“The miracle of unity has begun!” These are the words of Pope Francis in a 2014 video message sent to a gathering of Pentecostal ministers on the subject of “Unity”. Is that affirmation of the Pope a dream or a reality? Many actions towards that unity undertook by both Protestants and Catholics, testify that the Pope is not dreaming.
The purpose of this Article is to invite us, whoever we are and wherever we find ourselves, to enter into the dynamic of that affirmation of the Pope and promote unity.
During the 2014 convention of the Pentecostal leaders, the Anglican Bishop Tony Palmer declared that “Diversity is divine but division is diabolic”. Diversity therefore, should be promoted in our quest for unity with our “separated brothers and sisters”, once called “heretical sects”. Today with the enlightenment of the Vatican II Council, we are now aware of our connection with one another by the sharing of a common Christian faith and heritage; though expressed in diverse ways.
Diversity is a riches and a blessing given by God to discover more clearly the mystery of His active presence in the Church for the world.
Thus, the ecumenical dialogue we are advocating cannot be separated from the idea of “Unity in diversity”. What does this mean for us today? Does it mean that we should remain in our various positions since diversity is a blessing? Why should we promote ecumenism and unity?
Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, Patriarch of Antioch for Maronites, seems to give us a clear answer to these demands when he affirmed that: “Christian unity was Christ’s dearest desire. He expressed it in his last testament as he walked toward his tragic destiny: the Cross. He prayed in his priestly prayer “that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me”.
This desire of Jesus is surely the reason why the Council document, Unitatis Redintegratio says that, our divisions as Christians is a scandal for the world: “such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages that most holy cause, the preaching of the Gospel to every creature”. This is why our call to ecumenism and unity is more than urgent; for our division jeopardizes the Church’s mission to the nations.
St. John Paul II in his encyclical letter Redemptoris Missio, puts more emphasis on this when he says: “The fact that the Good News of reconciliation is preached by Christians who are divided among themselves weakens their witness. It is thus urgent to work for the unity of Christians, so that missionary activity can be more effective.” (RM 50). Thus, according to the saint Pope, “the efforts towards unity is a visible sign of the work of reconciliation which God is bringing amongst us.”
St. John Paul II recommends therefore that, the enterprise towards ecumenism and unity be inserted in the formation of Christians in every sphere, especially in the seminaries and centers for the laity. (RM 83)
To end this page, it is praiseworthy to quote with Pope Francis, Manzoni, an Italian writer who wrote: “I have never seen God begin a miracle without Him finishing it well”. And with force, following Pope Francis, I believe that “God will finish well this miracle of unity!”
P. Charles Kouakou, SMA