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“Justice and only justice you shall pursue” – international prayer for week of Christian unity

Posted on: January 16, 2019 2:41 PM
Photo Credit: Jaefrench / Pixabay

Churches in many parts of the world will be taking part in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity from Friday, under the theme “Justice and only justice you shall pursue”. This year’s material, published jointly by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) and the World Council of Churches’ Commission on Faith and Order, was prepared by Christians in Indonesia. With a population of 265 million, 86 per cent of whom are reckoned to be Muslim, Indonesia is well known as having the largest Muslim population of any country. However, about 10 per cent of the population are Christian from various traditions.

“In terms of both population and the vast extension of the country Indonesia is the biggest nation in South East Asia”, the WCC said. “The nation is founded on five principles called Pancasila, with the motto Bhineka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity). Across the diversity of ethnicity, language and religion, Indonesians have lived by the principle of gotong royong which is to live in solidarity and by collaboration.

“This always fragile harmony is today threatened in new ways. Much of the economic growth that Indonesia has experienced in recent decades has been built on a system that has competition at its heart. This is in stark contrast to the collaboration of gotong royong. Corruption is experienced in many forms. It infects politics and business, often with devastating consequences for the environment. In particular, corruption undermines justice and the implementation of law.

Moved by these concerns, the Christians of Indonesia found that the words of Deuteronomy, ‘Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue . . . ‘ (Deut 16: 18-20) spoke powerfully to their situation and needs. Before the people of God enter the land God has promised them they renew their commitment to the Covenant God established with them.”

The annual season of prayer is usually scheduled to take place between the feasts of St Peter and St Paul (18 – 25 January) in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, where, in many places, January is a traditional holiday time, the week is usually scheduled around Pentecost. “Mindful of the need for flexibility, we invite you to use this material throughout the whole year to express the degree of communion which the churches have already reached, and to pray together for that full unity which is Christ’s will”, the WCC and PCPCU said.

This year’s material has followed the usual production process. It begins with a group of ecumenical partners in a particular region producing a basic liturgical text on a biblical theme. Then an international editorial team of WCC and Roman Catholic representatives refines this text to ensure that it can be prayed throughout the world, and to link it with the search for the visible unity of the church. The international text is jointly published by the two bodies and made available to WCC member churches and Roman Catholic episcopal conferences, where they are translated, contextualised and adapted for local use.

Speaking this morning (Wednesday) during his General Audience in the Vatican, Pope Francis said that “ecumenism is not something optional”. Extolling the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, he said: “again, this year we are called to pray so that all Christians may once again be a single family, according to God’s will ‘so that they may all be one’”.

  • Click here to download the international texts for the 2019 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (pdf)

  • Cliquez ici pour télécharger les textes internationaux de la Semaine de prière pour l’unité des chrétiens 2019 (pdf)

  • Haga clic aquí para descargar los textos internacionales para la Semana de Oración por la Unidad de los Cristianos 2019 (pdf)

  • Clique aqui para baixar os textos internacionais da Semana de Oração pela Unidade dos Cristãos de 2019 (pdf)

  • Klicken Sie hier, um die internationalen Texte für die Gebetswoche 2019 für die Einheit der Christen herunterzuladen