The Roman Pope thanks God for dialogue with Oriental Orthodox Churches

Pope Francis of Rome greets the members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches — Photo courtesy: Vatican Media

Address of His Holiness Pope Francis To The Joint International Commission For Theological Dialogue Between The Catholic Church And The Oriental Orthodox Churches

VATICAN CITY, Feb. 01, 2019 – Here is the address the Roman Pope Francis gave upon receiving in audience members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches.

Complete text of the Roman Pope Francis’s address, in English:

Friday, 1st February 2019

Dear Brothers,

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Ps 133:1). With these words of the Psalm, I offer you my cordial welcome and I thank you for your commitment to walking along the paths of unity, and for doing so in a spirit of fraternity! I am pleased, every second year, to welcome you to Rome on the occasion of your dialogue which last year was held in the See of Holy Etchmiadzin at the invitation of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Through you, I extend my greetings to my venerable and dear Brothers, Heads of the Oriental Orthodox Churches. I am grateful for the kind words of His Grace Bishop Kyrillos, the new Co-President of the Commission, whom I assure of my prayers and best wishes for his work. With gratitude, I also remember his predecessor, beloved Metropolitan Anba Bishoy, who was the first Co-President and who recently passed away. I join you in praying for him.

At the conclusion of your work this week, the sixteenth session of your Commission, we can together thank the Lord for the fruits already gathered along the way. Your dialogue expresses well how, between the East and the West, the “various theological expressions are to be considered often as mutually complementary rather than conflicting” (Unitatis Redintegratio, 17), as affirmed by the Second Vatican Council, whose sixtieth anniversary of its announcement we celebrated a few days ago. I offer my prayer and encouragement that your current reflection on the Sacraments may help us to continue the journey towards full communion, towards the shared celebration of the Holy Eucharist. You have dedicated this session to reflecting on the Sacrament of Matrimony. I like to recall what the book of Genesis says about this: “God created man in his own image… male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27). Man is fully in the image of God not when he is alone, but when he lives in a stable communion of love, because God is a communion of love. I am certain that your work, carried out in an atmosphere of great harmony, will be to the benefit of the family of God’s children, the Spouse of Christ, who we desire to present to the Lord “without spot or wrinkle” (Eph 5:27), without wounds and without divisions, but in the beauty of full communion.

Many of you belong to the Churches of the Middle East which have suffered terribly as a result of war, violence and persecution. As I meet you here, I recall the recent meeting in Bari which brought us together as Heads of Churches for a deeply intense day of prayer and reflection on the situation in the Middle East, an experience, I hope, which may be repeated. I want to assure all the faithful in the Middle East of my closeness, my constant thoughts and my prayers that this land, unique in God’s salvific plan, may, after the long night of conflict, witness the dawn of peace. The Middle East must become a land of peace, it cannot continue to bea land of hostility. May war, the daughter of power and destitution, give way to peace, the daughter of law and justice and may our Christian brothers and sisters be recognized as full citizens enjoying equal rights (cf. Address at the Conclusion of the Dialogue, Bari, 7 July 2018).

The lives of many saints of our Churches are seeds of peace sown in those lands; they are now blossoming in heaven. From there they support us on our journey to full communion, a journey that God desires, a journey that summons us to walk, not according to fleeting convenience, but on the path of openness to the Lord’s will: that “all may be one” (Jn 17:21). He calls us, ever increasingly, to a coherent witness of life and to an authentic pursuit of unity. The seed of this communion, thanks also to your important work, has blossomed and continues to be watered by the blood of the witnesses of unity, by so much blood shed by the martyrs of our time: members of different Churches who, united by the same suffering for the name of Jesus, now share the same glory.

Dear Brothers, as I renew my heartfelt gratitude for your visit, counting on the intercession of these martyrs, I invoke upon you and your ministry the blessing of the Lord. And now, if agreeable to you, we can pray the Our Father, each in our own language.

— Photo courtesy: Vatican Media

Address of H.G. Bishop Kyrillos, the Co-Chairman of the Joint International Commission For Theological Dialogue Between the Roman Catholic Church And The Oriental Orthodox Churches.

February 1, 2019
Tobe 24, 1735
Martyrdom of St. Timothy the Apostle


Apostolic greetings from all Their Holinesses, the Heads of the Oriental Orthodox Family of Churches, whom we are representing in this meeting today: the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and all the East, the Armenian Orthodox Catholicosate of Holy Etchmiadzin, the Armenian Orthodox Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and the Malankara Orthodox-Syrian Church. I also convey special greetings from His Holiness Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.

I humbly speak before Your Holiness after my brothers graciously elected me as the new cochairman to succeed His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy, of blessed memory, who after returning from an ecumenical visit this last October, took a quick flight to our Lord and Savior. We feel the loss of his physical presence with us in our meetings, but trust that he is continuing his work through his prayers for us in our journey towards unity.

This is the 16th meeting of our Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, and the eighth time we meet here in Rome, where we are enjoying the hospitality of Your Holiness together with the hospitality of His Eminence Cardinal Kurt Koch, co-chairman of the Commission. This year’s subject was devoted to the theology and practice of marriage.

Marriage was one of the most challenging and important subjects we have discussed. Challenging because of its interdisciplinary nature that touches on the understanding of Holy Scripture, theology,
sacramental theology, liturgical history, canon law, and pastoral care. Marriage is also relevant for our people and clergy. We know how tirelessly Your Holiness has labored in the past few years to restore
peace and harmony to each family, not only in the synod of bishops, but also in the World Meeting of Families, and in many homilies. We deeply appreciate Your Holiness’s efforts to preserve and revive the Christian family in the midst of many attacks and divisions today.

Our study of the Sacraments was the third major subject the Commission has undertaken since it began its work in 2004. We have realized the need to dedicate next year’s meeting on sacramental theology to help us in preparation of our third common document.

We hope and pray that along this journey together we can discover new ways to preserve the unity within our marriages and churches, as a preparation to restore full unity in the One, Holy, Catholic
and Apostolic Church.

+ Kyrillos
Co-Chairman of the Commission
Auxiliary Bishop in the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles
Dean of St Athanasius and St. Cyril Theological School

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