Praying for unity a Christian duty—priest

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MANDALUYONG City, Dec. 1, 2014—Following the historic meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew I, who is regarded by many as the head of the Eastern Orthodox Church, a priest reminded the faithful of their “duty to pray for Christian unity”.

Vatican City – June 8, 2014: (L-R) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Pope Francis, Israeli President Shimon Peres, and Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople meet in the Vatican Gardens to pray for peace on June 8, 2014. (Photo: CNA)

“All who bear the name of Christ, therefore, are obliged to make the prayer of Christ, ‘ut unum sint’ [that they may be one], their own. Ours should be a prayerful spirit of obedience to this will of Christ,” Fr. Carlos V. Reyes told CBCP News.

‘That the world may believe’

“It is impossible to sin when one prays earnestly and sincerely. This means that the source of our words and deeds toward those who bear the name of Christ must be this prayer, ut unum sint,” he said.

The priest, who is also the executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue (ECID), pointed out that the common declaration of the Bishop of Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople renews the commitment of the Latin and Greek Churches to seek unity in truth and charity, fulfilling Christ’s wish that “all may be one, that the world may believe”.

“The resolution of theological differences is a long process that requires much patience and openness to the spirit of truth and love,” he added.

Vatican Radio reported that the Argentine pontiff and Pope Francis and the spiritual leader of the Orthodox church signed a “Joint Declaration reaffirming their desire to overcome the obstacles dividing their two Churches”.

The two leaders also deplored the terrible situation facing Christians and all who are suffering in the Middle East and called for an appropriate response from the international community, it added.

According to Reyes, the disunity of Christians has long been a scandal to the proclamation of Jesus Christ the Redeemer.

“I must admit that reading blogs and posts of Christians who argue in a polemical and harsh manner in the worldwide web provokes much pain in my soul. I pray that they may pray more and pray without ceasing as they necessarily defend the tenets of the faith.” he lamented.

‘Ecumenism of suffering’

“Defense is not offense,” the priest emphasized.

Reyes noted the document speaks on an “ecumenism of suffering”.

“From a strictly human standpoint, it is impossible for one person to share his or her personal sufferings to another. Jesus Christ, however, through his Incarnation, has in a mysterious way, united to His flesh the sufferings of each individual person,” he explained.

He stressed that Christians are “called to bear the sufferings of their brothers and sisters”.

“We cannot imagine a Middle East without Christians! Christians are the soul of the world! We have to seek solutions, other than military, that will safeguard the personal safety of our Christian brothers and sisters in the Near and Middle East,” Reyes declared, stating that the conflict in the region makes interreligious dialogue an imperative.

“We must do our share here in the Philippines. Evil is not sustainable (recall the Book of Revelations). It is like a typhoon that roars for a while but is soon spent because evil is finite. The Good is sustainable. It is like a gentle breeze that is infinite because it has the Infinite God as its source,” he added.

Reyes recently took part in a panel discussion hosted by the De La Salle University (DLSU) with the Pacific Dialogue Forum through the office of Dr. Cihangir Arslan in which the main speakers denounced religious extremism.

To read, the full text of the Joint Declaration, visit: www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-patriarch-bartholomew-sign-joint-decl. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)

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