The Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches held its 18th session at the Vatican on June 20-24. Bishop Magar Ashkarian and Very Rev. Fr. Boghos Tinkjian (co-secretary) participated in the meeting on behalf of the Holy See of Cilicia. The Catholicosate was also represented at a separate meeting convened by the World Council of Churches in Geneva the week before. 

The participants finalized the document on the seven sacraments of the church and started the discussion on Mariology, which will continue at the next meeting. His Holiness Pope Francis I received the participants, who briefed him about the Commission’s work and shared the upcoming agenda with him. 

The next meeting of the Commission will be hosted by the Coptic Church in Egypt on January 31-February 4, 2023. 


WCC Central Committee Meets in Geneva 


The Central Committee of the WCC, its highest decision-making body, convened in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 15-18. It is the first time the Central Committee has met in person since the beginning of the pandemic. 

The Holy See was represented by V. Rev. Fr. Hrant Tahanian, Ecumenical Officer of the Catholicosate, and Prof. Teny Pirri-Simonian, the Catholicosate’s Ecumenical Representative in Switzerland.

The meeting primarily focused on preparing for the 11th WCC Assembly, scheduled for September, in Karlsruhe, Germany, under the theme “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity.” The Assembly will be the most comprehensive and inclusive event of world Christianity in our times, said moderator Dr. Agnes Abuom.  

“An assembly unfolds its theme through common prayer, Bible studies, thematic plenaries, and reflections on the most important challenges of our time that require clear responses by the churches together,” she said. “It is the space where the churches set new directions for their common journey towards reconciliation and unity of all humankind and all creation.” 

The Central Committee also elected a new general secretary. Rev. Prof. Dr. Jerry Pillay. He is the eighth general secretary in the WCC’s history since the fellowship of churches was founded in 1948. Pillay is currently dean of the Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, and a member of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa.