WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reported on Monday (Nov. 19) that the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation issued an agreed statement on the importance of Sunday in the lives of Christians at its Oct. 25-27 meeting at St. Paul’s College in Washington. Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans and Metropolitan Methodios of Boston jointly chaired the meeting.
The pastoral statement on the importance of Sunday calls for Orthodox and Catholic Christians to recover the theological significance of a day that for many “has become less a day of worship and family and more like an ordinary work day.”
It ends with a call to clergy and laity “to work cooperatively within their communities to stress the importance of Sunday for worship and family.” The full text of the statement is available online.
Members also continued their discussion of the role of the laity in the church. Father Theodore Pulcini, associate professor of religion at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa. (Antiochian Orthodox), presented a paper, “Lay Charism and Ecclesial Renewal: The Orthodox Youth Movement’s Revitalization of the Antiochian Patriarchate,” and Jesuit Father Brian Daley (co-secretary), Catherine F. Huisking professor of theology at Notre Dame University, summarized the chapter “Expanding Lay Roles” in John L. Allen, Jr.’s "The Future Church: How Ten Trends are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church."
The consultation also examined the place of marriage and celibacy in the lives of the clergy of the two churches. Father David Petras, spiritual director and professor of liturgy at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Pittsburgh, gave a paper entitled, “Presbyteral Celibacy: Church Discipline or Divine Revelation?” Father Patrick Viscuso of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America presented a study, “Canonical Reflections on Clergy and Marriage.” Vito Nicastro, Ph.D., associate director of the Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Archdiocese of Boston, shared his summary of two Italian-language books on this issue by Basilio Petrà.
Another session discussed major events in the lives of the two churches. The members also congratulated Father Brian Daley on his receiving the Ratzinger Prize for Theology from Pope Benedict XVI a few days earlier. The next meeting of the consultation is scheduled to take place from June 4-6, 2013, at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary in Crestwood, New York.
Bishop Alexander Golitzin of the Bulgarian Diocese of the Orthodox Church in America, Toledo, Ohio, is a member of the consultation. Other Orthodox include Father Thomas FitzGerald, Th.D. (co-secretary), dean of the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts; Father Nicholas Apostola of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas; Father John Erickson, former dean and professor of canon law and church history at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York; Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Ph.D., of Brown University; Father James Dutko, pastor of St. Michael’s Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church in Binghamton, New York; Paul Meyendorff, Ph.D., Alexander Schmemann professor of liturgical theology and editor of St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly, Crestwood, New York; Despina D. Prassas, Ph.D., of Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island; Robert Haddad, Ph.D., Sophia Smith professor emeritus of history at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts; and Father Robert Stephanopoulos, pastor emeritus of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, New York.
Additional Catholic members are Thomas Bird, Ph.D., of Queens College, City University of New York, Flushing, New York; Sylvain Destrempes, Ph.D., faculty of the Grand Seminaire in Montreal; Chorbishop John D. Faris, pastor of St. Louis Gonzaga Maronite Church in Utica, New York; Father Peter Galadza, Kule Family professor of liturgy at the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies, Ottawa; Father John Galvin, professor of Systematic Theology, The Catholic University of America (CUA); Father Sidney Griffith, professor in the Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures, CUA; Father Joseph Komonchak, professor emeritus of religious studies, CUA; Msgr. Paul McPartlan, Carl J. Peter professor of systematic theology and ecumenism, CUA; Sister of Charity of Leavenworth Susan K. Wood of Marquette University; and Paulist Father Ronald Roberson, Ph.D., associate director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, staff.
The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation is sponsored by the Committee for Ecumenical Relations of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, the USCCB Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. Its statements are available online.