Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches

The 17th meeting of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches took place in Atchaneh, Lebanon, from 26 January to 1 February 2020, hosted by the Antiochian Syrian Orthodox Church in the patriarchal residence. The Commission was chaired jointly by Cardinal Kurt Koch and by Bishop Kyrillos, Coptic Orthodox Auxiliary Bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles, California, USA. Representatives came from the Catholic Church and from the Antiochian Syrian Orthodox Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church (Catholicosate of All Armenians and Catholicosate of the Holy See of Cilicia), the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

In keeping with the program of the dialogue, this session was devoted to fundamental aspects of sacramental theology. The report of the meeting states in particular that “In all of our traditions, the seven sacraments (Baptism, Chrismation/ Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Holy Orders, Matrimony and Anointing of the Sick) are believed to be instituted by Christ, established by the Apostles, preserved and handed down by the Holy Fathers and faithfully celebrated in the Church. Among these seven, the Eucharist is understood as the Sacrament of Sacraments”. The members discussed various aspects of sacramental discipline, including the question of who ministers the sacrament, who can receive a sacrament, and other canonical issues related to matrimony.

On 27 January, the members were received in audience by His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch. On 28 January, His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius Youssef III Younan hosted a dinner for the members at the Syriac Catholic Patriarchate in Beirut. On 30 January, Cardinal Koch and Bishop Kyrillos, along with a small delegation, were received by His Excellency Michel Aoun, President of the Lebanese Republic, in Baabda. In the afternoon of the same day, all the members were received by the Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Bechara Boutros al–Rai, OMM, in his residence in Bkerke.

The Commission has already published two documents, the first in 2009 on the “Nature, Constitution and Mission of the Church”, and 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.”

Published by The Maronite Voice, April 2020