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Unity in Antioch

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Unity in Antioch

by SubDeacon Charles Baz


This booklet is simply a reprint of my Master of Divinity Thesis, completed and presented to the faculty of St Vladimir’s Seminary, Crestwood, NY, on 1 May 2000. The original title of the thesis is: “Unity in Antioch Between the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches.”

A lot remains to be researched on this important topic, and discussed. Moreover, our faithful Orthodox people need to know more about the Non-Chalcedonian Orthodox. I believe that for the first-time reader on this topic, so much will be discovered about the similarities we share with the Non-Chalcedonian Orthodox.

I am a strong supporter of dialogue, good and fruitful dialogue that is. In my thesis, I use some very strong language against the so-called “traditionalists,” the self-made righteous and the “Pharisees” of the Orthodox Church. I ask for the reader’s forgiveness in this regard. However, the reader must be made aware of “both sides” of any given argument, and to the best of my abilities, I tried to present that in my thesis, as objectively as possible. And God is our Helper.

Subdn Charles Baz
Feast of Ss. Constantine & Helena
AD 2002


A lot of the Chalcedonian Orthodox faithful whom I get in contact with on a daily basis do not know who the Oriental Christians are and what they believe in. Some think they are Monophysites (i.e. heretics) while others think they are Nestorian heretics. Very few think they are orthodox, although “their orthodoxy is not like ours” is what I hear. Worse yet, many in the Orthodox World do not know about the current rapprochement that is established between the Chalcedonian and Non-Chalcedonian Orthodox Churches because of the fruitful dialogue discussions in the twentieth century. This last has been the primary reason that prompted me to write this thesis.

The second reason has to do with the current status quo in the Church of Antioch, where the two patriarchs of that ancient see have signed a document of ’’mutual and complete respect” for both traditions, a document which allowed (by eikonomia) for a “limited and economic intercommunion” between the two Churches. Although this document has been made public (since 1991) through the Patriarchal Encyclical of His Beatitude IGNATIUS IV, the Chalcedonian patriarch of Antioch, there are still some in the Orthodox World, including some in the Antiochian jurisdictions who are directly affected by these resolutions, who ignore the stipulations of this Encyclical and still consider the Oriental Orthodox as “Monophysite heretics.”

The third and last reason for writing this thesis has to do with my own deep conviction, after many years of personal research, that the Oriental Christians are genuine and valid Orthodox Christians like us, the Chalcedonians. After the schism which the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451) created, the Chalcedonian Orthodox came to be identified with the Byzantine Empire as “Melkites” (i.e. the emperor’s people), whereas the Oriental Orthodox came to be derided as “Monophysite heretics,” sometimes for simply being “outside” of the empire. That empire became extinct more than five centuries ago, along with its emperors, and we now live in a different era.

The twentieth century dialogue discussions with the Oriental Orthodox will be a litmus-test for all the succeeding centuries: From now on, the Chalcedonian Orthodox will either have to accept the decisions of these consultations or they have to stand out and condemn the “panheresy” of ecumenism with the so-called “traditionalists.” I believe that the most feasible and desirable state that can be reached at present between the two Churches is through imitating the current status quo in the Church of Antioch. The Church of Antioch can be used as a model if other “regions” in the Orthodox World are willing to accept a reunion with the Oriental Orthodox sometime in the future.

Since most of the sources were secondary, very few primary sources were available to me. I had to rely on oral history (I strongly recommend this exciting research method) by holding an interview with His Beatitude IGNATIUS IV who has been both, an active church leader in this as well as other dialogues, and has been also a very important resource for me. The Greek Orthodox Theological Review has provided a great service for everyone by publishing the proceedings of the twentieth-century consultations between the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches. Last but not least, Professor John H. Erickson, who is a diligent partner in dialogue, assisted me a lot by directing this thesis. His constructive remarks are truly appreciated.


I wish to thank my Chief Father-in-Christ, His Beatitude IGNATIUS IV Hazim, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, for granting me to hold an interview with him specifically for this thesis. His wealth of information gave me a lot of insights on the topic of “Unity in Antioch.” May God grant him many years. I also wish to thank my mentor, Professor John H. Erickson, for his kindness, patience, and instruction. Both men are not only master theologians, but they are also sincere Orthodox Christians. Both have instructed me on what it means to be an ecumenist. It is through their assistance that this thesis has come to fruition.



More than fifteen centuries have passed since the first permanent schism took place in the Church, the split that occurred between those who accepted the decisions of the Council of Chalcedon (AD 451), termed thereafter Chalcedonians, and those who refused its decisions, the Non-Chalcedonians. During most of this lengthy period, several efforts for reunion were made by Byzantine emperors and church leaders, but to no avail. As a result, this schism has lasted until our present day, and those of us who are interested in “healing the schisms of the churches”1 must be concerned first and foremost with the first schism, the schism that occurred as a result of Chalcedon.

This state of estrangement between the two Churches continued from the Council of Chalcedon until the last half of the twentieth century, when finally serious discussions took place between the two sides. These much awaited dialogue discussions (or consultations) have resulted in very positive conclusions, whereby both sides have now reached a “theological agreement based on a common Christological consensus.”2 In other words, for more than 1500 years, the two Church families have been sharing the same essence of faith, in spite of this state of estrangement.

After centuries of “perceived confusion” due to terminological difficulties, that is, difficulties as a result of the different terminologies that each Church family had applied to describe the Person of Christ since Chalcedon, both Churches have now realized, at last, that the essence of the one faith is shared by both Churches, regardless of the intricate and often difficult terminologies applied to describe the unity and duality in Jesus Christ: That is, he is the “One Lord” as the Nicene Creed states, who at the same time is consubstantial with the Father with regard to his divinity, and consubstantial with us with regard to his humanity.

Due to the fruitful dialogue discussions of the twentieth century, both Churches have come to accept that they both share the common understanding of Christ, an understanding that is based on His duality and unity, in spite of the different terms applied by each Church. This common understanding is very important, since the Fathers before Chalcedon have maintained two (salvific) necessities: first, that only God can save, and second, that only God as man, that is God in human form, can save.

In his polemic against the Arians, who maintained that the Logos is nothing but a creature, St. Athanasius the Great3 affirmed the full divinity of the Logos, the Son of God and the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, in his famous phrase: “God became man in order that man might become God in him (Γέγονε άνθρωπος ϊν ήμας έν έαυτω θεοποιήςση).”4 Soteriology, as such, is not only effected by God, but in addition, it has to reach the point of human need, hence the famous statement of St. Gregory Nazianzen: “What is not assumed cannot be healed, and what is united to God is saved (Τό γάρ άπρόςσληπτον άθεράςπευτον ο δέ ήνωται τώ Θεώ, τούτο καί σώζεται).”5

The common soteriological significance of the statements of these two great Fathers who preceded Chalcedon may then be summarized: Jesus Christ is not only fully God, but for salvation to be real and effective, Jesus Christ is fully man as well. Any compromise of Christ’s divinity or humanity would make salvation impossible.

In addition to these two great Fathers of the one Church before Chalcedon, as well as many others like them, there is also the important figure of the great St. Cyril of Alexandria. St. Cyril was of extreme importance to the fruitful dialogue discussions between the two Churches. Since he is the last “common Father” of the two Church traditions, agreement could only be reached by emphasizing the theology of this great Alexandrine Father. Unity of faith could only be envisioned in light of St. Cyril.

Having reached the affirmation that both Churches have manifested the same faith over the centuries, in spite of the differently applied terminologies that caused much of the historical debate, the logical conclusion in the minds of the optimists was union. The concept of unity, which involves as a cornerstone ecclesiastical and hierarchical unity, has many interpretations, and a few proposals have been offered, such as regional or universal unions.6 In other words, a “visible” unity still remains to be implemented, and the last impediment to this step is the lifting of the anathemas imposed by both Churches on certain Fathers of the “other side.”

The present thesis will focus primarily on the events that took place in the twentieth century, it will begin with general topics and develop into more specific ones. In other words, the scope will not be chronological, but topical instead. After summarizing the results of the fruitful twentieth-century dialogue discussions, the scope will shift into church history, where previous attempts at union have failed. Then the discussion will shift to certain Fathers, with a chapter dedicated to Severus of Antioch. The problem of anathemas will be addressed in a separate chapter, and another chapter will focus on the so-called “traditionalists” and the ecumenists (i.e. on those who hold opposite views in relation to this specific dialogue).

Thereafter, the scope of this thesis will focus on more concrete and specific issues. As the title of this thesis suggests, “Unity in Antioch,” the current situation in the Church of Antioch deserves a case study, where the two patriarchs of the ancient and apostolic see of Antioch have reached a common working solution for the pastoral needs of the faithful in the Middle East. A chapter will deal with the pastoral issues in the Church of Antioch. The last chapter will strive to distinguish between unity and union, taking into consideration the remarks made by His Beatitude IGNATIUS IV Hazim, the Chalcedonian Patriarch of Antioch.7

The conclusion will recommend that the most desirable and feasible solution to the currently existing double-hierarchical system of the two Churches ought to be a state of “limited, economic intercommunion,” like the one currently practiced in the Church of Antioch. After fifteen centuries of separation, one must admit, union cannot be achieved overnight. A limited, economic (i.e. from οίκονομία) intercommunion status quo can thus preserve in each Church her rich spirituality and unique tradition.



  • Chapter One: The Consultations of the Twentieth Century
  • Chapter Two: The Historical Background of Our Estrangement
  • Chapter Three: Failed Attempts at Reunion
  • Chapter Four: Severus of Antioch
  • Chapter Five: The Problem of Anathemas
  • Chapter Six: ‘Traditionalism” versus “Ecumenism”
  • Chapter Seven: Unity in Antioch
  • Chapter Eight: The Pastoral Needs of the Faithful in the Middle East
  • Chapter Nine: “Unity” versus “Union”
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix A: The Patriarchal Encyclical
  • Appendix B: Transcript of the Interview with Patriarch Ignatius IV

Chapter One: The Consultations of the Twentieth Century

After fifteen centuries of estrangement, an estrangement that led to the point of animosity and sometimes persecution, little theological exchange took place between the Chalcedonian and Non-Chalcedonian Christians-who later on came to be called Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox, respectively-except perhaps in the polemical forum.1 The twentieth century is the first period of positive dialogue between the two Churches, and the global consultations that took place are very promising.

The fruitful outcome of these consultations came as a result, one needs to emphasize, of the diligent efforts exerted by both Church families (i.e. they were not one-sided). These consultations are summarized below in chronological order:

  • On the 1500th anniversary of the Council of Chalcedon in 1951, Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople formally called for the establishment of a process of dialogue between the Chalcedonian (Eastern) and the Non-Chalcedonian (Oriental) Churches in order to heal the schism. The patriarch did so by quoting St. John of Damascus, who claimed that those who rejected the terminology of Chalcedon were “nevertheless Orthodox in all respects.”2
  • A decade later in 1961, and during the Pan-Orthodox Conference in Rhodes, the Eastern Orthodox realized the urgent need of establishing this dialogue with the Oriental Orthodox.3
  • In 1964, during the First Unofficial Consultation in Aarhus,4 an Agreed Statement was produced stressing the authority of St. Cyril of Alexandria.5
  • In 1965, during their Addis Ababa Conference, the Oriental Churches acknowledged the necessity for this dialogue.6
  • In 1967, during the Second Unofficial Consultation in Bristol,7 a second Agreed Statement was issued indicating basic Christological agreement (covering essential dogmatic issues such as: nature, will, and energy) between the two families.8
  • In 1968, following the Fourth Preconciliar Conference, the Eastern Orthodox established a Preliminary Commission for dialogue (which met in 1971 ).9
  • In 1970, during the Third Unofficial Consultation in Geneva,10 Christological agreement was reaffirmed along with certain important ecclesiological issues.11
  • In 1971, during the Fourth Unofficial Consultation in Addis Ababa,12 recommendations for the lifting of anathemas and recognition of saints were given.13
  • In 1972, the Oriental Churches agreed to establish a Commission (similar to the one established by the Eastern Churches in 1968). As a result, in 1972 and 1978, representatives from both Commissions began to meet to discuss future directions.14
  • In 1973, the two Representative Commissions of both Church families began preparation for the establishment of an official Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Church families. 15
  • In 1985, the first plenary meeting of the Joint Commission in Geneva prepared the agenda for the Commission’s future work.16
  • In 1989, the second plenary meeting of the Joint Commission issued an Agreed Statement17 on Christology at the Anba Bishoy Monastery in Egypt.18
  • In 1990, the third plenary meeting of the Joint Commission at Chambesy19 produced a Second Agreed Statement and Recommendations on Pastoral Issues.20

During these consultations, both sides invested plenty of time and effort for this dialogue in hopes for a fruitful reunion. Diligent efforts were made by both sides, and this in my opinion explains the fruitfulness of this specific dialogue when contrasted with all the other fruitless dialogues that the Chalcedonian Orthodox have attempted with others (i.e. with the Roman Catholics and Protestants).

The positive results of these discussions between our two Church families have culminated in the discovery of our common faith. As Professor John H. Erickson has pointed out: “There is full agreement on the substance of faith, notwithstanding differences in terminology”; and, both families have insisted “that unity of faith is the essential precondition for communion.”21
As a result of these consultations, the long period of animosity which resulted in one Church often accusing the other of heresy is now resolved: The Eastern Church can no longer (falsely) accuse the other side as “Eutychian” Monophysite, which is a heresy per se, and likewise, the Oriental Church can no longer (falsely as well) accuse the other side as “Nestorian,” which is equally heretical. The “formula of union” which was composed in 1990 in Chambesy, during the last consultation, stated the following:

  • Both families agree in condemning the Eutychian heresy. Both families confess that the Logos, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, only begotten of the Father before the ages and consubstantial with Him, was incarnate and was born from the Virgin Mary Theotokos; fully consubstantial with us, perfect man with soul, body, and mind (nous)…
  • Both families condemn the Nestorian heresy and the crypto-Nestorianism of Theodoret of Cyrrhus.22

As was stated earlier, the importance of St. Cyril of Alexandria, the “common Father” of both Churches, was key for bringing together both families into dialogue. As the late Fr. John Meyendorff once stated: ‘The Christology of St. Cyril of Alexandria is our common Christology, and the schism involved only a different understanding of formulae and expressions which have been accepted as standard and doctrinally binding by one side or the other.”23 Until a common agreement was reached on St. Cyril, no consultations could have ever taken place.

In the “Agreed Statement” of Aarhus (14 August 1964), the teachings of Eutyches and Nestorius were registered in light of St. Cyril’s teaching:

On the essence of Christological dogma, we found ourselves in full agreement. Through the different terminologies used by each side, we saw the same truth expressed. Since we agree in rejecting without reservation the teaching of Eutyches as well as Nestorius, the acceptance or non-acceptance of the Council of Chalcedon does not entail the acceptance of either heresy. Both sides found themselves fundamentally following the Christological teaching of the one undivided Church as expressed by St. Cyril.24

The famous formula of St. Cyril, “One incarnate nature of God the Logos” (μία φύσις του Θεου Λόγου σεσαρκωμένη), which was altogether abandoned in Chalcedon, again due to these consultations was finally brought into a common understanding:

The Orthodox agree that the Oriental Orthodox will continue to maintain their traditional Cyrilline terminology of the ‘one nature of the Incarnate Logos’ (μία φύσις του Θεου Λόγου σεσαρκωμένη), (a) since they acknowledge the double consubstantiality of the Logos which Eutyches denied. The Orthodox also use this terminology. The Oriental Orthodox agree that the Orthodox are justified in their use of the two natures formula, (b) since they acknowledge that the distinction is ‘in thought alone’ (τή Θεορία μόνη). Cyril interpreted correctly this use in his letter to John of Antioch and his letters to Acacius of Melitene (PG 77, 184-201), to Eulogius (PG 77, 224-228), and to Succensus (PG 77, 228-245).25

From these last two quotes, one can see that St. Cyril remains the essential Father for resolving the terminological differences in the two Churches. His mia physis 26 formula, in spite of Chalcedon’s neglect of it, is now established in the consultations between the two Churches as the defining truth about the incarnation of the Son of God. As a result, each Church family can maintain this formula since, as understood by both sides, it does not entail a Eutychian interpretation.

Chapter Two: The Historical Background of Our Estrangement

Theology, which from the Greek word (theologia) means “words about God,” is problematic. As with economists, it is impossible to find two theologians who agree fully on what they say they believe. The reason is simple: when we speak about God, we rely on human language. With all the complexities of language considered, we still cannot define God properly (hence the apophatic approach of the Fathers). The same applies to Jesus Christ, whose Person “transcends so much of our comprehension and linguistic expression that no formulation is adequate to describe him.”27 In short, the limit of our human language, we can safely say, has been behind many Christological controversies from the fifth century until present.
The purpose of the Council of Chalcedon was to restore the unity and peace of the Church, which had been disturbed by the dispute of the formulation of the mystery of Christ.28 This purpose was never achieved. The Council canonized the Tome of Leo for overthrowing Eutychianism and confirming the true faith, and canonized also the two Letters of St. Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria, for disposing of Nestorianism.29 The Definition of Faith of this Council, although Antiochene and Western in Christology, was principally based on St. Cyril’s two Letters and Pope Leo’s Tome.30 An excerpt from this Council’s Definition reads:

… Our Lord Jesus Christ is to us One and the same (τόν αύτόν) Son, the Self-same (τόν αύτόν) Perfect in Godhead, the Self-same (τόν αύτόν) Perfect in Manhood; truly God and truly Man; the Self-same (τόν αύτόν) of a rational soul and body; consubstantial with the Father according to the Godhead, the Self-same (τόν αύτόν) consubstantial with us according to Manhood; like us in all things, sin apart; before the ages begotten of the Father as to the Godhead, but in the last days, the Self-same (τόν αύτόν), for us and for  our salvation [born] of Mary the Virgin Theotokos as to the Manhood; One and the Same (τόν αύτόν) Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten; acknowledged in Two Natures unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably (έυ δύο φύσεσιν άσυγχυτώς, άτρέπτως, άδιαιρέτως, άχωπίστως γνωριζόμενον); the difference of the Natures being in no way removed because of the Union, but rather the property of each nature preserved, and (both) concurring into One Prosopon and One Hypostasis; not as though He were parted or divided into Two Prosopa, but One and the Self-same Son (τόν αύτόν) and Only-begotten God, Word, Lord, Jesus Christ …31

The above text is cited to point out the four negative adverbs, used as an attempt to explain (apophatically) the union of the two natures in Christ, which have been a subject of debate. However, these four adverbs derive from the theology of St. Cyril.32 In addition, as Fr. John Meyendorff pointed out, “the expression τόν αύτόν (“the same”) was intentionally repeated in the [definition], underlying the unity of subject in Christ.”33 That is, St. Cyril’s theology (i.e. his insistence on the unity of Christ) against Nestorius was not abandoned in Chalcedon. Unfortunately, however, while both Chalcedonians and Non-Chalcedonians accepted the authority of St. Cyril, both have accused each other of not remaining completely faithful to Cyril.34
The Oriental Orthodox, for their part, have been more literally attached to St. Cyril than the Eastern Orthodox, especially with respect to St. Cyril’s formula μία φύσις του Θεου Λόγου σεσαρκωμένη , which caused them to be erroneously termed ’’Monophysites” by the Byzantines. This erroneous name-calling of the Chalcedonians against the Oriental Churches lasted for 1500 years. It is misleading, not to mention insulting to call them “monophysite heretics,” and as Professor John Erickson pointed out, if we should use the word monophysite at all, better to call them “monophysite orthodox.”35 One must add, however, that in spite of Professor John Erickson’s qualification of the term “monophysite” with “orthodox,” it is still inappropriate to call them “monophysite” based on St. Cyril’s pia <pwi<; formula. According to Rev. V. C. Samuel, “Miaphysite Orthodox” is still a better name:

The term ‘monophysites’ was not used during the fifth, sixth and seventh centuries, but was introduced later in a specific way and in a polemic spirit on behalf of the Chalcedonian Churches. One should point out that there is a slight difference between monos and mia in regard to the two natures-one nature dispute. Mia physis refers to ‘one united nature.’ It should also be remembered that for the Non-Chalcedonian side, there are four phrases, namely ‘from two natures,’ ‘hypostatic union,’ ‘one incarnate nature of God the Word,’ and ‘one composite nature.’ The term “monophysite” has been coined by isolating the phrase ‘one incarnate nature of God the Word’ from the rest and substituting the word ‘mia’ in it by ‘monos,’ a position which the Non-Chalcedonian Orthodox Church has never accepted.36

Due to the Oriental Churches’ strict adherence to St. Cyril’s emphasis on the “One Christ,” we can see why, for example, the Ethiopian Oriental Church is called “Tewahido,” which means unification, or oneness.37 Thus, Chalcedon’s use of “two natures in Christ” may appear heretical to the Orientals (i.e. suggesting a duality of subjects in Christ), since Nestorius’ heresy of “the two Sons” (i.e. two subjects) still haunts them.

