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Common Christological Declaration Between the Catholic Churc...

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Common Christological Declaration Between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East

Oct-21-2012 at 11:43 AM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

Last edited on 10/22/2012 at 11:38 PM (UTC3 Assyria)
 

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Pope John Paul II, November 11, 1994. The Common Christological Declaration between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East.
COMMON CHRISTOLOGICAL DECLARATION
BETWEEN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
AND THE ASSYRIAN CHURCH OF THE EAST

St. Peter's Basilica, Rome, Italy.
November 11, 1994.

PDF Aramaic version published in The Messenger (Izgadda), No. 11, March 31, 1995, pp. 43-45.

His Holiness John Paul II, Bishop of Rome and Pope of the Catholic Church, and His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, give thanks to God who has prompted them to this new brotherly meeting.

Both of them consider this meeting as a basic step on the way towards the full communion to be restored between their Churches. They can indeed, from now on, proclaim together before the world their common faith in the mystery of the Incarnation.

***

As heirs and guardians of the faith received from the Apostles as formulated by our common Fathers in the Nicene Creed, we confess one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, begotten of the Father from all eternity who, in the fullness of time, came down from heaven and became man for our salvation. The Word of God, second Person of the Holy Trinity, became incarnate by the power of the Holy Spirit in assuming from the holy Virgin Mary a body animated by a rational soul, with which he was indissolubly united from the moment of his conception.

His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV and Pope John Paul II sign the “Common Christological Agreement” on November 11, 1994 at the Vatican in Rome. Witnessing the signing are (left to right) Mar Meelis Zaia, Mar Bawai Soro, and Mar Narsai DeBaz. Photo: Zinda Magazine

Therefore our Lord Jesus Christ is true God and true man, perfect in his divinity and perfect in his humanity, consubstantial with the Father and consubstantial with us in all things but sin. His divinity and his humanity are united in one person, without confusion or change, without division or separation. In him has been preserved the difference of the natures of divinity and humanity, with all their properties, faculties and operations. But far from constituting "one and another", the divinity and humanity are united in the person of the same and unique Son of God and Lord Jesus Christ, who is the object of a single adoration.

Christ therefore is not an " ordinary man" whom God adopted in order to reside in him and inspire him, as in the righteous ones and the prophets. But the same God the Word, begotten of his Father before all worlds without beginning according to his divinity, was born of a mother without a father in the last times according to his humanity. The humanity to which the Blessed Virgin Mary gave birth always was that of the Son of God himself. That is the reason why the Assyrian Church of the East is praying the Virgin Mary as "the Mother of Christ our God and Saviour". In the light of this same faith the Catholic tradition addresses the Virgin Mary as "the Mother of God" and also as "the Mother of Christ". We both recognize the legitimacy and rightness of these expressions of the same faith and we both respect the preference of each Church in her liturgical life and piety.

This is the unique faith that we profess in the mystery of Christ. The controversies of the past led to anathemas, bearing on persons and on formulas. The Lord's Spirit permits us to understand better today that the divisions brought about in this way were due in large part to misunderstandings.

Whatever our Christological divergences have been, we experience ourselves united today in the confession of the same faith in the Son of God who became man so that we might become children of God by his grace. We wish from now on to witness together to this faith in the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, proclaiming it in appropriate ways to our contemporaries, so that the world may believe in the Gospel of salvation.

***

The mystery of the Incarnation which we profess in common is not an abstract and isolated truth. It refers to the Son of God sent to save us. The economy of salvation, which has its origin in the mystery of communion of the Holy Trinity — Father, Son and Holy Spirit —, is brought to its fulfilment through the sharing in this communion, by grace, within the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, which is the People of God, the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Spirit.

Believers become members of this Body through the sacrament of Baptism, through which, by water and the working of the Holy Spirit, they are born again as new creatures. They are confirmed by the seal of the Holy Spirit who bestows the sacrament of Anointing. Their communion with God and among themselves is brought to full realization by the celebration of the unique offering of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist. This communion is restored for the sinful members of the Church when they are reconciled with God and with one another through the sacrament of Forgiveness. The sacrament of Ordination to the ministerial priesthood in the apostolic succession assures the authenticity of the faith, the sacraments and the communion in each local Church.

Living by this faith and these sacraments, it follows as a consequence that the particular Catholic churches and the particular Assyrian churches can recognize each other as sister Churches. To be full and entire, communion presupposes the unanimity concerning the content of the faith, the sacraments and the constitution of the Church. Since this unanimity for which we aim has not yet been attained, we cannot unfortunately celebrate together the Eucharist which is the sign of the ecclesial communion already fully restored.

Nevertheless, the deep spiritual communion in the faith and the mutual trust already existing between our Churches, entitle us from now on to consider witnessing together to the Gospel message and cooperating in particular pastoral situations, including especially the areas of catechesis and the formation of future priests.

In thanking God for having made us rediscover what already unites us in the faith and the sacraments, we pledge ourselves to do everything possible to dispel the obstacles of the past which still prevent the attainment of full communion between our Churches, so that we can better respond to the Lord's call for the unity of his own, a unity which has of course to be expressed visibly. To overcome these obstacles, we now establish a Mixed Committee for theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East.

