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Unity, Catholicity and Baptism: European Churches in Dialogue

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  • Rev Fr John Brian
    Conference of European Churches - Office of Communications Press Release No. 06-11/e 2 May 2006 UNITY, CATHOLICITY AND BAPTISM: EUROPEAN CHURCHES IN
    Message 1 of 1 , May 2, 2006
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      Conference of European Churches - Office of Communications
      Press Release No. 06-11/e 2 May 2006


      >From 27 to 30 April 2006 the third consultation on the question of
      ecclesiology, jointly organised by the Conference of European Churches (CEC)
      and the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE) - formerly called
      Leuenberg Church Fellowship - took place at Phanar/Istanbul, the See of the
      Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The participants came from
      Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches, as well as the Lutheran,
      Reformed and United Churches of the CPCE. All these Churches are CEC
      members. Observers from the Porvoo Communion and the Commission "Churches in
      dialogue" of CEC were also present. The meeting was co-chaired by
      Metropolitan Prof. Dr Gennadios of Sassima (for CEC) and Prof. Dr Michael
      Beintker (for CPCE).

      The meeting in Istanbul looked at two topics, namely "catholicity and unity
      of the church" as well as "baptism". First, Prof. Risto Saarinen gave a
      paper on "Unity and Catholicity of the Church" from a Protestant point of
      view, followed by a presentation on "Identity as Communion. Building blocks
      of Orthodox Ecclesiology" by Prof. Konstantinos Delikostantis. In the
      discussion of both papers it was clarified that "catholicity" cannot be
      separated from "oneness, apostolicity and holiness" of the church. It turned
      out as common conviction that the relationship between unity and catholicity
      has to be found in the local church. Each local church is "catholic",
      whereby the term "catholic" expresses a dimension that goes beyond the
      locally visible life of the community. Catholicity is fully manifested
      through communion in the eucharist with other local churches. "Catholic"
      does not just mean "universal", but implies a qualitative dimension, which
      defines Christian identity. There was also agreement that the connection
      between the local churches is guaranteed by means of synodality. In both
      traditions catholicity is among other things experienced in the liturgical
      life, which is celebrated in continuity with the early church. There was
      agreement that catholicity and nationalism exclude each other while the
      diversity in culture, language and nation, in which the same faith is being
      expressed, is not contradictory to the catholicity of the church.

      During the second part of the meeting the participants listened to a paper
      by Dr Hans-Peter Grosshans on "Baptism - A Sacramental Bond of Church Unity"
      from the Protestant side and Prof. Grigorios Larentzakis on "Baptism and the
      Unity of the Churches. Orthodox Aspects." In the discussion that followed
      important points of convergence as well as open questions were further
      addressed, such as the pastoral challenges in relation to the baptism of
      children from interconfessional marriages as well as the confessional
      identity of godparents.

      The participants were received by His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch
      Bartholomew I, who underlined the importance of ecumenical dialogue and
      theological encounters despite existing obstacles.

      "The Istanbul consultation marked a new milestone in the partnership between
      CEC and CPCE by strengthening the cooperation between the Orthodox churches
      and the churches of the Reformation in Europe", stated Prof. Viorel Ionita,
      CEC Study Secretary in Geneva.

      For the full text of the final communiqué and the list of participants see:

      * * * *

      The Conference of European Churches (CEC) is a fellowship of some 125
      Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from all countries
      of Europe, plus 40 associated organisations. CEC was founded in 1959. It has
      offices in Geneva, Brussels and Strasbourg.

      For information:
      CEC Office of Communications
      Luca Negro
      Phone +41 22 791 64 85 or 791 63 25
      Fax +41 22 791 62 27
      e-mail Luca.Negro@...
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