Orthodox-Catholic consultation reviews relations between churches


More than a dozen clerics and theologians gathered in Washington last week to consider and discuss the advancements in Orthodox-Catholic relations, in particular in the last 40 years.

The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation held its 69th meeting Oct. 20-22 at Georgetown University. It was co-chaired by Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati and Bishop Savas of Troas, the Chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. Bishop Savas substituted for Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh, who is still recovering from a recent fall.

Fr. Brian Daley, SJ, began the session with a public lecture entitled “Forty Years of Orthodox-Catholic Relations.” He provided the history and significance of the consultation’s achievements in recent decades.

Participants continued their reflection with an examination of two texts. The first was the 1991 Agreed Statement of the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue in France entitled, “The Roman Primacy Within the Communion of Churches.” The second was an article by Jean-Marie Tillard, “The Mission of the Bishop of Rome: What is Essential, What is Expected?”

In the second theological session, participants heard a paper by Fr. Thomas FitzGerald, “The Orthodox-Oriental Orthodox Theological Dialogue,” and one by Fr. Ronald Roberson, “The Contemporary Relationship of the Catholic Church with the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Assyrian Church of the East.” Rev Nicholas Apostola presented a paper, entitled “Primacy in a Pluralistic Context”, on Saturday morning.

Numerous issues were addressed during an information session Friday evening, including the announcement of readiness of the Orthodox Church to resume the International Dialogue; developments in relations between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia; the transfer of the headquarters of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church from Lviv to Kiev; the election of Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem; the possible visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Constantinople; and the inclusion of two Greek Catholics in the “Synaxis of the Carpathian Saints” issued by Metropolitan Nicholas of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese.

Four new members were also welcomed. The new Orthodox members are Dr. John Barnet, associate professor of New Testament at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary in Crestwood, N.Y., and Rev Dr Theodore Pulcini, associate professor of religion at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The new Catholic members are Sr. Susan Wood, SCL, professor in the department of theology at Marquette University, and Vito Nicastro, associate director of the Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs in Boston.

The 70th meeting of the Consultation is scheduled for June 5-7, 2006, in Boston.

The Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), the U.S. and Canadian bishops jointly sponsor the event. Since its establishment in 1965, the Consultation has issued 22 agreed statements, which are available at: http://www.usccb.org/seia/dialogues.htm

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