On Saturday 30 September in St. Peter's Square the Ecumenical Prayer Vigil "Together. Gathering of the People of God" was held in the presence of Pope Francis and leaders of the world's Christian Communions to entrust to the Holy Spirit the work of the first session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (4-29 October 2023).
The result of a proposal by the Taizé Community, the Vigil was organised in collaboration with the Dicastery for the Promotion of Christian Unity and the General Secretariat of the Synod. The Vigil was the culmination of a weekend attended by thousands of young people of different Christian traditions from more than forty countries. Also present at the Vigil were members of the College of Cardinals, members of the Synod of Bishops, and more than eighteen thousand faithful.
The prayer [video below] was led by twelve leaders of Churches and Christian world Communions, including Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, as well as Fraternal delegates to the Synod and representatives of local Christian communities.
In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on the importance of silence for the life of the believer, in the life of the Church and for Christian unity. Regarding the latter, the Holy Father stated:
Christian leaders present:
From the Orthodox Church:
His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW I; His Eminence GENNADIOS Stantzios, of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria; His Excellency ANDREJ Ćilerdžić, of the Serbian Orthodox Church; His Eminence SERAFIM, of the Romanian Orthodox Church.
From the Oriental Orthodox Churches:
His Holiness IGNATIUS APHREM II, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; His Grace Mar PAULUS BENJAMIN on behalf of His Holiness Mar Awa III, Catholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East; His Eminence Khajag BARSAMIAN, Representative of the Armenian Apostolic Church (Catholicosate of Etchmiadzin); His Eminence Geevarghese MAR BARNABAS, of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church; Rev. SAMAAN ANBA POLA, of the Coptic Orthodox Church; Rev. GEBRESTADIK DEBEB, of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.
From the Western Communions:
His Grace Justin WELBY, Archbishop of Canterbury; Rev. Dr. Anne BURGHARDT, Secretary General of the Lutheran World Federation; His Grace Bernd WALLET, Old Catholic Archbishop of Utrecht; Rev. Dr. Jong Chun PARK, President of the World Methodist Council; Rev. Pastor Marco FORNERONE, Waldensian Church.
From the Evangelical, Pentecostal and Ecumenical Bodies:
Rev. William WILSON, President of the Pentecostal World Fellowship; Rev. Dr. Elijah M. BROWN, General Secretary of the World Baptist Alliance; Rev. Prof. Thomas SCHIRRMACHER, General Secretary of the World Evangelical Alliance; Rev. Kuzipa NALWAMBA (United Church in Zambia), on behalf of the World Council of Churches.
Photo © Servizio Fotografico | Vatican Media