This celebration is part of the Year of Faith, which began on 11 October, the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. Communion in the same faith is the basis for ecumenism. Unity is given by God as inseparable from faith; St. Paul expresses this effectively: "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all"(Eph. 4:4-6). The baptismal profession of faith in God, the Father and Creator, who revealed himself in his Son Jesus Christ, pouring out the Spirit who gives life and holiness, already unites Christians. Without faith - which is primarily a gift of God, but also man's response - the whole ecumenical movement would be reduced to a form of "contract" to enter into out of a common interest. The Second Vatican Council reminds Christians that "the closer their union with the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, the more deeply and easily will they be able to grow in mutual brotherly love"(Decr. Unitatis redintegratio, 7). Doctrinal issues that still divide us must not be overlooked or minimized. They should rather be faced with courage, in a spirit of brotherhood and mutual respect. Dialogue, when it reflects the priority of faith, can open to the action of God with the firm conviction that we cannot build unity alone: it is the Holy Spirit who guides us toward full communion, who allows us to grasp the spiritual wealth present in the different Churches and ecclesial communities.
- Pope Benedict XVI
Homily during the ecumenical celebration of Vespers of the Solemnity of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle (Zenit translation) Jan. 25, 2013.