Dear Forum Members,
I hope you may indulge my take on this subject. I believe if you understand
my way of thinking you may develop both an evangelist and ecumenical
We may look disparagingly at the history of the Catholic Church given their
attempts at worldwide domination and outright slavery in prior generations.
These sore points continue to divide the church and bring us to the present
Our current Patriarch and a former Pope signed an agreement to conduct
some sacraments for each other in exceptional circumstances on a reciprocal
basis. This action began to heal the rift over Chalcedon- a great
achievement as that rift weakened the witness of the church severely, even
paving the way for Islam to dominate the Middle East.
In our diaspora communities, the Catholic Church almost always dominates.
We should use our agreement with them as an opportunity to learn and
develop, without losing our faith. In fact, we should cause the Catholics
to better understand us and develop more Orthodox practice. If we are well
grounded, the Catholics should come to us, not the other way around!
Let me illustrate by using our humble situation here in Austin. We worship
in a chapel of the Maronite Roman Catholic Church. The priest there is very
much interested in Syriac culture and practice whether Orthodox or
Catholic. Hence, he has asked me if I want to hear the confession of
Catholics! He also asked me to con-celebrate the Eucharist, but I told him
I wish I could but have to decline at this time. I was ordained a full
deacon at that church's main altar, and they give us that chapel for free
for all services.
In this context, it becomes difficult to worry about past injuries. We must
engage in ecumenical dialogue to re-unite the churches along Orthodox
lines. We must do so at the ground level as well.
So, if in an exceptional circumstance (there is a dire emergency or no
Oriental Orthodox parish in the vicinity) I urge you to go share our
Christianity with the Catholics. Make them aware of us and let them think
upon our ways with humble grace but without fear. One should be highly
educated or seeking education about our faith before engaging.