... is the name it started off with at the start of the twentieth century, when it was begun by a community of Anglican Papalist Franciscans. Originally, this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity linked the Feast of the Cathedra of S Peter on January 18 with that of the Conversion of S Paul on the 25th. Autobiographically speaking, as a 67-year-old, I now feel conned.
When I was an undergraduate in the early 1960s, this Week was one of the big events of the year. Prayer booklets were issued every year, giving intentions for each day of the Octave and liturgical formulae for use at the (many) prayer meetings that took place all over the University. Christian Unity was the imperative, the overwhelming need if the Church was to bear witness to her Lord. It took precedence over anything, everything else. It was pointed out, over and over again, that John 17 means that the Unity of the Lord's people is rooted in and required by the inner life of the Trinity itself; we were to be One so that our Oneness would be the same Oneness as that shared by Father and Son in the koinonia of the Spirit. Anything that delayed or obstructed such a Unity was deeply wrong. There was much regret that the Roman Church had 'placed a new obstacle' in the way of unity a decade earlier by defining the dogma of the Bodily Assumption of the Theotokos. Anglo-Catholics like me were made to feel rather awkward because our views on episcopacy were a bit of an obstacle. I so far went along with this that, a little later, as a young priest, I voted in favour of the then current scheme for Anglican Methodist Unity, satisfied by the assurances of Dr Eric Kemp that the Scheme included a service adequate to be regarded as a conditional Ordination of the Methodist clergy.
Now, half a century later, I am told that things really aren't as simple as that. Christian Unity is indeed a good thing, but it doesn't really matter if it's a very very long way in the future. And, apparently, I was wrong to accept a simplistic consensus that Unity was the overriding imperative of the Spirit. I should, apparently, have realised (I don't remember anyone explaining this at the time) that there were other things which easily trump the need for Unity: particularly the desperate need for the ordination of women to priestly ministries. If anyone had assured me that, while I was still working as a Church of England priest, a Pope would send a senior cardinal to tell the Anglican English bishops that they could indeed have Unity if only they would forego the Consecration of women bishops and that the same House of Bishops would, by a decisive majority, turn him down and send him packing, I would have laughed my hollowest and most disdainful laugh. What a gullible fool I was.
Never trust a Liberal. Always remember, as the slippery bugger looks you straight in the eye, clasps your hand with warm manly sincerity, and assures you on his honour that something-or-other really is the case, that a few decades later (or sooner if it suits him) he'll sneer at you and say 'Did I really say that? I think you must have misunderstood me'.