WASHINGTON (November 4, 2004) -– The Joint
Committee of Orthodox and Catholic Bishops held its twenty-first meeting
from October 5 to 7 in St. Andrew Memorial Church at the Ukrainian
Orthodox Metropolia Center in South Bound Brook, New Jersey. It was
chaired jointly by Archbishop Oscar Lipscomb of Mobile and Bishop
Seraphim of Ottawa and All Canada of the Orthodox Church in America.
During the course of the meeting the bishops had an opportunity to
discuss the recent work of the North American Orthodox-Catholic
Theological Consultation. Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos reported that the
Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the Americas (SCOBA)
decided at its meeting in September to receive the Consultation's 1999
agreed statement, "Baptism and 'Sacramental Economy'", and to forward it
to the heads of the autocephalous Orthodox Churches for their
information and consideration. The agreed statement includes a
recommendation that the Patriarchate of Constantinople formally withdraw
its 1755 decree requiring the rebaptism of Roman Catholics who are
received into the Orthodox Church.
The members of the Joint Committee also had an opportunity to study the
Consultation's most recent agreed statement, "The Filioque: A
Church-Dividing Issue?", released on October 25, 2003. On the evening of
October 5 the bishops heard a detailed presentation of the text by Rev.
Brian Daley, SJ, the Catholic Co-Secretary of the dialogue. The Catholic
members of the Joint Committee subsequently voted unanimously to send
the filioque document to the United States Conference of Catholic
Bishops via the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious
Affairs with the request that the recommendations be pursued
expeditiously by the appropriate Conference agencies and in the
appropriate fashion. Among other things, the agreed statement recommends
that the Catholic Church, following a growing theological consensus, and
in particular the statements made by Pope Paul VI, declare that the
condemnation made at the Second Council of Lyons (1274) of those "who
presume to deny that the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father
and the Son" is no longer applicable.
On October 6 the bishops examined two recent texts issued by Pope John
Paul II. Bishop Tod D. Brown of Orange presented the encyclical Ecclesia
de Eucharistia that was released on April 17, 2003. Archbishop Nicolae
of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese of America and Canada offered a
response from the Orthodox perspective. In addition, Archbishop Oscar
Lipscomb gave an overview of the Pope's Post-Synodal Apostolic
Exhortation Pastores gregis (October 16, 2003) regarding the ministry of
Bishops in the Church. A paper by Metropolitan Nicholas of Amissos
responding to the papal document was read in his absence. On the morning
of October 7, Bishop Seraphim of Ottawa offered some reflections on
primacy and conciliarity in the Church in his paper, "The Petrine
Ministry and Orthodox Perception."
The bishops also devoted one session to discussion of major events in
the lives of their churches and Catholic-Orthodox relations over the
On the evening of October 6 the members attended a Vespers service
celebrated by His Eminence Archbishop Antony, President of the Ukrainian
Orthodox Consistory. He then hosted the members to a festive dinner in
historic Fisher House on the grounds of the Ukrainian Orthodox
Plans were made for the twenty-second meeting of the Joint Committee to
take place next October in Syria as a guest of the Melkite Greek
Catholic Church. The discussions will focus on the Eastern Catholic
Churches, especially those present in the Middle East and the ecumenical
relationships among them, and on the Petrine ministry in the Church.
The Joint Committee of Orthodox and Catholic Bishops was established in
1981, and is sponsored jointly by the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical
and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic
Bishops and the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the
The Catholic members of the Committee include Archbishop Oscar H.
Lipscomb of Mobile (Co-Chairman); William Cardinal Keeler, Archbishop of
Baltimore; Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati; Bishop Tod D.
Brown of Orange; Bishop Robert Mulvee of Providence; Bishop Dale Melczek
of Gary; Bishop Nicholas Samra, Auxiliary of the Melkite Greek Catholic
Eparchy of Newton; Bishop Richard Sklba, Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of
Milwaukee; and Rev. Ronald G. Roberson, CSP (staff).
The Orthodox members are Bishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada
(Co-Chairman, Orthodox Church in America), Archbishop Peter of New York
(Orthodox Church in America), Archbishop Vsevolod of Scopelos (Ukrainian
Orthodox Church of the USA), Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver (Greek
Orthodox Archdiocese), Metropolitan Christopher (Serbian Orthodox
Church), Metropolitan Nicholas of Amissos (Carpatho-Russian Orthodox
Diocese), Archbishop Nicolae (Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America
and Canada), Bishop Gerasimos of Krateia (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese),
and Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, staff).
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