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Archbishop Khajag Barsamian joins Pope Francis at Vespers dedicated to Christian unity

On Tuesday 25 January, Pope Francis presided at Vespers at St Paul Outside the Walls to conclude the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, 2022, the Representation of the Armenian Church to the Holy See informs.

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Representative of the Armenian Church to the Holy See (Vatican) was invited, along with other ecumenical leaders, to join Pope Francis in this prayer service. Archbishop Khajag had the opportunity to present the fraternal warm greeting and good wishes of His holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians to His Holiness Pope Francis.

The theme of the Week of Prayer for this year, “We saw the Star rise in the East and we came to worship him” (Mt 2:2) had been chosen by the Middle Eastern Council of Churches. The churches in the Middle East face many challenges caused by conflict, insecurity and emigration. Many of the members of the Council reside in Beirut and so were impacted by the explosion that rocked the city in the summer of 2020 while they were preparing the materials. It is all the more striking, therefore, that the theme they chose centered on a symbol of hope, the star, that rises amidst the darkness.

In his homily the Pope used Matthew’s narrative of the Magi as paradigmatic of the ecumenical journey. The journey begins in the East, from where the sun rises, but the Magi were drawn on their journey because of their desire for a greater light and a greater knowledge. The Magi are traditionally depicted to represent a variety of peoples and so in them we see reflected different Christian traditions drawn together by their common desire to draw closer to Jesus.

Pope Francis noted that to worship Jesus together is also the end of our ecumenical journey and will be reached only by coming together in prayer. The Pope also noted that in worship the Magi open their treasures, a symbol of the gifts of the various Christian communities. These gifts are destined to benefit the whole People of God and therefore much be shared in an exchange of gifts.

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