Vatican City, 30 January 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Consistory Hall the Pope received thirty representatives of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, constituted in 2003 following an initiative of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the ecclesiastical authorities of the family of Oriental Orthodox Churches. During the last ten years, from a historical perspective, it has examined the roads through which the Churches have expressed their communion in the first centuries, and what this means for our search for communion today. During this week's meeting, the Commission embarked upon a deeper examination of the nature of the Sacraments, especially Baptism.
Francis recalled the inspiring commitment to dialogue of His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I Was, Patriarch of the Syro-Orthodox Church of Antioch and all the East, who died last year, and joined in prayer with the clergy and the faithful for this “dedicated servant of God”.
“At this time we especially feel dismay and deep sadness at what is happening in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Syria. I think of all those living in the region, including our Christian brothers and sisters, and many minorities, who are experiencing the effects of a prolonged and painful conflict. I join you in praying for a negotiated solution and in imploring God's goodness and mercy upon all those affected by this immense tragedy. All Christians are called to work together, in mutual acceptance and trust, in order to serve the cause of peace and justice. May the intercession and example of many martyrs and saints who have borne courageous witness of Christ in all our Churches sustain and strengthen you and your Christian communities”.