Given at Saint Peter's, on 11 November 1994

K. MARDINKHA

IOANNES PAULUS PP. II

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1. Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity

Oct-21-2012 at 11:49 AM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

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PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN UNITY

GUIDELINES FOR ADMISSION TO THE EUCHARIST
BETWEEN THE CHALDEAN CHURCH
AND THE ASSYRIAN CHURCH OF THE EAST

Rome, July 20th, 2001.

Given the great distress of many Chaldean and Assyrian faithful, in their motherland and in the diaspora, impeding for many of them a normal sacramental life according to their own tradition, and in the ecumenical context of the bilateral dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East, the request has been made to provide for admission to the Eucharist between the Chaldean Church and the Assyrian Church of the East. This request has first been studied by the Joint Committee for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East. The present guidelines subsequently have been elaborated by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, in agreement with the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith and the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

1. Pastoral necessity

The request for admission to the Eucharist between the Chaldean Church and the Assyrian Church of the East is connected with the particular geographical and social situation in which their faithful are actually living. Due to various and sometimes dramatic circumstances, many Assyrian and Chaldean faithful left their motherlands and moved to the Middle East, Scandinavia, Western Europe, Australia and Northern America. As there cannot be a priest for every local community in such a widespread diaspora, numerous Chaldean and Assyrian faithful are confronted with a situation of pastoral necessity with regard to the administration of sacraments. Official documents of the Catholic Church provide special regulations for such situations, namely the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, can. 671, §2-§3 and the Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms of Ecumenism, n. 123.

2. Ecumenical rapprochement

The request is also connected with the ongoing process of ecumenical rapprochement between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East. With the 'Common Christological Declaration', signed in 1994 by Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV, the main dogmatic problem between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church has been resolved. As a consequence, the ecumenical rapprochement between the Chaldean Church and the Assyrian Church of the East also entered a further phase of development. On 29 November 1996 Patriarch Mar Raphaël Bidawid and Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV signed a list of common proposals with a view to the re-establishment of full ecclesial unity among both historical heirs of the ancient Church of the East. On 15 August 1997 this program was approved by their respective Synods and confirmed in a 'Joint Synodal Decree'. Supported by their respective Synods, both Patriarchs approved a further series of initiatives to foster the progressive restoration of their ecclesial unity. Both the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity support this process.

3. The Anaphora of Addai and Mari

The principal issue for the Catholic Church in agreeing to this request, related to the question of the validity of the Eucharist celebrated with the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, one of the three Anaphoras traditionally used by the Assyrian Church of the East. The Anaphora of Addai and Mari is notable because, from time immemorial, it has been used without a recitation of the Institution Narrative. As the Catholic Church considers the words of the Eucharistic Institution a constitutive and therefore indispensable part of the Anaphora or Eucharistic Prayer, a long and careful study was undertaken of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, from a historical, liturgical and theological perspective, at the end of which the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith on January 17th, 2001 concluded that this Anaphora can be considered valid. H.H. Pope John Paul II has approved this decision. This conclusion rests on three major arguments.

In the first place, the Anaphora of Addai and Mari is one of the most ancient Anaphoras, dating back to the time of the very early Church; it was composed and used with the clear intention of celebrating the Eucharist in full continuity with the Last Supper and according to the intention of the Church; its validity was never officially contested, neither in the Christian East nor in the Christian West.

Secondly, the Catholic Church recognises the Assyrian Church of the East as a true particular Church, built upon orthodox faith and apostolic succession. The Assyrian Church of the East has also preserved full Eucharistic faith in the presence of our Lord under the species of bread and wine and in the sacrificial character of the Eucharist. In the Assyrian Church of the East, though not in full communion with the Catholic Church, are thus to be found "true sacraments, and above all, by apostolic succession, the priesthood and the Eucharist" (U.R., n. 15). Secondly, the Catholic Church recognises the Assyrian Church of the East as a true particular Church, built upon orthodox faith and apostolic succession. The Assyrian Church of the East has also preserved full Eucharistic faith in the presence of our Lord under the species of bread and wine and in the sacrificial character of the Eucharist. In the Assyrian Church of the East, though not in full communion with the Catholic Church, are thus to be found "true sacraments, and above all, by apostolic succession, the priesthood and the Eucharist" (U.R., n. 15).

Finally, the words of Eucharistic Institution are indeed present in the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, not in a coherent narrative way and ad litteram, but rather in a dispersed euchological way, that is, integrated in successive prayers of thanksgiving, praise and intercession.

4. Guidelines for admission to the Eucharist

Considering the liturgical tradition of the Assyrian Church of the East, the doctrinal clarification regarding the validity of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, the contemporary context in which both Assyrian and Chaldean faithful are living, the appropriate regulations which are foreseen in official documents of the Catholic Church, and the process of rapprochement between the Chaldean Church and the Assyrian Church of the East, the following provision is made:

  1. When necessity requires, Assyrian faithful are permitted to participate and to receive Holy Communion in a Chaldean celebration of the Holy Eucharist; in the same way, Chaldean faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister, are permitted to participate and to receive Holy Communion in an Assyrian celebration of the Holy Eucharist.
  2. In both cases, Assyrian and Chaldean ministers celebrate the Holy Eucharist according to the liturgical prescriptions and customs of their own tradition.
  3. When Chaldean faithful are participating in an Assyrian celebration of the Holy Eucharist, the Assyrian minister is warmly invited to insert the words of the Institution in the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, as allowed by the Holy Synod of the Assyrian Church of the East.
  4. The above considerations on the use of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari and the present guidelines for admission to the Eucharist, are intended exclusively in relation to the Eucharistic celebration and admission to the Eucharist of the faithful from the Chaldean Church and the Assyrian Church of the East, in view of the pastoral necessity and ecumenical context mentioned above.

