Fifteen leaders of the Australian Christian church met the Pope in an Ecumenical event held in the St. Mary’s Cathedral Crypt on Friday morning. In his address to the church leaders, Benedict XVI called on them to not view doctrine as divisive since that view can prevent Christians from working to improve the world.
Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell represented the Catholic Church, while Rev. Robert Forsythe was present for the Anglican Church. Leaders representing the Syrian Orthodox, Maronite Catholics, Indian Orthodox, Chinese Methodist, the Lutheran and Uniting churches were also present.
Youth representatives were also present at the event, where approximately fifty guests were present because of their involvement in the Ecumenical Council of New South Wales.
The pope delivered a short address to the leaders, praising their commitment to the ecumenical movement, citing the Covenant signed in 2004 by the members of the National Council of Churches in Australia.
“This document recognizes a common commitment, sets out goals, and acknowledges points of convergence without glossing over differences,” said the Pope.
While Baptism is the starting point for ecumenical dialogue, the Pope said that, “The road of ecumenism ultimately points towards a common celebration of the Eucharist… we can be sure that a common Eucharist one day would only strengthen our resolve to love and serve one another in imitation of our Lord.”
"For this reason, a candid dialogue concerning the place of the Eucharist - stimulated by a renewed and attentive study of scripture, patristic writings, and documents from across the two millennia of Christian history - will undoubtedly help to advance the ecumenical movement and unify our witness to the world," the Pontiff said.
The ecumenical movement has, the Pope observed, "reached a critical juncture. To move forward, we must continually ask God to renew our minds with the Holy Spirit, Who speaks to us through the scriptures and guides us into all truth. We must guard against any temptation to view doctrine as divisive and hence an impediment to the seemingly more pressing and immediate task of improving the world in which we live.”
This emphasis will lead to our works of charity speaking more eloquently of God’s bountiful goodness and love towards all, Pope Benedict said.
Finally the Pope concluded his address by calling on the Christian world to work together.
“As ‘fellow citizens’ of the ‘household of God,’ Christians must work together to ensure that the edifice stands strong so that others will be attracted to enter and discover the treasures of grace within.”
Following the meeting Pope met with religious leaders of other major faiths, at nearby St. Mary’s Cathedral Chapter House.