Catholic and Orthodox Christians are moving towards unity, the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics declared at the end of his recent general audience in St Peter's Square, Rome. The Pope endorsed an international commission on the issue.
Vatican Information Service (VIS) reports the Pope as saying that The Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox', holding its 10th plenary assembly in Ravenna, Italy, was focussing on the ecclesiological and canonical consequences of the sacramental nature of the Church."
Ecclesiology is about how the nature of the church is understood and accounted for. Canon is church law. A sacramental approach is one that sees ecclesial structure and practices infused by divine action.
"I ask you to join me in my prayer," said Benedict, "that this important gathering may help us to progress towards full communion between Catholics and Orthodox, and that we may soon be able to share the one chalice of the Lord."
Later the Vatican announced that Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum,' has arranged to meet with Patriarch Alexis II in Moscow next week.
"The visit comes in the context of a series of meetings that the president of 'Cor Unum' will make in the Russian Federation between October 15 and 21," reads the statement. "From October 15 to 17 he will be at Novosibirsk, the capital of the region of Siberia where, accompanied by Bishop Joseph Werth, he will visit Caritas, the Franciscan school and the Sisters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. In this area the Catholic Church has distinguished itself in recent years for the increase of charitable initiatives throughout the territory.
"From October 18 to 21, Archbishop Cordes - as a guest of Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz - will participate in the work of Caritas groups throughout the Russian Federation. In Russia, this sector is at the basis of much fruitful collaboration with the Orthodox Church. The meeting is particularly significant because it is taking place a year and a half after the publication of Pope Benedict XVI's first Encyclical, which was dedicated to charity. It will, then, be an opportunity to verify how 'Deus caritas est' has inspired charitable commitment in this vast country.
"The talks with bishops and volunteers of Russian Caritas on the influence of 'Deus caritas est,' the visit to Siberia and the meeting with Alexis III, make this trip an important stage of the mission of the Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum'."