Rome, July 20th, 2001

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2. Admission to the Eucharist in Situations of Pastoral Necessity

Oct-21-2012 at 11:56 AM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

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ADMISSION TO THE EUCHARIST IN SITUATIONS OF PASTORAL NECESSITY

PROVISION BETWEEN THE CHALDEAN CHURCH
AND THE ASSYRIAN CHURCH OF THE EAST

Vatican, Rome, Italy.

The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity recently issued a document entitled “Guidelines for Admission to the Eucharist between the Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Church”. This document has been elaborated in agreement with the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith and the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. The purpose of the article at hand is to clarify the context, the content and the practical application of this provision.

1. The Chaldean Church and the Assyrian Church of the East

Since the very early times of Christian missionary activity, a flourishing local Church developed in Mesopotamia or Persia. As this Church was situated outside the eastern borders of the Roman Empire, it became commonly called the “Church of the East”. In 1552, after a series of individual conversions of bishops or provisional unions, part of the “Church of the East” entered into full communion with the Apostolic See of Rome. Since then, the particular Church in full communion with Rome has usually been called the “Chaldean Church”, while the other particular Church took the name of “Assyrian Church of the East”. Both particular Churches, however, still share the same theological, liturgical and spiritual tradition; they both celebrate the Sacraments or Sacred Mysteries according to the East-Syriac tradition.

On November 11th, 1994 Pope John Paul II and Mar Dinkha IV, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, signed a Common Christological Declaration<1>. This Declaration removed the main doctrinal obstacle between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East. Both Church leaders declared: “Whatever our christological divergences have been, we experience ourselves united in the confession of the same faith in the Son of God who became man so that we might become children of God by his grace. We wish from now on to witness together to this faith in the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, proclaiming it in appropriate ways to our contemporaries, so that the world may believe in the Gospel of salvation. (…) Living by this faith and these sacraments, it follows as a consequence that the particular Catholic churches and the particular Assyrian churches can recognise each other as sister Churches.”

In their Common Christological Declaration, Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV also pledged themselves “to do everything possible to dispel the obstacles of the past which still prevent the attainment of full communion between our Churches, so that we can better respond to the Lord’s call for the unity of his own, a unity which has of course to be expressed visibly”. For this purpose they decided to establish a Joint Committee for theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East. This Joint Committee started its regular activities in 1995; during its annual meetings, it mainly dealt with questions of sacramental theology, in view of a future “Common Statement on Sacramental Life”. The Common Christological Declaration also paved the way for a process of ecumenical rapprochement between the Chaldean Church and the Assyrian Church of the East. Since 1994 Mar Dinkha IV and Mar Raphael I Bidawid, Patriarch of the Chaldean Church, supported by their respective Synods, approved several initiatives to foster the progressive re-establishment of ecclesial unity between their particular Churches. This process is supported by both the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

Nowadays, many Chaldean and Assyrian faithful are living in a widespread diaspora. Due to various and sometimes dramatic circumstances, they left their motherlands (Iraq, Iran, Turkey) and moved towards the West. The great majority of the Assyrian faithful now lives in the Middle East, Scandinavia, Western Europe, Australia and North America; only a small minority remains in the motherlands. Although a majority of Chaldean faithful still lives in Iraq, about one third of them moved to the Middle East, Europe and North America. Both the Chaldean and the Assyrian Church are thus confronted, in various parts of the world, with a similar pastoral necessity: namely that many faithful cannot receive the sacraments from a minister of their own Church.

Given the great distress of many Chaldean and Assyrian faithful, in their motherlands as well as in the diaspora, impeding for many of them a normal sacramental life according to their own tradition, and in the ecumenical context of the bilateral dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East, the request has been made of a pastoral arrangement for admission to the Eucharist, when necessity requires, between the Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Church.

2. The Anaphora of Addai and Mari

The principal issue for the Catholic Church in agreeing to this request, related to the question of the validity of the Eucharist celebrated with the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, one of the three Anaphoras traditionally used by the Assyrian Church of the East<2>.

This particular Anaphora must have originated in Mesopotamia, possibly in the region of Edessa. There is no hard evidence for the dating of its final redaction: some scholars situate it about the year 200, others in the beginning of the 3th century, others in the course of the 3th century. The Assyrian Church of the East highly respects this Anaphora as an essential element of the apostolic heritage they received from Addai and Mari, whom they venerate as two of the 72 disciples of Christ and as the founding missionaries of their particular Church. The Anaphora of Addai and Mari, however, as reproduced in the oldest codices retrieved, as well as in the uninterrupted liturgical practice of the Assyrian Church of the East, does not contain a coherent Institution Narrative. For many years, scholars discussed which version of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari might have been the original one. Some scholars argued that the original formula of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari was longer and did contain an Institution Narrative. Other scholars are convinced that the Anaphora of Addai and Mari did not contain a coherent Institution Narrative and that the short version is consequently the original one. Nowadays, most scholars argue that it is highly probable that the second hypothesis is the right one. Anyhow, this historical question cannot be resolved with absolute certainty, due to the scarcity or absence of contemporary sources. The validity of the Eucharist celebrated with the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, therefore, should not be based on historical but on doctrinal arguments.

