienced the beauty of forming one in Christ”.
I encourage everyone to pray together so that we may achieve “what the Lord requires of us”, he said, relaunching the theme of the Week of Prayer. The theme, he explained, has been “suggested by several Christian communities in India, who invite the faithful, as brothers and sisters in Christ, to overcome every type of unjust discrimination”.
Thereupon the Pope invited the faithful to join him next Friday, 25 January, the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul the Apostle, when he will preside at Vespers in the Basilica of St Paul-Outside-the-Walls in the presence of representatives of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities. To conclude, before addressing special greetings to the different language groups present at the Marian prayer, the Pope appealed for peace, asking the faithful to pray “so that in the various wars that are, unfortunately, still going on, the vile massacre of defenceless civilians may cease, an end be put to every form of violence and the courage be found for dialogue and negotiation”.