I. First Unofficial Consultation
Eastern Orthodox-Oriental Orthodox Theologians
August 11-15, 1964
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.
II. Second Unofficial Consultation
Eastern Orthodox-Oriental Orthodox Theologians
July 25-29, 1967
We give thanks to God that we have been able to come together for the second time as a study group, with the blessing of the authorities of our respective Churches. In Aarhus we discovered much common ground for seeking closer ties among our Churches. In Bristol we have found several new areas of agreement. Many questions still remain to be studied and settled. But we wish to make a few common affirmations.
God’s infinite love for mankind, by which has both created and saved us, is our starting point for apprehending the mystery of the union of perfect Godhead and perfect manhood in our Lord Jesus Christ. It is for our salvation that God the Word became one of us. Thus he who is consubstantial with the Father became by the Incarnation consubstantial also with us. By his infinite grace God has called us to attain to his uncreated glory. God became by nature man that man may become by grace God. The manhood of Christ thus reveals and realizes the true vocation of man. God draws us into fullness of communion with himself in the body of Christ, that we may be transfigured from glory to glory. It is in this soteriological perspective that we have approached the Christological question.
We were reminded again of our common fathers in the universal Church – St. Ignatius and St. Irenaeus, St. Anthony and St. Athanasius, St. Basil and St. Gregory of Nicea and St. John Chrysostom, St. Ephraim Syrus and St. Cyril of Alexandria and many others of venerable memory. Based on their teaching, we see the integral between Christology and soteriology and also the close relation of both to the doctrine of God and to the doctrine of man, to ecclesiology and to spirituality and to the whole liturgical life of the Church.
Ever since the fifth century, we have used different formulae to confess our common faith in the One Lord Jesus Christ, perfect God and perfect man. Some of us affirm two natures, wills and energies hypostatically united in the One Lord Jesus Christ. Some of us affirm one united divine-human nature, will and energy in the same Christ. Both sides speak of a union without confusion, without change, without division, without separation. The four adverbs belong to our common tradition. Both affirm the dynamic permanence of the Godhead and the manhood, with all their natural properties and faculties, in the one Christ. Those who speak in terms of “two” do not thereby divide or separate. Those who speak in terms of “one” need to specially underlined, in order that we may understand each other.
In this spirit, we have discussed also the continuity of doctrine in the Councils of the Church, and especially the monenergistic and monothelete controversies of the seventh century. All of us agree that the human will is neither absorbed nor suppressed by the divine will in the Incarnate Logos, nor are they contrary one to the other. The uncreated and created natures, with the fullness of their natural properties and faculties, were united without confusion or separation, and continue to operate in the one Christ, our Saviour. The position of those who wish to speak of one divine-human will and energy united without confusion or separation does not appear therefore to be incompatible with the decision of the Council of Constantinople (680-81), which affirms two natural wills and two natural energies in Him existing indivisibly, inconvertibly, inseparably, inconfusedly.
We have sought to formulate several questions, which need further study before the full communion between our Churches can be restored. But we are encouraged by the common mind we have on some fundamental issues to pursue our task of common studying in the hope that despite the difficulties we have encountered, the Holy Spirit will lead us on into full agreement.
Our mutual contacts in the recent past have convinced us that it is a first priority for our Churches to explore with a great sense of urgency adequate steps to restore the full communion between our Churches, which has been sadly interrupted for centuries now. Our conversations at Aarhus in 1964 and at Bristol in 1967 have shown us that, in order to achieve this end by the grace of God, our Churches need to pursue certain preliminary actions.
The remarkable measure of agreement so far reached among the theologians on the Christological teachings of our Churches should soon lead to the formulation of a joint declaration in we express together in the same formula our common faith in the One Lord Jesus Christ, whom we all acknowledge to be perfect God and perfect man. This formula, which will not have the status of a confession of faith or of a creed, should be drawn up by a group of theologians officially commissioned by the Churches, and submitted to the Churches for formal and authoritative approval, or for suggestions for modifications which will have to be considered by the commission before a final text is approved by the Churches.
