USCCB News Release
November 4, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Orthodox-Catholic Consultation Responds To ‘Ravenna Document’
WASHINGTON—The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation finalized a joint response to the international dialogue’s 2007 “Ravenna Document” at their 77th meeting, held at Saint Paul’s College in Washington, October 22-24. Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh and Roman Catholic Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans presided over it.
This was Archbishop Aymond’s first meeting as Catholic Co-Chair. Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, named Archbishop Aymond to succeed Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk last summer. Archbishop Aymond, who had been with His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in New Orleans the day before the meeting, extended the Patriarch’s warm greetings to the Consultation. Most of the meeting centered on finalizing the Common Response, the full text of which is found at http://www.usccb.org/seia/RavennaResponse.pdf
Overall the North American dialogue welcomed the document, and viewed its adoption as a sign that the international dialogue, that has faced significant difficulties in the recent past, has been able to resume its study of ecclesiology and present an approved statement on the topic.
The Common Response examines the Ravenna Document’s treatment of conciliarity and authority at three levels within the Church: the local level (diocese), the regional level (Episcopal conferences, metropolitanates and patriarchates) and the universal level. It also takes exception to the sole footnote in the Ravenna document, and argues that the representations of both the Orthodox and Catholic understandings of the Church in the footnote are inaccurate.
The full title of the Ravenna Document is “Ecclesiological and Canonical Consequences of the Sacramental Nature of the Church: Ecclesial Communion, Conciliarity and Authority.” It is available on the Vatican website at http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/ch_orthodox_docs/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_20071013_documento-ravenna_en.html and on the website of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople at
http://www.ec-patr.org/docdisplay.php?lang=en&id=848&tla=en The North American consultation has also issued common responses to the earlier agreed statements produced by the international dialogue.
Members also continued work on the theme of primacies and conciliarity in the Church. They examined a first draft of a proposed agreed statement on this question, entitled “Steps Towards a United Church: A Sketch of an Orthodox-Catholic Vision for the Future.” Still in its preliminary stages, the text will be revised and considered again at the next meeting of the dialogue. To enhance the consultation’s examination of this theme, Father John Erickson presented a paper entitled “Primacy and Conciliarity at the Regional Level,” and Father Joseph Komonchak spoke on the analysis of the Council of Sardica (343 AD) by the noted French Dominican theologian Hervé Legrand.
One session of the meeting was devoted to a sharing of information about major events in the lives of the two churches. The topics discussed included the Fourth Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference and its implications for Orthodoxy in North America, the papal encyclical Caritas in Veritate, the nomination of a new U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, relations between the two Romanian Orthodox jurisdictions in North America, the recently announced creation of personal ordinariates for former Anglicans within the Catholic Church, and the situation of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese.
The next meeting of the dialogue is scheduled to take place at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts, June 1-3, 2010.
In addition to the co-chairs, the Consultation include Orthodox representatives Father Thomas FitzGerald (Secretary), Father Nicholas Apostola, Father Erickson, Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Ph.D., Father James Dutko, Paul Meyendorff, Ph.D., Father Alexander Golitzin, Robert Haddad, Ph.D., Father Robert Stephanopoulos, Father Theodore Pulcini, and Father Mark Arey, General Secretary of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas SCOBA (staff).
Additional Catholic members are Jesuit Father Brian Daley (Secretary), Thomas Bird, Ph.D., Sylvain Destrempes, Ph.D., Father Peter Galadza, Chorbishop John D. Faris, Father John Galvin, Father Sidney Griffith, Father Komonchak, Father Paul McPartlan, Father David Petras, Sister of Charity of Leavenworth Susan K. Wood, Vito Nicastro, Ph.D., and Paulist Father Ronald Roberson, who serves as staff.The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation is sponsored jointly by SCOBA, the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious 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 23 agreed statements on various topics. All these texts are now available on the USCCB Website at http://www.usccb.org/seia/orthodox_index.shtml and the SCOBA website at http://www.scoba.us/resources/orthodox-catholic.html