By Seán-Patrick Lovett
Pope Francis quoted the Second Vatican Council document, Unitatis Redintegratio, when he affirmed that this dialogue expresses well how, between East and West, the “various theological expressions are to be considered often as mutually complementary rather than conflicting”. At the conclusion of this sixteenth session of the Commission’s work, he said, “we can together thank the Lord for the fruits already gathered along the way”.
Sacrament of Matrimony
The Joint International Commission is currently reflecting on the Sacraments. Pope Francis said he hopes and prays that these reflections “may help us to continue the journey towards full communion, towards the shared celebration of the Holy Eucharist”.
The session that has just concluded, dedicated itself to the Sacrament of Matrimony. “Man is fully in the image of God”, said the Pope, “when he lives in a stable communion of love, because God is a communion of love”.
Turning his attention to the Churches of the Middle East, Pope Francis recalled those that have “suffered terribly as a result of war, violence and persecution.” The Pope confirmed his closeness, constant thoughts and prayers, “that this land, unique in God’s salvific plan, may, after the long night of conflict, witness the dawn of peace”.
The Pope recalled the lives of the “many saints of our churches”. He called them “seeds of peace sown in those lands”, seeds that continue to be “watered by the blood of the witnesses of unity”, the “martyrs of our time”, he said.
Composition of the Commission
The International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, was established in January 2003, by a joint initiative of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and the authorities of the Coptic Orthodox Church; the Syriac Orthodox Church; the Armenian Apostolic Church, represented by the two Catholicossates of Etchmiadzin and Cilicia, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church; the Eritrean Orthodox Church; and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.
The full text of Pope Francis' address can be found on the Holy See website.
To learn more about the dialogue with the Oriental Orthodox Churches, click here.