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Statement of the Russian Orthodox Church on the Theological Dialogue
Decisions of the Holy Synod, Moscow, Russia, December 1994
The Synod of hierarchs, having heard the report of the Theological Commission of the on the question of the Second Agreed Statement and Recommendations to Churches (1990) of the Joint Commission between the Theological Dialogue of the Orthodox Churches, presented by His Eminence Metropolitan Philaret of Minks, President of the Theological Commission, has decided:
1. To approve the report of the Synodal Theological Commission;
2. To judge that the “Second Agreed Statement and Recommendations to Churches” cannot be considered as a definitive text and that it is necessary for the Joint Commission of the Dialogue between Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches to continue its work;
3. To give the Synodal Theological Commission the task of preparing a more detailed study of the the previous meetings of theologians of both sides as well as of the discussions with the members of the theological dialogue from other Orthodox Churches. Following these steps the Russian Orthodox Church will make its opinion known to the Joint Commission of the theological dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches;
4. Having in mind the need for the People of God, who – according to the message of the Eastern Patriarchs – are the “guardian of the ancient piety”, to participate in the cause of unity, the Synod considers that the time has come for organizing a discussion of the question with the participation of the whole Church.
Statement of the Romanian Orthodox Church on the Theological Dialogue
Decisions of the Holy Synod, Bucharest, Romania, 8-9 December 1994
Following the meeting in Bucharest on the 25th October 1994 of the two co-Presidents of the Joint Commission of the Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches with the members of the Commission of the Romanian Orthodox Church for the theological dialogue between the two families of Churches, the Holy Synod of our Church, in its session of 8-9 December 1994, analyzing the conclusions of that meeting, and based on the documents elaborated during the official meetings of the Joint Commission for the dialogue, has decided:
1. To take note of and to approve the conclusions of the dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, as the result of the talks held at the Patriarchal Residence in Bucharest by the members of the Commission of the Romanian Orthodox Church for the theological dialogue with the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the two co-Presidents of the Joint Commission of the dialogue;
2. To take into consideration, on the one hand, the special context in which the anathemas were pronounced, a context which was characterised by division, by the absence of a consensus in the formulation of the confession of the faith, as well as by the absence of fraternal charity, and on the other hand, the current context in which the lifting of anathemas is discussed, and which is characterised by a spirit of reconciliation, of mutual forgiveness and of the common confession of the same content of the common faith;
3. To consider that the equivalent of the canonical authority of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon can today be represented by the consenus of the Churches organised in Holy Local Councils (national, autocephalous and autonomous), belonging to the Byzantine Orthodox family as well as to the Oriental Orthodox family. Consequently, the possibility of the real lifting of the anathemas is to be studied, through the consensus of the Holy Local Councils expressed by the signatures placed on common agreed texts, and then, by a ceremonial concelebration and Eucharistic communion of the Primates of these Churches, gathered together in a joint Orthodox conference;
4. To give the professors of Universal Church History and Patristics of the Faculties of Theology of the Romanian Orthodox Patriarchate the task of studying the results of the theological dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches with a view to revising the chapters concerning the family of the Oriental Orthodox Churches;
5. To present the results of the dialogue between the two families of Orthodox Churches to gatherings of clergy in order to inform the priests and to contribute to the creation of a favourable opinion of these results within our Church.
6. To communicate all these decisions to the Secretariat of the Joint Commission for the International Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, in Geneva.
It is our hope that the decisions taken by the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church will help to advance us on the way which is opening before us and which leads ot the fulfillment of complete communion between the two families of Orthodox Churches.
Joint Commission Of The Theological Dialogue Between The Orthodox Church And The Oriental Orthodox Churches
Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
Chambesy Geneva, Switzerland
Proposals for Lifting Anathemas (1993)
1. In the light of our Agreed Statement on Christology at St. Bishoy Monastery 1989, and of our Second Agreed Statement at Chambesy 1990, the representatives of both Church families agree that the lifting of anathemas and condemnations of the past can be consummated on the basis of their common acknowledgement of the fact that the Councils and Fathers previously anathematized or condemned are Orthodox in their teachings. In the light of our four unofficial consultations (1964, 1967, 1970, 1971) and our three official meetings which followed on (1985, 1989, 1990), we have understood that both families have loyally maintained the authentic Orthodox Christological doctrine and the unbroken continuity of the apostolic tradition, though they may have used Christological terms in different ways.
2. The lifting of the anathemas should be made unanimously and simultaneously by the Heads of all the Churches of both sides, through the signing of an appropriate ecclesiastical Act, the content of which will include acknowledgements from each side that the other one is Orthodox in all respects.
3. The lifting of the anathemas should imply :
a. that restoration of full communion for both sides is to be immediately implemented;
b. that no past condemnation, synodical or personal, against each other is applicable any more;
c. that a catalogue of Diptychs of the Heads of the Churches should be agreed upon to be used liturgically.
4. At the same time the following practical steps should be taken :
a. The Joint Sub-Committee for Pastoral issues should continue its very important task according to what had been agreed at the 1990 meeting of the Joint Commission.
b. The co-chairmen of the Joint Commission should visit the Heads of the Churches with the view to offering fuller information on the outcome of the Dialogue.
c. A Liturgical Sub-Committee should be appointed by both sides to examine the liturgical implications arising from the restoration of communion and to propose appropriate forms of concelebration.
d. Matters relating to ecclesiastical jurisdiction should be left to be arranged by the respective authorities of the local churches according to common canonical and synodical principles.
e. The two co-chairmen of the Joint Commission with the two Secretaries of the Dialogue should make provisions for the production of appropriate literature explaining our common understanding of the Orthodox faith which has led us to overcome the divisions of the past, and also co-ordinating the work of the other Sub-Committees.
Statement of the Orthodox Church of Antioch on the Theological Dialogue
On the Relations between the Eastern and Syrian Orthodox Churches, November 1991
A Synodal and Patriarchal Letter
To All Our Children, Protected by God, of the Holy See of Antioch
You must have heard of the continuous efforts for decades by our Church with the sister Syrian Orthodox Church to foster a better knowledge and understanding of both Churches, whether on the dogmatic or pastoral level. These attempts are nothing but a natural expression that the Orthodox Churches, and especially those within the Holy See of Antioch, are called to articulate the will of the Lord that all may be obe, just as the Son is One with the Heavenly Father (John 10:30).
It is our duty and that of our brothers in the Syrian Orthodox Church to witness to Christ in our Eastern region where He was born, preached, suffered, was buried and rose from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and sent down His Holy and Life Giving Spirit upon His holy Apostles.
All the meetings, the fellowship, the oral and written declarations meant that we belong to One Faith even though history had manifested our division more than the aspects of our unity.
All this has called upon our Holy Synod of Antioch to bear witness to the progress of our Church in the See of Antioch towards unity that preserves for each Church its authentic Oriental heritage whereby the one Antiochean Church benefits from its sister Church and is enriched in its traditions, literature and holy rituals.
Every endeavour and pursuit in the direction of the coming together of the two Churches is based on the conviction that this orientation is from the Holy Spirit, and it will give the Eastern Orthodox image more light and radiance, that it has lacked for centuries before.
Having recognised the efforts done in the direction of unity between the two Churches, and being convinced that this direction was inspired by the Holy Spirit and projects a radiant image of Eastern Christanity overshadowed during centuries, the Holy Synod of the Church of Antioch saw the need to give a concrete expression of the close fellowship between the two Churches, the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Eastern Orthodox for the edification of their faithful.
Thus, the following decisions were taken:
1. We affirm the total and mutual respect of the spirituality, heritage and Holy Fathers of both Churches. The integrity of both the Byzantine and Syriac liturgies is to be preserved.
2. The heritage of the Fathers in both Churches and their traditions as a whole should be integrated into Christian education curricula and theological studies. Exchanges of professors and students are to be enhanced.
3. Both Churches shall refrain from accepting any faithful from accepting any faithful from one Church into the membership of the other, irrespective of all motivations or reasons.
4. Meetings between the two Churches, at the level of their Synods, according to the will of the two Churches, will be held whenever the need arsies.
5. Every Church will remain the reference and authority for its faithful, pertaining to matters of persoanl status (marriage, divorce, adoption etc.).
6. If bishops of the two Churches participate at a holy baptism or funeral service, the one belonging to the Church of the baptized or deceased will preside. In case of a holy matrimony service, the bishop of the bridegroom’s Church will preside.
7. The above mentioned is not applicable to the concelebration in the Divine Liturgy.
8. What applies to bishops equally applies to the priests of both Churches.
9. In localities where there is only one priest, from either Church, he will celebrate services for the faithful of both Churches, including the Divien Liturgy, pastoral duties, and holy matrimony. He will keep an independent record for each Church and transmit that of the sister Church to its authorities.
10. If two priests of the two Churches happen to be in a locality where there is only one Church, they take turns in making use of its facilities.
11. If a bishop from one Church and a priest from the sister Church happen to concelebrate a service, the first will preside even when it is the priest’s parish.
12. Ordinations into the holy orders are performed by the authorities of each Church for its own members. It would be advisable to invite the faithful of the sister Church to attend.
13. Godfathers, godmothers (in baptism) and witnesses in holy matrimony can be chosen from the members of the sister Church.
14. Both Churches will exchange visits and will co-operate in the various areas of social, cultural and educational work.
We ask God’s help to continue strengthening our relations with the sister Church, and with other Churches, so that we all become one community under one Shepherd.
Patriarch Ignatios IV
SYNDEMOS Final Document
Consultation on co-operation between Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Youth Movements, 1991
We, 25 youth representatives from Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches in 11 different countries, met in St Bishoy monastery, Egypt, 20-26 May, 1991. This meetimg was made possible with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch and Pope Shenouda III and of His Holiness Patriach and Pope Parthenios III and by the gracious hospitality of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, Bishoprics of Youth, and Public, Ecumenical and Social Services.
We rejoice in the fact that our Churches haveGod’s will, in the official dialogue, “clearly understood that both families have always loyally maintained the same authentic Orthodox Christological faith, and the unbroken continuity of the Apostolic Tradition that should be the basis of our unity and communion”. (Second Agreed Statement of the Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and Oriental Orthodox Churches, Chambesy, Switzerland, 23-28 September 1990). In accordance with the recommendation on pastoral questions of this official dialogue and the resolution made by the XIII SYNDESMOS General Assembly (Boston, USA, 1989) SYNDESMOS convened this Consultation, with the aim of enabling Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox youth movements to support the imminent re-establishment of communion between our Churches.
During the Consultation we heard three presentations which provided the basis for our deliberations: Metropolitan Damaskinos of Switzerland spoke on the History and Progress of the Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches; Bishop Moussa, Coptic Orthodox Bishop for Youth, and Metropolitan George (Khodr) of Byblos and Batroun both spoke on Challenges for Co-operation of Pastoral Questions. We discussed these two themes in groups: How can SYNDESMOS support, at the youth level, the official dialogue between the two families of Churches? We shared a common worship life reflecting our varied liturgical traditions.
We agreed that youth should participate in making the official theological agreed statements an ecclesial reality. This can be achieved initially by informing our young people of the results of the official dialogue between our Churches, which, in turn, will help the Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox youth to know and love each other better, and to live their common faith together, thus preparing themselves for the restoration of communion.
We agreed to make the following recomendations:
1. That all Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox youth movements prepare their members for the imminent communion of our Churches through information, common activities and close co-operation. This is particularly important in those regions where our Churches co-exist.
2. That SYNDESMOS publish and distribute information about the official dialogue. This information could take the form of a booklet containing a short history of the Orthodox Church and Oriental Orthodox Churches and their youth movements, and a chapter summarizing the history of the dialogue between our Churches up to the recent agreed statements.
3. That SYNDESMOS actively encourage the close co-operation on a local and regional level of youth movements of both families of our Churches. This co-operation could take the form of regional and local committees, retreats with biblical and liturgical studies and discussions on these themes of Tradition and renewal.
4. That SYNDESMOS initiate a programme of contacts and exchanges between students and teachers of Theology from both families of Churches.
5. That SYNDESMOS amend its Constitution to allow Oriental Orthodox youth movements and theological schools to become full affiliate members of SYNDESMOS, thereby enabling these movements to participate fully in the decision making of SYNDESMOS.
As the Consultation concluded on the day of Pentecost, we thanked God who through His Holy Spirit had brought us together in our common Orthodox Faith, and guided us in an atmosphere of Hope and Love.