Pope Francis opened the “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity” on Sunday, Jan 17, calling the occasion “an important day” for everyone.
The theme of this year’s observance highlights “Jesus’ request that we abide in His love so that we might bear much fruit.”
The pontiff said the weeklong observance will conclude on January 25 with the celebration of Vespers with representative of other Churches and Christian communities in Rome.
“Let us pray together so that Jesus’ desire might be accomplished – that all might be one: unity, which is always higher that conflict,” said Pope Francis after Sunday’s Angelus prayer.
The “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity” is traditionally observed January 18-25, but in the southern hemisphere, where January is vacation time, churches find another time to celebrate it.
With over 100 years of history, the octave of prayer is a period set aside for Christians around the world to jointly pray for visible Christian unity.
A Vatican News article noted that this year’s theme was chosen to express the Christian community’s vocation to pray and work for reconciliation and unity within the Church.
The World Council of Churches, meanwhile, has invited all Christians to join online in prayer on January 25, the last day of the “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.”
“As restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic make it difficult to physically gather in many places, this global online celebration will allow us to pray together wherever we are,” said Rev. Loan Sauca, acting secretary-general of the WCC.
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