“Love one another as I have loved you”—the 32nd Bishops’ Ecumenical Conference

“Love one another as I have loved you”—the 32nd Bishops’ Ecumenical Conference

“Love one another as I have loved you”—the 32nd Bishops’ Ecumenical Conference 1600 900 admin


Nov. 2013 – The 32nd Ecumenical Conference of Bishops and Friends of the Focolare movement took place in recent days in Jerusalem. It was entitled “The reciprocity of love among the disciples of Christ.” It was started by Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare movement, and with John Paul II’s support, the conference brings together bishops from all parts of the world and the church, both Catholic and non-Catholic.

Orthodox, Anglican, Methodist, Lutheran and Catholic bishops gathered for four days of meetings for the sake of communion and sharing. In a land where one can feel the very difficulty of coexistence of many different faiths and denominations, the Ecumenical Conference was an opportunity to experience a communion which, if not yet theological and doctrinal, is a communion of the heart.

H.E. ROBIN SMITH – Anglican Bishops of St. Albans

“Every year, we bishops from all over the world and of all confessions meet in order to experience Christ’s unity together. Respecting all of our differences, traditions and doctrines, we very deeply believe that we are able to live together because Jesus is in our midst.

We are to be witnesses to the fact that unity is possible. Even with all our differences, it is possible to respect and even love our brothers or sisters who are different than us. Because is Jesus in them as much as he is in us.”

The meeting with Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III was significant. He welcomed the representatives of the various churches in an atmosphere of brotherhood and friendship. Despite the dramatic nature of the division that separates the Orthodox Church from the various Christian denominations, the meeting at the Patriarchate was a sign of hope for the journey toward unity.

One desire—unity—manifested by the pact of mutual love that the bishops made in the shadow of the “Little Staircase”, the place that according to the Tradition is where Jesus prayed they would all be one…

CALUDIO MAINA – Focolare Movement in the Holy Land

“The staircase is the remains of an ancient Roman staircase that connects the Upper Room to the Kidron Valley. There is a tradition that says this is the place Jesus’ prayer for unity took place. According to this tradition, after the Last Supper, Jesus, on his way to the Garden of Olives would have prayed for unity here. It is a tradition that the Focolare movement particularly likes because our own spirit is founded on unity.”

H.E. Mons. ARMANDO BORTOLASO – Apostolic Vicar Emeritus of Aleppo

“We meet and together we make this covenant of unity, with which we promise to love one another as Jesus loved us, ready to give our lives for each other, in the diversity of faiths.

We want to go deeper and live in mutual love between bishops, exchanging experiences in a spirit of brotherhood, convinced that if we love one another we can achieve an ecumenism of the heart.’

A dense and rich program of meetings, including numerous visits to the holy places in Jerusalem and the surrounding area, such as the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Holy Sepulcher and the Last Supper, the place that perhaps more than any other highlights the difference and union that have characterized the reflections of the Ecumenical Conference.

H.E. Mons. PIERRE MOUALLEM – Archbishop Emeritus of the Greek Melkite Church of Galilee

“Charity is the best way. God is love, and in that love, we can find our way toward unity.”

H.Em. Card. MILOSLAV VLK – Archbishop Emeritus of Prague

“The way to achieve unity is to live the Gospel and to give common witness of the different churches, of the Gospel, of God’s Word. Unity is achieved by living out the God’s Word. It does not depend on our own strength but on the power of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.”

H.E. Mons. ARMANDO BORTOLASO – Apostolic Vicar Emeritus of Aleppo

“The Holy Spirit needs bishops from the various churches who get along and who love each other … then the Holy Spirit will do the rest! But if there is not this meeting, this knowledge, this fraternal atmosphere, in which they are ready to give their lives for one another, the Holy Spirit can do nothing.”

Original post published in cmc-terrasanta.org