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Dialogue between Malankara Orthodox Church and Catholic Church

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Doctrinal Agreement on Christology

approved by Catholicos Mar Baselius Marthoma Mathews I and Pope John Paul II
issued June 3rd, 1990

1. In our first meeting which was characterized by a spirit of concord, mutual trust, fraternal love and desire to overcome division and misunderstandings inherited from the past, we found our common ground in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic faith, held by the one and undivided Church of the early centuries, the faith in Christ always affirmed by both sides.

2. Above all we thank the Lord Our God for having brought us together for a cordial and sincere dialogue on some doctrinal and pastoral problems which can stand in the way of our mutual ecclesial relations and communion.

3. In this atmosphere we have worked out this brief statement to be submitted to our respective church authorities for their approval, wherein we seek to express our common understanding of, and our common witness to the great and saving mystery of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God Incarnate; we hope, this statement can lead us to the restoration of full communion between our churches. Our work was made much easier by the painstaking documentation and detailed discussions held at an unofficial level by our theologians during the past twenty-five years.

4. We affirm our common faith in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, the Eternal Logos of God, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, who for us and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit from the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. We believe that Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, is true God and true man. The Word of God has taken a human body with a rational soul, uniting humanity with divinity.

5. Our Lord Jesus Christ is one, perfect in his humanity and perfect in his divinity — at once consubstantial with the Father in his divinity, and consubstantial with us in his humanity. His humanity is one with his divinity — without change, without commingling, without division and without separation. In the Person of the Eternal Logos Incarnate are united and active in a real and perfect way the divine and human natures, with all their properties, faculties and operations.

6. Divinity was revealed in humanity. The Glory of the Father was manifest in the flesh of the Son. We saw the Father’s love in the life of the suffering Servant. The Incarnate Lord died on the Cross that we may live. He rose again on the third day, and opened for us the way to the Father and to eternal life.

7. All who believe in the Son of God and receive him by faith and baptism are given power to become children of God. Through the Incarnate Son into whose body they are integrated by the Holy Spirit, they are in communion with the Father and with one another. This is the heart of the mystery of the Church, in which and through which the Father by His Holy Spirit renews and reunites the whole creation in Christ. In the Church, Christ the Word of God is known, lived, proclaimed and celebrated.

8. It is this faith which we both confess. Its content is the same in both communions; in formulating that content in the course of history, however, differences have arisen, in terminology and emphasis. We are convinced that these differences are such as can co-exist in the same communion and therefore need not and should not divide us, especially when we proclaim Him to our brothers and sisters in the world in terms which they can more easily understand.

9. It is the awareness of our common faith that leads us to pray that the Holy Spirit of God may remove all remaining obstacles and lead us to that common goal — the restoration of full communion between our churches.

[Information Service 73 (1990/II) 39] Centro Pro Union

Mystery of the Incarnate Word; Christology; Mixed Marriages

Statement of the joint commission between
the Roman Catholic Church and
the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church

1. In our first meeting which was characterized by a spirit of concord, mutual trust, fraternal love and desire to overcome division and misunderstandings inherited from the past, we found our common ground in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic faith, held by the one and undivided Church of the early centuries, the faith in Christ always affirmed by both sides.

2. Above all we thank the Lord Our God for having brought us together for a cordial and sincere dialogue on some doctrinal and pastoral problems which can stand in the way of our mutual ecclesial relations and communion.

3. In this atmosphere we have worked out this brief statement to be submitted to our respective church authorities for their approval, wherein we seek to express our common understanding of, and our common witness to the great and saving mystery of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God Incarnate; we hope, this statement can lead us to the restoration of full communion between our churches. Our work was made much easier by the painstaking documentation and detailed discussions held at an unofficial level by our theologians during the past twenty-five years.

4. We affirm our common faith in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, the Eternal Logos of God, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, who for us and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit from the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. We believe that Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, is true God and true man. The Word of God has taken a human body with a rational soul, uniting humanity with divinity.

5. Our Lord Jesus Christ is one, perfect in his humanity and perfect in his divinity � at once consubstantial with the Father in his divinity, and consubstantial with us in his humanity. His humanity is one with his divinity � without change, without commingling, without division and without separation. In the Person of the Eternal Logos Incarnate are united and active in a real and perfect way the divine and human natures, with all their properties, faculties and operations.

6. Divinity was revealed in humanity. The Glory of the Father was manifest in the flesh of the Son. We saw the Father’s love in the life of the suffering Servant. The Incarnate Lord died on the Cross that we may live. He rose again on the third day, and opened for us the way to the Father and to eternal life.

7. All who believe in the Son of God and receive him by faith and baptism are given power to become children of God. Through the Incarnate Son into whose body they are integrated by the Holy Spirit, they are in communion with the Father and with one another. This is the heart of the mystery of the Church, in which and through which the Father by His Holy Spirit renews and reunites the whole creation in Christ. In the Church, Christ the Word of God is known, lived, proclaimed and celebrated.

8. It is this faith which we both confess. Its content is the same in both communions; in formulating that content in the course of history, however, differences have arisen, in terminology and emphasis. We are convinced that these differences are such as can co-exist in the same communion and therefore need not and should not divide us, especially when we proclaim Him to our brothers and sisters in the world in terms which they can more easily understand.

9. It is the awareness of our common faith that leads us to pray that the Holy Spirit of God may remove all remaining obstacles and lead us to that common goal � the restoration of full communion between our churches.

Date of publication, June 3, 1990
Feast of Pentecost

The following represented the Orthodox side:

Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios
Metropolitan of Delhi, co-chairman
His Grace the Catholicos designate Mathews Mar Coorilos
Very Rev. Ramban Theophoros
Rev. Fr. Dr. V. C. Samuel
Rev. Fr. T. J. Joshua
(Substitute for H. G. Dr. Philipose Mar Theophilos)
Rev. Fr. Dr. Jacob Kurien
(Substitute for Rev. Fr. Dr. Mar Athanasius)
Rev. Fr. Dr. M. A. Mathai
(Substitute for Rev. Fr. Dr. K. M. George)
Rev. Fr. Dr. V. P. Varghese
Mr. P. C. Abraham
Mr. Paul Mathai

The following represented the Catholic side:

Revd Fr. Pierre Duprey
co-chairman, Secretary, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (Vatican)
His Grace Mar Joseph Powathil
Malabar Archbishop of Changanacherry
His Excellency Mar Kuriakose Kunnacherry
Malabar Bishop of Kottayam
His Excellency Bishop Patrick D’Souza
Latin Bishop of Varanasi
His Excellency Bishop Mar Cyril Baselios Malancharuvil
Malankar Bishop of Bathery
Rev. Fr. Dr. E. R. Hambye (Rome)
Monsignor G�rard Daucourt (Rome)
Rev. Fr. Dr. Xavier Koodapuzha
Rev. Fr. Dr. Mathew Vellanickal
Rev. Fr. Dr. Geevarghese Chediath

Interim Report on Marriage

The joint international commission for dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church of India The Commission in its first meeting held at Sophia Center, Kottayam, from Oct. 22 to 25, 1989 had set up a sub-commission to study the issue of marriages between the members of the Catholic Church and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. The sub-commission presented its study report to the commission in its second meeting held at Spirituality Center, Manganam, Kottayam from 9th – 12th Dec. 1990. Having discussed the report, the Commission agreed upon the following points:

1. Both our churches affirm their common loyalty to the Catholic and Apostolic Tradition. This living tradition is always an open, growing and dynamic reality, with both a universally common core and specific ways of understanding, expression and practice which have become part of the reality of the Church for Christians living in various localities.

2. In the matter of Matrimony as a Christian Sacrament, while we recognize that the historical record is not always clear, and that some of the present practices and beliefs are the result of long developments which are not uniform in all localities, we agree, along with all ancient churches that Matrimony is a Holy Sacramental Mystery of the Church; the Church itself is the great Sacramental Mystery of Christ’s Incarnation. While our practices vary, even within one Church, in regard to the Sacrament of Matrimony, we confess that it is the Church which administers all sacramental mysteries enabling the faithful to share in the mystery of the Kingdom of God.

3. The man-woman relationship is integral to the original Creation (Gen 1:26-28). Our Lord himself taught us that in the beginning the twain were one and that it is ultimately God who joins together man and woman in marriage to become one flesh (Mt 19:4-6). Christian marriage derives its meaning from the great mystery of the union of Christ with his bride, the Church (Eph 5:22-32).

4. We agree that the marriage between Christians is a Sacrament, is for life and is indissoluble. Differences of practice prevail among our various traditions in relation to the impediments to marriage, declaration of the nullity of marriage and separation of married couples. These differences need to be further studied by the sub-commission to see to what extent, if any, they affect marriages between Catholics and Orthodox.

5. We recognize that the mutual consent of the marriage partners is a constitutive element in the Sacrament of Matrimony. However, the expression of that mutual consent seems to take different forms in the canonical practices of our ecclesial traditions.

6. We are also agreed that the Eucharist is the crown of all sacramental mysteries. Hence in Christian married life the communion of husband and wife in the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Christ is of central importance.

7. Our two churches are not now in Eucharistic communion with each other. This situation makes it difficult for members of the two different churches to be united in matrimony and to continue in one Eucharistic Fellowship. The Roman Catholic Church has special provisions for “mixed marriages” and for pastoral care of the “mixed” married couple and their children. The Malankara Orthodox Church does not now permit its members to continue in that Church after marrying someone not in that Communion. Each church justifies its present practice on theological and canonical grounds.

8. The Commission, based on the report of the sub-commission, discussed various possibilities of finding a mutually acceptable interim arrangement for marriages between members of the two churches until Eucharistic communion is restored between them. The discussion led to the elaboration of certain principles, on the basis of which the sub-commission should make further studies and bring specific proposals to the next meeting of the commission.

9. The main principles are the followings:

a. Marriages between members of two churches not in Eucharistic communion with each other are not normal, and should be allowed only in exceptional circumstances, and be treated as special cases.

b. The two churches recognize two fundamental considerations for making interim provisions in such marriages:

i) The Church has a God-given responsibility to be faithful to the Apostolic tradition it has inherited, and to maintain it in its integrity without compromise;

ii) The Church has also a similarly God – given responsibility for the pastoral nurture and care of its members through Word and Sacrament, and to provide for their spiritual growth and general welfare.

When these considerations seem to come in conflict with each other in some cases, special measures have to be devised.

c. In devising any interim measures, not only should the two principles be held in view; it should be recognized that the Malankara Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church hold in common a very large area of the Christian faith and tradition. Arrangements made between these churches may or may not be applicable in the case of other churches.

d. There are differences of practice even within the Roman Catholic Church.

This interim report is submitted to our respective authorities; a further report with specific proposals will be prepared by the sub-commission in order to be considered by the next plenary meeting of the Commission.

(Information Service 77 (1991/II) 104-105) Centro Pro Union

Ecclesial Communion; Sacramental Mysteries; Marriage; Eucharistic Communion”

Interim Report on Ecclesial Eucharistic Communion

Statement of the joint commission between the Roman Catholic and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church of India

1. We give thanks to God for having brought us together again to pray and work for the advancement of unity and for the strengthening of relations between our two churches, on our way to the restoration of Eucharistic communion. We experienced again the presence of the Holy Spirit among us, leading us in Christ to that unity for which He prayed.

2. Our previous agreement on our common understanding of the great central mystery of the Incarnation was the foundation and basis for our discussion, particularly since Christological disputes were the occasion for the original breach of communion, centuries ago, between the Roman Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. The Christ whom we jointly confess, is the One who also prays for us “that they all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe, that Thou has sent me” (Jn 17:21).

3. The unity of faith is a necessary condition for common participation in the sacramental life of the Church, and particularly for the common celebration of the Eucharist. The fact that we have been able to make a common confession of our faith in the Incarnate Lord Jesus Christ, encourages us to go forward to identify and articulate other areas of agreement, and to examine again any divergences, real or apparent, that may seem to stand in the way of restoring communion. Our common loyalty and commitment to the one Apostolic tradition of the church gives us hope that, by the grace of God, all obstacles can be overcome.

4. We agree that the life of the Triune God, which is communion in love, is the prototype and source of true Christian unity and of ecclesial-eucharistic communion. The Church itself which is communion in Christ by the Holy Spirit, is the great sacramental mystery by which the whole creation is brought into communion with the Triune God.

5. The Holy Eucharist is the central experience and summit of communion, and unfortunately also the place where our divisions are most evident, and where our witness to the world is most clearly impaired by our disunity. It is important therefore to remove all obstacles to communion, so that our witness to the world may be one.

6. Communion in the Church is both in the Holy Spirit who creates the communion and indwells it, and also in the sacramental mysteries of the Church. This unity is a lived unity, marked by the presence of the Holy Spirit and by common adherence to the same faith, same sacramental life, and same Apostolic ministry.

7. All of us agree that the unity of the Church involves communion among many churches united by the same faith and the same sacramental-ministerial structure of the church. But there are obvious divergences in our perception of how that ecclesial structure is to be manifested. These divergences will need to be examined, in order to remove all obstacles to restoring communion.

8. A variety of liturgical forms, sacramental practices, disciplinary procedures, and streams of theological and spiritual traditions, co-exist within the Roman Catholic Communion. These are no impediment to communion. Communion does not demand uniformity in all respects. The Malankara Catholic Church is almost identical with the Malankara Orthodox Church in their liturgical and canonical practices, and yet they are not in communion. The reasons need to be studied, and the conditions for restoring communion to be made more precise.

Roman Catholic Church
H.E. Bishop Pierre Duprey (Co-chairman)
H.G. Archbishop Mar Joseph Powathil
H.G. Mar Kuriakose Kunnacherry
H.E. Bishop Patrick D’Souza
H.G. Mar Cyril Baselios
Monsignor G�rard Daucourt
Rev. Fr. Dr. Mathew Vellanickal
Rev. Fr. Dr. Xavier Koodapuzha
Rev. Fr. Dr. Geevarghese Chediath

Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church
H.G. Paulos Mar Gregorios (Co-chairman)
H.G. Mathews Mar Coorilos
H.G. Philipos Mar Theophilos
H.G. Thomas Mar Athanasius
Very Rev. Fr. Ramban Theophoros
Very Rev. Fr. Ramban M.A. Mathai
Rev. Fr. Dr. Jacob Kurian
Sri P.C. Abraham
Sri Paul Mathai
(Information Service 77 (1991/II) 105-106)

Statement on the Synod of Diamper (A.D. 1599)

Kottayam, 29 October 1999
This year being the fourth centenary of the Synod of Diamper (Udayamperur) which was held from the 20th to the 26th June 1599, we, the members of the Joint International Commission for Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Malankara Orthodox Church consider it very opportune to share with our brothers and sisters of both the Churches our findings on the nature and consequences of the Synod of Diamper with the firm hope of creating an increasing awareness of the urgent need of healing the bitter memories of the past which stand in the way of our reconciliation and mutual communion.

The undivided ancient apostolic Church of the St. Thomas Christians came into contact with the Portuguese in the sixteenth century. The Roman Catholic Missionaries who accompanied them, unjustly accused the St. Thomas Christians of upholding Nestorianism. Through the Goan Synods and through the seminary formation at Cranganore. Vaipinkotta etc., there was a systematic attempt to conform the indigenous Church to the Latin Church.

The activities in connection with the Synod of Diamper brought drastic changes in the ecclesiastical life of the St. Thomas Christians. Westernization and Latinization were the main results of the activities of the missionaries and the colonial power. The Church was forced to adopt several changes in the Latin direction. Consequently the identity and the heritage of the St. Thomas Christians were severely distorted.

As is evident from the canons of the Synod, under the direction of the missionaries, the liturgy was mutilated, the hierarchical relation with the Persian Church was discontinued and substantial changes regarding the practices and tradition of the St. Thomas Christians were introduced.

Despite certain positive aspects great damage was done to the ecclesial heritage of this local Church by the Synod. The saddest consequence of the Synod was the loss of freedom and the division of the one apostolic ancient Church in India into two, one section which later came to be known as the Syro Malabar Church and the other one as the Malankara Orthodox Church. This also led to further divisions and all sections of the St. Thomas Christians are suffering from it.

This common reading of such a crucial historical event in the life of St. Thomas Christians takes us a long way in our search for reconciliation and rediscovery of the identity of the Churches of St. Thomas tradition.

We are happy that some efforts have been initiated towards this. The setting up of this Joint Commission for Dialogue is one. We have already studied and drawn up an agreed statement on Christology; details of an interim agreement on Inter church marriage are being pursued, steps have been taken for a more effective common witness, to mention only a few. So we look forward to the future with hope assured of the desire of our faithful.

[Information Service 102 (1999/IV) 251-252]


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