As you probably know, every few years, The Word Among Us publishes an issue focused on Christian unity. We often do this in January because it’s this month that we celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18 through 25). I really love this topic, even though the movement toward Christian unity, called ecumenism, can be messy at times. But when I read the articles in this issue on unity, I smiled and thought about how grateful I am to live in this day and age. You might ask, “Why smile when there is so much disunity around us?”
First of all, it gives me joy to know that the Church has spent the past century teaching about the need to work toward Christian unity. Every pope from John XXIII onward has said that if we want to be fully converted to Christ, we need to be committed to Christian unity. A personal commitment to ecumenism is part of what it means to be a Catholic.
I also smile because unity is woven into the very heart of God. It’s his deepest desire that his children be united in Christ. As a parent, I want my adult children to love one another and to experience unity with each other. How much more does my heavenly Father want to see all his children, from every tradition, come to love each other and be in unity!
Maybe most of all, I smile because I have been blessed with friends from many different Christian backgrounds. They are my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I am blessed to be able to pray with them and journey alongside them on the road of discipleship. Together, we help each other be better Christians, and we help each other live out our particular faith traditions more fully.
The articles in the front of this issue were written by three different Catholics, each of whom is committed to the cause of Christian unity. Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa contributed the first article, which brings the issue of unity between Catholics and Protestants up-to-date—and makes it personal for us. In the second article, Dorothy Ranaghan shares the reflections of someone who has worked tirelessly for Christian unity for over fifty years. Dorothy and her husband, Deacon Kevin Ranaghan, are leaders in an ecumenical community in which Catholics and Protestants live side by side as brothers and sisters in Christ. And in the third article, Sue Heuver, managing editor of The Word Among Us, shares stories about modern-day ecumenical friendships that have stood the test of time.
How I look forward to heaven, where there will be no division! But even today, you and I can be blessed with friendship and love with Christians from all faith traditions!
Jeff Smith, President