Joint Commission for Dialogue between the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and the Assyrian Church of the East
March 2, 1998
Saint Mor Maron Monastery; Annaya-Lebanon
In continuation of the official dialogue between the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Assyrian Church of the East which was begun in 1988, a second dialogue was initiated with the blessings and the presence of both their holinesses Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas Patriarch of Antioch and all the East and Mar Dinkha IV Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East for the purpose of bringing rapprochement between the two sister churches of the same Syriac tradition. Also, considering the success of the meetings of the five churches of the Syriac tradition (Syrian Orthodox, Maronite & Catholic, and Assyrian and Chaldean) within the framework of the non-official dialogue of Pro Oriente Foundation, both of their holinesses have agreed to continue the official theological dialogue between the two churches and have appointed a commission that include their excellencies: Mor Gregorios Youhanna Ibrahim, Metropolitan of Aleppo and Mor Cyril Afram Karim, Patriarchal Vicar in Eastern United States from the Syrian Orthodox Church; and Mar Narsai De Baz, Metropolitan of Syria, Lebanon, and Europe and Patriarchal General Vicar, and Mar Bawai Soro, Bishop of Seattle and General Secretary of Commission on Inter-church Relations from the Assyrian Church of the East.
The dialogue commission convened in sessions parallel to the meetings of Pro Oriente's permanent commission of churches of the Syriac tradition on Monday, 2 March 1998, at Saint Mar Maron Monastery in Annaya, Lebanon. The meeting was opened with a prayer; and the participants deliberated the fundamental issues upon which this dialogue could to be based, and the general theological and cultural objectives which shall bring closer ties between the two sister churches. The delegates agreed to establish the following points as agenda items for the next dialogue meetings of this commission:
1. In regards to questions on christology, the commission will study the two Common Christological Declarations respectively signed by their holinesses Patriarch Mor Ignatious Yakob III and Pope Paul VI in 1971, and by their holinesses Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV and Pope John Paul II in 1994.
2. Concerning pastoral issues, the commission will study two documents respectively signed by their holinesses Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas and Pope John Paul II in 1984, and by their holinesses Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV and Patriarch Mar Raphael I Bidawid in 1997.
3. The Sacraments and their significance in the theology of each church.
4. The significance of the common Syriac culture for both churches and the ways through which they will be able to maintain and develop a common position to encourage the usage of their mother tong, the Syriac/Aramaic language, in various liturgical and educational programs.
It was agreed that the above agenda will be presented to the Holy Synods of both churches for its approval so that the commission will begin its study at its next meeting in Vienna on 8 & 9 October 1998.
Source: Mar Bawai Soro