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Antioch communing the non-Chalcedonians


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#1 Ryan

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 12:57 AM

I'd like to raise an issue here, which has been mentioned here before but not directly discussed, namely, the Church of Antioch's practice of communing members of the non-Chalcedonian churches. I realize that there are some grey areas regarding the "Monophysites," that is, whether they are really monophysites, whether we share the same faith with them, etc., but the fact remains that they continue to reject Ecumenical Councils 4-7, and to venerate Dioscorus, Severus, etc. Are we in communion with heretics then? What is the proper response of Orthodox laymen to such a phenomenon, which seems to go beyond the prerogative of bishops to basic matters of faith?

#2 Nina

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 02:26 AM

What is the proper response of Orthodox laymen to such a phenomenon, which seems to go beyond the prerogative of bishops to basic matters of faith?


I do not mean to generalize but at a church of that jurisdiction I visited some times and I saw RCs and Protestants given knowingly Holy Communion I stopped visiting altogether.

#3 Ryan

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 03:57 AM

I do not mean to generalize but at a church of that jurisdiction I visited some times and I saw RCs and Protestants given knowingly Holy Communion I stopped visiting altogether.


I think this would be an appropriate response (along with a polite complaint to the bishop) if it were only on the parish level, but apparently the communing of non-Chalcedonians is encouraged at the highest levels in the Antiochian church, at least in Syria.

#4 Paul Cowan

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 04:01 AM

I'd like to raise an issue here, which has been mentioned here before but not directly discussed, namely, the Church of Antioch's practice of communing members of the non-Chalcedonian churches. I realize that there are some grey areas regarding the "Monophysites," that is, whether they are really monophysites, whether we share the same faith with them, etc., but the fact remains that they continue to reject Ecumenical Councils 4-7, and to venerate Dioscorus, Severus, etc. Are we in communion with heretics then? What is the proper response of Orthodox laymen to such a phenomenon, which seems to go beyond the prerogative of bishops to basic matters of faith?


I don't know what is happening in other churches since I don't attend them, but I can ssure you in my parish Fr. is very strict on who he will and will not commune. Since we don't in my parish, I can only assume within my diocese it is the same rule since Bishop Basil is ver strict on protocols and since the diocese does not do it, I can't see how Metroploitan Phillip allows it either. So now we are talking on a grander scale of things that are questionable.

#5 Ryan

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 04:11 AM

Yes, I understand that Met. Philip and especially Bishop Basil have been very principled on this matter; I am more thinking of what has been widely reported to be happening in Syria and Lebanon.

Here is a statement issuing from the Holy Synod a while back (found at http://www.geocities...yzantine04.html, but available in a bunch of other places too):

TO THE MEMBERS OF THE HOLY SYNOD OF ANTIOCH

Prayers to God and fraternal greetings in our Lord, Jesus Christ.

It is our pleasure to inform you that pertaining to the Holy Synod decision concerning our unity with the Holy Syriac Church, a meeting was held in Damascus at the Orthodox Syriac Patriarchate on July 22, 1991. The following hierarchs attended the meeting: His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius (Zakka) I (Iwass), His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius IV, Metropolitan George Khodre, Malatius Barnabas, Aphram Barsoum, Isaic Saka, and Paul Al-Soukie.

After the discussion the participants consented to issue a draft which was preceded by a letter and whose contents were agreed upon to be discussed at the next meeting. It will assume its official status after the agreement of the Holy Synod: and what is sees as appropriate to the matter during the forthcoming Holy Synod meeting.

The Lord is always with us

Patriarch IGNATIUS IV
Damascus, Syria

To All Our Children,
Protected By God,
Both Clergy and Laity of
The Holy See of Antioch

Beloved:

You must have heard of the continuous efforts for decades by our Apostolic See with the sister Orthodox Syriac Church to foster a better knowledge and understanding of both churches whether on the dogmatic or pastoral level. Those attempts are nothing but a natural expression that the Orthodox Churches, and especially those within the Holy See of Antioch, are called to articulate the will of the Lord that all may be one, just as the Son is One with the Heavenly Father.

