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The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation Publishes New Agreed Statement on Orthodox and Catholic Marriages

Holding hands

WASHINGTON – The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation announces the publication of a new agreed statement entitled, The Pastoral Care of Mixed Marriages: Neither Yours nor Mine – but Ours. The document was finalized at the Spring 2023 meeting of the Consultation which took place at St. Augustine’s Seminary of Toronto, in Ontario, Canada. The Consultation is co-chaired by Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, CSsR, the archbishop of Newark, and Metropolitan Methodios, the metropolitan of Boston.  

Orthodox and Catholic Christians have engaged in a fruitful dialogue for more than half a century throughout the world. The Consultation’s new agreed statement on marriage builds on past understandings further emphasizing the sacredness of all Christian marriage, the lifelong nature of matrimony, remarriage, the importance of the spiritual formation of children, and the need for shared and continuing pastoral care. Although differences in canonical practice between both Churches were acknowledged on the dissolution of the marital bond, as well as in the common understanding of the constitutive elements necessary for its formation, an affirmation was made that, in both traditions, sacramental marriage takes place in an ecclesial context through the ministry of the Church. The Consultation has proposed that instead of dividing the parties in a mixed marriage into “yours” and “mine,” to adopt, as a starting principle, a joint solicitude for the spouses and embark on the pastoral care of each mixed marriage as “our” concern, to reflect care and shared understanding of mixed marriages and the proposed recommendations. The Consultation made recommendations on the celebration of mixed marriages in both churches, the recognition of remarriage after divorce, joint pastoral care, mutual recognition of the married life in Christ, updating of pastoral materials, and the avoidance of indifferentism as well as spiritual confusion.

Like most dialogue agreed statements, this new text does not speak officially for either Church. However, it has been drafted by a group of experienced theologians highly esteemed by their peers and submitted to all the members of both Churches for their prayerful reflection and discussion. Anticipated commentaries will be made available as additional scholars engage the text. The full text of the statement may be found here.

The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation is sponsored jointly by the Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical Relations of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, the Committee for Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. Since its establishment in 1965, the Consultation has issued some 31 agreed statements on various topics. All these texts are available on the websites of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Assembly of Bishops, and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

As part of the ongoing dialogue on the American side, the Joint Committee of Orthodox and Catholic Bishops, has been meeting annually since 1981 to discuss pastoral issues between the two churches. A summary of their work may be found at: An analogous initiative has also long existed in Canada.