Patmos - Rhodes , Greece, May 29  - June 4, 1980



I. From the 29th of May to the 4th of June a mixed commission consisting of sixty bishops and theologians of the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches from all over the world, gathered at the islands of Patmos and Rhodes to begin the official theological dialogue in the name of their Churches . After centuries of separation a spirit of brotherhood prevailed and permitted this meeting . Changes in behavior on both sides , initiated by the Pan ­Orthodox Conferences and the Second Vatican Council, have allowed a process of approach — the so-called dialogue of love ­ between the two Churches. Its fruit is the official theological dialogue through which, as we hope, steps will be taken towards the restoration of full ecclesiastical communion between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Church.

II. The theological dialogue opened on the 29th of May in Patmos in the venerable monastery of St. John, in

whose gospel we find the most moving call for Christian unity. The opening service in the monastery church was celebrated by Metropolitan Meliton of Chalcedon , the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch Dimetrios I to whose jurisdiction Patmos belongs. The following day the two delegations started their work at Rhodes, an island whose Church was founded by St. Paul. Cardinal Jan Willebrands, president of the Secreteriat for Promoting Christian Unity , in Rome , on the Catholic side , and Archbishop Stylianos of Australia, delegate of the Ecumenical Patriarchate , on the Orthodox side, were chosen as co-presidents.

III. The proceedings were characterized by both spirit of prayer and openness of discussion. The members of the Mixed Commission all felt that reflection upon the spiritual heritage of the Church would remain sterile if not accompanied by a living experience of that heritage, and so they gave major emphasis to pray. The largest churches of Rhodes were the sites of a catholic solemn Eucharistic liturgy on Saturday evening and of an Orthodox liturgy on Sunday morning. They were celebrated by the respective members of the commission in the presence of their brethren of the other side.

IV. Generous hospitality by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and very cordial and kind welcome and facilities by the Church and civil authorities helped greatly to develop a brotherly atmosphere among the members and facilitated the success of the meeting. The participants expressed deep gratitude for the warm reception and welcome they received. They were grateful to the members and collaborators of the local committee for the kind and careful preparations they had made and for their constant help during the whole week of the meeting.

V. The gathering of the mixed commission at Patmos and Rhodes was its inaugural meeting. Its main concern was to define the procedure and to organize the details of work for the first phase of the dialogue. This task has been accomplished.

a) The plan for the dialogue, proposed by the mixed technical preparatory commission of theologians in 1978, approved by the Roman Catholic Church and all the Orthodox Churches, was adopted in common and unanimously, as the agenda of the first phase of the dialogue.

b) The precise themes for the initial theological studies were chosen.

c) Sub-committees consisting of Roman Catholic and Orthodox members were set up and will prepare papers for the next plenary session.

d) A mixed coordinating committee to assure the progress of the dialogue was established.

VI. We hope that the re-establishment of the full communion of our Churches will contribute to the reconciliation of mankind and to the peace of the world of which the Church is the sign and divine instrument according to the will of God.

Issued at:

Rhodes, 3rd June, 1980.











[Information Service 44 (1980/III-IV) 102]