In St Peter’s Square, brothers and sisters in Christ gathered together from all walks of life and from around the world. Those gathered included youth participating in the “Together” gathering that preceded the synod, bringing together young people from the age of 18-35 who have come together for a weekend of sharing. The event was organized by some fifty church groups from a wide variety of denominations, at the initiative of the Taizé community and in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Synod; the Dicasteries for Christian Unity and for the Laity, Family, and Life; and the Vicariate of Rome.
Representing WCC general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay, WCC) programme director for Unity, Mission, and Ecumenical Formation Rev. Dr Kuzipa Nalwamba offered a prayer as part of the vigil. “Christ Jesus, look upon your family,” she prayed. “We entrust to you all those you welcome into the Kingdom because they are mistreated and persecuted.”
In addition, those leading prayers were Pope Francis; Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew; Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby; Rev. Dr Anne Burghardt, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation; Rev. Dr Thomas Schirrmacher, secretary-general of the World Evangelical Alliance; Mar Paulus Benjamin (Oriental Assyrian Church); Rev. Dr Elijah Brown, general secretary of the World Baptist Alliance; Archbishop Bernd Wallet, Utrecht of the Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands (Union of Utrecht), Rev. Gebrestadik Debeb (Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Italy); Rev. Dr Billy Wilson, chair of the World Pentecostal Fellowship; and many others.
Three young people from different ecclesial contexts and continents spoke about their experience from Lebanon, Indonesia and Slovenia.
Pope Francis meditated on the topic of silence, stressing that it is “essential for the journey of Christian unity.”
This, he said, is because silence “is fundamental to prayer, and ecumenism begins with prayer and is sterile without it.”
Thus, “the more we turn together to the Lord in prayer, the more we feel that it is he who purifies us and unites us beyond our differences.”