Posted On 2022-06-06 In Francis - Message

Unity is not simply an end in itself


Four messages on Pentecost, four messages on unity: On June 3, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis received in audience a delegation of young priests and monks of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, giving them four teachings to understand unity – that unity always longed for and always in danger of being turned into an end in itself, into uniformity, and from uniformity into massification and slave spirit.

A message in four parts, which hopefully will be useful for the Pentecost meetings.


The first thought is that unity is a gift, a fire from on high. Certainly, we need constantly to pray, work, dialogue and prepare ourselves to receive this extraordinary grace. Yet the attainment of unity is not primarily a fruit of earth, but of heaven. It is not primarily the result of our commitment, our efforts and our agreements, but of the working of the Holy Spirit, to whom we need to open our hearts in trust, so that he can guide us along the path to full communion. Unity is a grace, a gift.


A second thing that Pentecost teaches us is that unity is harmony. Your Delegation, composed of Churches of various traditions in communion of faith and sacraments, is a good illustration of this fact. Unity is not uniformity, much less the fruit of compromise or fragile diplomatic balances of power. Unity is harmony in the diversity of the charisms bestowed by the Spirit. For the Holy Spirit loves to awaken both multiplicity and unity, as at Pentecost, where different languages were not reduced to one alone, but were taken up in all their variety. Harmony is the way of the Spirit, for, as Saint Basil the Great says, the Spirit is harmony.


A third teaching of Pentecost is that unity is a journey. It is not a plan to be devised or a project to be worked out around a table. Unity does not come about by standing still, but by moving forward with the new energy that the Spirit, from the day of Pentecost, impresses on the disciples. Unity is attained along the way: it grows by sharing each step of the journey, by facing its joys and struggles, and experiencing its unexpected surprises. As Saint Paul told the Galatians, we are called to walk by the Spirit (cf. Gal 5:16.25). In the words of Saint Irenaeus, whom I recently proclaimed the Doctor of Unity, the Church is tõn adelphõn synodía, “a caravan of brothers”. In this caravan, unity grows and matures: a unity that – in God’s quiet way – does not suddenly appear as an overwhelming miracle, but quietly emerges in the patient and persevering progress of a journey made together.


A final aspect. Unity is not simply an end in itself, but is closely tied to the fruitfulness of the Christian proclamation: unity is for mission. Jesus prayed for his disciples that they “may all be one… so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21). At Pentecost, the Church was born as a missionary Church. Today too, the world is waiting, however unconsciously, to hear the Gospel message of charity, freedom and peace. It is a message that we are called to bear witness to with one another, not against one another or apart from one another. In this regard, I am grateful for the common witness offered by your Churches. I think in a special way of all those – and there are so many of them – who sealed by their blood their faith in Christ. Thank you for all the seeds of love and hope you have sown in the name of the crucified and risen Christ in all those places that continue, sadly, to be marked by violence and by conflicts that are too often forgotten.

Pope Francis, 03.06.2022

Unity which does not become massmindedness
May love ever reign there
together with truth and justice
and a unity which does not become massmindedness
nor lead to inner slavery.

Fr. Joseph Kentenich, Heavenwards, N° 496

Original: Spanish. Translation: Maria Fischer @schoenstatt.org. Pope Francis` words taken from www.vatican.va

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