“Christian unity – we are convinced – will not be the fruit of subtle theoretical discussions in which each party tries to convince the other of the soundness of their opinions. When the Son of Man comes, he will find us still discussing!” This is how, in 2015, Pope Francis, at St. Paul’s Basilica during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, concluded his homily, inviting us to seek new ways: “We need to realize that, to plumb the depths of the mystery of God, we need one another; we need to encounter one another and to challenge one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who harmonizes diversities, overcomes conflicts and reconciles differences.”
The book L’unità dei cristiani. Storia di un desiderio. XIX-XXI secolo. I. Aurora ecumenica, (A History of the Desire for Christian Unity, Vol. 1: Ecumenical Dawn) evokes the spirit of Francis in charting a new course, exploring the history of the “desire for Christian unity.” This is an international research project directed by Alberto Melloni and edited by Luca Ferracci of the Foundation for Religious Sciences in Bologna.
The text brings together contributions from scholars of various disciplines and different Churches, showing how Christians, during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, participated in a process unprecedented in the history of the Church, culminating in an impulse for the unity not only of Christians, but of all people. This volume is only the first of three: the other two will soon complete the work.