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Christians need to understand and live “the gift of diversity in the Church.” This is the powerful prayer intention that Pope Francis shares in the first Pope Video of the new year.
In his video message, Pope Francis, through the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, asks that we “recognize the gift of different charisms within the Christian communities, and to discover the richness of different ritual traditions within the Catholic Church.”
“There is no need to fear the diversity of charisms in the Church.”
Rather, “living this diversity should make us rejoice,” the Pope explains in the message commenting on the prayer intention he is proposing for January 2024.
The richness of the Eastern Churches
In particular, Pope Francis mentions the Easter Churches: “They have their own traditions, their own characteristic liturgical rites, yet they maintain the unity of the faith. They strengthen it, not divide it.”
There are numerous Eastern Churches in communion with Rome, such as the Byzantine Catholics, the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church, or the Melchite Greek Church. Other examples of ritual diversity within Catholicism are the Syro-Malabar Church and the Catholic Syro-Malankar Church, both of which originated in India; the Maronite Church, of Lebanese origin; the Catholic Coptic Church, of Egyptian origin; the Armenian Catholic Church; the Chaldean Church, predominantly in Iraq; as well as the Ethiopian-Eritrean Catholic Church, among others.
Regarding this, Pope Francis explains, “If we are guided by the Holy Spirit, abundance, variety, diversity, never cause conflict.”
“The Holy Spirit reminds us first and foremost that we are children loved by God – everyone equal in God’s love, and everyone different.”
Like the first Christians
As Pope Francis recalls, “Diversity and unity were already very much present in the first Christian communities. But there’s more. To move forward on the journey of faith, we also need ecumenical dialogue with our brothers and sisters of other confessions and Christian communities.”
“This is not something confusing or disturbing,” the Pope clarifies, “but is a gift God gives to the Christian community so it might grow as one body, the Body of Christ.”
During this month of January the Week of Prayer for Christian Unitytakes place. This year, the theme is “You shall love the Lord your God … and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).
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