To the advantage of the Orientals, to speak of “two natures” (after the union or incarnation), it is necessary to emphasize that St. Cyril himself would have never used such an expression. In his Epistle 41.12 (addressed to Acacius of Melitene), he affirms:

When we have the idea of the two elements of the one and unique Son and Lord Jesus Christ, we speak of two natures being united (δύο μέν φύσεις ήνώσθαι φαμεν); but after the union, the duality has been abolished (ώς άνηρημένης ήδη τής είς δύο διατομής) and we believe the Son’s nature to be one, since he is one Son, yet become man and incarnate.38

As Fr. John Meyendorff correctly pointed out, the terms physis (φύσις) and hypostasis (ύπόστασις) are interchangeable in St. Cyril’s formula, since for St. Cyril they implied ”the unity of the subject (against Nestorius) which existed between the Divine Word pre-existent from all eternity and the Incarnate Word.”39 Fr. Meyendorff adds that “it cannot be doubted that St. Cyril recognized in Christ a full human nature, in spite of the union of ‘two natures’.”40 Therefore, since both the Orthodox and Oriental Churches affirm that “the One Jesus Christ is perfect God (όμοούςσιος τώ Πατρί) with respect to his divinity, and perfect man (όμοούςσιος τοίς ύμίν) with respect to his humanity,”41 then discussion about duality of natures, in light of St. Cyril, can be avoided.

The Council of Chalcedon (AD 451), it must be reasserted, failed to restore peace in the universal church and caused a schism that has unfortunately continued to our day.42 The Coptic (Egyptian), Syrian, Ethiopian, Armenian, and Indian Churches collectively comprise the Oriental Churches, whose hierarchies grew parallel to the Chalcedonian hierarchies following Chalcedon.
In addition to the separate hierarchies that were established, it was only natural for the liturgical and spiritual life of each Church to have its own saints (after Chalcedon) as part and package of that “separate development.” Thus after Chalcedon, and primarily due to the polemic that Chalcedon created, each Church issued anathemas43 against the other Church based on Chalcedon and its teaching.

Chapter Three: Failed Attempts at Reunion

The past 1500 years witnessed several attempts at reunion. Even though (in the past) both sides exerted efforts for reunion, unfortunately these efforts ended up in failure. On the Byzantines’ side, Emperor Justinian’s efforts in the sixth century to reunite the Non-Chalcedonians to the Imperial Church were in vain, and the Fifth Ecumenical Council (AD 553) that he summoned witnessed similar fruitless results at reunion. It is most unfortunate that during this period in the sixth century both sides began to erect parallel, competing hierarchies, so that the causes of division at that point became not only theological but also included ethnic, national and political issues.44

It must be noted, however, that during the Council of Chalcedon in 451, these non-theological (i.e. ethnic and political) issues were not the reason for the controversy, and only with time that is, after the founding of the separate hierarchies, the Oriental Churches came to be seen as “ethnic” and national. As Fr. Meyendorff noted: “Most of the controversy was taking place in Greek between theologians who thought and wrote in [Greek]. Monophysitism, therefore, cannot be identified with an ‘Eastern’ form of Christianity.”45 This clarification is essential, and one must not identify “ethnicity or nationalism” as the cause of the split in Chalcedon.

During the early sixth century, the most famous Non-Chalcedonian theologian was Severus, the Patriarch of Antioch (512-518).46 Other Non-Chalcedonian theologians of the same period include Timothy Aelurus and Philoxenus of Mabbugh. According to Fr. Meyendorff, these Non-Chalcedonian theologians so clearly dominated the scene that the Chalcedonian party had practically no noteworthy theologian to oppose them.47
A supreme effort of reconciliation with the Non-Chalcedonians was made during Emperor Justinian’s reign, which culminated in the Council of Constantinople in AD 553. The Council of 553 “reaffirmed  the total faithfulness of the Byzantine Church to the theology of St.

Cyril of Alexandria and condemned previous theological writings contradicting him in any way.”48 The ‘previous theological writings’ which opposed St. Cyril belonged to Theodoret of Cyrrhus and Ibas of Edessa. These two opposed St. Cyril’s Theopaschite49 formulae, and both were friends of Nestorius and disciples of Theodore of Mopsuestia. In order to assert the Theopaschite formulae, Emperor Justinian’s Council of 553 affirmed the condemnation of the “Three Chapters” (Theodore of Mopsuestia, the teacher of Nestorius, Theodoret of Cyrrhus, and Ibas of Edessa), due to their “Nestorianizing” tendencies. Of the three, only Theodore of Mopsuestia was condemned in person, whereas certain writings of the latter two were the subject of condemnation.50

In addition to the Council of 55351, Theopaschism was previously affirmed by Emperor Justinian through a famous hymn in the Byzantine Church (“O Only-Begotten Son”- O Μονογενής Υιός), a hymn which many believe was composed by the emperor himself in AD 528.52 Yet, in spite of such attempts to appease the Non-Chalcedonians with Theopaschite formulae, the Council of 553 “failed to convince the Monophysites that the acceptance of Chalcedon was not a betrayal of St. Cyril.”53
Historically, not all the dialogue initiatives were attempted peacefully, since some emperors resorted to violence and persecution (Justinian himself was one such emperor54), and sadly some Church leaders consented, but not all. During the sixth century persecutions, John the Faster, Patriarch of Constantinople (581-95), a pious ascetic exclaimed: “What did the dissident do or say, which deserves persecution? If pagans have been justified or amnestied, how can I persecute Christians who are blameless in their Christianity and, so it seems, have more faith than we?”55 Another noteworthy figure was John the Merciful, Chalcedonian Patriarch of Alexandria, who because of his even-handed charity is honored as saint by both sides.56

During the Middle Ages, efforts at reunion continued, especially during the twelfth century between the Byzantines on one side, and the Armenians and Syrian Jacobites on the other. Professor Erickson remarks that efforts at rapprochement often exhibited more sincerity and devotion on the Non-Chalcedonian side than on the Chalcedonian side.57 At a synod held in Tarsus in 1196, Catholicos Nerses of Lambron (later canonized as St. Nerses the Graceful), once more took the initiative by insisting that both the Eastern Orthodox and the Armenian Orthodox Churches professed the same identical faith; the only difference between them was ultimately semantic in essence.58 The same Catholicos even endorsed Chalcedon by saying: “I find nothing in the Definition of this Council against the Orthodox faith, and I am astonished that those before us opposed it so strenuously.”59

With the collapse of Byzantium to the Crusades (AD 1204) and subsequently to the Ottoman Turks (AD 1354), the Churches on both sides became more isolated, more defensive, and less willing to recognize the other.60 This de facto estrangement continued to exist until the twentieth century, when serious dialogue discussions began to take shape. It is nevertheless important to emphasize these historical precedents of reunion efforts as attempted by good leaders on both sides when we evaluate the state of our current dialogue discussions.

At this point, a question must be raised: Why did the more recent efforts (i.e. since 1951) render better results than the previous attempts? Professor Erickson sees two reasons for the change of perceptions on both sides since 1951: First, it had to do with the contribution of modern historical scholarship; and second, it had to do with the contribution of the modern ecumenical movement.61 Ironically, the very dialogue which has brought together both Church families in the twentieth century was not the product of independent efforts, but instead was the product of the ecumenical movement.62 One ought not to criticize this movement which has served, indirectly as it may seem, to bring the two Church families closer together.

With regard to “modern historical scholarship,” one has to ask a question similar to the one asked before: Why are the Oriental Christians, at present, convinced that Chalcedon did not betray St. Cyril? Why didn’t they accept this in the past? According to Fr. Meyendorff, Chalcedon in 451 left many questions unanswered, such as: “Who, for example, was the subject of suffering and the crucifixion?”63 It is no wonder that Chalcedon appeared Nestorian 64 and was deemed heretical by the Oriental Churches, and consequently, Chalcedon did attract former Nestorians. This ’identity crisis’ of Chalcedon was not resolved, as was mentioned previously, until the Fifth Ecumenical Council (II Constantinople, AD 553) which explicitly endorsed the authority of St. Cyril of Alexandria.

Chapter Four: Severus of Antioch

The Oriental Syrian Orthodox Church venerates Severus of Antioch in her Diptychs by calling him: ”… Patriarch Mor Severius, the Crown of the Syrians, that rational mouth and pillar and teacher of all the holy Church of God, the meadow full of flowers who always preached that Mary is undoubtedly the Mother of God.”65 Whereas in the Service Book66 of the Chalcedonian Orthodox Church of Antioch, the Aposticha hymn of the Feast of the Holy Fathers lists Severus alongside heretics such as Sabellius, Arius, Nestorius, and Eutyches, and even calls Severus “the headless one.” These two opposing statements of the two Churches of Antioch need to be reconciled in order for the dialogue between them to have a fuller meaning.

Severus was a “great theologian,” as Fr. Meyendorff constantly referred to him.67 Most certainly, the theology of Severus was complex, as was the theological system of many Chalcedonian teachers (such as Leontius of Byzantium, Severus’ contemporary), but the complexity of Severus’ theology, a theology that was predominantly consistent with St. Cyril of Alexandria,68 does not deserve him such an insulting title. Historically, Severus’ title of the “headless one” (άκέφλος) was implied by Leontius of Byzantium in his “Solutions to the Problems of Severus” (P.G. 86, 1916C-1945). But it remains important that Leontius never deemed Severus a “godless heretic,” such as when Leontius referred to Sabellius and Arius as “impious” ones.
Severus was born in Asia Minor (circa AD 465) to pagan parents. After studying law in Beirut, he was converted and baptized in Tripoli in 488, and after his baptism he became a monk.69 Throughout his life, Severus was the leading anti-Chalcedonian theologian. In 508, he left for Constantinople where he was involved in a polemic against Nephalius of Jerusalem. While in Constantinople, Severus secured the support of Emperor Anastasius (491-518) for the persecuted Monophysite monks, and in 512, upon the deposition of the Chalcedonian Flavian II, Severus was consecrated patriarch of Antioch.70 One of his consecrators was Philoxenos71 of Mabbug, who was also referred by Fr. Meyendorff as a “great theologian,” along with Severus.72
Upon succeeding Anastasius as emperor, Justin I (518-27) deposed Severus in 518 and Severus fled to Egypt. As Patriarch, Severus accepted the Henotikon of 482, which condemned both Eutyches and Nestorius, but he rejected the Tome of Leo along with Chalcedon’s terminology. Although Empress Theodora (Justinian’s wife) befriended Severus, the latter complained that “she did not understand his theology.”73

After the failed attempt under Emperor Justinian I (527-65) to reconcile the opposing parties, Severus was condemned by a (local) synod in Constantinople in 536. As a result, his writings (all in Greek) were destroyed (his extant writings are in Syriac translations) and Severus died in exile in 538. Severus stands in the unique position as a “moderate Monophysite,” whose works were in opposition to both the Chalcedonians and the extreme Monophysites.74

The theology of Severus is very complex, and Justinian’s condemnation of Severus could be due to his theological complexity. It could also be due to Justinian’s75 failure to understand the complex system of Severus that he deemed him “Nestorian and Eutychian,”76 which is an antithetical statement by itself. Finally, following the Council of Constantinople III (680-1), two letters were sent, one to the Emperor and another to Pope Agatho (of Old Rome). In the letter addressed to the Emperor, Severus is listed among “the malignant Arius, Apollinarius, and Eutyches” for teaching that in Christ “there is but one will and one operation,”77 and consequently in the letter addressed to Pope Agatho, Severus is anathematized for being a heretic and “Godhated (along with) Apollinarius, Themestius, and Macarius of Antioch.”78
Following St. Cyril of Alexandria, Severus accepted four phrases with reference to the Incarnation: “of (έκ) two natures,” “hypostatic union,” “one incarnate nature of God the Word,” and “one composite nature.”79 According to Rev. V. C. Samuel, an Oriental Orthodox expert on the writings of Severus, one must take all o f these four phrases into consideration when evaluating Severus’ teaching on St. Cyril’s formula (μία φύσις…).

Rev. Samuel 81 explains that for Severus, “nature” (φύσιςor kyono) is equivalent to Plato’s eidos: it stands for a generic term including all the members to a class, whereas hypostasis (ύπόστασις or qnumo) is a concrete particular in which the ousia (ούσία or ousio [Syriac]) is individuated. The phrase “of (έκ) two natures” for Severus means that Christ is doubly consubstantial, with the Father and with us: In Christ there was the union of God the Son with an individuated manhood, and (the one and the same) Christ is unceasingly a continuation of that union.82
By “hypostatic union,” Severus means that in Christ there was the coming together of the full divinity (of the Son) with full manhood. This phrase also stands for the absolutely inward and personal union.83 Inward union, in contrast to outward union, is an outright rejection of Nestorius’ prosopic union, since for Severus a prosopic union is the blasphemous conjunction (αυνάφεια) of heretics like Nestorius. The phrase “μία φύσις του Θεου Λόγου σεσαρκωμένη” means three things for Severus: first, it was God the Son Himself who became  incarnate; second, in becoming incarnate, He individuated manhood in union with Himself and made it His very own; and third, the incarnate Word is one Person.84

Finally, for Severus, the “one” in the phrase “one incarnate nature” is not a simple one but this “one incarnate nature” of Jesus Christ is one composite (σύνθετος) nature.85 Rev. Samuel concludes from these teachings of Severus that since both Churches (i.e. the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox) affirm the double consubstantiality of Christ, and since for Severus the incarnation of God the Son suffered “no loss or diminution” of either the divinity or the humanity as a result of the incarnation,86 both Churches believe in the Lord the same way, and “the real terminological difference between the two traditions lies in the two prepositions “in (έυ)” and “of (έκ).”87
If Severus’ orthodoxy is maintained through the current dialogue, why then has it been ignored through the centuries? The answer to this question lies within modern historical research, a point already emphasized by Professor Erickson. Fr. Meyendorff attributed much of our (current) understanding of Severus to Joseph Lebon’s monumental work (Le Monophysitisme Severien, Louvain, 1909), a study that resulted in discovering that Severus’ “scientific form” of the (Syrian) Oriental Church’s doctrine of the incarnation “is nothing but Cyrillian Christology.”88 In addition, Professor John Behr remarked that Joseph Lebon concluded his study by affirming that the Christology of the Oriental Church, as represented by Severus, was “absolutely correct and complete,” and that no Westerner ’’would not accept and defend, as they do, the unity of the incarnate nature after the union, if one understands by the term ’nature’ the concrete and individual reality that is otherwise designated by the term ‘person’.”89

Following the Council of Constantinople III (AD 680-1), in the Letter (Prosphoneticus) sent to the Emperor, Severus (along with the “other  heretics” previously mentioned) was charged with teaching “that the human nature of our Lord is without will or operation.”90 With regard to the accusation of “monoenergism,” Fr. Meyendorff made the misleading statement by saying that “Severus was heralding with great precision the seventh-century monoenergistic movement.”91 Fr. Meyendorff made that statement based on what Severus had said in his Letter to Sergius: “One is the agent (ένεργών), i.e. the incarnate Word, [and] one is the activity (ένέργεια); but the works (τά ένεργηθέντα) are varied, i.e. what is done by the activity.”92 Fr. Meyendorff (probably) affirmed that statement by adding: “Several monoenergistic passages of Severus are preserved in the Acts of the Lateran Council (AD 649),1,93 the council which vindicated St. Maximus the Confessor against the Monothelites and was used as a framework for Constantinople III, deemed “the Sixth Ecumenical Council” by the Chalcedonian Church.
At this point, the safest assertion that can be made is the following: Since the schism between the Eastern and the Oriental Churches began at Chalcedon (451), therefore any council, whether ecumenical or local, held after Chalcedon (for the purpose of this dialogue) corresponds to the tradition and internal development of its respective Church. In addition, since II Constantinople (553) failed to reunite the two Churches, then the last “common” Council is that of Ephesus (431), when the Church was one. The preceding assertion was agreed upon in the current dialogue, and is listed under sections 8 and 10 of the Second Agreed Statement of Chambesy in 1990.94
However, to be fair to Fr. Meyendorff, the reader should not limit himself or herself to one book (Christ in Eastern Christian Thought) but must also consult Imperial Unity, another book written by Fr. Meyendorff, where he “justifies” Severus’ position from St. Cyril’s perspective. The entire text deserves to be quoted:

Severus of Antioch accepted a distinction of the two natures of Christ ‘in thought’ (έυ θεωρία) [and] affirmed the concrete unity of the Agent: ’One is the agent (ένεργών), he wrote, i.e. the incarnate Word; one is the activity (ένέργεια), but the works (τά ένεργηθέντα) are varied.’ The Fifth council also had admitted that in Christ there are not two concrete beings, but two natures to be distinguished only ’in thought’ (τή θεωρία ηόνη, Anathema 7). Was it not logical then to conclude, that Christ was one ‘in activity’ (ένεργεία)? Was it not appropriate to think so, especially if one used the Cyrillian expression– whose legitimacy was fully admitted in 553-of ‘one incarnate nature of God the Word’? Aristotelian logic and terminology always connected the terms ‘nature’ (φύσις) and ‘energy’ (ένέργεια) –‘energy’ represented the concrete manifestation of any ‘nature.’ One could therefore legitimately speak of one energy, since one also spoke of one nature, provided, of course, one also admitted the importance and orthodoxy of Chalcedonian ‘diphysitism’ as an anecdote against Eutyches.95

In short, what Fr. Meyendorff implied in Imperial Unity is very similar to the conclusion reached in the Second Agreed Statement (Chambesy, 1990) of this dialogue: That all the Councils of the Chalcedonian Church after Chalcedon correspond to Chalcedon itself (i.e. emphasis on diphysitism). That is, they stem from the historical experience of the Chalcedonian Churches and not the Oriental Churches. Fr. Meyendorff, again in defending Severus’ position, wrote elsewhere: “Christ was one single ’actor’ (ένεργών), one Savior, one subject, and this was, for Severus, what was meant by the Cyrillian formula: ‘one nature incarnate of God the Word’.’’96
With regard to the charge of “monothelitism (i.e. one will),” the charge brought against Severus in the previously mentioned Letter to the Emperor97 after the Council of Constantinople III, Professor John Behr has shown that Severus cannot be charged with that heresy. According to Severus, “Jesus Christ had both a human will and a human energy, although they are no more self-subsistent than His human hypostasis: they exist within, and are operated by, the one composite hypostasis of Christ.”98
The emphasis in Severus, as was already seen in St. Cyril, is on the “One Christ.” Although Severus acknowledged two types of activity in Christ (i.e. human and divine), yet it is the One and the same Christ who worked both:

Between the things performed and done by the one Christ, the difference is great. Some of the acts are befitting the divinity, while the others are human…Yet the one Word performed the latter and the former, … Because the things performed are different, we shall [not however] on this account rightly define two natures or forms operating.99

According to the preceding passage, it can be seen that although there are two sets of activity, yet it is One who operates both. In affirming communicatio idiomatum (άντίδοσις ίδιωμάτων), Severus taught that the human nature in Christ is not passive. It is in, through, and as a human being that the Word of God brings about salvation.100 Finally, there is at least one passage which can be quoted from Severus which shows that he did not uphold a monothelite view of Christ with respect to the Incarnation:

The Word of God is united hypostatically not only to flesh, but also to a soul endowed with will and reason, for the purpose of making our souls bent towards sinfulness incline towards the choice of good and the aversion of evil.101

According to this passage (as well as others), Professor John Behr states that “Severus emphatically affirms the unimpaired continuity of the two realities out of which the one hypostasis of Christ is composed.”102 In addition, this preceding passage shows that although the Subject (i.e. the Logos) is always One according to Severus, which is very consistent with St. Cyril of Alexandria, yet Severus admits that the (human) soul of Christ does indeed possess its own “will and reason” for our salvation, a teaching which the Monothelites cannot accept.
From what has been presented about Severus’ theology, a question must be asked: Could there have been “a mistake” committed in church history? Did the aforementioned “Letter to the Emperor” erroneously deem Severus a monoenergist and monothelite? The present writer does not wish to rewrite the history of the Church (this is the task of historiographers), but one must admit that indeed there are a few mistakes inherent in the historiography of the Church. However, what can be said is the following: It would be erroneous to judge the Oriental Churches on the basis of rejecting the ’’latter four councils” which are deemed “ecumenical” by the Imperial Church. Furthermore, it would be a fatal mistake to judge them simply on the basis of rejecting Chalcedon itself. As was mentioned previously, the Oriental Churches with the Chalcedonian Churches reject the heresy of Eutyches. Unfortunately, many in the history of the Chalcedonian Orthodox Church, including some prominent Fathers, failed to see that point.

St. John of Damascus was one such example. In spite of his acceptance of Constantinople II, which interpreted Chalcedon in Cyrilline fashion, he devoted much of “his theotogical work to attacking the Severian Monophysites.”103 St. John Damascene contradicted himself: While maintaining that the Oriental Christians were “Orthodox in all respects,” he failed to distinguish between the heresy of Eutyches and the Christology of Dioscorus and Severus. As Fr. Meyendorff stated, “the fact that [Dioscorus and Severus] rejected Chalcedon apparently constituted for him sufficient proof’ that the two were Eutychians.104

In order to conclude this chapter on Severus of Antioch, it should be asserted that more objective research is necessary in order to understand (contextually) what certain Fathers of other traditions have contributed to Christian dogma. The case is very clear with Severus: After his condemnation by the Imperial Church, all of his writings (he wrote in Greek, since as Fr. Meyendorff indicated he “was Greek in language and culture”105) were destroyed and his extant works are in Syriac translations. Concerned Chalcedonian Orthodox Christians, hence, are encouraged to learn the ancient and exquisite Syriac language, in order to appreciate the writings of Severus more fully, in the context of the Oriental Syrian Church’s literature. Professor Behr is correct when he states that we need to study the (unbiased) sources of our theology “ever more diligently and to produce the basic textbooks that are sorely needed if we are to overcome the ’slanted1 way in which much of patristic theology has been presented, and so also to continue to work towards increased mutual understanding” between our two Churches.106

Chapter Five: The Problem of Anathemas

Due to the schism caused by Chalcedon, each of the two Churches issued anathemas against the other. The Definition of Chalcedon concluded with the following anathema against its opponents:

These things having been defined by us with all possible accuracy and care, the Holy Oecumenical Synod hath decreed that it is unlawful for anyone to present, write, compose, devise, or teach to others any other Creed (πίστιν); but that those who dare either to compose another Creed (πίστιν), or bring forward or teach or deliver another Symbol … they shall be anthematized.107

On the Oriental side, Johannes Rufus of Maiuma, a Palestinian bishop, issued a counter anathema (in AD 515), an anathema which in that same century came to symbolize the posture of the Oriental Churches toward Chalcedon. The anathema reads: ’The synod of Chalcedon shall be anathema, together with all that took place there and all those who think and teach in the same way as Chalcedon!”108

In the preceding chapter it was shown that Severus is listed in the diptychs of the Oriental Syrian Church (but not in the Chalcedonian Church’s diptychs). The meaning of diptychs cannot be understood outside the context of ecclesiology, since membership in the Church is communion not only with Christ but also with the “saints” (i.e. with the community of the Church as a whole) including those that have already departed this life.109 With this ecclesiological aspect taken into consideration, the problem of anathemas becomes even more sensitive.
In the Early Church, the practice of crossing out someone’s name from the diptychs of the liturgy, in the case of a schism, was an ecclesiological approach. Only when the schism would be healed, the names of those crossed out would be restored.110 But it must be maintained that the “restoration” of those whose names have been crossed out from a diptych can take place even if such persons had already passed away.


A good case is that of St. John Chrysostom. When his name was crossed out from the diptychs of Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch in the early fifth century, a schism occurred between Rome and the Eastern Churches. That schism was healed once Patriarch Alexander of Antioch restored the name of Chrysostom in the diptych in AD 413, which occurred after the death of Chrysostom.111 In short, the diptychs must be understood ecclesiologically and not as mere disciplinary acts.112


The two major Fathers of the Oriental Churches which the Chalcedonian tradition has anathematized by name are Dioscorus of Alexandria and Severus of Antioch. The Oriental Churches on their part, as was mentioned previously, anathematized all those who participated in Chalcedon (AD 451), those who “follow and teach” as Chalcedon teaches, and they anathematized St. Leo of Rome by name.113
Dioscorus of Alexandria succeeded St. Cyril (d. 444) to the throne of the Church of Alexandria. Dioscorus participated in the Council of Chalcedon, and his position at that Council came to symbolize the Oriental Churches’ position:

Christ was fully God and fully man, and therefore ‘of (έκ) two natures,’ but, after the union, it was not possible to speak of these ‘two natures,’ as distinctly subsisting, because their union into one being was a perfect union. … Dioscorus and his supporters pointed out that St. Cyril used the expression ‘one nature incarnate of God the Word’ and never plainly spoke of two natures after the union.114

In the third session Dioscorus left the Council, and when thrice he was called to defend his position, he refused. Thus, on October 13 he was “deposed from his episcopacy and removed from all ecclesiastical rank.”115 He was deposed not because of his dogmatic beliefs (as Eutyches indeed was) but due to his “behavior.” To call Dioscorus a “schismatic” would be correct, but to call him a “heretic” (based on dogma) would be unacceptable.116 Fr. John Romanides once remarked that “both Leo and Dioscorus are Orthodox because they agree with St. Cyril of Alexandria, especially with his Twelve Chapters, even though both had been considered heretical” by their opposing sides.117

But the circumstances surrounding Dioscorus’ actions, according to Fr. Romanides, go beyond mere “behavior,” and these issues are very sensitive to the Chalcedonian Orthodox. On the one hand, it must be acknowledged that Nestorius was still alive in AD 451, and that he was in support of Pope Leo’s Tome.118 On the other hand, Pope Leo insisted on having Theodoret of Cyrrhus participate in Chalcedon “in spite of the fact that Theodoret had never yet accepted the Third Ecumenical Council, the Twelve Chapters of Cyril, the condemnation of Nestorius, and the Formula of Union (AD 433) between John of Antioch and Cyril of Alexandria.’’119

Fr. Romanides goes on to say that “Dioscorus was legally and canonically correct by excommunicating Leo for his support of Theodoret before the Council of Chalcedon.’’120 Fr. Romanides concludes on Dioscorus by saying that “neither Dioscorus himself nor any other of the Oriental Fathers ever followed Eutyches the way Leo followed Theodoret like a pet on a leash.”121
It can be said then that the anathema imposed on Dioscorus can be lifted without much trouble, if the Chalcedonian Orthodox acknowledge that Dioscorus was not a heretic, but that circumstances had caused him to split from the (Imperial) Church. In addition, the Chalcedonian Orthodox on their part must acknowledge the historical defects of the Council of Chalcedon and must abstain from hailing them “uncritically.”
The case of “justifying” Severus is more complicated than that of Dioscorus, but nevertheless it is not Impossible. The preceding chapter showed that Severus’ theology, although complex, is very consistent with that of St. Cyril of Alexandria. His condemnation at the Council of Constantinople III (AD 680-1) is connected with the charge of monoenergism and monothelitism. While the monothelite heresy evolved in the seventh century, in the development and context of the Chalcedonian Church, two things need to be acknowledged: First, that dithelitism is an extension and elaboration on Chalcedon’s diphysitism, which in its own rank is outside the domain of the Oriental Churches’ experience; and second, Severus died a century before III Constantinople, before Monothelitism ever existed, and above all, Severus was anti-Chalcedonian throughout his life.
What is needed in the case of Severus is more unbiased research, which could only be achieved through mutual respect and understanding. It would be silly to argue that every saint after Chalcedon is “Chalcedonian.” St. Isaac, a Nestorian bishop of Nineveh (7th century), is one good example. Both the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox122 Churches venerate him as a saint due to his ascetical homilies. As late as the fourteenth century, St. Isaac was quoted several times in The Triads of St. Gregory Palamas.123


In 1978, during the “Fourth Unofficial Consultation” in Addis Ababa, recommendations for the lifting of anathemas and recognition of saints were given.124 This may be a very delicate issue, but it needs to be worked out between the two Church families before communion can be restored. Of the twelve points in the “Summary of Conclusions” of the above-mentioned Consultation, nine were dedicated for the lifting of the anathemas of saints condemned as heretics by the other side. 125 Points 7 through 10 are summarized below due to their importance:

  • Point 7: A careful study of the anathematized teachers must precede the lifting of anathemas. This study must be sympathetic and must examine the context of those anathematized in order to evaluate their teachings.
  • Point 8: A process of education must be implemented in the churches before and after the lifting of anathemas, especially where anathemas and condemnations are written into liturgical texts and hymnody of the church.
  • Point 9: An important element of such education is the rewriting of church history, text-books, theological manuals, and catechetical materials.
  • Point 10: Part of the task of liturgical renewal should be the editing of liturgical texts and hymns to eliminate the condemnations.126

All of these four points, in order to be fully implemented by both Churches, require boldness and courage, coupled with humility. It must be asserted that historiography, the writing history, is never unbiased. Every historian, whether secular or Christian, writes history from a certain perspective. The field of church history is extremely important since many of the service books, hymns, and liturgical texts were not simply based on dogma alone, but a lot of them were produced by hymnographers and theologians who accepted church history only as it was presented to them (i.e. church history from the perspective of historiographers who often, but not always, were polemicists and thus “biased” against those of the “other side”). While admitting that the dogmatic content127 of the liturgical hymns’ must never be compromised, nevertheless, in order for our dialogue to have a fuller meaning, we must work on eliminating the polemic language against those unjustly condemned in our service books. 128

During the Addis Ababa Consultation (in 1971), Fr. Vitaly Borovoy presented an illuminating paper on the topic of anathemas.129 In his presentation, Fr. Borovoy quoted the Russian theologian N. Berdyaev who maintained that the Church, like her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, is dual in nature: ‘The Church is a divine-human process, an interaction of divinity and humanity.”130
Fr. Borovoy remarked that too often in the past, the human dimension of the Church served to “hamper the human creativity and activity of the present.”131 He asserted that the divine and human elements “in the life of the Church, in Christian history, are so intermingled that it is very difficult to distinguish or separate them.”132 But above all, Fr. Borovoy attributed the holiness and infallibility of the Church not to her human nature but to her divine nature, a nature which is found “in the single and indivisible Head of the Body Ecclesiastical, in the Lord Jesus Christ, in the one, Life-giving Spirit [which] is the guarantee … of her holiness and infallibility.”133
In order to conclude this chapter on anathemas, a question needs to be asked: Could the Church Fathers have committed a “mistake” in condemning certain teachers whom they did not understand?134 The answer to this question is a “yes, with qualification.” We must acknowledge that the Holy Fathers, in spite of their divine inspiration and defense of the True Faith, are human beings. Human beings do sin and make mistakes (the only exception is Jesus Christ, Hebrews 4:15). Sin (άμαρτία “missing the mark”) belongs to the human element of the Church, but never to its divine element.

We need to acknowledge the difference between a “heretic” and a “schismatic.” A schismatic can be called orthodox, but the same cannot apply to a heretic. A schism that exists between two equally valid churches (such as the one between the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches) can only be attributed to human sin and not to  the infallibility of the Church (i.e. not to its divine element). ‘The very separation of the Churches,” as Fr. Borovoy remarked, “is, in accord with their human nature, proof of their fallibility.”135

Chapter Six: ‘Traditionalism” versus “Ecumenism”

The Joint Commission of the Theological Dialogue between the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches, which met in 1993 in Chambesy, Geneva, issued “Proposals for the Lifting of Anathemas.”136 This last of the statements, issued as a result of the ongoing dialogue between the two Church families, affirmed that “the lifting of anathemas and condemnations of the past can be consummated on the basis of [the two Churches’] common acknowledgement of the fact that the Councils and their Fathers previously anathematized or condemned are Orthodox in their teachings.”137 The same commission stated that the lifting of the anathemas should be the task of “the Heads of all Churches of both sides.”138

Previously in Chambesy, in 1990, ‘The Second Agreed Statement” stated that “both families agree that all the anathemas and condemnations of the past which now divide us should be lifted by the Churches in order that the last obstacle to the full unity and communion of our two families can be removed by the grace and power of God.”139 In other words, the lifting of anathemas remains as the last obstacle to unity between the Eastern and Oriental Churches.
So far the this has not been done. Professor Erickson sees that much of the criticism against this ongoing dialogue has to do with this specific issue, the issue of the lifting of anathemas, which created resistance groups on both sides.140 On the Chalcedonian side, the so called ‘traditionalists’ who resist every form of dialogue and see it as a compromise of the orthodox faith exist in Greece, Mount Athos, Serbia, and Russia.141 They also have their sympathizers in America and elsewhere (i.e. they are not confined to a single region but are everywhere). On the Non-Chalcedonian side, similar resistance is present, for example, in the Church of Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church, which has condemned this dialogue based on liturgical and traditional reasons, issued the following statement:

To lift the anathemas imposed in the past upon those Chalcedonian Fathers and to accept them as saints would dishonor those Oriental Orthodox Church Fathers who condemned the Chalcedonians. … Since these anathemas have been observed for about 1500 years by our holy fathers as inscribed in our liturgical texts and hymnody, they shall not be lifted.142

On the Chalcedonian side, the Monastery of Saint Gregory in Mount Athos issued similar statements condemning the ongoing dialogue with the Oriental Orthodox. One of these statements deserves to be quoted in its entirety since it represents the posture of the so-called “Orthodox Traditionalists”:

The Copts, Jacobites, and other Non-Chalcedonian heretics, the “Oriental Orthodox,” have been separated from the Orthodox Church since the earliest centuries. Of late, under the rubrics of ecumenical politics, the serious theological differences which separate these heretical confessions from the Orthodox Church have been dismissed as a matter of “semantics”; their condemnation by the Fathers and Synods of the Church has been called into question; and their piety (something which we do not dispute, since our concern is the correct confession of Faith, not personal integrity) has been cited as a justification for receiving Non-Chalcedonian believers into Orthodox communion. Indeed, parishes of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, the Orthodox Church in America, and the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese routinely commune Copts and other Monophysites. The Patriarchs of Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria have not only turned a blind eye to this blasphemy, but have knowingly allowed-and later denied-instances of concelebration with various Non-Chalcedonian heretics.143

This statement typifies the posture of these fundamentalist 144 “traditionalists.” Based on this statement alone, three basic elements of their “vision” can be discerned : First, they insist on calling the Non-Chalcedonians “Monophysite heretics”; second, they condemn this dialogue (and any other dialogue) since they see in it a capitulation to “ecumenism”; and third, they justify their position with their own understanding of the “Fathers and Synods” (i.e. the Fathers and the Synods were infallible, not just in faith and dogma, but also in all the other decisions they made).
Above all, these fundamentalists-since for them the “Ecumenical Synods” were absolutely “error free”–insist that the “Monophysite heretics” must “repent” from their error if they wish to be reunited to the Church of “right belief.” According to Orthodox Life, a journal that entertains such fundamentalists opinions, the call to “repentance” and the unquestionable “acceptance of the Seven Ecumenical Councils” must be imposed on the “Monophysite heretics” before any dialogue agreement can be “fair” to the Orthodox Church:

Monophysites are not “brothers in Christ.” Heretical Monophysites are not one family (a new ecumenical term) with the Orthodox. The reasons for their condemnation by the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Ecumenical Councils have never been annulled, nor have they repented in order to become members of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. [Patriarch Bartholomew’s trip to Ethiopia in January, 1995] indicates a violation of the holy canons that prohibit ecclesiastical communion of the Orthodox with the heretics. Unfortunately, [the ecumenists, such as Patriarch Bartholomew] are advancing unrestrained and completely unopposed towards the pan-heresy of ecumenism.145

One should not be tempted to think that these sectarian fundamentalists, although a minority in the Orthodox world, are not influential. It appears that they have clearly influenced Diodoros I, the Chalcedonian Patriarch of Jerusalem, who wrote to his brother (Letter # 361, 17 May 1997) Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch and severely criticized “the latter’s eagerness to move forward to reunion on the basis of the work of the Joint Commission for the Dialogue.”146
Cited below are two portions from this letter:

…According to Holy Tradition, the Non-Chalcedonians ought to accept absolutely and completely all the Terms and Canons of the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, in its entirety, as well as the following Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Ecumenical Councils, also in their entirety. …
[These points] incite Our serious worry over the daring encyclical letter which the Holy Church of Antioch issued some time ago. Because of it (having been performed) in violation of the Holy Canons and with disregard for ecclesiastical order, there was allowed Common Prayer of Orthodox Hierarchs and Clergy with the Non-Chalcedonians. Moreover, there are reports that changes in the orders of the Church Services were made for such occasions as a result of this encyclical. These activities are dangerous in that they dull the consciences of the Faithful. They are not only contrary to the Holy Canons, but clearly are condemned by Them. Those who are decided in favor of or commit these activities are to be severely punished and expelled from the Church Vineyard, as “every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire (Matthew 3: 10).”147

Based on what has been presented from the traditionalists’ views, it appears that these fundamentalists are driven by three basic misconceptions: First, they cannot (or maybe do not wish to) distinguish between a schismatic and a heretic; second, their own understanding of the “Fathers and Synods” is mistaken; and third, their “Cypriani’c”148 understanding of the Church has led them to exclusivity and isolationism. In short, their whole concept of ecclesiology is extremely limited.
With regard to the first misconception, the conclusion of the preceding chapter attempted to explain, although briefly, the difference between a schismatic and a heretic. One must never confuse the two terms, regardless if a person is an ecumenist or not (i.e. whether a person is interested in dialogue or not).
With regard to the second misconception, and according to Professor Erickson, the traditionalists hold a “juridical view” of the Councils: “From [their] juridical perspective, only another Ecumenical Council would have the authority to lift the anathemas imposed by Councils Four through Seven.”149 In 1995, ‘The Sacred Community of Mount Athos” issued a Memorandum condemning the ongoing dialogue between the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches. The Memorandum referred to the Ecumenical Councils as “infallible”:

