The Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation Holds its 72nd Meeting

Friday, June 15, 2007

PRESS RELEASE

The seventy-second meeting of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation took place at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York, from June 4 to 6. It was chaired on the Catholic side by Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati. Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburg, the Orthodox Co-Chair, was not able to attend because of a meeting of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul. Rev. Dr. Thomas FitzGerald and Professor Robert Haddad served as substitute Orthodox chairmen.

The first theological session, on Monday afternoon, began with a paper read by Robert Haddad, Professor Emeritus of Church History at Smith College, “Philosophical Theology in Medieval Greek and Latin Christianity: The Parting of the Ways.” Later in the session, Sr Susan Wood, SCL, of the Department of Theology at Marquette University, presented two documents with the same title, “The Nature and Purpose of Ecumenical Dialogue,” by Cardinal Walter Kasper and the Joint Working Group between the Holy See and the World Council of Churches.

On Tuesday morning at the second theological session, Rev. Peter Galadza of the Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies in Ottawa read his paper, “A Universal Primacy in the Service of the New Humanity? An Inquiry into Ethno-Exclusivism and its Ecclesial Cures.” At the third theological session on Tuesday afternoon, Rev. Alexander Golitzin, professor of theology at Marquette University, presented a study entitled, “The Magisterium of Sanctity: Conceptions of Sanctity in the Christian East and the Teaching Role of Holy Persons.” At the fourth theological session on Wednesday morning, Rev. Sidney Griffith of the Institute of Christian Oriental Research at the Catholic University of America offered a paper entitled, “Talking Points Toward a Biblical Hermeneutic for Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christians in Dialogue: Reflections from a Roman Catholic’s Perspective.”

As usual, two evening sessions during the consultation were devoted to information sharing about major events in the lives of the two churches. Topics discussed included the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Turkey and his meetings with His All Holiness Bartholomew at the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the election of a new Archbishop of Cyprus, the international Orthodox-Catholic Dialogue, the meeting of the Eastern Catholic Bishops of North America in Chicago last October, developments in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the visit of Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens to Rome in December, developments in the Orthodox Church in America, the November meeting of the St Irenaeus Joint Working Group, a joint Catholic-Orthodox pilgrimage to Rome, Istanbul and Saint Petersburg being organized in Boston, the establishment of full communion between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate, new Ambassadors to the Holy See from Turkey, Syria, Romania, Montenegro and Ukraine, the international Catholic-Oriental Orthodox Dialogue, the withdrawal of recognition of Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem by Jordan, the recent op-ed piece on the date of Easter in the New York Times by Archbishop Demetrios, developments in SCOBA, the meeting between SCOBA and Oriental Orthodox bishops, and the letter Patriarch Aleksy II of Moscow wrote to Pope Benedict XVI on the occasion of his 80th birthday.

At this meeting the Consultation welcomed a new member, Rev. Lucien Coutu, CSC, founder of the Emmaus Center for Hesychastic Spirituality in Montréal, Québec. He will now serve as one of the two representatives on the consultation named by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. In addition, Fr. Mark Arey, the new Director of the Office of Ecumenical Affairs at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and General Secretary of SCOBA, attended for the first time. Fr. James Massa, Executive Director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, was also in attendance as part of a visitation of all the dialogues conducted by the Conference.

During this 72nd meeting, the members of the Consultation were able to participate in the liturgical life of St Vladimir’s Seminary, attending a Eucharist and Vespers service in the seminary chapel.

The members accepted with gratitude a kind invitation from Loyola Marymount University to host the seventy-third meeting of the consultation. Consequently it is due to take place in Los Angeles, California, from October 25 to 27, 2007. The seventy-fourth meeting was set for June 2 to 4, 2008, at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts. The seventy-fifth meeting was scheduled for October 23-25, 2008, to take place in Montréal, Québec, under the auspices of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In addition to the two co-chairs, the other Orthodox members of the Consultation include Father Thomas FitzGerald (Secretary), Father Nicholas Apostola, Prof. Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Father James Dutko, Prof. Paul Meyendorff, Father Alexander Golitzin, Dr. Robert Haddad, Father Paul Schnierla, Father Robert Stephanopoulos, Dr. John Barnet, Rev Dr Theodore Pulcini, and Father Mark Arey, General Secretary of SCOBA (staff). The additional Catholic members are Father Brian Daley, SJ (Secretary), Prof. Thomas Bird, Father Lucien Coutu, CSC, Father Peter Galadza, Chorbishop John D. Faris, Father John Galvin, Father Sidney Griffith, ST, Father Joseph Komonchak, Father Paul McPartlan, Father David Petras, Sr Susan K. Wood, SCL, Dr. Vito Nicastro, and Father Ronald Roberson, CSP (staff).

The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation is sponsored jointly by the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), the Bishops'' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. Since its establishment in 1965, the Consultation has issued 22 agreed statements on various topics. All these texts are now available on the website of the USCCB at http://www.usccb.org/seia/officialdialogues.shtml and on the SCOBA website at http://www.scoba.us/resources.html