This site is intended to mirror some of the important content and documents found in http://www.orthodoxunity.org . Since September 2013, http://www.orthodoxunity.org is no longer being maintained and updated, and the website no longer has the documents for quick reference. To remedy this an archive of the website was retrieved from the WayBackMachine (http://web.archive.org/web/20130621135603/http://orthodoxunity.org/). Other documents have also been added for reference.
May the documents here help inform lay people, theologians, clergy and our Hierarchs about the Orthodox Joint Commission, and encourage both Orthodox families to pray and try to work together in mission, prayer, love and truth. Amen.
From: David L. Edwards “Christianity: the First Two Thousands Years” (London: Cassell [Continuum International Publishing Group] 1997) 148.
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During the past thirty years there have been numerous meetings and conferences of Coptic churchmen with the hierarchs of the Byzantine Orthodox churches. A Coptic delegation was invited to observe at the Pan-Orthodox Conference at Rhodes in September 1961. For the millenial celebrations of the monastic Republic of Haghion Oros, Pope Cyril VI sent Bishop Shenuda to represent the Coptic Church. In October 1972, Shenuda III, now pope, paid a visit to the orthodox patriarchs of Moscow, Constantinople, Bucharest, Tbilisi, and the Armenian catholicus in Yerevan.
Important for the ecumenical dialogue between the Coptic Church and the Byzantine churches were the four unofficial consultations of theologians of the two Orthodox families in Arhus (1964), Bristol (1967), Geneva (1970), and Addis Ababa (1971). The first official Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches took place in Chambesy, near Geneva, December 10-15, 1985. Co-presidents of the commission were Metropolitan Bishoi of Damietta for the Coptic Church and Dr. Chrysostomos Konstantinides, metropolitan of Myra for the ecumenical patriarchate. The second meeting of the Joint Commission took place at the Monastery of Saint Bishoi from June 20 to June 24, 1989. The twenty-three participants came from thirteen countries and represented thirteen churches. The meetings were cochaired by Metropolitan Bishoi and Metropolitan Damaskinos of Switzerland. Agreement was reached on the christological formula of Saint Cyril of Alexandria, the famous “one nature of the incarnate Word.” Moreover, they agreed on the use of the four following adverbs to qualify the mystery of the hypostatic union belonging to a shared faith: without confusion, without change, without separation, and without division. “Those among us who speak of two natures in Christ do not thereby deny their inseparable, indivisable union; those among us who speak of one united divine-human nature in Christ do not thereby deny the continuing dynamic presence in Christ of the divine and the human, without change, without confusion. We are agreed also in our understanding of the Person and Work of God the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father alone, and is always adored with the Father and the Son.”
The third meeting of the Joint Commission of Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches took place September 23 – 28 ,1990 at the Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Geneva. At this meeting a report was received from the Joint Pastoral Subcommittee, which had met at the Monastery of Saint Bishoi from January 31 tofebruary 4, 1990. The declarations were signed by Metropolitan Damaskinos of Switzerland, Metropolitan Bishoi of Damietta, Metropolitan Petros of Axum, Mar Yuhanna Ibrahim of Aleppo, Professor V. Phidas, and Mr. Joseph M. Faltas.
From: Otto F.A. Meinardus, “Two Thousand Year of Coptic Christianity.” (Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 1999) 127-129.
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“In doctrinal articulation…an understanding has been reached between bishops and theologians of the anti-Chalcedonian Oriental churches and the pro-Chalcedonian Eastern churches about the unity of divinity and humanity in the person of God’s incarnate Son and Word Jesus Christ. This official statement indicates that past christological disagreements and misunderstandings are settled and no theological obstacles remain to full eucharistic communion among these long-separated churches. What remains are the difficult tasks of coordinating liturgical worship, establishing appropriate organizational structures, healing painful memories, and convincing the members of these churches to accept interpretations of the original controversies in the light of the contemporary agreement. Such healing and reconciling efforts, which only come by God’s grace and a willingness to refer all judgments about the past to God alone, allow the common understanding regarding the person of Christ to bring separated churches into full ecclesial unity.”
From Fr Thomas Hopko. “Speaking the Truth in Love: Education, Mission, and Witness in Contemporary Orthodoxy.” (New York: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2004) 123.
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+ St Basil the Great, Epistle 94
“I am deeply convinced that Orthodoxy; which is the basis of every interaction between us and other Churches, is a unifying factor not a divisive one. I am also convinced that adhering to it is the right way. With love and humility, we strengthen the common factors that bind us all together. There will undoubtedly be differences, not in essentials, and this a source of propitious diversity. This shall be considered a richness to us, and not a deviation of our adherence to Christ.
These churches have differences in some details of tradition, but have one Faith and one Tradition. In the last years the whole world had seen more than one time, the participation of the Patriarchs, Bishops, Presbyters, Deacons and Laymen from these churches in one service, giving one offer for all.
These churches must play an active role with their sisters, the Chalcedonian Orthodox churches, to put one expression for the one faith concerning the nature of Christ. Their views -in their essence- have come nearer. Having done this, the Orthodox Church should devote all her power for preaching to the whole world.
“On this North American continent, where we all live together and have daily and increasing contact with one another, the sense of urgency is perhaps more pronounced than in other parts of the world. Closer contact and cooperation among Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox parishes and faithful in North America will help dispel stereotypes and false information, and will promote friendship and understanding.”
+ Archbishop Demetrios, February 28, 2006