Christ desired "that the world believe," the Pope said today to the crowd of 200,000 who had gathered in St. Peter's Square to pray the midday Angelus during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which will end Jan. 25.
"The Church's evangelizing mission," the Holy Father added, "therefore, moves along the path of ecumenism, the path of unity of faith, of evangelical witness and authentic fraternity."
Commenting on the biblical theme for the 100th Week of Prayer for Christian Unity -- "Pray Without Ceasing" -- the Pontiff explained that the invitation of St. Paul to the community of Thessalonica was to communicate "that from the new life in Christ and in the Holy Spirit there flows forth the capacity to overcome all egoism, to live together in peace and fraternal union, to bear in large measure the burdens and sufferings of others."
"We must never tire of praying for the unity of Christians," said Benedict XVI. "We all have the duty to pray and work for the overcoming of every division between Christians, responding to Christ's desire 'ut unum sint.'"
"Prayer, conversion of heart, the reinforcement of the bonds of communion, form the essence of this spiritual movement that we hope will soon lead the disciples of Christ to celebrate the Eucharist together, the manifestation of their full unity," he added.
The Pontiff will close the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on Friday, Jan. 25, with solemn vespers at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
He invited "Romans and pilgrims to join with me and with Christians of all the churches and ecclesial communities who will take part in the celebration, to ask of God the precious gift of reconciliation among all the baptized."