Meeting of North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation Held

June 18, 2002 By Public Affairs Office
WASHINGTON (June 18, 2002) – The sixty-second meeting of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation met at Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Brookline, MA, June 3-5, 2002, for their spring session.

Co-sponsored by the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, twelve Orthodox and ten Catholic theologians continued their on-going discussions of theological issues. Topic for this session was a continuation of their study on the filioque.

Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh and Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati co-chaired the three-day meeting. Archbishop Pilarczyk was newly-appointed to the Consultation by Bishop Tod Brown of Orange, Chairman of the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. He succeeds Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee who stepped down after the October 2001 meeting in view of his impending retirement.

The first theological session was led by Professor Fr Brian Daley, SJ, who discussed the Holy Spirit in Augustine and the work carried out recently on the filioque by the Pro Oriente foundation in Vienna, Austria. He also commented on Thomas Weinandy's article, "Clarifying the Filioque: The Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue."

The second day began with Divine Liturgy, celebrated by Metropolitan Maximos at Holy Cross Chapel. In the second theological session, reviews on the filioque in contemporary Orthodox theology were given by Fr Nicholas Apostola (Romanian Archdiocese), who spoke on the theology of Fr Dumitru Staniloae, and Fr James Dutko (Carpatho-Russian Diocese), who surveyed Fr John Meyendorff's writing on the topic.

For the third theological session, Professor Fr Thomas FitzGerald (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese), reviewed the filioque in contemporary bilateral ecumenical dialolgues with the Orthodox, beginning with the discussions that have taken place under the auspices of the World Council of Churches. He then examined the work of bilateral dialogues involving the Orthodox Church, including international dialogues with the Old Catholic Churches, the Roman Catholic Church, the Reformed Churches, the Anglican Communion, and the Orthodox-Lutheran dialogue in the United States. Fr Peter Galadza (Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops) and Professor Susan Ashbrook Harvey (Antiochian Archdiocese) reviewed points of convergence between eastern and western traditions and work of the dialogue to-date.

In the fourth and final theological session, participants considered a proposed joint statement which will be drafted over the summer months for consideration at the next meeting.

The Consultation also heard a number of reports about major events in the lives of our churches. Archbishop Pilarczyk presented an overview of the crisis in the Catholic Church over the handling of sex abuse cases by the clergy and the issues the Catholic bishops will be facing when they meet in Dallas. There was also a wide ranging discussion of the crisis in relations between the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church occasioned by the creation of four Catholic dioceses in Russia in February 2002. Other topics discussed included the election of a new Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and its relations with the Moscow Patriarchate, the intercommunion agreement between the Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Catholic Church, relations between the Orthodox and the World Council of Churches, the election of John Erickson as Dean of St Vladimir's Seminary in Crestwood, NY, the consecration of Holy Myrrh at the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the drafting of a new Charter for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, developments in the international Orthodox-Catholic dialogue, Cardinal Kasper's Prolusio at the Plenary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, new Ruthenian Catholic bishops in Van Nuys and Pittsburgh, the visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch to America last March, the election of a new Romanian Orthodox Archbishop of America, the visit of a delegation of the Orthodox Church of Greece to Rome, the retirement of Metropolitan Theodosius of the Orthodox Church in America, and the visit of Pope John Paul II to Bulgaria.

The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation has been meeting semiannually since it was founded in 1965 under the auspices of the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA). It works in tandem with the Joint Committee of Orthodox and Catholic Bishops which has been meeting annually since 1981.

Theologians representing the Catholic Church included Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati, Professor Robin Darling Young (Catholic University), Professor Fr John Galvin (Catholic University), Fr Peter Galadza, Fr John Long, SJ (America House), Sister Donna Geernaert, SC (Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops), Professor Fr Brian Daley, SJ (Notre Dame), Professor Fr David Petras (Byzantine Catholic Seminary), Professor Thomas Bird (Queens College), and Fr Ron Roberson, CSP, of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, DC.

From the Orthodox delegation, Metropolitan Maximos, Professor Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Professor John Erickson (Orthodox Church in America), Professor Fr Alexander Golitzin (Orthodox Church in America), Fr Paul Schneirla (Antiochian Archdiocese), Professor Lewis Patsavos (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese), Dr Robert Haddad (Antiochian Arcdiocese), Fr Nicholas Apostola, Fr James Dutko, Professor Fr Alkiviadis Calivas (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese) and Professor Fr Thomas Fitzgerald. Staff: Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos, General Secretary of SCOBA and Fr Gregory Havrilak of the offices for Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations, SCOBA.

The next meeting of the Orthodox-Catholic Consultation is scheduled for October 31-November 2, 2002 at St Paul's Seminary in Ottawa, Canada, under the auspices of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.