CELEBRATIONS TO TAKE PLACE 18 AND 25 JANUARY 2015
The Catholic Church in Kenya is gearing-up to celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This will take place between 18 and 25 January 2015. In a message announcing the Week of Prayer for Christian unity, Archbishop Peter Kairo of Nyeri Archdiocese who is also the Kenya Catholic Bishops’ Conference Chair for the Commission on Ecumenism said that the theme for next year’s Christian Unity will be, ”Give me to drink” (cf. John 4: 7). According to Archbishop Kairo, the 2015 theme is meant to guide all ecumenical initiatives throughout the year and as a call for Christians to live with legitimate differences while crying out for solidarity and fellowship among them.
THEME: ”Give me to drink”
Archbishop Kairo says, “The Lord is inviting us (Christians) to offer water to whoever arrives and to embrace one another in order to live our Church’s mission: That His love may transform us into a source of living waters to enjoy the fruits of that genuine unity we all yearn for.”
CHALLENGES OF GROWNING INTOLERANCE
The resource material for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity have been prepared by the National Council of Christian Churches in Brazil in the context of challenges they face in their country. The once upon-a-time pious country is today riddled with religious competition, Christian-based religious intolerance and experiences high rates of violence against women and indigenous people.
Kenyans are facing similar challenges as those of Brazil. These challenges include market-driven Christianity, the emergence of militia groups, violence and a frightening level of growing radicalisation being carried out in the name of religion.
Archbishop Kairo says it if for this very reason why people all over the world need to experience faith which lived freely and integrally. He emphasises the need to overcome intolerance and for people to respect legitimate diversity and promote dialogue for the common good.
A RICH TRADITION BETWEEN PROTESTANTS AND CATHOLICS
Kenya’s Ecumenism National Executive Secretary at the Bishops’ conference, Fr. Charles Kwanya outlining the programme for the Week of Christian Unity, said that this traditional week was proposed in 1908 by Fr. Paul Wattson (co-founder of the Graymoor Franciscan Friars) to cover the Protestant variant of the ancient Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter on 18 January and concluding with the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul on 25 January. The week is therefore rich with traditional symbolic significance.
Pope Pius X officially blessed the concept and Pope Benedict XV encouraged its observance throughout the entire Catholic Church. In 1941, the Protestant Faith and Order Conference changed the date for observing the week of unity prayer to that observed by Catholics. In 1948, with the founding of the World Council of Churches, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity became increasingly recognised by different churches throughout the world.
WEEK OF CHRISTIAN UNITY IS ABOUT ENCOUNTER
The week of Christian unity is therefore a privileged moment for prayer, encounter and dialogue. It is an opportunity to recognise the richness and values that are present in other faiths.
(Paul Samasumo; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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