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Anglican–Oriental Orthodox International Commission to meet in Dublin for the first time

The last meeting of the Anglican–Oriental Orthodox International Commission in October 2017, at Antelias, Lebanon.
The last meeting of the Anglican–Oriental Orthodox International Commission in October 2017, at Antelias, Lebanon.

The Anglican–Oriental Orthodox International Commission will meet in Dublin from October 23 to 28 for the first time since its foundation. Hosted by the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson, who is one of the founding members, the Commission will consider two main items. The first is the completion of an agreed text on the Holy Spirit that will be linked with the mission of the Church. It is hoped that the agreed statement will be completed and signed by the two co–chairs in the course of the meeting. The second agenda item is an initial exploration of areas around “authority in the Church”.

This will be the sixth meeting of the Commission since its foundation in 2001. While in Dublin, members will attend St Maximous and St Domatius Coptic Orthodox Church in Drumcondra for prayers in the Coptic tradition.

They will also visit the Chester Beatty Library, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Marsh’s Library, the Book of Kells in Trinity College. They will attend Choral Evensong and a reception in Christ Church Cathedral hosted by Dean Dermot Dunne and a reception in the Mansion House to meet the Ardmhéara Bhaile Átha Cliath/Lord Mayor of Dublin Mícheál Mac Donncha and leaders of other faiths in Ireland and members of inter faith groups.

“We look forward to welcoming the Anglican–Oriental Orthodox International Commission to Dublin and 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,” said Archbishop Michael Jackson.

He added: “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.”

The Anglican–Oriental Orthodox Commission was established in 2001 to strengthen the relationships between the Anglican Communion and Oriental Orthodox Churches and discuss important theological issues. Among these is the issue of Christology which divided the Church at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD, leaving the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Byzantine and Western Churches separated from one another.

Building on the dialogues between the Oriental Churches and the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, it quickly produced a draft Agreement on Christology, which is currently being considered by the Churches of the Anglican Communion. After a long suspension from 2003, the Dialogue resumed with a meeting in the UK in 2013 and in Cairo in 2014. At the Cairo meeting, theologians officially representing the Churches of the Anglican Communion and the Oriental Orthodox Churches made history by signing 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.

The official dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Oriental Orthodox Churches reached further agreement on the theological understanding of the Holy Spirit at their fifth meeting in Lebanon in 2016. The Archbishop of Dublin was among the Anglican members of the Commission present.