International Roman Catholic – Old Catholic Dialogue continues

The International Roman Catholic–Old Catholic Dialogue Commission met in Paderborn, Germany, from 3 to 6 December 2012 for the first meeting of its second period of talks.

The results of the initial dialogue phase (2004 to 2009) between the International Old Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Union of Utrecht and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity were published in 2009 in a report titled “Kirche und Kirchengemeinschaft” (Church and Communion). In this report, the Dialogue Commission redescribes the shared understanding of the Church as a community of local churches in which the one Church exists, and places the office of the Pope for church unity within this context. In accepting the findings of previous bilateral talks, the Commission confirms that the Old Catholic Churches and the Roman Catholic Church are united in their common commitment to Holy Scripture, to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, to the dogmatic decisions of the Ecumenical Councils recognised by the eastern and western sectors, and to the view that they share the sacramental office of bishop in apostolic succession (as applied to the whole Church) and the seven sacraments. The Commission therefore consulted on the possibility of a church communion between the Old Catholic and Roman Catholic Churches.

In their discussions, the dialogue partners agreed that deeper reflection is necessary regarding the fundamental issue of the office of the Bishop of Rome in the community of local churches, and consequently the relationship between the universal and the local church. The Old Catholic consensus that church communion is a prerequisite for Eucharistic communion also deserves further consideration, especially in light of the agreement concluded in 1985 between the Catholic Diocese of Old Catholics in Germany and the Protestant Church in Germany. The ordination of women is another topic for future discussions, as are the Marian dogmas.

The Old Catholic delegates are: Bishop Dr. Matthias Ring, Germany (co-President), Rev. Canon Wietse van der Velde, Netherlands, Prof. Günter Esser, Germany, Prof. Urs von Arx, Switzerland, Prof. Angela Berlis, Switzerland, and Rev. Martin Eisenbraun, Austria (co-secretary).

The Roman Catholic delegates are: Archbishop Hans-Josef Becker, Germany (co-President), Bishop Dr. Hans van den Hende, Netherlands, Prelate Hubert Bour, Germany, Prof. Heinrich Reinhardt, Germany, Prof. Hans Jörg Urban, Germany, and Msgr. Dr. Matthias Türk, Vatican City (co-secretary).

Talks will continue in the summer of 2013.


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