VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI asked for more prayers of world peace as part of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity celebrated this week.
“For the prayer of Christian unity, I would like to add again that one for peace, because, in the ongoing, diverse conflicts and end to the massacres of unarmed civilians, an end to all violence and that courage to dialogue and to negotiate is found,” he told thousands of pilgrims from his Apostolic Palace window at St. Peter’s Square today.
The Church is now celebrating its annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which began Jan. 18 and will end Jan. 25.
The Pope detailed the importance of unity during his Sunday Angelus at the Vatican.
“One of the most serious sins that disfigures the face of the Church is against its visible unity, especially the historical divisions that have separated Christians that haven’t yet been overcome,” said Pope Benedict.
“It’s a moment always welcome to believers and communities, which awakens in all the desire and spirit of commitment to full communion,” he added.
The Holy Father also recalled last month’s vigil, which he celebrated with thousands of young Europeans and with the Taizé ecumenical community and called it “very significant” and “a moment of grace in which we experienced the beauty in the form of one Christ.”
“I encourage everyone to pray together so that we achieve this year’s theme, which is ‘What does the Lord require of us?’” the Pope said.
The theme was proposed by Christian communities in India, which he asked “to walk with determination towards the visible unity of all Christians to overcome, as brothers in Christ, any kind of unjust discrimination.”
The Holy Father also spoke of today’s liturgy on the wedding at Cana.
“Jesus reveals himself as the Bridegroom Messiah, coming to establish the new and eternal covenant with his people,” he added.
The Holy Father recalled a Bible passage that says: “As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.”
“The wine is a symbol of this joy of love, and it also alludes to the blood that Jesus will pay in the end, which will seal his marriage covenant with humanity,” said the head of the Catholic Church.
Pope Benedict explained that the Church is the Bride of Christ, who makes her holy and beautiful with his grace.
However, he said, this Bride managed by human beings is always in need of purification.
The Pope will close the week of prayer by presiding over vespers in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls alongside representatives of other churches and communities.