Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia Hosts International Theological Dialogue

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–At the invitation of His Holiness Aram I–representatives from the Oriental Orthodox family of Churches and World Alliance of Reformed Churches met January 23-28–2001–at the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia in Antelias-Lebanon.

The two sides continued their discussion on the role and understanding of the sacramen’s. They evaluated and analyzed the fruits of the seven dialogue sessions–which spanned from 1993 to 2001–and led them to Egypt–Netherlands–India–United States–Syria–Scotland and Lebanon. A general report on these conversations were discussed and adopted by the participants–and will be submitted to the Heads of the Oriental Orthodox family of Churches and the Executive Committee of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.

The present session was co-chaired by His Eminence Metropolitan Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church and Rev. Dr. Christopher Kaiser of the Reformed Church in America. Since this session was the last in the present phase of the dialogue–there was an atmosphere of gratitude for what had been achieved during the last several years. The two families acknowledge that they have grown in understanding of each other’s positions–and have deep awareness of the issues that continue to challenge ecumenical relationships.

The participants gained insights into the rich spiritual life of the Armenian Apostolic Church by sharing liturgical traditions–prayers offered at the Martyrs Chapel and a visit to the Catholicosate’s Cilicia Museum–which preserves treasures saved from the time of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. The participants were met by General Secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches–Rev. Dr. Riad Jarjour–and experienced the practice of ecumenical theological education during a visit to the Near East School of Theology in Beirut.

Visits were also made to the Armenian Theological Seminary in Bikfaya–the historic site of Byblos and the Bird’s Nest Orphanage.

Participants on both sides expressed their deep gratitude to His Holiness Aram I for making this meeting possible and extended their congratulations to the Armenian Apostolic Church on the occasion of the celebration of the 1700th Anniversary of the proclamation of Christianity in Armenia. The experience of praying together–sharing together and discussing together has fostered greater fellowship and ecumenical enrichment.

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