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USCCB News Release Archives

September 28, 2010

Catholic-Oriental Orthodox Dialogue Discusses Proselytism, Other Pastoral Issues Facing Their Churches

WASHINGTON (September 28, 2010) —The United States Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic Consultation held its 2010 meeting at the Passionist Spiritual Center in Bronx, New York, on September 20 and 21. The meeting, co-chaired by Catholic Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, New York, and the Right Reverend Chor-Episcopos John Meno of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, focused primarily on pastoral issues facing both churches.

They discussed the pastoral responses of the churches to proselytizing efforts—the seeking of converts from members of other Christian communities—of certain Evangelical and Pentecostal groups both in the United States and in the countries where these churches originated. From a Catholic perspective, Father Juan Luis Calderon of the Archdiocese of Newark gave a talk entitled, “The Follower, the Seeker and the Convert: Hispanics and Their Experience of God.” Additional reflections were offered by Father Daniel Findikyan, who focused on the Armenian Church, and by Father Yacob Ghaly, who drew on the experience of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt, where such efforts have weakened this ancient church.

The members also heard a report from Brother David Carroll, FSC, on the policy of the Holy See regarding the Holy Land and the final status of Jerusalem. In his talk, Brother Carroll reviewed the history of this issue, the major negotiations that have taken place in recent decades, and the Holy See’s position, which advocates the preservation of the religious characteristics of Jerusalem, equality of rights of the communities of the three major religions found in the city, the preservation of the holy places, and freedom of worship and access to them for residents and pilgrims alike.

The meeting also included reports on the situation of the individual Oriental Orthodox Churches, information about the January 2010 meeting of the International Catholic-Oriental Orthodox dialogue, the theological dialogues between the Catholic Church and the two Oriental Orthodox churches in India, as well as the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, which foresees the establishment of Personal Ordinariates in the United States and elsewhere for former Anglicans.

The members had an opportunity to pray together during a Vespers service celebrated in the Coptic Orthodox tradition. In addition Bishop Hubbard announced that Father Aelred Cody, OSB, a longtime member of the Consultation, had resigned due to his age. Father Columba Stewart, OSB, Director of the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library at St. John’s Benedictine Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, replaces him as a permanent Catholic member.

The Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic Consultation was established in 1978, and is sponsored jointly by the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches America, which includes representatives from the Armenian (Catholicossate of Etchmiadzin), Coptic, Ethiopian, and Syrian Orthodox Churches. For more information, visit:
Keywords: Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic Consultation, dialogue, proselytism, Copic, Ethiopian, Syrian Orthodox, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, Right Reverend Chor-Episcopos John Meno


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