Christian unity requires learning from each other, pope says

By Cindy Wooden

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Divided Christians need to recognize the gifts God has given to other communities and learn from them “without waiting for the others to learn first,” Pope Francis said.

Leading an ecumenical evening prayer service Jan. 25 for the close of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Pope Francis said Christians must overcome the “temptations of self-absorption that prevent us from perceiving how the Holy Spirit is at work outside our familiar surroundings,” including in the lives of other Christian communities.The Vatican’s Sistine Chapel Choir and the Anglican Westminster Abbey Choir sang at the service at Rome’s Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

Pope Francis walked to the tomb of St. Paul, under the basilica’s main altar, and prayed there with Orthodox Metropolitan Gennadios of Italy, the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and with Anglican Archbishop David Moxon, the representative of the archbishop of Canterbury.

At the end of the service, the two took turns with Pope Francis in reading segments of the solemn blessing and in blessing the congregation with the sign of the cross.

In his homily, Pope Francis said St. Paul, who was persecuting the Christians, went from being a person who trusted “his own ability to observe the law strictly” to conversion and “cleaving with his whole being to the gracious and unmerited love of God: to Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.”

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