United States

Church in the United States prays for Christian unity

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will take place from January 18-25. The theme for 2024 is: "You shall love the Lord your God... and your neighbor as yourself".

Gonzalo Meza-January 17, 2024-Reading time: 2 minutes

Pope Francis with Metropolitan Orthodox Archbishop Polykarpos, the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury (CNS photo / Vatican Media).

From January 18 to 25, the Week of Prayer for the Unit of Christians. The theme for 2024 is: "Love the Lord your God... and your neighbor as yourself" (Lk 10:27). The materials and theme were developed by an ecumenical team from Burkina Faso, facilitated by the "Chemin Neuf" community. The Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches, who organize the Week of Prayer, participated in its elaboration. 

After holding democratic elections in 2015, Burkina Faso suffered two successive military coups in 2022 in which the constitution was suspended and the legislative assembly was dissolved. Burkina Faso's current environment is marked by violence caused by militant Islamist groups. This situation has left more than three thousand people dead and two million internally forcibly displaced. This is why the theme for the commemoration of the 2024 Week of Prayer calls for unity, charity, mercy and justice, not only in Burkina Faso but in the world.

Celebrations in Rome and the United States

In Rome, the Holy Father will preside at the Second Vespers of the Solemnity of the Conversion of St. Paul in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls on January 25. In the United States, various dioceses will organize ecumenical ceremonies for Christian unity; for example, in the Archdiocese of San Francisco Msgr. Salvatore Cordileone and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Gerasimos will lead solemn vespers on January 25; likewise, the Diocese of Scranton in Pennsylvania will hold an ecumenical prayer ceremony, led by Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, who is also chairman of the Committee on Ecumenical Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Referring to the 2024 Week of Prayer, Bishop Bambera called on Catholics and Christians of various denominations to unite in praying for peace and an end to what he called "the sad divisions that prevent us from fully loving one another as Christ loves us all." The prelate added that "given the paralyzing nature of polarization and the tragedy of war that have spread throughout our world, the importance of living the love of Christ in our own circumstances cannot be overemphasized," the prelate said.

The origin of the initiative

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity began in 1908 at the urging of Father Paul Watson, founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement religious order in New York State, who conceived the idea of an Octave for the end of divisions among Christians. Over time this movement spread throughout the world. Since the Second Vatican Council, this initiative has been co-organized by the World Council of Churches and the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity. On January 18, 2024, the Franciscan Friars will hold a Mass for Christian Unity at their conventual house in Garrison, New York. 

The text for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2024 offers biblical reflections, prayers and a model ecumenical celebration. The document is available free of charge in Spanish on the website of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity.

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