The first meeting of the International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches took place from January 27th-30th, 2004 in Cairo, Egypt. His Holiness Pope Shenouda III hosted the meeting, and it was presided by delegates from the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church. His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy of Damietta and the General Secretary of the Holy Synod was the delegate from the Coptic Orthodox Church, while Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity was the delegate from the Catholic Church
In their opening speeches, both Cardinal Kasper and Metropolitan Bishoy underscored the importance of the meeting, which marks the beginning of a new official theological dialogue, between the Catholic Church and the family of the Oriental Orthodox Churches.
In the first part of the meeting, the many studies and activities carried out over the past thirty years were examined. Later, discussion was opened on the following topics: unofficial consultations held between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, official dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church, official dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, and the declarations made by the Catholic Church and any Orthodox Church. A paper was presented, which was jointly sponsored by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Standing Conference of the Oriental Orthodox Churches in the U.S.A., on various aspects of their dialogue. The topics and discussion have demonstrated that considerable work has been accomplished, which may be useful for the future dialogue of the commission.
The ‘work plan’ and agenda for dialogue comprised the second part of the meeting, which was dedicated to the topic of the next meeting, “Church as Communion”, scheduled to be held from January 25th-30th, 2005. Cardinal Kasper extended an invitation to have the meeting in Rome.