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Anglicans, Oriental Orthodox Churches' prepare for theological breakthrough

Posted on: August 8, 2014 3:51 PM
Left to right: Fr Housig Mardirossian (incoming Ecumenical Officer, Armenian Orthodox Church), Archbishop Nareg Alemazian, Bishop Geoffry Rowell, Metropolitan Bishoy, and Canon Dr Alyson Barnett-Cowan
Photo Credit: Armenian Orthodox Church
Related Categories: Oriental Orthodox, theology

By ACNS staff

Senior theologians in the Anglican Communion and Oriental Orthodox Churches are to confirm an agreement on their understanding of Christ's Incarnation.

The Co-Chairs and Co-Secretaries of the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission who met near Beirut, Lebanon this week reviewed responses to the 2002 Agreed Statement on Christology, which had been sent to the Churches of the two church families for consideration. 

The statement considered the question of how the two natures, human and divine, were united in one human being: Jesus Christ.

Noting overwhelming approval for the agreement from both sides, the steering committee considered minor adjustments and will prepare a Preamble for consideration by the Commission.

His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy of the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Rt Revd Geoffrey Rowell of the Church of England, Archbishop Nareg Alemazian of the Armenian Orthodox Church were joined by Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, Director for Unity Faith and Order for the Anglican Communion who said, "Such an agreement on the fundamental theological question about the Incarnation marks a breakthrough in over 1600 years of division.

"It is a blessing that the churches can proclaim together in such a time as this the great good news that God in Christ became human in order to enter into and save our world."

Dr Barnett-Cowan said that throughout the meeting the group was conscious of the violence breaking out in so many places in the Middle East. 

"Anglicans and Oriental Orthodox alike, together with Christians worldwide, are united in prayer for the peace of God to come again to the region."

The committee was received by His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Cilicia, who expressed gratitude for work which brings Christians together in solidarity.

The Anglican members were also received by His Holiness Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church, who was at his summer residence in Beirut.

"There we heard more about the suffering of so many people in Syria and Iraq," said Dr Barnett-Cowan, "and of the need for Christians and people of good will to assist with relief efforts, but also to encourage the powers of the world to ensure security.

"The Patriarchs of local churches issued a joint statement on August 7 about the situation, and Anglicans everywhere are encouraged to read it and take action as they are able."  

This statement, together with a statement of Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem from July 23, are available here and here.

The next full meeting of the Commission will take place in Cairo October 13-17, 2014.