Remarks of Archbishop Martin on Christian Unity Week

19 Jan 2012

Remarks of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2012

Fifty years ago the Roman Catholic Church worldwide was preparing for the opening of the Second Vatican Council.  Pope John XXIII had surprised the Church by his call for a Council.  He surprised many by his emphasis on the Vatican Council as an instrument to foster the unity of all Christians.

Many were surprised and puzzled at what the Pope intended.  I remember at school debates finding it difficult to defend the daring positions of Pope John as we tried to find out what the new word “ecumenical”, which Dubliners delightfully preferred to call “euceminical” or even “economical” meant, and an Italian word which was even more complex to pronounce and explain “aggiornamento”.

Fifty years onwards here in Dublin this gathering at the opening of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has become truly a family event for the members of the Dublin Council of Churches and its friends.  Relationships have been transformed.  New friends have become part of our family as the ethnic mix of our population has become more and more diverse and varied Churches of different traditions, especially from the Orthodox tradition and from Africa, have enriched our Christian presence inDublin. Our celebration here this evening is repeated during the days across this city and the entire country.

We thank God for what has been achieved in these years.  We remember those pioneers of ecumenism inDublin.  I think of Father Michael Hurley who died during this year.

Yet we know that our divisions remain and that these divisions are still a stumbling block to our capacity to bring united witness to the Gospel; to our ability to witness fully to our faith in Jesus Christ, whose prayer was that his disciples should be one.

Our common witness is all the more needed today at a time when change and diversity could lead to further division.  Our common witness of Christian caring is all the more needed as many of our brothers suffer the effects of our economic crisis and social change.  Our common witness to Jesus Christ is needed to respond adequately to the spiritual hunger of many. Our common witness to Jesus Christ is more necessary to be heard and understood in an increasingly secularised society.

While we pray for the gift of that change which springs from conversion of heart, I thank all of you for being here this evening. I thank the community of this Parish of Saint Columbanus and Gaul and I thank in particular Archbishop Michael Jackson who will be our preacher this evening.