Sister Churches 101 – Part 1

“What the Person in the Pew Should Know About
the Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue”

An Orientale Lumen Foundation Educational Program

The Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches is making significant progress and currently dealing with issues concerning the role of the Bishop of Rome in a united Church.  Concerns have been raised about educating the laity and parish clergy about this dialogue and the implications for full communion.  This program is intended to inform, educate and encourage dialogue on the “grass roots” level.


The principal goal of this program is to raise the awareness of the importance of Church unity, improve the understanding among lay persons and local clergy about the issues involved, and create an atmosphere in which agreements reached by ecumenists and theologians can be accepted by the faithful of the Church, both Orthodox and Catholic.


This program will consist of four 45-minute educational videos containing interviews with Church leaders and well-known educators from the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic traditions.  A printed study guide will also be developed from the content of the interviews.  A video package and multiple copies of the study guide (10 per parish) will be provided at no cost to every Catholic and Orthodox parish in the United States to be used as the basis for a four week adult education program on Catholic-Orthodox relations. 

With the support and blessing of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in America, these packages are planned to be distributed to every parish in the United States with an authoritative recommendation to utilize them at the local level.  After viewing the video, a group discussion would be held at each parish using the provided study guide.  Additional copies of the video and study guide will be available for purchase where requested by individuals or where more quantities are needed.

Other methods of distribution through the internet will be used to generate knowledge and awareness of these issues. 

Video Interviews

There will be two levels of interviews in each program.

1.  Remarks

The first level will include high-level remarks by Church leaders based on the following questions:

• Why is Church unity important?
• What impact will full communion of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches have?
• Why should the typical lay person or parish priest care about the relationship of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches?
• How did we get to our current separation?
• What are some of the misunderstandings we have of each other?
• On what do we agree?
• On what do we not yet agree?

The Church leaders who will be invited to participate in this level include:

• Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
• Patriarch Gregorios of Antioch
• Metropolitan Jonah of Washington, Orthodox Church in America
• Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago
• Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington
• Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity
• Cardinal Christoph Shönborn, Archbishop of Vienna
• Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, Major Archbishop of Kiev-Halych
• Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, Patriarchate of Moscow

2.  Detailed Questions

The second level of interviews will be more detailed and educational in nature with the following persons providing answers to the questions listed in the next section:

• Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia, Oxford
• Archimandrite Robert Taft, SJ, Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome
• Msgr. Paul McPartlan, The Catholic University of America, Washington

All of the interviews will be interwoven and edited into a single program on each of the four main topics with an overall conclusion at the end.  Each program will contain general remarks first and then detailed answers addressing the questions in each topic.  A voice-over narrator, Father Thomas Loya of “Light of the East Radio,” will serve as narrator and introduce each program and ask the questions of the speakers.

To be continued …

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