It is our duty and that of our brothers in the Syriac Church to witness to Christ in our Eastern area where He was born, preached, suffered, was buried and rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sent down His Holy and Life-Giving Spirit upon His holy apostles.

All the meetings, the fellowship, the oral and written declarations meant that we belong to One Faith even though history had brought forward the phase of our division more than the aspects of our unity.

All this has called upon our Holy Synod of Antioch to initiate a quick desire for our Church in the See of Antioch, for a unity that preserves for each Church its original Eastern heritage whereby the one Antiochian Church benefits from its sister Church and profits from its rich traditions, literature and holy rituals.

Every endeavour and pursuit in the direction of coming together of the two Churches is based on the conviction that this orientation is from the Holy Spirit, and it will give the Eastern Orthodox image more brightness and elegance that has lacked for centuries before.

Therefore, the Holy Synod of Antioch saw fit to translate the brotherly approachment relationship between the two Churches, the Antiochian Orthodox and the Syriac Orthodox for the edification of their faithful wherever they happen to be.

The Holy Synod of Antioch has decided the following matters:

1) The complete and mutual respect between the two Churches for their rituals, spirituality, heritage and holy fathers; and the full protection of both the Antiochian and Syriac liturgical practices.
2) The incorporation of the fathers of both Churches and their heritage in general in the Christian education curriculum and theological teaching; and the exchange of theological professors and students.
3) The refraining from accepting members of one Church in the membership of the other whatever the reasons might be.
4) Organizing meetings of both Synods whenever need and necessity may arise.
5) Leaving every Church as a reference for its members in all matters pertaining to marriage, divorce, adoption etc.
6) If two bishops of the two different Churches meet for a spiritual service the one with the majority of the people will generally preside. But if the service is for the sacrament of holy matrimony the bishop of the bridegroom will preside.
7) Whatever has been previously mentioned does not apply to the concelebration among the bishops in the Divine Liturgy.
8) Whatever has been said in number six applies to the clergy of both Churches.
9) If one priest of either Church happens to be in a certain area he will serve the Divine Mysteries for the members of both Churches including the Divine Liturgy and the sacrament of holy matrimony. The same priest will keep an independent record for both Churches and transmit the registration of the members of the sister Church to its spiritual authority.
10) If two priests of both Churches happen to be in a certain community they will take turns, and in case they concelebrate the one with the majority of the people will preside.
11) If a bishop from one Church and a priest from the sister Church happen to concelebrate, presiding naturally belongs to the bishop even though being in the community of the priest on the condition that there are people of both Churches.
12) Ordinations into the Holy Orders are performed by the spiritual authorities on candidates in every respective Church prefereably in the presence of the brothers from the other sister Church.
13) Godfathers, Godmothers and witnesses in the sacrament of holy matrimony are allowed to be chosen from the members of both Churches without any discrimination.
14) In all mutual celebrations the first clergyman in ordination will preside over the ceremony.
15) All organizations from both Churches will co-operate in all matters whether educational, cultural and social for the enrichment of the brotherly spirit.

We promise you on this occasion to continue strengthening our relationship with the sister Church and all other Churches for all to become one community under one Shepherd.

#6 Paul Cowan

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 04:48 AM

I have no authority to speak since I don't know anything about the Syrian church. But you left out the editorial which I think is important.

In the "Editorial" section "the Word" magazine [April 92], the Editor of The Word, George S. Covey, writes:
The cause of division was a misunderstanding of certain theological words used in Greek by the Council of Chalcedon that were not known to the Egyptians, Syrians and others in Africa and Asia. Soon politics and ethnic pressures worsened this misunderstanding (sound familiar?), and the division continued to the present century. The Islamic invasion in the Middle East did not help and our Oriental brethren were further separated from the Imperial, Byzantine Church. Theologians from both Churches have agreed that division was a matter of semantics, which no longer exists today. Unity is not only possible but most desirable. It fulfills the will of God that "all may be one."