… The consciousness of the Orthodox Church recognizes that infallibility and authority in the Holy Spirit is in the Ecumenical councils and refuses to accept the possibility of revising the decisions of an Ecumenical Council by another Ecumenical Council without the latter Council being considered as an heretical conventicle, such as the Latrocinium [i.e. Den of Robbers] of Ephesus [held in A.D. 449],150

Professor Erickson sees “an unfortunate choice of words” when the traditionalists apply “infallibility” to the Councils, since he states:

It would be more accurate simply to say that the Ecumenical Councils have inerrantly defined the faith and delineated the boundaries of true piety, [but] to speak of the “infallibility” of Ecumenical Councils, certainly this infallibility does not imply full and direct divine inspiration for each and every statement made in the course of these Councils. … Councils bear witness to the faith of the Church, and the adequacy of their words for this faith-and the appropriateness of their terminology and of their anathemas–must always be evaluated in the light of this faith.151

It is precisely the faith which is consistent in the Councils, and not the terminology. With regard to the above quoted excerpt from the Memorandum, which states that no Ecumenical Council ever “revised the decisions” (and by extension the terminology) of any preceding Councils, one simply has to read the concluding anathema of the Nicene Creed, which used terms interchangeably (i.e. hypostasis and ousia), yet at Chalcedon they were indeed revised and delineated. The Nicene Creed of AD 325 concluded with the following anathema:

And whosoever shall say that… the Son of God … is of another hypostasis or substance (έξ έτέρας ύποστάσεως ή ούσίας) [from the Father] … the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes them.152

With regard to the traditionalists’ third misconception, that is, their “Cyprianic” understanding of the Church as “bounded and exclusive,” it must be asserted that not all the Orthodox necessarily share that view. In the third century St. Cyprian was involved in a specific dispute which was hierarchical in nature (i.e. not dogmatic), and it is very unfortunate that many people today quote St. Cyprian (out-of context as it may seem) in order to justify their claims.153
The “Cyprianic mode” of the traditionalists can be seen in their condemnation of this and other dialogues in which, according to their view, the ecumenists who are active in dialogue are presumptuous about the “oneness” of the Church. As is clear from the following excerpt from one “commentary,” they erroneously condemn the ecumenists for upholding a “branch theory” of the Church:

The Joint Commission has chosen to call the Orthodox Church and the Monophysite Churches “two families.” This must be an immediate warning to all who are concerned for the genuine Orthodox faith–the “right belief.” This emotive phrase with all its subliminal implications is not only deceptive but absolutely inadmissible. No member of the Commission, consisting of some of the best known “theologians” of the day, can be unfamiliar with the “branch theory” so decisively discredited in the last century especially by the Russian theologian, Alexei Khomiakov. Is there anyone today who does not pay lip-service to his famous dictum–“The Church is One?’ … There is one “family” only and those separated from the one family are the prodigals and-like the Prodigal Son–must return to the one family.154

Here again, the traditionalists’ emphasis is on “repentance”: the “heretic Monophysites” must repent from their errors in order to be assimilated into the One Church. Instead of abiding in the Gospel command to “reconcile the brother through love” (e.g. Matthew 18: 15-20), they insist rather on humiliation.
Fr. Vitaly Borovoy has shown that in the course of Church history,most schisms were healed not through repentance, but rather, “the reconciling parts of the Church negotiated with one another on the ground of equality of rights, on the basis of mutual claims and concessions, with the admission of guilt on both sides, each part remaining what it was before reconciliation-two parts of the Church re-established peace between themselves without losing face.”155

Fr. Borovoy, himself an ecumenist who participated in the 1971 Addis Ababa Consultation, rejects the “branch theory” accusation of the traditionalists:

In a word, it is evident that the infallible principle of the Church rests, not on the surface of her historical life and practice, but on the depths: it refers, not to the bark and branches of the ecclesiastical tree, …but to the hidden roots. Thus the boundary between absolute and relative in the Church is marked out, there is found the key to the resolution of the antinomy between absolute ecclesiastical truth and the admission of historical ecclesiastical errors.156

In order to conclude this chapter on ‘Traditionalism versus Ecumenism” three clarifications need to be asserted against the fundamentalists: First, ecumenism, when conducted by responsible and God-fearing theologians, is not a “pan-heresy” as the fundamentalists would like to refer to it. According to Patriarch Ignatius IV, dialogue (not just with the Oriental Orthodox, but with – every human being) must be the continuing mission of the Church:

The mission of the Church is to “go out” continually, to reach out for the others, and by reaching out to the others, the Church has to be with the others. The unity of the Church is not founded on its boundaries, or else the Church is shut off from the world. The result of this would be isolation, but more dangerously, this would suffocate the work of the Holy Spirit.157

Second, as Fr. Borovoy has already pointed out, the “infallibility” of the Church rests not in her human element but rather in her divine element. One can safely say then that the Councils, those deemed Ecumenical by the Chalcedonians, are “divine” in their dogmatic content, but one must not overlook the human elements in these Councils so as to negate any possibility of (human) error in them. The fundamentalists tend to overlook the human dimension of the Councils, and they erroneously place the Councils “above” the Church, which is a place reserved for God alone.
Finally, Tradition in the Church, when properly understood, is not something which took place in the past and exists in the present as an extension. Rather, Tradition is dynamic and complete, in the past as well as in the present, as it has always been, since it is always nurtured by the Same Life-giving Holy Spirit. A blind appeal to Tradition would transform the “Church Canons” into “fundamentalist cannons,” and that is how the traditionalists, unfortunately, have been using the Canons of the Church.

Chapter Seven: Unity in Antioch

The schism created by Chalcedon was “particularly disruptive in the Church of Antioch, where long-standing tensions had existed between Christians of Greek bent and those of more Semitic, specifically Syriac, orientation.”158 The events following Chalcedon created a chasm in the ancient and apostolic see of Antioch, which pitted “the Greek Orthodox against the ‘Jacobites’, as the Syrian Orthodox came to be called after their leader Jacob Baradaeus.”159 This split within a people who shared the same race, culture, and history, was particularly painful, and it has lasted until our day.
The Chalcedonian Orthodox of Syria came to be identified as “Greek”, due to Constantinople’s influence, and they adopted the liturgical rite of Constantinople. In addition, the Chalcedonian Orthodox came to be derided as “Melkites” (i.e. the “emperor’s men”) by the Jacobites who in turn were branded “Monophysites” by their opponents.160 The historical consequences of this de facto separation, nevertheless, did not overshadow the de jure awareness of the two Churches’ primordial unity. The children of Antioch, in other words, have always envisioned a better time, in spite of their disunity, when they would be reunited. After all they shared the same environment, history (including persecutions under the Muslims and the Crusades), and culture.
The ongoing fruitful dialogue of the twentieth century between the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches offered the faithful of the two Churches of Antioch, at last, a hope that they can be reunited. In other words, after the twentieth century dialogue discussions on the ecumenical level (i.e. among all the Churches and not just the Syrian Chalcedonian and Non-Chalcedonian Churches) proved that on the basis of Christological dogma the two Churches share the same faith, only after that consensus had been reached did the two patriarchs of Antioch move ahead to work out a common solution in order to serve pastoral needs of the two Churches of Antioch.

At this point, two clarifications need to be made: First, the two patriarchs of Antioch started their regional dialogue after 161 a consensus on Christological dogma had already been reached on the ecumenical (or global) level; and second, the two patriarchs needed to work out a common solution for the two Churches, urgently as it may seem, for the pastoral needs of the faithful in the Middle East.
The following is a summary, in chronological order, of the regional consultations of the Eastern and Oriental Churches of Antioch held in the twentieth century:

  • • In 1972, a Consultation was held in Balamand, Lebanon. This Consultation resulted in issuing an “Agreed Theological Statement” which stated that the Syrian Oriental Orthodox confessed the same Christological faith as the Eastern Orthodox (i.e. Christ is dual in nature, fully divine and fully human).162
  • • In 1978, a Second Consultation was held in Pandelli Monastery, Greece. During this Consultation, the “Agreed Theological Statement” of Balamand was reaffirmed.163
  • • In 1986, a Synodical Commission representing the two Churches was formed in order to examine how to restore unity in the Patriarchate of Antioch.164
  • • In August 1988, a meeting was convened by Patriarch Ignatius IV in Geneva where an effort aimed at a regional union in the Patriarchate of Antioch was reported. Several members of the clergy and laity attended, including Metropolitan Philip of the North American Antiochian Archdiocese, who discussed issues of concern to the patriarchate in particular and to the Orthodox world in general.165
  • • On July 22, 1991, a milestone in Eastern and Oriental Orthodox dialogue within the two Churches of Antioch was reached. Meeting in Damascus, Syria, Patriarch Ignatius IV Hazim (Chalcedonian) and Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas (Non-Chalcedonian) signed an “Agreed Document”166 that called for “complete and mutual respect between the two churches.”167

At this point it must be emphasized that most of these meetings were unofficial, and some were held in private (the only exception was the July, 1991 meeting), for two reasons: First, there was fear among the participants in these meetings that some “traditionalists”168 might disrupt these meetings and create a havoc among the faithful in the Middle East; and second, due to the Christian presence in the Middle East, who are a minority within a vast Muslim region, there was also a different kind of fear, namely fear from the fundamentalist Muslims who would view these events as “mutiny” on the part of Christians.

Nevertheless, all of these meetings were held by visionary theologians whose realistic view of the present superceded any past misconceptions. Bold steps were taken by church leaders from both sides, and these meetings culminated in the signing of the “Agreed Document” (in 1991) by the two patriarchs of Antioch. The Patriarchal Encyclical of Ignatius IV169 was based on this “Agreed Document,” and its provisions do not call for the union of the two Church families (at present)170, but rather they call upon the clergy from both Churches to collaborate in order to serve the pastoral needs171 of the faithful in the Middle East.
Ultimately, a complete union with full Eucharistic communion is surely envisioned, but such a status could only be attained when there is a single hierarchical order, where the external unity of the Church is fulfilled in the understanding of “one bishop in each region.”172 The Patriarchal Encyclical, nonetheless, presupposes a duality in the hierarchical system, and calls for, in addition to pastoral collaboration, an economic and limited intercommunion, not full communion. It remains to be seen as to when such a full communion with a single hierarchy will take place. The present writer cannot make predictions, but a reasonable guess would be many years from now.

The late Fr. John Meyendorff envisioned two possible steps to unity between the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches: Either a universal union, achieved through a Great Council and sealed with a Divine Liturgy, or a regional union.173 Fr. Meyendorff was correct in stating that union on the global level may take many years since holding a Great Council at present would be difficult.174 The difficulties associated with holding a Great Council are many, including such factors as “the political divisions, internal conflicts, and organizational weaknesses” existing within the Churches.175
The second possibility for unity, according to Fr. Meyendorff, is more feasible due to regional circumstances. Fr. Meyendorff stated that in a regional union,

No issues concerning doctrine, ecclesiology and discipline should be overlooked. Substitute “ideologies” such as regional nationalism, or anti-Western animosity, or political considerations involving the influence of foreign interests, should be regarded as poison.176

The (Chalcedonian) Orthodox Church of Antioch opted for a regional unity which would eventually lead to union. One would ask: Why did the Church of Antioch opt for a regional unity? The Church of Antioch foresaw that the likelihood of holding a Great Council at present is almost impossible. The urgent pastoral needs of the faithful (of both Church families) superceded the notion of “waiting” for a Great Council. In addition, it must be maintained that all the points mentioned above by Fr. Meyendorff were considered already by the Church of Antioch. The leaders of the two Churches moved ahead for regional unity, and they were not motivated by “nationalism or foreign interests.” Instead, they were motivated by love and the common faith which as a precondition was already established during the consultations at both levels (i.e. at the ecumenical level and at the regional level).

The two patriarchs of Antioch solemnly condemn nationalism, and no one can accuse either of them of such a “heresy”. According to Patriarch Ignatius IV:

The See of Antioch is a witness that it does not uphold nationalism. Wherever an Antiochian Church is to be found on the face of this planet, it celebrates the Divine Liturgy in the language of the country that it exists in (i.e. Turkish in Turkey, Arabic in the Middle East, English in North America, etc.). … We believe that wherever one may be, if that believer is Orthodox, then he is Orthodox regardless of his geographical location. We [Antiochian Christians] do not have a nation, and nationalism is not according to our understanding.177

The same understanding of Patriarch Ignatius IV is shared by Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I, and he “advises that the national and cultural elements should not be idealized in order that the official dialogue with the Eastern Orthodox may continue.”178
In the opinion of the Chalcedonian Orthodox church leaders, the split within the Church of Antioch required to be settled on a regional level and not through an ecumenical council. Both Patriarch Ignatius IV179 and Metropolitan Philip180 maintain that the division which was caused within the Church of Antioch had always been an internal problem, and this internal problem does not necessarily concern the other autocephalous Orthodox Churches.

With that in mind, the Church of Antioch moved ahead for regional unity. The ultimate goal is union of course, but that lies in the future. At present, however, the church leaders from both Church families of Antioch are fully convinced that the misconceptions (and to some extent the animosities) of the past are behind them and now the faithful of one family can confidently look to the faithful “on the other side” as valid and equal Christians. That was a huge, bold, and necessary step, a step that was urgently needed if union (in the future) needs to come to fruition.

Chapter Eight: The Pastoral Needs of the Faithful in the Middle East

The “Agreed Document” which was signed by the two patriarchs of Antioch called in the first place for “complete and mutual respect between the two churches.”182 This statement may sound too shallow, but in fact it is not. For example, this “respect” does not call for “cordiality” (on the personal level) in the relationship between the two families. Rather, this “respect” has to be “mutual and complete.” It carries within it a respect for “the other’s” tradition, spirituality, and liturgical life.

Patriarch Ignatius IV had personally indicated to Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I that each of the two Churches’ tradition is rich and unique, and that the two need to be maintained side by side. In other words, the regional unity that the Church of Antioch seeks is not a “hybridization” of two traditions, or else the result would be a “third” tradition that is neither authentic nor fully representative of any of the two. Patriarch Ignatius IV personally assured Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I of the following:

The Syriac tradition is an authentic Apostolic tradition in our area which must be maintained. There is a Byzantine tradition as well. Both are necessary for the spiritual heritage of the Middle East. We must accept this multiplicity as a richness of the Church. Each family will keep its liturgical tradition.183

These remarks of Patriarch Ignatius IV, in a way, summarize

Resolutions 1 and 2 of the Patriarchal Encyclical.184 In addition to “respecting” the tradition and spirituality of the sister Church, the first two resolutions mandate “respect” for the “Church Fathers” on both sides through the means of Christian education (i.e. in Church Schools) and theological education (i.e. in seminaries).185 This means that although the anathemas (leveled by one Church against certain Fathers of the other Church) have not been lifted yet, the current status quo which has been established in the two Churches of Antioch forbids referring to any of these “anathematized Fathers” as anathematized.186

Resolution 3 strictly forbids proselytizing between the two Churches, regardless of the circumstances. This resolution is essential not just with respect to the relations between the two Churches of Antioch, but also with respect to the relations between the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox in general.187 In its Antiochian context (i.e. within the Antiochian Churches in the Middle East and abroad), this resolution mandates “respect” for the person’s membership in his or her traditional Church. The importance of this resolution can be seen in its relation to the following resolutions (i.e. Resolutions 5, 6, 9, and 12), resolutions which address the concrete pastoral needs of the faithful.

Resolution 4 calls for organizing joint meetings on the Synodal level whenever the need arises. This resolution recognizes two important facts: First, the hierarchs of the two Churches, in addition to the laity and the priesthood, are (now) viewed as equals; and second, the hierarchs from both Churches can hold joint meetings in order to address the (common) pastoral needs of the faithful in the Middle East. This resolution observes that since both families share the same region, many of the pastoral needs are common, and since they are common, then the best way to address these needs (and issues) would be through joint Synodal meetings.

Resolution 5 is very similar to Resolution 3: While proselytizing is condemned, non-proselytizing is maintained by having the “mother Church” remain as the ultimate reference for each faithful person.

For example, the Syrian Orthodox remains jurisdictionally Syrian Orthodox (even though he or she may be communed, baptized, married, etc., in an Eastern Orthodox Church) since the Syrian Orthodox Church remains the ultimate reference for that faithful person in jurisdictional matters; the same would equally apply to an Eastern Orthodox if the situation is reversed.

Resolution 6 is consistent with Resolutions 3 and 5. It applies to the Sacraments of Baptism, Matrimony, and others. The “flock-specific clergyman shall be the one presiding” over these sacraments. In other words, in order to maintain the two traditions as separate and equal, the priest (of the Syrian or Eastern Orthodox Christian) shall perform these sacraments so that the faithful who belong to one of these traditions may not be “deprived” of that tradition during these sacraments.

Resolutions 7 and 8 forbid concelebrations of the hierarchs and priests during the Divine Liturgy. Since the Eucharist is the “visible” sign of the one Church, concelebration during the Divine Liturgy would mean that the two Churches are no longer two Churches but one.

These two resolutions are consistent with the current status quo between the two Churches of Antioch: It is a unity in the same faith and not union (or full communion).

Resolutions 7 and 8 do presuppose that if a faithful member of one Church family happens to be in an area which lacks the presence of his Church family, he or she can commune in the other Church without having to convert. This is stated in Resolution 9. In addition, Resolution 9 requires from each priest who administers these sacraments (i.e. baptisms, matrimonies, and funerals) to the faithful that are “outside of his jurisdiction” to keep “a separate record” in order to be handed in to their proper jurisdictional hierarchy.

Resolution 10 observes that since eucharistic concelebrations are forbidden, it adds a provision in case a priest happens to be in an area which lacks the presence of his “mother Church”: If that priest happens to stay in the “sister Church” for a short period of time, then he and the other priest must “alternate over the services.”

Resolution 11 maintains that if a hierarch happens to be in a sister Church then “naturally the hierarch must preside.” Resolution 12 maintains the status quo of unity and not union: Ordinations are subject to the candidate’s jurisdictional hierarchy. The faithful of the sister Church are advised to attend these ordinations.

Resolution 13 forbids any discrimination against the sponsors, during the Sacraments of Baptism and Matrimony, if these sponsors happen to belong to the sister Church. This resolution acknowledges the state of intermarriages in the Middle East and discriminates against neither the sponsors nor the bride or groom (i.e. if one of them happens to be a member of the sister Church).

Finally, Resolution 14 calls for the “collaboration and exchange of visits” among the various Church organizations in order to strengthen the spiritual bonds between the two Church families.

These resolutions, as was mentioned previously, were called for by the two patriarchs of Antioch in order to serve the pastoral needs of the faithful in the Middle East. The Syrian and Eastern Orthodox Churches exercise their jurisdictional authority over a vast area in the Middle East. Many of the faithful there cannot afford building new churches in the (new) areas they move to.188 The fact that both sister Churches (collectively) are a minority in the Middle East has encouraged the two patriarchs of Antioch to promulgate these resolutions. On the one hand, the pastoral needs of the faithful are served by their sister Church (if the need arises) in a spirit of love and respect. On the other hand, while these pastoral needs may be served by a sister Church, the faithful of one Church family are thus not deprived of their membership in their own Church, which is equally apostolic, holy, and authentic to the “One Faith” as the sister Church truly is.

