The first meeting of the International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Churches took place in Cairo from 27-30 January. The meeting, hosted by His Holiness Shenouda III, Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria and the See of St Mark, was presided over by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and His Eminence Metropolitan Amba Bishoy of Damiette, General Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church, as delegates from their respective Churches. In their opening speeches, both Cardinal Kasper and Metropolitan Bishoy underscored the importance of the meeting which marks the beginning of new official theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches as a family. In the first part of the meeting the many studies and activities carried out over the past thirty years were examined. Later, discussion was opened up on the following topics: unofficial consultations held between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches; official dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church; official dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church; the declarations made by the Catholic Church and any Orthodox Church. A paper was presented which was jointly sponsored by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches in the USA on various aspects of their dialogue. The topics and discussion have demonstrated that considerable work has been done which may be useful for the future dialogue of the commission. The 'work plan' and agenda for dialogue comprised the second part of the meeting which was dedicated to the topic of the next meeting, "Church as communion," scheduled to take place on January 25-30, 2005. Cardinal Kasper extended an invitation to have the meeting in Rome. Source: VIS
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