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Austria: Feldkirchen, exchange of pulpits and homilies in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Among the numerous ecumenical events that will take place in the margins of and during the next World Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (18-25 January), a particular sign of brotherhood and search for unity among believers will be the Catholic parish and the Protestant parish exchanging their “pulpits” on two occasions in Feldkirchen, Carinthia. Indeed, on Sunday, 14 January, Protestant Pastor Martin Müller will deliver his homily at the Catholic parish church of “Maria im Dorn” during Mass. And on Sunday, 25 February, the Catholic parish priest Wolfgang Gracher will preach a sermon to the Reformed faithful during the Sunday service at the Protestant parish church of Waiern. The parish priest and the pastor will also meet the faithful on Thursday, 25 January, for the closure of the “official” activities of the Week of Prayer at the Catholic parish church of Feldkirchen, where they will lead a joint ecumenical vesper service at 6.30pm. What is special about the “exchange of pulpits” is that, unlike other ecumenical services, “the liturgy proposed will be fully corresponding to the rite of the two Churches”, parish priest Gracher said. This “substantial interest” in the liturgy of the other confession will lead the celebrants to assimilate, together with the faithful, similarities, traditions, differences and most importantly “our respective treasures”. Pastor Müller views the exchange of pulpits as “a clear sign of ecumenical solidarity”. The Bible, Müller said, is the “common document of the faith”, and our respective interpretations as Catholics and Protestants become an opportunity for “greater enrichment”.

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