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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Catholics and Orthodox to the international community: listen to religious leaders in the Middle East

Vatican City, 25 September 2014 (VIS) – The eighth meeting of the Joint International Commission for dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church was held in Amman, Jordan from 15 to 23 September. It was hosted by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Theophilos III, and attended by His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan who participated in the plenary session held on the afternoon of Monday, 22 September. The meeting was attended by twenty-three members representing the Catholic Church and all the Orthodox Churches, with the exception of the Patriarchate of Bulgaria. The meetings were chaired by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and by the Metropolitan of Pergamon Ioannis (Zizioulas) of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

On the first day of the meeting, as is customary, the Roman Catholic and Orthodox members met separately to coordinate their work and to discuss, among other things, the draft text of the document “Synodality and Primacy”, drawn up by the Coordinating Committee in 2012 during the two meetings held in Rome in 2011 and Paris in 2012. Because of the many questions raised about the text, the Commission proposed the drafting of a new one, to be referred to the next Coordinating Committee for further elaboration and improvement, in view of the next plenary session of the Joint Commission.

The Commission members, assembled near the holy sites connected with the baptism of Jesus Christ, united their voices to express their deep concern for and solidarity with the Christians and members of other religious traditions of this entire region who are being persecuted, displaced and murdered. They categorically rejected the idea that such horrifying crimes can be justified in the name of God or of religion, and expressed their profound gratitude to all those engaged in bringing relief to millions of refugees and displaced persons. Furthermore, they prayed for all the religious leaders of the region, so that they might continue to comfort their people and keep alive their vision of their return to their lands and homes, which in recent times have been occupied and often profaned. The Commission implored the international community to listen seriously to those leaders regarding the most useful ways to intervene and protect those who are being persecuted, and to ensure the continuing vital presence of Christianity in the Middle East. They also launched a fresh appeal for the liberation of the Metropolitans of Aleppo, Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yazigi, and all others who have been kidnapped, including priests and religious.

The meeting of the Joint Commission was marked by a spirit of friendship and trustful collaboration. The members greatly appreciated the generous hospitality of the host Church, and they strongly commend the continuing work of the dialogue to the prayers of the faithful.

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