CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Christian Unity Week marked in Hong Kong

HONG KONG (SE): The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was marked this year from January 18 to 25. The Catholic diocese hosted the official ecumenical prayer services in Hong Kong with an English-language gathering at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Wan Chai on January 20 and Cantonese-language liturgy at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on January 24.

Running under the theme, Called to Proclaim the Mighty Acts of the Lord, the initial preparation was carried out by a group from different parts of Latvia, made up of representatives from the Lutheran Church, Latvia House of Prayer for All Peoples, Vertikale Television Sunday Morning Christian Programme, Chemin Neuf Community, Religious of the Pro Sanctitate Movement and the Catholic Youth Centre of the archdiocese of Riga.

The final and official text for the week was finalised at a meeting of the International Committee of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

The text focusses on the relationship between baptism and proclamation, as well as the calling shared by all the baptised to proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord.

It was inspired by two verses from the First Letter of St Peter, where he tells the early Church that in their search for meaning prior to encountering the gospel they were not to think of themselves as a separate people.

However, through hearing the call to God’s chosen race and receiving the power of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ, they have become God’s people.

Pope Francis said that this means all Christians share in the one baptism, but since all are sinners, they have a need to be saved, redeemed and liberated from evil.

He calls this the negative aspect of St. Peter’s letter, which says, “God has called you out of darkness to lead you into his marvellous light.”

Pope Francis said, “This is the experience of death, which Christ made his own and which is symbolised in baptism.” He added that as Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox we share the experience of being called from the merciless and alienating darkness to the encounter with the living God, full of mercy.

He then notes that the downside is shared egoism, which generates division, closure and contempt. “To begin again from baptism means to rediscover the font of mercy, font of hope for all, because no one is excluded from God’s mercy,” he explained.

At the same time, he notes that baptism opens up an exciting new journey of faith, uniting each new Christian with God’s people throughout the ages.

The dates for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity were proposed in 1908 by Father Paul Wattson, the founder of the Society of the Atonement, to cover the original days between the feasts of the Chair of St. Peter (January 18) and the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25).

These two feasts have a deeply symbolic significance.

However, in the southern hemisphere, where the week falls in the middle of the summer holidays, it is often marked after Pentecost or some other time of year.


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