OCP News Service
Special Courtesy-Fr Dr K M George
Working Group of the Joint Commission for the Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches was held on November 24-25 2014 in Athens-Greece.
Invited by the two Co-Chairmen, HE Metropolitan Emmanuel of France and HE Metropolitan Bishoy of Damiette, of the Joint Theological Commission of the two families of the Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, and with the blessings and gracious hospitality of the Ecumenical Patriarch, His All Holiness Bartholomew, a working group of official delegates met in Athens, 24-25 November 2014, in order to lay down a road map for the future work of the Joint Commission.
The working group reviewed the achievements of the Joint Commission so far, in bringing together the two families of the Orthodox Churches on the basis of our common understanding of the Apostolic faith.
Co-Chairman HE Metropolitan Emmanuel of France in his opening speech pointed out the very high priority accorded by the Orthodox Church to the official Theological Dialogue with the Oriental Orthodox Churches. He underlined the common acceptance of the Christological teaching of our common Father St. Cyril of Alexandria and of our common patristic and ecclesiological tradition of the first five centuries as the decisive criterion.
He called for a systematic evaluation of all the theological critiques on the proposals of the Joint Commission and for a theological defense against all prejudices and polemical arguments. He emphasized that unity of the Church is an important dogma of faith and therefore the work of the Commission towards unity is of fundamental doctrinal significance. In order to communicate to the clergy and the people of our Churches the work of the Joint Commission, he suggested regular meetings of the primates of our Churches, exchange of professors, well-prepared meetings of monks from both families and all possible cooperation of Churches at regional level and the Diaspora. The use of print and electronic media to disseminate the efforts for unity was also strongly advocated by Metropolitan Emmanuel.
Co-Chairman HE Metropolitan Bishoy of Damiette in his speech, gave an interpretation of the First Agreed Statement on Christology of the historic official dialogue between the two families held at St. Bishoy Monastery, Egypt, in 1989. Highlighting the Christological position of our common Father St. Cyril of Alexandria he pointed out the fact that the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Orthodox Church are expressing the same reality when they speak about one composite hypostasis of the incarnate Logos. He cited from the Chambesy Statement of the Joint Commission in 1990 saying ”that both families have always loyally maintained the same authentic Orthodox Christological faith, and the unbroken continuity of the Apostolic Tradition.” HE Metropolitan Bishoy also narrated the great efforts he made jointly with the former Co-Chairman HE Damaskinos of blessed memory to visit various local Orthodox Churches on both sides, in order to communicate personally to the local Churches’ leadership the good results of the Joint Commission’s work.
In the light of the presentations of the two Co-Chairmen, an intense and fruitful discussion followed. There were also separate meetings of the families to discuss the remaining issues from the perspective of each family as well as to find the common way forward.
Following are some of the proposals, recommendations and concerns expressed by the working group.
1. Gratefully acknowledging the guidance of the Holy Spirit so far in the work of the Joint Commission, the working group called for the continuation of the dialogue in all earnestness and for a formal meeting of the full Commission at an appropriate time at the earliest.
2. While acknowledging the good work of the Sub-Committees on theological, canonical, liturgical and pastoral issues, the working group recognized that some Churches raised some serious issues that require further clarification such as lifting of anathemas, common enumeration of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, mutual recognition of Saints and some questions on Christology. Some solutions to these issues have also been proposed in the Sub-Committees, but they need to be communicated effectively to the clergy, monks, schools of theology and people on both sides to arrive at a consensus.
The working group expressed deep concern over the situation of our Churches especially in the Middle East. It appealed to the international community and to all concerned for the release of the two abducted Bishops, Metropolitan Mor Gregorios Youhanna Ibrahim and Metropolitan Boulos Yasigi. The group felt that the situation of Christianity today urgently necessitates Orthodox unity and the promoting of a healthy interfaith dialogue.
It was noted that three local Churches from the Orthodox family (Alexandria, Antioch and Romania) and three Churches from the Oriental Orthodox family (Alexandria, Antioch and Malankara-India), had already declared their acceptance of the agreed statements and proposals from the Joint Commission. The working group that met in the 50th year of the first unofficial dialogue meeting between the Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox took place in Aarhus, Denmark, 1964. Hence, in the spirit of jubilee the group called for liberation from the misapprehensions and separations of the past, while praying for the joyful common celebration of our life together in Jesus Christ our Saviour in mutual forgiveness, reconciliation and communion in love and truth for the glory of the Triune God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
LIST OF PARTICIPANTS
His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France
7, rue Georges Bizet
75116 Paris, France
+ 33 1 47 20 82 35
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria
Rev. Father Nikolaos Koulianopoulos
11364 Athens, Greece
+30 69 36 57 71 00
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East
His Eminence Metropolitan Basilyos of Arcadia
Archevêché Grec Orthodoxe
Halba – Ashichtaba, Lebanon
+ 961 3 228 922
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem
His Eminence Archbishop of Constantina Aristarchos
P.O. Box 14234
Jerusalem 91140, Israel
+ 97226274941office, +972522375702 mobile
Rev. Archimandrite Damianos (accompanying)
Exarch of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem in Greece
10556 Athens, Greece
+ 210 3225810
Russian Orthodox Church
Rev. Hieromonk Stefan Igumnov
Danilovsky val, 22
+ 7 495 63 38 409
Serbian Orthodox Church
His Grace Bishop David Perovic
37000 Krusevac, Serbia
Protodeacon Andrija Jelic (accompanying)
37000 Krusevac, Serbia
Romanian Orthodox Church
His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph of Western and Southern Europe
1, Bd. Du Général Leclerc
91470 Limours, France
+33 1 64 91 59 24
Church of Cyprus
His Excellence Bishop Christophoros of Karpasia
Iera Archiepiscopi Kyprou
P.O. Box 21130
1502 Levkosia, Cyprus
+ 357 22 55 46 03
Rev. Archimandrite Gregorios Ioannidis (accompanying)
Iera Mitropoli Trimithountos
2550 Idalion, Cyprus
+ 357 22 527 000
Church of Greece
His Eminence Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Peristerion
Ethnikis Antistaseos 96 kai Khalkokondyli
12135 Peristeri, Greece
+ 30 210 57 19 777
Prof. Vlassios Pheidas
former co-secretary Joint Commission of the Theological Dialogue
16672 Varkiza, Greece
+30 210 8973437
ORIENTAL ORTHODOX CHURCHES
Coptic Orthodox Church
His Eminence Metropolitan Anba Bishoy
Coptic Orthodox Cathedral of St. Mark
Ramses street – Abasia
+ 20 122 33 23 134 office, +201222108199 mobile
Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch
V. Rev. Fr. Roger-Youssef Akhrass
Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate
POBox: 22260 Bab Touma, Damascus, Syria
Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church – Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin
His Eminence Archbishop Yeznik Petrosyan
Catholicosate of all Armenians
Vagharshapat 1101, Amenia
+374 10 517 170
Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church – Holy See of Cilicia
His Eminence Archbishop of Tehran Sebouh Sarkissian
Holy See of Cilicia
+ 961 4 410 001
Rev. Archimandrite Housig Mardirossian (accompanying)
Holy See of Cilicia
+ 961 4 410 001/3
Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church
Rev. Father K. M. George
+ 91 9447598671
Rev. Father Maximos Pafilis
Mrs Catherine Tsavdaridou
OCP News Service