EOC Patriarch Receives Highest-honor Portuguese, Spanish Medal

Addis Ababa, November 25, 2009 - Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC) Abune Paulos receives on Tuesday 24th November the ‘Highest-Honor Portuguese and Spanish Medal’ for his outstanding contributions toward ensuring peace and mutual co-existence among the peoples of the world, the patriarchate private secretariat disclosed.

Abune Paulos, who is also one of the presidents of the World Council of Churches, has been making remarkable contributions toward ensuring peace, tolerance, and mutual co-existence at global level, according to the statement of the secretariat sent to ENA.

Hence, the statement said, the two countries honored the patriarch with the medal for his exemplary deeds in the area of ensuring peace, stability and friendship worldwide.

Handing over the medal, head of the delegation Major, Jose Augusto said the peoples of the two countries attach due respect to the medal, which is the highest-honor medal in Portugal and Spain.

Major Jose Augusto said Portugal and Spain are desirous to bolster bilateral relations with Ethiopia in the years ahead. Especially, he said, the countries will be working together with the church in assisting orphans in Ethiopia.

After receiving the medal, the patriarch said his church will exert utmost efforts toward scaling up the existing bilateral cooperation between Ethiopia and the two European countries to a higher level.

The patriarch also received messages sent from Portuguese and Spanish royal families, according to the statement.

The Ethiopian News Agency


Muslim Anti-Christian Riots Spread in Upper Egypt, Video Shows Looting and Burning

Upper Egypt (AINA) -- On Monday November 23, 2009 Muslim rioters looted and burned Coptic Christian businesses in the village of Abou Shousha, which lies 25 KM from Farshoot. The terrorized Coptic inhabitants of Abou Shusha have stayed indoors, their shops are closed and their children are being kept away from school. They fear a repeat in their village of the Muslim violence which engulfed the town of Farshoot less than 36 hours earlier .

The Middle East Christian Association (MECA) reported that at least three large Coptic stores and a pharmacy were looted and burnt in Abou Shusha and that the fire brigade arrived one hour late, although their headquarters is only 8 KM away from the village. "They gave the pretext of being busy in Farshoot, which is untrue, as Farshoot had a quiet night," said Wagih Yacoub of MECA. "Coptic and Muslim neighbors tried to put the fire out." A video posted by Free Copts shows the Abou Shusha fires.

Bishop Kirrillos of Nag Hamady Diocese said that a mob from the neighboring village of Abu Tesht torched the businesses in Abou Shusha. MECA reported that three girls were assaulted in the street by having bricks hurled at them. No serious injuries were reported.

On November 22, in a joint communiqué from fourteen Egyptian human rights organizations and lawyers called on President Mubarak to immediately intervene to save the Copts from the wrath of the mob and the subversive leaders behind them, who are seeking to sow discord and divisions among the Egyptians in the name of religion and "to hold accountable all involved in the incitement or attacks on the peaceful Copts in Farshoot."

The signatories to the statement asked President Mubarak to take the necessary measures to hold accountable the security force officials, who played the "role of spectator in the looting, arson and attacks on Coptic property in Farshoot."

The communiqué strongly condemned the deportation and evacuation of the Copts in Farshoot from their homes and villages by the security forces, in violation of the provisions of the Egyptian Constitution which stipulates in Article 50 and 51 of the Code "No citizen may be prohibited from residing or be forced to reside in a specific area except in the circumstances set out in the law.

The NGOs' statement stressed the right of the Coptic victims for compensation for the material losses and psychological damage, and strongly condemned the burning and insulting of the symbols of Christianity by the Muslims fanatics, and demanded everyone involved to be charged with the crime of "contempt of a heavenly religion."

It is estimated that over 80% of Coptic businesses have been destroyed in the 48 hours of violence in Farshoot. A video prepared by Free Copts advocacy shows Muslim mobs chanting Allah Akbar (God is Great) while looting and burning Coptic businesses and shops

The Egyptian Union for Human Rights (EUHRO) advised that it is preparing a file with all the financial losses and damages to Coptic-owned businesses and property in Farshoot in preparation for filing a civil and a criminal case against the Egyptian Prime Minister, the Governor of Qena and the perpetrators.

"They want the Copts to be poor and are therefore destroying the Coptic economy in these areas," explains Wagih Yacoub.

