Abba Seraphim has welcomed the recent comments by His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch in his Encyclical Letter, which speaks of the need to work towards full sacramental unity between the two families of Orthodox Churches. “It is the most encouraging step in this long dialogue for several years and we must hope that other Patriarchs will respond with the same clarity and conviction as Patriarch John”, said Abba Seraphim. “The significant agreements made during the official dialogue between the Eastern & Oriental Orthodox Churches between 1985-1993 had seemed so full of promise but, sadly, over the past twenty years there has been little or no movement to build on these. In the past, the two Patriarchates of Antioch have been in the forefront of co-operation and practical implementation of the agreements reached. It is heartening to see that Patriarch John has made this a priority. At a time when the political situation in Syria is so dark and destructive, the reaching out in love between the two Orthodox families is a ray of light and hope.”
The section of Patriarch John’s extensive Encyclical which addresses this is given below:
“Towards a Full Sacramental Unity of the Christians:
We, as Antiochians, are aware of the painful wound inflicted on the body of Christ by the schism between the believers. This has led the Antiochian Church to participate actively for decades in every dialogue to remove the obstacles which block the way to restoring the unity of the Christian world. We will always be faithful to the policy of my predecessors. I insist on the importance of maintaining the absolute respect between the Churches ignoring any arrogance, anathematizing, and schismatization. I am deeply convinced that Orthodoxy; which is the basis of every interaction between us and other Churches, is a unifying factor not a divisive one. I am also convinced that adhering to it is the right way. With love and humility, we strengthen the common factors that bind us all together. There will undoubtedly be differences, not in essentials, and this a source of propitious diversity. This shall be considered a richness to us, and not a deviation of our adherence to Christ.
Therefore, we hope to accomplish all steps towards a full sacramental unity with our brethren in the Eastern non-Chalcedonian Churches, based on what we have agreed upon in Chambesy as a positive result of a long and extensive dialogue. If we realize this, we should be able to show that we have offered a living example of the credibility of our endeavors to achieve unity and to witness to our loyalty to the Lord. On this occasion, we also affirm that we will continue all dialogues now taking place between the different Eastern and Western Churches, seeking to show our unlimited readiness to show the face of the bride, that is the Church. In this respect, we should affirm the importance of the living witness which we as Christians should show by living the love we carry to the whole world in the name of Jesus Christ. We call for consultation among ourselves as Christian Churches, about the different issues raised by the modem world, emphasizing the issues that unite us and constitute our common denominators. These common denominators can be offered to the man of today as a consolation from the Lord.”