Institute of Theology

Font Size

The Orthodox Church of Antioch From the 15th to the 18th Century: Towards a Proper Understanding of History 2023


   Session 1: The Historical and Political Context


Professor Constantin Panchenko - First Lecture

Unia of Florence and the Church of Antioch: a retrospect

The paper is devoted to a historical impact of the Unia of Florence in the Middle East and as well a later perception of the Council of Florence in collective memory of the Rum Orthodox Arabs. The study analyzes level of involvement of the Middle Eastern Orthodox Churches into the project of Unia of 1439, the immediate reaction on the Unia by the Melkites (the council of the three Eastern Patriarchs of 1443), development of relations between the Orthodox Arabs and the Latin Church in the second half of the 15th century. A special attention is given to reflection of the Council of Florence in the texts of the Orthodox historians and theologians of the early Modern time (Anastasios ibn Mujalla, patriarch Macarios III al-Zaʻim, Paul of Aleppo, the polemists of the 18th century).

Professor Tom Papademetriou

The Ottomans and the Orthodox Patriarchates (15th to 18th Centuries)

This paper offers a survey of the historical and political context of the Orthodox Church under Ottoman rule from the 15th to the 18th centuries. From when the Ottomans took power over the Byzantine Empire and the city of Constantinople in 1453, to when they defeated the Mamluks to take control of the Middle East by 1517, the Ottomans ruled over vast territories with large Christian populations. Following on previous practices, the Ottomans understood the importance of the Church, seeing the Orthodox Patriarchates as important fiscal and social institutions to be exploited. For their part, the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria, connected for the first time in centuries under a single political power, addressed their social, religious, financial, and political constraints to serve the needs of the Orthodox faithful by adeptly negotiating their Ottoman cultural, political, and social landscape.

Professor Christos Arambatzis

Méthodes d'instauration de l'union ecclésiastique et réactions au Proche Orient pendant le XVe -XVIe siècle

L’annonce fait référence aux résultats du Concile de Ferrare de Florence en 1438 et au développement de la propagande Uniate au Moyen-Orient qui a marqué l’ histoire du Patriarcat d’Antioche. Les Patriarches et les évêques érudits, comme en témoignent les sources écrites des 16e et 17e, luttent pour limiter les efforts de l’Église catholique romaine pour modifier la conscience de soi des populations orthodoxes. Ainsi, le Patriarcat d’Antioche, après le concile panorthodoxe de 1484, a été l’un des facteurs les plus forts dans l’endiguement de l’uniate parmi les populations orthodoxes.



Dr. Carsten Walbiner

The Impact of Greek Thinking and Greek Prelates on the Patriarchate of Antioch in the 17th and early 18th centuries

Some scholars believe that a hegemonistic influence of clerics of Greek origin on the Orthodox Church of Antioch, especially by prelates related to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, would have contributed to the schism of 1724 and the appearance of a Catholic branch within the Melkite Church. This paper will examine the impact Greek thinking and Greek prelates really had on the affairs and development of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch in the 17 th and early 18 th centuries. The following aspects will be discussed in more detail:

The relations between the Patriarchs of Antioch and their counterparts in Constantinople, especially with regard to the ecclesiastical affairs of the Antiochian Patriarchate like the election of hierarchs, the relations with the Sublime Porte and foreign powers.

The number of Greek prelates who raised to high ranks in the hierarchy of the Antiochian patriarchate during the period under investigation. Special emphasis will be given to their administrative and cultural activities.

Greek influences on the artistic and literary production in the Patriarchate of Antioch with a focus on translations from Greek into Arabic.

As a synthesis of these different aspects, it will be discussed how strong Greek influences were in shaping the ecclesiastical identity of the church of Antioch as well as individual identities of its members and whether the schism of 1724 was the result of Greek hegemony and domination or rather only the starting point for its subsequent establishment.