The Catholic Church considers the words of the Institution as a constitutive part of the Anaphora or Eucharistic Prayer. The Council of Florence stated “The form of this sacrament are the words of the Saviour with which he effected this sacrament. A priest speaking in the person of Christ effects this sacrament. For, in virtue of those words, the substance of bread is changed into the body of Christ and the substance of wine into his blood” (D.H. 1321). The same Council of Florence also characterised the words of the Institution as “the form of words which the holy Roman Church <…> has always been wont to use in the consecration of the Lord’s body and blood” (D.H. 1352), without prejudice to the possibility of some variation in their articulation by the Church. Although not having any authority as to the substance of the sacraments, the Church does have the power to determine their concrete shaping, regarding both their sacramental sign (materia) and their words of administration (forma) (cf. CCEO, can. 669). Hence the doctrinal question about the validity of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, when used in its short version without a coherent Institution Narrative. Do the words of administration (forma) correspond to the conditions for validity, as requested by the Catholic Church? To answer this question, three major arguments have to be taken into due consideration.

In the first place, the Anaphora of Addai and Mari is one of the most ancient Eucharistic Prayers, dating back to the time of the very early Church and the first liturgical regulations. It was composed and used with the clear intention of celebrating the Eucharist in full continuity with the Last Supper, in obedience to the command of the Lord, and according to the intention of the Church. The absence of a coherent Institution Narrative represents, indeed, an exception in comparison with Byzantine and Roman traditions, as developed in the 4th and 5th century. This exception, however, may be due to its very early origin and to the later isolation of the Assyrian Church of the East. The validity of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, in fact, was never officially contested.

The Assyrian Church of the East also uses two other Eucharistic Anaphoras, which are some centuries more recent: the Anaphora of Nestorius, reserved to five liturgical occasions, and the Anaphora ofTheodore of Mopsuestia, used from the beginning of the liturgical year till Palm Sunday, for approximately sixteen weeks. The Anaphora of Addai and Mari, however, is used during the longest and most important period of the liturgical year, which goes from Palm Sunday till the end of the liturgical year and covers about two hundred days. Moreover, the use of these three Anaphoras is not free, as in the Latin tradition, but prescribed by the liturgical calendar. In conscience of faith, the Assyrian Church of the East was always convinced to celebrate the Eucharist validly and so to perform in its fullness what Jesus Christ asked his disciples to do. She expressed this conscience of faith, whether using the Anaphora of Theodore of Mopsuestia, the Anaphora of Nestorius or the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, independent from the fact that only the first two Anaphoras, of later origin, contain the Institution narrative.It should be added that, for the period of the Catholic Patriarchate under Patriarch Sulaka (1551-1662), no document exists to prove that the Church of Rome insisted on the insertion of an Institution narrative into the Anaphora of Addai and Mari.

The Assyrian Church of the East also practices the so called sacrament or mystery (Rasà) of Holy Leaven. From times immemorial, the Assyrian tradition relates that from the bread Jesus took in his hands, which He blessed, broke and gave to his disciples, He gave two pieces to St. John. Jesus asked St. John to eat one piece and to carefully keep the other one. After Jesus' death, St. John dipped that piece of bread into the blood that proceeded from Jesus' side. Hence the name of “Holy Leaven”, given to this consecrated bread, dipped into the blood of Jesus. Until this day, Holy Leaven has been kept and renewed annually in the Assyrian Church of the East. The local bishop renews it every year on Holy Thursday, mixing a remainder of the old Leaven within the new one. This is distributed to all parishes of his diocese, to be used during one year in each bread, specially prepared by the priest before the Eucharist. No priest is allowed to celebrate Eucharist using eucharistic bread without Holy Leaven. This tradition of the sacrament or mystery of Holy Leaven, which precedes the actual Eucharistic celebration, is certainly to be seen as a visible sign of historic and symbolic continuity between the present Eucharistic celebration and the institution of the Eucharist by Jesus.

Secondly, the Catholic Church recognises the Assyrian Church of the East as a true particular Church, built upon orthodox faith and apostolic succession. The Assyrian Church of the East also preserved full Eucharistic faith in the presence of our Lord under the species of bread and wine and in the sacrificial character of the Eucharist. In the Assyrian Church of the East, though not in full communion with the Catholic Church, are thus to be found “true sacraments, and above all, by apostolic succession, the priesthood and the Eucharist, whereby they are still joined to us in closest intimacy” (U.R., n. 15).

Finally, it must be observed that the eastern and western Eucharistic Anaphoras, while expressing the same mystery, have different theological, ritual and linguistic traditions. The words of the Eucharistic Institution are indeed present in the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, not in a coherent way and ad litteram, but rather in a dispersed euchological way, that is, integrated in prayers of thanksgiving, praise and intercession. All these elements constitute a “quasi-narrative” of the Eucharistic Institution. In the central part of the Anaphora, together with the Epiclesis, explicit references are made to the eucharistic Body and Blood of Jesus Christ (“O my Lord, in thy manifold and ineffable mercies, make a good and gracious remembrance for all the upright and just fathers who were pleasing before thee, in the commemoration of the body and blood of thy Christ, which we offer to thee upon the pure and holy altar, as thou hast taught us”), to the life-giving mystery of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection, which is actually commemorated and celebrated (“that all the inhabitants of the world may know thee ... and we also, O my Lord, thy unworthy, frail and miserable servants who are gathered and stand before thee, and have received by tradition the example which is from thee, rejoicing and glorifying and exalting and commemorating and celebrating this great and awesome mystery of the passion and death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ”), to the eucharistic offering for the forgiveness of the sins, to the eschatological dimension of the eucharistic celebration and to the Lord’s command to 'do this in memory of me' (“And let thy Holy Spirit come, O my Lord, and rest upon this offering of thy servants, and bless it and sanctify it that it my be to us, O my Lord, for the pardon of sins, and for the forgiveness of shortcomings, and for the great hope of the resurrection from the dead, and for new life in the kingdom of heaven with all who have been pleasing before thee”). So the words of the Institution are not absent in the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, but explicitly mentioned in a dispersed way, from the beginning to the end, in the most important passages of the Anaphora. It is also clear that the passages cited above express the full conviction of commemorating the Lord’s paschal mystery, in the strong sense of making it present; that is, the intention to carry out in practice precisely what Christ established by his words and actions in instituting the Eucharist.

A long and careful study was undertaken of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, from a theological, liturgical and historical perspective, at the end of which the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith on January 17th, 2001 concluded that this Anaphora can be considered valid. Pope John Paul II subsequently approved this decision.

3. Pastoral provision

The Catholic Church provides special regulations for situations of pastoral necessity, such as those the Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Church face today. The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, can. 671, §2 and §3, states: “If necessity requires it or genuine spiritual advantage suggests it and provided that the danger of error or indifferentism is avoided, it is permitted for Catholic Christian faithful, for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister, to receive the sacraments of penance, the Eucharist and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers, in whose Churches these sacraments are valid.( …) Likewise Catholic ministers licitly administer the sacraments of penance, the Eucharist and anointing of the sick to Christian faithful of Eastern Churches, who do not have full communion with the Catholic Church, if they ask for them on their own and are properly disposed”. The Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms of Ecumenism, n. 123 and 125, gives the same regulations.

This provision of the Eastern Catholic Church Law and the Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism, can henceforth be applied between the Chaldean Church and the Assyrian Church of the East. When necessity requires, Assyrian faithful are permitted to receive Holy Communion in a Chaldean celebration of the Holy Eucharist; in the same way, Chaldean faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister, are permitted to receive Holy Communion in an Assyrian celebration of the Holy Eucharist. In both cases, Assyrian and Chaldean ministers should continue to celebrate the Holy Eucharist according to the liturgical prescriptions and customs of their own tradition, especially regarding the use of the Anaphora (cf. CCEO, can. 674, §2).

When Chaldean faithful are participating in an Assyrian celebration of the Holy Eucharist, the minister of the Assyrian Church is warmly invited to insert the words of the Institution in the Anaphora of Addai and Mari. This possibility already exists in the Assyrian Church of the East. Indeed, the Holy Synod of the Assyrian Church of the East, assembled in 1978 in Baghdad, offered ministers in the Assyrian Church the option of reciting the words of the Institution in the Anaphora of Addai and Mari. Although this option does not affect the validity of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, it might have a particular relevance from a liturgical, as well as an ecumenical viewpoint. From a liturgical viewpoint, this might be an appropriate means to bring the present use of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari into line with the general usage in every Eucharistic Prayer both in the Christian East and in the Christian West. From an ecumenical viewpoint, it might be an appropriate expression of fraternal respect for members of other Churches who receive Holy Communion in the Assyrian Church of the East and who are used, according to the theological and canonical tradition of their proper Church, to hear the recitation of the words of the Institution in every Eucharistic Prayer.

It should be noticed, that the present considerations on the use of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari and the guidelines for admission to the Eucharist, are exclusively concerned with the admission to the Eucharist between the Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Church. The Anaphora of Addai and Mari pertains to the liturgical patrimony and ecclesial identity of the Assyrian Church of the East, since time immemorial, and should remain so. The Assyrian Church of the East cherished and respectfully transmitted this Anaphora from age to age, avoiding any alteration or adaptation in its recitation, out of respect for its venerable origin, traditionally related to the apostolic period. Because each particular Church celebrates the sacraments according to its own traditions, principles and norms, it would be liturgically improper to transfer particular elements of one liturgical tradition into another liturgical tradition. Liturgical traditions, indeed, are like languages, having their particular vocabulary and grammar; essential elements from one liturgical tradition cannot be transferred into another without taking from the particularity of the first and harming the coherence of the second.

Conclusion

The present Guidelines have been transmitted to both H.H. Mar Dinkha IV, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East and H.B. Mar Raphaël I Bidawid, Patriarch of the Chaldean Church. The promulgation of this provision between the Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Church belongs to the competence of both particular Churches and their respective authorities (cf. CCEO, cann. 670, §1; 671, §4.5). Taking into consideration concrete circumstances and conditions, they will have to establish particular procedures and provide appropriate pastoral means to implement it.

