CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Christians called to unite their voices

HONG KONG (SE): Kicking off the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with the theme, Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power (Exodus 15:6), some 300 people came together for a joint ecumenical communion service and breakfast fellowship at the Methodist Church in Wanchai on January 18.
Representatives from the Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox and Catholic Churches led the congregation in prayer and song, proclaiming the scriptures and confessing the Nicene Creed.
“God cares for all people without distinction,” said Orthodox Metropolitan Nekarios, who was invited to deliver the sermon.
He reflected that Christians are the new Israel saying, “We experience the wonderful things that God does” and adding that we give thanks to Jesus Christ for granting “salvation, freedom and forgiveness.”
The metropolitan pointed out St. Paul stresses that the Christian calling contains the element of service. “Moses was the slave of God; the servant of the Old Testament. We Christians…are the servants of the New Testament,” he said.
Metropolitan Nekarios reminded the gathering, “Our Lord Jesus Christ came to restore man to his original glory and came to abolish the wall of division, alienation, racial distinctions and hate.”
He said, “We are called to unite our voice and to fight anything that deprives man of his God-given gifts of freedom, peace and equality.”
Church Unity week was first observed in January 1908, in the chapel of a small Atonement Franciscan Convent of the Protestant Episcopal Church near New York City. Pope Pius X gave his blessing to the Church Unity Octave and in 1916, Pope Benedict XV extended its observance to the universal Church. 
This new prayer movement caught the imagination of others beyond the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Atonement to become an energetic undertaking that gradually blossomed into a worldwide observance involving many nations and millions of people.
The traditional period for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is January 18 to 25. The dates were proposed in 1908 by Servant of God Father Paul Wattson, founder of the Society of the Atonement, to cover the original dates of the feasts of the Chair of St. Peter (January 18) and the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25) thus imbuing the week with symbolic significance.
In 1993, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity issued the Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms of Ecumenism and explicitly encouraged participation in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. 
Today  Christian Unity week belongs to all Christians who are sincerely interested in the fulfillment of Christ’s prayer “that all may be one.” 

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