Former Secretary of Unity Council Dies at 84

Bishop Pierre Duprey Known as a Missionary of Ecumenism

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 15, 2007, Zenit.org - Bishop Pierre Duprey, former secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, died Sunday. He was 84.



His death was announced by his religious family, the Missionaries of Africa, formerly known as the White Fathers.

The statement reported that he returned to God serenely, surrounded by the love of his friends and missionary brothers.

Pierre Duprey was born in Croix, France, on Nov. 26, 1922. He entered the novitiate of the White Fathers in 1942 in Algiers and was ordained a priest in February 1950.

After receiving a doctorate from the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, he studied Orthodox theology in Athens and Arabic in Beirut. From 1956 to 1963, he was professor of dogmatic theology and Church history in Jerusalem.

In 1961, on the Island of Rhodes, Greece, he was one of the Catholic observers present at the first Pan-Orthodox Conference, which brought together 61 representatives from 12 self-governing Orthodox churches.

In 1962, he was invited to participate as a theologian and interpreter to assist the delegation of Orthodox observers at the first session of the Second Vatican Council.

Central role

The next year he was named undersecretary of the Secretariat for Christian Unity, established by Pope John XXIII in 1960, led at that time by Cardinal Augustin Bea.

Monsignor Duprey played a central role in the preparation of the meeting between Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople, and the cancellation of the reciprocal excommunications between Rome and the Orthodox Churches.

He was an important influence in the preparations for the opening of theological dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, announced during Pope John Paul II's 1979 visit to Demetrios I, ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople.

Monsignor Duprey was named secretary for the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in 1983. He was consecrated a bishop in 1990.

He carried out his ministry as a bishop in that dicastery until his retirement for reasons of age on March 16, 1999.

His successor in the post was Bishop Walter Kasper, future cardinal and current president of the council.