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“The split of the Christian church is a big mistake, a blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and an ignoring of the existence of Christ who promised: “… the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” (Mt 16:18) I invite you to stand before history for a moment to see the reason for our divisions. You will see that thousands of innocents have shed blood, righteous men have suffered and been expelled from their countries. We thank God that Christian churches in this generation have begun to feel the necessity of continuing the Christian dialogue and as a result they have drawn closer to each other and planned for continuous meetings at various levels to study different subjects. The unity of Christianity can only happen in and around Christ, who is the head of the Church and we with all our doctrines are only parts of the holy body of Christ.
Satan is still at work. He brings about disturbances, constantly encourages new splits and wants from that the division of the body of Christ which is the Church. We have to be careful. Politics usually uses religion to reach its worldly goals. We should limit our talks to spiritual themes because the kingdom of Christ is not of this world. We do not want the unity of Christianity to fight against other religions. Instead we want unity to reach our goal more quickly; that is the constructive dialogue with others who believe in God and here especially with the Muslims with whom we share one homeland. Let us learn from history. Let us avoid what splits us. Let us walk the way that leads to a better understanding, to a life in which love and peace rule.”
H.H. Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch, speaking at the University of Humboldt, Berlin on May 16, 1995
“When I had given much thought and pondered on the matter, I became convinced that these quarrels among the different Christian Churches are not a matter of factual substance, but of words and terminology; for they all confess Christ our Lord to be perfect God and perfect human, without any commingling, mixing, or confusion of the natures… Thus I saw all the Christian communities, with their different christological positions, as possessing a single common ground that is without any difference between them.”
Maphryono (Catholicos) Mor Gregorius Bar ‘Ebroyo (Book of the Dove, Chapter IV) (1226 – 1286)
“…we realize more and more clearly how the integrity and purity of the Christian faith was constantly expressed through the whole sacramental life of the Church on both sides, in the Churches which accept Chalcedon and its formulations and in the Churches which reject the Council of Chalcedon but have other ways of expressing the same incarnational faith.”
“Generally speaking in the past, polemics have dominated the relationship between the two groups of Churches. The self-defensive, self-justifying tendency and method, with the natural implication of mutual condemnation, have prevailed in the conversations that have taken place. Fresh attempts at a deeper understanding of each other’s positions as expressed in the post-Chalcedonian theological tradition may greatly help us in our search for the recovery of the unity of the Eastern Churches.”
+ Archbishop Karekin Sarkissian, The Council of Chalcedon and the Armenian Church, 2nd Edition (New York: The Armenian Church Prelacy, 1975) 217-218.
Protocol No. 1222
To: His Eminence Bishoy Metropolitan of Damiette
Secretary of the Holy Synod Coptic Orthodox Church
Alexandria, 9 March 2006
It is with great joy that I received your Emincnce and Abuna Cherubim, the Vicar of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III in Alexandria, in my office today, the 9th day of March 2000.
We take this opportunity to correct and clarify some issues regarding an interview published on April 28, 2005 in the ‘Al-Ahram Weekly’ newspaper no 740. It was stated that the Copts are monophysites and that they believe in one nature in the person of Christ and that nature is divine. The reality is that going back to the official theological dialogue between the two families and the second agreed statement & recommendations to the Churches published after the third meeting of the Joint Commission (Geneva. September 23-28, 1990), the Coptic Orthodox Church believe that Jesus Christ is fully Divine and fully Human in His nature and that in the union of His Divinity and Humanity the two natures continue to exist in the union without confusion, without change, without division and without seperation. The term ‘monophysite’ is not likely used by the Oriental Orthodox Churches. It is more likely to use the term ’miaphysite’ because they believe in a united one incarnate nature.
We appreciate too much the presence His Holiness Pope Shenouda III in our enthronement (October 24, 2004) and also in the enthronement of the late Patriarch Petros VII (March 9, 1997) and We encourage and support the continuation of our warm and strong relationship and mutual respect since our Churches have worked sincerely in the efforts of the theological dialogue between the two families of the Orthodox Churches.
We are looking toward for our meeting with Pope Shenouda in the course of the exchange of our brotherly visits, we pray and beseech the blessings and protection of our Lord Jesus Christ and wish that He will grant you strength, hope, courage and a fruitful deaconate for the glory of His Name and the sake and benefit of the flock and duties entrusted to your Eminence.
In Christ and with Patriarchal blessings,
Pope & Patriarch of Alexandria & All Africa
“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