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The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation held its 80th Meeting

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Press Release

The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation held its 80th meeting at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary in Crestwood, New York, from June 6 to 8, 2011.  At this meeting the members assessed reactions to the two reports they released at the end of their last meeting in October 2010, reviewed major events in the lives of their churches, and heard presentations on the role of the laity in the Church and intermediate levels of ecclesial authority. 

Regarding the role of the laity in the Church, the members heard two papers.  Thomas Bird, Ph.D., associate professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Queens College, City University of New York, Flushing, NY, gave a presentation entitled, “The Role of the Laity in the Catholic Church: Points for Reflection.”  Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Ph.D., Willard Prescott and Annie McClelland Smith Professor of Religious Studies at Brown University, read a paper, “Some Reflections on the Laity in Ancient Syriac Christianity.”  Father Nicholas Apostola, pastor, St. Nicholas Romanian Orthodox Church in Shrewsbury, MA, also made an oral presentation on the role of the laity in the Church from an Orthodox perspective. 

On the question of intermediate or regional structures of authority in the Church, several of the Orthodox members reported on the recent second meeting of the new Orthodox Episcopal Assembly, which took place in New York in May.  Father Joseph Komonchak, professor emeritus of religious studies at The Catholic University of America, delivered a paper on bishops’ conferences in the Catholic Church which included an analysis of Pope John Paul II’s 1998 Apostolic Letter Apostolos Suos on the theological and juridical nature of episcopal conferences. 

In a wide-ranging discussion of the goals and future orientations of the Consultation, the members decided that for now they would pursue further these two areas of investigation.  The next two meetings were scheduled for October 27-29, 2011, and June 5 to 7, 2012. 

The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation is chaired jointly by Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans and Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh.  Due to the Metropolitan’s absence because of illness, Rev. Dr. Thomas FitzGerald, Dean of the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA, co-chaired this meeting on his behalf. 

Aditional Orthodox members include Father John Erickson, former dean and professor of canon law and church history at Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, NY; Father James Dutko, pastor of St. Michael’s Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church in Binghamton, NY; Paul Meyendorff, Ph.D., Alexander Schmemann Professor of Liturgical Theology and editor of Saint Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly, Crestwood, NY; Father Alexander Golitzin, professor of theology at Marquette University, Milwaukee; Robert Haddad, Ph.D., Sophia Smith Professor Emeritus of History at Smith College in Northampton, MA; Father Robert Stephanopoulos, pastor emeritus of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, New York; Father Theodore Pulcini, associate professor of religion at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania; and Father Mark Arey, General Secretary of SCOBA, New York, (staff).  Father Patrick Viscuso of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America was welcomed as a new Orthodox member at this meeting. 

Additional Catholic members are Jesuit Father Brian Daley (Secretary), Catherine F. Huisking professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana; Sylvain Destrempes, Ph.D., faculty of the Grand Seminaire in Montreal; Father Peter Galadza, Kule Family Professor of Liturgy at the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies, Ottawa; Chorbishop John D. Faris, pastor of St. Louis Gonzaga Maronite Church, Utica, New York; Father John Galvin, professor of Systematic Theology, The Catholic University of America (CUA), Washington; Father Sidney Griffith, professor in the Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures, CUA; Monsignor Paul McPartlan, Carl J. Peter Professor of Systematic Theology and Ecumenism at CUA; Father David Petras, spiritual director and professor of liturgy at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, Pittsburgh; Sister of Charity of Leavenworth Susan K. Wood, professor and chair of the Department of Theology at Marquette; Vito Nicastro, Ph.D., associate director of the Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Archdiocese of Boston; and Paulist Father Ronald Roberson, Ph.D., associate director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, staff.

Since its establishment in 1965, the North American Consultation has now issued 25 agreed statements on various topics. All these texts are now available on the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) website at www.scoba.us/resources/orthodox-catholic.html  and the USCCB website at www.usccb.org/seia/orthodox_index.shtml.  

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