Meeting with members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches today at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI expressed the importance of a united Christian witness in the world today.
The Holy Father began his remarks by praising the group’s commitment to the “search for reconciliation and communion in the Body of Christ.”
"The world needs a visible sign of the mystery of unity that binds the three divine Persons and, that two thousand years ago, with the Incarnation of the Son of God, was revealed to us," the Pope said. "Our communion through the grace of the Holy Spirit in the life that unites the Father and the Son has a perceptible dimension within the Church, the Body of Christ, ... and we all have a duty to work for the manifestation of that essential dimension of the Church to the world."
The Holy Father then highlighted how the commission's recently-concluded meeting "has taken important steps precisely in the study of the Church as communion.”
“The very fact that the dialogue has continued over time and is hosted each year by one of the several Churches you represent is itself a sign of hope and encouragement. We need only cast our minds to the Middle East - from where many of you come - to see that true seeds of hope are urgently needed in a world wounded by the tragedy of division, conflict and immense human suffering."
At the end of the meeting, Benedict XVI referred to the Year of St. Paul and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Noting that the week of prayer was recently brought to a close in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, the Pope pointed to the Apostle to the Gentiles’ example. "Paul," he explained, "was the first great champion and theologian of the Church's unity. His efforts and struggles were inspired by the enduring aspiration to maintain a visible, not merely external, but real and full communion among the Lord's disciples."