The World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Roman Catholic Church are jointly calling Christians this week to unite in response to human suffering.
With this year’s theme of “breaking the silence,” the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity challenges Christians to unite in “breaking the silence” on matters relating to sexuality, in particular HIV/AIDS.
Since 1968, the Faith and Order of WCC and the Roman Catholic Church have organized the Week of Prayer.
The theme this year was inspired by the experience of Christian communities in the region of Umlazi in South Africa, a region devastated by HIV/AIDS along with unemployment and poverty. It is estimated that 50 percent of the Umlazi residents are affected with the HIV virus, according to WCC.
“Breaking the silence” aims to open up discussion on the issue where silence is deadly. Organizers hope Christians and churches will speak with a “single voice” and reach out as a “single body” to act with “compassion and in unity” to people afflicted by the disease.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally celebrated by those in the north hemisphere from Jan. 18-25, however participants in other parts of the world observe the event at various times of the year with many observing the Week during Pentecost.
On the web: wcc-coe.org