I am not saying monophysites are right. What I have been taught from the 7 Councils I know to be true. I didn't see present in the list of attendees His Grace Shanouda of Egypt. Since he is THE man in the Coptic Church, I would think he would have a say so on any unification. Or perhaps the Syrian Church is not as far away from the EO as the Coptic Church?

I don't know anything and am speaking out the back of my head.

Paul

#7 D. W. Dickens

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 06:02 AM

I am not saying monophysites are right. What I have been taught from the 7 Councils I know to be true. I didn't see present in the list of attendees His Grace Shanouda of Egypt. Since he is THE man in the Coptic Church, I would think he would have a say so on any unification. Or perhaps the Syrian Church is not as far away from the EO as the Coptic Church?


Remember that the 7 Councils didn't invent the faith (they developed language perhaps and were certainly unequaled pastoral events), they defended it. There are councils we don't hold. This is important. The Church holds the Councils, the Councils don't hold the Church. The fullness of the faith existed prior to 3rd council.

It seems very reasonable to say the OO had the same faith even though they didn't participate in the later Councils, and if the modern historians of the Church are right and it was largely a misunderstanding compounded by sin... then what a tragedy that the later councils were denied our brothers!

Of course, I have no idea what I'm talking about. I'm just repeating what I've been told by so many that I respect.

#8 Ryan

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 06:14 AM

It seems very reasonable to say the OO had the same faith even though they didn't participate in the later Councils, and if the modern historians of the Church are right and it was largely a misunderstanding compounded by sin... then what a tragedy that the later councils were denied our brothers


The problem is that the later councils are still steadfastly rejected by the "Oriental Orthodox." Chalcedon is either regarded as Nestorian or Nestorian-leaning. Orthodox saints like Pope Saint Leo I are considered heretics by them. For the Orthodox, however, Chalcedon represents an essential statement of the Christian faith. I therefore don't see how those who stubbornly refuse to accept Chalcedon can really have the same faith as the Orthodox. Some of the non-Chalcedonians seem rather duplicitous on this issue- on the one hand, they insist that we share the same faith, and on the other, suggest that our Christology is infected with Nestorianism.

If the division is a "misunderstanding compounded by sin," this is to imply that the Holy Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Council were confused and confounded by their sin, and that the council was not guided by the Holy Spirit, in contradiction to longstanding Tradition.

The later councils were not simply "denied our brothers", they were and are consciously rejected by them.

In light of this, even if one thinks that our Christology is fundamentally the same, it is very premature indeed to be restoring communion.

#9 Antonios

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 06:57 AM

This is great news towards unity! The Lord works in mysterious ways!

#10 Kris

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 02:00 PM

Chalcedon is either regarded as Nestorian or Nestorian-leaning. Orthodox saints like Pope Saint Leo I are considered heretics by them.


The OO hierarchy have all declared that they accept our understanding of Chalcedon as orthodox. They have gone as far as to say they'd accept Chalcedon as a local Council of the Roman (i.e. Byzantine) Church were a reunion to ever take place.

As for Pope Saint Leo, they have agreed to lifting the anathema, provided we do the same with Dioscoros and other figures venerated by the OO.

For the Orthodox, however, Chalcedon represents an essential statement of the Christian faith. I therefore don't see how those who stubbornly refuse to accept Chalcedon can really have the same faith as the Orthodox. Some of the non-Chalcedonians seem rather duplicitous on this issue- on the one hand, they insist that we share the same faith, and on the other, suggest that our Christology is infected with Nestorianism.


While Christology was the major issue at the time, that is not the case today. Accepting Chalcedon does not just mean accepting its definition of faith, but means condemning people they have commemorated in their services for over 1500 years, it means accepting a Council that led to the persecution of their churches and great amounts of bloodshed (those who died are naturally regarded by the OO as martyrs).

If the division is a "misunderstanding compounded by sin," this is to imply that the Holy Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Council were confused and confounded by their sin, and that the council was not guided by the Holy Spirit, in contradiction to longstanding Tradition.


