Search

Vatican News
Pope meeting the members of the Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Church. Pope meeting the members of the Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Church.   (Vatican Media)

Pope calls for dialogue of life with Oriental Orthodox Churches

Pope Francis meets with members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and Oriental Orthodox Churches

By Lisa Zengarini

Pope Francis on Thursday received in audience the members of the International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches.

In his address, the Pope thanked the Commission for its precious work which has allowed substantial progress in the dialogue process towards a full communion.

He greeted, in particular, its latest achievements  in the discussion on the Sacraments which, he said, "could mark a new step forward" towards this goal.

Ecumenism is essentially baptismal

In this regard, Pope Francis shared his reflections on three points. The first point he highlighted is that ecumenism is essentially baptismal: “It is in baptism that we find the basis of the communion between Christians and our yearning for full visible unity.”, Pope Francis said.

Deepening pastoral ecumenism

In the second place, Pope Francis remarked that the broad consensus reached by the Commission not only on Baptism, but also on the other Sacraments, should encourage Catholic and Oriental Orthodox Churches to deepen pastoral ecumenism.

Noting that many pastoral agreements have already been signed over the past decades with some Eastern Orthodox Churches, which allow the faithful to participate in the Sacraments, even without being in full communion, Pope Francis expressed hope that the Holy Spirit may inspire 2ways of moving forward on this path, which regards the good of the people of God"

Ecumenism of life

The Pope went on to highlight that ecumenism already exists as a primarily local reality, not only in the Middle East, but also in Western countries where Christians from this  region  have emigrated , in the form of “ecumenism of life”.

“Many of the faithful – I think above all of those in the Middle East, but also of those who have emigrated to the West – already experience the ecumenism of life in the midst of their families, their work and their daily encounters. Frequently they also experience together the ecumenism of suffering in bearing common witness to the name of Christ, at times even at the cost of their lives.”

Pope Francis, therefore, said that theological ecumenism should "reflect not only on the dogmatic differences that emerged in the past, but also on the present experience of our faithful".

“The dialogue of doctrine must be theologically adapted to the dialogue of life that develops in the local, everyday relations between our Churches; these constitute a genuine locus or source of theology”

Walking together and involving the younger generations

To increase a greater fraternal knowledge, the Pope further emphasized the importance of involving the younger generations, active in local communities, “so that the dialogue on doctrine proceeds together with the dialogue of life”.

“The ecumenism of journeying together  takes place by walking, not only with ideas, but by walking”

Taking his cue from the theme of the next phase of discussion at the Commission, which will focus on the Virgin Mary in the teaching and life of the Church, Pope Francis concluded his address with the words of the ancient prayer to the Mother of God, invoking her protection and support.

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.  

Listen to our report:
23 June 2022, 13:24