Christians praying together once a year is not enough, says Taizé leader

(Photo: REUTERS / Osservatore Romano)Pope Francis (R) embraces Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew from Istanbul during a private meeting at the Vatican March 20, 2013. Pope Francis urged members of all religions and those belonging to no church on Wednesday to unite to defend justice, peace and the environment and not allow the value of a person to be reduced to "what he produces and what he consumes."

Praying together once a year is not enough for Christians the head of a prominent ecumenical community based in France has said.

Bother Alois Löser, Prior of Taizé, an ecumenical monastic community in France made up of brothers from Catholic and Protestant backgrounds wrote in The Irish Times newspaper on Tuesday.

He made his contribution to mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which continues until January 25.

"I should like to find the right words to ask Christians of different churches: does there not come a time when we should have the courage to come under one roof, without waiting for all theological formulations to be completely harmonised?

"There will always be differences: they require frank discussion, but they can often also be an enrichment," wrote Brother Alois.

Around the turn of each year tens of thousands of young people from all over the world converge on Taizé in northern France year for an ecumenical gathering of prayer and meditation.

"In Taizé, we are amazed to see that young people spending a few days together on our hill - Orthodox, Protestants and Catholics - feel deeply united without in any way reducing their faith to a lowest common denominator.

"On the contrary, they deepen their own faith," wrote Brother Alois.

He added, "Let us do with Christians of other denominations all that we can together, and let us not undertake anything without taking others into account.


"Praying together once a year during the week of Christian unity cannot be enough; it may even become a formality. Why not pray together more often?"

The general secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, spoke at a Catholic inter-faith service held in Geneva on January 20 to mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in the northern hemisphere.

"It is decisive for the future of the churches that they engage together unambiguously for peace and that they do this in openness and partnership with representatives of other religions, in these two cases especially of Muslim communities" said Tveit, a Norwegian Lutheran.

"I am committed to strengthen our cooperation with the Roman Catholic Church wherever required and possible. And I am stretching out my hand to build stronger relationships for peace and justice with leaders of other religious communities."

Tveit devoted much of his address to the message of Pope Francis for the World Day of Peace on January 1.

In that message Francis said, "According to the biblical account of creation, all people are descended from common parents, Adam and Eve, the couple created by God in his image and likeness, to whom Cain and Abel were born.

"In the story of this first family, we see the origins of society and the evolution of relations between individuals and peoples."


Pope Francis devoted part of his weekly general audience on Wednesday to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which this year is dedicated to a question taken from the First Letter to the Corinthians: "Has Christ Been Divided?"

The English-language part, read out after the main reflection delivered by Pope Francis in Italian, said, "We know that Christ has not been divided; yet we must sincerely recognize that our communities continue to experience divisions which are a source of scandal and weaken our witness to the Gospel."

Quoting Paul's letter to the Corinthians in the Bible, the early Christian leaders reminded them to rejoice in the great spiritual gifts which they have received said the pontiff.

"His words encourage us to rejoice in the gifts God has given to other Christians, gifts which we can receive from them for our enrichment. To be able to do this calls for humility, discernment and constant conversion," said Francis.

Pope Francis asked all Christian faithful to pray while reflecting on Paul's teaching during the week of prayer.

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