Unity, Catholicity and Baptism: European Churches in Dialogue
- Conference of European Churches - Office of Communications
Press Release No. 06-11/e 2 May 2006
UNITY, CATHOLICITY AND BAPTISM: EUROPEAN CHURCHES IN DIALOGUE
>From 27 to 30 April 2006 the third consultation on the question ofecclesiology, 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.
CEC Office of Communications
Phone +41 22 791 64 85 or 791 63 25
Fax +41 22 791 62 27