Meeting of Saint Irenaeus Joint Orthodox-Catholic Working Group in Rome

11 Oct 2021

The Saint Irenaeus Joint Orthodox-Catholic Working Group gathered for its 17th annual meeting from 6‒10 October 2021 in Rome at the Institute for Ecumenical Studies of the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum). The meeting was chaired by the Orthodox co-president Metropolitan Serafim (Joantă) of Germany, Central and Northern Europe (Romanian Orthodox Church) and by Catholic co-president Bishop Gerhard Feige of Magdeburg.

The meeting was preceded by a pre-conference, discussing the group’s common study “Serving Communion: Re-thinking the Relationship between Primacy and Synodality” (2018).

On Thursday morning 7 October the group was received by Cardinal Kurt Koch at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and then in a private audience by Pope Francis.

Following the publication of “Serving Communion”, the group has moved on to a new focus on the theme of unity and schism. The group began its work with two biblical papers on the theme of unity and schism in the Old and New Testaments, and then proceeded to examine two case studies from the Early Church: the Quartodeciman Controversy and the letters of St Ignatius of Antioch. This topic was complemented by a presentation of the recent document produced by the Oriental Orthodox – Roman Catholic dialogue. A third main topic was the search for unity in the 20th-21st centuries. Here the focus was on the reunification of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia (ROCOR) with the Moscow Patriarchate (2007) and the methodology underpinning recent dialogues between the Roman Catholic Church, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, and the Assyrian Church of the East. The reflections of the meeting were summarized by the participants in a communiqué.

The Saint Irenaeus Joint Orthodox–Catholic Working Group, established in 2004 at Paderborn (Germany), is composed of 26 theologians, 13 Orthodox and 13 Catholics, from a number of European countries, the Middle East, and the Americas. Its next meeting will be held in October 2022 in Romania.

The Group's previous meeting had taken place in Trebinje (Bosnia-Erzegovina) in October 2019.