Pope Urges Eastern Churches to Conserve Identity

Underlines Contribution to Ecumenism

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 10, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is encouraging the Eastern Catholic Churches to conserve their identity, patrimony and traditions.

The Pope stated this Saturday in an audience with participants in a congress marking the 20th anniversary of the promulgation of the Code of Canons of Eastern Churches.

The congress was organized by the Congregation for Eastern Churches, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity the Pontifical Oriental Institute, and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

The Pontiff affirmed that "the 'sacra canones' of the ancient Church, that inspire the Oriental codification in force, stimulate all the Oriental Churches to conserve their own identity, which is simultaneously Eastern and Catholic."

"In preserving the Catholic communion the Eastern Catholic Churches did not at all intend to deny their own tradition," he added.

"As has been many times repeated," the Holy Father said, "the full union of the Eastern Catholic Churches with the Church of Rome that is already realized must not lead to a diminution of the consciousness of the unique authenticity and originality of those Churches."

"For this reason," he continued, "it is the task of all the Eastern Catholic Churches to conserve the common disciplinary patrimony and nourish their own traditions, which is a treasure for the whole Church."

Benedict XVI noted that "the same 'sacri canones' of the first centuries of the Church constitute to a large extent the same basic patrimony of canonical discipline that also regulates the Orthodox Churches."

"Thus the Eastern Catholic Churches can offer a peculiar and relevant contribution to the ecumenical journey," he said.

"In the context of the Church's current effort for a new evangelization," the Pope affirmed, "canon law, as the peculiar and indispensable ordering of ecclesial fellowship, will not fail to contribute to the life and the mission of the Church in the world, if all the components of the People of God know how to interpret is wisely and apply it faithfully."

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