Bishop Kirollos again condemned the grave violations against Christians and their property, affirming his belief that the attacks were preplanned. "Students of Al-Azhar Institute in Farshoot, were incited by their Dean who sent them out on a rampage against the Copts. They were joined by a great number of locals," he said.

By Mary Abdel-massih

Assyrian International News Agency



Muslim Violence Ongoing in Egypt -- Christians Plead For Help

Farshoot, Egypt (AINA) -- Since early morning on Saturday, November 21, the Upper Egyptian town of Farshoot, as well as the neighboring villages of Kom Ahmar, Shakiki and Ezbet Waziri, has been the scene of ongoing Muslim mob violence against Coptic Christian inhabitants. The mob looted, vandalized and burnt Coptic property, while Copts hid indoors fearing to venture out. Reuters Cairo reported that a witness said "chaos is overwhelming (in the city)."

The Violence is still going on. There are reports that seven Coptic women have been abducted.

Witnesses said that nearly 3000 angry Muslims have congregated since the early morning in front of the Police Headquarters in Farshoot, in an effort to kidnap Girgis Baroumi while being transported to court to renew his detainment, in order to kill him. Bishop Kirollos said it was agreed with the family of the Muslim girl Yousra to await the Court decision "but they did not wait for that."

Coptic priest Rev. Benjamin Noshi was driving his car when the mob stopped and assaulted him, fracturing his skull. He is currently in hospital.

By the evening most Coptic businesses were looted and burnt. "They are destroying the Coptic economy in these areas," says Wagih Yacoub of Middle Eadt Christian Association.

A witness said that some Coptic families were thrown out of their homes, which were occupied by Muslims.

Although security forces were deployed, they are not taking any action to stop the violence, they are stationed to protect the Farshoot police headquarters after the angry mob pelted it with stones before going in and attacking the officers. Chief Investigating Officer Essam Hany was injured along with others.

Witnesses said that the Police watched the mob but made no arrests and were just dispersing the mob from one street, only for them to appear in the next.

The violence was prompted by reports of sexual abuse of a girl by 21 year-old Copt Guirgis Baroumi, from Kom Ahmar, on Wednesday November 18, 2009. The 12-year-old Muslim girl has been identified as "Yousra." Girgis is detained by the police pending investigations and awaiting results of forensics. Many Copts believe that the rape incident is by Muslims to use it as a pretext to start violence against them.

In an interview with Free Copts, Bishop Kirollos said that the attacks were definitely preplanned and made use of the students from Al-Azhar Institute in Farshoot. He also pointed out to the failing role of the security forces, which disappeared without giving proper justifications, despite several demands by the church to put an end to these grave violations against Christians and their property.

He also added that even if the story of the indecent assault on the Muslim teenager was true, this was purely an individual incident and does not call for an attack on masses of peaceful Christians, who denounced this individual act which does not comply with Christian teachings. "So why the barbaric attacks by the mobs? and why have the security forces not stopped them?"

Talking to Coptic News Bulletin, the Bishop said that after being informed of the accusations of the rape on Wednesday, he has taken the frightened Copts of the villages of Kom Ahmar and Shedid out of the village to safety. "However, Coptic-owned businesses, pharmacies and cars in Farshoot and Ezbet Waziri are completely destroyed," he said.

Rev. Elisha, Pastor of St. Michaels Church in Farshoot described Saturday's violence as "similar to the Tartar Wars, they burnt down shops, pharmacies, broke down doors of homes and terrorized the inhabitants." Commenting on the alleged rape incident, he said that it is doubtful, besides prosecution did not allow anyone to meet with the accused Copt. "The Farshoot investigating officer told me that the Muslim girl was only sure that her attacker wore a black jacket -- nothing more."

"We have never been so frightened and humiliated as Christians in all our lives. The mob made wooden crosses and burnt them in the street," according to one witness. "Our religion, and our Lord were openly insulted."

As no one is venturing into the streets, none of the Coptic inhabitants contacted were able to confirm if there were any losses in human lives, or the number of injured.

Bishop Kirollos held an urgent meeting with all Coptic priests in the region, in view of the gravity of the situation. He gave instructions that no Sunday church services would be held on 11/22/09 fearing for the safety of the Christian congregations.

"If the International Human Rights Organizations around the world keep quiet about what is happening to the Copts in Egypt, then they are of no use, they just use slogans, nothing more," one witness lamented.

