Pro Oriente

Commission for Ecumenical Encounters between the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Catholic Church (CEE)

The "PRO ORIENTE Commission for Ecumenical Encounters between the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Catholic Church" (CEE) was established in November 2015 in Vienna. The Oriental Orthodox Churches include the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Syrian Orthodox Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and the Eritrean Orthodox Church. The work of the commission aimsat strengthening the dialogue and cooperation between the churches beyond denominational boundaries and to making elements of existing unity between them more visible. The Commission currently has twelve members:

Academic direction

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Dietmar W. WINKLER, Roman Catholic Church, Austria
Bishop Anba ANGELOS, Coptic Orthodox Church, EgyptRev. Daniel Seifemichael FELEKE, Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Ethiopia
Univ.-Prof. DDr. Pablo ARGARATE, Roman Catholic Church, AustriaBishop Armash NALBANDIAN, Armenian Apostolic Church (Catholicate of Etchmiadzin), Syria
Metropolit Mor Polycarpus AYDIN, Syriac Orthodox Church, The NetherlandsPD Dr. Aho SHEMUNKASHO, Syriac Orthodox Church, Austria

Rev. Frans BOUWEN M.Afr., Roman Catholic Church, Jerusalem

Archbishop Anoushavan TANIELIAN, Armenian Apostolic Church (Catholicate of Cilicia), USA
Rev. Dr. Hyacinthe DESTIVELLE OP, Roman Catholic Church, Vatican (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity/Observer)Rev. Prof. Dr. Baby VARGHESE, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, India
CEE 2018

The commission works on the basis of the PRO ORIENTE dialogue with the Oriental Orthodox Churches, which was particularly successful in the first decades of the foundation's existence. In the context of this unofficial dialogue format, it was made possible during the early 1970s to overcome one of the main theological obstacles to rapprochement between the churches involved with the "Vienna Christological Formula".

This dialogue was broken off in 1998 due to various tensions. Only in 2004 and for the first time since the split between the churches involved in the project, an official „International Joint Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodoxy" was founded. The PRO ORIENTE dialogues and the results that they managed to achieve contributed significantly to this undertaking.

The experience of the past few years has shown that meeting and cooperating on an informal and innovative level is of great value, which complements the official dialogue on the road to unity. Against this background, PRO ORIENTE decided to resume the unofficial dialogue with the Oriental Orthodox Churches

The commission consists of representatives of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, except for the Eritrean Orthodox Church (political reasons prevent its involvement), as well as experts from the PRO ORIENTE network. The Pontifical Unity Council is represented by an observer.

The members of the commission deal intensively with a topic on a regular basis in academic consultations while also invite external experts to contribute. It is of great importance for the commission members to facilitate the involvement of the younger generation of theologians from the participating churches.

As an interdenominational ecumenical commission, the aim of its joint work is to bring about the overcoming of existing denominational tensions. The commission is also particularly concerned with the practical implications for the coexistence of Christians in different regions of the world.