Final communiqué e Catholic-Orthodox Joint International Commission
Statement of Catholic-Orthodox Commission
"Dialogue Has no Alternative"
BELGRADE, Serbia, OCT. 1, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the final communiqué
of the Catholic-Orthodox Joint International Commission for Theological
Dialogue, following its ninth meeting held in Belgrade, Serbia, from Sept.
* * *
The ninth meeting of the Joint International Commission for the Theological
Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church met in
Belgrade, Serbia, from Sept. 18-25, 2006, continuing the work begun in 1980
to seek the restoration of full communion.
The Orthodox Church of Serbia generously provided hospitality for the meeting.
The official opening took place in the patriarchal chapel of the Serbian
Patriarchate in the presence of His Holiness Patriarch Pavle who welcomed
the members of the commission and offered his prayerful support, saying:
" Welcome all of you, to this house of God of our Church and of our people
and my home!
"My humble prayer shall cover your theological dialogue of love and truth,
for that is why you have gathered here. Of far greater significance, even
of sole importance, is that all of you be strengthened by the grace of the
Holy Spirit, which rectifies all of our shortcomings and heals all of our
The commission invoked the Holy Spirit on its work.
At the first working session in the Sava International Center, the
co-presidents Cardinal Walter Kasper and Metropolitan John of Pergamon
introduced the work of the commission, and Metropolitan Jovan of Zagreb
welcomed all present on behalf of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox
The prime minister of Serbia, Vojislav Kostunica, addressed the commission,
affirming that: "...The Churches of the East and West are setting an
extraordinary example by means of their dialogue, and this theological
meeting in Belgrade represents a reference point on the way.
"The greatest gift to contemporary humanity would be to convince people,
perhaps first and foremost the political elites, that dialogue has no
alternative and that every form of application of force, dictate or
imposition of one's own models and solutions -- in service of primarily
personal interests -- destroys the last remaining bridges between
confronted peoples and communities, instead of building peace, confidence,
solidarity and cooperation."
He also hosted a reception and dinner for all the participants.
The Joint Commission is composed of 30 Orthodox and 30 Roman Catholic
members, and is chaired by two co-presidents: Cardinal Walter Kasper and
Metropolitan John of Pergamon (Ecumenical Patriarchate).
Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima (Ecumenical Patriarchate) and Monsignor
Eleuterio Fortino from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian
Unity, serve as the Joint Commission's secretaries.
The entire Roman Catholic delegation was present in the Belgrade meeting
except for two members who were unable to attend.
Orthodox members represented the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Patriarchate
of Alexandria and All Africa, the Patriarchate of Antioch, the Patriarchate
of Jerusalem, the Patriarchate of Moscow, the Patriarchate of Serbia, the
Patriarchate of Romania, the Patriarchate of Georgia, the Church of Cyprus,
the Church of Greece, the Church of Poland, the Church of Albania, the
Church of Czech Lands and Slovakia and the Church of Finland.
The Joint Commission discussed a text entitled: "The Ecclesiological and
Canonical Consequences of the Sacramental Nature of the Church:
Conciliarity and Authority in the Church," at three levels of the Church's
life: local, regional and universal.
That text prepared by the Joint Coordinating Committee in Moscow in 1990
was to have been presented at the plenary meeting of the Joint Commission
in Freising, Germany, the same year, but was not discussed then or later
because events taking place in Eastern Europe at that time obliged the
commission to address the issue of "uniatism" in relation to the ecumenical
In the present meeting the document prepared in Moscow was carefully
examined in a shared spirit of genuine commitment to the search for unity.
A Joint Drafting Committee was appointed to revise the text in the light of
the many observations and comments made during the discussion on the text.
A revised text will be the object of discussion at the next meeting of the
Joint Commission which will be hosted by the Roman Catholic Church, next
During the weeklong meeting the Roman Catholic delegates were present at
the Orthodox Divine Liturgy in St. Mark's Church on the feast of the
Nativity of the Mother of God, the Theotokos, and the Orthodox members in a
Mass at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Ascension of the Holy Virgin of
Belgrade at the invitation of Archbishop Stanislav Hocevar.
The members of the commission also had the opportunity to visit the
historic Ravanica Monastery. A dinner was offered in the Monastery by
Bishop Ignatij of Branichevo. On Sunday evening the president of Serbia,
Boris Tadiæ, hosted a dinner at his residence in honor of the Commission.
The meeting of the Joint Commission was marked by a spirit of friendship
and trustful collaboration. The members of the commission greatly
appreciated the generous hospitality of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and
they strongly commend the ongoing work of the dialogue to the prayers of
Belgrade, Serbia, Sept. 24, 2006