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November 1999

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Dialogue between the Syrian Orthodox & Syrian Catholic Churches

November 2, 1999

DAMASCUS. The Syrian Episcopal Joint Committee held its first meeting in the Monastery of our Lady of Deliverance-Sharfeh, Harisa, Tuesday November 2, 1999. The meeting was presided jointly by His Holiness Mor Ignatius Zakka I, Iwas, the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All The East, and His Beatitude Mor Ignatius Moussa I, Da'oud, Patriarch of Antioch for the Syrian Catholics.

The meeting was opened by a prayer from the Order of Church Consecration and Dedication according to the Syrian Antiochian Liturgy. Then His Holiness Patriarch Zakka delivered the opening speech expressing his feeling of rejoice and happiness for this historical blessed get to gather for the first time since the painful division that took place in the 17th century. His Holiness emphasized the fact that the two Churches have one people and one Syrian heritage. He further reiterated that what brought us together was much stronger than what divided us. His Holiness cited the efforts of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch in the path of the contemporary ecumenical work particularly after the historical joint declaration of His Holiness Pope Paul VI, and His Holiness Ya`qub III, 1971, and the second declaration signed by His Holiness Patriarch Zakka I, Iwas, and His Holiness John Paul II, 1984. By these two declarations a new page in the relations between the two apostolic Churches, the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and the Roman Catholic Church was opened.

His Beatitude Patriarch Moussa I responded saying that it was the desire of His Holiness Patriarch Zakka I, for a joint effort by the two Churches that made it possible to start this official dialogue. He stated that the response of His Holiness surpassed all dreams, strengthened hopes and walked not half the way, but the whole way to unity. He went on saying 'with this common will and fraternal determination, and after consultation and reaching consensus, it gives us pleasure to announce today the opening of the joint ecumenical dialogue between our two Syrian Churches and bring the good news to our faithful children who have been longing to this whole heartedly.

At the conclusion of the first session in the presence of representatives of the media, the joint Syrian Episcopal Committee held its second meeting and discussed each of the items of the agenda, and agreed on the following:

  1. Prepare a draft by-law.
  2. Identify the most important objectives for the next stage.
  3. Study future practical steps.
  4. Prepare a program for joint celebration of the 3rd Millenium.

The two Patriarchs appointed Metropolitan Yohana Ibrahim and Metropolitan Michael Jamil as co-presidents to the Committee and decided to hold the next meeting at St. Ephraim's Monastery in Ma'arrat Saydnaya, Damascus, Syria under the presidency of the two Patriarchs in the second half of the year 2000.

Source: H.E. Archbishop Mor Clemis E. Kaplan



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