This photo handed out by the Vatican Media on January 15, 2021, shows Pope Francis holding a private audience with outgoing US Ambassador to the Holy See, Callista L. Gingrich (R) and her husband former US lawmaker Newt Gingrich, at The Vatican.(Vatican Media/ AFP)
Francis has stressed Christian unity as the week of prayer for Christian unity started on Jan. 18.Encouraging the faithful to pray Christian unity, Pope Francis reminded them of "Jesus' request that we abide in His love so that we might bear much fruit."
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that began in 1908, is an ecumenical annual observance when all Church groups pray for unity remembering the Biblical verse "I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you."
The Catholic Church officially accepted observance in1966. Also known as Unity Octave, it is observed from Jan. 18-25, lasting eight days.After the Sunday Angelus on Jan 17, the pope said the octave's concluding ceremony will be in the Basilica of St Paul's in Rome, traditionally reserved for ecumenical events and liturgies.
The 54th Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in Rome is expected to be attended by representatives of the other Churches and Christian communities.
"Let us pray together so that Jesus' desire might be accomplished – that all might be one: unity, which is always higher than conflict."The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian unity promotes the event with the theme: "Abide in my love, and you shall bear much fruit," inspired by John 15: 5-9.
The World Council of Churches (WCC) has invited all Christians to join online prayers.
The Switzerland-based Monastic Community of Grandchamp has prepared this year's event.
This community comprises nuns from different church traditions joined together with a common commitment to prayer and Christian unity.