Plenary session of theological dialogue with Oriental Orthodox Churches

6 Feb 2023

The nineteenth meeting of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches took place at the Logos Center of the Saint Bishoy Monastery, Egypt, from 31 January – 4 February 2023, hosted by the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Representatives came from the Catholic Church and from the Antiochian Syrian Orthodox Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, and the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church, represented for the first time since 2009. The Commission was jointly chaired by His Grace Bishop Kyrillos, Coptic Orthodox Auxiliary Bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles, USA, and, in the absence of Cardinal Kurt Koch, by Fr. Columba Stewart OSB and Fr. Hyacinthe Destivelle OP.

After the publication in 2022 of a new document on the sacraments, the Commission started a new phase of the dialogue on the theme, “Aspects of Mariology, The Holy Virgin Mary in the Teaching and the Life of the Church.” The report of the meeting states in particular that “Our discussions reveal from a methodological point of view that on occasion different terms are used to express the same theological reality. There are other times when the same term is used to express different realities. In our meetings we realize that certain topics require further study to determine whether these differences need to be identified as doctrinal divergences or can be instances of legitimate diversity in the expression of our common faith regarding the unique place of the Mother of God in the mystery of Christ and in the life of the Church.”

On Friday, February 3, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II received the members of the Commission in private audience. In his address, Pope Tawadros stressed that “yesterday is history, tomorrow is unity, and today is a gift that I call a heavenly gift. Your theological dialogue, your discussions, your works and researches are considered as steps on the long way of mutual understanding towards unity in Christ.”

Founded in 2003, the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches has already published three documents, the first in 2009 on the “Nature, Constitution and Mission of the Church”, the second in 2015 on “The Exercise of Communion in the Life of the Early Church and its Implications for Our Search for Communion Today”, and the third in 2022 on “The Sacraments in the Life of the Church.”