We have a Christian world, of many millions of people, divided into at least four groups - Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants and Anglicans. There are many millions more who are not Christians, yet the Body of Christians is meant to realize the unity of all humanity under the Creator. Divided, it fails to express this unity.
This division has resulted in rivalry or opposition, or at least divergences, in the proclamation of the Gospel in mission situations.
This leads in turn to astonishment, or bewilderment, or hesitation among those who are being evangelized in non-Christian countries.
It also causes surprise, and rejection of the gospel, in so-called Christian countries.
It means suffering and frustration on the part of those who are seeking the truth.
It weakens the spiritual power of Christianity to lead and inspire the world.
It intrudes ugliness and disharmony into the work of Christ by the separations that exist among Christians.
It means the Body of baptized Christians is not seen to be worshipping the Trinity together.
It means the mutilation of the work of God.
It holds back the 'anxious longing of the whole creation for the manifestation of the sons of God'.
We are face to face with a new historical phenomenon, unique in the history of Christianity. Proceeding from all Christian confessions, independent but parallel to one another, immense spiritual forces of intercession now converge in a single immeasurable distress over the separation of Christians, and a single intense desire:
the coming of the visible Unity of the Kingdom of God:
according to Christ's will, according to his means.
Conceived in the movement of hearts which turn towards their one Saviour Jesus Christ, how could the union of all Christians fail to be achieved one day in the perfect atonement of Unity? There is certainly no question here of Unity sold at reduced prices, based on a 'lowest common denominator' of faith.
It is rather a question of the Unity for which Christ prayed and continues to pray eternally. For any other unity would be a treachery which all Christians would reject with horror.