Ravenna, Oct. 9, 2007 (CWNews.com) – Catholic and Orthodox theologians are meeting in Ravenna, Italy this week, for the 10th plenary session of a joint commission for theological dialogue. The joint commission was established in 1979, under the aegis of Pope John Paul II and Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I. After several working sessions, the commission reached an impasse at a July 2000 meeting in Baltimore, when the participants failed to reach an agreement on the status of the Eastern churches in communion with Rome.
After a 4-year hiatus in the talks, Pope John Paul II suggested their resumption in June 2004, and Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople agreed. The Commission met in Belgrade in 2006, and this week’s meeting is the second plenary session since the talks were resumed.
The 60-member commission includes 30 Catholic and 30 Orthodox theologians, with the Orthodox participants including a broad representation of the world’s autocephalous Eastern churches including the patriarchates of Constantinople, Moscow, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. The group is co-chaired by Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, and Metropolitan Ioannis of Pergamo [a.k.a. John Zizioulas – CU]. This week’s session is devoted primarily to a study of the sacraments as a focus of unity.
In related news, the Russian Orthodox Church has established a working group to address the question of primacy in the universal Church.