   Session 2: Relations with other Orthodox Churches

Associate Professor Giannis Bakas

The historical relations of the Ecumenical Patriarchate with the Church of Antioch and their collaboration. The case of the metropolis of Aleppo

The Church of Antioch diachronically, but especially after the development of Islam, oftentimes received the fraternal support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Due to the advocacy of the Ecumenical Patriarchs and their continued assistance, the historic Church of Antioch never rejected the Byzantine character of its tradition. The close relationship between the two Ancient Churches did not allow the Antiochian Church to distort or diminish its Orthodox faith, despite internal conflicts and, most especially, on account of the activity of those promoting Latin propaganda.

Particularly, after the Ottoman conquest of Syria, in the 16th century, the communication between these two Churches became more visible and robust. This contributed to their mutual assistance and cooperation vis-à-vis the external threat of both Ottoman authorities and, especially, the Latin threat. It also precipitated the restoration of normalcy when it was jeopardized by the internal strife within the Church of Antioch.

The ecclesiastical province of Aleppo especially came to know the abovementioned support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. With its interventions in favor of the Orthodox population, the Ecumenical Patriarchate safeguarded the survival of Orthodoxy in the region. In this context, one observes that even the boundaries between the two Patriarchates were altered when the province of Aleppo was temporarily incorporated into the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Dr. Vera Chentsova

Relations of Athanasios III Dabbas, Patriarch of Antioch, with Moscow

Athanasios III Dabbās, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, was the first to introduce the Arabic typography to the Eastern provinces of the Ottoman Empire and to initiate book printing for the needs of Arabic speaking Orthodox Christians. The high costs of this newly founded typography compelled the Patriarch to raise funds from several benefactors. After he obtained the first generous help in from the Prince of Wallachia, Athanasios Dabbās turned to the Cossack Hetman Ivan Mazepa and to the Muscovite Tsar Peter the Great in a hope to get the necessary means to keep his Arabic press working in Aleppo. Some of Athanasios’s letters, which allow to trace his relations with Moscow, are conserved in the Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts. These letters contain important information about the Patriarch’s printing projects and his attempts to communicate with the Muscovite political elite. Athanasios’s envoys collected money and brought later to Ukraine and Muscovite Russia exemplars of the books newly printed in Aleppo in order to present them to the benefactors. Documents from the Russian Archive, marginal and owner’s notes on the Arabic books published in Aleppo by Athanasios Dabbās permit to shed new light on the Patriarch’s plans to provide Arab Orthodox communities with liturgical books, indispensable for the Church.

   Session 3: Relations with Other Peoples

Fr. Chrysostom Nassis

A View from Without: The Church of Antioch through the Eyes of Seventeenth Century Anglican Divines

The seventeenth century was a period marked by intense theological controversy and political dissent adversely affecting the Church of England and society at large. The ongoing, internal, political, and ecclesiastical discord contributed significantly to the increased interest in the history, polity, and theology of Christian East on the part of the religious and intellectual elite of the time. This interest was further amplified on account of the negative sentiments felt against the Church of Rome and the quest for establishing the Ecclesia Anglicana as the via media between the extremes of Roman Catholicism and Puritanism. Of course, this interest was not the monopoly of prominent figures of the Established Church. It was also taken up by Puritan intellectuals and by those serving the Crown’s desire to maintain and cultivate both diplomatic relations with the Ottoman state authorities and trade agreements on behalf of merchants associated with the Levant Company.  

References to the Eastern sees of Constantinople, Smyrna, Aleppo, Antioch, and Jerusalem, among others, are found sporadically in various English sources of the time. General works such as, The Present State of the Greek and Armenian Churches, anno Christi 1678, written at the command of His Majesty by Paul Ricaut, present a clearer overall picture. Specific details regarding the Antiochene Church, however, are neither complete nor systematic and must be uncovered within a wide array of texts. Despite their fragmentary nature, this information is of historical significance, inasmuch as it presents an objective external view of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, albeit partial, in a crucial time in its life.

