Monday, February 04, 2013
Summary Report: Committee for Ecumenical Relations
Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos (GOA), Chair
Members in Attendance
Bishop Demetrios (GOA), Chair Bishop Melchisedek (OCA)
Bishop Alexander (AOCA)
Consultants in Attendance
Rev. Fr. Mark Arey, Committee Liason Rev. Fr. Thomas Fitzgerald, Rev. Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky, Rev. Fr. John Morris, Anne Glynn-Mackoul (by phone)
Rev. Fr. Thomas Hopko
A meeting of the Committee for Ecumenical Relations of the Assembly of Bishops was held on the campus of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology on Thursday, May 17, 2012.
In addition to committee members and consultants, His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, visiting the seminary, shared comments and thoughts at this meeting concerning ecumenical activities in Europe.
This initial meeting of the committee focused on reviewing its portfolio as assigned, with a review of its responsibilities and a discussion regarding current, past or future activities to be undertaken by the committee itself, as well as the status of various ecumenical engagements ongoing (or suspended)—those previously under the oversight of SCOBA, and those activities of particular jurisdictions or theological schools.
During the discussion, it became apparent that the committee would benefit by including additional consultants whose experience in their own jurisdiction will be invaluable as our work progresses, and perhaps expanding the membership of the committee itself as necessary. Additionally, the members felt that there is a need to establish a sub-committee for special attention to relations and dialogue with the Oriental Orthodox family of Churches, through the Joint Commission of Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches. This sub-committee will be chaired by His Grace Bishop Melchisedek (OCA).
Likewise, in light of historical experience, the committee identified outstanding issues that will need to be brought to Assembly of Bishops itself, as we consider how to move forward in our participation in various ecumenical organizations, such as the National Council of Churches (NCCCUSA) and Christian Churches Together (CCT). Essentially, this means that the Assembly of Bishops must determine whether we will continue to be represented in such (national) organizations as particular jurisdictions or as a united body. The committee has begun discussions on those identified benefits and drawbacks for eithercase. The future work of the committee will permit a recommendation for the consideration of the Assembly.
In addition to those active dialogues and commissions inherited from SCOBA (Orthodox- Roman Catholic Theological Consultation in North America; Joint Commission of Orthodox and Catholic Bishops; Joint Commission of Eastern and Oriental Orthodox—though both joint commissions have been temporarily interrupted), the committee affirmed a desire to re-engage the Lutheran and Episcopalian traditions through the format of the previous consultations. Likewise, the Assyrian Church of the East has requested a dialogue with the Ecumenical Patriarchate; as the Assyrian Church of the East is headquartered now in the United States this may also present an opportunity for engagement at the local (national) level.
Current Assigned Tasks
The following three items are currently pending as tasks to be accomplished in the near future:
1. To request the addition of the following consultants: a) to the committee: Fr. Nicholas Apostola, Despina Prassas, and a representative from the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR); b) to the sub-committee on relations with the Oriental Orthodox: Fr. Thomas Fitzgerald and an additional member requested of Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese.
2. To solicit from all member bishops of the Assembly to share their views regarding ecumenical and interfaith activities, dialogues, and so forth, including perceived goals and any unique guidelines for their particular jurisdiction that are observed in addition to those developed by SCOBA by the end of September, 2012. This will permit a full review and revision of the existing guidelines to be approved by the Assembly of Bishops.
3. To request the Chair of the Assembly of Bishops appoint or suggest an Orthodox co-chair for the Orthodox-Roman Catholic Theological Consultation in North America. Fr. Thomas Fitzgerald (GOA) is to serve as the Executive Secretary and Metropolitan Methodios of Boston (GOA) has recently served as co-chair in an interim capacity.
Finally, at this time the committee is only prepared to recommend that the current membership of all existing consultations, commissions and dialogues, with the minor exception of task #3 above, be maintained. The ongoing work of the committee will permit future recommendations when required.
Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, Chair