Oriental Orthodox-Catholic Consultation Discusses Safe Environments for Children, Church Decision-Making

October 23, 2008 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—The Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic theological consultation in the United States discussed safe environments for children and church decision-making at its annual meeting at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary in New Rochelle, N.Y., October 16-17.

The consultation was chaired jointly by Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, N.Y. and Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America.

Teresa M. Kettelkamp, Executive Director of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Washington spoke October 16, about how to create safe environments for children in church settings. She reviewed the main points of the USCCB's Charter for the Protection of Children and Young Peopleas revised in June 2005, presented the 2007 annual report on the implementation of the Charter, and made available several diocesan codes of conduct as examples of ways to ensure safe environments for children.

Members heard short presentations on how decisions are made in the two churches, October 17. Reports were presented by Bishop Hubbard, Archbishop Barsamian, Metropolitan Cyril Aphrem Karim of the Syrian Orthodox Church, and Father Yacob N. Ghaly for the Coptic Orthodox Church.

The consultation also included an exchange of information about recent major events in the churches. The Catholics spoke about the visitof Pope Benedict XVI to the United States last April and recent USCCB meetings. Archbishop Barsamian and Paulist Father Ronald Roberson, described the most recent session of the international dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. Archbishop Barsamian and Father Roberson are both members of the international group. Additional reports were heard on events in the Syrian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox and Armenian churches.

Members of the consultation voiced gratitude for the hospitality shown by Rev. Daniel Findikyan, Rector of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, and the staff. They noted they were especially pleased to join the seminary community for a Vespers service, October 16.

The Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic Consultation was established in 1978, and is sponsored jointly by the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenicaland Interreligious Affairs and the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches America, which includes representatives from the Armenian (Catholicossate of Etchmiadzin), Coptic, Ethiopian, and SyrianOrthodox Churches. The agreed statements it has produced over the years along with press releases about the dialogue are posted on the USCCB website at: https://www.usccb.org/seia/oriental_orthodox.shtmlThe next consultation is slated for September 30-October 1, in New York City.