and the Assyrian Church of the East, which has provided a basis for the subsequent bilateral dialogue.75 In 1985 the Church of the East applied to join the MECC, only to be blocked by the Coptic Orthodox Church. However, the matter of the Church of the East remained on the agenda of the MECC in 1992 and 1994. At a regional symposium of Pro Oriente held at the Deir Anba Bishoi monastery in the Wadî al-Natràn in Egypt in 1991, a fierce debate erupted concerning the participation of the Church of the East in Pro Oriente consultations, with the Copts refusing to discuss the finer points of theological and terminological questions surrounding the council of Ephesus (431).76 Nevertheless, the Pro Oriente Foundation continued to discuss the involvement of the Church of the East in its activities.

In 1994 Pro Oriente initiated a dialogue between the Church of the East, the Syrian Orthodox Church and the eastern Catholic churches of the Syriac tradition, including church officials and theologians representing sister churches in India. The event itself was of great significance even without a substantial christological agreement.77 A common declaration of faith promulgated by Mar Denkha IV and Pope John Paul II in the same year stated that the two churches had the same understanding concerning Christology and the Virgin Mary.78 Following this declaration, the MECC decided to move forward with the inclusion of the Church of the East.

Despite the staunch opposition of the Coptic Orthodox Church to any dialogue with or to any participation of the Church of the East in ecumenical affairs, the two churches produced a draft common declaration on Christol-ogy in 1995. This document, which drew heavily on the Vienna Formula which the Coptic Church had formally accepted, as well as from the common declaration of faith, was quickly ratified by the synod of bishops of the Church of the East.79 The Coptic Church synod has subsequently rejected this document. The result of these developments has been to halt any further official consultation between the Church of the East and the Syrian Orthodox Church.

75 D. W. Winkler, Ostsyrisches Christentum: Untersuchungen zu Christologie, Ekklesiologie, und zu den okumenischen Beziehungen der assyrischen Kirche des Ostens [Studien zur orientalischen Kirchengeschichte 26] (Munster: LIT Verlag, 2003), 146. The Chaldean Church is also represented on the joint commission.

76 Brock, 'The Syriac churches in ecumenical dialogue', 53. The paper that set off the debate at this conference was by André de Halleux, 'Nestorius, histoire et doctrine', Irénikon 66 (1993), 38-51,163-77; trans. without notes in Pro Oriente, Syriac Dialogue 1, 200-15.

77 G. O'Collins and D. Kendall, 'Overcoming christological differences', HeythropJournal 37 (1996), 382-90.

78 The key passage of this text is quoted in Brock, 'The Syriac churches in ecumenical dialogue', 54-5.

79 For a lengthy citation from this text, see Brock, 'The Syriac churches in ecumenical dialogue', 55-8.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment