Indian Bishops called for commitment, transparency and cooperation among churches to celebrate “Ecumenism Sunday” on January 23.
“Serving the Gospel today requires a commitment to defending human dignity, especially in the poorest, the weakest and those marginalized,” stated in a message signed by Archbishop Joseph Perumthottam, the chairman of Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) Office for Dialogue and Desk for Ecumenism and two members, Archbishop Raphy Manjaly and Bishop Thomas Dabre, on December 19, 2021.
The CBCI Office for Dialogue and Desk for Ecumenism encourages faithful to celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022 from January 18-25.
The message states that serving the Gospel “requires from the churches transparency and accountability in dealing with the world, and with each other. This means churches need to cooperate to provide relief to the afflicted, to welcome the displaced, to relieve the burdened and to build a just and honest society.”
The prelates acknowledge a “world still turned down and wounded by the burden of Covid-19, withered by discriminations of all kinds, and where the natural and spontaneous unity in diversity is being willfully suppressed by many to create a fundamentalist version of uniformity.”
In such a context, Indian Bishops remind Christians of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples that ‘they may be one so that the world may believe’ (John 17:21).
During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Christians from many different traditions and confession around the world gather to pray for the unity of all baptized.
Traditionally, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is from January 18-25. The dates were proposed by Servant of God, Father Paul Wattson, SA, founder of the Society of Atonement, in 1908.
Middle East Council of Churches, based in Beirut, Lebanon, were entrusted with preparing the text for Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022 by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches.
The theme for Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022 is inspired by the Magi visit to the newborn king: We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him (Matthew 2:2).
“The mission of the Christian people, therefore, is to be a sign like the star, to guide humanity in its hunger for God, to lead all to Christ, and to be the means by which God bring about the unity of all peoples,” the statement read.
The bishops acknowledge that “the division between us dim the light of Christian witness and obscure the way, preventing others from finding their way to Christ.”
Christians are invited to raise hands together in prayer and “to ask the Lord to grant us the gift of reconciliation and unity, the gift of mercy and healing.”
The leaders admitted to a “deep division among the Christian Churches in India, even that of the same tradition, have become so deep that the unity in the church is at stake.”
The statement pointed out to trap of “strange contradiction” the churches speak of a lot more of the Unity on the one hand and on the other, we do not strive or attempt to do anything to attain or sustain the Unity, the Lord desire for.”
The church leaders recommend seeking communion through prayer together and being inspired toward repentance and renewal and returning to our lives, our churches, and our world by new ways to work together so that all human beings can experience life, peace, justice, and love.
For more information, read the official message from CBCI Office for Dialogue and Desk for Ecumenism