Chapter Nine: “Unity” versus “Union”

During the “First Unofficial Consultation” between the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches (Aarhus, 1964), Fr. Vitaly Borovoy presented an illuminating paper on the topic of reunion of the Churches. 189 In it, Fr. Borovoy distinguished between two approaches to reunion from church history: A “union according to economy” (έυωσις κατ οίκονομίαν) and a “dogmatic union” (έυωσις δογματική). The first type of union (έυωσις κατ οίκονομίαν) emphasizes “love for each other” as the starting point to union. According to Fr. Borovoy:

Love leads the protagonists to close their eyes on the differences which separates them, to cover them with mutual tolerance and thus attain concord in mutual relations. The existing status quo both in faith and in discipline is accepted as the basis for such a unity, with hardly any concession being made by the other side.190

The second type of union emphasizes “love for the Truth.” According to this type of union, Fr. Borovoy remarked the following from church history:

Both sides jointly tried to establish on which side lay the Truth (άκρίαβεια τών δογμάτων). As a result of these joint efforts, one of the two sides renounced its errors, accepted the άκρίαβεια τών δογμάτων and agreed with the other doctrine, and sometimes also in practice and discipline. Such a union was normally based upon a jointly accepted Creed or Confession.191

Fr. Borovoy was reluctant in admitting the long-term effectiveness of the first type of union (i.e. the έυωσις κατ οίκονομίαν). Instead, he pointed that the second type of union, the έυωσις δογματική, “led to real unions, so that the churches really became one Church, with not only a common faith, but also with common life.”192 While admitting that the evoxm; SoynaTiKfi unions were “solid and lasting,” Fr. Borovoy also remarked that a union of this type is “unfortunately difficult to achfeve and it takes [a lot of] time.”193

The preceding two chapters attempted to show that the two Churches of Antioch, the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, through their regional consultations which culminated in the signing of the “Agreed Document,” have already reached and attained the first type of union according to Fr. Borovoy (i.e. the έυωσις κατ οίκονομίαν). The regional unity (not union) already attained by the two Churches of Antioch will serve as the basis for full communion (or έυωσις δογματική) in the future.

The church leaders of the two Antiochian Churches agree with Fr. Borovoy that the second type of union (έυωσις δογματική), although earnestly desired by both sides, will take a lot of years from the present. The difficulty associated with this type of union, according to the present writer, is that it requires some “concessions” to be made by one side to the other, concessions which are currently unacceptable to either side.194

Nevertheless, it must be asserted that the regional unity that has been successfully attained by the two Churches of Antioch is a huge milestone in dialogue: The “unity in Antioch” is unique, but not exclusive. It can be attained by others, if other church leaders are driven by the same spirit of love and respect. Other “regions” need to follow the example of Antioch if the current (global) dialogue between the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches foresees an ultimate (global) union in the future. Fr. Theodore Pulcini was correct in stating that the hierarchies of the Eastern and Syrian Orthodox Churches of Antioch (unlike others as it seems) have seized the opportunity “to heal a breach that has vexed Christianity for over 1500 years.”195

With respect to the Church of Antioch, as far as what the future may hold, Patriarch Ignatius IV does not see “unity” as the merging of two traditions into one. Such a view, according to the patriarch, is very limited. Rather, the “unity” that the patriarch believes in, the unity which culminates in union, must begin with “a unity in love [expressed] in the posture of non-confrontation and in the affirmation of agreement.”196 That is exactly what the “Agreed Document” has successfully established.

The unity that Patriarch Ignatius IV envisions must maintain a distinction within the faithful in the Churches (i.e. between the Eastern and Syrian Orthodox) in order to preserve the identity of each faithful person as a minority in the Middle East. On this point, Patriarch Ignatius IV explains in his words the following:

[According to our current agreement with the Syrian Orthodox] our Eastern Orthodox flock will not become Syrian Orthodox in a Syrian Orthodox area, and we have guaranteed that they will not become so. This guarantee was made by agreement, so that we would not “replace” them, and likewise they would not “replace” us. We hope that this situation (i.e. of οίκονομία) is understood by the entire Orthodox world, and eventually this approach would be followed by our Orthodox brethren. We understand that it is difficult. Historically, the Orthodox religion was the religion of the empire. Currently, this empire is extinct. Our situation [in the Middle East] is difficult, and we know it. Our [current] intent is not natural, full communion.197

Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I shares the same vision of “unity” withPatriarch Ignatius IV. According to Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I:

Unity does not mean to suppress oneself for another, or vice and versa. The Church is an expression of the Incarnation of our Lord. The Church is a Living People for whom the Lord was crucified. In order to heal the wounds caused by the misunderstandings of the past, people should not live in the past. We have to live a new life in Christ every day: that is what the Churches are made for.198


The consultations of the twentieth-century dialogue between the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches proved to be indeed the most fruitful in the entire history of Christian dialogue. The theologians, from both sides, who took part in these consultations were objective in their search for the truth. They discovered from these consultations, and primarily due to a lot of modern (unbiased) research, that both Churches share the same faith in the same Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is Perfect God (i.e. consubstantial with the Father) and Perfect Man (i.e. consubstantial with us), regardless of the different terminologies which each Church family applies.

These consultations were called for and attended by visionary people who believed that agreeing with others who share the same faith in spite of their different traditions does not mean compromising the True Faith. These visionary men are ecumenists, and the Church of God is called by her Lord to be always active in dialogue, to be always active in ecumenism.

The Church cannot uphold sectarianism or isolationism, both of which run against ecumenism. These two negative postures are implicitly promulgated by the so-called “traditionalists” whose limited view of the Church has caused them to imitate the Pharisees in their wickedness. Like the Pharisees, the traditionalists “shut the kingdom of heaven against men, for they neither themselves enter nor do they allow others who would enter to go in” (Matthew 23: 13).

The Church is constantly called by her Lord to “go out” (άποστελλείν means “to send out”) to witness, hence its “Apostolic” character which is confessed in the Creed. The Church is the “people of God” (λαός τού Θεού), a “holy nation.” The dynamic reality of the Church is present in her divine-human process. In her divine element the Church is always holy and “infallible,” while in her human element there always exists sin: ”A nation exalts in righteousness, but sin is a reproach to a people” (Proverbs 14: 34).

The so-called ’’traditionalists” are motivated by ignorance and fear: They ignore the context of the Church canons, while their isolationism makes them afraid of others. Their blind appeal to ’Tradition” has caused them to recklessly attack and erroneously condemn the ecumenists of abandoning the “True Faith.”

Nevertheless, the visionary ecumenist theologians went ahead with the twentieth-century consultations in spite of the traditionalists’ objections. If Patriarch Ignatius IV is condemned as an “ecumenist” by his brother Patriarch Diodoros I of Jerusalem, the latter must be ready to stand (as we all one day will) before the “dreadful judgment seat of Christ” (Romans 14: 10) and state to the “Just Judge” (II Timothy 4: 8) how he has mistreated his own “Chalcedonian Orthodox” flock, the Palestinians, but that is another story.199 Regardless, Patriarch Ignatius IV is an ecumenist, and he does not shy away from this title. He “has been active in the ecumenical movement and has been involved in efforts to reestablish the unity of all those whose roots can be traced back to the ancient and undivided Antiochene Patriarchate.”200

In this thesis, I have attempted to show that the reason for the success of the twentieth-century consultations is primarily based on “objectivity”: Those who participated in these consultations were objective in their discussions, but above all, they were willing to accept the history of the Church, which contributed to the formulation of the “Ecumenical Councils” with their decisions and canons, in an objective manner.

Professor John Behr observes the necessity in “rewriting” the history of the Church by objectively examining the “sources of our theology.” No rational human being can disagree with that. I must add, however, and in accordance with Professor Behr’s remarks, that we must reform our service books as well. Due to the many clarifications made in these consultations (i.e. in the fields of dogma, Christology, “condemned teachers,” etc.), some of the services201 in our current service books are obsolete. For example, in Isabel Hapgood’s Service Book,202 there is a “conversion service” reserved for the Armenians. The rubrics of this service erroneously charge the Armenians with the heresy of Eutyches, a charge which the Armenians have always rejected.203 In my opinion, this service should be altogether eliminated.

In the context of the Church of Antioch, the leaders of the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches in the Middle East have moved forward and declared a state of “regional unity” in hopes for an imminent union in the future. The regional unity in Antioch was decided upon after clarifications on dogma and Christology had already been made in the consultations on the global level. The pastoral needs of the faithful from the Eastern and Syrian Orthodox Churches far exceeded the notion of waiting for a Great Council which would solemnly declare a union (between the two Churches) on the global level. Such a Great Council, although desired earnestly by both sides in the Middle East, may take many years to be held.

The church leaders of Antioch were not motivated by nationalism, since both leaders condemn this “heresy”, but instead they were motivated by a spirit of love and a “complete and mutual respect,” which was stated in Resolution 1 of the Patriarchal Encyclical. The Church of Antioch does foresee a state of union (or full communion), which presupposes a single hierarchical structure, but that lies in the future.

According to the “Agreed Document,” which was signed by the two patriarchs of Antioch, the current status quo in the Churches of Antioch can be defined as a “limited, economic intercommunion.” It is “limited” because Resolutions 7 and 8 forbid the clergy of the two Churches to concelebrate during the Divine Liturgy, since the celebration of the Eucharist is the visible sign of the One Catholic Church which is confessed in the Creed. It is “economic” because it is sanctioned by olicovonia. It is “intercommunion” because it is not a full communion per se. Full communion will take place, by the will of God, when there exists only a single hierarchy. This “limited, economic intercommunion” status quo is not exclusive to Antioch and can be attained by others. Churches in other “regions” can follow the example set forth in Antioch if they earnestly desire a future union of the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches.

The regional unity of Antioch is the most feasible state that can be currently maintained after the twentieth-century consultations. The last of these consultations took place in 1993 in Chambesy, where the Joint Commission issued a “Second Agreed Statement and Recommendations to the Churches,” along with “Proposals for Lifting of Anathemas.”204 It remains to be seen as to when all the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches will adopt these statements.

It is the prayer of every reasonable Orthodox Christian that the “schisms of the churches” be healed. When we acknowledge that we are all sinners before God who is alone without sin, and when we accept that schisms are caused by human sin and not by God “who desires not the death of a sinner,” only then can we look confidently at this fruitful dialogue and stop pointing the accusation of “heresy” against the other. If we should ever lose sight of the Church as a divine-human process we would then “suffocate” the work of the Holy Spirit who “guides men into all the truth” (John 16: 13). Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is Himself the Truth (John 14: 6), prayed to His Father and our Father “that they may all be one” (John 17: 21). If we deny this prayer of the Lord, then we are not worthy to be called Christians after our Lord. We must not only pray for unity but we must also work for unity. By the Grace of God, this is what is currently taking place in Antioch, with respect to the relations between the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches.

Appendix A: The Patriarchal Encyclical


To our dear flock, beloved in the Lord,

By now, the diligent efforts of the past several years, exerted by the two sister Churches, the Syrian Orthodox and the Rum Orthodox2 of the One Apostolic and Holy See of Antioch, must be well known among you. These reconciliatory efforts were pushed for in order to maintain a better understanding of the two Churches on the levels of Dogma and Pastoral Ministry. These efforts exhibit the natural posture of the Orthodox Churches (in the world), but especially in this case the Holy See of Antioch, Churches which are called to express the will of the Lord, to Him be the Glory, that all must be one, inasmuch as He and the Heavenly Father are One (John 10: 30).

In addition, it behooves us and our brethren of the Syrian Orthodox Church to witness to Christ Jesus our Lord, especially in our eastern region where He was born, to Him be the Glory, He preached, suffered, was buried, rose from among the dead, ascended into heaven, and from there He sent his Holy Spirit, the Giver of Life, to his Holy Apostles.

Our meetings, consultations, decisions, and oral and written declarations, all affirmed that we belong to one faith, even though history revealed the aspect of our division more so than our aspect of unity.

With this in mind, the Holy Synod of Antioch has called for the acceleration of these efforts by both of our Churches for the sake of unity, which preserves in each of the two Churches its genuine eastern tradition, so that the one Church of Antioch may benefit from her sister the riches of her tradition and sacred rites.

We have truthfully studied all that was necessary to be researched, for the sake of bringing the two Churches closer together, while understanding that this approach is guided by the All sanctifying Holy Spirit, an approach that renders the eastern Christian presence pure and incorrupt, so long as the Holy Spirit has been with us throughout the centuries. The Holy Synod of Antioch hereby presents to you the declarations that pertain to this brotherly relationship between the two Churches, the Syrian Orthodox and the Rum Orthodox, hoping that the flock of both Churches, our faithful sons and daughters, will ultimately benefit from these decisions.

Therefore, we have decided the following3:

  • 1. Mutual and complete respect shall be maintained between the two Churches with regard to each Church’s: Spirituality, Tradition, Holy Fathers, while at the same time perfectly preserving both, the Syriac and Byzantine rites.
  • 2. Inclusion of both the Fathers and traditions of both Churches is recommended, on the general level, in the programs of Christian civics and theological education, in each Church, in addition to exchanging students and instructors of theology between the two Church seminaries.
  • 3. Membership4 of a faithful person in one Church is to be preserved as such, and any attempt to accept that certain believer into the other Church family, as a member of the other Church family, is hereby strictly forbidden, regardless of the circumstances.
  • 4. Organization of (joint) meetings on the Synodal level, according to the needs of both Church families, is hereby recommended and as the need arises.
  • 5. Each of the Church families must remain the ultimate reference for its own flock, in matters pertaining to jurisdictional issues.
  • 6. At the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, Funerals, and others, the flock-specific clergyman (i.e. the priest of the one being baptized, buried, etc.) shall preside. In the case of Holy Matrimony, the presiding clergyman shall be that of the bridegroom’s Church.
  • 7. What has been previously declared (in Resolution 6) does not apply to concelebration(s) among the hierarchs of both Church families during the Divine Liturgy.
  • 8. Resolution 6, in addition, applies to the priesthood of both Church families.
  • 9. If it happens that in a certain region there exists only one priest from either Church families, then that priest shall perform all the Holy Sacraments, rites, and divine services, for the flock of both Church families, in that specific region. These services include also the Divine Liturgy and Holy Matrimony. In that situation, the priest has to keep a separate record book for each of the Church families’ flock, and he shall be responsible for handing in that record to the corresponding flock’s hierarchy.
  • 10. If two priests, one from each Church family, happen to be in the same region (for whatever cause that may be), and that region has only one Church, then they shall alternate over the services.
  • 11. If a hierarch of one Church family happens to be with a priest of the sister church, naturally the hierarch shall preside, even though both happen to be in the parish of the priest.
  • 12. Ordinations to the priesthood are to be administered by the hierarchy of Church family corresponding to the candidate of ordination, and it is recommended that the brethren of the sister Church be invited to these services.
  • 13. Sponsors for both sacraments, Baptism and Holy Matrimony, can be selected from either Church family without distinction.5
  • 14. We call for collaboration, exchange of visits, and fellowship6 among the various Church organizations on all levels, including charity and education, which serve to strengthen the spirit of brotherhood among the two Church families.7

On this occasion, dearly beloved, we ask the Almighty God to assist us to remain ever vigilant in order to maintain our relationship with this sister Church and (eventually) with the other churches, until ultimately all becomes: one flock under the One Shepherd.

Issued on 12 November, A.D. 1991

Appendix B: Transcript of the Interview with Patriarch Ignatius IV

Transcript of the interview with H. B. IGNATIUS IV Hazim, Patriarch of Antioch and All The East, held on 8 JULY 1999 at the Antiochian Archdiocese in New Jersey. 8

Charles: Your Beatitude, I wish to ask you about something that surprises me with regard to the Non-Chalcedonian Churches, in that while we (i.e. the Chalcedonian Orthodox) are in agreement with them fully as far as the first Three Ecumenical Councils are concerned, naturally, since we were one Church with them before the Council of Chalcedon (held in A.D. 451), but they now insist, especially after the fruitful dialogues with them, specifically after the last meeting held in Chambesy, Switzerland, that with respect to the latter four Councils (deemed “Ecumenical” by the Chalcedonian Orthodox) they agree with us in the “essence of faith”9 of these latter Councils, while they reject completely the intricate and explicit terminology and canons of these Councils. With regard to this, what is your opinion? How can we reach an agreement with them that these “latter” Councils were held in consistency with the former Three Councils? I believe that this is the most important question.

IGNATIUS: At first, I would like to mention, as you have already indicated in your question, that the Churches must be (or rather are obliged to be) in a constant state of dialogue, since in everything that relates to “the understanding”10 and to dogma, there are always few things that are either hard to interpret or hard to understand, since according to our understanding, the Holy Spirit did not seal all that He had to say from the beginning and thereafter (i.e. after the Councils) remained silent, but the door to divine inspirations (by the Same Spirit) is still open, inspirations  that until now we do not fully know, and we can see that after (the sending of) the Holy Spirit, some people have been in disagreement at times, and at other times they were in agreement. This means that the act of agreement and delay (of agreement) is not an arithmetic act that took place at a certain time and later on there was silence about that act. It is not as such. One more thing, we say that the primary disagreement between the Churches, to be a valid disagreement, must be a disagreement about the faith. There is a difference between a disagreement about the faith, about the content of the faith, and a disagreement about the expression of the faith. We (i.e. of the [Chalcedonian] Patriarchate of Antioch) already took part in the diligent dialogue with the Syrian [Non-Chalcedonian] Orthodox Church and not with other (Churches).

Charles: Specifically you worked with the Syrian Orthodox Church?

IGNATIUS: With the Syrian Orthodox Church. Why? Because the Syrian Orthodox Church “dwells” with us and we dwell with them (i.e. we share the same geographical region), and we share a common history in many aspects. We are obliged first of all to enter into dialogue with them as far as the Church of Antioch is concerned. On the issue of dialogue, we are also required to be in a state of dialogue with everyone else (i.e. the non-Orthodox), including even those who don’t share the Christian faith with us: There is not a single human being, who on the one hand is created by God, and on the other hand, we would deal with that person as though God “made a mistake” in creating that person. Therefore, the important question for now is this, what really took place in our discussions with the Syrian Orthodox? We discussed the teachings about the “one nature” and the “two natures.” Then certain phrases from St. Athanasius the Great were brought up, phrases with their interpretations from St. Athanasius’ books and works, whereby we had to make a clarification between us and our counterparts. We realized that in spite of the great teachings of the Fathers, specifically the Fathers that we share, we “know each other11” before disputes had arisen due to patristic interpretation. That is, let us not refer to certain things that were said at a certain moment in history, in a certain language with certain expressions, but instead let us concentrate on their content instead of their shape or form. Then, I added, how do you understand the teaching about the “single nature?” To say that in Christ there is perfect divinity and perfect humanity is acceptable. The error occurs when one would say that one of these (i.e. either the divinity or humanity) is not perfect. Therefore, our question to them, and this really took place in our discussions while I was present, stemmed from our (Chalcedonian Orthodox) Baptismal Service. We asked the Syrian Orthodox: According to (our) Rite of Baptism, do you believe that Christ is Perfect God? Their answer was a “yes.” Another question we asked them: Do you believe that Christ is Perfect Man? Their response was another “yes.” Thus I don’t understand where there is disagreement between us, specifically in this issue. Therefore the content of our faith is the same. Although the expressions, or interpretations differ, yet these “expressions” which differ (i.e. discussions about “nature”) are philosophical, borrowed from the Hellenic tradition or culture, and today most modern people don’t use these “expressions.” The issue at point is whether we ought to discuss “specific expressions” or the “specific nature” of Christ, such that the image of the Savior may not be distorted among certain people. We must be vigilant in keeping the faith incorrupt, by avoiding any corrupting language and keeping our faith in the One Lord who is the Savior and who is at the same time consubstantial with us, a Perfect Man. This last point was faced with an objection by the Syrian Patriarch, who objected openly. On their part, they were asking us: Is Christ “two persons” or “one person?” Our response was that Christ is “one person,” in order to avoid the expression that we are dividing Christ or dissecting Him. Therefore we reached an agreement on our understanding from the Rite of Baptism. Just as we, in that service, ask the initiate to be baptized if he believes that Christ is God and Man, and after he “unites himself to Christ” confesses the Creed, we found out that our Syrian Orthodox brethren do the same thing in their Rite of Baptism. The same procedure takes place with whom we are in dialogue. Once we reached agreement on this level (i.e. on the level of understanding and believing Christ to be Perfect God and Perfect Man without getting into delicate terminological discrepancies), we thought we reached a milestone in our dialogue. ‘Theological understanding” is like any other “understanding” but the summit of this “theological understanding” is this dogma (i.e. Jesus Christ is Perfect God and Perfect Man). At this point, we (i.e. the Chalcedonian Antiochians) do affirm that the Syrian Orthodox believe according to this dogma. They do not believe that Christ is either one-half God or one-half Man. They also do not believe that the divinity and humanity are mixed together, but as we believe, Christ is Perfect God and Perfect Man, with the full meaning of this phrase taken into consideration, so that neither Christ’s divinity nor His humanity is thereby reduced. This was, on the one hand, the first agreement that was reached. On the other hand, as I said earlier, we both dwell in the same region. Our history is not only common, it is one. To the outsider (i.e. to someone who was not Christian), that outsider viewed either of us, historically speaking, without distinction. In other words, our disagreement had been an internal Christian disagreement (i.e. within the Christian Church of the East and not a disagreement with other religions). Therefore, we saw it as of necessity that we dialogue with each other, in addition, we saw it necessary to clarify to the other religions what our (common) faith is so that these other religions don’t view us as two quarrelling sects but instead they may view us as people who share the One Faith in spite of the different expressions of that same faith. Because all of the rites, the customs, and even the writings, all are “expressions” which are ultimately human expressions, all of which are respected, but they are not the Creed of Faith. In our (Chalcedonian) Orthodox Church, as far as theology is concerned, we are not obliged to believe in theology per se as we believe in what the Creed of Faith states, since nothing can be placed next to the Nicene Creed (as a creed) in which we are to believe literally and without change.

Charles: And this last is the most important thing, since we (i.e. both Churches) were united during the period of the First Two Councils, held in Nicaea and Constantinople respectively, where we received our current Creed.

IGNATIUS: Not only with regard to our time of union during these two Councils, but what is important here is the Creed itself. The Creed is the foundation or rule of faith, regardless of (our) agreement or disagreement. The Creed is essential, and all theology must proceed or stem from this Creed and not run parallel to it in value, or even attempt to be above it. This cannot be. What we know is that there has never been another creed developed instead of the Nicene Creed. Therefore, if someone believes according to this Creed, and states it word for word, I cannot tell that person: “Your faith is not correct.” On the other hand, the disagreements (between the Churches) that took place later on (i.e. after the two Councils that formulated the Creed) did not come about from disagreements strictly about the faith alone, but since these disagreements came about from human sources we expect from them what is usually expected a human being ”naturally”: You may find two human beings who may agree on one thing, while at the same time with regard to the same thing they agree on, each of the two can see things (in that agreed object) differently, or they can see things “missing” in that agreed object, or at other times the two may add (to that agreed object) certain things from a certain aspect, but the one thing that unites people together is not a “unity of expression” alone, and neither does the “unity of understanding” unite people together, but what really unites them together is “the ability to love.” Take for example an Ecumenical Council, but for this case, take the first two Ecumenical Councils which produced the Creed: In these Councils, many different views were held, and I do not believe that it was “by chance” that some pieces of the Creed were left unexplained and thus need further examination. For example, with regard to the Holy Spirit, the Creed says: “He is worshipped and glorified …” Some people would ask: What is the meaning behind the Holy Spirit being “worshipped?” Is the Holy Spirit God “by Himself?” Enough is said about the Father and the Son in the Creed (I.e. about Their relation to each other), but the Creed does not say much about Who the Holy Spirit is. Who is the Holy Spirit (by Himself)? You don’t speak of the Holy Spirit per se but you speak of (as the Creed sates) of Who Christ is and His relation to His Father, you say Who the Son is and Who the Father is, but you don’t say enough of Who the Holy Spirit is, other than His procession from the Father and being worshipped with the Father and the Son. We know that this last expression was used by St. Basil the Great in his book On the Holy Spirit so that any divergent discussion which would lead to heresy would be avoided. On the other hand, what we are realizing now is that we may need to think deeper regarding the idea of unity which we express to all people. What is this “unity?” The word “unity” does not denote two or three things. It is rather an “arithmetic” word and not a “human” word, such that there is only a single human being who (numerically) alone is one by himself. There are not two human beings who are one (human being), but the two are two human beings, and the three are three human beings, and so on. That is, one human being is one entity, two human beings are two entities, and so on. These two human beings (united) do not become a “new entity” as such, but are “two entities.” What do we mean, then, in discussing “unity”? If it is the one faith (as a combination of two faiths), that cannot be, since from the viewpoint of “expression,” the unity of faith in this specific context cannot be understood as two “kayans12” merging into one, but what we are referring to are two “expressions/understandings” to reflect the one faith. As far as ’’understandings” are concerned, you can say whatever you wish. But I ask you, when had ever the Church possessed a single “understanding13” shared by every single believer, an “understanding” which is an exact image of another believer’s “understanding.” I assure you that throughout the ages of the Church history, if you examine any two people’s “contemplations” you will arrive at this conclusion. If we are to look at our “reality” today, we can say that we live (at an age) of “ecclesial reality” 100%: the divine mysteries are complete, the priesthood is complete, the faith is complete, etc.. But as we look at all these things, so long as (the field) of theology is still possible, then personal/individual “contemplation” in a certain theological issue is still possible, and when “contemplation” is personal/individual, then it is not public: that is it does not arise as a result of a ballot, nor does it depend on the number of votes, etc.. Then, what we are saying with regard to “unity,” ultimately in the end it is a unity in love, and in the posture of nonconfrontation, and an affirmation of agreement.

Charles: We now arrive at the issue of anathemas. Have we yet lifted any of the existing anathemas?

IGNATIUS: These (anathemas) belong to the canonical sphere. I am discussing things much deeper than the canonical issues. Canonical matters may take longer time to settle completely. When a decision in a canonical matter is taken, keep in mind that the Holy Spirit is present in the Church in all centuries, and it is possible to bypass certain decisions, decisions which may be expressed in a different form, etc.. The Church is above such decisions, and such decisions can in no way be above the Church. This is a very important matter. What is also important, in my opinion, is that there should be no ’’covering up” (or misunderstanding) of the issue of unity, of what unity means. I believe that not so many people really understand this “concept of unity.” Those who misunderstand this concept view unity as though one day you would see two things, the following day you would see these two things one14 (no longer two). This view is absolutely incorrect and will never take place.

On the other hand, the issue of anathemas is the last remaining issue. Let us understand that the notion of “anathema” is nothing but “expressions” about the genuine faith. At the present stage (in dialogue), we arrived at this understanding: So long as the faith is one, we are examining these (different) expressions about the oneness of this faith. We understand that variety in the expressions about this faith are not antithetical, on the one hand, and they do not distort the Image of the Lord Jesus on the other. We are currently at this stage (in dialogue), and these matters are still being studied, as well as (in the canonical sphere) certain decisions need to be revised and explained. And all this is possible, since it is appropriate for any Ecumenical Council to make certain decisions. Within this understanding, it would not be impossible to have eight, ten, or fifteen (or more) Councils. If further (universal) Councils were not held (other than the seven), that is due to our own failure to hold more Councils. Our conditions, through history, may have prevented us from holding more Councils. The Councils that did take place were Imperial and not Ecumenical per se. We don’t have an empire any longer, and therefore the Councils that need to be held at present need to be evaluated as such, since the Church is no longer “imperial.” The stage we have reached at present is as such: I can no longer say to a Syrian (Oriental) Orthodox that with your faith you are distorting Christ. He may say that we may think that a certain (anathematized) person may have said something antithetical to this faith and therefore we have condemned him. Our response to them (i.e. to both families of Churches) is that that person was condemned not according to the context of the life of the condemned person, but rather according to what was thought about the teaching of that person that ended with his condemnation. What may be needed is a further study (about that “condemned” person). What we think of (or rather, how we understand) a person is not a guarantee of the actual position of that person. It may be that that person’s position is not according to what we think. Therefore we must study and conduct researches into these matters.

Charles: I may add that in all the Holy Fathers of the Church, we don’t take word for word everything they have said, but only those things that pertain to the true faith.

IGNATIUS: Yes, and in addition, there are many issues that we have a right to question them. All of these (theological and/or Christological) debates, among whom, I ask, were they conducted? Among peoples that were “illiterate?”15 There were no printing presses at these days, and books, in addition to their extreme rarity, were hand-written. How many were able to read the Fathers, such as St. Basil the Great, in those days?

Charles: Very few.

IGNATIUS: Very few elites. But most of the people were “outside” of this domain. The people understood each other only on the basis of love, because only love makes unity. There is no unity except unity in love. In conclusion, the sphere of “anathemas” is still open for examination. Regarding our own situation with the Syrian Oriental Orthodox, due to our (common) historical context, current studies and researches have made the discoveries that I have noted. While different expressions of the One Faith exist, we have reached the conclusion that we have a common dogma. On the other hand, we both have a reality that we need to face. What is this reality that concerns both Churches? We are both minorities in the Middles East. There are areas (in the Middle East) where we (Eastern Orthodox) are absent from. Likewise, there are also areas that lacks the presence of the Syrian Oriental Orthodox. Therefore, a common requirement for both Churches would be to have a “census”. A check of reality obliges us to have a census that accounts for the presence of both Churches: the Syrian Orthodox presence, for example, needs to be accounted for, etc.. In our (Middle Eastern) nations, since the days of the Ottoman rule, the notions of Millet and religious sects have become inculcated. Since  then, one sort of unity (within the Syrian Church) was exhibited on the ecclesial level, a situation that was created in order to deal with the government. Likewise, we Orthodox have been forced into a similar situation. What took place later on (i.e. since Turkokratia until present) also deserves attention. You have a situation where some people, due to necessity or employment opportunities, have trans-located from one area to another, such that the Orthodox have moved into an area that lacks an Orthodox presence, and likewise the Syrian Orthodox have moved into an area that lacks the presence of their Churches. They are now in a difficult situation: since the land they moved to (already) has representation of the other Church and people, while it is required that they remain distinct in that new region, who then must be in charge of maintaining this distinction? Who is going to baptize and perform the marriage sacrament? Those Orthodox who relocated (into a Syrian Oriental) area did not take with them their priest, and in many cases, there aren’t enough priests, and there aren’t any Eastern Churches due to our lack of presence. Such circumstances (in the Middle East, but not exclusively) requires from them, that is from their clergy, to serve our people to a certain extent, and our clergy are also required to serve their people in areas where they are not represented, also to a certain extent. In such a way, we would be actually serving our brethren, brethren who at the same time are distinct from us in some things. All this is going on, you see, while at the same time there is no full communion per se between the two Churches. That is, no common Divine Liturgies are held, and the hierarchs of both families never concelebrate, and the same applies to the priests.
Charles: That is, the hierarchy of both families are still seen as two separate bodies.
IGNATIUS: Of course. Because what makes unity manifest and visible in our Church is, in the first place, the structure of the hierarchy. Every priest is bound to serve under his own bishop. You and I know these things, but the majority of the public don’t understand the structure of the hierarchy. The unity of structure is the unity of the priesthood and the unity of the mysteries, because without the priesthood there can be no mysteries (i.e. sacraments). So we discovered that we were losing our children (i.e. our flock), and we are a minority in our region, and the Syrians are as well. So we reached an agreement based on the area where there is a lack of presence of one Church family, that the other Church family would keep the records of baptisms (etc.) in order to maintain a record system in every area. In the Middle East, you do not have enough office administrators to monitor and keep the records of the flock. Agreement on this joint task of record keeping, you see, was very necessary, especially in the Middle East. But you must understand why we are doing this: we are rendering a mutual special service. We are minorities living among a vast religion (i.e. Islam), and therefore the Christian feels at many times a stranger in these lands. This feeling is real. Until present, I reiterate, no bishop concelebrates with a bishop of the other family. But on the other hand we had to make considerations based on the pastoral needs of both families. If for example, an Orthodox man wants to get married in an area that does not have an Orthodox presence, and his bride happens to be Syrian, we don’t have a problem with her being a Syrian Orthodox. Are we to “blame” her for her Syrian Orthodox background?
Charles: This is an important step, since the Greeks (i.e. the Greek Orthodox)-then the Patriarch interrupts suddenly!
IGNATIUS: I know, I know. They (i.e. the Greeks) do not live with others and are self-enclosed, and the problem is they view only themselves. To get back to the topic of pastoral care, we realized that our children were leaving our areas, and we did not wish them to abandon us. Therefore, in order that we would not lose our flock, and likewise the Syrians would not lose their own flock, we told the Syrians take over the pastoral care of our flock in their areas, and likewise we will take over the pastoral care of their flock in our areas, and that is all. No one is “replacing” the other: the Eastern Orthodox remain Eastern Orthodox, and Syrian Orthodox remain Syrian Orthodox.

Charles: Your Beatitude, you mentioned two very important points. One of these points has to do with the Holy Spirit. We Orthodox believe, and according to our Church hymns, do affirm that the Holy Spirit is not bound only within the Orthodox Church but as we call upon Him in prayer: “Who art everywhere and fills all things.” The Holy Spirit can be found in other Churches and I believe this is one reason that brought us together in dialogue.
IGNATIUS: Not exactly so, for this needs to be evaluated. Let us not get into an already founded reality: We know that God is present everywhere, and we also know that as a result the Holy Trinity is everywhere, and it would be absolutely incorrect to say that He is not in every place, and also incorrect would be to say that the He is bound in one place. So on the level of saying that the Holy Spirit is present in others, we are not speaking of a Church (strictly speaking), but rather we are speaking of people that God created them because He loved them, since creation is an act of God’s love. If God hated that (creating) act, He would not have done it in the first place.
Charles: The second point has to do with the topic of “unity in diversity.” When the Church Fathers met in Nicaea, they affirmed this point as necessary to reflect the fullness of the Church, the Body of Christ. We therefore believe that variety is something good. So if the Churches of our brethren have liturgies that are slightly different from ours this should not lead us to fundamentalism. Because for example, within the Chalcedonian Orthodox Churches, the Russian liturgical practice is not exactly similar to the Greek.
IGNATIUS: We have to pay good attention to this topic. The liturgy is not dogma. The liturgy is an expression of dogma. For that matter we say that our expression (i.e. our liturgy) is very good. There are many who say that from the beginning, we have had more than one expression. We have the liturgies of: St. James, St. Basil the Great, the Proagiasmena (of St. Gregory Dialogos), St. John Chrysostom, and later on we may have more since as we said God is always working and the Church has never reached a single expression. So long as any of these is an expression, what concerns us are the essence of faith and the object being expressed, more so than the expressions themselves. The expressions change over time, and now they are different on the level of different languages. Currently, our liturgies are pronounced in most of the world’s languages. At one time, the liturgy was celebrated in one language. When the Lord commanded the Apostles to “go into the nations and make disciples of them,” every one of them went in a different direction. What language did they use? Did they go out, for example, to teach the people Greek? The Apostle Paul said he studied under Gamaliel, that is in Hebrew. To whom did he teach Hebrew? To the people he went out for, he addressed them in their own language. We do not know of those (Apostles) who went into India and Ethiopia, etc.. Surely they addressed the people in their languages. So the Apostles learned the languages of the people they ministered to, and not the reverse. We know that the brothers, Sts. Methodius and Cyril, created the Slavic language for their mission. Now we are witnessing the fruits of these two missionary apostles. Nothing in the Church is closed: the work of the Holy Spirit is not sealed off, and we live by the might of the Holy Spirit.

Charles: Your Beatitude, the next question belongs to the pastoral care sphere. We understand that the Creed of the two families is the same. You discussed two sacraments: Baptism and Holy Matrimony. I want to get into a third sacrament, and that is the Eucharist. Suppose I were an Eastern Orthodox priest, and a certain Syrian Orthodox family were to come to my Church, should I deprive them of communion?

IGNATIUS: We have decided that where there is no Orthodox priest, not that we wish not to have one, but where there is none, an Orthodox can communicate with the Syrian Orthodox, so that he would not be deprived.

Charles: So even our people can take communion (in this specific context) in a Syrian Orthodox Church. The act is reciprocal then.

IGNATIUS: Absolutely. When I was in the region of Latakia (Syria) I administered Holy Communion to a few Syrian Orthodox people because they did not have a Church in that area. Do you wish to see them become Muslim instead? If such a person were not to take communion in such a situation in your parish, what other options does he have? Should he give up Christianity and become a Muslim? Whoever does not have Islam as an alternative does not even think about this issue. We do not wish to lose our children, and we want to provide a service where they are. For that reason, our Orthodox flock will not become Syrian Orthodox in a Syrian Orthodox area, and we have guaranteed that they will not become so. This guarantee was made by agreement, so that we would not ”replace” them, and likewise they do not “replace” us. We hope that this situation (i.e. of oiicovojna) is understood by the entire Orthodox world, and eventually this approach would be followed by our Orthodox brethren. We understand that it is difficult. Historically, the Orthodox religion was the religion of the empire. Currently, this empire is extinct. Our situation is difficult, and we know it. But our intent is not natural, full communion.
Charles: One can understand the need for this pastoral provision. But the problem is such: You know that currently I am a seminarian at St. Vladimir’s Seminary, a school with a Slavic background, hence there are at times criticisms against the Greeks. Nevertheless, some of these criticisms are extremely valid. For one thing, many Greeks are ethnocentric. Take for example the situation in the last century where they charged the Bulgarians with Phyletism, and these elements who refuted Phyletism as heresy practice it themselves. What do we do about such Greeks who view the Church only as Greek?

IGNATIUS: We say to them that this is wrong and unacceptable. The See of Antioch is a witness that we do not uphold nationalism(s). For this reason, when I was recently in Turkey, I emphasized that our children there must be Turks, and for that matter we gave them Turkish Gospel Books, and we celebrated the Divine Liturgy in Turkish, and now they are learning (about the faith) in Turkish. The same follows in all other regions: In France, French is being emphasized and practiced in the liturgies, as well as English in North America, Spanish and Portuguese in South America, etc.. This is a known fact.
Charles: At St. Vladimir’s Seminary (as of 1999) we have some students who are Non-Chalcedonian. We have Copts, and two are Syrian: one is from India and the other from Turkey. I have left the Middle East 16 years ago, hence my question for now is: Do we at St. John of Damascus’ School of Theology (Balamand) have Non-Chalcedonian students?

IGNATIUS: Not at present. At the first stage of the school’s (i.e. Balamand’s) history, that is when I was its dean, we had some of them as students, as well as others. I also believe that the Syrian Orthodox are very well aware of themselves, and it may be that they are now capable (of having their own seminaries) since there is no financial difficulty in that respect. They do have a seminary, and in addition, they have some who are studying in Athens, Greece. They have some of their clergy currently studying in Athens, but not at Balamand. They may be doing this in order to avoid certain accusations, and they are free in making their own decisions. On our part, we learned not to be leaders over others, therefore we only present ourselves. One positive thing we have maintained with them is that in our own seminary we decided to educate our students about both traditions objectively and constructively. But in order to understand the Syrian tradition, you have to be able to read Syriac. We should advise them to explain to us what their own texts16 say, since no one can comprehend things better than someone whose language is his “mother tongue.” In our domain, this has not fully taken place yet, and I hope that it does soon.

Charles: Your Beatitude, I wish to ask you a question that may be personally sensitive, and I apologize beforehand.

IGNATIUS: Go ahead. No question is invalid.

Charles: I fear that the (traditionalist) Greeks may accuse us of ethnocentrism, since our dialogue with the Syrians has been the most fruitful. They may say that both partners in this specific dialogue are Semitic by race and culture. What do you say to this?
IGNATIUS: I believe that such accusations are no longer valid. They cannot accuse us of ethnocentrism. Those who make such accusations are ethnocentric themselves. The See of Antioch, historically and geographically, stands as an ultimate witness against this false accusation. Those who make such accusations are minorities in their own domain. Fear is their only motivation, since they want to defend themselves as minorities in their domains and erroneously view only themselves as valid. They (i.e. Greek traditionalists) share a common understanding with the Arabs (i.e. Arab nationalism): Their past is more glorious than their present, and they see themselves living in the past. I mentioned previously that we are against nationalism of every sort. The past is behind us, and we live in this present age. We take the good from the past but we keep in mind that we are now in the present. Our faith is dynamic: It was conceived in the past, is lived fully at present, and will continue forever. The Greek head of bishops17 visited us recently, a person that I admire and respect a lot, whose open-minded posture is to be shared by every Orthodox believer. Upon his return, he mentioned to the Greeks that the only (representative) Orthodox presence in the Middle East is seen in the Church of Antioch. He added that we must learn from the See of Antioch. And as far as we ourselves are concerned, we are not isolated. We have maintained positive communications with all the heads of the Orthodox Churches of the world. Also our dialogue with other churches preserved us from the evil (of the traditionalists). On the “Ecumenical” level, we are more  known (than both the traditionalists and isolationists), more free18 and as a result can do more.

Charles: Can we in the Church of Antioch, since we came closest to the Syrian Church, and they likewise came closest to us– here the Patriarch interrupts!

IGNATIUS: I believe that they came closer to us according to what has been achieved thus far. The entire region of (greater) Syria is the ultimate winner so long as we are part of our land. We are both benefiting from this joint effort in dialogue. We had to come closer since not in every city or region we have the capacity or resources to build (new) churches. On the other hand, we do not have enough priests to “follow” our flock wherever they go. We are in constant need of clergy there, while at the same time we are still minorities. If we did not enter into this (dialogue) we would have lost many from our flock.

Charles: Can we use this positive dialogue, the one between its and the Syrians, as a model to be applied to the wider dialogue occurring between the Chalcedonian and Non-Chalcedonian families in the world? Because as of now, on the worldwide level, nothing major has taken place since the last consultation that took place in 1990 in Chambesy, Switzerland. Notwithstanding, that they too have some ‘traditionalist’ elements, such as in some parts of the Coptic Church19, just as on our side there are certain Greeks (in Mt. Athos), as well as others.

IGNATIUS: It is a good thing that you mentioned the Copts. The Copts do sometimes exhibit in their our regions the same posture of the Greeks (where they are a minority) in Orthodoxy. The temptation on the part of the Copts, since they as a minority are persecuted, is that what sometimes they seek to preserve is not the Christian faith but their “kayan” (i.e. existence as a nation) as well. The historical context of Egypt is not much different from that of Constantinople. Like Constantinople, the Egyptian Christians were overtaken by Islamic invasions, and they as remnants need to survive. Our situation is different. We are free and not under any dominion, in spite of our presence as a minority20. We believe that wherever one may be, if that believer is Orthodox, then he is Orthodox regardless of his geographical location. We do not have a nation, and such a posture is no longer ours. But in the case of the Copts, their whole being (or kayan) is in question, in addition to their faith.

Charles: The Armenians are in a simitar situation.

IGNATIUS: The Armenians view themselves as a national Church, and they tend to be overly nationalistic. The identity of the Armenian never escapes him, whether he upholds his faith or not. But another issue needs to be addressed here, and that has to do with “proselytism”. The Armenians as a national Church does not proselytize, even though they themselves have been proselytized by the Roman Catholics and the Protestants, but not by us, and that is what they claim. The Eastern Churches, once we were freed from nationalism, we abstained from proselytizing from national churches. This applies to us and the Maronite Church: very little proselytism occurred between the two of us. The Rum Catholic (i.e. Melkite Byzantine Catholics), on the other hand, were originally our people and Rome split them off from us by creating that painful schism (in A. D. 1724). “We do not make others Catholic.” We do not practice proselytism. Our whole posture and thrust as Orthodox is different. Our priority is the Orthodox Faith. If someone were to be an Orthodox in China, to me he is more Orthodox than Chinese, because there is an ecclesial affinity between the two of us.
Charles: Your Beatitude, you have helped me a lot in clarifying the pastoral needs and approaches in our dialogue with the Syrians. I have now lesser important questions before we conclude. I wish to return to the first question that I asked. The Non-Chalcedonians say that they believe in the “essence of faith” of the latter four Ecumenical Councils. Regarding the two natures in Christ, as you know Chalcedon used four negative and apophatic adverbs to describe their union. How can we reconcile that with their position, which since Severus of Antioch, they say that after the union (i.e. Incarnation) they can think of the two natures only “by contemplation?”

IGNATIUS: They agree with those four adverbs completely. But you must realize that in our own Orthodox Church, most of our Church music books have been left to the chanters and hymnographers, whose main concern is either to lengthen or shorten some words in order to make the words fit the melody. We have a problem with that as well, even in our Orthodox Church, either due to translation or hymnological problems. What is important is that the Non-Chalcedonians do agree with those four adverbs. In short, as I said regarding the two natures, any addition, reduction, or distortion of the two they utterly reject.
Charles: With regard to icons, I know that the Egyptian Copts or Ethiopian Copts, which ones I am not sure, while they venerate the icons like we do, they do not kiss them. Do the Syrians follow the same practice?

IGNATIUS: It is not required from us to kiss the icons.

Charles: I know this is not dogma.

IGNATIUS: This is one form of expressing the faith, while it is not required that you kiss the icons. Icons point to the archetypes they depict, and they are not photographs. This is what the icon stands for in our Church. We have in our own Church some who wipe the icon with their own hand. This eventually leads to the destruction of the icon, which caused us to cover the icons with glass so that a century later the people may see the same icon. So veneration is essentially due to the icon, but kissing them is not required as an object of faith.

Charles: I want to go to the period before Chalcedon, to St. Cyril of Alexandria, the champion of the Third Ecumenical Council. What surprises me is that both Church families agree on his famous formula fiia <pvoig tov 9eov Xoyov aeaapKWfisvi] (one incarnate nature of Cod the Word).
IGNATIUS: For that reason, we have to accept things according to their own context. Against who did he use this statement?

Charles: Against Nestorius.

IGNATIUS: Therefore, if we don’t know against whom this phrase was used, and if we do not understand the context, we will never understand its meaning. A phrase, any phrase, ought not to be made public, because every phrase is addressed to (or against) someone. Every phrase has its own context. The same applies in our teaching of the Scriptures: If you do not know the context of a biblical verse, you cannot take it out of context and throw it in the open, such as the way Muslims, for example, do with the verses of the Qura’n. With regard to your question, I believe there is something else that needs more research, and this created many of the heresies in the history of the Church. It has to do with the “unity of God.” The early Church spoke about the unity of God while addressing the ancient Hellenic culture that debated over the unity and multiplicity of God. We dare not say which side we are on, since that Greek period was not fully researched. When we refer to the early Fathers, these Fathers did not create a lexicon for their (theological) terms, but instead they used terms which they studied from their surrounding environments. In short, they used the terms of the Greek language and culture. The heresy of Modalism, for example, has an ancient Greek background: God is seen as having different faces (prosopa) while still one. The Greeks used such logic to guard the unity of the deity, but the Church saw it as heresy when the same logic was applied to God. And regarding the Person of the Lord Jesus, the Fathers also had to be very meticulous: They needed to emphasize the unity of God but could not dwell much on the “distinction” of the Lord from God in fear of heresy. The fear was that in emphasizing too much the  distinction, they would have created a second, or third god, which they had to avoid.

Charles: We have reached the stage with our Syrian brethren, that after more than fifteen centuries of bitter history, can we now place this bitter history behind us?

IGNATIUS: Let us be realistic. If you were to ask most of the Syrians who Eutyches is, probably they would not know who he is. And the same applies to our own flock. Not everyone is a scholar in the history of the Church, let alone objective. The important thing is our current and real view of the Church: Is the Church real and dynamic, in the present, or is the Church just an extension of the past? The Church exists in every age, enlivened and nurtured by God. Life is limited to materialistic understanding nowadays, and there is no real account for the real presence of God, who is Life and the Giver of Life. We need to live only according to the life that God grants us, and acknowledge his creating power in everything.

Charles: I see that in our fruitful dialogue, we have reached the conclusion that both Church families agree on the dogma pertaining to the Person of Christ. In spite of the different, and often difficult terms applied, both Church families believe that Our One Lord Jesus Christ is: Perfect Cod, because He is fully consubstantial with the Father as to His Divinity, and Perfect Man, because he is fully consubstantial with us, a human being with body, soul and reason. According to the Creed, and you have affirmed that the Creed is literally common between us, how are we to understand the statement: “And I believe in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.” Fr. Thomas Hopko, the Dean of our seminary, taught us in Dogmatics that when we say this, we mean by it “the Chalcedonian Eastern Orthodox Church.” Can we at present apply this understanding to our Syrian brethren, since their Church is Apostolic as well?

IGNATIUS: We cannot apply it as such. The Church has been founded by the Lord at Pentecost with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This statement speaks of the roots, function, and posture of the Church. What we mean by this statement has to do with the status of the Church: It is always “sent out” because it is Apostolic in mission. The mission of the Church is to “go out” continually, to go out and reach for the others, and by reaching out to the others the Church has to be with the others. The unity of the Church is not founded on its boundaries, or else the Church is shut off from the world. The result of this would be isolation, but more dangerously, this would “suffocate” the work of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, what is required of us humans, or rather we are obliged, to speak21 to every other human being on the face of the earth. In the issue of our faith, in as much as it is full and complete, we hope that those who don’t share it will ultimately come to accept it as we have received it. This is our vision and our right.
Charles: Our wish then, is as the Apostle Paul hoped, and I am not quoting out of context here because this has to do with our discussion. Writing to the Church in Ephesus, he said: “Until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4: 13). We are viewing this reality, but we are not there yet.
IGNATIUS: I believe that when he said this he was referring to the fullness of the Church. There is growth in the Church, but we are not perfect. Only the Church is perfect. We are in this fullness (of the Church). It is a dynamic and living process, and it is not in a fixed state. In the Church, we must be in dialogue with others, keeping in mind always the Element of Life. Because ultimately, if Christ did not Rise from the dead, nothing would have happened in the first place.
Charles: To conclude: if the Church must be active in dialogue, and if we are to beseech God to “heal the schisms in the churches”22 as one prayer puts it, then we Eastern Orthodox (with the Syrian Orthodox) are obliged to heal the first schism of the Church, that which resulted from Chalcedon.
IGNATIUS: We must be in constant dialogue, not just with the Syrian Oriental Orthodox, but with everyone else. Those who were misunderstood in the past are long dead. I cannot preach to the dead, but to a living human being. Life is not yesterday.

Charles: Life is today and the future.

IGNATIUS: That is all.
Charles: I thank you very much Your Beatitude



  • 1 A Manual of Eastern Orthodox Prayers, from the “Morning Prayers,” p. 9.
  • 2 Mesrob Krikorian, “Review of the Agreed Statements…” SNTR 1.1 (1996): p. 67.
  • 3 John Meyendorff, Christ in Eastern Christian Thought, p. 113.
  • 4 St. Athanasius, Ad Adeiphium 4 (P.G., 26, col. 1077a), in Meyendorff, Christ., p. 230, n. 1.
  • 5 St. Gregory Nazianzen, Ep. 101, Ad Qedonium (P.G., 37, col. 181c-184a), in Meyendorff, Christ., p. 230, n. 2.
  • 6 John Meyendorff, “Chalcedonians and Non-Chalcedonians…” SVTQ 33.4 (1989): pp. 327-8
  • 7 These remarks were given to me during an interview that I was honored to hold with His Beatitude in 1999. For a full transcript of the interview, see Appendix B.

Chapter One: The Consultations of the Twentieth Century

  • 1 Theodore Pulcini, “Recent Strides Toward Reunion…” JES 30.1 Winter (1993): p. 37.
  • 2 Thomas Fitzgerald, ‘Toward the Reestablishment…” GOTR 36.2 Summer (1991): p.171.
  • 3 Thomas Fitzgerald, Ibid., p. 172.
  • 4 “The Aarhus Consultation,*’ with the “Agreed Statement” issued on August 14,1964, are published in GOTR 10.2 Winter (1964-5). The names of the 15 participants (7 Eastern and 8 Oriental Orthodox) are listed in that issue.
  • 5 John H. Erickson, “Eastern Orthodox-Oriental Orthodox Dialogue…” SNTR 1.1 (1996): p. 51.
  • 6 Thomas Fitzgerald, ‘Toward the Reestablishment…” GOTR 36.2 Summer (1991): p.172.
  • 7 “The Bristol Consultation,” and the “Second Agreed Statement” issued on July 29, 1967 are published in GOTR 13.2 Fall (1968). The names of the 19 participants (11 Eastern and 8 Oriental Orthodox) are listed in that issue.
  • 8 John H. Erickson, Ibid. p. 51.
  • 9 Thomas Fitzgerald, Ibid. p. 172.
  • 10 “The Geneva Consultation” proceedings are published in GOTR 16.1*2 Spring & Fall (1971). The names of the 28 participants (18 Eastern and 10 Oriental Orthodox) are listed in that issue.
  • 11 John H. Erickson, Ibid., p. 51.
  • 12 “The Addis Ababa Consultation,” is published in GOTR 16.1-2 Spring & Fall (1971). The names of the 29 participants (13 Eastern and 16 Oriental Orthodox) are listed in that issue.
  • 13 John H. Erickson, “Eastern Orthodox-Oriental Orthodox Dialogue…” SNTR l. i (1996):p. 51.
  • 14 Thomas Fitzgerald, ‘Toward the Reestablishment…” GOTR 36.2 Summer (1991): p.172.
  • 15 John H. Erickson, Ibid. p. 51.
  • 16 John H. Erickson, Ibid. p. 51.
  • 17 The “Agreed Statement” of Anba Bishoy Monastery, Egypt (June 20-24, 1989) is published in SNTR 1.1 (1996): pp. 99-100.
  • 18 John H. Erickson, Ibid. p. 52.
  • 19 The “Recommendations on Pastoral Issues” and the “Second Agreed Statement” of
  • Chambesy, Geneva (Sept. 23-8, 1990) are published in SNTR 1.1. (1996): pp. 101-7.
  • 20 John H. Erickson, Ibid. p. 52.
  • 21 John H. Erickson, “Eastern Orthodox-Oriental…” ECJ5.1 Spring (1996): p. 28.
  • 22 “Second Agreed Statement” of Chambesy, 1990, is published in SNTR l.l (1996): pp.105-7.
  • 23 John Meyendorff, “Chalcedonians and Non-Chalcedonians…” SVTQ33A (1989): p. 319.
  • 24 “An Agreed Statement,” GOTR 10.2 (1964-5): p. 14.
  • 25 Metropolitan Bishoy, “The Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Churches …”
  • 26 The next chapter will discuss St. Cyril’s formula and its interpretations in more detail.

Chapter Two: The Historical Background of Our Estrangement

  • 27 V. C. Samuel, “One Incarnate Nature of God the Word,” Christ in East and West, p. 113.
  • 28 W. De Vries, “The Reasons for the Rejection…” Christ in East and West, p. 3.
  • 29 J. N. D. Kelly, Eariy Christian Doctrines, p. 339.
  • 30 J. N. D. Kelly, Ibid. p. 341.
  • 31 T. H. Bindley, The Oecumenical Documents of the Faith, (English) pp. 234-5, (Greek) p. 193.
  • 32 Mesrob Krikorian, “Review of the Agreed Statements…” SNTR 1.1 (1996): p. 70.
  • 33 John Meyendorff, Christ in Eastern Christian Thought^ p. 27.
  • 34 John S. Romanides, “St. Cyril’s ‘One Physis or Hypostasis…'” GOTR 10.2 (1964-5): p.82.
  • 35 John H. Erickson, “Eastern Orthodox-Oriental Orthodox Dialogue…” SNTR l.1 (1996):p. 53.
  • 36 GOTR 10.2 (1964), under “Discussion: Concerning the Paper of Fr. Meyendorff,” pp. 31-2.
  • 37 In Ethiopian, Tewahido means unification, in simile to the Arabic Tawhid, meaning union.
  • 58 Lionel R. Wickham, Cyril of Alexandria: Select Letters, pp. 48-9.
  • 39 John Meyendorff, Christ in Eastern Christian Thought, p. 20.
  • 40 John Meyendorff, Ibid. p. 20.
  • 41 J, Robert Wright, ‘The Meaning of the Four…” SNTR 1.1 (1996): p. 44.
  • 42 W. De Vries, “The Reasons for the Rejection…” Christ in East and West, p. 13.
  • 43 The issue of anathemas will be addressed in a later chapter.

Chapter Three: Failed Attempts at Reunion

  • 44 John H. Erickson, “Eastern Orthodox-Oriental Orthodox…” EC75.1 Spring (1996): p. 25.
  • 45 John Meyendorff, Christ in Eastern Christian Thought, p. 45.
  • 46 The next chapter will focus on this great theologian.
  • 47 John Meyendorff, Ibid. p. 38.
  • 48 John Meyendorff, “Chalcedonians and Monophysites…” GOTR 10.2 Winter (1964-5): p.23.
  • 49 Theopaschism means “God suffered” (i.e. in the flesh which He assumed). Theopaschism was stressed in the Twelfth Chapter of St. Cyril’s Third Letter to Nestorius.
  • 50 John Meyendorff, Ibid. p. 25.
  • 51 In the Council of 553, Theopaschism was affirmed in its Tenth Anathema.
  • 52 John Meyendorff, Ibid. p. 24.
  • 53 John Meyendorff, Imperial Unity, p. 244.
  • 54 V. C. Samuel, “One Incarnate Nature of God the Word,” GOTR10.2 Winter (1964-5): p.43.
  • 55 John Meyendorff, Imperial Unity, pp. 264-5.
  • 56 John H. Erickson, “Eastern Orthodox-Oriental Orthodox…” E O S A Spring (1996): p. 26.
  • 57 John H. Erickson, Ibid. p. 27.
  • 58 Aristeides Papadakis, The Christian East and the Rise of the Papacy, pp. 116-7.
  • 59 John H. Erickson, Ibid. p. 27.
  • 60 John H. Erickson, Ibid. p. 27.
  • 61 John Erickson, “Eastern Orthodox-Oriental Orthodox…” SNTR l. i (1996): pp. 53-4.
  • 62 John Erickson, Ibid. p. 53.
  • 63 John Meyendorff, Christ in Eastern Christian Thought, p. 28,
  • 64 First, by introducing a duality in Christ after the union, and second, by not emphasizing the Logos as the Subject in the passion. These two points were the major thrust of St. Cyril’s theology, hence his emphasis on the “Unity of Christ” and his defense of Mary as Theotokos against Nestorius.

Chapter Four: Severus of Antioch

  • 65 Anaphora: The Divine Liturgy of S t James, “Canon of the Doctors of the Church,” p. 46.
  • 66 Seraphim Nassar, Divine Prayers and Services, “Sunday of the Holy Fathers Assembled
  • in the First Six Ecumenical Councils,” (celebrated July 13th-19th), p. 559.
  • 67 John Meyendorff, Christ in Eastern Christian Thought, p. 38.
  • 68 John Meyendorff, Ibid. p. 42.
  • 69 The Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity, pp. 448-9.
  • 70 The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, p. 1491.
  • 71 The Blackwell Dictionary…, pp. 448-9.
  • 71 John Meyendorff, Christ in Eastern Christian Thought, p. 38.
  • 73 The Blackwell Dictionary…, pp. 449.
  • 74 The Blackwell Dictionary…, pp. 449.
  • 75 Emperor Justinian, In his final years, upheld Aphthartodocetism (a belief that the body of Christ was incorrupt from the Incarnation), a teaching which Severus consistently rejected. But the reason as to why Justinian condemned Severus probably had to do with the former’s capitulation before the West which caused him to shift (imperial) policies.
  • 76 John Behr, “Severus of Antioch: Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Perspectives,” (1997):p. 12.
  • 77 /MW7(Second Series, Vol. XIV), ’The Seven Ecumenical Councils,” p. 347.
  • 78 NPNF, Ibid., p. 349.
  • 79 V. C. Samuel, “One Incarnate Nature of God …” GOTR 10.2 Winter (1964-5): p. 47.
  • 80 V. C. Samuel, Ibid., p. 47.
  • 81 V. C. Samuel, Ibid., pp. 47-8.
  • 82 V. C. Samuel, Ibid., pp. 47-8.
  • 83 V. C. Samuel, Ibid., p. 48.
  • 81 V. C. Samuel, “One Incarnate Nature of God …,” GOTR 10.2 Winter (1964-5): p. 48-9.
  • 85 V. C. Samuel, Ibid., p. 49.
  • 86 Severus of Antioch, Philalethes (ed. Robert Hespel, Louvain, 1952, p. 139 [Syriac]), in Samuel, “One Incarnate Nature of God…” GOTR 10.2 Winter (1964-5): p. 48.
  • 87 V. C. Samuel, Ibid. p. 49.
  • 88 John Meyendorff, Christ in Eastern Christian Thought, p. 37.
  • 89 John Behr, “Severus of Antioch: Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Perspectives,” (1997): p. 4.
  • 90 APAF(Second Series, Vol. XIV), “The Seven Ecumenical Councils,” p. 347.
  • 91 John Meyendorff, Christ in Eastern Christian Thought, p. 43.
  • 92 Severus of Antioch, Letter to Sergius (ed. J. Lebon, Le Monophysitisme Siverien,
  • Louvain, 1909, p. 60), in Meyendorff, Christ…, pp. 42-3.
  • 93 John Meyendorff, Christ in Eastern Christian Thought, p. 220, n. 41.
  • 94 “Second Agreed Statement” (of Chambesy, 1990), SNTR l.l (1996): pp. 105-7.
  • 95 John Meyendorff, Imperial Unity, pp. 337-8.
  • 96 John Meyendorff, Ibid., pp. 216-7.
  • 97 NPNF(Second Series, Vol. XIV), “The Seven Ecumenical Councils,” p. 347.
  • 98 John Behr, “Severus of Antioch: Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Perspectives,” (1997):p. 15.
  • 99 Severus of Antioch, Epistle 1 (P.O. 12.181-2), in Behr, “Severus of Antioch…” (1997): p. 16.
  • 100 John Behr, Ibid. p. 16.
  • 101 Severus of Antioch, Homily 8 3 {P.O. 20.415-7), in Behr, “Severus of Antioch…” (1997): p. 16.
  • 102 John Behr, Ibid. p. 15.
  • 103 John Meyendorff, Christ in Eastern Christian Thought, p.155.
  • John Meyendorff, Ibid. p. 155.
  • 105 John Meyendorff, Imperial Unity, p 195.
  • 106 John Behr, “Severus of Antioch: Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Perspectives,” (1997):p. 17.

Chapter Five: The Problem of Anathemas

  • 107 T. H. Bindley, The Oecumenical Documents of the Faith, p. 235.
  • 108 Johannes Rufus of Maiuma, Plerophoria 22 (P.O. 8.54), in Dorothea Wendebourg,
  • “Chalcedon in Ecumenical Discourse,” Pro Ecclesia 7.3: p. 312.
  • 109 John D. Zizioulas, “Ecclesiological Issues…” GOTR 16.1-2 (1971): p. 147.
  • 110 John D. Zizioulas, Ibid. p. 147.
  • 111 John D. Zizioulas, “Ecdesiological Issues…” GOTR 16.1-2 (1971): p. 147.
  • 112 John D. Zizioulas, Ibid. p. 148.
  • 113 For the purposes of this thesis, and as Point 10:C of the “Second Agreed Statement” (of Chambesy, 1990) stipulates (published in SNTR 1.1 (1996): p. 107), I as a Chalcedonian Orthodox will limit my discussion to the anathemas imposed on Fathers of the Oriental Churches. In other words, it is the task of the Oriental Orthodox to discuss restoring Leo of Rome and others who are alreaoy saints in my tradition.
  • 114 John Meyendorff, Imperial Unity, pp. 169-70.
  • 115 John Meyendorff, Imperial Unity, p. 170.
  • 116 John D. Zizioulas, “Ecclesiological Issues…” GOTR 16.1-2 (1971): p. 151.
  • 117 John S. Romanides, “Leo of Rome’s Support of Theodoret…” Orthodox and Oriental
  • Orthodox Consultation, (Geneva, 1-6 November 1993): p. 1.
  • 118 John Meyendorff, Christ in Eastern Christian Thought, p. 33.
  • 119 John S. Romanides, Ibid. p. 3.
  • 120 John S. Romanides, Ibid. p. 3.
  • 121 John S. Romanides, Ibid. p. 6.
  • 122 In the Eastern Orthodox Calendar, St. Isaac’s Feast Day is April 12th.
  • 123 John Meyendorff, ed., Gregory Palamas: The Triads, pp. 28, 34, 38,59-60, and 62.
  • 124 The “Summary of Conclusions” from the Addis Ababa Consultation (January 22-3, 1971) is published in GOTR 16.1-2 (1971): pp. 211-3.
  • 125 Does Chalcedon Divide Or Unite? p. 14
  • 126 The “Summary of Conclusions” from the Addis Ababa Consultation (January 22-3,1971), GOTR 16.1-2 (1971): pp. 212-3.
  • 127 The Octoechos Dogmatika of the Chalcedonian Orthodox Church are “Chalcedonian” in terminology: they affirm Jesus Christ to be dual in nature and single in hypostasis.
  • 128 In this case, the Chalcedonian Orthodox must be bold and humble enough to eliminate the names of Dioscorus and Severus, who were unjustly accused of heresy (in the hymns mentioned previously) provided that the faithful are educated before and after such “liturgical reform” takes place with respect to the four points mentioned above.
  • 129 Vitaly Borovoy, “Recognition of Saints and Problems of Anathemas,” GOTR 16.1-2 (1971): pp. 245-59. The reader is encouraged to read the entire article by Fr. Borovoy due to the wonderful insights on this topic made by prominent Russian theologians.
  • 130 Vitaly Borovoy, Ibid. pp. 246.
  • 131 Vitaly Borovoy, Ibid. pp. 247.
  • 132 Vitaly Borovoy, Ibid. p. 247, (emphases mine – C. B.).
  • 133 Vitaly Borovoy, Ibid. p. 248.
  • 134 Such as, for example, the case of Severus of Antioch during the Sixth Ecumenical Council.
  • 135 Vitaly Borovoy, “Recognition of Saints…” GOTR 16.1-2 (1971): p. 247

Chapter Six: ‘Traditionalism” versus “Ecumenism”

  • 136 “Proposals for Lifting of Anathemas” from the November 1-6, 1993 Chambesy Consultation are published in SNTR 1.1 (1996): pp. 109-10.
  • 137 “Proposals for Lifting of Anathemas” from the November 1-6,1993, Chambesy, Sec. 1.
  • 138 “Proposals for Lifting of Anathemas” from the November 1-6,1993, Chambesy, Sec. 2.
  • 139 “Second Agreed Statement,” Section 10, published in SNTR 1.1 (1996): p. 106.
  • 140 John H. Erickson, “Anathema: An Obstacle to Reunion?” (1998): p. 1.
  • 141 Milton Efthimiou, “Ecumenical Perspectives…” 5/V77? 1.1 (1996): p. 91.
  • 142 The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church, Faith, Order of Worship and Ecumenical Witness: A Popular Catechism, Chapter 27 (1995-6): p. 108.
  • 143 “The Non-Chalcedonian Heretics…” Orthodox Christian Information Center: Ecumenism Awareness 17 April 2000 <http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/monoph_preface.htm&gt;
  • 144 They are fundamentalists, since according to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (10thed.), one of the definitions of fundamentalism is: “A movement or attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles.”
  • 145 ‘Patriarch Bartholomew Attempts to Strong-arm…” Orthodox Life 45.3 (1995): pp. 39-41.

Chapter Seven: Unity in Antioch

  • 146 John H. Erickson, “Anathema: An Obstacle to Reunion?” (1998): p, 2.
  • 147 “Letter From the Patriarch of Jerusalem…” No. 361, 17 May 1997 (An Unofficial Translation) Orthodox Christian Information Center: Ecumenism Awareness 17 April 2000, pp. 2-3, <http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/diodoros_ant.htm&gt;.
  • 148 St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage (3rd century), is famous for his limited and exclusive view of the Church.
  • 149 John H, Erickson, “Anathema: An Obstacle to Reunion?” (1998): p. 3.
  • 150 “Memorandum of the Sacred Community…” (ser. no.ph2/116/455) 14-27 May 1995, Orthodox Christian Information Center: Ecumenism Awareness 17 April 2000, p. 2,
  • <http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/mono_athos.htm&gt;.
  • 151 John H. Erickson, “Anathema: An Obstacle to Reunion?” (1998): p. 4.
  • 152 NPNF(Second Series, Vol. XIV), “The Seven Ecumenical Councils,” p. 3.
  • 153 St. Cyprian’s teachings are debatable until present (i.e. they are not universally accepted).
  • 154 “Commentary on the Latest Recommendations…” Orthodox Life 41.3 (1991): p. 7.
  • 155 Vitaly Borovoy, ”Recognition of Saints…” GOTR 16.1-2 (1971): p. 254.
  • 156 Vitaly Borovoy, “Recognition of Saints…” GOTR 16.1-2 (1971): p. 255.
  • 157 Please see my “Transcript of the interview with H. B. IGNATIUS IV…“ A ppendix B.
  • 158 Theodore Pulcini, “Eastern Orthodox – Oriental Orthodox…” SNTR 1.1 (1996): p. 60.
  • 159 Theodore Pulcini, Ibid. p. 60.
  • 160 Theodore Pulcini, Ibid. p. 60,
  • 161 “This is an extremely important point: The two patriarchs of Antioch did not act hastily, but rather as a result of the consensus (on Christology) already reached on the ecumenical level.
  • 162 “interview with Metropolitan Philip,” The Word32.9 (1988): p. 6 .
  • 163 “Interview with Metropolitan Philip,” The Word32.9 (1988): p. 6 .
  • 164 “Interview with Metropolitan Philip,” The Wond32.9 (1988): p. 6.
  • 165 Theodore Pulcini, “Eastern Orthodox – Oriental Orthodox…” SNTR l.1 (1996): p. 61. Although this meeting was called for and attended by the Chalcedonian Orthodox of Antioch, nevertheless it is pertinent to this dialogue since it directly preceded the Consultation of 1991.
  • 166 This document resulted in the Encyclical of Patriarch Ignatius IV (Appendix A).
  • 167 Ronald Roberson, The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey, pp. 55-6.
  • 168 In the Middle East, as in other places, there are traditionalist groups on both sides.
  • 169 Please see Appendix A.
  • 170 Chapter 9 will distinguish between “unity” and “union.”
  • 171 The next chapter will focus on the pastoral needs of the Christians in the Middle East.
  • 172 This understanding of “one bishop in each region” is from the canonical tradition of the Orthodox Church (e.g. Canon XV of I Nicaea), yet within the Chalcedonian Church itself there have been problems in applying these canons (such as in North America and elsewhere).
  • 173 John Meyendorff, “Chalcedonians and Non-Chalcedonians…” SVTQ 33.4 (1989): pp. 327-8.
  • 174 The late Fr. Meyendorff made these statements over a decade ago, and here we are today, we still “talk” about holding a Great Council (i.e. the situation has not changed much since).
  • 175 John Meyendorff, Ibid. p. 327.
  • 176 John Meyendorff, Ibid. p. 328.
  • 177 Please see Appendix B.
  • 178 Chri stire Chaillot, The Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch… p. 151.
  • 179 Please see Appendix B.
  • 180 “Interview with Metropolitan Philip,” The Word32.9 (1988): p. 6.

Chapter Eight: The Pastoral Needs of the Faithful in the Middle East

  • 181 The present chapter will attempt to discuss the “pastoral needs” of the faithful by examining the 14 resolutions of the Patriarchal Encyclical (Appendix A) in addition to some of the remarks made by Patriarch Ignatius IV (Appendix B) during our interview.
  • 182 Ronald Roberson, The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey, pp. 55-6.
  • 183 Christine Chaillot, The Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch…, p. 151.
  • 184 For Resolutions 1-14, please see Appendix A.
  • 185 Previously, chapters 5 and 6 already addressed this issue.
  • 186 I have already suggested that our service books, specifically in relation to the Syrian Oriental Church, need to be reformed (i.e. by eliminating the name of Severus of Antioch from the list of heretics in the Aposticha of the Feast of the Holy Fathers, July 13th- 19th).
  • 187 I know of several priests (from the Antiochian as well as from other jurisdictions) who have disregarded such stipulations and went ahead in “converting” some Oriental
  • Orthodox Christians (such as Copts or Armenians) before administering the Eucharist to them. On the global level of dialogue this is false practice, while on the specific Antiochian level, it is forbidden.
  • 188 Please see Appendix B.

Chapter Nine: “Unity” versus “Union”

  • 189 Vitaly Borovoy, “The Question of Reconciliation and Reunion Between the Ancient Oriental and the Orthodox Churches,” GOTR 10.2 (1964-5): pp. 133-6.
  • 190 Vitaly Borovoy, Ibid., p. 133.
  • 191 Vitaly Borovoy, Ibid., pp. 133-4.
  • 192 Vitaly Borovoy, “The Question of Reconciliation …,” GOTR 10.2 (1964-5): p. 134.
  • 193 Vitaly Borovoy, Ibid., p. 134.
  • 194 For example, one such concession would require from one of the two hierarchies to be “humble” enough in order to “step down” for the other, since there cannot be full communion under a dual-hierarchical structure.
  • 195 Theodore Pulcini, “Recent Strides Toward Reunion -K930.1 winter (1993): p. 50.
  • 196 Please see A ppendix B.
  • 197 Please see A ppendix B.
  • 198 Christine Chaillot, The Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch…, pp. 151-2.


  • 199 For more on this sad situation of Greek-Arab tensions in the Holy Land, see Fr. Theodore Pulcini’s article: ‘Tensions Between the Hierarchy and Laity of the Jerusalem Patriarchate,” in SVTQ 36.3 (1992): pp. 273-98, as well as several other articles in recent issues of The Word.
  • 200 Ronald Roberson, The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey, p. 55.
  • 201 In addition to the certain hymns I previously mentioned, hymns which erroneously accuse Dioscorus of Alexandria and Severus of Antioch of “heresy.”
  • 202 Isabel Hapgood, Service Book, p. 456.
  • 203 Mesrob Krikorian, “Review of the Agreed Statements…” SNTR 1.1 (1996) p. 68.
  • 204 These are published in SNTR 1.1 (1996): pp. 105-10.

Appendix A

  • 1 This encyclical was first published in the Patriarchal issue Al-Nashra (Arabic), in Damascus, Syria, in March 1992, and was published thereafter (in English) in The Word 36.4 (1992): pp. 5-6. The reason I am providing my own translation (from the Arabic original) has to do with slight differences between my translation and the one in The Word: Mine is closer to the Arabic text and it renders 14 Resolutions as they appear in the Arabic—The Word has 15 Resolutions.
  • 2 “Rum Orthodox” is Arabic for the (Chalcedonian) Eastern Orthodox.
  • 3 Emphases in the resolutions are all mine, and they pertain to my thesis.
  • 4 This resolution, in short, condemns any proselytizing between the two Church families.
  • 5 This is Resolution 13 in The Word, as it appeared in AL-Nashra.
  • 6. Fellowship, and not communion (Koinonia).
  • 7. This is Resolution 15 in The Word, where there is inserted the following “Resolution 14” (non-existent in AI-Nashra): “In all mutual celebrations the first clergyman in ordination will preside over the ceremony,” The Word 36.4 (1992) p. 6. This was (probably) added to clarify to the clergy in North America as to what should take place during a concelebration.
  • 8 I was honored to hold this interview with his Beatitude, and I hereby submit in full an honest and truthful translation in transcript form of the interview, conducted in Arabic.
  • 9 “Essence of faith” i.e. pertaining to the Person of Christ.
  • 10 “To the understanding” is an Arabic way of saying “to the understanding of faith,” in simile to what Orthodox theologians call the “mind” of the Church or of the Fathers.
  • 11 “Know each other” is an Arabic way of saying “(we) are in agreement.”
  • 12 Here, I rendered the word literally (kayan) as the Patriarch said it in Arabic due to difficulty in translating this term into English: “kayan” generally means “essence or being” but could also be used to refer to “understanding” which was discussed in footnote 3.
  • 13 The Arabic word “fikr” which the Patriarch had used over and over in this section could be translated into several words in English: contemplation, understanding, mind, etc.
  • 14 On purpose, I translated this phrase, “you would see these two things one,” as the Patriarch stated it in Arabic. Due to the linguistic difficulty, the reader has to understand this statement only as such. To say “two things as one,” which would be appropriate to the English reader is not what the Patriarch said and intended, as we shall see later, because to say “as one” you would imply a union without distinction.
  • 15 The word “illiterate” in Arabic is applied to someone who “cannot read and write,” and is not to be understood pejoratively. Also, the Patriarch here is referring to the people who followed the teachings of certain teachers, and not the teachers themselves, hence my translation as “peoples”.
  • 16 I presume the Patriarch is referring here to the Syrians’ liturgical texts.
  • 17 I presume the Patriarch is referring here to H. H. Barthalomew I of Constantinople, who made a historic visit to Lebanon. The following text makes it clear that he is referring to him since he did not mention the name of this “Greek head of bishops.”
  • 18 Since as was said we condemn nationalism and, also, we are not under the dominion of others (perhaps (?) he pointed to the Turkish dominion over the Church of Constantinople).
  • 19 I was referring to the Coptic Church of Ethiopia here, in specific.
  • 20 Although persecutions have been historically common to all the Middle East, the Patriarch doe not deny them. Instead, as the following statement shows, our world view Is different from the “nationalistic” Copts and certain “ethnocentric” Greeks in Turkey.
  • 21 From the Arabic, it seems that here the Patriarch was pointing to the need and implementation of “constant dialogue” with everyone.
  • 22 From the Morning Prayers, under Commemoration of the Living.

Abbreviations in the Footnotes

  • ECJ [Eastern Churches Journal]
  • GOTR [The Greek Orthodox Theological Review]
  • JES [Journal of Ecumenical Studies]
  • NPNF [P. Schaff and H. Wace, eds., Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Second Series (Grand Rapids, 1956)]
  • P.G. [J. P. Migne, Patrologiae Cursus Completus, Series Graeca (Paris, 1857 ff.)]
  • P.O. [R. Graffin and F. Nau, eds., Patrologia Orientalis (Paris, 1903 ff.)]
  • SNTR [St. Nersess Theological Review]
  • SVTQ [St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly]


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