First Catholic-Orthodox Forum - Trento, Italy, 11-14 december 2008

The First Catholic-Orthodox Forum, organised by the Council of European Bishops' Conferences (CCEE) with the support of the Archdiocese of Trent and its Archbishop Mgr Luigi Bressan, is set to begin in Trent (Italy) on the afternoon of Thursday 11 December.

Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest and CCEE President said, "It is also to honour the memory of His Holiness Alexis II that together with the Russian Orthodox Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria that we have decided to go ahead with this Catholic-Orthodox Forum in Trent".

From next Thursday 7 experts from Europe's Orthodox Churches will meet together with 7 Catholic experts from Bishops' Conferences and 3 from Vatican dicasteries to reflect on the theme The Family: a good for humanity.

In particular, the reflection will be focussed on the following three aspects: the theological aspect (the family in the plan of creation); juridical-cultural aspects (the definition of family in various national and international legislations, legislative and cultural changes); and current themes: the family and marriage; the family and education; generational links; implications for the family in political, economic and other social processes; education and religious instruction in the context of the family and in the school.

In the course of each day there will be moments for prayer and on Friday 12 December the delegates will participate in an Ecumenical Prayer Vigil in Trent's San Vigilio Cathedral.

In order to ensure the feasibility of the Forum, CCEE organised an informal meeting in Budapest, on 6-7 December 2007, attended by four Orthodox experts (from the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Moscow, Romania, and Serbia) and four Catholic experts, including two delegates from Pontifical Councils (Iustitia et Pax, and the Family), and a representative from the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Cardinal Erdő said it was the "historical and cultural changes in Europe in the last few decades, demanding with some urgency a common witness and collaboration of the Christian communities for the defence and promotion of Christian values in our society, which led to reflecting on the possibility of creating in Europe a Catholic-Orthodox Forum to examine together pastoral themes of common interest".

The Forum will take place at the Grand'hotel Bellavista, Viale Vittorio Emanuele III, 7, IT-38056 Levico Terme. The meeting is not open to the public. Interviews with participants can be arranged through the CCEE Media Officer. The programme, list of participants, and embargoed texts can be found in the Featured Today section of the CCEE website.