"So that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me."
Gospel of John 17:21

Beginning his 1995 encyclical UT UNUM SINT with the prayer of Jesus in the Gospel of John, Pope John Paul II calls for Christian unity, reaffirming the commitment of the Catholic Church begun by the Second Vatican Council.

He calls spiritual renewal the key to the movement for Christian unity, that the "commitment to ecumenism must be based upon the conversion of hearts and upon prayer, which will also lead to the necessary purification of past memories [2.3]."

Prayer is the primary means of restoring full Christian unity, as it helps Christians to "grow in awareness of how little divides them in comparison to what unites them [22.2]."

The Pope gives three reasons for Christian unity - first, all Christians should be obedient to Christ's prayer that "all may be one;" second, it is important to honor the call of the Second Vatican Council, and third, the effective evangelization of the world depends on the united witness of Christians, for division among Christian believers damages our credibility.

The Pope does warn against compromise for the sake of unity, for "compromise is a contradiction with God who is truth[70.1]."

Quoting the Apostle Paul in Galatians 3:28, he states "the ultimate goal of the ecumenical movement is to reestablish full visible unity among all the baptized [77.1]."

The Pope addresses the areas for study before a true consensus of faith can be achieved: "It is already possible to identify the areas in need of fuller study before a true consensus of faith can be achieved:
1) the relationship between Sacred Scripture, as the highest authority in matters of faith, and Sacred Tradition, as indispensable to the interpretation of the Word of God;
2) the Eucharist, as the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, an offering of praise to the Father, the sacrificial memorial and Real Presence of Christ and the sanctifying outpouring of the Holy Spirit;
3) Ordination, as a Sacrament, to the threefold ministry of the episcopate, presbyterate and diaconate;
4) the Magisterium of the Church, entrusted to the Pope and the Bishops in communion with him, understood as a responsibility and an authority exercised in the name of Christ for teaching and safeguarding the faith;
5) the Virgin Mary, as Mother of God and Icon of the Church, the spiritual Mother who intercedes for Christ's disciples and for all humanity [79.1]."

Read the complete TEXT of the Encyclical directly from the Vatican!