In addition to proposing a formula of agreement on the basic Christological faith in relation to the nature, will and energy of Our One Lord Jesus Christ, the joint theological commission will also have to examine the canonical, liturgical and jurisdictional problems involved- e.g. anathemas and liturgical deprecations by some Churches of theologians regarded by others as doctors and saints of the Church, and the jurisdictional assurance and agreements necessary before formal restoration of communion.
We submit this agreed statement to the authorities and peoples of our Churches with great humility and deep respect. We see our task as a study group only in terms of exploring together common possibilities which will facilitate action by the Churches. Much work still needs to be done, both by us and by the Churches, in order that unity for which our Lord prayed may become real in the life of the Churches.
III. Joint Commission of the Theological Dialogue
Between the Eastern Orthodox Church
And the Oriental Orthodox Churches
Orthodox Center of Ecumenical Patriarchate
Chambésy (Geneva), Switzerland
December 10-15, 1985
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:
Problems of terminology
Interpretation of Christological dogmas today
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 KonstantinidisMetropolitan of MyraEcumenical PatriarchateBishop BishoyCoptic Orthodox Church
IV. Joint Commission of the Theological Dialogue
Between the Eastern Orthodox Church
And the Oriental Orthodox Churches
FIRST AGREED STATEMENT
Anba Mishoy Monastery
June 20-24, 1989
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:
Metropolitan Damaskinos, Co-President, ex officio
Bishop Bishoy, Co-President, ex officio
Prof. Vlassios Phidas, Co-Secretary, ex officio
Bishop Mesrob Krikorian, Co-Secretary, ex officio
Metropolitan Georges Khordr of Mt. Liban
Metropolitan Petros of Axum
Prof. Gosevic (Serbia)
Prof. Dr. K.M. George (India)
A nominee of Patriarch Ignatius Zaka Iwas of Syria
Metropolitan Gregorios of Shoa
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:
The report of the Joint Sub-Committee on Pastoral Problems
Conciliar formulations and anathemas.
Interpretation of Christological dogmas today
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.
V. Joint Commission of the Theological Dialogue
Between the Eastern Orthodox Church
And the Oriental Orthodox Churches
SECOND AGREED STATEMENT
Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
Chambésy, Geneva, Switzerland
September 23-28, 1990
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:
“Dogmatic Formulations and Anathemas by Local and Ecumenical Synods within their Social Context,” Rev. Prof. John S. Romanides, Church of Greece.
“Anathemas and Conciliar Decisions-Two Issues to be Settled for Restoration of Communion among Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox Churches,” Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios, Metropolitan of Delhi, Orthodox Syrian Church of the East.
“Historical Factors and the Council of Chalcedon,” Rev. Fr. T. Y. Malaty, Coptic Orthodox Church.
“Historical Factors and the Terminology of the Synod of Chalcedon,” Prof. Dr. Vlassios Phidas, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria.
“Interpretaion of Christological Dogmas Today,” Metropolitan George Khodr, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch. “Interpretaion of Christological Dogmas Today,” Bishop Mesrob Krikorian, Armenian Apostolic Church of Etchmiadzin.
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.”
Both families agreed in condemning the Eutychian heresy. Both families confess that the Logos, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, only begotten by the Father before the ages and consubstantial with him, was incarnate and was born from the Virgin Mary Theotokos; fully consubstantial with us, perfect man with soul, body and mind; He was crucified, died, was buried and rose from the dead on the third day, and ascended to the Heavenly Father, where He sits on the right hand of the Father as Lord of all creation. At Pentecost, by the coming of the Holy Spirit, He manifested the Church as His Body. We look forward to His coming again in the fullness of His glory, according to the Scriptures.
Both families condemn the Nestorian heresy and the crypto-Nestorianism Theodoret of Cyrus. They agree that it is not sufficient merely to say that Christ is consubstantial both with His Father and with us, by nature God and by nature man; it is necessary to affirm also that the Logos, who is by nature God, became by nature man, by His Incarnation in the fullness of time.
Both families agree that the hypostasis of the Logos became composite by uniting to His divine uncreated nature with its natural will and energy, which He has in common with the Father and the Holy Spirit, created human nature, which He assumed at the incarnation and made his own.
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:
That the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, conducting its salvific service in the dioceses, parishes, monasteries, brotherhoods, and other ecclesiastical bodies that were formed through history, remains an indissoluble, self-governing part of the Local Russian Orthodox Church.
