North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation Continues Study of Primacy and Conciliarity

July 23, 2005 By Public Affairs Office
WASHINGTON (June 23, 2005)--The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation held its 68th meeting from June 6 to 8, 2005, at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York. It was co-chaired by Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh and Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati.

In its theological sessions the Consultation continued its study of primacy and conciliarity in the Church. Fr Alexander Golitzin offered a review of the papers presented at the Consultation during its earlier consideration of this topic in the 1980s. Fr Joseph Komonchak of the Catholic University of America presented a paper entitled, "On the Priority of the Universal Church: Analysis and Questions," in which he focused on the ecclesiology of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In a second presentation, Fr Komonchak analyzed the first three chapters of the Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus of the First Vatican Council (1870) that deal with the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, and the current state of research on the Council. In this context he also reviewed the 1875 statement of the German Catholic bishops on episcopal powers, and the 1998 "Reflections" of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "The Primacy of the Successor of Peter in the Mystery of the Church." Fr Thomas FitzGerald of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology presented a paper on the Orthodox encyclicals of 1848 and 1895 which express Orthodox perspectives on the actions and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church during that period, especially with regard to the position of the Bishop of Rome.

The Consultation also had an opportunity to review recent major events in the lives of their churches. Among these were the death of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope
Benedict XVI, the death of Archbishop Iakovos who played a key role in the founding of this
dialogue in 1965, the return of the relics of Sts. John Chrysostom and Gregory the Theologian to Constantinople, the situation in the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and the grant from Mr. Emmanuel Prokopis in support of this Consultation.

The members were particularly pleased to join the St. Vladimir's community for the celebration of the Leavetaking of Pascha, including a Divine Liturgy in the seminary chapel on Wednesday, June 8.

At its next meeting, which is scheduled for October 2005, the Consultation intends to continue its study of primacy and conciliarity with papers on the correspondence between Pope Innocent III and various church and civil authorities in the East at the turn of the 13th century, contemporary relations with the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Assyrian Church of the East, the canons of the Council of 879 regarding jurisdiction, and relations between power, authority and pluralism in the church today.

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 available on the website of the USCCB at: and on the SCOBA website at:

In addition to the two co-chairmen, the 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, Father Emmanuel Gratsias, Dr. Robert Haddad, Father Paul Schnierla, Father Robert Stephanopoulos, and Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos, General Secretary of SCOBA (staff). The additional Catholic members are Father Brian Daley, SJ (secretary), Prof. Thomas Bird, Father Peter Galadza, Msgr. John D. Faris, Father John Galvin, Father Sidney Griffith, ST, Father Joseph Komonchak, Father John Long, SJ, Father David Petras, and Father Ronald Roberson, CSP (staff).