Not change the subject, but I'm trying to get a feel for the size of the two Churches of Antioch, Byzantine and Oriental Orthodox. Thanks for any help you can give with this.
The Syriac Church numbers about 600,000 in Syria and the surrounding area. The EO number over a million in the same area. Both however have large missions by emmigration and conversions overseas.
The EO, as Arabs are somewhat better positioned (Syriac is looked with suspicion as a divisive by some government types because it's not Arabic). Sati al-Husry, an architect of pan-Arabism and a Muslim, called the Arab patriarch of Antioch "the first victory of Arabism." The Syriacs are on the whole highly educated but are congregated in some isolated areas (which is how they survived).
As for combining the two communities, the Patriarchate of Alexandria has done that with her Greeks and Arabs: DL in all Churches in both languages, an Arab bishop (maybe more now), etc. Something similar would happen in Syria after reunion. In Egypt there would have to be further reorganization, as the Copts will swamp us: they outnumber us by more than 20 to 1 . A primate in the Middle East told me that was what was holding up the union: no one wanted to die, and the Copts swamping us, and the Arabs swamping the Syriac was a real (and founded) fear. Something, though, can be worked out on the model in Alexandria.
Btw when I was in Malula, one of the few areas where they still speak Aramaic, the churches there which submitted to Rome had their services in Arabic, which struck me as odd, as usually the Eastern churches lag behind in language change, and there it was in the forefront. Although the people spoke our Lord's language. I would have loved to have seen the primiere of "The Passion of the Christ" there.
Yes. The monks of Athos nay sayed the agreements, but as they have no Copts, Syriacs, etc. to deal with, so the Patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria went on.
There is de facto intercommunion in Syria and Egypt, the former in particular. I can personally attest to that in the 90's. I don't think things have moved in the opposite direction.
The fact that both Antioch and Alexandria recognize Syriac and Coptic marriages, something we don't do for any other church, is a partial step to full communion, and a necessary (as the Pastoral Agreement shows) one.