Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today’s Audience takes place during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, when the Lord’s followers are asked to reflect on the tragedy of their divisions and to pray with him "that they may all be one ... that the world may believe" (cf. Jn 17:21). The theme chosen for this year – "You are witnesses of these things" (Lk 24:48) – brings out this close bond between Christian unity and evangelization. This was a major concern of the Edinburgh Conference, which marked the beginning of the modern ecumenical movement one hundred years ago.
Today’s increasingly secularized society urgently requires a united witness to Jesus Christ grounded in a common profession of faith, as well as fraternal cooperation between separated Christians, dialogue and deeper reflection on the points of continuing divergence. During this Week I ask all of you to join me in praying for these intentions, in thanking God for the ecumenical progress made in the past year, and in asking that Christians of our time, by growing in unity, may offer an ever more convincing witness to the Risen Lord.
I extend warm greetings to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors here today, especially to the groups from Sweden, South Korea and the United States of America. In this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity it is a particular joy to welcome the members of the Continuation Committee of Ecumenism in the Twenty-first Century. Upon all of you and your families I cordially invoke God’s abundant blessings.