VATICAN CITY (CNS) — United in their baptism and their faith in Jesus, Christians have an obligation to show the world that differences in language and culture do not have to lead to division and violence, Pope Benedict XVI said.
"The world needs a visible sign" of unity, the pope told members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches.
The pope met Jan. 30 with the commission members, who represent the Catholic Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church, Coptic Orthodox Church, Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Syrian Orthodox Church, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and Eritrean Orthodox Church.
Each of the churches involved in the dialogue brings the richness of its own traditions along with a commitment "to overcome the divisions of the past and to strengthen the united witness of Christians in the face of the enormous challenges facing believers today," the pope said.
While united spiritually as Disciples of Christ, he said, Christians also are called to be united visibly as one church.
"We need only cast our minds to the Middle East — from where many of you come — to see that true seeds of hope are urgently needed in a world wounded by the tragedy of division, conflict and immense human suffering," the pope said.