By Lisa Zengarini
Christian Churches in Germany are celebrating the Year of Ecumenism in 2021 aimed at strengthening their relationships through dialogue and sharing. The Year was officially opened in Hamburg on Sunday January 24 during a Divine Liturgy presided over by Orthodox Archpriest Radu Constantin Miron, chairman of the Christian Churches Association of Germay (ACK), on the occasion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
In his sermon - as reported by the German Bishops' Conference website - the prelate highlighted that for Christians faith and action are inseparable, recalling the theme chosen for this years’ Week of Prayer - “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit”(Jn 15:5-9): ”For us bearing fruit means, at the same time, concrete action towards our neighbours and growing in the Holy Spirit on which this action is based," the ACK chairman stressed.
The Catholic Church was represented by Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Hamburg Horst Eberlein, who noted that the yearly celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian unity is a memorial of the long journey Churches have made together over the past decades: “It encourages us to continue on the good path towards unity, especially now that the Coronavirus crisis is blocking our outlook on many other things: it is helping us to focus on each other again”, the Catholic Bishop said.
On her part, Lutheran Bishop Kirsten Fehrs, also present at the celebration,pointed out that by coming together Christian Churches are sending a “strong message of solidarity”, in a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is causing even more polarization in the world: “Bringing together those who are divided, reconciling those who are fighting, comforting those who are in fear and praying for our neighbours, near and far is our common mission which goes beyond our denominational and religious boundaries", she said. Pastor Uwe Onnen The chairman of the ACK in Hamburg, also stressed that ecumenism is a “constructive reconciliation work” that shows to socety at large that talking and listening to one another and walking together is worth.
Diversity: integral part of society
In a written message for the occasion, the Mayor of Hamburg, Peter Tschentscher, remarked, on his part, that the diversity of cultures and religions that respect each other is an integral part of the cosmopolitan German city and that its various religious communities are committed to creating opportunities for encounters, exchanges and cooperation.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity concluded Monday, the feast of the Conversion of St Paul. In Rome, Pope Francis was unable to preside over the concluding ecumenical Vespers in the Basilica of St Paul’s Outside the Walls due to sciatica. The evening prayer was led instead by Cardinal Kurt Koch, the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.