Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops int he Americas


The naming of bishops and the work of campus ministry led topics at the Joint Committee of Orthodox and Catholic Bishops' 24th meeting in Daphne, near Mobile, Alabama, October 1-3. Archbishop Oscar Lipscomb, retired archbishop of Mobile, Alabama, hosted the meeting. Archbishop Lipscomb and Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada, currently serving as Administrator of the Orthodox Church in America, co-chaired the meeting.

Participants reviewed how bishops are named in their churches. Archbishop Lipscomb presented for the Catholic side, citing The Code of Canon Law. The Orthodox bishops described the process in their jurisdictions, which varies from church to church.

Bishop Tod D. Brown of Orange, California, reviewed the 1985 Pastoral Letter on Campus Ministry of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. Father Mark Arey, the General Secretary of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), described how Orthodox Christian Fellowship promotes an Orthodox presence on college campuses.

Evening discussions centered on recent events, including the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United States last April, the withdrawal of the Jerusalem Patriarchate from North America, the upcoming visit of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch to the United States, the "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship" document of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the inclusion of the Moscow Patriarchate in SCOBA, the election of a new primate of the Orthodox Church in America, recent plenary meetings of the USCCB, and relations between the two Romanian Orthodox jurisdictions in North America.

On October 2, members examined the recent agreed text of the international Orthodox-Catholic dialogue, "The Ecclesiological and Canonical Consequences of the Sacramental Nature of the Church: Ecclesial Communion, Conciliarity and Authority." Also known as "The Ravenna Document," the text was adopted by the international dialogue in Ravenna, Italy, October 13, 2007. Bishops viewed DVD recordings of talks on the document by two members of the international commission, Father Paul McPartlan, of the Catholic University of America, and Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, assistant bishop in the Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain. They also heard a presentation of the 1997 USCCB document, "Reflections on the

Body, Cremation and Catholic Funeral Rites" by Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk and comments by Archbishop Seraphim and Metropolitan Christopher of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Father Mark Arey and Paulist Father Ronald Roberson of the USCCB's Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs then reviewed the relationship of the Catholic and Orthodox churches to the Oriental Orthodox Churches.

The next meeting is expected to be in October 2009, in Syria, hosted by the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate. The committee was established in 1981, and is sponsored jointly by the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the USCCB and SCOBA.

Catholic members of the Committee include Archbishop Lipscomb, Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore; Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati; Bishop Brown; Bishop Dale J. Melczek of Gary, Indiana; Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix, Bishop Nicholas Samra, Titular Bishop of Gerasa; Bishop Richard Sklba, Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Father Roberson, staff.

Orthodox members are Bishop Seraphim, Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese), Metropolitan Christopher (Serbian Orthodox Church), Metropolitan Nicholas of Amissos (Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese), Archbishop Nicolae (Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America and Canada), Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese), and Father Arey, staff.

Earlier press releases and Agreed Statements of the Joint Committee are posted on the SCOBA website at http://www.scoba.us/resources/orthodox-catholic-bishops.html and on the USCCB website at http://www.usccb.org/seia/orthodox_index.shtml

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