Theologians from Anglican and Oriental Orthodox churches will meet next week in Dublin, Ireland, for the next round of official dialogue between the two church traditions. The Anglican Oriental-Orthodox International Commission (AOOIC) will discuss the completion of an agreed text on the Holy Spirit and begin discussions around questions of “authority in the Church”.
Next week’s meeting, from 23 to 28 October, will be AOOIC’s sixth meeting since it was formed in 2001 to strengthen the relationships between the Anglican Communion and Oriental Orthodox Churches. It will be the first time that the group has met in Dublin – they will be guests of Anglican Archbishop Michael Jackson, one of the founding members of the Commission.
One of the successes of AOOIC has been discussions around Christology – an issue which divided the Church at the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, leaving the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Byzantine and Western Churches separated from one another. In 2014, Anglican and Oriental Orthodox theologians on AOOIC signed an agreement on their mutual understanding of Christology – what we believe together about the person of Jesus Christ – helping to heal one of the oldest continuing divisions within Christianity. That document is currently being considered by the Provinces of the Anglican Communion.
A spokesperson for Archbishop Michael said that “it is hoped that the agreed statement” on the Holy Spirit, which was worked on during their 2016 meeting in Lebanon, “will be completed and signed by the two co-chairs in the course of the meeting.”
In addition to discussing matters of theology, members of AOOIC will visit a number of significant Christian places in and around Dublin; including Saints Maximus and Domadius Coptic Church in Drumcondra for prayers in the Coptic tradition. The Coptic Pope Tawadros II visited the church earlier this year. They will also attend choral evensong and a reception in Christ Church Anglican Cathedral – the cathedral of the united Diocese of Dublin and Glendalough.
The Commission members will also visit the national cathedral of the Church of Ireland – Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, the Chester Beatty Library, Marsh’s Library, and also see the Book of Kells - an illuminated manuscript containing the four Gospels in Latin dating from the Saxon period.
They Lord Mayor of Dublin – the Ardmhéara Bhaile Átha Cliath – Mícheál Mac Donncha, will host a reception at the city’s Mansion for AOOIC members and leaders of other faiths in Ireland.
“We look forward to welcoming the Anglican Oriental-Orthodox International Commission to Dublin,” Archbishop Michael Jackson said. “Our hopes for this consultation are that the Commission might see that there is a spiritual core and a religious dynamic to Dublin historically and in lived actuality.
“These Oriental Orthodox Churches are firmly rooted in the Middle East and are amongst the oldest church families in the world today.
“When the Syrian Orthodox Church meets in prayer, they do so in Aramaic, the language of Jesus and the early Apostolic church. Their congregations number in the millions and with their visit we are reminded of challenges facing Christians in the Middle East and that more than half the Anglican provinces worldwide are facing persecution or are post-conflict or in actual conflict.
“The Coptic Orthodox Church often endure terrorist attacks in Egypt and Christian communities across Iraq and Syria have undergone great hardships as some seek to uproot these ancient communities”.