International Roman Catholic – Old Catholic Dialogue

Developments in 2014


The International Roman Catholic/Old Catholic Dialogue Commission (IRAD) met twice in 2014 as part of its second phase of discussions: in Bonn-Bad Godesberg from 22 to 25 June, and in Paderborn from 30 November to 3 December.

The report of the first phase of dialogue (2004 to 2009), titled “The Church and Ecclesial Communion”, was published in 2009.

In their current discussions, the members of IRAD seek to go into greater depth and add further detail to the report. They therefore plan to produce not a second, self-contained report, but a series of commentaries on aspects of the 2009 text. This approach was also taken by the Anglican/Roman Catholic dialogue (see DwÜ Vols. 1 and 3), which issued a series of “Elucidations” in which the two Churches commented on key aspects.

The IRAD commission plans to address the following subjects in its Elucidations:

1)      The relationship of the local to the universal church (including the relationship between primacy and synodality) within the common ecclesiology of communion and in consideration of Vatican I

2)      The relationship between the Eucharistic community and the church community

3)      Questions of canon law concerning conversions

4)      The ordination of women

5)      Questions of Mariology


Aspects of canon law will be dealt with in each case, including the question of heresy.

In its work, the commission aims to consider with care the theological and canon-law implications of the aspects discussed in order to reach a differentiated consensus. Although the theological dimension is the basis of church law, the implications are treated separately.

During the meeting in Bonn, the Old Catholic delegates introduced the dialogue paper “Utrecht and Uppsala on the Way to Communion”, which was then discussed. The Roman Catholic delegates were asked whether the paper contradicts the “Church and Ecclesial Communion” document. They concluded that this was not the case.

As expected, the work on the Elucidations was protracted and not always straightforward. Visible progress was made during the fourth and fifth meetings on item 1, the relationship of the local to the universal church. A document on the authorities of witness is now in its provisional final version.

At the summer 2015 meeting, work will continue on a text concerning papal infallibility and the binding teachings of the Church today. In addition, new findings in relation to item 2 (the relationship between the Eucharistic community and the church community) will be examined in greater detail.

The dialogue commission of the Old Catholic Church of Switzerland and the Roman Catholic Church of Switzerland is expected to produce a draft paper concerning item 5 (questions of Mariology). This paper will be considered in conjunction with the papers on Mariology published by the Dombes Group and the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) when the delegates of IRAD II draft their Elucidation on the role of Mary in God’s plan of salvation. Through their deliberations, the IRAD delegates aim to preserve their shared Marian tradition and to present it within an ecumenical framework.

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).

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 next meeting takes place in Cologne in the summer of 2015.


Salzburg, 10 March 2015

Rev. Martin Eisenbraun

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