Heads of Oriental Orthodox Churches Sign Common Declaration in Cairo

ANTELIAS–The seventh meeting of the heads of the Oriental Orthodox Churches of the Middle East–Coptic–Syrian–and Armenian–took place in Cairo–Egypt on October 21–following the meeting between the standing committees of the three churches.

In their Common Declaration–which thanked God for the centuries’ long unity that has existed between the churches–His Holiness Pope Shnouda III–His Holiness Mar Ignatius Zakka I–and His Holiness Aram I emphasized the importance of bilateral theological dialogue–and the need to resume such dialogue between the Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox churches.

Within the declaration–the three church heads expressed their deep concern for the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate’s use of the word "Catholicosate" in describing itself–and noted that if Roman Catholic Church fails to solve the matter–"our churches will not participate in the official theological dialogue with the Catholic church."

Referring to dialogue with the Anglican World communion that was suspended by these churches after the ordination of an Anglican gay bishop in the United States–the heads of the churches reiterated their concern and the position of their churches that "all practice and behavior related to marriage and sexual orientation must be in accord with the biblical and moral teachings of our Churches. We hope that in the near future the Anglican Communion will solve this matter which will enable us to resume our theological dialogue with the Anglican Communion."

The Church heads renewed "the commitment of their churches to peace with justice," and condemned "all forms and expression of violence and urged all to engage in processes and actions aimed at conflict resolution through mutual love–respect and trust." In referring to the current situation in the Middle East–the declaration stated: "The escalation of violence and confusion in Iraq worries us. Due to this situation–the country is losing its people either through deaths or immigration. We urge all Iraqi citizens–regardless of their religious and cultural backgrounds–to work for the wellbeing of their country and their fellow citizens. We call on all nations to assist the people of Iraq in helping to restore independence and sovereignty with the full participation of all Muslim and Christian communities in Iraq. We renew our call for a renewed peace process that will focus on the establishment of a Palestinian state and the right to return for the Palestinians. True and lasting peace will only be realized when justice and dignity is upheld and maintained–and when Israel–according to UN Security Council Resolutions–withdraws from Arab and Palestinian territories."

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