02.11.2009, [22:06] // Inter-Christian relations //

On 28 October, 2009, the web site of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church posted a communiqué on the latest meeting of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, which was held on 16-23 October, 2009 in Cyprus. Please see the text below.

Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church
Paphos, Cyprus, 16-23 October 2009

The eleventh meeting of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church took place in Paphos, Cyprus, a city with a rich history, having received three Apostles, Paul, Barnabas and Mark. The meeting took place from 16-23 October 2009, generously and fraternally hosted by the Orthodox Church of Cyprus.

Twenty Catholic members were present; several more were unable to attend. All the Orthodox Churches, with the exception of the Patriarchate of Bulgaria, were represented, namely the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Patriarchate of Alexandria, the Patriarchate of Antioch, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Patriarchate of Moscow, the Patriarchate of Serbia, the Patriarchate of Romania, the Patriarchate of Georgia, the Church of Cyprus, the Church of Greece, the Church of Poland, the Church of Albania and the Church of Czech Lands and Slovakia.

The Commission worked under the direction of its two co-presidents, Cardinal Walter Kasper and Metropolitan John of Pergamon, helped by the two co-secretaries, Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima (Ecumenical Patriarchate) and Monsignor Eleuterio F. Fortino (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity).
At the opening session on Saturday, 17 October, the Commission was welcomed very warmly by the host, Metropolitan Georgios.of Paphos, who emphasized the importance of holding the meeting in this apostolic city, famous in the history not only of this island but" of the whole of Christianity.

On Saturday, 17 October, the Catholic members celebrated the Eucharist in the Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Cross, Nicosia, presided over by Cardinal Walter Kasper, in the presence of the Orthodox members. In his homily he expressed the gratitude of the Catholic Delegation to the Church of Cyprus and especially to Metropolitan Georgios of Paphos for his warm hospitality, and stressed that the spirit of humility and love should prevail in the work of our Joint Commission, emphasizing the words of the Lord: "Wlioever would be first among you shall make himself slave of all" (Mark 10:44). On Sunday, 18 October, the Orthodox members celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the Church of Phaneromeni, Nicosia, presided over by the Archbishop of Cyprus, Chrysostomos, in the presence of the Catholic members. In addressing those present, Archbishop Chrysostomos stated: "Together with all the other Orthodox Churches, we underline our firm insistence on the established basic poles of the ecclesiastical conscience of the first thousand years of the historical life of the Church. The Ecumenical Councils and the great Fathers of the first millennium are a guarantee of the authentic theological interpretation of the sacrament of the divine economy in Christ, and of its genuine experience by the faithful in the sacrament of the Church, which, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, extends the continuous and living presence of Jesus Christ in the world, until the end of time."

Afterwards, the co-presidents, Cardinal Walter Kasper and Metropolitan John of Pergamon, together with Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Metropolitan Vasilios of Constantia-Famagusta and Archbishop Roland Minnerath, were welcomed at the Presidential Palace by the President of Cyprus, His Excellency Dimitris Christofias, who expressed his hope for the continuation of this important dialogue in a world still divided, like Cyprus itself, and expressed his good wishes for progress towards communion between the two Churches in the future.

The members of the Commission visited the Byzantine Museum, and had an official lunch at the Archbishopric, offered by H. B. Archbishop Chrysostomos.
During the afternoon, the members paid a visit to the Metochion of Kykkos Monastery and were welcomed very warmly by the Abbot, Metropolitan Nikiphoros of Kykkos and Tylliria, and by Metropolitan Isaias of Tamassos and Orini. Later in the evening, Metropolitan Vasilios of Constantia-Famagusta hosted an official dinner at his Metropolitanate in Paralimni. During the course of the week, the members also visited the Monastery of St. Neophytos and the archaeological sites of St. Paul in Paphos.

On the first day of the meeting, as is customary, the Roman Catholic and Orthodox members met separately to coordinate their work. The Orthodox meeting discussed among other things the negative reactions to the Dialogue by certain Orthodox circles, and unanimously considered them as totally unfounded and unacceptable, providing false and misleading information. All Orthodox members of the Commission reaffirmed that the Dialogue continues with the decision of all the Orthodox Churches and is pursued with faithfulness to the Truth and the Tradition of the Church. The Catholic meeting considered the draft text as a good basis for our work and confirmed the intention to continue the Dialogue with confidence and reciprocal trust, in obedience to the will of the Lord.

As was decided at the last plenary session in Ravenna, 2007, the Commission studied the theme "The Role of the Bishop of Rome in the Communion of the Church in the First Millennium", on the basis of a draft text prepared by the Joint Coordinating Committee, which met in Elounda, Crete, Greece last year. During this plenary meeting, the Commission carefully considered and amended the draft text of the Joint Coordinating Committee, and decided to complete its work on the text next year, by convening a further meeting of the Joint Commission. No final text has been decided upon, and any text that may be circulated is not valid.

It was decided that the 12th plenary meeting will be hosted by Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, in Vienna, Austria, from 20-27 September 2010.

The eleventh plenary session ended with Orthodox Vespers at St. Theodoros' Cathedral in Paphos, followed by a reception offered by Metropolitan Georgios.

The meeting of the Joint Commission was marked by a spirit of friendship and trustful collaboration. The members of the Commission greatly appreciated the generous hospitality of the Church of Cyprus, and they strongly commend the continuing work of the dialogue to the prayers of the faithful.

Paphos, Cyprus, 22 October 2009.

Teachings of Christ

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV)

Exaltation of the Cross

Save Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance; * grant victory to Your Church over her enemies * and protect Your commonwealth by Your Cross. (Troparion - Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Willingly lifted up on the Cross, O Christ God, * bestow Your compassions upon the new commonwealth that bears Your name. * By your power grant joy to Your Church, * granting her victory over her enemies. * May she have your Cross as the weapon of peace * and the invincible ensign of victory. (Kontakion - Tone 4)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14th.

Nativity of the Mother of God

Your nativity, O Virgin Mother of God, * heralded joy to all the world; * for from you has dawned the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, * and, having annulled the curse, He gave the blessing * and by destroying Death He granted us eternal life. (Troparion - Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Through your holy nativity, O Immaculate One, * Joachim and Anna were freed from the reproach of childlessness, * and Adam and Eve from the corruption of death. * Delivered from the guilt of sin, your people celebrate this as they cry out to you: * "The barren woman gives birth to the Mother of God, the Nourisher of our Life." (Kontakion - Tone 4)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God on September 8th.

Random Proverb

"My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights." (Proverbs 3:11,12 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Do we forgive our neighbors their trespasses? God also forgives us in His mercy. Do we refuse to forgive? God, too, will refuse to forgive us. As we treat our neighbors, so also does God treat us. The forgiveness, then, of your sins or unforgiveness, and hence also your salvation or destruction, depend on you yourself, man. For without forgiveness of sins there is no salvation. You can see for yourself how terrible it is.

St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven