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|Ut unum sint|
Ioannes Paulus PP. II
1995 05 25
IntraText SC - Text
Relations with the Ancient Churches of the East
62. In the period following the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church has also, in different ways and with greater or lesser rapidity, restored fraternal relations with the Ancient Churches of the East which rejected the dogmatic formulations of the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon. All these Churches sent official observers to the Second Vatican Council; their Patriarchs have honoured us by their visits, and the Bishop of Rome has been able to converse with them as with brothers who, after a long time, joyfully meet again.
The return of fraternal relations with the Ancient Churches of the East witnesses to the Christian faith in situations which are often hostile and tragic. This is a concrete sign of how we are united in Christ in spite of historical, political, social and cultural barriers. And precisely in relation to Christology, we have been able to join the Patriarchs of some of these Churches in declaring our common faith in Jesus Christ, true God and true man. Pope Paul VI of venerable memory signed declarations to this effect with His Holiness Shenouda III, the Coptic Orthodox Pope and Patriarch,103 and with His Beatitude Jacoub III, the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch.104 I myself have been able to confirm this Christological agreement and draw on it for the development of dialogue with Pope Shenouda,105 and for pastoral cooperation with the Syrian Patriarch of Antioch Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas.106
When the Venerable Patriarch of the Ethiopian Church, Abuna Paulos, paid me a visit in Rome on 11 June 1993, together we emphasized the deep communion existing between our two Churches: "We share the faith handed down from the Apostles, as also the same sacraments and the same ministry, rooted in the apostolic succession ... Today, moreover, we can affirm that we have the one faith in Christ, even though for a long time this was a source of division between us".107
More recently, the Lord has granted me the great joy of signing a common Christological declaration with the Assyrian Patriarch of the East, His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, who for this purpose chose to visit me in Rome in November 1994. Taking into account the different theological formulations, we were able to profess together the true faith in Christ.108 I wish to express my joy at all this in the words of the Blessed Virgin: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord" (Lk 1:46).
63. Ecumenical contacts have thus made possible essential clarifications with regard to the traditional controversies concerning Christology, so much so that we have been able to profess together the faith which we have in common. Once again it must be said that this important achievement is truly a fruit of theological investigation and fraternal dialogue. And not only this. It is an encouragement for us: for it shows us that the path followed is the right one and that we can reasonably hope to discover together the solution to other disputed questions.