Christians’ Unity. A joint Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant letter

“We live and celebrate our unity in common prayer”. This is the title of the message signed by Bishop Ambrogio Spreafico, Metropolitan Polykarpos Stavropoulos and pastor Luca Maria Negro, on the occasion of the usual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity held from 18 to 25 January

Foto CEC/Albin Hillert

Rome (NEV CS / 01), February 8, 2021 – On occasion of the usual Week of Prayer for Christians’ Unity (SPUC),  held from January 18 to 25, 2021, the persons in charge for ecumenism for the three main Christian confessions in Italy issued a joint letter signed by Bishop Ambrogio Spreafico,

president of the Episcopal Commission for Ecumenism and Dialogue, by Metropolitan Polykarpos Stavropoulos, Patriarchal Vicar of the sacred Orthodox Archdiocese of Italy and Malta, and by pastor Luca Maria Negro, president of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI).

The letter is entitled “We live and celebrate our unity in common prayer”. “We do not want that suffering, illness, death,  economic difficulties of many, the distance that separates us, hide or diminish the strength of being united in Christ Jesus – write the signatories -. We cannot just wait that ‘everything will go back to normal’ after the pandemic, as it is usually said. We rather dream and want everything to return better than before, because the world is still too much marked by violence and injustice, arrogance and indifference”.

In the letter, which speaks of the generosity with which so many people have worked in favor of those who in recent months needed “food, friendship, new gestures of closeness, while respecting the right rules of distancing”, it can  also be read: “We feel the need to thank the Lord for this multiplied solidarity, but we also want to say thanks to many and to truly discover how true it is that ‘there is more joy in giving than in receiving’ (cf. Acts 20:35) . The gratuitousness of the gift helped us to rediscover the continuous richness and beauty of the Christian life”.

United Christians make an appeal in support of the poor, the little ones, the elderly, the lonely: “Our Churches and communities have found unity in that charity – they write too, inviting everyone to intensify prayer for one another, for the sick, for those who care for them, for the elderly living alone or in institutions, for refugees, for all those who suffer in this time”. The prayer is that “the Lord heal humanity from the force of evil and of the pandemic, from injustice and violence, and give us unity  – they conclude, inviting fellow believers to remain in faith and love -. That love that prompts us to fearlessly encounter the others, especially the weakest, the outcast, the poor and the suffering, as Jesus himself taught us, tirelessly walking the streets of his time”.