Catholic-Oriental Orthodox Book Launch

Bishop Angaelos and Archbishop McDonald with the book (Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk)

Two weeks ago the Roman Catholic and Oriental Orthodox Churches released a landmark book focusing on the areas of theological agreement between themselves. The book, which can be downloaded for free, is simply entitled “Joint Statements” and addresses various issues under four main areas:

  1. The Mystery of the Church
    • The Holy Trinity and the Church as Communion
    • The Attributes of the Church
    • Growing Towards Full Communion
    • Point for Further Study and Discussion
  2. Bishops in Apostolic Succession
    • Bishops
    • Apostolic Succession
  3. Synodality/Collegiality and Primacies
    • Local/Diocesan Churches and Their Bishops
    • Relationship Between Synodality, Conciliarity and Primacies
    • Ecclesiological Meaning of Synods and Councils
    • Point for Further Study and Discussion
  4. The Mission of the Church

The publication of this book is made even more phenomenal and meaningful due to the history of these two major branches of Christianity. They officially  separated from each other at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD when the bishops of Rome and Constantinople excommunicated the bishops of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem for not agreeing with them on how to describe the divine and human nature of Jesus. The excommunicated bishops went on to form six national Oriental Orthodox churches: Coptic Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, Eritrean Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (India) and Armenian Apostolic churches.

Sadly enough this split within Christianity was only partly about theology as the primary issue at state during the firth century was a political  power struggle between bishops. In fact, in 1984 the Syriac Patriarch Mar Ignatius Zakka I Iwas and the Pope John Paul II released the following statement:

“The confusions and schisms that occurred between their Churches in the later centuries, they realize today, in no way affect or touch the substance of their faith, since these arose only because of differences in terminology and culture and in the various formulae adopted by different theological schools to express the same matter. Accordingly, we find today no real basis for the sad divisions and schisms that subsequently arose between us concerning the doctrine of Incarnation. In words and life we confess the true doctrine concerning Christ our Lord, notwithstanding the differences in interpretation of such a doctrine which arose at the time of the Council of Chalcedon.”

As you can see, the Lord is moving to restore unity among His people – a unity build upon love and mutual respect. Glory be to the King!

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