The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation held its
68th meeting from June 6 to 8, 2005, at St. Vladimir's Orthodox
Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York.  It was co-chaired by
Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh and Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of

In its theological sessions the Consultation continued its study of
primacy and conciliarity in the Church.  Fr Alexander Golitzin offered a
review of the papers presented at the Consultation during its earlier
consideration of this topic in the 1980s.  Fr Joseph Komonchak of the
Catholic University of America presented a paper entitled, "On the
Priority of the Universal Church:  Analysis and Questions," in which
he focused on the ecclesiology of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  In a second presentation,
Fr Komonchak analyzed the first three chapters of the Dogmatic
Constitution Pastor Aeternus of the First Vatican Council (1870) that
deal with the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, and the current state of
research on the Council.  In this context he also reviewed the 1875
statement of the German Catholic bishops on Episcopal powers, and the
1998 "Reflections" of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith, "The Primacy of the Successor of Peter in the Mystery of the
Church."  Fr Thomas FitzGerald of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of
Theology presented a paper on the Orthodox encyclicals of 1848 and 1895
which express Orthodox perspectives on the actions and teachings of the
Roman Catholic Church during that period, especially with regard to the
position of the bishop of Rome.  

The Consultation also had an opportunity to review recent major events
in the lives of their churches.  Among these were the death of Pope John
Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI, the death of Archbishop
Iakovos who played a key role in the founding of our dialogue in 1965,
the return of the relics of Sts. John Chrysostom and Gregory the
Theologian to Constantinople, the situation in the Greek Orthodox
Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and the grant in support of our Consultation
from Mr. Emmanuel Prokopis.

The members were particularly pleased to join the St. Vladimir's
community for the celebration of the Leave taking of Pascha, including a
Divine Liturgy in the seminary chapel on Wednesday morning June 8.

At its next meeting, which is scheduled for October 2005, the
Consultation intends to continue its study of primacy and conciliarity
with papers on the correspondence between Pope Innocent III and various
church and civil authorities in the East at the turn of the 13th
century, contemporary relations with the Oriental Orthodox Churches and
the Assyrian Church of the East, the canons of the Council of 879
regarding jurisdiction, and relations between power, authority and
pluralism in the church today.  

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 Inter-religious 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: and on
the SCOBA website at: In
addition to the two co-chairmen, the 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, Father Emmanuel
Gratsias, 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 John Long, SJ, Father David Petras, and Father Ronald
Roberson, CSP (staff).