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Rome Reports

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Pope Francis kicks off Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins this Saturday. It is celebrated by the world's 2.4 billion Christians.

Throughout the week, Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Anglicans and members of all Christian denominations reflect on the elements they have in common, not on those that separate them.

The pope spoke about it during his meeting with representatives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, who make a pilgrimage to Rome each year around this time.

The community of all the baptized is not a mere 'standing beside one another,' and certainly not a 'standing against one another,' but wants to become an ever fuller 'standing together.' Spiritual ecumenism and ecumenical dialogue serve to deepen this 'standing together.'

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was established in 1908 by Episcopalian Paul Watson.

In 1968, Catholics officially joined the initiative.

Each year, a different Christian community prepares a prayer. This year, it was written by Christians from Malta. It's called “They showed us unusual kindness.” These were the words St. Paul used upon arriving to the island after a shipwreck.

Pope Francis will conclude the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity next Saturday, with an ecumenical prayer at the tomb of St. Paul, in Rome.