This provision for admission to the Eucharist in situations of pastoral necessity is not to be equated with full Eucharistic communion between the Chaldean Church and the Assyrian Church of the East. Although closely related to one another in matters of faith and sacramental life, both particular Churches are not yet in full communion. They are still travelling, with hope and courage, towards that blessed day when full and visible communion will be attained and when it will be possible to celebrate together in peace the Holy Eucharist of the Lord. As Pope John Paul II wrote in his Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint: “From this basic but partial unity it is now necessary to advance towards the visible unity which is required and sufficient and which is manifested in a real and concrete way, so that the Churches may truly become a sign of that full communion in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church which will be expressed in the common celebration of the Eucharist” (UUS, n. 78).

<1> The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Information Service, 88 (1995/I), p. 2-3.

<2> Cf A. GELSTON, The Eucharistic Prayer of Addai and Mari, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1992, p. 48-55.

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3. Pope Benedict XVI Receives Bush, Mar Dinkha IV in Vatican

Oct-21-2012 at 12:06 PM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

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Pope Benedict XVI and His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV at the Vatican on June 21, 2007.
Pope Receives Bush, Mar Dinkha IV in Vatican
by Cindy Wooden. Catholic News Service, June 21, 2007.

On 9 June US President George W Bush reassured Pope Benedict XVI over the plight of war-torn Iraq's minority Christians.

The Pope "did express deep concern about the Christians inside Iraq", Bush told a news conference in Rome less than a week after a Chaldean priest and three deacons were murdered.

"I assured him we were working hard to make sure that people lived up to the constitution" calling for religious tolerance and honoring "people from different walks of life", Bush said.

The murders in northern Iraq on the Sunday before the visit with the Iraq were followed three days later by the kidnapping of another priest and five of his parishioners belonging to the Chaldean Catholic church, an autonomous Eastern rite church with upwards of 700,000 followers in Iraq.

On 21 June Pope Benedict XVI told His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East: "The small Christian communities heroically remaining in Iraq must work together, and assist and support each other. The Assyrian Church of the East is rooted in ancient lands whose names are associated with the history of God's saving plan for all mankind."

"Today, tragically, Christians in the region are suffering both materially and spiritually," the Pope said.

"Particularly in Iraq, the homeland of so many of the Assyrian faithful, Christian families and communities are feeling increasing pressure from insecurity, aggression and a sense of abandonment," he said. "Many of them see no other possibility than to leave the country and to seek a new future abroad."

Those who remain in Iraq, "often at the price of heroic sacrifices," have a right to the support and assistance of all Christian communities, Pope Benedict said.

His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV asked Pope Benedict to use "all the ecclesiastical and diplomatic means at your disposal to ensure the safety and security" of the Christians remaining in Iraq.

The Catholicos said they are being "persecuted, martyred and driven out of their homes on account of their faith in Jesus."

The Pope also told the Catholicos, whose base has been in the United States since Catholicos Mar Shimmun XXIII was expelled from Iraq in the 1930s, that the Chaldean Catholic and Assyrian communities in North America, Australia and Europe also must help one another maintain the distinctive religious and cultural heritage they share.

"At the same time, when Christians from the East and West live side by side, they have a precious opportunity to enrich one another and to understand more fully the catholicity of the church, which, as a pilgrim in this world, lives, prays and bears witness to Christ in a variety of cultural, social and human contexts," the Pope said.

After a series of historic ecumenical agreements with the Assyrian church on points of dogma and doctrine, in 2001 the Vatican approved guidelines permitting Assyrians to receive Communion at a Chaldean Catholic liturgy and Chaldeans to receive Communion at an Assyrian liturgy when clergy of their own communities were not available.

"New hopes and possibilities sometimes awaken new fears, and this is also true with regard to ecumenical relations," the Pope said, expressing his hope that tensions within the Assyrian church would not be allowed to delay the work of the Catholic-Assyrian dialogue commission.

Mar Dinkha IV told the Pope that the Assyrian Synod of Bishops had agreed to continue the dialogue and intends to support a joint Catholic-Assyrian declaration on the sacraments.

Neither Mar Dinkha nor the Vatican said when they expect the declaration to be completed.

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4. Pope Benedict XVI's Address to Mar Dinkha IV, June 21, 2007

Oct-21-2012 at 12:13 PM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

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Pope Benedict XVI's Address to Mar Dinkha IV, June 21, 2007.

Your Holiness,

I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican, together with the Bishops and the priests who have accompanied you on this visit. My warm greetings extend to all the members of the Holy Synod, the clergy and the faithful of the Assyrian Church of the East. I pray — in the words of the Apostle Saint Paul — that "the Lord himself, who is our source of joy, may give you peace at all times and in every way" (2 Th 3:16).

On several occasions Your Holiness met with my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II. Most significant was your visit in November 1994, when you came to Rome, accompanied by members of your Holy Synod, to sign a Common Declaration concerning Christology. This Declaration included the decision to establish a Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East. The Joint Commission has undertaken an important study of the sacramental life in our respective traditions and forged an agreement on the Anaphora of the Apostles Addai and Mari. I am most grateful for the results of this dialogue, which hold out the promise of further progress on other disputed questions. Indeed, these achievements deserve to be better known and appreciated, since they make possible various forms of pastoral cooperation between our two communities.

