Bishop Pierre Duprey

Ecumenist at the Vatican


Pierre Francois Marie Joseph Duprey, priest: born Croix, France 26 November 1922; ordained priest 1950; consecrated a bishop 1990; Secretary, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity 1983-99; died Rome 13 May 2007.

For more than three decades, Pierre Duprey was one of the great ecumenists within the Vatican, building on the warm contacts with other Christian churches unleashed during the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). Not as prominent as his more visible bosses at the Secretariat for Christian Unity (from 1988 the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity) – Cardinal Augustin Bea, Cardinal Johannes Willebrands and then Cardinal Edward Cassidy – Duprey worked hard behind the scenes to organise ecumenical meetings and push for progress.

A fluent Arabic speaker, he was intent especially on building ties of friendship with the Orthodox and Oriental churches of the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Duprey also played a behind-the-scenes role with Willebrands to ensure that Arab Catholic bishops would not publicly resist the new opening to the Jews in the key 1965 Vatican Council document Nostra Aetate on the Church's relations with non-Christian faiths.

Born in 1922 in Croix in northern France, Duprey decided early on that he wanted to be a priest. He left his Nazi-occupied homeland in 1940 for Tunisia, and entered the novitiate of the White Fathers (now called the Missionaries of Africa) in 1942 in Algiers. He was ordained priest in Carthage in Tunisia in February 1950. After receiving a doctorate in Eastern Christian studies from the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, Duprey studied Orthodox theology in Athens and Arabic in Beirut. From 1956 to 1963, he was Professor of Dogmatic Theology and Church History at St Anne's Melkite seminary in Jerusalem.

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

When the Orthodox churches accepted Pope John XXIII's invitation to send observers to the Second Vatican Council in 1962, Duprey was brought in to help them as an interpreter and guide. Duprey himself saw the council as momentous, speaking of it later as the moment "when the Church took what I might dare call a complete U-turn in its attitudes to the Orthodox Church, and towards its ecumenical commitment."

The following year Duprey was named under-secretary (third in command) of the recently created Secretariat for Christian Unity, where he would remain until his retirement at the age of 76 in 1999. He was its secretary from 1983 and was consecrated a bishop in 1990.

Duprey was the Vatican go-between in preparing the historic meeting between Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras in Jerusalem in 1964 and the cancellation of the reciprocal excommunications between Rome and the Orthodox churches. He was an important influence in opening theological dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox churches .

Duprey also served as vice-president of the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, and was a member of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission. The Vatican's ecumenists were acutely aware that their cause was frowned on by some who feared that ties to other Christian churches could imperil Catholic doctrine.

Duprey was delicate on such tensions. "The Doctrinal Commission is concerned with the purity of faith. We are concerned with the purity of faith and rising above the ways of expressing it to find common ground with other Christians," he declared in 1985. "The relationship is not always smooth, but this is healthy."

Felix Corley

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
video
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Amis: Taken to task over rash decisions and ill-judged statements
booksThe Zone of Interest just doesn't work, says James Runcie
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Travel
travelFrom Notting Hill Carnival to Zombeavers at FrightFest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Service Delivery and Support Manager

£55000 - £75000 per annum + excellent benefits: Harrington Starr: Service Deli...

Corporate Tax Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGHEST QUALITY INTERNATIONAL ...

Relationship Manager

£500 - £600 per day: Orgtel: Relationship Manager, London, Banking, Accountant...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home