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Pope encourages talks with Oriental Orthodox churches

CWN - January 28, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI met on January 28 with members of a joint commission for dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox churches. The Pontiff expressed appreciation for their work and confidence for the future of the ecumenical dialogue.

The Oriental Orthodox churches are those Christian bodies that broke away with Rome in the wake of the Council of Chalcedon in 451, over disagreements on the christological doctrines affirmed by that council. The Oriental Orthodox churches include the Armenian Apostolic, Syrian, and Coptic Orthodox—but not the larger Russian, Greek, and other Orthodox churches of the Byzantine tradition.

Since the commission was established in 2003, the Holy Father observed, the group has reached a basis for agreement on the nature of the Church. The Pope observed: “We can only be grateful that after almost 1,500 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 Savior Jesus Christ in the world.” The commission has now moved on to discussions on the communion among Christian churches prior to the Council of Chalcedon, and the role of monasticism in early Christianity.

In addressing the Orthodox members of the panel, Pope Benedict noted that many “come from regions where Christian individuals and communities face trials and difficulties that are a cause of deep concern for us all. “ He emphasized that all Christians have a moral obligation to work for justice and to support each other in such times of need.

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