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Author Topic: A Proposed Formula for Reunion  (Read 1949 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: May 20, 2011, 10:01:41 AM »

This is a rough draft I've made for a possible reunion between our churches. Naturally, I don't expect anything to happen in the real world because I posted something on a message board, but for the sake of discussion I thought I'd post it here:

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We confess the Symbol of Faith as expressed by the Fathers of the 1st and 2nd Ecumenical Councils:

I believe in one God… etc.

Following the Holy Fathers, we confess one Christ who is fully God and fully human, with no confusion or division between his humanity and divinity. As a necessary corollary, we confess that His mother is Theotokos or Mother of God.

We accept the formula “One incarnate nature of God the Word” in its Orthodox understanding, as it was employed by the Holy Cyril as a safeguard against any suggestion that Christ is divided, or that his humanity and divinity constitute two distinct persons.  We understand the “one incarnate nature” to refer to the inseparable unity in Christ of his complete humanity and complete divinity, and thus He was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos,  without any confusion between His humanity and divinity, and we reject any suggestion that, in the union, his humanity is swallowed up or abridged by the divine nature.

We likewise accept, in its Orthodox understanding, the formula describing Christ as “One person or hypostasis in two natures” and its corollaries, “with two energies and two wills.” We again reject any interpretation of this formula suggesting that the distinction between the natures constitutes a division of hypostases or persons. Will and energy are necessary properties of nature; we therefore understand that Christ, who has a complete divine nature and a complete human nature, must have both a human will and a divine will, and a human energy and a divine energy. But since His two natures have one hypostasis, we hold that it is one and the same person who wills and energises naturally in both natures, of which, and in which, and also which is Christ our Lord. Finally, because the two natures are inseparably united by the one person of Christ, it is right to refer to his Mother Mary as the Theotokos.

We maintain that, because Christ is one hypostasis, fully divine and fully human, that it is good to portray Him in the Holy Icons, as well as his Mother the Theotokos and the angels and saints who reflect his glory, and that these sacred images should be displayed in the churches, in homes, and other places and venerated by the faithful, as reminders of our salvation, as invitations to holiness, and as heralds and windows of salvation for the entire creation. We venerate and light lamps before the icons as an expression of relative honor, not worshipping wood, paint, or stone, but conferring honor by means of the image to its Prototype.

I have tried here to avoid any mention of Chalcedon, Leo, Severus, or Dioscorous and just focus on the theological issues. I also think a reunion statement should not make any assertion as to who was right or wrong, or that both sides were right or wrong- that, to me, is just unnecessary controversy.

The OO churches should keep their rites; the continued veneration of Dioscorus and Severus should be left to them to decide.

Does this seem workable? Critiques would be appreciated.
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« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2011, 01:30:57 PM »

Well, before the naysayers start commenting and get this pulled into the private forum, I like it.
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« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2011, 12:40:25 AM »

The major problem, I think, is that for the sake of the redemption of the party that was wrong, who was right and who was wrong should be determined, so that their Sacramental reception can be planned accordingly.
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« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2011, 01:06:12 AM »

Well, this would solve many problems, but then there would be the problem of the two Patriarchs of Alexandria, as just one example of jurisdictional problems.  Then there is an Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, and the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, and we would need to work out jursidictional issues before there could be a full communion (or devote a massive amount of effort after communion to making the situation canonical).
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« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2011, 04:30:41 AM »

Ya, I personally don't find anything wrong with the statement.  In fact, really, what you wrote has already been written in the Joint Commissions.  Wink
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« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2011, 09:48:38 AM »

Deus, your position is really not Orthodox.
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« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2011, 05:13:21 PM »

The major problem, I think, is that for the sake of the redemption of the party that was wrong, who was right and who was wrong should be determined, so that their Sacramental reception can be planned accordingly.

Nothing we do today will affect the redemption (or lack thereof) of those who caused, participated in, failed to stop, etc the post-Chalcedon schism. All of those figures, whether they were in the right, in the wrong, or simply mistaken have long since passed into the hands of the Righteous Judge.

