Oriental Orthodoxy

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The term Oriental Orthodoxy refers to the communion of Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only the first three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the Council of Ephesus — and reject the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon. Hence, these Churches are also called Old Oriental Churches. Despite potentially confusing nomenclature, Oriental Orthodox churches are distinct from the churches that collectively refer to themselves as Eastern Orthodoxy. The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is considered the spiritual leader of the Oriental Orthodox Churches.

The schism between Oriental Orthodoxy and what would become the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches occurred in the 5th century. The separation resulted in part from the Oriental Orthodox churches' refusal to accept the Christological dogmas promulgated by the Council of Chalcedon, which held that Jesus has two natures — one divine and one human, although these were inseparable and only act as one hypostasis.

To the hierarchs who would lead the Oriental Orthodox, this was tantamount to accepting Nestorian-flavored terminology, according their definition of Christology, which was founded in the Alexandrine School of Theology that advocated a formula that stressed unity of the Incarnation over all other considerations.

The Oriental Orthodox churches were therefore often called Monophysite churches, although they reject this label, which is associated with Eutychian Monophysitism, preferring the term "non-Chalcedonian" or "Miaphysite" churches. Oriental Orthodox Churches reject the heretical Monophysite teachings of Eutyches, the heretical teachings of Nestorius and the Dyophysite definition of the Council of Chalcedon.

In the 20th century, the Chalcedonian schism was not seen with the same relevance any more, and from several meetings between the Roman Catholic Pope and Patriarchs of the Oriental Orthodoxy, reconciling declarations emerged.

The confusions and schisms that occurred between their Churches in the later centuries, they realize today, in no way affect or touch the substance of their faith, since these arose only because of differences in terminology and culture and in the various formulae adopted by different theological schools to express the same matter. Accordingly, we find today no real basis for the sad divisions and schisms that subsequently arose between us concerning the doctrine of Incarnation. In words and life we confess the true doctrine concerning Christ our Lord, notwithstanding the differences in interpretation of such a doctrine which arose at the time of the Council of Chalcedon.

From the common declaration of Pope John Paul II and HH Mar Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, June 23 1984

According to the canons of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the four Archbishops of Rome, Alexandria, Ephesus (later transferred to Constantinople) and Antioch were all given status as Patriarchs or in other words the Ancient Apostolic Centers of Chritianity by the First Council of Nicea (predating the schism) — each of the four being responsible for those bishops and churches under his jurisdiction within his own quarter of Christendom, being the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Province, (with the exception of the Archbishop or Patriarch of Jerusalem, who was to be independent of all of these.) Thus, the Archbishop of Rome (ie, the Pope) has always been held by the others to be in Communion, and fully sovereign within his own quadrant. The technical reason for the schism was that the Bishop of Rome excommunicated the non-Chalcedonian bishops in 451 AD for refusing to accept the "separated natures" teaching, thus declaring them to be out of communion with him, although they have continued to recognise him as an equal. With the recent declarations, it is unclear whether the Archbishop of Rome still considers the other three to be excommunicated, or now sees them as being fully in Communion as before.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that it is the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus. But it does not deny that the one and only, true Church of Christ exists, although less fully, in other churches and ecclesial bodies. Vatican Council II said in its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen gentium, 1964, § 15): "in some real way [non-Catholic Christians] are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power."

[edit] Oriental Orthodox Communion

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The Oriental Orthodox Communion is a group of churches within Oriental Orthodoxy which are all in full communion with each other. The communion includes:

[edit] Assyrian Church of the East

The Assyrian Church of the East is sometimes, although incorrectly, considered an Oriental Orthodox Church. Being largely centered in what was then the Persian Empire, it separated itself administratively from the Church of the Roman Empire around AD 400, and then broke communion with the latter in reaction to the Council of Ephesus held in 431. Additionally, the Assyrian Church venerates Saints anathematized by the previously mentioned Church and its descendants. In addition, the Assyrian Church accepts a Nestorian or Nestorian-like Christology that is categorically rejected by the Oriental Orthodox Communion.

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de:Altorientalische Kirchen es:Antiguas iglesias orientales fr:Églises des trois conciles hr:Istočne pravoslavne crkve ja:東方諸教会 nl:Oriëntaals-orthodoxe Kerken no:Orientalske ortodokse kirker ru:Древневосточные Церкви sk:Orientálne ortodoxné cirkvi sv:Orientaliskt ortodoxa tr:Oriental Ortodoks Kiliseler

Oriental Orthodoxy

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