Sunday, 10 March 2013

Looking Deeper at John X's recent call for Ecumenical talks

(Bold is emphasis. Italics in Brackets are my notes.)

Towards a Full Sacramental Unity of the Christians:
(Original Statement in full here)

We, as Antiochians, are aware of the painful wound inflicted on the body of Christ by the schism between the believers This has led the Antiochian Church to participate actively for decades in every dialogue to remove the obstacles which block the way to restoring the unity of the Christian world.We will always be faithful to the policy of my predecessors. I insist on the importance of maintaining the absolute respect between the Churches ignoring any arrogance, anathematizing, and schismatization.

(And His Holiness hits the nail on the head as a start. His Church want to get on with things and are already in communion, under pastoral guidelines, with the Syriac community and want the rest of the Orthodox community to start the hard work of restoring unity after a 23 year stall.)

(Anathemas and schismatisation is another interesting place for this to start. The concept of continuing respect between Churches regardless of this is important, especially in the Antiochian See which has 5 Patriarchates, all of whom are currently under the persecution of the FSA and other rebels. This Pastoral unity is important for the survival of the Christian community there are vital regardless.)

(The emphasis on Anathemas is especially important to Antioch since Saint Severus is a vitally important figure to the Syriac Church but Anathema in the Eastern Orthodox and catholic communities. If these issues were to get in the way of Pastoral agreements the community would be at a dead end.)
I am deeply convinced that Orthodoxy; which is the basis of every interaction between us and other Churches, is a unifying factor not a divisive one. I am also convinced that adhering to it is the right way. With love and humility, we strengthen the common factors that bind us all together There will undoubtedly be differences, not in essentials, and this a source of propitious diversity This shall be considered a richness to us, and not a deviation of our adherence to Christ.

(This section looks specifically at Orthodox unity and covers two important points. Firstly, any unity would have to be based on a shared Orthodox faith and not purely divisive. If we were in communion for the sake of it (As the Roman canons wish orthodox to be with them) it would not be a pure unity but a forced and awkward one.)

(The second point hits on the idea of natural difference. many Orthodox communities have differences in their ways, from language to vestments.  His Holiness seems to be suggesting that if the differences do not reach a Theological clash they should not get in the way of communion.)

Therefore, we hope to accomplish all steps towards a full sacramental unity with our brethren in the Eastern non-Chalcedonian Churches, based on what we have agreed upon in Chambesy as a positive result of a long and extensive dialogue If we realize this, we should be able to show that we have offered a living example of the credibility of our endeavors to achieve unity and to witness to our loyalty to the Lord.

(Here is the key point. HH seems to be  suggesting that Chambesy's agreed statements (latest here) should be used as a framework. If his request is followed it would mean that the Anathemas between the two Orthodox communities are to be lifted which would lead the way to discussions as to the process of unification.) 

(It is important to note that Moscow, Alexandria, Antioch, Romania and the EP have accepted the Statements from 1990 but Russia has since but strict considerations on this and Athos has rejected it outright under accusations of heresy.) 

On this occasion, we also affirm that we will continue all dialogues now taking place between the different Eastern and Western Churches, seeking to show our unlimited readiness to show the face of the bride, that is the Church In this respect, we should affirm the importance of the living witness which we as Christians should show by living the love we carry to the whole world in the name of Jesus Christ.

(This seems to be a call for Ecumenical talks and further discussion with Rome also. Again, this needs to be taken in the context of the Levant where the Maronite, Catholic melkite and Syriac catholic Churches are present rather than the Roman Church as we see it in the West.)

We call for consultation among ourselves as Christian Churches, about the different issues raised by the modern world, emphasizing the issues that unite us and constitute our common denominators These common denominators can be offered to the man of today as a consolation from the Lord.

(Again an outright call for Pastoral talks at the very least.)

John X
Patriarch of Antioch and all the East 

(Please Pray for His Holiness as a beacon of Orthodox unity at this time.)

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