Vatican City, 25 January 2013 (VIS) – Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. The commission was instituted ten years ago as a initiative of the ecclesial authorities of the family of the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
The commission has dedicated this week to exploring "more fully the communion and communication which existed between the Churches in the first five centuries of Christian history", Benedict XVI said, expressing his hope that "relations between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches will continue to develop in a fraternal spirit of cooperation, particularly through the growth of a theological dialogue capable of helping all the Lord’s followers to grow in communion and to bear witness before the world to the saving truth of the Gospel."
"Many of you," he concluded, "come from areas where Christians, as individuals and communities, face painful trials and difficulties which are a source of deep concern to us all. Through you, I would like to assure all the faithful of the Middle East of my spiritual closeness and my prayer that this land, so important in God’s plan of salvation, may be led, through constructive dialogue and cooperation, to a future of justice and lasting peace. All Christians need to work together in mutual acceptance and trust in serving the cause of peace and justice in fidelity to the Lord’s will. May the example and intercession of the countless martyrs and saints, who throughout the ages have borne courageous witness to Christ in all our Churches, sustain and strengthen all of us in meeting the challenges of the present with confidence and hope in the future which the Lord is opening before us."