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Oriental Orthodox-Catholic meeting concludes in Rome

31/January/2015
http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/201...tholic_meeting_concludes_in_rome/1120902

(Vatican Radio) The International Joint Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches concluded its work Friday in Rome. Their week-long discussions dealt with expressions of communion in the Early Church and ended with an audience with Pope Francis.

Speaking with Vatican Radio, Fr Mark Sheridan, a Benedictine monk now based in Jerusalem, has been a member of the dialogue since the first meeting in 2004. He explained the dialogue deals with the Orthodox Churches of the Coptic, Armenian, Syriac, Indian, Ethiopian, and Eritrean traditions and the Catholic Church. “These are the churches who did not accept the statements of the council of Chalcedon in 5th century that professed that Christ was one person with two natures, a human and divine”, he said.

A separate dialogue deals with relations between the Orthodox Churches of the Byzantine tradition.

Fr Sheridan commented on the Pope’s most recent statements regarding ecumenical dialogue. “One could get lost in the things that are not of the greatest importance. This is a very wise observation [on the Pope’s part]. We, in the Catholic Church, distinguish between a hierarchy of doctrines and teachings. there can be great variety in expression of teaching while agreeing on the basics,” he said.

Fr Sheridan noted two important statements of the pope during his discourse in the Church of St. George in Istanbul, that the Catholic Church did not seek subordination of the other churches. He also said the only terms of reunion would be the acceptance of the creed.

The commission completed a document this week entitled, “The Exercise of Communion in the Life of the Early Church and its Implications for our Search for Communion Today” and presented the document to Pope Francis. Summarizing the document, Fr Sheridan noted six ways that the Early Church communicated and expressed communion in the first five centuries, including letters and visits both formal and informal, synods and councils, prayer, a shared veneration of common martyrs and saints, the spread of monasticism, and pilgrimages.

“In all these Churches, there was a great deal of communication and sharing”, he said.

Fr Sheridan said the members of the joint commission e want the public to know about their work. “All these Churches are very important in the history and diffusion of Christianity. In the Catholic Church there is not just the Latin Church, we also have also [Eastern] Catholic Churches…the Church is a many-splendored thing and its splendor is reflected in all of these Churches. We are working for Christian unity and would like the rest of the Church to know about it.”

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Pope Francis: spirit of fraternity with Oriental Orthodox

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Pope Francis with Oriental Orthodox leaders at the Vatican - OSS_ROM

30/January/2015
http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/201...raternity_with_oriental_orthodox/1120750

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday received the participants in a meeting -this week - of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches.

The Oriental Orthodox Churches those Orthodox Eastern Christian churches which recognize only the first three ecumenical councils, and rejected the formulae of the Council of Chalcedon, at which certain central Christological doctrines were dogmatically defined, most especially the dual nature – fully divine and fully human, perfectly united though without mixing, blending or alteration – of Christ.

In remarks prepared for the occasion and delivered during the noon audience in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican, Pope Francis praised the progress of the Commission in its dozen years of work, and called on all participants to continue their journey in a spirit of brotherhood. “I express my hope that this work will bear rich fruit for our common theological research and help us to experience ever more fully our fraternal friendship,” the Holy Father said.

Pope Francis went on to note, with, “dismay and deep sadness,” the ongoing conflicts and crises in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Syria. “I join you,” he said, “in praying for a negotiated solution and in imploring God’s goodness and mercy upon all those affected by this immense tragedy.” The Holy Father continued, saying, “All Christians are called to work together, in mutual acceptance and trust, in order to serve the cause of peace and justice. May the intercession and example of the many martyrs and saints who have borne courageous witness to Christ in all our Churches sustain and strengthen you and your Christian communities.”

Pope Francis concluded his remarks by thanking the participants for their visit, invoking the Lord’s blessings and the maternal protection of Mary on their ministry, and asking in turn for their continued prayers for him.

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Pope to Oriental Orthodox: common witness of suffering

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Pope Francis with Oriental Orthodox dialogue commission - OSS_ROM

30/January/2015
http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/201...odox_common_witness_of_suffering/1120739

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday received the participants in a meeting - this week - of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. Below, please find the official English text of the Holy Father's remarks.

******************************************

Dear Brothers in Christ,

With great joy I welcome you, the members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. Through you, I offer fraternal greetings to my venerable brothers, the heads of the Oriental Orthodox Churches. I thank His Eminence Anba Bishoy, Co-President of the Commission, for his kind words.

It is gratifying to reflect on the work of your Commission, which began in January 2003 as a joint initiative of the ecclesiastical authorities of the family of the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. In the last ten years the Commission has examined from an historical perspective the ways in which the Churches expressed their communion in the early centuries, and what this can mean for our pursuit of communion today. In the course of this week’s meeting you have also embarked upon a deeper examination of your work on the nature of the sacraments, and of baptism in particular. I express my hope that this work will bear rich fruit for our common theological research and help us to experience ever more fully our fraternal friendship.

With deep appreciation I recall the inspiring commitment to dialogue shown by His Holiness Ignatius Zakka Iwas, Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East, who died this past year. Together with you and his own clergy and faithful, I pray for the eternal rest of this dedicated servant of God.

At this time we especially feel dismay and deep sadness at what is happening in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Syria. I think of all those living in the region, including our Christian brothers and sisters, and many minorities, who are experiencing the effects of a prolonged and painful conflict. I join you in praying for a negotiated solution and in imploring God’s goodness and mercy upon all those affected by this immense tragedy. All Christians are called to work together, in mutual acceptance and trust, in order to serve the cause of peace and justice. May the intercession and example of the many martyrs and saints who have borne courageous witness to Christ in all our Churches sustain and strengthen you and your Christian communities.

Dear brothers, I thank you for your visit. Upon you and your ministry I invoke the Lord’s blessing and the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy. Please pray for me.

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This is all very hopeful and encouraging!

The comment that most interested me above was how ecclesial communion is expressed through the veneration of saints.

In fact, the EO-OO ecumenical commission even went so far as to suggest that full reunion between their respective Churches could be achieved simply by the mutual withdrawing of excommunications of each other's Saints and Teachers who continue to be so censured by both sides (Dioscoros and Severus on the OO side and Pope Leo and Flavian on the EO side, as examples).

Hopefully, these talks won't follow the way of others where the participating theologians are the only ones who agree with each other with no further decisive actions undertaken by their respective Church authorities.

May that not come to pass!

Alex


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. . . rejected the formulae of the Council of Chalcedon, at which certain central Christological doctrines were dogmatically defined, most especially the dual nature – fully divine and fully human, perfectly united though without mixing, blending or alteration – of Christ.

Christ is in our midst!!

So how do the OO Churches answer the question that the Catholc and EO Churches believe was settled by Chalcedon? What is their formula?

Bob

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They use St Cyril of Alexandria's "One Divine Nature of God the Word Incarnate."

This is actually accepted by Rome and Constantinople as a valid expression concerning Christ.

Also, during the discussions, both sides recognized by the OO "Nature" actually refers to "Person" on the Chalcedonian side.

Alex

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St Cyril of Alexandria's "One Divine Nature of God the Word Incarnate."

Does that mean that Christ's humanity was simply a shell in which the Divine dwelt while He was in His creation? What does that do for His saving act?

Bob

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Dear Bob,

No - what you describe is classical monophysitism and the Oriental Orthodox are "Miaphysites."

The word "Nature" in the Alexandrian tradition is like our Byzantine/Roman "Person." Their Christology follows St Cyril to the letter in that sense.

This became evident during a somewhat heated conversation on this topic during the EO-OO debate - both sides then realized they were saying the same thing and then began to focus on how it was they have been separated for 1800 years . . .

It is best to refer to their final documents for this and not rely on simple, silly me! smile

(Are you mad at me? )

Alex

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Originally Posted by Orthodox Catholic
They use St Cyril of Alexandria's "One Divine Nature of God the Word Incarnate."

This is actually accepted by Rome and Constantinople as a valid expression concerning Christ.

Also, during the discussions, both sides recognized by the OO "Nature" actually refers to "Person" on the Chalcedonian side.

Alex
I believe the formula is "One nature of God the Word Incarnate" instead of "One divine nature of God the Word Incarnate."

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Dear Athanasius,

Yes, I've seen a number of ways to phrase it e.g. "One Incarnate Nature of God the Word" i.e. "Mia Physis" from whence we get "Miaphysite."

And if we understand "Nature" to mean "Person" on the Alexandrian side - then "One Divine Nature" is entirely appropriate.

I believe St Cyril took that phrase from a theologian who was actually later condemned by the Church - but, of course, he gave it an Orthodox meaning.

Interestingly enough, Rome ONLY placed St Cyril of Alexandria in her calendar in 1882 . . .

Alex

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It is best to refer to their final documents for this and not rely on simple, silly me!

(Are you mad at me? )

Alex

No. smile I'm just trying to understand this. Too bad that people with better understandings of language hadn't been along those 1800 years ago and we might not have had to endure this separation for so long.

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Bob, it isn't only a matter of language. One of the problems was mutual suspicion. The OO were/are weary of EO Byzantinization and Imperialist tendencies (this has been almost completely muted in most places due to external political pressures - although still appears from time to time, e.g. Russia). The EO were suspicious of OO not accepting the Emperors' reach into their temporal realm, in addition, that OO would not accept the politics of the Councils accepted by the EO.

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So we have God, a Divine Person, entering His creation and taking on a human nature so that He is both God and Man without being two persons and without his humanity being a mere shell. Is this correct? So how do we speak to the OO when we have Nature being equal to Person? How do we explain the two--what we call natures--in OO terms?

Bob

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Originally Posted by theophan
How do we explain the two--what we call natures--in OO terms?


Good question, Bob.'Humanity' and 'divinity' work well enough, without specific reference to the term 'nature.' As I recall it, the joint Catholic-Coptic christological declaration put it in those terms: Both 'perfect with respect to his humanity' and 'perfect with respect to his divinity.'

Caleb

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The Athanasian Creed has the phrase, "there is One Christ" and I believe that was put in as a a contribution of the Alexandrian school.

Christ is a composite Being. He is One Person, but that Person is already Divine and the two cannot be separated. He has also taken on human nature.

The Alexandrians originally had two issues with the Byzantine perspective.

First, there were those who did not wish to admit that our Lord "shared in our humanity" as it was sinful.

They balked at the idea that Christ would take to Himself humanity from us. But they had no problem accepted that He took His Humanity from the Most Holy Mother of God - that was acceptable to them.

But then they asked, what happened to God the Son when He took on human nature? They actually rejected the idea that His Human Nature was somehow subsumed by His Divinity. But they did emphasize the deification of His Humanity as the result of the Divine Incarnation. And now we are into Theosis.

If they had, at any time, taught that Christ's Humanity "became Divinity" as the result of the Incarnation - then they would indeed have been espousing monophysitism.

Alex

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