The Assyrian Church of the East is rooted in ancient lands whose names are associated with the history of God's saving plan for all mankind. At the time of the early Church, the Christians of these lands made a remarkable contribution to the spread of the Gospel, particularly through their missionary activity in the more remote areas of the East. Today, tragically, Christians in this region are suffering both materially and spiritually. Particularly in Iraq, the homeland of so many of the Assyrian faithful, Christian families and communities are feeling increasing pressure from insecurity, aggression and a sense of abandonment. Many of them see no other possibility than to leave the country and to seek a new future abroad. These difficulties are a source of great concern to me, and I wish to express my solidarity with the pastors and the faithful of the Christian communities who remain there, often at the price of heroic sacrifices. In these troubled areas the faithful, both Catholic and Assyrian, are called to work together. I hope and pray that they will find ever more effective ways to support and assist one another for the good of all.

As a result of successive waves of emigration, many Christians from the Eastern Churches are now living in the West. This new situation presents a variety of challenges to their Christian identity and their life as a community. At the same time, when Christians from the East and West live side by side, they have a precious opportunity to enrich one another and to understand more fully the catholicity of the Church, which, as a pilgrim in this world, lives, prays and bears witness to Christ in a variety of cultural, social and human contexts. With complete respect for each other’s doctrinal and disciplinary traditions, Catholic and Assyrian Christians are called to reject antagonistic attitudes and polemical statements, to grow in understanding of the Christian faith which they share and to bear witness as brothers and sisters to Jesus Christ "the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Cor 1:24).

New hopes and possibilities sometimes awaken new fears, and this is also true with regard to ecumenical relations. Certain recent developments in the Assyrian Church of the East have created some obstacles to the promising work of the Joint Commission. It is to be hoped that the fruitful labour which the Commission has accomplished over the years can continue, while never losing sight of the ultimate goal of our common journey towards the re-establishment of full communion.

Working for Christian unity is, in fact, a duty born of our fidelity to Christ, the Shepherd of the Church, who gave his life "to gather into one the dispersed children of God" (Jn 11:51-52). However long and laborious the path towards unity may seem, we are asked by the Lord to join our hands and hearts, so that together we can bear clearer witness to him and better serve our brothers and sisters, particularly in the troubled regions of the East, where many of our faithful look to us, their Pastors, with hope and expectation.

With these sentiments, I once more thank Your Holiness for your presence here today and for your commitment to continuing along the path of dialogue and unity. May the Lord abundantly bless your ministry and sustain you and the faithful whom you serve with his gifts of wisdom, joy and peace.

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5. Cardinal Walter Kasper on the Assyrian Church

Oct-21-2012 at 12:28 PM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

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Cardinal Walter Kasper
CARDINAL KASPER ON THE ASSYRIAN CHURCH
Zenit, E07062203 - June 22, 2007.

Interview With President of Council for Christian Unity

VATICAN CITY, June 22, 2007 (Zenit.org) — There are signs of new hope that relations with the Assyrian Church of the East are advancing, says Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Cardinal Kasper met Thursday with Catholicos Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV, head of the Assyrian Church of the East. The patriarch had met earlier with Benedict XVI.

On that occasion, the cardinal granted this interview with ZENIT, in which he summarizes the situation of relations between the Vatican and the Assyrian Church of the East.

Q: We seldom hear of the Assyrian Church of the East. Could you say some words on the past and present situation of this particular Church?

Cardinal Kasper: The Assyrian Church of the East is one of the smaller Eastern Churches, at least in the number of the faithful. Its historical roots are in the missionary activity of the early Church, when it moved eastward, in the direction of Mesopotamia and former Babylonia, outside the Roman Empire.

In present day geography, we can say that Iraq is the original homeland of most Assyrian faithful. More recently, due to successive periods of persecution and hardship, a large majority of Assyrian faithful migrated to the West. Nowadays the Assyrian Church has dioceses in Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia. The patriarch himself has his residence in Chicago.

Like other Churches in and from the Middle East, the Assyrian Church of the East faces many challenges. There is the dramatic situation in Iraq, where Christians belonging to various Churches have their very existence seriously threatened. Assyrian faithful are also scattered in different parts of the world, and this does not allow for pastoral service to be assured everywhere by their own priests.

Benedict XVI has mentioned some of these challenges in his address to Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV. He also insisted on the need for and the possibility of further cooperation between Catholic and Assyrian faithful, wherever they live together.

Q: In his address to Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV, Benedict XVI also referred to the positive results of the dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East. How did the relations between the Assyrian Church of the East and the Catholic Church develop?

Cardinal Kasper: In 1994, an important Common Christological Declaration was signed by Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV. This declaration clarified some doctrinal controversies between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East, controversies which go back to the Council of Ephesus (431). At that time, the Church of the East could not accept the Catholic concept of incarnation, and therefore also rejected the title which calls the Virgin Mary "Theotokos," "Mother of God."

Indeed, in this early period of doctrinal development, Syriac and Greek terminology did not articulate the same concepts with the same terminology. Nowadays, however, Catholics and Assyrians mutually recognise that they share the same faith in Jesus Christ "true God and true man, perfect in his divinity and perfect in his humanity."

The signing of this Christological Declaration resulted in the creation of a Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East. This commission has met every year between 1994 and 2004 and has done remarkable work.

In this period the commission mainly dealt with issues related to the celebration of the sacraments. Among the most prominent results of this dialogue, I wish to mention the recognition by the Catholic Church of the validity of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, and the preparation of a comprehensive document on sacramental life, a document which is ready for official endorsement.

