May the Middle East, "so important in God's plan of salvation, be led, through constructive dialogue and cooperation, to a future of justice and lasting peace". Today's meeting with members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches, gave the Pope occasion to renew his hopes for peace in the Holy Land and for the ecumenical journey.
Benedict XVI recalled the 10 years of the Commission's work, " as examined
from an historical perspective the various ways in which the Churches expressed
their communion in the early centuries. During this week devoted to prayer for
the unity of all Christ's followers, you have met to explore more fully the
communion and communication which existed between the Churches in the first
five centuries of Christian history. "
acknowledging the progress which has been made - he added -, I express my 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. "
of you - he said - me 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 down
the ages have borne courageous witness to Christ in all our Churches - he concluded - 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".