Gathering of Oriental Orthodox and Roman Catholic Consultation Held in New York

Leaders Discuss Immigration and Plight of Middle East Christians

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WHITE PLAINS, NY, OCT. 24, 2012 ( A group of 20 participants representing the Roman Catholics and five Oriental Orthodox churches gathered in New York for the two day Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic Consultation last week. Leaders from both churches agreed that they would benefit from a better exchange of information regarding the programs available for new immigrant arrivals in the United States. The meeting was held at the Divine Compassion Spirituality Center in White Plains, NY.

As part of its mission to foster Christian unity, the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) meets annually with members of the Oriental Orthodox churches. Along with ministering to immigrant communities, the dialogue also discussed the plight of Christians in the Middle East.

Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, New York, and Metropolitan Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim of the Eastern Archdiocese of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch (Oriental Orthodox) co-chaired the dialogue. This was the Metropolitan’s first meeting since his appointment as new co-chairman of the dialogue. He succeeds Very Reverend Chorbishop John Meno, also of the Syriac Orthodox Church, who had served as Oriental Orthodox co-chairman since 1985 and recently retired from the active ministry. The members expressed their gratitude to Father Meno for his many years of faithful service to this dialogue.

Presenters at the dialogue were Maronite Catholic Bishop Gregory Mansour of Brooklyn, Allison Posner, director of advocacy for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Julianne Barsoum Jabaly of the Syriac Orthodox Church, and Michael Guglielmo, executive director of the Armenian Eastern Diocese.

On Monday evening the members traveled to St. Nersess Armenian Seminary in New Rochelle, New York. Together they celebrated Armenian Vespers in the seminary chapel and attended a dinner hosted by Father Daniel Findikyan, the rector. Later in the evening the members had a wide-ranging discussion of major events in the lives of their churches both in the United States and overseas.

On Tuesday morning the dialogue examined the situation of Christians in the Middle East. Bishop Mansour presented the recent Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Benedict XVI, Ecclesia in Medio Oriente. He discussed the structure and functioning of the Synod of Bishops, and what the document had to say about the Christian presence in that part of the world. The members are deeply worried about the future of Christian communities in the region.

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