Pontifical Legation of the Western Europe

The Week of the Prayer for Crisrtian Unity

The traditional period for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity this year took place from January 18-25. His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian was invited to take part in three ecumenical prayer services which were organized on the occasion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome

The Chaplain of the Pontifical Gregorian University, Professor, Fr. Stefano Del Bove, SJ invited Archbp. Barsamian to deliver a sermon during a prayer service in the chapel of the University on January 19, dedicated for the Christian Unity, where students, faculty members and the staff of the University participated. As a theme for his reflection, Archbp. Barsamian used the biblical text from the Gospel of St. John 15:5-9 which was chosen by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity for the Week of Prayer of Christian Unity of this year.

In his sermon Archbp. Barsamian indicated that Jesus, in this message, recorded by St. John (15:5-9) explains the most important truth in our walk with Him. Christ compares Himself to a vine, and we, followers are the branches. Jesus says “I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit” (Jn 15:5). Archbp. Barsamian reminded that in the same chapter of St. John (Jn 15:12) Jesus shows us how to remain, abide in Him by this new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you”. To remain, abide in Jesus, to love one another, as He loved us, means that we bear fruit of joy and happiness.

Then Archbp. Barsamian asked the present to think about John’s themes of “abiding, remaining” and of “bearing fruit” in relation to Christian Unity. He then indicated that the key to search for Unity is the discovery that Christ is present in each believer and in each church. The branches of the vine are many, some on one side of the house or wall, others on the other side; yet, meeting at the root, they are all one vine; thus all churches, though in tradition and culture may be distant from each other, yet meet in Christ, the center of our unity. Archbp. asked the present to imagine how the world be if there is Church Unity. Definitely, he said much better.

Following the prayer service, there was a reception during which Father Stefano, on behalf of the University, expressed his thanks to Archbishop Barsamian for his presence and message.

On the following day, on January 20, Archbp. Barsamian was invited to participate and deliver a homily to another ecumenical prayer service dedicated to Church Unity, organized by the Catholic Diocese of Rome. The prayer service took place in the magnificent Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere.

Archbishop Barsamian was invited by Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity to the Vespers dedicated for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on January 25 at the Basilica of St. Paul. The Vespers, which conclude the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, are usually presided over by the Pope, who was this year unable to attend. On behalf of Pope Francis, Cardinal Koch presided over the Vespers and read the Pope’s homily which was based on the theme “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit” (Jn 15:5-9). In this homily the Pope imagined Unity as three concentric rings: the first of these Unity, or personal integrity, which comes from abiding in Christ in private prayer; the second is the unity of Christians, for as we draw closer to God we are drawn closer to follow Christians; and the third unity of that whole of humanity.

Pope in his message said “ If our worship is genuine, we will grow in love for all those who follow Jesus, regardless of the Christian communion to which they may belong, for even though they may not be ‘one of ours’ they are His”.

As in previous years the Vespers were attended by many Christian leaders and representatives based in Italy.