Pope Francis prayed at the tomb of St. Paul with Orthodox and Anglican leaders Saturday to conclude the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
“God’s priority is the salvation of all,” Pope Francis in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls Jan. 25.
“This is an invitation not to devote ourselves exclusively to our own communities, but to open ourselves to the good of all, to the universal gaze of God who took flesh in order to embrace the whole human race and who died and rose for the salvation of all,” he said.
On the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, the pope presided over ecumenical vespers with Metropolitan Gennadios, representative of the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch, and Anglican bishop Ian Ernest, personal representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Pope Francis told those gathered in prayer that the Acts of the Apostles speaks to “our ecumenical journey towards the unity which God ardently desires.”
The Christian leaders also venerated the relics of St. Timothy, which were moved to Rome for the Week of Christian Unity, and will be present in St. Peter’s Basilica Jan. 26 for the Sunday of the Word of God.
Pope Francis quoted St. Paul’s first letter to St. Timothy in which Paul wrote that God “desires everyone to be saved.”
Ecumenical prayers have been held in Rome each day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jan. 18 - 25. The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity participated in the preparation of the prayer materials for the week, as it has each year since 1968.
“From this Week of Prayer we want to learn to be more hospitable, in the first place among ourselves as Christians and among our brothers and sisters of different confessions,” Pope Francis said.
“Among Christians as well, each community has a gift to offer to the others. The more we look beyond partisan interests and overcome the legacies of the past in the desire to move forward towards a common landing place, the more readily we will recognize, welcome and share these gifts,” the pope said.