For Servant of God Paul Wattson, SA, “At-One-Ment” was not a far-off wish but something he saw as attainable through personal experience moving from the Episcopal Church to the Catholic Church. Father Paul did not denounce the Episcopalian faith; rather, he embraced it as part of a broader Christian worldview.
To this day, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity reflects Father Paul’s view of Christianity as a whole. “‘That they all may be one’ most definitely does not mean ‘that they all may be uniform,’” according to Father Elias Mallon, SA, external affairs officer for Catholic Near East Welfare Association. “The catholicity of the Catholic Church does not merely tolerate diversity, but sees diversity as one of the ‘marks of the church.’” This broader understanding of Christian unity, Father Elias adds, “has a profound impact on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.”
This past January, Christian communities around the world celebrated the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with liturgies, meditations and discussions. Even as we continue to build the “At-One-Ment” that Father Paul envisioned, we realize the wonderful but arduous task before us. “When Christian unity is seen in terms of communion and catholicity, it is even more evasive than would be a quest for mere uniformity,” Father Elias notes. “The quest demands openness and great spiritual maturity and sensitivity. It demands a courage to face the different and the other, and to be willing to ‘test the spirit’ (1 Cor 12:10) in whatever direction it might lead.”