By Mary Abdel-massih

Assyrian International News Agency


Ethiopian Patriarch expresses sorrow over death of Serbian Patriarch

Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abune Paulos expressed heartfelt sorrow over the death of Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Pavle. The patriarch died on Sunday November 15, 2009 at the age of 95.

At a program held in Serbian Embassy here on Wednesday November 18, Abune Paulos, who is also President of the World Council of Churches, said the death of the Patriarch is not only a loss for the Serbian people and the Church but also for all Christians.

The late patriarch has contributed a lot for the world peace and for the unity of people as well.

He said the good deeds of the patriarch will always be remembered. Abune Paulos also wished solace to the people and Orthodox Church of Serbia.
Serbian Ambassador to Ethiopia, Dragan Momcilovic expressed gratitude to Abune Paulos for expressing his condolence over the death of the patriarch.

photos -
(1) Patriarch Pavle (Pictured, Left)
(2) Abune Paulos (Pictured, Right)

Source: The Orthodox Church.info


Catholicose of the East expresses condolences over the demise of Serbian Patriarch

His Holiness Baselius Marthoma Dydimos I, Patriarch-Catholicose of the Orthodox Church of the East expresses condolences over the demise of Serbian Patriarch His Holines Pavle. The Serbian patriarch died on Sunday November 15, 2009 at the age of 95.

His Holiness Pavle played a key role in strengthening ties between churches. Patriarch Pavle enjoyed warm ties with the Orthodox Church of the East. Demise of the Patriarch is not only a great loss of for the Serbian Orthodox Community but also for the Orthodox Church in India - Said His Holiness Baselius Marthoma Dydimos I (Pictured).

The Orthodox Church.info



WCC calls for investigation of Gaza war crimes

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has asked the United Nations secretary-general to make sure that recommendations of a key report about war crimes committed during the conflict between Israeli and Palestinian armed forces in Gaza at the beginning of 2009 are properly followed up.

In an 18 November letter, the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia urged the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to take steps in order to press both Israel and Hamas to "unconditionally concede the need for complete and credible investigations into their actions during the war".

In his letter, Kobia cited "growing anxiety" amongst members of the international community that at the UN Security Council "there could be a resolution that dilutes the intent and scope of the Goldstone report".

The "Goldstone report", produced by a UN fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict led by Justice Richard Goldstone and released in September 2009 found evidence of both parties committing actions which amount to war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity, during the three-week long armed conflict.

The report recommended that the UN Security Council require Israel and relevant Gaza authorities to report to it, within six months, on investigations and prosecutions both parties should carry out with regard to the violations identified in the report. If independent proceedings were not carried out in good faith, the Security Council should refer the situation in Gaza to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

"If the recommendations of the Goldstone report were pursued, it would send a strong message to combatants in all conflicts that nations or groups cannot act with impunity, and that there must be appropriate channels of accountability for the perpetrators of crimes in any form of conflict", Kobia pointed out in his letter to Ban.

"During the Gaza War, civilians on both sides suffered and yet atrocities were significantly higher among the Palestinian population", Kobia stated. "The people of Gaza have suffered enough, and they deserve a respite in the knowledge that the perpetrators of indiscriminate violence against them will be brought to book."

As "durable peace, reconciliation and healing between Palestinians and Israelis should be based on justice", Kobia added, "the need of the hour is an unequivocal affirmation of the highest principles of justice, human rights and humanitarian practices".

IMAGE: Dr Salim Al Abadlah stands in the rubble of a church-supported health centre in Al Shija'ia, that was destroyed by an Israeli air strike in January 2009. Photo: Mika Hentunen/FCA-ACT International

The World Council of Churches



His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians visits Patriarch of Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch at the St. Ephraim Monastery

13 November, 2009, Damascus ( Syria) - His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Catholicos of All Armenians visits His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Supreme Patriarch of Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch at the Monastery of St. Ephraim, the Syrian here on November 13, Friday.

The delegation was received at the entrance of St. Peter's & St. Paul's Cathedral by Arch Bishop of Aleppo His Eminence Dr. Mor Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, Arch Bishop of Lebanon & Holy Episcopal Synod Secretary His Eminence Mor Theophilose George Saliba, Arch Bishop of Jazirah & Euphrates His Eminence Mor Osthatheos Matta Rohum, Patriarchal Vicar for Zahle His Eminence Mor Yusphinos Paulose Yusuf Safar, Assistant to Patriarch & Director of St. Ephraim Seminary His Eminence Mor Philexinos Mathias Nayis and Arch Bishop of Beirut & Patriarchal Institutions in Atchaneh His Eminence Mor Clemis Daniel Malak Kourieh.

