Vatican City (AsiaNews) - In areas where Eastern Christians live, that is, especially in the Middle East, "individuals and communities must face trials and difficulties" and this causes "deep concern" for Catholics and Orthodox. "All Christians need to work together in mutual acceptance and trust in order to serve the cause of peace and justice." This was just one of Benedict XVI’s reflections during the encounter which took place this morning, with the participants at the meeting of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches.
Benedict XVI reflected on the stages of the Commission's work. "The first phase of the dialogue, from 2003 to 2009, resulted in the common text entitled Nature, Constitution and Mission of the Church. The document outlined aspects of fundamental ecclesiological principles that we share and identified issues requiring deeper reflection in successive phases of the dialogue. We can only be grateful that after almost fifteen hundred years of separation we still find agreement about the sacramental nature of the Church, about apostolic succession in priestly service and about the impelling need to bear witness to the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in the world".
"In the second phase the Commission has reflected from an historical perspective on the ways in which the Churches expressed their communion down the ages. During the meeting this week you are deepening your study of the communion and communication that existed between the Churches until the mid-fifth century of Christian history, as well as the role played by monasticism in the life of the early Church".It is a dialogue, in the words of the Pope, in which "we must have confidence" and that "will lead our Churches not only to understand each other more deeply, but resolutely to continue our journey decisively towards the full communion to which we are called by the will of Christ. "
Tomorrow Pope Francis goes to the Pontifical Oriental Institute together with patriarchs and metropolitans of the Eastern Catholic Churches to celebrate the centenary. The occasion is also the centenary of the birth of the Vatican Congregation for the Oriental Churches. The richness of oriental traditions, their experience of coexistence (and persecution) with other religions, their life alongside Latin traditions.
Receiving members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, among other things Francis says that extremism and fundamentalism are fertile ground in situations where there is "poverty, inequality, and social exclusion", and "vested interests, which are often external".