Letter from H.H. Ignatius IV of the Roum Orthodox
- Here is that letter I was talking about. Any commentary would be
Statement Of The Roum Orthodox Church Of Antioch
Damascus, 12 November 1991
To the members of the Holy Synod of Antioch, Prayers to God and
fraternal greetings in Our Lord, Jesus Christ
It is our pleasure to inform you that pertaining to the Holy Synod
decision concerning our unity with the Holy Syriac Orthodox Church, a
meeting was held in Damascus at The Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate on
22 July, 1991. The following hierarchies attended the meeting: HH
Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I, HH Patriarch Ignatius IV, Metropolitan
George Khodr, Metropolitan Malattius Barnaba, Metropolitan Aphram
Barsoum, Metropolitan Isaak Saka, and Bishop Paul Al-Souki.
After the discussion the participants consented to issue a
draft, which was preceded by a letter and whose contents were agreed
upon to be discussed at the next meeting. It will assume its official
status after the agreement of the Holy Synod, and what it sees
appropriate to the matter during the forthcoming Holy Synod meeting.
The Lord is always with us.
Patrarch Ignatius IV
A Synodal and Patriarchal Letter
To All Our Childeren, Protected by God, Of the Holy see of Antioch
You must have heard of the continuous efforts for decades by our
Church with the sister Syriac Orthodox Church to foster a better
knowledge and understating of both Churches, whether on the
dogmatical or pastoral level.
These attempts are nothing but a natural expression that the Orthodox
Churches, and especially those within the Holy See Of Antioch, are
called to articulate the will of the Lord that all may be one, just
as the Son is One with the Heavenly Father (John 10:30).
It is our duty and that of our brothers in the Syriac Orthodox
Church to witness to Christ in our Eastern region where He was born,
preached, suffered, was buried and rose from the dead, ascended into
heaven, and sent down His Holy and Life-Giving Spirit upon His holy
All the meetings, the fellowship, the oral and written declarations
meant that we belong to One Faith even though history had manifested
our division more than the aspects of our unity.
All this has called upon our Holy Synod of Antioch to bear witness to
the progress of our Church in the see of Antioch towards unity that
preserves for each Church its authentic Oriental heritage whereby the
one Antiochian Church benefits from its sister Church and is enriched
by its traditions, literature and Holy rituals.
Every endeavor and pursuit in the direction of the coming together of
the two Churches is based on the conviction that this orientation is
from the Holy Spirit, and it will give the Eastern Orthodox image
more light and radiance, that it has lacked for centuries before.
Having recognized the efforts done in the direction of unity between
the two Churches, and being convinced that this direction was
inspirite by the Holy Spirit and projects a radiant image of Eastern
Christianity overshadowed during many centuries, the Holy Synod of
the Church of Antioch saw the need to give a concrete expression of
the close fellowship between the two Churches, the Syriac Orthodox
Church and the Eastern Orthodox for the edification of their faithful.
Thus, the following decisions were taken:
1. We affirm the total and mutual respect of the spirituality,
heritage and Holy Fathers of both Churches. The integrity of both the
Byzantine and Syriac liturgies is to be preserved.
2. The heritage of the Fathers in both Churches and their
traditions as a whole should be integrated into Chrestian education
curricula and theological studies. Exchanges of professors and
students are to be enhanced.
3. Both Churches shall refrain from accepting any faithful from one
Church into the membership of the other, irrespective of all
motivations or reasons.
4. Meetings between the two Churches, at the level of their Synods,
according to the will of the two Churches, will be held whenever the
need may arise.
5. Every Church will remain the reference and authority for its
faithful, pertaining to matters of personal status (marriage,
divorce, adoption etc.)
6. If Bishops of the two Churches participate at a holy
baptism or funeral service, the one belonging to the Church of the
baptized or deceased will preside. In case of a Holy matrimony
service, the bishop of the bridegroom's Church will preside.
7. The above mentioned is not applicable to the concelebration in the
8. What applies to bishops applies equally to the priests of both
9. In localities where there is only one priest, from either Church,
he will celebrate services for the faithful of both Churches,
including the Divine Liturgy, pastoral duties and holy matrimony. He
will keep an independent record for each Church and transmit that of
the sister Church to its authorities.
10. If two priests of the two Churches happen to be in a locality
where there is one Church, they take turns in making use of its
11. If a bishop from one Church and a priest from the
sister Church happen to concelebrate a service, the first will
preside even when it is the priest's parish.
12. Ordination into the holy orders are performed by the authorities
of each Church for its own members. It would be advisable to invite
the faithful of the sister Church to attend.
13. Godfathers, godmothers (in baptism) and witnesses in
holy matrimony can be chosen from the members of the sister Church.
14. Both Churches will exchange visits and will cooperate
in various areas of social, cultural and educational work.
We ask God's help to continue strengthening our relations with
the sister Church, and with other Churches, so that we all become one
community under one Shepherd.
Dec. 11, 1991
Patriarch Ignatios IV