In this study we will provide information on the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch as found in these sources. We will focus on the historical details obtained from the writings of Isaac Basire (1607–1676) and Paul Ricaut (1629–1700) mentioned above. Particular emphasis will be given to Ephraim Pagitt (c. 1575–1647), concentrating on the revised 1640 edition of his work entitled, Christianographie; or, a Description of the sundrie Sorts of Christians in the World not subject to the Pope, and his correspondence with the Eastern Patriarchs found in codex, British Library, Harley MS 825 of the year 1635.

Associate Professor Hasan Çolak

Orthodox responses to Catholic missions in the Patriarchate of Antioch: Institutionalization and centralization

Catholic-Orthodox relations during the early modern period have been analyzed by a series of scholars on the basis of sources produced in a myriad of traditions and languages. However, until recent years the vital role of the rich Ottoman archival documents have not been recognized for the history of the Patriarchate of Antioch as much as that of Constantinople. There are two major reasons for this lack of interest. First, the assumption that there was both a physical and mental distance between the Ottoman administration and its Arabic-speaking Muslim and Christian subjects has generated little interest in Ottoman sources among the scholars who study the history of the Patriarchate of Antioch. Second, the history of the non-Constantinopolitan patriarchates has often been overshadowed by the enormous interest in understanding the interaction between the Ottoman central administration and the Patriarchate of Constantinople. As a result, the role of the Ottoman state in the context of the Catholic-Orthodox relations have often remained outside the scope of the scholarly discussions. The aim of this paper is to address this little-explored field and discuss the role of the Ottoman central administration as a core component of the encounters between the Orthodox and Catholic parties in the Patriarchate of Antioch. Chronologically, the paper focuses on the first half of the eighteenth century, which witnessed a series of conflicts, most notably the Schism of 1724. It is well known that the Schism in question played as a catalyst for a rapprochement between the Patriarchates of Antioch and Constantinople. As this paper will show, together with this Schism, relations between the Patriarchate of Antioch and the Ottoman central administration against the effects of the Catholic infiltration also assumed a strong and continuous character in political, administrative, economic, and cultural spheres, which culminated in the institutionalization and centralization of the patriarchate of Antioch. The primary sources for this paper are comprised of the correspondence between the patriarchs of Antioch and the Ottoman imperial chancery preserved in the Ottoman Archives in Istanbul as well as published missionary and diplomatic sources in French and ecclesiastical sources and chronicles in Greek.

Professor Andreas Müller

The Greek-Orthodox Church of Antiochia in modern western literature - an overview

From the 17th century onwards, the Orthodox Churches are mentioned in western literature. Western theologians and travelers were giving information about the churches in the Middle East, their theology and their organization. The lecture will give an overview over the data we get from these sources. What did the scholars in the so-called western world know about the Greek-Orthodox traditions of Antiochia and the Holy Land? Were they well informed? What were their interests in presenting another ecclesiastical world?

   Session 4: Intellectual Activity and Culture

Dr. Martin Lüstraeten

Which Typikon? The Typikon of Malātiyūs Karma as an attempt to unify a liturgical tradition

The (neo-)Sabaitic Typikon is already the result of an exchange between monastic and cathedral traditions on the one hand and between Constantinopolitan and Hagiopolite traditions on the other hand. Its manuscripts were usually not just copied, but regularly during each copy adapted leading to many varieties between the different manuscripts.

During the time of different rulers in different patriarchates the monasteries in the patriarchates of Alexandria and Antioch were able to exchange those manuscripts and to produce transcriptions of them, by this preserving the common liturgical heritage, although it was partially characterized by the liturgical customs of the other Christian communities in vicinity. The rising Ottoman Empire allowed communication and exchanges between the different Rūm-Orthodox patriarchates, but now including also the patriarchate of Constantinople. Malātiyūs Karma, the bishop of Aleppo and the later patriarch Euthymios II was eager to unify the liturgical heritage with the aim of preservation and of identity-formation, but decided not to redact an existing Arabic Typikon but to translate a Greek one. In order to better understand this measure, one has to consider the existing manuscript tradition before him as well as the reasons he himself gives in his translation.

