Question Number 456:

I read an article on this website referencing a question whether or not the Coptic and Byzantine Rite Orthodox churches should re-unite. The Copts (Oriental Orthodox) in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Armenia, India, and beyond Number in the tens of millions. I personally find the Copts very intriguing as they are the ones responsible for keeping the Antiochian and Alexandrian Rites alive throughout time, offering the preservation of ancient languages and traditions which would have otherwise been lost. From what I have read regarding the nature of the split and the current status I can't seem to imagine why there is not more attention being put on this issue. We are talking about tens of millions of Christians living outside full communion of the Church for seemingly non-existent reasons and no one seems to be doing anything about it. I hear more news all the time about Orthodox Bishops meeting with the Pope, and the whole effort to reunify the East with the West but hardly ever hear of the Oriental issue. Re-uniting East and West to me seems like a highly idealistic goal that theologically, at least for the current time, seems more distant than ever. Yet it seems that in the much more practical goal of bringing unity back between the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches there is little to no effort. It almost gives one the impression that there is money at work here. The majority of Oriental Orthodox adherents are very poor and probably wouldn‘t be able to contribute all that much to the coffers. If this is not the reason, why is there no push to bring all the Patriarchs and bishops together to hammer this seemingly much simpler issue out?

ANSWER:

Actually, great efforts have been made in Chambesy (Switzerland) by the joint commission, and there have been practical results. The issue is not money, there is simply an inertia and resistance after so long. For example there is the issue of saints (or either side) and anathemas, how to recognize the 7 councils, and the fact that there are 2 competing hierarchies in Alexandria and Damascus. The people and clergy need to persist in prayer and mutual kenosis to achieve this goal which undoubtedly is the Lord's desire.

Answered on 11/25/2009 by Fr Laurent

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