Week of Prayer for Christian Unity18th of January - 25th of January 2024
About The Week of Prayer
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is a period where all Christian Churches can turn to God in the hope that we reach common ground and appreciation for each other. This 8-day period has traditionally been between Thursday the 18th of January to Thursday the 25th of January so that they would cover the days between the feasts of St Peter’s Chair and the Conversion of St Paul. This period for us as Catholics is known as the octave of St Peter and St Paul.
For this year, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is going to be focused on the words of Luke (10:27), “You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart and all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself”. In choosing this passage of Scripture for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the churches of Burkina Faso have invited us to join them in a process of self-reflection.
Burkina Faso is in West Africa neighbouring Mali and Niger. 21 million is the population and 26% are Christian (20% Catholic and 6% Protestant). After a major Jihadist attack was mounted from outside the country in 2016, the security situation in Burkina Faso, and consequently its social cohesion, deteriorated dramatically. The country has endured terrorist attacks, lawlessness and human trafficking which has left 3000 dead and almost two million internally displaced persons in the country. Thousands of schools, health centres and town halls have been closed and much of the socio-economic and transport infrastructures have been destroyed.
Armed attacks have expressly targeted Christian churches. Priests, pastors and catechists have been killed during worship and the fate of others who were kidnapped remains unknown. More than 22% of the national territory is outside the control of the state, therefore Christians can no longer openly practice their faith in these areas. Because of terrorism, the majority of Christian churches in the north, east and northeast of the country have been closed. There is no longer any public Christian worship in many of these areas. Where worship is still possible, with police protection, usually in large cities, it has been necessary to shorten services owing to security concerns.
A degree of solidarity is emerging between the Christian, Muslim and traditional religions. Their leaders are working to find lasting solutions for peace, social cohesion and reconciliation. Following the government’s calls, individual churches continue to organise daily prayers and fasting. Reflection and awareness-raising meetings have been organised to promote a better understanding of the situation and the value of fraternity and to develop strategies for a return to lasting peace.
The churches of Burkina Faso have invited us to join them in a process of self-reflection as they consider what it means to love our neighbour in the midst of a security crisis. The invitation to work together on the texts for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2024 challenges the different churches in Burkina Faso to walk, pray and work together in mutual love during this difficult period for their country. The love of Christ that unites all Christians is stronger than their divisions and the Christians of Burkina Faso commit themselves to walking the path of love of God and love of neighbour. They are confident that God’s love will overcome the violence that currently affects their country.
In this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity the Church is being challenged to stop and tend to the wounded and, in so doing, to recognise our wounds as churches and as communities. Facing the reality of our brokenness helps to connect us to the suffering of others from a place of humility and deep empathy, creating a sacred space of encounter inspired by Christ’s healing love.
For Further Information on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, visit the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland website by Clicking Here
For resources provided by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, visit their webpage by Clicking Here