Dr. Ioana Feodorov

Printing for the Arab Christians in the 18th Century: Antim the Iberian, Athanasios Dabbas, and Sylvestros of Antioch

The history of Arabic printing in the East began with the cooperation between Athanasios Dabbās, Metropolitan of Aleppo and twice Patriarch of the Church of Antioch, and Antim the Iberian, an accomplished scholar, printer and, later, Metropolitan of Wallachia. Relying on his knowledge of Turkish written in Arabic script and his engraving skills, Antim made Arabic type, helped by Dabbās. They printed together, in Greek and Arabic, a Book of the Divine Liturgies (Al-Qondāq) in 1701 at Snagov and a Book of Hours (Kitāb al-sawā‘ī) in 1702 at Bucharest. In 1705, Dabbās left for Syria with the Arabic type created by Antim, other printing tools, and, more importantly, the knowhow to print in Arabic. In his newly-founded press of Aleppo he printed, in 1706-1711, eleven titles, including the Gospel, the Psalter, a Book of the Chosen Pearls (34 homilies by Saint John Chrysostom), the Paremia, the Apostle, 66 homilies by Patriarch Athanasios II of Jerusalem, the Octoechos, and his own Treatise on Confession. The first Christian Arabic books, printed with Romanian help, were used for further editions over the next century. In 1745-1747, Patriarch Sylvester of Antioch secured from Ioan Mavrocordat, the prince of Moldavia, an approval to print at the monastery of Saint Sabbas in Iaşi the QondāqThe Proof of Truth and Transmission of Justice by Nectarios of Jerusalem, the Manual against the Pope’s Infallibility, a translation from Eustratios Argentis, and the Arabic version of his Syntagma kata ton azymon. In 1752, with the endorsement and support of Patriarch Sylvester, an Arabic press was installed at the Saint George monastery in Beirut. Two Arabic service books were printed here: the Psalter and the Kitāb al-sawā‘ī. A unique Akathistos of the Mother of God also seems to have come from this press. The introduction of printing in present-day Syria and Lebanon under the Ottomans had significant consequences for the ease of access to knowledge and education and the national and literary revival of the Arabic-speaking Christians. This paper provides an overview of this history, now surveyed in depth by an international research team within the ERC-funded project TYPARABIC led by the author.

Associate Professor Elie Dannaoui

The Arabic-Syriac Liturgical Manuscripts in the Rūm Orthodox Church of Antioch: A Survivor of an Extinct Tradition

This paper presents and highlights the last surviving physical evidence of the Chalcedonian Syriac heritage in the Rūm Orthodox Church of Antioch before it was gradually abandoned by the seventeenth century. To achieve this purpose, the author takes a two-pronged approach: First, he presents the bilingual Arabic-Syriac liturgical manuscripts that have survived and are found in three monasteries in North Lebanon and in the Patriarchal library in Damascus. The contents of these manuscripts are identified and presented in addition to their codicological and paleographical traits. Second, he examines several textual characteristics of this corpus in the context of the Byzantinazation movement, which was widely carried out in the seventeenth century by Metropolitan Meletius Karma.

   Session 5: Domestic Affairs

Fr. Bassam Nassif

The Project of Pastoral Renewal with Three Patriarchs of Antioch: Euthymius III, Makarios III, and Athanasios III

There has been much emphasis on the situation of the Patriarchs of Antioch in relation to the seventeenth century polemics. Scholars such Bernard Heyberger and Robert Haddad gave spiritual and pastoral causes to the move towards Uniatism. However, the Patriarchate of Antioch during that era had witnessed some of its distinct spiritual leaders who worked sacrificially to address these various spiritual and pastoral issues. In particular, Patriarchs Euthymius Karmah, Makarios Ibn Zaim, and Athanasios Dabbas had each their project to renew the pastoral, spiritual, and liturgical life of their believers in various dioceses and parishes. Their missionary spirit was in line with the long standing Orthodox Tradition of the Church of Antioch. This research sheds light on the significant renewal projects initiated by each of these three Patriarchs of Antioch in the challenging era of the seventeenth century.

