North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation Holds 69th Meeting; Significance of Its Achievements Discussed

October 26, 2005 By Public Affairs Office
WASHINGTON (October 26, 2005)— The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation held its 69th meeting from October 20 to 22, 2005, in Washington, DC. It took place on the campus of Georgetown University, and 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.

The session began with a public lecture by Fr. Brian Daley, SJ, the Catholic co-secretary of the consultation, in Dahlgren Chapel on Thursday afternoon. Entitled "Forty Years of Orthodox-Catholic Relations," the address outlined the history and significance of the consultation's achievements in recent decades. The lecture was given in memory of Fr. John Long, SJ, a member of the consultation since 1980, who died in September. The President of Georgetown University, Dr. John J. DeGioia, introduced Fr. Daley and afterwards hosted the Consultation and guests for a dinner in Riggs Library. In his remarks before dinner, Dr. DeGioia congratulated the Consultation on its 40th anniversary, noted several important decisions it has made in that time, and cited Cardinal Cassidy's compliment in 2000 that the work of this Consultation is a "vital assistance in taking the work of the International Dialogue ahead."

The Consultation continued its reflection on primacies and conciliarity in the Church, beginning at the first theological session 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," and 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, the consultation 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." At the third theological session, held on Saturday morning, Rev Nicholas Apostola presented a paper entitled "Primacy in a Pluralistic Context."

The Consultation also had its usual Information Session on Friday evening. Items presented included the presence of a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Rome in June, the announcement of readiness of the Orthodox Church to resume the International Dialogue, and the September meeting of Orthodox participants in the dialogue at the Ecumenical Patriarchate; developments in relations between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, including the agreed statement of the two churches entitled "Relations with the Heterodox"; the transfer of the headquarters of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church from Lviv to Kiev; the withdrawal of the Antiochian Archdiocese from the National Council of Churches; the election of Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem; developments in SCOBA; 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 of the USA.

The members of the Consultation attended a Catholic Mass in Dahlgren Chapel at noon on October 21, presided over by Archbishop Pilarczyk. After the Mass, the Orthodox members of the Consultation celebrated a memorial service in memory of Fr. John Long.

Four new members of the Consultation were welcomed at this meeting. The two new Orthodox members are Dr. John Barnet, Associate Professor of New Testament at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary in Crestwood, New York, and Rev Dr Theodore Pulcini, Associate Professor of Religion at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The two new Catholic members are Sr. Susan K. Wood, SCL, Professor in the Department of Theology at Marquette University, and Mr. Vito Nicastro, Associate Director of the Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the Archdiocese of Boston.

In addition to the two co-chairmen, 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, 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 David Petras, and Father Ronald Roberson, CSP (staff).

The 70th meeting of the Consultation is due to take place from June 5 to 7, 2006, in Boston.

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 now issued 22 agreed statements on various topics. All these texts are now available on the website of the USCCB at: https://www.usccb.org/seia/dialogues.htm and on the SCOBA website at: http://www.scoba.us/resources/index.asp.