St. Nersess Seminary will host the annual meeting of the United States Roman Catholic/Oriental Orthodox Dialogue on Thursday and Friday, June 9-10 at the Seminary in New Rochelle, New York. St. Nersess traditionally hosts the meeting every two years.
Leaders of the Roman Catholic Church join representatives of the Armenian Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Syrian Orthodox Church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Syrian Orthodox Church of India. The latter five constitute a family of churches known as the "Oriental Orthodox Churches." Although these churches are independent from one another, and each has distinct liturgical and other traditions, they share the same ancient apostolic Christian faith. This common foundation unites them "in communion" with one another. This means that where necessary, members of one church may participate fully in the sacraments of the others, particularly in holy communion.
The Roman Catholic Church shares essentially the same apostolic faith with the Oriental Orthodox Churches, but some issues remain obstacles to full communion with the five sister churches of the East. The most significant of these issues deals with authority in the church and the role of the Papacy.
The dialogue is co-chaired by Bishop Howard Hubbard, Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Albany, and V. Rev. Fr. John Meno, Chancellor of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, which has its archdiocese in Teaneck, New Jersey.
Representing the Armenian Church will be His Grace Bishop Vicken Aykazian, Legate of the Eastern Diocese to Washington and Director of Ecumenical Affairs. Other delegates to the dialogue include V. Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Dean of St. Nersess, V. Rev. Fr. Simeon Odabashian, Pastor of Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Church (Providence, RI), and Rev. Fr. Garabed Kochakian, Pastor of St. John Armenian Church (Southfield, MI).
The Dialogue convenes annually to discuss issues of mutual concern. In past years the dialogue has deliberated and drafted guidelines on significant issues such as "mixed marriages," where one of the partners belongs to the Catholic Church while the other belongs to one of the Oriental Orthodox Churches. The dialogue also addressed issues that arise when Oriental Orthodox children attend Catholic parochial schools.
Representatives to this year's meeting will discuss the Eastern Catholic Churches in the United States.