January 26, 2000
volume 11, no. 18
To print out entire text
of Today's issue, go to

NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

Ecumenical Liturgy Presided by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray

    VATICAN CITY, JAN 25 (ZENIT).- Today, once again, Rome was the scene of a significant ecumenical event in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, with the celebration of Vespers presided by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray. The liturgy marked the close of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, seeking the reunion of the planet's 2 billion baptized Christians into one flock.

    The ceremony took place at 5:30 p.m., and was attended by invited Christian and non-Christian communities of Rome. This initiative was personally promoted by John Paul II. Last Sunday, when referring to this event, the Holy Father expressed his desire "to support every effort" that helps to make the aspiration for unity among Christians more "authentic and effective."

    The rite this afternoon included the celebration of the Vespers for the feast of St. Paul's conversion, Gregorian chant, a brief biblical reading from the New Testament and Cardinal Etchegaray's homily. The Cardinal is president of the Vatican Committee for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.

    The Cardinal gave extraordinary encouragement to Christians on the road towards unity. "Everything is possible when we lean on Christ and only on Christ, on the crucified Christ, as the road toward unity inevitably passes by the foot of the Cross, or rather, goes through the pierced heart of the Savior."

    Etchegaray narrated a significant legend told to him by an Orthodox priest. "After Easter, when Christ was at the point of going up to heaven, he looked down on earth and saw it submerged in darkness, with the exception of a few small lights that illuminated the city of Jerusalem. In the process of his Ascension, he came across the angel Gabriel, who was accustomed to going on terrestrial missions. The divine messenger asked him: 'What are those little lights?' 'They are the apostles seated around my mother. My plan is that, once I return to heaven, I will send them the Holy Spirit so that these little fires become a great fire that inflames the whole earth with love.' The angel replied intrepidly: 'And, what will you do if the plan doesn't work?' After a moment of silence, the Lord replied: 'I don't have any other plans!' "

    The Cardinal explain that this is God's only plan: "A plan that gives full power to the Holy Spirit who unites all Christians in one same love before united them in one faith." This is an "exacting adventure for the Church to become fully what it is, the living Body of Jesus Christ, diversified yet one, finally reconciled in truth and in the freedom of Love. Then ecumenism will be filled with hope and will start on the inexhaustible road of love in the heart of an uprooted, errant, blind and violent humanity that, in spite of everything, thirsts for unity."

    The Cardinal ended his homily with a prayer written by Lutheran Bishop Nathan Soderblom from Upsala, a pioneer of unity when the ecumenical movement first got underway: "Lord, be before us to guide us, be behind us to push us, be beneath us carry us, be above us to bless us, be around us to protect us, be in us so that in body and soul we serve you for the glory of your Name." ZE00012506


January 26, 2000
volume 11, no. 18

To print out text of Today's issue, go to:

The DAILY CATHOLIC Search for anything
from the last three
years in past issues of
the DailyCATHOLIC: