Ever since the second decade of our century, representatives of our Orthodox Churches, some accepting seven ecumenical councils and others accepting three, have often met in ecumenical gatherings. The desire to know each other and restore our unity in the one Church of Christ has been growing all these years. Our meeting together in Rhodos at the Pan-Orthodox Conference in 1961 confirmed this desire.
Out of this has come about our unofficial gathering of fifteen theologians from both sides, for three days of informal conversation, in connection with the meeting of the Faith and Order Commission in Aarhus, Denmark.
We have spoken to each other in the openness of charity and with the conviction of truth. All of us have learned from each other. Our inherited misunderstandings have begun to clear up. We recognize in each other the one Orthodox faith of the Church. Fifteen centuries of alienation have not led us astray from the faith of our fathers.
In our common study of the Council of Chalcedon, the well known phrase used by our common father in Christ, St. Cyril of Alexandria, mia physis (or mia hypostasis) tou Theou Logou sesarkomene (the one physis or hypostasis of God’s word incarnate), with its implications, was at the centre of our conversations. On the essence of the Christological dogma we found ourselves in a full agreement. Through the different terminologies used by each side, we saw the same truth expressed. Since we agree in rejecting without reservation the teaching of Eutyches as well as of Nestorius, the acceptance or non-acceptance of the Council of Chalcedon does not entail the acceptance of either heresy. Both sides found themselves fundamentally following the Christological teaching of the one undivided Church as expressed by St. Cyril. The Council of Chalcedon (451), we realized, can only be understood as reaffirming the decisions of Ephesus (431), and best understood in the light of the later Council of Constantinople (553). All councils, we have recognized, have to be seen as stages in an integral development and no council or event should be studied in isolation.
The significant role of political, sociological, and cultural factors in creating tension between factions in the past should be recognized and studied together. They should not, however, continue to divide us.
We see the need to move forward together. The issue at stake is of crucial importance to all Churches in the East and West alike and for the unity of the whole Church of Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit, who indwells the Church of Jesus Christ, will lead us together to the fullness of truth and love. To that end we respectfully submit to our Churches the fruit of our common work of three days together. Many practical problems remain, but the same spirit who led us together here will, we believe, continue to lead our Churches to a common solution of these.
After two decades of unofficial theological consultations and meetings (1964-85), moved forward by the reconciling grace of Holy Spirit, we, the representatives of the two families of the Orthodox tradition, were delegated by our Churches in their faithfulness to the Holy Trinity, and out of their concern for the unity of the Body of Jesus Christ, to take up our theological dialogue on an official level.
We thank God, the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, for granting us the fraternal spirit of the love and the understanding which dominated our meeting throughout.
The first part of our discussions centered on the appellation of the two families in our dialogue. Some discussion was also devoted to the four unofficial consultations of Aarhus (1964), Bristol (1967), Geneva (1970), and Addis Ababa (1971). It was thought that the studies and “agreed statements” of these unofficial consultations as well as the studies of our theologians could provide useful material for our official dialogue.
A concrete form of methodology to be followed in our dialogue was adopted by the Joint Commission. A Joint Sub-Committee of six theologians was set up, three from each side, with the mandate to prepare common texts for our future work.
For the next meetings, whose aim would be to re-discover our common grounds in Christology and ecclesiology, the following main theme and subsequent sub-themes were agreed upon:
Towards a common Christology:
Special thanks were expressed to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for convening this official dialogue, as well as for the services and facilities which were offered for our first meeting here in Chambésy, Geneva, at the Orthodox Church.
We hope that the faithful of our Churches will pray with us for the continuation and success of our work.
Prof. Dr. Chrysostomos Konstantinidis
Metropolitan of Myra
Coptic Orthodox Church
The second meeting of the Joint Commission of the Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches took place at the Anba Bishoy Monastery in Wadi-El-Natroun, Egypt from June 20th to 24th, 1989.
The official representative of the two families of the Orthodox Churches met in an atmosphere of warm cordiality and Christian brotherhood for four days at the guest house of the Patriarchal Residence at the Monastery, and experienced the gracious hospitality and kindness of the Coptic Orthodox Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and his Church.
His Holiness Pope and Patriarch Shenouda addressed the opening session of the meeting and appealed to the participants to find a way to restore communion between the two families of the Churches. The participants also traveled to Cairo to listen to the weekly address of Pope Shenouda to the thousands of the faithful in the Great Cathedral of Cairo. Pope Shenouda also received the participants in his residence later.
The twenty-three participants came from thirteen countries and represented thirteen Churches. The main item for consideration was the report of the Joint Sub-Committee of six theologians on the problems of terminology and interpretation of Christological dogmas today. The meetings were co-chaired by his Eminence Metropolitan Damaskinos of Switzerland and His Grace Bishop Bishoy of Damiette. In his response to Pope Shenouda, Metropolitan Damaskinos appealed to the participants to overcome the difficulties caused by differences of formulation. Words should serve and express the essence, which is our common search for restoration of full communion. “This division is an anomaly, a bleeding wound in the body of Christ, a wound which according to His wills that we humbly serve, must be healed.”
A small drafting group composed of Metropolitan Paulos Mar Gregorios of New Delhi, Professor Vlassios Phidas, Prof. Fr. John Romanides, Prof. Dimitroff, and Mr. Joseph Moris Faltas produced a brief statement of faith based on the report of the Joint Sub-Committee, in which the common Christological convictions of the two sides were expressed. This statement, after certain modifications, was adopted by the Joint Commission for transmission to our Churches, for their approval as an expression for our common faith, on the way to restoration of full communion between the two families of Churches. The statement follows:
We have inherited from our fathers in Christ the one apostolic faith and tradition, though as Churches we have been separated from each other for centuries. As two families of Orthodox Churches long out of communion with each other we now pray and trust in God to restore that communion on the basis of common apostolic faith of the undivided Church of the first centuries which we confess in our common creed. What follows is a simple reverent statement of what we do believe, on our way to restore communion between our two families of Orthodox Churches.
Throughout our discussions we have found our common ground in the formula of our common father, St. Cyril of Alexandria, and his dictum that “it is sufficient for the confession of our true and irreproachable faith to say and to confess that the Holy Virgin is Theotokos” (Hom: 15, cf. Ep. 39).
Great indeed is the wonderful mystery of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one True God, one ousia in three hypostases or three prosopa. Blessed be the Name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.
Great indeed is also the ineffable mystery of the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, for us and our salvation.
The Logos, eternally consubstantial with the Father and the Holy Spirit in His Divinity, has in these last days become incarnate of the Holy Spirit and Blessed Virgin Mary Theotokos, and thus became man, consubstantial with us in His humanity but without sin. He is true God and true man at the same time, perfect in His Divinity, perfect in His humanity. Because the One she bore in her womb was at the same time fully God as well as fully human, we call her the Blessed Virgin Theotokos.
When we speak of the one composite hypostasis of our Lord Jesus Christ, we do not say that in Him a divine hypostasis came together. It is that the one eternal hypostasis of the Second Person of the Trinity has assumed our created human nature in that act uniting it with His own uncreated divine nature, to form an inseparably united real divine-human being, the natures being distinguished from each other in contemplation only.
The hypostasis of the Logos before the Incarnation, even with His divine nature, is of course not composite. The same hypostasis, as distinct from nature, of the Incarnate Logos is not composite either. The unique theandric person of Jesus Christ is one eternal hypostasis who has assumed human nature by Incarnation. So we call that hypostasis composite, on account of the natures which are united to form one composite unity. It is not the case that our fathers used physis and hypostasis always interchangeably and confused the one with the other. The term hypostasis can be used to denote both the person as distinct from nature, and also the person with the nature, for a hypostasis never in fact exists without a nature.
It is the same hypostasis of the Second Person of the Trinity, eternally begotten from the Father, who in these last days became a human being and was born of the Blessed Virgin. This is the mystery of the hypostatic union we confess in humble adoration – the real union of the divine with the human, with all the properties and functions of the uncreated divine nature, including natural will and natural energy, inseparably and unconfusedly united with the created human nature with all its properties and functions, including natural will and natural energy. It is the Logos Incarnate who is the subject of all the willing and acting of Jesus Christ.
We agree in condemning the Nestorian and Eutychian heresies. We neither separate nor divide the human nature in Christ from His divine nature, nor do we think that the former was absorbed in the latter and thus ceased to exist.
The four adverbs used to qualify the mystery of the hypostatic union belong to our common tradition – without commingling (or confusion), without change, without separation and without division. Those among us who speak of two natures in Christ do not thereby deny their inseparable, indivisible 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.
Our mutual agreement is not limited to Christology, but encompasses the whole faith of the one undivided Church of the early centuries. 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 Joint Commission also appointed a Joint Sub-Committee for Pastoral Problems between the Churches of the two families, composed of the following ten persons:
This Joint Sub-Committee will have its first meeting from December 5th to 9th in Anba Bishoy Monastery and will prepare a report for the next meeting of the Joint Commission.
It was also decided that the next meeting of the Joint Commission would be held in September 1990 at Chambésy, Geneva, to consider:
It was also decided that the name of the Joint Commission would be the Joint Commission of the Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches.
The third meeting of the Joint Commission of the Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches took place at the Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Chambésy, Geneva, from September 23rd to 28th, 1990.
The official representatives of the two families of the Orthodox Churches and their advisors met in an atmosphere of prayerful waiting on the Holy Spirit and warm, cordial, Christian brotherly affection. We experienced the gracious and generous hospitality of His Holiness Patriarch Dimitrios I, through His Eminence Metropolitan Damaskinos of Switzerland in the Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. We were also received at two grand receptions, one at the residence of Metropolitan Damaskinos and the other at the residence of His Excellency Mr. Kerkinos, the ambassador of Greece to the United Nations, and Mrs. Kerkinos.
The thirty-four participants came from Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, Greece, India, Lebanon, Poland, Switzerland, Syria, U.K., U.S.A., U.S.S.R., and Yugoslavia. The six days of meetings were co-chaired by His Eminence Metropolitan Damaskinos of Switzerland and His Grace Metropolitan Bishoy of Damiette. His Eminence Metropolitan Damaskinos in his inaugural address exhorted the participants to “work in a spirit of humility, brotherly love and recognition” so that “the Lord of Faith and Head of His Church” will guide us by the Holy Spirit on the speedier way towards unity and communion.
The meeting received two reports, one from its Theological Sub-Committee, which met at the Orthodox Center, Chambésy, and the other from its Sub-Committee on Pastoral Relations, which met at the Anba Bishoy Monastery, Egypt. The following papers, which had been presented to the Theological Sub-Committee, were distributed to the participants:
The six papers and the two Sub-Committee reports, along with the “Summary of Conclusions” of the Fourth Unofficial Conversation at Addis Ababa which was appended to the reports of the Theological Sub-Committee, formed the basis of our intensive and friendly discussion on the issues and actions to be taken. A drafting committee composed of Metropolitan George Khodr, Metrolpolitan Paulos Mar Gregorios, Archbishop Keshishian, Archbishop Garma, Rev. Prof. John Romanides, Metropolitan Matta Mar Eustathius, Prof. Ivan Dimitrov, with Prof. V. Phidas and Bishop Krikorian as co-secretaries, produced the draft for the Second Agreed Statement and Recommendations to Churches. Another drafting committee composed of Prof. Papavassiliou, Bishop Christoforos, Metropolitan Paulos Mar Gregorios and Liqaselttanat Habtemariam, with Fr. Dr. George Dragas as secretary, produced the draft for the Recommendations on Pastoral Issues.
The following is the text of the unanimously approved Second Agreed Statement and Recommendations.
Second Agreed Statement and Recommendations to the Churches
The first Agreed Statement on Christology adopted by the Joint Commission of the Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, at our historic meeting at the Anba Bishoy Monastary, Egypt, from 20th to 24th June1989, forms the basis of this Second Agreed Statement on the following affirmations of our common faith and understanding, and recommendations on steps to be taken for the communion of our two families of Churches in Jesus Christ our Lord, who prayed “that they all may be one.”
ACT OF CANONICAL COMMUNION
(Agreement between ROCR and the Russian Orthodox Church)
We, the humble Alexy II, by God’s mercy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, jointly with the Eminent Members of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, having gathered at a meeting of the Holy Synod (date) in the God-preserved city of Moscow; and the humble Laurus, Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, jointly with the Eminent Bishops, members of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, having gathered (time, place);
Being guided by the effort towards reestablishing blessed peace, Divinely-decreed love, and brotherly unity in the common work in the harvest-fields of God within the Fullness of the Russian Orthodox Church and her faithful in the Fatherland and abroad, taking into consideration the ecclesiastical life of the Russian diaspora outside the canonical borders of the Moscow Patriarchate, as dictated by history;
Taking into account that the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia performs its service on the territories of many nations;
By this Act declare:
By this Act, canonical communion within the Local Russian Orthodox Church is hereby restored.
Acts issued previously which preclude the fullness of canonical communion are hereby deemed invalid or obsolete.
The reestablishment of canonical communion will serve, God willing, towards the strengthening of the unity of the Church of Christ, of her witness in the contemporary world, promoting the fulfillment of the will of the Lord to “gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad” (John 11:52).
Let us bring thanks to All-Merciful God, Who through His omnipotent hand directed us to the path of healing the wounds of division and led us to the desired unity of the Russian Church in the homeland and abroad, to the glory of His Holy Name and to the good of His Holy Church and Her faithful flock. Through the prayers of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, may the Lord grant His blessing to the One Russian Church and Her flock both in the fatherland and in the diaspora.
