Catholic World News News Feature
Vatican, Oriental Orthodox Churches Set Up Dialogue Committee January 31, 2003
VATICAN, Jan 31, 03 (CWNews.com) -- After three days of preliminary talks, Vatican officials and representatives of the Oriental Orthodox churches have agreed to set up a formal committee for ecumenical dialogue.
The meetings held in Rome this week, under the sponsorship of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, brought together representatives of the churches that broke with Rome after the Council of Chalcedon in 451-- long before the "Great Schism" that led to the establishment of the larger Orthodox churches. The Oriental Orthodox groups include the Syrian Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Syro-Malankar, Coptic, Ethiopian, and Eritrean Orthodox churches.
These Eastern churches are not formally tied with one another, but generally regard themselves as forming a single ecclesial family. Although the Oriental Orthodox broke with the Holy See because of differences on Christological issues, their theological disagreements with Rome have subsequently been resolved, and prospects for ecumenical progress are generally regarded as promising.
The three-day meeting in Rome was co-chaired by Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, and Metropolitan Amba Bishoy of the Coptic Orthodox Church. The joint committee for ecumenical dialogue, set up during this week's meetings, will hold its first sessions in January 2004.