WASHINGTON (June 12, 2000) -- The United States Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic Theological Consultation held its annual meeting at the Cardinal Spellman retreat house in Bronx, New York, on June 5 and 6. Currently chaired jointly by Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany and Chor-Bishop John Meno of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, the Consultation has been meeting regularly since it was founded in 1978.
The 2000 meeting of the Consultation began with an analysis of the reactions that have been received to its Guidelines Concerning the Pastoral Care of Oriental Orthodox Students in Catholic Schools that were issued one year ago. This was followed by two presentations on inculturation: Chorbishop John Faris shared his paper on the Maronite Catholic Church in the United States, entitled Eastern Catholics in a Western World; and Subdeacon Edip Aydin of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch read his paper, The Syriac Community in North America. These papers inspired a lively discussion on the means by which small Christian churches are able to preserve their identities in the midst of much larger communities of different traditions, and the many common challenges that those churches face, whether Oriental Orthodox or Catholic. The Consultation also devoted a session to the sharing of information about major events in the lives of the member churches. His Eminence Metropolitan Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim reported that his Holy Synod had decided in April to change the church's name in English from the "Syrian" to the "Syriac" Orthodox Church of Antioch.
Rev. Daniel Findikyan of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary began the final session with a commentary on the Consultation's 1980 agreed statement, Purpose, Scope and Method of the Dialogue Between the Oriental Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. This provided an occasion for the members to take stock of the Consultation's work in recent years, and to consider the direction it should take in the future. It was decided to begin an in-depth study of the nature of primacy, beginning with a study next year of the way in which bishops are chosen in our various churches. Alongside this study the Consultation will examine the ways in which the member churches provide for the catechization of their young people in the hope of fostering greater cooperation in this important area of pastoral concern.
The Consultation welcomed His Grace Bishop David of the Coptic Archdiocese of North America as a new member; he took the place of Bishop Suriel after he was transferred to the Coptic Diocese of Australia in November 1999. The Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic Theological Consultation is sponsored jointly by the NCCB Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, and the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches in the United States. The Oriental Orthodox Churches represented are the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church.