Archive for October, 2010

Visiting with Metropolitan Kallistos

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Last spring, Msgr. George Dobes and I had planned to travel to Oxford, UK and record some additional lectures for OLTV by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia, retired Spaulding Lecturer in Eastern Christian Studies at Oxford University. Our flights were cancelled because of the disruption to trans-Atlantic air travel to and from Europe due to the volcano in Iceland. We re-scheduled the flights to be here this weekend.

In retirement, Metropolitan Kallistos seems to be busier than ever. In addition to being a new member of the Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue, he has also recently been appointed co-chair of the Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue. Even though he has also retired as co-pastor of the Orthodox parish in Oxford, he still actively participates in the parish life by celebrating liturgies and administering the sacraments.

We stayed at a smallish hotel with just about 25 guest rooms a few blocks from his residence. On previous trips we were given smaller rooms on the upper floors in the new wing. But this time, we were lucky and assigned the two largest rooms on the main floor of the original building. The beds were the same size as before, what we would call “queen size” (but of course you can’t use that sort of term in England!), but in these rooms you could actually walk around the beds without hitting your shins on the frame. There was also a good size desk where I could set up my laptop and get some work done.

Our recording sessions were scheduled from 10 am to Noon each day on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Then we would leave His Grace to take care of his own lunch, have a rest and other appointments. On Friday evening, we met up again for a wonderful dinner at a restaurant called the Parsonage, which was the renovated residence of the Anglican church in the center of Oxford. Across the street was the Oratory where Blessed John Henry Newman visited and preached.

On Sunday, His Grace was scheduled to visit the Orthodox parish in the city of Bath, where he was born. Rather than take a train or have one of the parishioners there come bring him to Bath (about a 2 hour drive), we offered to go with him and all of us travel by rental car. Having lived in the UK for three years back in 1987-90, I was quite comfortable driving back roads and long distances on the other side of the highway (you don’t say “wrong side of the street” over there)!

The Divine Liturgy was beautifully sung in a mixture of Greek and Russian chant with mostly English translations by a small schola. About 100 persons attended the service which was held off to the side of a functioned Anglican parish. His Grace also ordained two subdeacons and elevated the pastor to Archpriest. After a wonderful celebration of many kinds of foods in the parish hall, we did a short driving tour of the city and stopped to view Metropolitan Kallistos’ boyhood home. He seemed very pleased to show us around, and remembered quite well walking the streets of Bath. It was his first visit in several years. We then drove back to Oxford, arriving in late afternoon.

On Monday morning, we made one last recording and then flew back to Washington on Tuesday morning. All in all, another great trip and wonderful experience with Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia!

Plans for Orientale Lumen XV

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

We have already started making plans for the Orientale Lumen Conference for next year. Since it will be our fifteenth anniversary, we are hopeful to have a great turnout. In discussions over the summer, Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) from Oxford, one of the founders of the OL Conferences in 1997 and frequent speaker over the years, has agreed to schedule his “one” US trip this year to be at the time of the conference. Also, he has suggested a topic which I believe is very current and relevant and important to contributing to the overall dialogue between the Catholic on Orthodox Churches.

To topic will be “Rome and the Communion of Churches: Bishop, Patriarch or Pope?” In essence, we will focus on the role of the bishop of Rome in the Church and other aspects of Church structure known as “ecclesiology.” Many on all sides of the dialogue feel this is the major issue separating East and West today, and if this one issue can be resolved, many of the others will fall into place, especially the existence of Eastern Catholic Churches.

There will only be one OL Conference in 2011 so that we may all gather in one place to celebrate the 15th anniversary. The dates will be June 20-23 and it will be held in Washington, DC. The exact venue is still being evaluated.We also have commitments from Metropolitan Jonah, primate of the Orthodox Church in America, and Archimandrite Robert Taft, the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, to be plenary speakers. We plan to invite Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, Metropolitan Hilarion of the Department for External Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate, and Msgr. Paul McPartlan of The Catholic University of America and leading international scholar on Church ecclesiology.

The conference is open to the public, and you can register by calling 703-691-8862 or online at With this topic and lineup of speakers, we could have an overflowing audience for this exciting conference! If you want to attend, I suggest you sign up early!

International Dialogue Meets

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

During the week of September 20-27, the twelfth Plenary Session of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church met in Vienna, Austria. This group officially consists of 2 representatives from each of the 14 autocephalous Orthodox Churches, and 28 representatives from a wide range of jurisdictions within the Catholic Church. Bishop Florentin Crihalmeanu of Cluj-Gherla is one of several Eastern Catholics who are members of the Catholic delegation. The group totals 56 bishops and theologians.

When this official dialogue group resumed its work in Belgrade in 2006, after a long period of difficult relations, they undertook the most pressing issue for Catholic-Orthodox unity—the role of the Bishop of Rome in the Church. The group has met often since then, both in formal plenary session and in working subcommittees, and has produced a three-part plan:

1) study and agree on what the role of the Pope was during the first millennium of Christianity (up through the “schism” of 1054),

2) study and agree on the role of the Pope during the second millennium, and then

3) discuss and agree on the role of the Pope into the third millennium of Christianity.

The Ravenna Agreed Statement, issued at the plenary session in 2007, outlines a three-tier structure of authority in the Church—local diocese, regional or patriarchal, and universal. The acknowledgment of the existence of regional or patriarchal authority by the Catholics and universal authority by the Orthodox, are both major breakthroughs. You can find more information on the Ravenna Statement on the Vatican website and elsewhere on the internet, and video commentary by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) and Msgr. Paul McPartlan (Catholic University) on the OLTV website:

We all pray that this foundation of understanding will continue to improve, and will serve to not only improve relations in the short term, but perhaps one day lead to full Church unity that Christ desired when He said: “that they all may be one!”