CELEBRATING the 40th anniversary of “Unitatis Redintegratio” (Restoration of Unity), the Second Vatican Council decree on ecumenism, members of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) and the Roman Catholic Church celebrated the National Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on Feb. 5-12 at the Arzobispado de Manila in Intramuros.

With the theme “Christ, the one foundation of the Church,” the event emphasizes unity of Christian denominations, according to Lesley Capus, Youth Desk coordinator for NCCP.

“We continuously strengthen unity among Catholics and mainstream Protestant churches in order to collaborate and respond to glaring contemporary issues, such as the effects of globalization on the values of the youth, where we can work commonly,” Capus told the Varsitarian.

Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales opened the event with a prayer that signaled the start of a series of recollections, cultural presentations and activities rooted in Unitatis Redintegratio.

The decree, promulgated on Nov. 21, 1964, stresses “the restoration of unity among all Christians” as a principal concern of the Second Vatican Council. This was reiterated in Ut Unum Sint” (That They May Be One), the encyclical letter issued by Pope John Paul II in 1995. In response to the decree, the Catholic Church also established the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in 1989.

The Pontifical Council appoints 12 representatives to the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Church (WCC), which helps organize resource materials for local congregations and parishes in the annual event.

Though active in working closely with the WCC, the Roman Catholic Church, the world’s largest Christian body, is not a member of the WCC but nevertheless continues to participate in assemblies sponsored by the Council.

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Together with NCCP and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), members of the Catholic Church’s Focolare Movement also participated.

Aside from promoting unity, Capus added that there would be more concrete and collaborative effort in reinforcing harmony in the future.

In April, NCCP and CBCP would be holding the National Inter-faith Youth Conference on Family and Human Sexuality, the first inter-faith dialogue on sex and population among Christians, Muslims, and indigenous youth groups. Kathleen T. Valle with reports from www.rcam.org

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