The president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity rated 2016 as a “truly ecumenical year” as he looked forward to the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Cardinal Kurt Koch told Vatican Radio that the theme for this year’s observance, which focuses on reconciliation, was chosen by Christians in Germany. The theme is appropriate, he said, as the world marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The cardinal remarked that the visit by Pope Francis to Sweden, to join in a commemoration of the Reformation, was made possible by the ecumenical dialogues of recent years, in particular the Joint Declaration on Justification signed by Catholic and Lutheran leaders in 1999.

Cardinal Koch remarked, however, that the Protestant Reformation is not the only split in Christendom. He encouraged prayers for reconciliation with the Christians who broke with Rome after the Council of Chalcedon, with Anglicans, and with the Orthodox churches. Regarding ecumenical ties with the Orthodox, he saw the Pope’s meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill as “a very important sign.”