Fr. Saba Nasr

A Manuscript about an Antiochian Theological Reply to the Call to Unity that Antioch received from Rome

This manuscript at hand holds a historical, theological and Antiochian reply against the decisions reached by the council of Ferrara-Florance held in the year of 1438 AD. This manuscript was written by Father Sadarius, also known as “Masaad Nasho”, an Antioch orthodox priest as he claims himself to be. This piece of writing is composed of ten chapters through them Nasho pinpoints and falsifies the corrupt claims and lies of the council. These claims were rejected by the eastern churches and the Antioch church was one of them. Being the leading church with the best defense tactics, the Antioch church was able to successfully preserve the righteous beliefs of the orthodox leaving it unharmed.

Fr. Hareth Ibrahim

"Cutting Sword:" An Apologetic Manuscript by Hieromonk Maximus

It said on its front page that this book called “Cutting Sword” was written by the wise scientist and the great philosopher, the righteous hieromonk Maximos, may mighty God have mercy upon him.

The hieromonk Maximos was born and raised on the island of Mora, and he became the disciple of Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria Meletios “Pighas” (1590-1601 A.D.). Maximos was a prominent rhetoric, teaching the faith and defending it against heresies. In response to some activities of Papal missionaries in the Orthodox seas Maximos wrote to support his fellow Orthodox faithful refuting the Papal claims. Maximos wrote in Greek this book “Cutting Sword” in 35 chapters, starting from chapter one where he declares that Primacy of the Pope of Rome was the direct cause of schism, to the authority claimed to be given to St Peter alone and St Peter was martyred in Rome does not give the Pope the right to be his successor, to proving that all bishops are successors of the Apostles, to explaining the difference between “Peter” and “Rock”, to the truth of Christ was not revealed to Peter alone but to all the Apostles, to the beatification of all the Apostles and not Peter alone, to exegesis of many passages of the Holy Scripture misinterpreted by the Latins, to proving that Christ is the only head of the Church and that Popes are not infallible, to refuting the argument that the Church in the orient was enslaved to rapist because it did not submit to the Pope. His writings were such a success that many hierarchs in the Arab lands saw this book fit to have it translated into Arabic for the need of the Arab Orthodox. They called for the collaboration of two zealous persons: Metropolitan Christodhoulos of Gaza and Joasaph ex-Metropolitan of Tyre known as “The son of Swaidan the iconographer”. They carried the translation in the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in the year 1696 A.D. and the copy at hand was scribed in the year 1701 A.D

   Session 6: Patriarch Sylvestros: Life and Works

Professor Symeon A. Paschalidis

"A Living Saint of the Church." Patriarch Silvestros of Antioch (1724-1766) and the Signs of Sanctity in his Church Ministry

Patriarch Silvestros of Antioch (1724-1766) was one of the most important ecclesiastical figures of the 18th century, a period critical for the survival of the Orthodox churches and peoples in the Christian East. It is noteworthy that his long patriarchal ministry is characterized by his constant pastoral concern in an environment that was hostile in many ways to the Orthodox Church, which ranks him, according to the testimony of his contemporary historians and more recent scholars of his work, as one of the most virtuous and prudent patriarchs, not only of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch but of the whole Orthodox Church of that period.

It is particularly characteristic that his contemporary Athonite monk Kaisarios Dapontes, calls him a "living saint of the Church and a jewel of the hierarchy of his time", while his patriarchal ministry is described by some scholars as a "martyr life". On the basis of both contemporary sources and later assessments of Silvestros' personality and pastoral work, his sanctity is demonstrated through a comparison of his virtuous life and multi-level church ministry with the established signs of sanctity of the holy bishops in the Orthodox tradition.

