(Vatican Radio) The vital role that men and women religious of different Christian Churches play in the ecumenical journey was at the heart of Pope Francis’s meeting on Saturday with participants in a conference on consecrated life and the search for Christian Unity. The three day meeting, which concludes on Sunday, comes in the context of both this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and the Year of Consecrated Life. Participants are concluding each day with Vespers in the Orthodox, Anglican and Catholic traditions, including the liturgy presided over by Pope Francis in the Basilica of St Paul’s Outside the Walls on Sunday.
In his meeting with the men and women religious, Pope Francis recalled the words of the Second Vatican Council document ‘Unitatis Redintegratio’ stressing that spiritual ecumenism is the soul of the whole ecumenical movement. Consecrated people like yourselves, he said, therefore have a particular vocation in this work of promoting unity.
The Pope also mentioned ecumenical communities like Taizé and Bose which have taken up this vocation and are privileged places of encounter between Christians of different denominations.
The Pope spoke of three conditions at the core of the search for Christian unity – firstly, there’s no unity without conversion of heart, which includes forgiving and asking for forgiveness.
Secondly he said there is no unity without prayer and therefore men and women religious who pray for unity are like ‘an invisible monastery’ bringing together Christians of different denominations from different countries around the world.
Thirdly, the Pope said, there is no unity without holiness of daily life. so the more we put our search for unity into practise in our relations with others, the more we will be modelling our lives on the message of the Gospel.