Concern For Immigrants, Middle East Christians Focus Of Catholic Dialogue With Oriental Orthodox

October 23, 2012 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—Catholics and OrientalOrthodox church leaders agreed that they would benefit from a better exchangeof information regarding the programs available for new immigrant arrivals inthe United States. The group of 20 participants representing Roman Catholics andfive Oriental Orthodox churches were gathered for the Oriental Orthodox-RomanCatholic Consultation, October 15-16, at the Divine Compassion Spirituality Centerin White Plains, New York.

As part of its mission to fosterChristian unity, the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs ofthe U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) meets annually with members ofthe Oriental Orthodox churches. Along with ministering to immigrantcommunities, the dialogue also discussed the plight of Christians in the MiddleEast.

Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany,New York, and Metropolitan Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim of the Eastern Archdiocese ofthe Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch (Oriental Orthodox) co-chaired thedialogue. This was the Metropolitan's first meeting since his appointment as newco-chairman of the dialogue. He succeeds Very Reverend Chorbishop John Meno,also of the Syriac Orthodox Church, who had served as Oriental Orthodoxco-chairman since 1985 and recently retired from the active ministry. Themembers expressed their gratitude to Father Meno for his many years of faithfulservice to this dialogue.

Presenters at the dialogue wereMaronite Catholic Bishop Gregory Mansour of Brooklyn, Allison Posner, directorof advocacy for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), JulianneBarsoum Jabaly of the Syriac Orthodox Church, and Michael Guglielmo, executivedirector of the Armenian Eastern Diocese.

On Monday evening the memberstraveled to St. Nersess Armenian Seminary in New Rochelle, New York. Togetherthey celebrated Armenian Vespers in the seminary chapel and attended a dinnerhosted by Father Daniel Findikyan, the rector. Later in the evening the membershad a wide-ranging discussion of major events in the lives of their churchesboth in the United States and overseas.

On Tuesday morning the dialogueexamined the situation of Christians in the Middle East. Bishop Mansour presentedthe recent Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Benedict XVI, Ecclesia in Medio Oriente. He discussed the structure andfunctioning of the Synod of Bishops, and what the document had to say about theChristian presence in that part of the world. The members are deeply worriedabout the future of Christian communities in the region.

At last year's October meeting, themembers examined the history of this dialogue and the 2010 statement of theNorth American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation, entitled "StepsTowards a Reunited Church: A Sketch of an Orthodox-Catholic Vision For theFuture" ( is scheduled to meet again in October 2013.

The Oriental Orthodox-Roman CatholicConsultation was established in 1978, and is sponsored jointly by the USCCBCommittee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and the Standing Conferenceof Oriental Orthodox Churches America, which includes representatives from the Armenian (Catholicossate ofEtchmiadzin), Coptic, Ethiopian, and Syriac Orthodox Churches.

More information on the U.S.bishops' ongoing dialogue with the Oriental Orthodox is available online:


Keywords: Secretariat for Ecumenical and InterrelgiousAffairs, SEIA, Roman Catholic, Oriental Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox, ArmenianOrthodox, dialogue, Bishop Howard Hubbard, Bishop Gregory Mansour, MetropolitanMor Cyril Aphrem Karim, immigrants, Middle East

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MEDIA CONTACT ONLY:Don ClemmerO: 202-541-3206Email