The International Roman Catholic–Old Catholic Dialogue Commission met in Cologne, Germany, from 27 to 30 June 2016. As is usual in the summer, the number of participants was down slightly compared to the winter meetings. The Commission is now in its second mandate period (2012–2017). At the Cologne meeting, the members discussed two further texts on topics that were identified as “unresolved matters” in the Commission’s report “Kirche und Kirchengemeinschaft” (The Church and Ecclesial Communion), published in 2009 (Paderborn/Frankfurt am Main).
The first text, “The Marian Dogmas of 1854 and 1950”, illustrates how, within a differentiated consensus, the Church-dividing opposition between teachings accompanied by anathema on the one side and the rejection of those teachings on the other could be overcome – as long as it is on the horizon of the Western and Eastern Churches’ common veneration of the Mother of God.
The second text, written from an Old Catholic perspective, examines the ordination of women. It begins by outlining the intense and difficult journey towards the current situation: the majority of the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht ordain, or are prepared to ordain, women as deacons, priests and bishops, but this not prevent communion with the minority of Old Catholic Churches that do not do so. The text also demonstrates why the arguments that fall back on Biblical and patristic statements against the ordination of women are not convincing, from a theological point of view, to those Churches that ordain women.
Other texts prepared by the Commission to date deal with unresolved aspects of ecclesiology. They include “The Relationship of the Local to the Universal Church” and “Binding Teachings and Infallibility”. A further text titled “Eucharist and the Church Community” is currently being prepared. The Commission plans to finalise the texts in the first half of 2017 so that they can then be published.
Urs von Arx