Our personal salvation is never determined by the salvation or sanctity of another human being. It depends only on Christ. There are individuals who think Fr. Seraphim Rose was a saint, there are others who do not. The Church of Russia has glorified Tsar Nicholas as a saint, but there are still plenty of Orthodox who disagree with this. There are even Orthodox who still question the glorification of St. Constantine. It is perfectly possible to share the same Orthodox faith and worship without agreeing whether person X is a saint or not--saints matter, but our attitude towards any particular saint is not a determinant of salvation.

Church history is replete with the healing of schisms along the lines Iconodule has proposed. Once everyone agrees that the *Faith* is the same, then relationship is restored without any official assigning of blame--that is left to God to whom it actually belongs in any case. I can think that the Non-Chalcedonian Fathers precipitated the schism, and that in reunion, the EO are bringing the non-Chalcedonians back within the embrace of the Church; minesoliman and Fr. Peter can think that the Chalcedonian Fathers caused the break and that in reunion, they are bringing me and the other EO back within the Embrace of the Church. Doesn't matter. What is/would be important, is that either way, a large number of people would in fact be restored to the Embrace of the Church.
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« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2011, 06:34:52 PM »

Deus, your position is really not Orthodox.

So you keep saying.  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2011, 06:34:52 PM »

Deus, your position is really not Orthodox.

Personally, I think your position that the EO and the OO collectively are the Orthodox Church is really not Orthodox.
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« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2011, 07:40:30 PM »

DVE,

Father Peter has been studying this stuff a lot longer than you have, and you yourself have observed that your own way of viewing the EO and the schism between us is the minority view.  For a number of years, Fr. Peter has also been defending the OO Church against the lies told about us by some Chalcedonians, which I personally know is a frustrating and maddening process.  He's not looking at the EO with rose colored glasses, but is instead stating the conclusion to which he has been led through research and study of this subject.

You are of course entitled to disagree with him, but I would try to address him with a little more humility and respect.  Just a suggestion.



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« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2011, 10:04:58 PM »

Nothing is going to work except for a joint statement that includes the following:

We receive the symbol of faith and the first three ecumenical councils with all their decisions and dogmas.
We receive the other four ecumenical councils with the common understanding:  ...(abc...). 

If the Orthodox (herein called "EO") have to reduce or renounce the Holy and truth-giving Ecumenical Councils of Chalcedon, Constantinople II and III (of which II is very favorable toward the orientals) or Nicea II as completely truth-bearing, then things shall remain as they are. 
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« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2011, 10:19:54 PM »

If the Orthodox (herein called "EO") have to reduce or renounce the Holy and truth-giving Ecumenical Councils of Chalcedon, Constantinople II and III (of which II is very favorable toward the orientals) or Nicea II as completely truth-bearing, then things shall remain as they are. 

Can you see anything in my proposed agreement that reduces or renounces these councils?

Is it not possible to accept the dogmatic teaching of a council without formally accepting the council itself? That is precisely what happened in the reunion between St. Cyril and John of Antioch.
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« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2011, 10:28:44 PM »

Ya, I personally don't find anything wrong with the statement.  In fact, really, what you wrote has already been written in the Joint Commissions.  Wink

Some of the points were in those Joint Commisions but those agreed statements also have some questionable points to them, especially the assertion that both sides have always loyally maintained the orthodox faith. That is a debatable historic opinion and I think any unnecessary controversy must be avoided in such a sensitive and complicated task as reuniting our churches.
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« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2011, 10:29:55 PM »

If the Orthodox (herein called "EO") have to reduce or renounce the Holy and truth-giving Ecumenical Councils of Chalcedon, Constantinople II and III (of which II is very favorable toward the orientals) or Nicea II as completely truth-bearing, then things shall remain as they are. 

Is it not possible to accept the dogmatic teaching of a council without formally accepting the council itself? That is precisely what happened in the reunion between St. Cyril and John of Antioch.

St. Cyril and John of Antioch were not discussing binding Ecumenical Councils.  So, my answer is no.  
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« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2011, 10:36:57 PM »

The major problem, I think, is that for the sake of the redemption of the party that was wrong, who was right and who was wrong should be determined, so that their Sacramental reception can be planned accordingly.

I think the agreement can be construed as a mass reception by confession of faith. That seems to be what was done when Ukrainian Catholics re-joined the Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2011, 10:37:40 PM »

If the Orthodox (herein called "EO") have to reduce or renounce the Holy and truth-giving Ecumenical Councils of Chalcedon, Constantinople II and III (of which II is very favorable toward the orientals) or Nicea II as completely truth-bearing, then things shall remain as they are.  

Is it not possible to accept the dogmatic teaching of a council without formally accepting the council itself? That is precisely what happened in the reunion between St. Cyril and John of Antioch.

St. Cyril and John of Antioch were not discussing binding Ecumenical Councils.  So, my answer is no.  

You don't consider Ephesus a binding Ecumenical Council? Because John of Antioch didn't accept it, at least not formally.

Keep in mind that the 6th ecumenical council refers to Dioscorus and Severus as "hated of God." The 5th ecumenical council says that those who don't accept Chalcedon are outside the Catholic church. So, in formally accepting these councils, the OO's will be agreeing that their beloved saints are "hated of God" and that they were outside the church until this point. Such an agreement can only be construed as a complete submission by the OO's and it's just not going to happen nor do I think it reasonable or necessary to expect this.
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« Reply #16 on: May 21, 2011, 11:21:37 PM »

nor do I think it reasonable or necessary to expect this.
Can you provide any patristic support for this line of thought? Perhaps the anathemas should have been worded "...let it be anathema, unless of course someone feels otherwise in which case, nvm"
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« Reply #17 on: May 21, 2011, 11:23:13 PM »

nor do I think it reasonable or necessary to expect this.
Can you provide any patristic support for this line of thought? Perhaps the anathemas should have been worded "...let it be anathema, unless of course someone feels otherwise in which case, nvm"

What anathemas are you referring to?

As for "patristic support," I again would refer you to the union between St. Cyril and John of Antioch. A common statement of faith was agreed to without the Antiochenes recognizing Ephesus or renouncing Theodore of Mopsuestia.
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« Reply #18 on: May 21, 2011, 11:24:08 PM »

Ya, I personally don't find anything wrong with the statement.  In fact, really, what you wrote has already been written in the Joint Commissions.  Wink

Some of the points were in those Joint Commisions but those agreed statements also have some questionable points to them, especially the assertion that both sides have always loyally maintained the orthodox faith. That is a debatable historic opinion and I think any unnecessary controversy must be avoided in such a sensitive and complicated task as reuniting our churches.

Aahh...okay, that's an interesting POV.

I will have to add though that it seemed despite allowing Theodore to be accepted, St. Cyril still spread letters defaming him and Diodore.  I'm not sure what to think of this.

Perhaps the huge lurking question is this:  If faith is more important than the person, instead of studying the theology of the persons themselves, would this entail that no matter what, even if the faith of the persons are questionable, the faith of their descendants count more?  Or should the faith of the persons condemned count as much as the faith of those today?  I think the Joint Commissions radical approach is this latter question, that not only do the persons today hold the same faith, but the persons condemned also hold the same faith, to keep some sort of consistency.  It's of course this radical approach that has everyone scratching heads and going crazy, but certainly this is a question that needs to be addressed in depth by each of the churches.

I personally do not know how to answer this question.  Certainly if the former question holds more true in general Orthodox understanding, then we should also include, perhaps, some Assyrians in this discussion as well (although Rafa's language here didn't sound promising anyway).
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« Reply #19 on: May 21, 2011, 11:38:19 PM »

I think another question concerning reunion is this.  What do we do with the canons of the Ecumenical Councils not accepted by the OO?  Are they to be binding only on the EO?  Or should the OO consent to be bound by these canons as well?
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« Reply #20 on: May 21, 2011, 11:39:01 PM »

I think St. Cyril hoped and believed that the Antiochenes could continue to respect Theodore and even use some of his language without actually subscribing substantively to his errors. I don't think St. Cyril was being inconsistent in continuing to polemicize against Theodore's false teaching. I think he was hoping that the errors could be refuted without there being a formal condemnation of the man.

The Joint Commissions' approach is to me not just radical, it's nonsensical. I hope a definitive, official answer to this question (who was right, who was wrong, was everyone right, etc.) is unnecessary because I think it would just bring us back to square one.
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« Reply #21 on: May 21, 2011, 11:43:35 PM »

I think another question concerning reunion is this.  What do we do with the canons of the Ecumenical Councils not accepted by the OO?  Are they to be binding only on the EO?  Or should the OO consent to be bound by these canons as well?

Your question here assumes that EO's follow ALL the canons, which is not true.  Some canons were enforced for the time and culture it was part of, having nothing to do with the faith of the Church.
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« Reply #22 on: May 21, 2011, 11:48:56 PM »

I think St. Cyril hoped and believed that the Antiochenes could continue to respect Theodore and even use some of his language without actually subscribing substantively to his errors. I don't think St. Cyril was being inconsistent in continuing to polemicize against Theodore's false teaching. I think he was hoping that the errors could be refuted without there being a formal condemnation of the man.

The Joint Commissions' approach is to me not just radical, it's nonsensical. I hope a definitive, official answer to this question (who was right, who was wrong, was everyone right, etc.) is unnecessary because I think it would just bring us back to square one.

Suppose someone continues to attack St. Severus and St. Dioscorus from the EO Church trying to expose some "errors" of their thinking.  I will immediately be brought to the defensive, and probably even be quite offensive as well in my replies.  It's just human nature.  As ideal as caring about Orthodoxy more than about the alleged heretic, I think the two sides really need to listen to each other on how consistently they've interpreted them in true Orthodox fashion.  The problem with continuing to venerate Theodore is precisely because many really continued to adopt his Nestorianism anyways later on in life, and that was a major issue, even for Justinian to resolve in his empire.  I think the Joint Commissions does make a point on this issue here.

Unless we learn to debate without dividing.  Can I continue to call Leo a heretic and yet acknowledge EO's Orthodoxy and oneness with us without being divisive?  Can I learn to accept the other side attacking Sts. Dioscorus and Severus without being offensive to the point of dividing the Church again?  That doesn't sound any more sensical than the Joint Commission's approach, and in fact, arguably less so.
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« Reply #23 on: May 22, 2011, 12:01:13 AM »

I for one wouldn't see any need to continue polemicizing against Dioscorus and Severus. My primary objection to them (and I think St. John of Damascus agrees with me here) is that they saw Chalcedon as a cause for schism. If that schism is resolved, then what need is there to continue arguing the point? Their point of view has already, in my mind, been materially defeated if our churches are united.  You, of course, will have a different perspective, but that is alright with me as long as I am not expected to agree with you- nor would I expect you to agree with me. The important thing is that we can hold a common faith now. Perhaps some OO's will continue to hold out and say they cannot accept communion with Chalcedonians. They would not be party to the agreement anyway, and I would let the reconciled OO's defend the new agreement to them.
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« Reply #24 on: May 22, 2011, 12:19:39 AM »

I think another question concerning reunion is this.  What do we do with the canons of the Ecumenical Councils not accepted by the OO?  Are they to be binding only on the EO?  Or should the OO consent to be bound by these canons as well?

Your question here assumes that EO's follow ALL the canons, which is not true.  Some canons were enforced for the time and culture it was part of, having nothing to do with the faith of the Church.

Except that - and I welcome any EO, especially a priest, to correct me if I am wrong - the EO still acknowledge the basis for the canons that are no longer followed as being fully legitimate and a part of the deposit of faith.  As well, many of the canons are followed, and if they are not also followed by the OO, this poses a problem because if a given council is ecumenical, then the whole Church must submit to it, and for a part of the Church to refuse to do so would be uncanonical.
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« Reply #25 on: May 22, 2011, 01:05:39 PM »

I applaud the OP's proposed formula, and do not wish to be negative at all. On the contrary.

But, it seems to me that there have been many such formulas which received a necessary degree of acceptance but which still failed to bring about a reunion. It is certainly not necessary to prove fault on one side, and although this is deusveritasest's view, it is not one which has even found acceptance in Orthodox history.

When the Georgian non-Chalcedonian Church came into communion with the Byzantines (mostly for political reasons) there was no finding of fault. A union simply took place and Chalcedon was accepted. Likewise when the union briefly took place in Alexandria in the 7th century there was no finding of fault, rather a recognition that the same substantial faith was held. At the various 6th century conferences which took place there was a general acceptance that the same faith was held. And in 1851 when the Greek Patriarch of Alexandria planned to enter into union with the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate and become a Metropolitan there was no issue with the substance of the faith.

The Henotikon, as one example, was broadly acceptable to all on the level of the Christology it described. St Severus accepted it as far as it went.

But... many of these opportunities have foundered over the issue of Chalcedon. I do not say this either positively or negatively, but as stating a matter of fact. Many of the early conferences achieved agreement on Christology quite easily - because there is substantial agreement on Christology. This is why the non-Chalcedonians have always accepted Chalcedonians into communion by confession of faith and not by (re)baptism, and have received clergy in their orders, usually requiring a period of probation to prove their stability.

But Chalcedon has been, and remains, a stumbling block. Certainly not an irreducible one as far as I can see. But it is one that cannot be ignored, and therefore in any reunion it must be faced and dealt with, as, to a lesser extent, must the other councils.

If I might be a little critical of your statement, I would say that you fail to properly represent what is meant by one will and one nature and one energy within our non-Chalcedonian, and, we would insist, Cyrilline Christology. It would seem to me that it would be advantageous for any such text to show that it understood the value and importance of these terms and was not simply excusing them. I certainly confess one will in Christ, but I am pretty sure that what I confess is not what you might understand, and is not what is condemned as monothelitism.

I would also not find it acceptable for Theodore of Mopsuestia to be considered a Father at all in any reunited communion. This is because what he DID teach is error, and St Cyril considered it utter error. He preserved him from a posthumous anathema for the sake of the unity of the Church not because he accepted his Christology at all.

Constantinople 553 is very clear...

If anyone defends the impious Theodore of Mopsuestia ... and if anyone does not anathematize him ... let him be anathema.

Leo is a different case. There is room for excusing his Christological language, considering what he meant, etc etc. And surely in any case, certainly as far as I am concerned, he was ecclesiologically heterodox, and even heterodox in his Trinitarian thought, much more than his Christology.

My personal opinion is that there should be much more inter-communication of theological explanations and questions. (I am grateful that an article of mine has been published in a Serbian theological journal for instance). But at some point it seems to me, the text of a council such as Constantinople 553 should be presented to the Holy Synods of the Oriental Orthodox, glossed with necessary explanatory material, and offered for reception as an Orthodox (not necessarily ecumenical) statement. If the Oriental Orthodox synods could accept Constantinople 553 as an Orthodox statement, with explanatory glosses, then this might be a necessary step forward.

It would require, on the Eastern Orthodox side, that they allowed that the text could be received apart from the event. I think that Constantinople 553 would be the easiest to deal with. It would provide some sort of a model for the other conciliar statements. At some point the Eastern Orthodox would need to consider what was important and what was necessary. To say that a statement is Orthodox is not the same as to say that it is ecumenical, and it is certainly not the same as saying that the historical narrative that has been built up by the Eastern Orthodox around these issues is acceptable.

I could, for instance, imagine accepting the text of Chalcedon even, as Orthodox, with suitable glosses to show what is meant when the Eastern Orthodox use it. But I could never accept the narrative built up around the event of Chalcedon in 451 which I consider biased and false. (I am not wanting to argue about that at all). But if the text can be separated from the event then there is the possibility of agreement, if the event must be understood as most Eastern Orthodox presently choose to describe it, then there is no possibility of reunion ever - which is the same outcome as has always been the case.

What matters? The Eastern Orthodox must reflect on this. Is it that there is agreement on the substance of the faith, or that there is agreement on the historical narrative which has built up around each event? If it is the first, then agreement has already been shown to be possible time and again through Church history. If it is the latter, then we will find that progress fails at the same point.
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« Reply #26 on: May 22, 2011, 06:25:33 PM »

The issue of Severus and Dioscorus is an interesting one.  To this we can perhaps refer to the various councils that condemned "Cyril Lukaris" followed by a council that acquitted the real Patriarch (St.) Cyril Lukaris and explained that as it was proven that his writings were not his, but pseudonymous "Cyril Lukaris," it was the pseudo-author that is condemned, not the Patriarch.   Is it possible that the 6th council was reviewing not only actual writings but also writings falsely ascribed (perhaps no longer extant) written in their names but known to the OO to not have been written by them?   If so then what was condemned was not the person, but another pseudonymous person or even writing that was a bad transcription, etc. 

Also, from my perspective, I don't think we should be pursuing reunion with the Easterns (Nestorians), nor making appeasements in the direction of Theodore of Mopsuestia, etc.   I think enough has been demonstrated to show the possibility that the Non-Chalcedonians and the Chalcedonians do indeed share the same Orthodox Faith.   There is no such possibility with the Nestorians in my opinion.  Let Theodore lay under anathema unless it can be demonstrated that what is ascribed to him is also pseudonymous. 

I agree that the 5th Council is a starting place:  that the 4th and 6th as seen through the lens of the 5th is the greatest possibility for reunion.  The 5th gives strong language in its capitula that states that Chalcedon cannot be interpreted otherwise than through a single Christ without being in heresy.  A very strong starting point indeed.   
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« Reply #27 on: May 23, 2011, 02:37:26 PM »

Fr. Peter- No one in my communion considers Theodore a father- you can be assured that his rehabilitation is not something to worry about. When it comes to our differences over Leo, Severus, or Dioscorus, I don't think any of these men present such a problem as the veneration of Theodore did in the 5th and 6th centuries.

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If I might be a little critical of your statement, I would say that you fail to properly represent what is meant by one will and one nature and one energy within our non-Chalcedonian, and, we would insist, Cyrilline Christology

I confess that I've seen very little historic material directly presenting the non-Chalcedonian conception of one will/ one energy, therefore I did  not feel equipped to say anything about it. What would you offer as a brief summary of these teachings?
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« Reply #28 on: May 25, 2011, 03:11:00 AM »

especially the assertion that both sides have always loyally maintained the orthodox faith. That is a debatable historic opinion

Precisely the main problem with the Joint Statements, thank you.  Wink
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« Reply #29 on: May 25, 2011, 03:11:00 AM »

The major problem, I think, is that for the sake of the redemption of the party that was wrong, who was right and who was wrong should be determined, so that their Sacramental reception can be planned accordingly.

I think the agreement can be construed as a mass reception by confession of faith. That seems to be what was done when Ukrainian Catholics re-joined the Orthodox Church.

I'm very uncomfortable with that approach, and I do not see it really supported in the works of the Fathers on the nature of the Church and the Sacraments.
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« Reply #30 on: May 25, 2011, 03:11:00 AM »

I will have to add though that it seemed despite allowing Theodore to be accepted

Saint Cyril allowed this?
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« Reply #31 on: February 02, 2012, 06:04:43 PM »

The challenges of jurisdictional re-union need not be an immediate barrier to re-union. ROCOR has many over lapping hierarchical positions but they have been able to re-unite with the rest of Orthodoxy as far as con-celebration go. Of course it will need to be addressed in order to create proper canonical regulation but in the meantime we EO have chosen (and rightly so I believe) to exercise  economia in a constructive way and have produced wonderful results. The overlapping jurisdictions of ROCOR and whatever other jurisdiction they may overlap were not, according to our bishops, a justifiable reason to reject con-celebration.
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