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Posted By Eric Sammons On February 16, 2009 @ 7:59 am In Eastern Christianity,Ecumenism | Comments Disabled
Most Western Christians (Catholic or Protestant) know little about the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Even fewer know about the Oriental Orthodox Churches. The OO Churches are apostolic Churches (i.e. their sacraments are valid), primarily located in Egypt and the Middle East, and are not in communion with either the Catholic Church or any of the EO Churches. Whereas the split between the Catholic Church and the EO Churches occurred due to various issues and over a length of centuries (with the events of 1054 being a convenient marker), the OO Churches are the result of a schism after the Council of Chalcedon in 451. Since that time there has been little contact between those Churches and the Catholic Church – until recently.
Over the past few years, the International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox (that’s a mouthful) has been meeting to discuss the possibility of union between the Catholic Church and the OO Churches, and according to this report of their most recent meeting , things look promising.
Although the rift has been longer in duration, in some ways a reconciliation between Rome and the OO Churches should theoretically be easier to achieve than reconciliation with the EO Churches. The 451 schism was over one issue in particular – the relationship of the human and divine in Christ – and many scholars today believe that the original split was much more an issue of different language and culture than different theology.
It seems to me that the critical issue will be more the development of Western theology after 451 than the issues that originally spawned the schism after Chalcedon. Will Rome require the OO to incorporate Western developments such as purgatory, the Immaculate Conception and transubstantiation? Even more importantly, what will Rome require from the OO in regards to Papal Primacy, and how do the OO currently regard the status of the bishop of Rome?
These are all important questions, and prayers are needed for this attempt to heal one of the oldest ruptures in the Body of Christ. For more information about the OO Churches, I recommend Father Ronald Roberson’s excellent overview  of all the Eastern Churches at the CNEWA website.
Article printed from Divine Life – A Blog by Eric Sammons: http://ericsammons.com/blog
URL to article: http://ericsammons.com/blog/2009/02/16/oriental-orthodox/
URLs in this post:
 this report of their most recent meeting: http://www.americancatholic.org/News/newsreport.aspx?id=676
 excellent overview: http://www.cnewa.org/generalpg-verus.aspx?pageID=182
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