That the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is independent in pastoral, educational, administrative, management, property, and civil matters, existing at the same time in canonical unity with the Fullness of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The supreme ecclesiastical, legislative, administrative, judicial and controlling authority in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is her Council of Bishops, convened by her Primate (First Hierarch), in accordance with the Regulations [Polozheniye ] of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
The First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is elected by her Council of Bishops. This election is confirmed, in accordance with the norms of Canon Law, by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The name of the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church and the name of the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia are commemorated during divine services in all churches of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia before the name of the ruling bishop in the prescribed order.
Decisions on the establishment or liquidation of dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia are made by her Council of Bishops in agreement with the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia are elected by her Council of Bishops or, in cases foreseen by the Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, by the Synod of Bishops. Such elections are confirmed in accordance with canonical norms by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia are members of the Local Council [Pomestny Sobor ] and Council of Bishops [Arkhiereiskij Sobor ] of the Russian Orthodox Church and also participate in the meetings of the Holy Synod in the prescribed order. Representatives of the clergy and laity of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia participate in the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church in the established manner.
The supreme instances of ecclesiastical authority for the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia are the Local Council and the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Decisions of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church extend to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia with consideration of the particularities described by the present Act, by the Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and by the legislation of the nations in which she performs her ministry.
Appeals on decisions of the supreme ecclesiastical court of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia are directed to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.
Amendments to the Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia by her supreme legislative authority are subject to the confirmation of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church in such case as these changes bear a canonical character.
The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia receives her holy myrrh from the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.
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
IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS BETWEEN ORTHODOX CHURCHES AND OTHER CHURCHES
THE LIFTING OF MUTUAL EXCOMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN HIS ALL-HOLINESS ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH ATHENAGORAS I AND HIS HOLINESS POPE PAUL VI.
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.
Grateful to God, who mercifully favored them with a fraternal meeting at those holy places where the mystery of salvation was accomplished through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and where the Church was born through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I have not lost sight of the determination each then felt to omit nothing thereafter which charity might inspire and which could facilitate the development of the fraternal relations thus taken up between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church of Constantinople. They are persuaded that in acting this way, they are responding to the call of that divine grace which today is leading the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, as well as all Christians, to overcome their differences in order to be again "one" as the Lord Jesus asked of His Father for them.
Among the obstacles along the road of the development of these fraternal relations of confidence and esteem, there is the memory of the decisions, actions and painful incidents which in 1054 resulted in the sentence of excommunication leveled against the Patriarch Michael Cerularius and two other persons by the legate of the Roman See under the leadership of Cardinal Humbertus, legates who then became the object of a similar sentence pronounced by the patriarch and the Synod of Constantinople.
One cannot pretend that these events were not what they were during this very troubled period of history. Today, however, they have been judged more fairly and serenely. Thus it is important to recognize the excesses which accompanied them and later led to consequences which, insofar as we can judge, went much further than their authors had intended and foreseen. They had directed their censures against the persons concerned and not the Churches. These censures were not intended to break ecclesiastical communion between the Sees of Rome and Constantinople.
Since they are certain that they express the common desire for justice and the unanimous sentiment of charity which moves the faithful, and since they recall the command of the Lord: "If you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brethren has something against you, leave your gift before the altar and go first be reconciled to your brother" (Matt. 5:23-24), Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I with his synod, in common agreement, declare that:
They regret the offensive words, the reproaches without foundation, and the reprehensible gestures which, on both sides, have marked or accompanied the sad events of this period.
They likewise regret and remove both from memory and from the midst of the Church the sentences of excommunication which followed these events, the memory of which has influenced actions up to our day and has hindered closer relations in charity; and they commit these excommunications to oblivion.
Finally, they deplore the preceding and later vexing events which, under the influence of various factors—among which, lack of understanding and mutual trust—eventually led to the effective rupture of ecclesiastical communion.
Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I with his synod realize that this gesture of justice and mutual pardon is not sufficient to end both old and more recent differences between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.
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.
AN AGREED STATEMENT OF CHRISTOLOGICAL DOCTRINE
BETWEEN REPRESENTATIVES OF ORIENTAL AND BYZANTINE (EASTERN) ORTHODOX CHURCHES
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