The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which is celebrated in the Northern Hemisphere, on January 18 – 25, offers an opportunity to highlight not only many events that are taking place around the world, but also the daily dialogue of life among ordinary Christians, aroused by Chiara Lubich's charism.
“The theme chosen for the 2017 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is: “Reconciliation: The love of Christ compels us” (2 Cor 5:14). The Week was called for and organized by up to the most important organizations involved in ecumenism, including the Ecumenical Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity: It was a propitious choice, especially after the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reform when many leading representatives of the Lutheran World Federation and Pope Francis gathered around the same altar in prayer at the Cathedral of Lund in Sweden.
Alongside such highly significant ecumenical gestures another ecumenism has been spreading that could be called the ecumenism of the people. It is comprised of initiatives by the faithful of different confessions who want to recognize one another more and more as brothers and sisters. It is made up of small gestures that, thanks to the Holy Spirit, are already spreading in many places of the world. They show how far the irresistible journey of unity has come. We present a few examples from Latin America.
“Many of us from the Focolare Movement in Peru had established friendships with the faithful of other Churches. Now, ever since an ecumenical group was begun in the Diocese of Arequipa, we have been collaborating with them in organizing the Week of Prayer. There will be daily events in several of the different Churches that visit the focolare regularly. Our centre was chosen for the final event of the Week of Prayer, which will include Catholic bishops, Lutheran pastors, Anglicans, Evangelicals and Pentecostals. Every month we attend an ecumenical breakfast at the YMCA, and a young Evangelical from a city in the north, with the permission of his Pastor, is attending a course of formation in the Focolare town of Loppiano, Italy.”
The focolare community in Brazil reports: “We have relationships with Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians and Seventh Day Adventists that are truly significant. Sometimes we meet to dialogue about specific topics as we did at a conference held last August at Mariapolis Ginetta in san Paolo where we discussed the topic of peace.”
“Because of our friendship with Methodists and Waldensians in Buenos Aires, Argentina, we set up on the square an ecumenical Nativity Scene that had been created by the children. It was visited by over a hundred and fifty people. It concluded with a moment of prayer with lit candles as a sign that each one of us can bring the light of Christmas into our own world.”
From Venezuela: “Our sharing in the various celebrations of the Week of Prayer is an opportunity to deepen friendships that have existed for many years and to make new contacts. These friendships do not end when the celebration ends – on the contrary! The acquaintances most often lead to concrete assistance projects that we do together.”
In conclusion, from Lima, Peru: “Following the ruinous floods on the outskirts, several young people from the Focolare and Methodist Church went to shovel away the mud that had covered the homes of so many humble folk. It was hard work, but we were all so happy to bring our love concretely to those families, to recognize that they are our brothers and sisters, and that we are also brothers and sisters.”
Compiled by Anna Friso