In my opinion, however, these important results have not yet received the attention and response they deserve. It is not a matter of signing documents; it is a question that what is endorsed is genuinely accepted in the community.

Q: What happened to the dialogue after 2004? What fears and obstacles does Benedict XVI refer to in his address to the patriarch?

Cardinal Kasper: In 2005, the Assyrian Church unexpectedly decided to suspend the dialogue and not to sign the document which had been prepared on sacramental life. During a meeting in November 2005, moreover, the Synod of the Assyrian Church decided to suspend one of its members, a bishop, who had been among the architects of the dialogue with the Catholic Church and had contributed significantly to its successful progress.

The Catholic Church cannot intervene in the internal affairs of another Church, but deeply regrets this unfortunate development. Nobody is helped by further divisions in a community which already faces so many challenges, as I mentioned before.

These further divisions also cause difficulties for our ecumenical dialogue, since they are improperly used by some Assyrian media to cast doubt on the Catholic Church and its true intentions toward the Assyrian Church; such polemics should be brought to an end. We hope and pray that it will be possible to overcome these problems. Serenity should return and eventually allow the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue to resume its activities.

This is the sense of the appeal Benedict XVI addressed to Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV and to all concerned, so that together we may find the best solution.

Q: What do you expect from the visit of Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV for the future of relations between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church?

Cardinal Kasper: Immediately after the election of Benedict XVI, Catholicos Mar Dinkha IV expressed the wish to come and greet the new Pope. This may be a hopeful sign for the future of our relations.

Beyond this, I have three expectations. First, that more attention may be given by Catholic and Assyrian faithful worldwide to the difficulties met by their brothers and sisters in the Middle East and particularly in Iraq; these difficulties directly touch the lives of individual Christians and their families, and call for the attention and good will of everyone.

Second, that the results of our dialogue may be further explained and received, so as to allow Catholic and Assyrian faithful to better understand and help one another. Finally, that more effective forms of common witness and joint pastoral activities may be developed between Catholic and Assyrian faithful, particularly in the West, where Christians of all denominations are facing the same pastoral challenges.

What can we do together so that the young generations will be glad to belong to the Church and to give witness to their faith in Christ? These are the kind of questions I would like to see at the center of our future meetings, also with the Assyrian Church of the East.

Q: You also had a working meeting with the patriarch and the bishops who accompanied him. Have any further commitments or projects been made?

Cardinal Kasper: During our meeting, I insisted on the necessity of nurturing a serious and honest relationship. I also expressed the hope that through just and prudent decisions it would be possible to avert further division in the Assyrian Church. It became clear that more frequent contact between the patriarch and Synod of the Assyrian Church and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity would be helpful.

We therefore decided to prepare a third phase of our joint theological dialogue. In this way, I hope, a fresh impetus could be given to relations between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East.

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6. Common Christological Declaration Between the Catholic Church and the Syriac Orthodox Church

Oct-23-2012 at 01:41 AM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

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Common Christological Declaration Between the Catholic Church and the Syriac Orthodox Church
http://www.atour.com/forums/religion/88.html

Arabic text of the common declarations between:

Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Yakub III
Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Zakka I

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Assyria \ã-'sir-é-ä\ n (1998)   1:  an ancient empire of Ashur   2:  a democratic state in Bet-Nahren, Assyria (northern Iraq, northwestern Iran, southeastern Turkey and eastern Syria.)   3:  a democratic state that fosters the social and political rights to all of its inhabitants irrespective of their religion, race, or gender   4:  a democratic state that believes in the freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture in faithfulness to the principles of the United Nations Charter — Atour synonym

Ethnicity, Religion, Language
» Israeli, Jewish, Hebrew
» Assyrian, Christian, Aramaic
» Saudi Arabian, Muslim, Arabic
Assyrian \ã-'sir-é-an\ adj or n (1998)   1:  descendants of the ancient empire of Ashur   2:  the Assyrians, although representing but one single nation as the direct heirs of the ancient Assyrian Empire, are now doctrinally divided, inter sese, into five principle ecclesiastically designated religious sects with their corresponding hierarchies and distinct church governments, namely, Church of the East, Chaldean, Maronite, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic.  These formal divisions had their origin in the 5th century of the Christian Era.  No one can coherently understand the Assyrians as a whole until he can distinguish that which is religion or church from that which is nation -- a matter which is particularly difficult for the people from the western world to understand; for in the East, by force of circumstances beyond their control, religion has been made, from time immemorial, virtually into a criterion of nationality.   3:  the Assyrians have been referred to as Aramaean, Aramaye, Ashuraya, Ashureen, Ashuri, Ashuroyo, Assyrio-Chaldean, Aturaya, Chaldean, Chaldo, ChaldoAssyrian, ChaldoAssyrio, Jacobite, Kaldany, Kaldu, Kasdu, Malabar, Maronite, Maronaya, Nestorian, Nestornaye, Oromoye, Suraya, Syriac, Syrian, Syriani, Suryoye, Suryoyo and Telkeffee. — Assyrianism verb

Aramaic \ar-é-'máik\ n (1998)   1:  a Semitic language which became the lingua franca of the Middle East during the ancient Assyrian empire.   2:  has been referred to as Neo-Aramaic, Neo-Syriac, Classical Syriac, Syriac, Suryoyo, Swadaya and Turoyo.

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