Bishop Ioan-Casian

Christian unity begins in Bethlehem

By 
  • January 26, 2022

Unity is the heritage of the Church — a heritage that begins in Bethlehem, hundreds of people heard on a national Zoom call to mark the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jan. 23.

“Everything starts from our faith in the redemptive and saving work of God that begins in Bethlehem,” said Bishop Ioan-Casian in a homily on the story of the wise men’s journey to meet the newborn king in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1-12).

This year’s Week of Prayer materials and themes were prepared by the Middle East Council of Churches, based in Beirut. The council chose the image of the star and the wise men’s determination to follow it as the centrepiece for this year’s global prayer for Christian unity.

“In these difficult times, we need a light that shines in the darkness and that light, Christians proclaim, has been manifested in Jesus Christ,” the event organizers wrote in their introduction to the ecumenical movement’s signature annual event.

It was the second year in a row Canadian Christians have gone online for a cross-Canada celebration of unity. As many as 268 were on the Zoom call, while hundreds more followed on Facebook. Other local online events were organized in Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver and Regina.

While there may be advantages to the online approach, it can never be anything but second best, said Casian.

“This should not make us forget that the communion we celebrate is a concrete one. We’re supposed to shake hands, to embrace,” the Romanian Orthodox Bishop of Canada said.

The Canadian Centre for Ecumenism’s event was organized by representatives from the Anglican, Armenian, Roman Catholic, various Orthodox churches, Full Gospel Baptists, the United Church and the Focolare Movement.

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