Vatican Aide: Heart of Ecumenism Is Prayer

Father Lombardi Comments on Christian Unity

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 20, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Ecumenism is prayer, the director of the Vatican's press office said in commenting on the theme of 100th Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi analyzed the theme "Pray Without Ceasing" on the most recent episode of the Vatican Television weekly program "Octave Dies." The week of prayer ends Jan. 25.

In these 100 years, he explained, "the ecumenical movement has followed a long path, but its innermost soul always remains prayer -- because the unity of Christians can only be a gift of God, to be asked for with constancy and insistence."

The priest continued: "Prayer gives us the strength to let ourselves be formed by the action of God, which purifies us and gives us his grace to obey his plan for salvation.

"Prayer changes our mentality and it helps Christians to consider the other brothers, sons of the same Father. Prayer educates and accompanies, proposes and transmits the truth, the light, the life, the love that is Christ, Savior of humanity."

"Observing the week in January has become a common practice of all the Christian confessions," he added, "and it is of great importance for reconciliation, brotherhood and unity among Christians, realizing the prayer of Jesus: 'that all be one.'"

Father Lombardi said the theme "makes it clear that the life of the Christian community is really exultant and prospers only through a life of prayer, which contributes to its spiritual, moral, social and cultural growth, and constructs bridges of love, of peace and of hope."

"A deeper and more true union with God," he added, "is the surest way to rediscover and recreate union among all the believers in Christ."