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Vicariate of Rome

Press and Social Communications Office

Press Release

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and diocesan ecumenical vigil

This will begin on 18 January and conclude on the 25th with the celebration of Vespers at Saint Paul Outside the Walls, presided over by Pope Francis. In the diocese of Rome, the vigil on Thursday 19 in the parish of Santa Maria delle Grazie al Trionfale will be the central event, but moments of prayer are planned in many churches and communities.

“Learn to do well, seek judgment” (Isaiah 1:17). This verse from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah is the theme chosen for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, to be held from 18 to 25 January. On the latter date, the Solemnity of the Conversion of Saint Paul, at 5.30pm, in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, Pope Francis will conclude the Week with the celebration of Vespers. Among the various events scheduled, the central event will be the diocesan ecumenical vigil, on Thursday 19 January at 6pm in the parish of Santa Maria delle Grazie al Trionfale, which will be presided over by Bishop Riccardo Lamba, diocesan delegate bishop for ecumenism and interreligious dialogue. Bishop Baldo Reina, auxiliary for the Western sector and vice-gerent of the diocese, and Bishop Rami Alkabalan, as well as representatives of various Christian Churches and ecclesial communities present in Rome, will also participate. The preaching will be entrusted to Pastor Daniele Garrone, biblical scholar and president of the FCEI (Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy). The diocesan vigil will be streamed live on the Facebook page of the diocese of Rome.

During the Week there will be several initiatives organised by parishes and communities with an ecumenical theme. Among the many, in Santa Maria in Trastevere, on Friday at 8pm, there will be a solemn prayer with the Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria His Beatitude Theodore; while on the 24th, at 7pm, again in the Trastevere basilica, the pastor Paolo Ricca of the Waldensian Church will preach at the evening prayer of the Sant'Egidio Community. At San Bartolomeo all’Isola Tiberina, on the 22nd at 9 a.m., there will be a meeting with a delegation from the Bossey Ecumenical Institute of the Ecumenical Council of Churches, with a visit to the Shrine in memory of the new martyrs and witnesses of the faith of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Also, Mass in the various Eastern Catholic rites and in the Roman rite will be solemnly celebrated in the Ecumenical Eucharistic Centre of Santa Maria in Via Lata (Via del Corso, 306) of the Daughters of the Church, starting at 8 p.m., with the participation of the various Pontifical Colleges present in Rome. On Wednesday 18 at 6.30 p.m., in San Giuseppe al Trionfale, there will be a Mass in the Byzantine rite celebrated by Father Mark Semehen, rector of the Ukrainian Catholic Basilica of Saint Sophia, who will give his testimony. On Tuesday 24, at 7pm, in Santa Maria degli Angeli, the ecumenical prefectural vigil.

The theme for Week 2023 was chosen by a local group convened by the Minnesota Council of Churches, jointly with the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity. It included representatives of the different Christian churches, ministers of worship and lay people, men and women, young and old, living in different contexts and representing different communities, united by having worked on the front lines of the race issue - in 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, George Floyd an African-American, was killed by policeman Derek Chauvin, who kept him immobilized for nine minutes by pressing his knee on his neck - as well as for the integration of indigenous peoples - in Minnesota, in 1862, the largest mass execution in American history took place, with the killing of eighteen indigenous Dakota people.

“In this difficult time, unity in prayer is a precious sign to face the challenges of war, pandemic, uncertainty and impoverishment, and it is needed by all of us”, commented Bishop Lamba. While Monsignor Marco Gnavi, head of the diocese's Office for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue, remarked, “Rome is a plural city with a universal outlook, which experiences tensions and critical issues. Christians represent a fundamental resource who, in their openness of heart, spiritual resources, and industrious empathy for the most fragile, contribute to weaving a web of hope in the folds of life in the metropolis”.

Journalists and media workers who intend to participate in the celebration of Vespers presided over by the Holy Father on Wednesday 25 January 2023 must apply within 24 hours of the event, exclusively through the online accreditation system of the Holy See Press Office, at: press.vatican.va/accreditation. Accreditation is not required to participate in the other events.