Roman Catholics and Protestants have chosen a passage from the apostle Paul's letter to the Romans for this year's observance of the week of prayer for Christian unity.

The observance, held each year in mid-January, will be held Jan. 18-25 and be based on the theme, "building community - one body in Christ."In a joint statement marking the week, Archbishop John May of St. Louis, president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Rev. Patricia McClurg, president of the National Council of Churches, praised progress that has been made in the effort to bring Christian churches together.

"As the dialogue expands and churches deepen relationships through shared service we are increasingly aware of our identity as the Body of Christ and the community of his disciples," the two said.

The two said the choice of the theme points up the similarities and differences between the modern church and the group in Paul's day.

"While the present differences and divisions among us are not those Paul faced, his message applies no less to our contemporary situation.