Pope Meets With Greek Orthodox, Armenian Churches

Expresses Joy at Signs of Ecumenical Unity

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JERUSALEM, MAY 15, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI met with representatives of Christian communities in the Holy Land, and is affirming the Catholic Church's desire to work toward common goals of unity.



The Pope said this today, the final day of his Holy Land pilgrimage, in the presence of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and All Palestine, Theophilus III, in an ecumenical meeting at the patriarchate.

The Pontiff expressed the hope that the meeting will "give new impetus to the work of theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches, adding to the recent fruits of study documents and other joint initiatives."

"Such ecumenical experience bears clear witness to the link between the unity of the Church and her mission," he noted.

The Holy Father affirmed the necessity of the witness of Christian communities, to testify to "what our faith proclaims: the eternal Word, who entered space and time in this land, Jesus of Nazareth, who walked these streets, through his words and actions calls people of every age to his life of truth and love."

Benedict XVI recognized the work of the community leaders who meet regularly together, and encouraged them in the task of upbringing and educating "a further generation of well-formed and committed Christians."

"This common pastoral concern," he added, "will ensure that your regular meetings are marked by the wisdom and fraternal charity necessary to support one another and to engage with both the joys and the particular difficulties which mark the lives of your people."

The Pope expressed a prayer that "the aspirations of the Christians of Jerusalem will be understood as being concordant with the aspirations of all its inhabitants, whatever their religion: a life of religious freedom and peaceful coexistence and -- for young people in particular -- unimpeded access to education and employment, the prospect of suitable housing and family residency, and the chance to benefit from and contribute to economic stability."

Significant growth

After this meeting, the Pontiff went to visit the Holy Sepulcher nearby, and then went to the Armenian Apostolic patriarchal church of St. James.

In the presence of Archbishop Torkom II Manoukian and members of the Armenian Church, the Holy Father affirmed that the meeting "is another step along the path towards the unity which the Lord desires for all his disciples."

He acknowledged the recent "significant growth in the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church," thanking the latter for its commitment in furthering theological dialogue between the former and the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Benedict XVI recalled his previous visits with Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, and Aram I, Catholicos of Cilicia of the Armenians.

He continued, "A particular sign of hope is the recent document on the nature and mission of the Church produced by the Mixed Commission and presented to the Churches for study and evaluation."

The Pope entrusted this effort to prayer "so that it can bear abundant fruit for the growth of Christian unity."

After the meeting, he departed Jerusalem for Tel Aviv airport, where he bade farewell to the Holy Land leaders and boarded a plane for Rome.

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On ZENIT's Web page:

Full text of address at Greek Orthodox patriarchate: http://zenit.org/article-25914?l=english

Full text of address at Armenian patriarchate: http://zenit.org/article-25916?l=english