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Munich, Germany, June 30 - July 6, 1982


From June 30th to July 6th, the International Mixed Commission for Theological dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orth￾odox Church held its second plenary session at the Exerzitienhaus Schloß Fürstenried, Munich (Germany).

The Commission, established in December 1979, had held its first meeting in May 1980 at Patmos-Rhodes where it had approved a general plan for this theological dialogue, chosen the first themes for discussion and established its structure for carrying on its work. That meeting accepted as the general method of the commission to start with what both Churches have in common and, by developing this, to touch upon from inside and progressively the points upon which agreement does not yet exist.

The theme of this second plenary session, therefore, was The Mystery of the Church and the Eucharist in the Light of the Mystery of the Holy Trinity. Serving as a basis for discussion was a document which had received ample preparation during the period following the meeting in Rhodes. In fact, three joint subcommissions meeting separately in 1980 and early 1981 at Chevetogne (Belgium), Rome and Belgrade had prepared their written reflections and common papers on the theme. A coordinating committee composed of eight Catholics and eight Orthodox met in Venice in May 1981 to bring together the results of this work and prepare a written synthesis for the consideration of the entire commission.

The discussions in Munich centred around questions of the nature of the Eucharist, its expression of the activity of the Holy Trinity in the economy of salvation, the relationship of the Eucharist to the Church and the centrality of the Eucharist for an understanding of communion within the local Church and for communion among the local Churches in the Universal Church. Large areas of agreement were outlined and foundations were laid for further consideration of questions about which there remain differences.

The results of these discussions have been brought together in a document which will be submitted to the Churches for their immediate information and will be published in the near future, as a means of informing the Churches of these deliberations and of soliciting reactions to the work already accomplished. (Text p.107 below).

While considering the theoretical questions connected with Eucharist and the Church, the Commission was conscious of the great significance these questions have for Christian life in the modern world, for communion among peoples and nations and for peace and justice among men. This concern was underlined by the absence of four of its members, prevented from coming to the meeting from Lebanon because of the painful events which are still in course in that war-torn country. A message of prayers and solidarity was sent to them.

The discussions were carried out in an atmosphere of openness and fraternal cooperation. Contributing to this were the spiritual activities which accompanied them. The meeting began on the evening of June 30th with Solemn Vespers in the Frauendom, presided over by the Bishop of Würzburg, Mons Paul-Werner Scheele, chairman of the Ecumenical commission of the Bishops’ Conference of Germany. On Saturday, July 3rd, all assisted at a Solemn Mass presided over by Cardinal John Willebrands at which the Catholic members of the Commission concelebrated. On Sunday, all assisted at the Solemn Liturgy celebrated by

Archbishop Stylianos of Australia and the Orthodox clergy. On July 6th, the tenth anniversary of the death of the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I, a service was held in the chapel of Schloß Fürstenried, during which a commemoration was made of this great contributor to the Orthodox Catholic Dialogue. This possibility for close familiarity with each other’s liturgical traditions and spirituality was an important factor in helping all to discuss the central theme of the Eucharist with a spirit of fidelity to one’s own tradition joined to a sincere openness to other traditions.

Before closing its meeting, the Commission decided that, in agreement with the plan for theological dialogue approved at Rhodes, the theme of its next meeting will be Faith, Sacraments and Unity. Under this heading, consideration will be given to questions of Faith and Communion in the Sacraments as well as to particuar questions connected with the Sacrament of Baptism, Chrismation (Confirmation) and the Eucharist and the unity of the Church.

During their stay in Munich, the members of the Commission were the guests of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising. Every effort was made by the authorities of the archdiocese and their lay and religious collaborators to provide all that was necessary for the efficient working of the sessions and to show a personal attention to each of the participants. The Commission is particularly grateful for these efforts since they contributed in a significant way towards creating the atmosphere of fraternal openness and trust already mentioned. The Commission is also grateful to the civil authorities of Bavaria for its help and encouragement, especially through the reception offered on June 30th.

The next plenary meeting will be held at a place and date which are yet to be decided. It will be preceded by meetings of the subcommissions and coordinating committee, following the procedure which proved so helpful for conducting the present meeting.

In carrying out its work, the Commission was conscious of the responsibility Christians have for divisions among persons and nations. It considers its own deliberations a very positive contribution to the work for reconciliation and peace in the world, and it invites the members of the Churches it represents to aid this work for peace and mutual collaboration by their own prayer reflection and common activity.











[Information Service 49 (1982/II-III) 59-60]