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Thursday, 22 October 2009

Quarant' Ore and the Pope of Christian Unity

This evening our Forty Hours in the parish began with the splendid ceremonies of the Missa Cantata, followed by the Blessed Sacrament Procession and the Litany of the Saints.

For my sermon, I emphasised first of all the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ, without which this devotion would be meaningless. I also spoke of the fruits of the Holy Eucharist in terms of our union with Christ and the pledge of future glory, but especially of the unity of the Church. In this respect I was inspired by Fr Zuhlsdorf's post "Whose ecumenism?" in which he suggests that we should start calling Pope Benedict

The Pope of Christian Unity

Pope Benedict has begun to "walk the walk" rather than simply "talk the talk" on ecumenism, providing for the real and concrete prospect of unity with those Anglicans who share our faith. It would be insulting to refer to negotiations with the SSPX as "ecumenism" but the Holy Father has unambiguously set out his motivation for those negotiations as one of wanting to maintain and regain reconciliation and unity. Let me quote the accompanying letter to Summorum Pontificum:
Looking back over the past, to the divisions which in the course of the centuries have rent the Body of Christ, one continually has the impression that, at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church’s leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity. One has the impression that omissions on the part of the Church have had their share of blame for the fact that these divisions were able to harden. This glance at the past imposes an obligation on us today: to make every effort to enable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew.
A sea-change has come about over the past few days. After decades of resigning ourselves to inoffensive prayer services and polite discussions to understand each other better, Pope Benedict has sent a powerful pulse through the Church to remind us all that the search for Christian Unity has an end result in view: "one Lord, one faith, one baptism", not as a pious ideal among those who courteously disagree, but as a living reality, concretely achieved despite the opposition of the world.
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