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Thursday, February 1, 2007


VATICAN CITY, FEB 1, 2007 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Pope received members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox, which is currently holding its fourth plenary meeting.

  Addressing the group in English, the Holy Father said: "Your meeting concerning the constitution and the mission of the Church is of great importance for our common journey towards the restoration of full communion. The Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches share an ecclesial patrimony stemming from apostolic times and the first centuries of Christianity. This 'heritage of experience' should shape our future 'guiding our common path towards the re-establishment of full communion'."

  "Many people today are still waiting for the truth of the Gospel to be brought to them," said Pope Benedict. "May their thirst for the Good News strengthen our resolve to work and pray diligently for that unity required for the Church to exercise her mission in the world."

  "Many of you come from countries of the Middle East," the Holy Father observed, and he recalled how Christian minorities may face difficulties in surviving "in the midst of such a volatile geopolitical panorama" and how they "are often tempted to emigrate. In these circumstances, Christians of all traditions and communities in the Middle East are called to be courageous and steadfast in the power of the Spirit of Christ.

  "May the intercession and example of the many martyrs and saints, who have given courageous witness to Christ in these lands, sustain and strengthen the Christian communities in their faith!"

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