In light of many confusing and divisive events around the globe, Urbi et Orbi Communications is launching an ambitious initiative for unity in the Church, and with the Orthodox. The time is now. It is urgent that we heed the call St. Francis received when he knelt before a Byzantine cross in the little, crumbling Chapel of San Damiano in the year 1205: “Francis! Go, rebuild my house, which, as you can clearly see, is falling into ruins…”
The initiative we are launching has four components:
- Creation of three “Centers for Unity,” one near Rome (in Assisi, Italy); one near the center of Europe (in Budapest, Hungary); and one near Washington, D.C. (in Front Royal, Virginia, USA): These will be collaborative spaces where we will sponsor conferences, round-tables discussions, cultural events (like concerts) and spiritual retreats to build unity both within the Catholic Church and between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches.
- Expansion of Urbi et Orbi Foundation:We plan to provide scholarships for study at Catholic and Orthodox universities, and to fund common conferences, exchange pilgrimages, and retreats and spiritual formation programs for priests, religious, and lay people, bringing together members of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. We will also continue to develop our “Friends of Lebanon” charitable campaign — at a time when both Orthodox and Catholics, especially young people, are fleeing from Lebanon to other countries — so that these beleaguered people may continue to thrive in their homeland, a homeland of ancient Christianity.
- Continued development of our Digital Outreach and Print Publications: We will maintain and strengthen our presence as a free and independent source of Catholic news, reflection and analysis. We will expand the reach of Inside the Vatican magazine(founded in 1993) and the Moynihan Letters, and bring to digital audiences on the internet our much-praised Virtual Pilgrimages and online webinars.We will develop a special new project to help Church leaders free the Church of abuse and financial corruption, the “
Shine the Light Project,” which will issue “White Papers” and support objective reporting on abuse and corruption, to assist the Church, including the Vatican itself, and Bishop’s conferences around the world, to confront the plague of corruption of all types in our Church.
- Formation of the Urbi et Orbi Women’s Council: This Women’s Council will embody our vision of Catholic and Orthodox women working together for unity, in support of the hierarchical, apostolically-based leadership in the Holy See itself, and in the dioceses of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches around the world. The Council will seek to enable and implement Church initiatives at the “grassroots” level, in families, parishes and dioceses, worldwide, so that Catholic and Orthodox women may work together on common projects to assist those most in need.
Our spiritual battle is not an ideological one, but one between fidelity to our traditions and the temptation to set those traditions aside for superficially attractive secular, modern, proposals for “progress” which neglects or betrays the perennial teachings of Christ handed down from the time of the first apostles.
We are neither “liberal” nor “conservative,” and so we see all human ideologies of whatever type as temptations to be assessed with care, in order to proclaim the “Good News” of the Risen Christ, in order to offer the person of Jesus Christ as the final answer to all human hopes.
The true battle is the one fought so well by our beloved St. Francis. It is a battle for the Church, to rebuild the Church and to unify the Church.
But where does this battle take place? In the heart. In the soul. In prayer. In common work.
“By nature, each one of us is enclosed in his own personality, but, supernaturally, we are all one. We are made one body in
Christ because we are nourished by one flesh. As Christ is
indivisible, we are all one in Him. Therefore, He asked His
Father “that they may all be One, as We also are one.” –St. Cyril of Alexandria (376-444)
Our Catholic and Orthodox Churches have long been fighting the same or similar spiritual battles, but too often they have fought separately, in isolation from one another. Now it is time for us to fight together.
The battle that we are fighting, and that our Orthodox brothers and sisters are fighting also, is a battle between what is earthly and what is heavenly, between what is below and what is above, between what is material and what is transcendent, heavenly, spiritual, directed to the coming of God’s Kingdom. We share a common goal: to help unite individual souls with God, and to strengthen the bonds of unity between our churches.
So, we invite you to stay in touch with us as we launch our new Unitas: “Come Rebuild My Church” initiative, and learn how we are working for unity in Christ: unity of each soul with God, unity within our own often divided Church, and unity between our separated Churches, with our Orthodox brothers and sisters. Christ prayed “That all may be one.” May that prayer be on the lips of each one of us as well
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