The delegation includes six bishops led by Arch Bishop of Damascus, priests, deacons and lay men. His Holiness Hazim Patriarch of Greek Orthodox Church, Damascus also was present at the occasion.

H H Ignatius Zakka I Iwas made a welcome speech and presented the visiting Patriarch a golden Pastoral Staff (Amsavadi) and gifts to the delegation.

Then the visiting Patriarch delivered a speech in Armenian Language and was translated into Arabic.

Then all attend the love feast hosted by H H Ignatius Zakka I Iwas.

welcome speech of His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I Iwas during the visit of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch of All Armenians

Your Holiness, Your Eminences, Respected Clergy, the distinguished guests accompanied with His Holiness and gentlemen:

It is indeed my great pleasure to welcome you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, while thanking Him for this wonderful occasion, when His Holiness KAREKIN II, the Supreme Patriarch-Catholicos of All Armenians, has pleased to give us a visit and has thus blessed us all. We heartily thank Your Holiness and all the members of the delegation, accompanied your Holiness, in this gesture of brotherly love.

We remember with joy, our visiting Your Holiness, in Holy Etchmiadzin in 2002, and the warm welcome, rendered to us by Your Holiness. Thus through these visits, we continue to renew and improve, the centuries old, dynamic relation, and the mutual love and respect, between our two sister churches.

When we look back into history, this relation between the Syrian Orthodox and the Armenian Orthodox churches, is a deep rooted one, and extending to, more than Thousand and Seven Hundred years. Right from the beginning, the two churches have been, like one church, in the one true faith, and were in full intercommunion, along with the Coptic Orthodox church, and at the same time, by maintaining the unique cultures of their own. Church history records that, the fathers of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, carried the torch of Holy Gospel to Armenia, and thus the Armenian people, accepted Christianity. And more than that, the Armenian language, at first adopted the Syriac alphabet, and in the beginning of the fifth century, the Armenian Scholar : Mesrob, in co-operation with, the Syrian Orthodox Bishop Daniel, invented the Armenian Alphabet and translated the Holy Bible and some Syriac Books into Armenian language.

Also while remembering the past era of persecutions, both our churches shared the cross of our Lord and witnessed Him together. In the history written with blood and tears, both the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Armenian Orthodox Church suffered a lot, to upkeep our true faith, and thousands and thousands of martyrs sacrificed their lives on the altar of our Lord. Thus our two churches, not only have the same faith, but have many things in common. So, Your Holiness, all of us here, are really honored by the visit of Your Holiness, the head of that sister church of our own.

I wish your Holiness and the delegation, a pleasant time in Syria. And I am happy that Your Holiness is visiting the President of the Syrian Arab Republic: His Excellency Dr. Bashar al-Assad. You are all aware that, we, here, in this esteemed country of Syria, enjoy our freedom to practice our religion as Christians and to build churches and monasteries. We also enjoy all rights and responsibilities as citizens of this noble country. Here, we all live in full cooperation with other Christian Churches in this country and have good relations with our Muslim brothers too. We are grateful to His Excellency the President, for his wise and able leadership and we pray God Almighty to grant him good health and long life. We are glad that, Your Holiness has now come to visit us in this esteemed country of Syria, because Your Holiness can now be a witness to all that you see here.

Your Holiness, I am also delighted to congratulate Your Holiness for the brilliant leadership to the Armenian Church, leading to its steady progress and welfare, ever since Your Holiness has been chosen by God as its head. We wish Your Holiness good health and long life and pray for the continued progress and welfare of our sister Church - the Armenian Church. I may also use this opportunity, to pay my tributes and salutation, to all the blessed leaders, clergy and the faithful of the Holy Armenian Church, for upholding the true orthodox faith of the church.

We sincerely thank your Holiness and the delegation, for paying us this visit, and thus, making this day, a day of heavenly joy. This visit is a remarkable event in the history of our churches. Also we thank all those who have arrived here so as to make this an auspicious occasion. Let us follow the foot steps of our Forefathers and upkeep the true faith and the ancient traditions. Let us pray the Almighty to strengthen us, to together witness Him in this modern age.

As a token of my love, and thankfulness, for your visit, we may present to Your Holiness, a pastoral staff, used by the bishops of both our churches. Also some small gifts to the bishops and mementoes to the gentlemen accompanied Your Holiness. Thank you all.

Ignatius Zakka I Iwas
Patriarch of Antioch & All the East
Supreme Head of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch

Source: Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate


The Restoration of Saint Anthony's Monastery near Al-Zaafarana, Egypt

The Christian Monastery of Saint Anthony, or Deir Mar Antonios, is the the first ever monastery, and lies at the coast of the Red Sea, to the east of the Fayum oasis. Dedicated to St Anthony, it was founded in 356 AD immediately after the saint's death, and is now the oldest Christian monastery still active in the world. Near the monastery (2 km away) there is also St. Anthony's cave, where he lived as a hermit.

This video provides a rare glimpse inside this wonderful monastery, filled with art and the postumous home of a hermit saint, Saint Anthony. Monasticism was a reality in Egypt after the first followers of Jesus entered the country and from here, from the land of the extinct pharaohs, monks and monastic life spread out to all the rest of the world.

Dressed in the black robes worn by all Orthodox Coptic priests, Father Maximous el-Antony - or Abuna Maximos - talks to us about the monastery and the ongoing restoration work. The monastery is really a small village, as he says. It has gardens, a mill, a bakery, and five churches. Though Coptic today, this monastery has been inhabited by different kinds of Christian monks throughout the long history of its existence.

The exquisite paintings have been undergoing restoration by the Supreme Council of Antiquities since 2003, who have been removing the white plaster that hid some of the artwork. These brightly-coloured paintings, which cover all the walls and ceiling, are a catalogue of Coptic art, and feature the iconography typical of coptic art.

Restoration is being done not only on the paintings but also on the architecture of the building. All the underground monastic cells and personal items from the monks living there in the sixth and seventh centuries AD are now visible beneath the building, through a glass floor.

Many Coptic inscriptions on the architecture of the monastery show that it operated as an busy church with an active community. All of these are now on display to visitors going to the St. Anthony Monastery. The challenge of this excavation is that it is being done inside a church being used everyday, Abuna Maximos tells us.

St. Anthony was buried in the monastery, but it is uncertain where exactly inside the monastery area his tomb was placed. In this video, Abuna Maximos tells us about his dream of finding St. Anthony's tomb in the area underground. Along with the already discovered areas of the previous church, he hopes to discover the tomb and, of course, he must be thinking about discovering the body of Saint Anthony.

A major find like that would lead to a huge boost in visitors to the monastery, as well as a means of promoting Coptic culture. The team have just found an old entrance below the contemporary church of Saint Anthony, and expect more discoveries to emerge from their work. The restoration works are in progress and we hope interesting things are yet to see the light of the Red Sea coast.

Video: The Coptic Monastery of Saint Anthony (Deir Mar Antonios)

Submitted by veigapaula on Wed, 11/11/2009 - 00:54



Dialogue with the Assyrian Church of the East and its effect on the Dialogue with the Roman Catholic

His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy

Sunday, July 9, 2000

A paper presented in the name of His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy at the Orientale Lumen conference in Melbourne, Australia, July 9th - 12th 2000.

The Coptic Orthodox Church participated in the theological dialogue with the Assyrian Church of the East decided by the Fourth general assembly of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) in Cyprus 1986.

The long process of this dialogue continued until the Sixth (6th) General Assembly of the Council in November 1994, when His Holiness Pope Shenouda III agreed to invite a delegation from the Assyrian Church of the East to attend a theological dialogue with the Coptic Orthodox Church in which he himself would lead the Coptic members, and with representatives from the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and the MECC.

The meeting was held in Saint Bishoy Monastery, Egypt. in January 1995, with Metropolitans Mar Narsai de Baz and Mar Bawai Soro delegated by Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV to represent the Assyrian Church of the East, Metropolitan Mar Theophilis George Saliba representing the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and Fr. (now Metropolitan) Paul Sayah representing the MEEC. A proposed Christological common declaration was prepared in which the following statement was of major importance:

‘Both sides consider this declaration a basic step on the way towards the re-establishment of the full ecclesiastical communion between their Churches which existed among the Apostles and their Churches in the early centuries of Christianity. They can indeed, from now on, proclaim together before the world their common faith in the ineffable mystery of Christ. the incarnate Word of God. Furthermore, they pledge to endeavor to remove from their liturgical and official sources any contradiction to this agreement.’

The common intention was to consider this proposed common declaration as a first step to cancel step by step the teachings and the veneration of Nestorius together with Theodore of Mopsuestia and Diodore of Tarsus from their sources, liturgies and theological books.

Afterwards the Coptic Orthodox Church was struck by the fact that the promises given to her in that meeting were inverted to the opposite during the second consultation of the Syriac Dialogue organized by Pro Oriente and held February 1996 in Vienna, where the Coptic Orthodox Church was attending as an observer.

Mar Bawat Soro who is a distinct theologian of the Assynan Church of the East presented a paper in this meeting with the title ‘Does Ephesus Unite or Divide - A Re-evaluation of the Council of Ephesus - an Assyrian Church of the East Perspective’. From this paper we quote the following:

We would only ask that a like effort be made to understand Nestorius’ equally orthodox concern to promote the use of language expressing Christ‘s complete and uncompromised human and divine natures. As we do not ask anyone to revile the memory of Cyril,we would respectfully ask not to be required to abandon our long held admiration of and appreciation for Nestorius."

He also said:

"One could only pray and hope that the oriental Orthodox Brethren from all ecclesial traditions would, in the near future, be able to take similar steps like those of the Assyrian Church and rise above the historical misunderstanding, misjudgment, or whatever difficulty they still may have with Nestortius’ Christology which, I believe, today has been rediscovere, re-evaluated, understood, and accepted, by modern scholarly research, as an orthodox teaching."

Mar Bawai Soro made a severe attack on the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus saying:

"A tumultuous council took place, with Cyril acting as both prosecutor and judge of Nestorius. The trial of Nertorius at Ephesus in which he was condemned has always been viewed by the Church of the East as unfair and illegal. It should be noted that others, outside the Church of the East and with impeccable credentials as orthodox scholars, have also agreed with that judgment, attributing the chaotic and embittered atmosphere at Ephesus to personal animus and political ambition on the part of Cyril."

At the same time Most Rev. Dr. Mar Aprem the Metropolitan of Trichur of the Assyrian Church of the East in India presented a paper titled ‘Summary of the Christological debate in the 5 Vienna Consultations between theologians of the Oriental Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches in the light of its applicability to the dialogue with the Assyrian Church of the East’ in which he stated:

"How much do Assyrians care for Nestorius? How much do they ‘Hate’ Cyril of Alexandria. Although the Assyrtans state that Nestorius is not their founder and therefore refuse to be called Nestorians the general trend is that Nestorius, though Greek. is very much their father. The Assyrian.s never cared to understand the teachings of Cyril ofAlexandria.

Since then, it became clear to the Coptic Orthodox Church that it will be impossible to come to an agreement with the Assyrian Church of the East on Christology so long that they shall continue to defend Nestorius and his teachings which were rejected by the third Ecumenical Council at Ephesus and are still rejected by the Coptic Orthodox Church.

In order to explain the reason for that rejection we may quote from the paper of Mar Aprem with the title ‘Was Nestorius a Nestorian’ which he presented in the 59th Ecumenical Symposium of Pro Oriente, Vienna, 18th June 1990 and is published as an Annex in the book of the first Syriac Consultation organised by Pro Oriente in Vienna June 1994 the following:

"Attention should be drawn to the fact that Nestorius in his biblical exegesis followed the literalistic, anti-allegorical method employed by Theodoros of Mopsuestia and favoured in Antiochene circles. Richard Morris states that it was Theodoros who propounded the undoubted original of the Nestorian Christology.

Logos took flesh, He took the form of a servant. He was a sinless man, though the possibility of sin was open to him, as he was a perfect man, being a sinless man, he was able to restore mankind to the image of God. Loofs writes:

‘The main thing is that the logos of a servant brought into existence a sinless man, hence the stress is laid on the moral and religious development of Jesus’1

Nestorius says that the incarnation took place through an intelligent and rational soul. The soul, therefore, is the relation between Logos and man. This is a voluntary union. Here we find a union of free will. The relation becomes so close that one cannot be separated from the other. Or, in the terminology of Paul, Nestorius says that the ‘form of God’ shows itself in the ‘form of a servant’ in acting in the ‘form of God’.2

He also wrote:3

"It must be stated, that ‘image of God’ is not a very important doctrine to Nestorius. His concern is Christological. Here, he differs from Irenaeus and the majority of the Church Fathers. In Bazar of Heraclides, he never discusses the ‘image of God’ in itself. His interest is not man‘s creation in the image of God, but the image of God as it was found in Christ.

The image of god is both the perfect revelation of god as well as perfection of the human nature. Image of God to Nestorius includes both the human and the divine prosopa. In his exegesis of the Philippian hymn Nestorius equates the image of God with the prosopon of union. When Nestorius used Gen. 1,26-7 to explain Phil 2 the resulting exegesis expounds prosopic union. Rowan states:

Therefore the image of God is the perfect expression of God to men. The image of God, understood in this sense, can be thought of as the divine prosopon. God dwells in Christ and perfectly reveals himself to men through him. Yet the two prosopa are really one image of God.4

The same author rightly thinks that Nestorius’ use of the image of God solves, in a fairly coherent way the fundamental problems of the Antiochene Christology.5

It is clear to the Coptic Orthodox Church that even modern scholars cannot deny that Nestorius taught that two persons were united externally according to will and image in Christ and not that the person of the Logos himself became man uniting the human nature which he assumed in the incarnation to his divine nature in his simple person, the thing which the Orthodox call hypostatic union against the prosopic union of Nestorius.

Other quotations from the new discoveries of the writings of Nestorius regarding the prosopic union are as follows:

"Two are the prosopa, the prosopon of he who has clothed and the prosopon of he who is clothed".6
We must not forget that the two natures involve with him two distinct hypostasis and two persons (prosopons) united together by simple loan and exchange".7

The question now in front of the Coptic Orthodox Church regarding the Christological agreement signed by Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Mar Dinkha in November 1994, is how this agreement may affect the Christological agreement signed between Rome and Alexandria in February, 1983 in which it is stated that we anathematize both the teachings of Nestorius and Eutychus.

In order to discover some of the difficulty facing the Coptic Orthodox Church one may refer to the paper presented by the theologians of the Assyrian Church of the East Mar Bawai Soro and M. J. Birnie in Vienna, June 1994 during the first consultation of the Syriac dialogue organised by Pro Oriente. We quote:

"The liturgies of the Church invariably name Nestorius, with Diodore of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia, in their litanies. The calendar features a ‘Memorial of the Greek Doctors’, a list of ‘western’ fathers which includes - and emphasizes - the same three theologians. If the question is ‘Does the Church of the East venerate Nestorius and continue to employ his theological vocabulary?’ the answer is obvious."8

"Under the influence of its patron, a zealous defender of the Antiochene positions and of his choice to head the school, Narsai, the institution flourished and gained respect as a serious center of learning. The Antiochene partisans at Nisibis vigorously promoted their Christological position, using the terminology familiar to them, that is, with the very terminology anathematized by the Ephesene synod and by the partisans of Cyril. Among them Nestorius was venerated as a staunch defender of Antiochene orthodoxy and a martyr to the pride and arrogance of Cyril of Alexandria. The reluctance of bishops of the Church of the East to take a definitive posture, whether positive or negative, relative to Nestorius gave these partisans the opportunity and freedom to further their cause in his defense."9

For the Coptic Orthodox Church Saint Cyril of Alexandria is and will remain a hero of faith and true defender of orthodoxy and we cannot accept to sign an agreement with a church who venerates Nestorius as ‘a staunch defender of Antiochene orthodoxy and a martyr to the pride and arrogance of Cyril of Alexandria.’ That is a great hindrance in our dialogue with the Assyrian Church of the East which is reflected in our relations with the Church of Rome with a threat towards the Christological agreement signed between Rome and Alexandria in February 1998.

For that reason we shall exert our efforts to clear away any difficulties which may affect the theological dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church.

1. Loofs, Nestorius. op. cit. p83

2. Syriac Dialogue, first non-official consultation on dialogue within the Syriac Tradition. Pro Oriente - Vienna June 1994, p221-222

3. Ibid. p222, 223

4. Rowan Greer: ‘The Image of God and the Prosopic Union in Nestorius’ Bazaar of Heraclides in Lux in Lumine, Essays to honour W. Norman Pittenger, edited by R.A. Morris jr. New York 1996, p50.

5. Ibid. p60.

6. LH 193 Bazaar of Heraclides, quoted by Bernard Duapy, OP, ‘The Christology of Nestorius’ Syriac Dialogue, Pro Oriente, op. cit. p113.

