The Pope of Christian Unity Connects New Evangelization and Healing the Divisions in the Body of Christ. Do We
progress toward some form of communion between Eastern and Western Christianity which could make the Third Millennium a millennium of communion.
He has championed the re-christianizing of Europe and passionately promoted the New Evangelization of the Church - even establishing a new Pontifical Council on the New Evangelization. He has been a champion of the New Ecclesial movements and helped to ensure that they are rooted in the heart of the Church and received as gift for the missionary work of the Church in this hour.
He has doggedly defended the Christian roots of the West and defended religious freedom as a fundamental human right. He has engaged the Islamic world with great charity and courage on the ground of dialogue in truth. He began the "Courts of the Gentiles" outreach engaging atheists and agnostics. Clearly, this is a missionary Pope.
I remember that day, April 20, 2005, when the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI gave his first message at the end of a Mass he had concelebrated with the members of the College of Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel. He signaled his mission:
"Nourished and sustained by the Eucharist, Catholics cannot but feel encouraged to strive for the full unity for which Christ expressed so ardent a hope in the Upper Room. The Successor of Peter knows that he must make himself especially responsible for his Divine Master's supreme aspiration. Indeed, he is entrusted with the task of strengthening his brethren (cf. Luke 22: 32).
"With full awareness, therefore, at the beginning of his ministry in the Church of Rome which Peter bathed in his blood, Peter's current Successor takes on as his primary task the duty to work tirelessly to rebuild the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers. This is his ambition, his impelling duty."
The authentic ecumenical mission of restoring the full and visible unity of the Church has been the beating heart of Pope Benedict's years of service in the Chair of St Peter. That is because it reflects Heart of the Lord. "I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me." (John 17: 20, 21)
Catholics speak of our Christian friends in other Christian communities who have been validly baptized in accordance with a Trinitarian formula as already being in "imperfect communion" with the One Church. This is why Catholics do not "re-baptize" a Christian from another community who comes into the Catholic Church. We speak of them as coming into "full communion" because they are already joined to the one Church in an "imperfect" or incomplete communion.
The Church is God's Plan for the whole human race. Jesus came to found the Church and begin the New Creation. It is a communion from above into which we enter. It is His Body. He is the Head and we are the members. Through our Baptism the Church becomes our home, our mother, the place in which we now live our lives in Christ.
To perceive and live this reality requires a continuing and dynamic conversion brought about by grace, which is mediated to us through the Sacraments and, most especially through our Eucharistic communion. We are sons and daughters of the Church. In living our lives within her we are enlisted in the mission of carrying forward in time the continuing work of Jesus Christ.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, citing patristic sources, states: "To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son's Church. The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation. The Church is "the world reconciled." She is that bark which "in the full sail of the Lord's cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world." According to another image dear to the Church Fathers, she is prefigured by Noah's ark, which alone saves from the flood." (#895)
To this Church has been entrusted the Sacraments (Mysteries), the Word of God, and the gift of a Teaching Office - Magisterium - through which Jesus Christ continues to speak through the Holy Spirit. The Church is not an optional "extra" that we add on to our lives, she is our life and we live our lives now in Christ.
From Christ's wounded side, the Church was birthed at the tree of Calvary, the altar of the new world. Through faith we are invited into this mystery and by grace we come to more fully comprehend and live it as we respond to the ongoing call to conversion and newness of life.
Pope Benedict XVI has remained faithful to the conviction he expressed on the day of his first allocution. It is his 'Impelling Duty to work toward the rebuilding of the full and visible unity of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church."
He is fulfilling ...
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Unity, ecumenism, Pope of Christian unity, New Evangelization, communion, Pope Benedict XVI, John 17, Deacon Keith Fournier
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