16 January 2024, The Tablet

Church leaders join in prayers for Christian unity

Church leaders join in prayers for Christian unity

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins on Thursday.

The Catholic and Anglican Archbishops of Armagh have produced a joint message to mark the week of prayer for Christian Unity from 18-25 January.

In a 16-minute video, the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, Eamon Martin and his Church of Ireland counterpart, John McDowell explore how the parable of the Good Samaritan applies to Ireland.

Christ’s injunction to “Go and Do Likewise” (Luke 10: 37) after narrating the parable inspired the Archbishops to discuss, “Who is my neighbour?”

Martin speaks of “ongoing sectarianism” of Ireland, observing: “We still have the so-called peace walls to keep communities apart. We still tend to interpret nearly everything in terms of the other side. But [in] the parable of the Good Samaritan, the challenge Jesus puts to his disciples is, are you prepared to cross the road? Are you prepared to go out to the one who’s different?”

McDowell says that Ireland “probably” needs to “broaden our understanding of what a neighbour is” given “the range of people who are believers or non-believers or from different ethnic backgrounds or world religions….” He adds: “It’s not just the old Catholic-Protestant thing anymore,” urging all of Ireland’s Churches to “recognise our primary identity is in Christ.”

Martin reflects on welcoming “newcomers” to modern Ireland amid a political discourse which says “Ireland is full, we’ve no more room”.

This week’s Tablet is celebrating Christian Unity via an editorial column written by our editor Brendan Walsh and Paul Handley, editor of The Church Times. They argue in the column, simultaneously printed in both publications, that ecumenical endeavours are necessary “if the scandal of disunity in the Body of Christ is to be overcome”.

They note that “many of the barriers between Anglicans and Roman Catholics have started to fall away” despite “reluctance in these two portions of the Body of Christ to grasp the opportunities presented…by progress so far”.

A Christian unity service is due to take place on Thursday in Wesley’s Chapel in City Road, London, in partnership with the Jewin Welsh Church, St Giles’ Church, Cripplegate and St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Bunhill Row near Moorgate.

Protestants and Catholics in Burkina Faso selected the theme for Christian Unity week 2024. The themed prayers and resources they devised are available for free download. http://www.cbcew.org.uk/wpcu24



  Loading ...
Get Instant Access
Subscribe to The Tablet for just £7.99

Subscribe today to take advantage of our introductory offers and enjoy 30 days' access for just £7.99