This now supports the older Chaldean eparchy, which looks after some 80,000 Chaldean Catholics.69
The greatest challenge and the most important achievement of the bilateral and multilateral ecumenical theological dialogues that have taken place among Syrian churches has been the opportunity for each church to express its theological tradition and understanding of its theology, history, role in christological disputes, sacraments, liturgy and modern contribution to Christendom. Three main factors can be identified as being responsible for these developments: the ecumenical movement and the establishment (in 1948) of the WCC; the Second Vatican Council; and the large-scale emigration from the Middle East to Europe, the Americas and Australia of Christians from the non-Chalcedonian churches. Large-scale emigration started with the widespread massacres in eastern Turkey, above all in 1915, 'the year of the sword', when huge numbers were either killed or displaced. In recent decades the political instability of the Middle East has led to further waves of emigration. Although emigration has in general been disastrous from the point of view of the life of the indigenous churches in the Middle East, there have at least been other consequences: it has provided the possibility of publication without censorship, and it has made western churches more aware of the existence of these non-Chalcedonian churches, which in turn has provided an opportunity and an incentive for theological dialogue.
Sebastian Brock has identified three strands to this modern dialogue: the first is that between the Chalcedonian eastern Orthodox churches and the non-Chalcedonian oriental Orthodox churches, which began in 1964 and continues to the present; the second is that between the Roman Catholic Church and the non-Chalcedonian oriental Orthodox churches which began in 1971. The third is the multilateral dialogue among all churches of the Syriac tradition initiated and facilitated by the Pro Oriente Foundation in Vienna in 1994.70
The first unofficial meeting at the Pro Oriente Foundation in 1971 resulted in a joint declaration between the Chalcedonian andnon- Chalcedonian churches known as the Vienna Formula, the text of which has been received officially
69 A. O'Mahony 'The Chaldean Catholic Church: the politics of church-state relations in modern Iraq', HeythropJournal 45 (2004), 435-50.
70 S. Brock, 'The Syriac churches in ecumenical dialogue on Christology', in Eastern Christianity, 46-7.
Was this article helpful?