Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches

The sixteenth meeting of the International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches took place in Rome from January 27 to February 2, 2019, hosted by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

The Commission was chaired jointly by Cardinal Kurt Koch and by His Grace Bishop Kyrillos, Coptic Orthodox Auxiliary Bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles, California, USA.

Continuing its focus on the sacraments, this session of the dialogue was entirely devoted to the Sacrament of Marriage. The report of the meeting states in particular that "In all of our traditions, a sacramental marriage typically requires the free consent of both the man and the woman, the presence of witnesses, and a blessing within the Body of Christ by an ordained representative of the Church". 

On February 1, Pope Francis received the members of the Commission in private audience. In his greetings, Bishop Kyrillos reported on the work of the Joint Commission, reflecting in particular that “Marriage was one of the most challenging and important subjects we have discussed. Challenging because of its interdisciplinary nature that touches on the understanding of Holy Scripture, theology, sacramental theology, liturgical history, canon law, and pastoral care. …We deeply appreciate Your Holiness’s efforts to preserve and revive the Christian family in the midst of many attacks and divisions today”.

In his response, Pope Francis stated: “I am certain that your work, carried out in an atmosphere of great harmony, will be to the benefit of the family of God’s children, the Spouse of Christ, who we desire to present to the Lord “without spot or wrinkle” (Eph 5:27), without wounds and without divisions, but in the beauty of full communion”. The Holy Father offered participants a copy of his Post–Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia on the theme of love in the family.

The next meeting will take place in Atchaneh, Lebanon, hosted by the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, from January 26 to February 1, 2020. The main focus of the meeting will be fundamental aspects of sacramental theology.

Photos © Servizio fotografico – Vatican Media