Not really. The Council rightly condemned the Monophysite heresy. However, this does not mean all who rejected Chalcedon were Monophysites. The OO also condemn Eutyches.

Also, while the statement of faith issued at Chalcedon was certainly inspired by the Holy Spirit, and while her canons are authoritative, does this mean every single thing that was said or done at the Council was equally valid?

The later councils were not simply "denied our brothers", they were and are consciously rejected by them.


The later councils were quite simply of no relevance to the OO since they were held by a Church with which they were not in Communion. Chalcedon is the point of contention.

Even if one thinks that our Christology is fundamentally the same, it is very premature indeed to be restoring communion.


This I agree with. We should be reconciled in all matters, whatever that entails, before Communion of any kind begins to take place.

#11 Paul Cowan

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 03:23 PM

This I agree with. We should be reconciled in all matters, whatever that entails, before Communion of any kind begins to take place.


ok, yes. Question though. Given the persecution in the East by the Muslims and the common God the EO and OO share though we don't really agree, but we do. If I wereliving there in a situation of not being able to receive the sacraments except by going to the OO because my priest has been killed and my church burned down, and all the local Christians persecuted, would it not be ok to go t the OO for services and receiving the sacraments or do I go the rest of my life without them?

This is of course hypothetical, but the enemy of my enemy is my friend mentality. Though we are not enemies, but estranged cousins. It might seem prudent to combine resources for serving the faithful rather than both sides losing all their members.

But then again Constantinople rejected the Latins when they tried this same thing. So maybe I just typed a bunch of junk here.

Paul

#12 Eric Peterson

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 03:46 PM

The letter mentioned appears only to be a draft, and not an official approval of actual communion between the Orthodox and monophysites. At this time, to my knowledge, there is no such formal, official communion. All there is is dialogue and friendly relations. If there were communion, it would take a form more apparent than rumor.

#13 Christophoros

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 04:26 PM

The letter mentioned appears only to be a draft, and not an official approval of actual communion between the Orthodox and monophysites. At this time, to my knowledge, there is no such formal, official communion. All there is is dialogue and friendly relations. If there were communion, it would take a form more apparent than rumor.


It appears, from the following excerpt from an interview with Metropolitan George of Mount Lebanon which appeared in the June, 2001, issue of The Word, that a degree of communion does in fact exist:

How do you define our relationship with... the Syriac Church: are we in communion with the so-called on-Chalcedonians?...

We are not in communion with the Syriac Church or the other so-called non-Chalcedonians. We do, however, have a special relationship with the Syriac Church, especially in the Middle East. There are many towns, especially in northern Syria, where only one parish exists, be it theirs or ours. There may be no other parish for many miles. In those cases, we allow marriages, for example, to take place in each other’s churches, as well as shared communion, etc. This is a special agreement between the Patriarchate of Antioch and the Syriac Church.


Perhaps this is what the Thyateira Confession called "sacramental hospitality"!

#14 Eric Peterson

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 04:38 PM

Either the first sentence of the statement is a lie, or it is being ignored in order to make more of something than there actually is. In America, there are cases where folks from non-Chalcedonian churches come to our churches and some even receive communion. Have they been formally received into the Church through means other than Communion? I don't know. Do they commune in their own churches when they travel? I don't know. But I do know, it's not limited to Antiochians. It's an issue in many places. The Antiochians are just talking about it. Apparently, silence would've been a better option, so that they would not have to explain themselves.

#15 Nina

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 04:47 PM

ok, yes. Question though. Given the persecution in the East by the Muslims and the common God the EO and OO share
Paul


Paul do not forget Muslims and us share the same Father. He created them also... you know. If no one can dispute that fact then who is to say we should not "unite" with them too? Islam was product of a heresy also. They also have another form of Christ, Panaghia in their doctrine etc. I like unity and love with all, but just because my neighbour has Orthodox icons in her home and performs "white magic" , and visits Christian sacred places etc. doesn't mean we share the same view about the Truth. (I am not comparing my neighbour to any religion, just mentioning the fact that while I love and respect and help my neighbour it doesn't mean I share her views).

