n his priestly prayer Jesus prayed: “Ut Unum Sint” – “that they may all be one… so that the world may believe that you have sent me”. Christian unity is a condition if the world is to believe. The divisions between Christians are a serious scandal, a stumbling block for non-Christians.
This impelled John Paul II to work tirelessly for unity and in 1995 to write his great encyclical on Ecumenism. In it he made it clear that: “the entire life of Christians is marked by a concern for ecumenism; and they are called to let themselves be shaped, as it were, by that concern”.
John Paul ensured that “it is absolutely clear that ecumenism, the movement promoting Christian unity, is not just some sort of ‘appendix’ which is added to the Church’s traditional activity. Rather, ecumenism is an organic part of her life and work, and consequently must pervade all that she is and does.”
“To believe in Christ”, he says, “means to desire unity; to desire unity means to desire the Church; to desire the Church means to desire the communion of grace which corresponds to the Father’s plan from all eternity. This is the meaning of Christ’s prayer: Ut Unum Sint”.