17 / 05 / 07
Source : http://www.pravoslavie.ru/enarticles/070517113937
Following is the text of the joint Catholic-Orthodox declaration, approved by Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople, read simultaneously (Dec. 7) at a public meeting of the ecumenical council in Rome and at a special ceremony in Istanbul. The declaration concerns the Catholic-Orthodox exchange of excommunications in 1054.
Through the action of the Holy Spirit those differences will be overcome through cleansing of hearts, through regret for historical wrongs, and through an efficacious determination to arrive at a common understanding and expression of the faith of the Apostles and its demands.
They hope, nevertheless, that this act will be pleasing to God, who is prompt to pardon us when we pardon each other. They hope that the whole Christian world, especially the entire Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church will appreciate this gesture as an expression of a sincere desire shared in common for reconciliation, and as an invitation to follow out in a spirit of trust, esteem and mutual charity the dialogue which, with Gods help, will lead to living together again, for the greater good of souls and the coming of the kingdom of God, in that full communion of faith, fraternal accord and sacramental life which existed among them during the first thousand years of the life of the Church.
Ever since the second decade of our century representatives of our orthodox churches, some accepting seven ecumenical councils and others accepting three, have often met in ecumenical gatherings. The desire to know each other and to restore our unity in the one church of Christ has been growing all these years. Our meeting together in Rhodes at the Pan-Orthodox Conference of 1961 confirmed this desire.
Out of this has come about the our unofficial gathering of fifteen theologians from both sides, for three days of informal conversations, in connection with the meeting of the Faith and Order Commission in Aarhus, Denmark.
We have spoken to each other in the openness of charity and with the conviction of truth. All of us have learned from each other. Our inherited misunderstandings have begun to clear up. We recognize in each other the one orthodox faith of the church. Fifteen centuries of alienation have not led us astray from the faith of our fathers.
In our common study of the council of Chalcedon, the well-known phrase used by our common father in Christ, St. Cyril of Alexandria, mia physis ( or mia hypostasis) tou Theou logou sesarkomene ( the one physis or hypostasis of God’s Word Incarnate) with its implications, was at the center of our conversations. On the essence of Christological dogma we found ourselves in full agreement. Through the different terminologies used by each side, we saw the same truth expressed. Since we agree in rejecting without reservation the teaching of Eutyches as well as of Nestorius, the acceptance or non-acceptance of the Council of Chalcedon does not entail the acceptance of either heresy. Both sides found themselves fundamentally following the Christological teaching of the one undivided church as expressed by St. Cyril.
The council of Chalcedon (451), we realize, can only be understood as reaffirming the decisions of Ephesus (431), and best understood in the light of the later Council of Constantinople (533). All councils, we recognize, have to be seen as stages in an integral development and no council or document should be studied in isolation.
The significant role of political, sociological and cultural factors in creating tension between factions in the past should be recognized and studied together. They should not, however, continue to divide us.
We see the need to move forward together. The issue at stake is of crucial importance to all churches in the East and West alike and for the unity of the whole Church of Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit, Who indwells the Church of Jesus Christ, will lead us together to the fullness of truth and of love. To that end we respectfully submit to our churches the fruit of our common work of three days together. Many practical problems remain, but the same Spirit Who led us together here will, we believe, continue to lead our churches to a common solution of these.
His Grace Bishop Emilianos of Meloa, Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
The Very Rev. Professor G. Florovsky, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North & South America- The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
The Very Rev. Professor J. S. Romanides, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North & South America- The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
The Very Rev. Professor Vitaly Borovoy, Russian Orthodox Church
The Rev. Professor J. Meyendorff, Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of North America
Professor J. Karmiris, Church of Greece
Professor G. Konidaris, Church of Greece
His Grace Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan, Armenian Apostolic Church
His Grace Bishop Karekin Sarkissian, Armenian Apostolic Church. Catholicate of Cilicia
His Grace Archbishop Mar Severius Zakka Iwas of Mosul, Syrian Orthodox Church
His Grace Metropolitan Mar Thoma Dionysius of Niranam, Orthodox Syrian Church of the East
The Very Rev. Like Siltanat Habte Mariam Woroqineh, Ethiopian Orthodox Church
The Rev. Professor V.C. Samuel, Orthodox Syrian Church of the East
Dr. Karam Nazir Khella, Coptic Orthodox Church
Dr. Getachew Haile, Ethiopian Orthodox Church
August 14, 1964