Maintain Hope for Christian Unity, Pope Urges

Gives Thanks for Progress in Ecumenical Dialogue

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 7, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Despite the difficulties, Benedict XVI is encouraging Christians to not give up on the hope for full unity.



The Pope said this today in his catechesis his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square. Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, attended the audience, and both leaders exchanged formal greetings.

"These days of immediate preparation for Pentecost encourages us to revive hope in the help of the Holy Spirit to advance in the path of ecumenism," the Pontiff said after greeting Karekin II.

"We have the certainty that the Lord Jesus will never abandon us in the search for unity, given that the Spirit acts tirelessly to bolster our efforts oriented toward overcoming every division and to mend every tear in the living cloth of the Church," he added.

The Holy Father said the Holy Spirit is presented "as the power of the forgiveness of sins, of the renewal of our hearts and of our existence, and in this way renews the earth and creates unity where there was division. "

At Pentecost, Benedict XVI continued, the Spirit was shown through other signs: "an impetuous wind, tongues of fire, and the apostles speaking all languages."

The Pontiff explained, "From the first moment of its existence the Church spoke all languages, thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit and the tongues of fire, and lives in all cultures. It does not destroy the gifts or the history of a culture, rather it assumes them all in a great new unity, which reconciles unity with the multiplicity of forms.

"In the days that passed between the Ascension of the Lord and the Sunday of Pentecost, the disciples were united with Mary in the Cenacle to pray. They knew that alone they couldn't found, organize the Church: the Church had to be established and organized by a divine initiative; it is not a creature of ours, but rather a gift of God."

Cenacle

"Only in this way is unity also created," the Pope continued, "a unity that has to grow. The Church in all times, and in particular in those nine days between the Ascension and Pentecost, unites itself spiritually in the Cenacle with the apostles and with Mary to implore incessantly the effusion of the Holy Spirit.

"Moved by the impetuous wind it will be capable of announcing the Gospel to the furthest confines of the earth."

"For this reason, despite the difficulties and divisions," affirmed the Holy Father, "Christians cannot resign themselves, nor give in to discouragement. This is what the Lord asks us: Hold fast in prayer to keep alive the flames of faith, charity and hope, which nourish the longing for full unity.

"Let us give thanks to the Lord for the goals reached in ecumenical dialogue thanks to the action of the Holy Spirit. Let us be docile, listening to his voice so that our hearts, full of hope, set out without delay on the path that leads to the communion of all Christ's disciples."