The International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic and Oriental Orthodox Churches has released its report for the group’s 14th annual meeting, which took place in Rome, January 22-27, 2017. The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity hosted the gathering.
This year’s meeting considered the historical, theological, and ecclesiological aspects of the Holy Eucharist. Papers delivered by the participants delved into the common heritage of early Christian liturgical texts that shaped the Eucharist among the different churches. Other topics discussed included the special pastoral concerns of communities in diaspora, the challenges of secularism, reaching the younger generation, and adapting traditional liturgies.
During a private audience with the commission members, Pope Francis praised their efforts to “facilitate the path towards that greatly desired day when we will have the grace of celebrating the Lord’s Sacrifice at the same altar, as a sign of fully restored ecclesial communion.” Touching on the plight of Christians in the Middle East, he said: “Many of you belong to churches that witness daily the spread of violence and acts of brutality perpetrated by fundamentalist extremism…. St. Paul writes: ‘If one member suffers, all suffer together.’ Your sufferings are our sufferings.”
Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian was among the Armenian clergymen taking part in the meeting. In a personal exchange with him, the Pope recalled the trip he made to Armenia in June of last year, and the feelings love and admiration he harbors for the Armenian people.
Other commission members represented the Antiochian, Coptic, Ethiopian Tewahedo, Malankara, and Roman Catholic churches.
Next year’s meeting of the commission will be hosted by the Armenian Church, and will take place at Holy Etchmiadzin. Click on the following links to read the full report from this year’s meeting, and to view a photo gallery.