[CUA Office of Public Affairs]

March 7, 2002

CUA President and Dean Meet Orthodox Christian Delegation


The Very Rev. David M. O?Connell, C.M., President, and The Rev. Stephen Happel, dean of the School of Religious Studies, were invited to meet with His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, archbishop of Constantinople, during his historic visit to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, March 6.


The Very Rev. David M. O?Connell, C.M., President, and School of Religious Studies Dean Stephen Happel (seated in the back of the left row) met with the Patriarchal party on Wednesday, March 6, at the invitation of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick (seated front left).

The head of the Greek Orthodox Church and spiritual leader of more than 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, His All Holiness Bartholomew was in Washington as part of a six-day U.S. visit. He met with President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell on March 5, and with a delegation of Catholic Church leaders the following morning.


Heading the Catholic delegation were Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, archbishop of Washington and chancellor of CUA, and Cardinal William H. Keeler, Archbishop of Baltimore and a member of the international Catholic-Orthodox dialogue, and Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, the Vatican?s ambassador to the United States and ecclesiastical representative of the Pope.


Among those accompanying the patriarch were Archbishop Demetrios, primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, Archbishop Leo of Karelia and All Finland, Archbishop Gennadios of Italy and Metropolitan Archbishop Apostolos of Moschonision.


?Given the significance of and the role played by the national university of the Catholic Church in our country, I considered it important that the president and the dean be there for this occasion,? said Cardinal McCarrick, who hosted the meeting.


Father O?Connell and Father Happel took advantage of the opportunity to invite the Orthodox leaders to participate in the ecumenical conference Orientale Lumen held at CUA each summer. The conference, which draws participants from the Roman Catholic, Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, focuses on Pope John Paul II's 1995 apostolic letter, Orientale Lumen, praising the riches of the East and urging a restoration of East-West church unity. Orientale Lumen is Latin for "eastern light."


?This visit was a wonderful opportunity to further the vital dialogue between members of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches begun with Orientale Lumen,? Father O?Connell said afterwards. ?We were honored to meet with His All Holiness during this landmark occasion.?


The meeting took place at the St. Regis Hotel in downtown Washington. Also present were Bishops Paul S. Loverde of Arlington and Kevin J. Farrell of Washington.


Patriarch Bartholomew spoke of the sincere and mutual desire evident among those present for the cultivation and development of inter-Christian dialogue.


?We, as Christians,? he said, ?are charged by God himself to restore our unity, so that the world will believe in the divine mission of the Church of Christ? (John 17.21).


Cardinal McCarrick praised the leadership of Patriarch Bartholomew in this important endeavor and Cardinal Keeler recounted the many occasions for dialogue supported by his leadership.


Archbishop Demetrios praised The Catholic University of America?s contributions to serious biblical scholarship, citing its publications Old Testament Abstracts and New Testament Abstracts as outstanding journals. The group discussed the Orientale Lumen conference ? which several of the Orthodox leaders were already familiar with ? and Cardinal McCarrick also mentioned the conference ?Humanizing the Global Economy? held on CUA?s campus at the end of January.


Following a reception at the Embassy of Greece, the Patriarchal party left Washington for a two-day visit to Boston and three days in New York City.



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Revised: Feb. 18, 2002

All contents copyright 2001.
The Catholic University of America,
Office of Public Affairs.