By Vatican News staff writer
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally observed annually from 18 – 25 January. However, in the southern hemisphere, where January is a vacation time, churches find another time during the year to celebrate it, for example around Pentecost which is also a symbolic time for the unity of the Church.
With over 100 years of history, this octave of prayer is a period set aside for Christians around the world to jointly pray for visible Christian unity and move closer towards the fulfillment of Jesus’ Last Supper prayer “that they all may be one.”
The theme for this year 2021, “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit,” is inspired by John 15: 5-9. It was chosen to express the Christian community’s vocation to pray and work for reconciliation and unity within the Church, our human family and all of creation.
Pope Francis is scheduled to preside over Vespers with other Christian leaders to mark the closing of this 54th Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on Monday, 25 January. As always, that ceremony will take place in the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the Walls, the papal basilica that is traditionally dedicated to ecumenical events and liturgies.
International resources for the 2021 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity have been prepared by the Monastic Community of Grandchamp in Switzerland, a group of religious sisters from different church traditions brought together by a common commitment to prayer and Christian unity.
Further information and preparatory material for the 2021 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity can be accessed on the website of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
Christians invited to pray together
The World Council of Churches (WCC) is inviting all Christians to join online in prayer on 25 January, the last day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
In a letter, the acting Secretary-General of the WCC, Rev. Loan Sauca noted: “As restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic make it difficult to physically gather in many places, this global online celebration will allow us to pray together wherever we are.”
The online prayer event will hold at 2 pm CET. Interested participants can follow the event on the website of the World Council of Churches.