After celebrating Mass in private at the apostolic delegation in Jerusalem, at 9 a.m. today the Holy Father traveled to the city's Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, where he attended an ecumenical meeting. Meeting with the Christian leaders he encouraged them to “redouble our efforts to perfect our communion, to make it complete, to bear united witness to the love of the Father Who sends the Son so that the world may know His love for us."
In his address to representatives of Christian communities in the Holy Land, Benedict XVI expressed the hope that "our gathering today will give new impetus to the work of theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches, adding to the recent fruits of study documents and other joint initiatives."
"Extending His arms on the Cross, Jesus revealed the fullness of His desire to draw all people to Himself, uniting them together as one," said the Holy Father. "In that breath, through the redemption that unites, stands our mission! Little wonder, then, that it is precisely in our burning desire to bring Christ to others, to make known His message of reconciliation, that we experience the shame of our division."
And yet, he went on, "empowered by the unifying force of the Holy Spirit ... we shall find the strength to redouble our efforts to perfect our communion, to make it complete, to bear united witness to the love of the Father Who sends the Son so that the world may know His love for us."
"It is imperative therefore that Christian leaders and their communities bear vibrant testimony to what our faith proclaims: the eternal Word, Who entered space and time in this land, Jesus of Nazareth, Who walked these streets, through His words and actions calls people of every age to His life of truth and love," he continued.
"The fundamental priority of every Christian leader is the nurturing of the faith of the individuals and families entrusted to his pastoral care. This common pastoral concern will ensure that your regular meetings are marked by the wisdom and fraternal charity necessary to support one another and to engage with both the joys and the particular difficulties which mark the lives of your people."
Benedict XVI concluded his address by saying: "I pray that the aspirations of the Christians of Jerusalem will be understood as being concordant with the aspirations of all its inhabitants, whatever their religion: a life of religious freedom and peaceful coexistence and - for young people in particular - unimpeded access to education and employment, the prospect of suitable housing and family residency, and the chance to benefit from and contribute to economic stability."
The meeting over, the Holy Father moved on to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.