and is fundamental to all subsequent dialogue. The agreement on Christology states that Jesus Christ is perfect in His divinity and perfect in His humanity. His divinity was not separated from his humanity for a single moment, not for the twinkling of an eye; His humanity is one with His divinity without commixtion, without confusion, without division, without separation. We . . . regard His mystery as inexhaustible and ineffable and for the human mind never fully comprehensible or expressible.71
Following the Vienna Formula, the next major breakthrough took place in 1984, with the joint declaration of Pope John Paul II and Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East Ignatius Zakka Iwas.72 Their declaration includes the statement that the schisms that arose in the fifth century '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'. The part of the declaration concerning Christology closely follows the language of the Vienna Formula. It is recognition that the disagreement in Christology is one of terminology only and does not touch the substance of Christian doctrine.
Though starting rather later, bilateral discussions between the Church of the East on the one hand and the Syrian Orthodox and Catholic eastern rite churches on the other have achieved significant breakthroughs in consultations held throughout the 1990s.73 However, the Coptic Orthodox Church has asserted its authority over the other oriental Orthodox churches, preventing the Church of the East from participating either in further official consultations with the Syrian Orthodox Church or in the MECC (Middle East Council of Churches), despite the advocacy of the Roman Catholic Church.74
In 1984 an official meeting took place between the catholicos of the Church of the East, Mar Denkha IV and Pope John Paul II. They set up the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church
71 The full text of the Vienna Formulais available in Pro Oriente, Syriac Dialogue 1 (Vienna: Pro Oriente, 1994), 27-8.
72 See Brock, 'The Syriac churches in ecumenical dialogue', 51-2. The declaration was originally printed in L'Osservatore Romano, 24 June 1984.
73 D. W. Winkler, 'The current theological dialogue with the Assyrian Church of the East', in Symposium Syriacum VII [OCA 256] (Rome: Pontificium institutum orientalium studiorum, 1998), 158-73.
74 See O. Meinardus, 'About heresies and the Syllabus Errorum of Pope Shenuda III', Coptic Church Review 22 (2001), 98-105 and the response by S. Brock, '"About heresies and the Syllabus Errorum of Pope Shenuda III": some comments on the recent article by Professor Meinardus', ibid. 23 (2002), 98-102.
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