WASHINGTON—The Joint Committee of Orthodox and Catholic Bishops met on May 22-24, at the Saint Methodios Faith and Heritage Center in Contoocook, New Hampshire. The purpose of the Joint Committee is to contribute to the restoration of full communion between the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church.
The Joint Committee is the first formal gathering of Orthodox and Catholic bishops blessed and supported by both churches, and is co-chaired by Cardinal Sean O'Malley, O.F.M. Cap., of Boston, and Metropolitan Methodios of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston.
In their mission statement, the bishops said that they will address together topics related to the pastoral life and witness of the churches. Among the common statements that the Joint Committee has issued, include: Ordination (1988), Pastoral Statement on Orthodox/Roman Catholic Marriages (1990), and on Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue at the Dawn of the New Millennium (2000).
The bishops received a summary of the work of the Joint Committee by Fr. Ron Roberson, associate director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, and on the work of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation by Fr. Brian Daley of Notre Dame University. Moreover, the Archdeacon John Chryssavgis of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America presented a summary and a reflection on the upcoming Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church.
The religious leaders expressed their hopes and prayers for the Holy and Great Council, which will be convened by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the island of Crete on June 16-27. Recognizing the importance of the Holy and Great Council for the common Christian witness of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, the Joint Committee expressed its hopes "that unity among the local autocephalous Orthodox Churches will greatly benefit the quest for unity and communion between Catholics and Orthodox."
The Joint Committee also addressed the ongoing and worsening humanitarian crisis in the Middle East. The bishops acknowledged the escalation of violence against Christians, which has been described by the U.S. Congress as genocide. Moreover, the bishops expressed their gratitude to those countries "that have embraced the countless refugees and migrants during this time." They also encouraged all people of faith to entreat the Lord God, Who is not a God of disorder, but of peace (1 Cor. 14:33), to fill those who are afflicted with His joy and peace.
The Joint Committee was established in 1981 by the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in America, now the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States, and by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
For more information about the Joint Committee of Orthodox and Catholic Bishops, including its current membership, see: www.usccb.org and www.assemblyofbishops.org
The complete texts of the Joint Committee's Statements can be found at: www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical-and-interreligious/index.cfm
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Joint Committee of Orthodox and Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Sean O'Malley, Metropolitan Methodios, Bartholomew, Orthodox, refugees
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Norma Montenegro Flynn
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