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Statement by the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation

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  • Rev Fr John Brian
    For Immediate Release November 1, 2006 CONTACT: Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos Tel: (212) 570-3593 Statement by the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 1, 2006
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      For Immediate Release
      November 1, 2006

      CONTACT: Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos
      Tel: (212) 570-3593



      Statement by the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation
      On the Upcoming Visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the Ecumenical Patriarchate

      The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation joyfully
      anticipates the coming visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the Ecumenical
      Patriarchate of Constantinople and his meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch
      Bartholomew on November 29 and 30, 2006. This meeting will coincide with
      the celebration of the feast of Saint Andrew, the First-Called Apostle, the
      Patriarchate's Patron Saint. It will take place in Istanbul, ancient
      Constantinople, a historic crossroads of peoples, cultures and religions.

      The meeting of Pope Benedict and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will
      continue a tradition begun in 1964 when Pope Paul VI and Patriarch
      Athenagoras met in Jerusalem, and later in Rome and Istanbul. Since that
      time, meetings of Popes and Ecumenical Patriarchs have become more regular
      but no less significant.

      These meetings have both expressed and deepened the renewed relationship
      between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, which has been
      developing since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the Pan-Orthodox
      Conferences (1961-1968). Since then, both churches have affirmed their
      desire to overcome historic differences through prayer, theological
      dialogue, and acts of reconciliation.

      The meeting of Pope Benedict and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will occur
      following the recent meeting of the Joint International Commission for
      Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church
      that took place in Belgrade from September 18 to 25, 2006. Our own North
      American Theological Consultation, begun in 1965, has now held its 71st
      meeting in Washington, DC, from October 26 to 28, 2006. Both consultations
      were established by the churches to examine the theological factors
      underlying our division and to recommend steps to heal it.

      The Pope's pilgrimage to the Ecumenical Patriarchate provides us with an
      opportunity to express our concern regarding the situation in which the
      Patriarchate finds itself today. From the fourth century, the Church of
      Constantinople has exercised a significant ministry in the life of the
      Church, especially in the East. This ministry has continued to our day,
      despite drastic changes in the political, demographic and religious context.
      Today the Ecumenical Patriarchate serves the pastoral needs of Orthodox
      Christians within its jurisdiction in Turkey and a number of other
      countries. In addition, it provides a point of unity among the
      autocephalous Orthodox Churches, and coordinates their common witness and
      service.

      We are deeply concerned that the Ecumenical Patriarchate today is subject to
      severe restrictions placed upon it by the Turkish government. For example,
      by decisions reached in 1923 and 1970, the government imposed significant
      limitations on the election of the Ecumenical Patriarch. Even today, the
      Turkish state does not recognize the historic role that the Patriarch plays
      among Orthodox Christians outside Turkey. The Turkish government closed the
      Patriarchate's Theological School on the island of Halki in 1971 and, in
      spite of numerous appeals from governmental and religious authorities, still
      does not allow it to reopen, severely limiting the Patriarchate's ability to
      train candidates for the ministry. In addition, the Patriarchate has
      recently suffered the confiscation of a number of its churches and other
      properties by the government.

      We very much regret these restrictions placed on the ministry of the
      Ecumenical Patriarchate both within Turkey and abroad. At the same time, we
      commend those Turkish government leaders and citizens who advocate greater
      human rights and religious toleration within the country. The visit of Pope
      Benedict XVI to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in late November will highlight
      once again the crucial role played by the Ecumenical Patriarchate for many
      centuries not only among the Orthodox Churches but also in the broader
      Christian world.

      Both Pope Benedict XVI and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew have affirmed
      their desire to heal the division between our churches, and to contribute to
      healing the wounds of our societies. They have affirmed the need for
      Christians to be people of reconciliation and peace. They have called for
      mutual understanding among all faiths, and for the elimination of
      misunderstanding, prejudice and injustice wherever they may be found. We
      pray that the meeting of the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch will
      contribute to the unity of the churches and to the reconciliation of all
      peoples.


      October 28, 2006
      Saint Paul's College
      Washington, DC


      The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation is sponsored
      jointly by the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the
      Americas (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 issued 22 agreed statements on various topics. All
      these texts are now available on the website of the USCCB at
      http://www.usccb.org/seia/officialdialogues.shtml and on the SCOBA website
      at <http://www.scoba.us/resources/index.asp>
      http://www.scoba.us/resources/index.asp









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