7. R. Nau, Le Livre d’Heraclide de Damas (=LH), Paris 1910; p.xxviii.

8. Mar Bawai Soro/M.J. Birnie ‘Is the Theology of the Church of the East Nestorian?’ - Syriac Dialogue, first non-official consultation on dialogue within the Syriac Tradition, Pro Oriente - Vienna June
1994, p116.

9. Ibid p120-121.




H.G Abune Makarius Became Bishop of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, North America Diocese

H. H. Pope Shenouda III has assigned H. G. Abune Makarius to serve as bishop (overseer) of the North America Diocese of the Eritrean Orthodox Church. His Holiness, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All of Africa on the Holy Apostolic See of St. Mark the Evangelist, has always demonstrated his abiding love towards the Eritrean people and the Eritrean Orthodox Church (EOC). This has been particularly so during the painful travails the EOC has experienced in the past four years. For this, the Eritrean people will remain deeply indebted to His Holiness.

His Holiness made this important decision on the heels of the historic meeting the Council of Clergy of the Diocese held with him in New Jersey on September 26, 2009.
H. G. Bishop Makarius, a highly learned individual, was consecrated on May 20, 1991. Although an Eritrean by birth, he has been a member of the Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church for several years. He is now serving as a General Bishop in the United States.

H. G. Bishop Makarius had his first official meeting with the clergy of the North America Diocese on October 17, 2009. In the meeting, His Grace conducted a solemn deliberation on the current state of schism within the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the status of His Holiness Abune Antonios, the only and legitimate patriarch of the EOC, as well as the task ahead.


Pro-Oriente Second Colloquium Syriacum held at Vienna

  • Pro-Oriente Second Colloquium Syriacum was held on 4-6 November, 2009 at Vienna. The Theme of the Symposium was Syriac Christianity in the Middle East and India Today:

Contributions and challenges.
At the Inaugural session the Archbishop of Vienna H.E. Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn presided over the opening prayer and cordially welcomed the participants. He recalled spirit and vision of the founder of PRO Oriente, the late Cardinal Franz Koenig, whose life was dedicated to dialogue and a profound love for Oriental Christianity. A greeting of Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, was read. He expressed his deep hope that the studies of the Pro Oriente Colloquium Syriacum highlighting the urgency of religious freedom and pluralism will contribute to a strengthening of the ecumenical dialogue. Further he encouraged the participants to reflect together on the motives and impacts of emigration for the future of Christianity in the Middle East. Pro Oriente President Johann Marthe welcomed the participants, who came from India, Syria, USA, Lebanon, Great Britain, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy.

The following ten papers were presented :

  • Christianity in the Middle East: some historical facts and demographic figures ( Prof. Dr. Dietmar Winkler, Salzburg, Austria).

  • Cultural, social and educational Contributions of Syriac

    Christianity in the South India ( Rev. Dr. Baby Varghese, Koyyayam,


  • Christians In Iran and Iraque: Which contribution to Society? (Pro. Dr.Herman Teule, Nijmegen, The Netherlands).

  • Cultural,social and educational contributions of Syriac Christianity in Syria and Lebano. (Prof. Dr. Karam Rizk, Lebanon).

  • Religious Freedom, Education, pluralism, personal status of

    Syriac christianity in India. (Rev. Dr. Philp Nelpuraparambil, India).

  • The Church-State Relations in Modern Iraque. (Prof. Dr. Anthony O'Mahony, London, Great Britain).

  • Religious Freedom,Education, Personal Status of Syriac Christianity in Syria and Turkey ( H.E. Dr. Mor Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim of Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, Aleppo, Syria).

  • The Contribution of the Syriac Family to the experience of Islamo-Christian Co-existance in Lebanon. ( Mor Paul Matar, Beirut, Lebanon).

  • Emigration of Syriac Christians moving from India- Motivesand Impact. ( H.E. Dr. Kuriakose Theophilose Metropolitan of Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch , Kerala, India).

  • Emigration of Syriac Christians moving from Middle East- Motives and Impact. Prof. Dr. Martin Thamcke, Goettingen, Germany).

  • Prof. Dr. Sidney Griffith, Prof. Dr. Sebastian Brock were some of the other important participants of the Symposium.

The participants of the 2nd Pro Oriente Colloquim Syriacum make an urgent appeal to those Churches in regions where emigrated Syriac or other Middle Eastern Christians are to be found, to assist them in every possible way to preserve their cultural and spiritual traditions (including their languages), in their new situation.


Source: Antiochian Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo and Environs