Benedictine sisters host East-West dialogue

 The 40th anniversary of Vatican's Two's document on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, was celebrated at St Mildrid's Priory, Minster Abbey, in Kent last Monday with a special East-West Dialogue Day. Entitled 'Healing and Reconciliation: Dialogue for the Future' the meeting was part of a conference, hosted by the Benedictine nuns in response to Pope John Paul II's 1996 Apostolic Letter Orientale Lumen. It brought together monks and nuns from the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches, as well as representatives of the Anglican Communion. Fifty participants joined the nuns for the event. The main speakers were: Archbishop Kevin McDonald, Catholic Metropolitan of Southwark; Archbishop Youhanna Ibrahim, Oriental Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo, Syria; Dr Sebastian Brock of the Oriental Institute in Oxford; and Dom Hugh Gilbert OSB, Abbot of Pluscarden in Scotland. Dr Anthony O'Mahony from Heythrop College, London, chaired the day. Archimandrite Isaias Simonopetritis represented the Greek Orthodox Archbishop Gregorios of Thyratia, while Fr Stephen Platt represented the Russian Orthodox Church. The Eastern Catholic Churches were also well represented. Fr Andrew Faley, Assistant General Secretary for Ecumenical Affairs of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England & Wales, was one of the members of the panel. The participants also explored together their common heritage by studying and prayerfully reflecting together on the Great Letter of St Macarius. Dr Marcus Plested from the Cambridge Institute for Orthodox Studies and Fr Colin Battell OSB from Ampleforth Abbey facilitated these sessions. The participants attended a Coptic Church liturgy at the Church of St Michael and St Bishoy in Margate, where Fr Angelos of St Antony's Monastery in Egypt is parish priest. A day was also spent at the Orthodox Monastery of St John the Baptist in Essex, where the participants joined the community for a talk on St Isaac the Syrian delivered by Dr Sebastian Brock, which was followed by prayer, discussion and a meal.

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