#16 Kris

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 04:56 PM

Paul do not forget Muslims and us share the same Father. He created them also... you know. If no one can dispute that fact then who is to say we should not "unite" with them too?


Since Islam, although a heresy with Judeo-Christian roots, has no church nor sacraments, the word "unite" has little if any significance in this context.

Secondly, the idea that the OO actually hold to heretical doctrines is a subject of much dispute. If they do not, they are more comparable to the Old Calendarists than they are to heretics like the Catholics, Protestants or Moslems.

#17 D. W. Dickens

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 05:12 PM

Paul do not forget Muslims and us share the same Father. He created them also... you know. If no one can dispute that fact then who is to say we should not "unite" with them too? Islam was product of a heresy also. They also have another form of Christ, Panaghia in their doctrine etc. I like unity and love with all, but just because my neighbour has Orthodox icons in her home and performs "white magic" , and visits Christian sacred places etc. doesn't mean we share the same view about the Truth. (I am not comparing my neighbour to any religion, just mentioning the fact that while I love and respect and help my neighbour it doesn't mean I share her views).


Nina, you are correct that desire for unity and some hand waving shouldn't result in unity.

However, this can be taken too far. I'm sure that if you probed many of your fellow Orthodox you might find more disagreement than is desirable about a great many things. Since becoming Orthodox I have come to learn one of the less advertised features is some unfortunate diversity.

Yet we share communion, and even administrative connections with some who are different from ourselves to a certain degree (this is a discussion about degrees). But even more so, we share communion with many people who could not (including myself) properly write a treatise on the very controversy we are talking about.

I am not equipped to prove any particular OO, Bishop or Synod is sufficiently close to Eutyches' teaching to deny unity. Nor can I adequately defend myself from being called a Nestorian in light of the OO's concerns (though I understand the basic principles behind the arguments).

This will all happen as it will happen. At some point the leadership from a major EO and OO group will effectively declare Eucharistic unity, then other sister Churches on both sides will react and if they essentially agree, or at least "allow" it, then the Church-at-large community will react as well. If the large portion of both traditions seems committed to this then, we'll have some more synods heading off into resistance, but the deal will be done.

There's many assumptions in that paragraph, but it seems likely to play out that way. My point is that this will happen communally, and by the Holy Spirit (or the Holy Spirit will prevent it) not by the declaration of perfected domatic defenses of eachother's history and development each in the language of the other (though some work there would certainly help).

#18 Nina

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 05:15 PM

Since Islam, although a heresy with Judeo-Christian roots, has no church nor sacraments, the word "unite" has little if any significance in this context.


But aren't they people like all of us?

#19 Nina

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 05:19 PM

Nina, you are correct that desire for unity and some hand waving shouldn't result in unity.

However, this can be taken too far.


Ah dear D.W. I can't read further than this, however I can sense what you are writing. What I have to repeat here is that all people of the world are people and they are children of our Father, Who is in Heaven. Now Christ's example when He came here and talked to the Samaritan woman and invited her and she became a Saint is good enough for me. I do not have loyalty to only certain groups of people. I should love all. But above all I should love the Holy Trinity and the Truth handed to us by our Holy Fathers who were inspired by the Holy Spirit.

#20 D. W. Dickens

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 06:05 PM

Ah dear D.W. I can't read further than this, however I can sense what you are writing. What I have to repeat here is that all people of the world are people and they are children of our Father, Who is in Heaven. Now Christ's example when He came here and talked to the Samaritan woman and invited her and she became a Saint is good enough for me. I do not have loyalty to only certain groups of people. I should love all. But above all I should love the Holy Trinity and the Truth handed to us by our Holy Fathers who were inspired by the Holy Spirit.


Something broke in our communication Nina. The issue is whether to commune with people who do not hold to the faith of the Church, not whether we admit that all human beings share in a common nature or dignity as eikons of God. Even in my most ecumenical temptations, I cannot see sharing communion with those who don't believe it is the body and blood of Christ, or even that Christ was God or that He came in the flesh.




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