Rome (Italy). The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity takes place from 18 to 25 January 2022, the ecumenical initiative in which Christians from all over the world, belonging to different traditions and confessions, gather spiritually in prayer for the unity of the Church. Officially started by the Episcopal Reverend Paul Wattson in Graymoor (New York) in 1908 as Octave for the unity of the Church, with the hope that it would become common practice, it is held every year between the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter and of the Conversion of Saint Paul.
The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity has entrusted the Middle East Council of Churches based in Beirut, Lebanon, with the task of choosing the theme and drafting the texts for the 2022 Week of Prayer. Theme chosen is:
“We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship Him.” (Mt 2:2)
The star that rose in the East, which guided the Magi to discover the Lord Jesus, symbol of the manifestation, is “the treasure that the Christians of the Middle East can offer to their brothers and sisters all over the world”.
In the theological-pastoral introduction to the aid we read:
“The divisions among us dim the light of Christian witness and obscure the road, preventing others from finding the way that leads to Christ. On the contrary, united Christians who adore Christ together and open their coffers in an exchange of gifts, become a sign of the unity that God desires for all creation.”
“Never as in these difficult times do we feel the need for a light that conquers darkness, and that light, as Christians proclaim, was manifested in Jesus Christ”, underlines the Pontifical Council in the Introduction to the aid, illustrating the context in which it was been prepared:
“The Christians of the Middle East offer this material for the Week of Prayer for Unity, aware that the world shares many of their own troubles and difficulties they experience and yearns for a light that can dispel the darkness on the way to the Savior. (…) We wholeheartedly thank the members of the Local Group and pray that greater unity among Christians in the Middle East and in the world may contribute to a more dignified, just and peaceful life for all the men and women of our time and of the times to come.”
Pope Francis, in the Angelus of 16 January 2022, recalled the initiative, inviting us to pray and offer suffering for this intention:
“We Christians too, in the diversity of our confessions and traditions, are pilgrims on the way to full unity, and we get closer to our goal the more we keep our gaze fixed on Jesus, our only Lord. During the Week of Prayer, we also offer our efforts and sufferings for Christian unity.”
At the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, on 25 January 2022, in Rome in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, the Holy Father will preside over the celebration of Second Vespers on the solemnity of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle.
Materials and in-depth studies:
Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity
National Office of CEI for Ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue