The centenary of the birth of Pope St. John Paul II on May 18 is not the only anniversary of note connected with him this month. On May 25, the Church marks the 25th anniversary of his landmark encyclical on Church unity entitled Ut Unum Sinttaken from Jesus’ prayer to the Father on Holy Thursday, “May they all be one” (John 17:11, 21).

This encyclical was the most courageous papal ecumenical proposal since the schism with the Orthodox in 1054 and the Protestant Reformation in 1517. It confirmed as “irreversible” the Second Vatican Council’s commitment in favor of Church unity and called all Catholics, as well as our brothers in sisters in other churches and ecclesial communities, to renew and increase their efforts to respond to Christ’s appeal to work for full and visible communion.

“The way of ecumenism,” John Paul II stated, “is the way of the Church.”

It has to be the way of the Church because unity is, first, an indispensable mark of the Church. The Church was founded as the Mystical Body of Christ and is meant to reflect the communion that exists among the Persons of the Blessed Trinity, providing an earthly image of the communion of saints in heaven. …

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