Archimandrite Policarp Chitulescu

Patriarch Sylvester of Antioch as a defender of Orthodoxy: a survey of his anti-Catholic books printed in Iași (Moldavia) in the mid-18th century

For centuries, the Romanian Countries had a special status in the Ottoman Empire: diplomacy, the periodical payment of taxes, and the Romanian voivods’ political ability offered them the privilege to enjoy essential liberties such as the continuity of their Orthodox culture and spirituality. Thus, initiatives came not only from the voivods and boyars, but also from the Orthodox Church, all trying to contribute, according to their possibilities, to many long term projects. In the middle of the 18 th century, the printing activity was flourishing in the Romanian Principalities, with a long established tradition. The most important element was the support of the elites for the printing of books used in school, at the Church mass, for personal reading, but also for the dialogue or the polemic with forces that threatened Orthodoxy. As in the famous Western presses of Venice, Rome, Paris, etc., there was papal censure, moreover, printing costs were very high, the Greek and Arab scholars sought support for book-printing in their languages from the Romanian Countries, in order to protect the clergy and the believers from the missionary pressure of the Catholics and Protestants, but also in order to assert their theological and doctrinal standpoint.

The Arabic books printed at Iași (Jassy) in the mid-18 th century by Patriarch Sylvester of Antioch with the generous support of voivod Constantin Mavrocordat and many local assistants were much sought after in the Arabic-speaking provinces of the Ottoman Empire. Thus, copies disappeared almost entirely, destroyed for confessional reasons, through intense use, or the passing of time. Consequently, Patriarch Sylvestros’s Arabic books are extremely rare nowadays, their content remaining little known and surveyed, a circumstance that is revealed by their absence from the scientific bibliographies and studies around the world. It is therefore imperative to carefully research the Arabic books of Iași printed in support of the Orthodox Arabic-speaking Christians, to discover the historical background that generated a need for polemical works printed in Arabic, and the efforts of the Orthodox clergy and the Romanian voivods towards the consolidation of Orthodoxy in the Levant. This survey demonstrates that these genuinely missionary projects placed the Romanian, Greek, Arabic, and Ottoman societies in a fascinating interdependence. This paper presents the results of our research dedicated to the Arabic printing in Moldavia in the days of Patriarch Sylvestros of Antioch in support of his Orthodox Arabic-speaking flock.

Fr. Spiridon Fayad

Unknown Icons of the Iconographer, Patriarch Sylvestros of Antioch

Patriarch Sylvestros of Antioch, a Cypriot of origin, lived for a period in the city of Aleppo, then joined the monastic life on Mount Athos. There he mastered the art of Byzantine painting according to the Cretan school. His era was filled with struggles and material difficulties, forcing him to take long trips, and to be absent from the Patriarchate. However, this did not prevent this active Patriarch from practicing iconography. In 1748 AD, he offered as a gift to the Arab Orthodox Monastery of Saint Spyridon in Bucharest - Romania, an icon of Saint Spyridon the Wonderworker which he personally made. According to Arabic studies on the icons painted by this patriarch, we have found six icons in Syria and Lebanon, and a seventh icon in Romania. The known total of the number of icons for this patriarch is seven. The researcher Manolis Khatzikis mentions that there are ten icons. In this study, I will present three icons of this iconographer and Patriarch, which I discovered during the works of restauration of the icons of St. George Hamidiye Church in Homs. They are icons of Jesus Christ King of Kings, the Virgin of the Passion, and Saint George. In addition, I will unveil a manuscript which gives new information that Patriarch Sylvestros had painted mural icons.

Dr. Mihai Ţipău

The Rediscovery of the Arabic Book of Psalms. Published by Patriarch Silvestros of Antioch in 1747 in Bucharest

In 1747 Patriarch Silvestros of Antioch published an Arabic Book of Psalms in the recently established printing press in Bucharest, located in the monastery of Saint Spyridon. The monastery was given to the Patriarchate of Antioch as a metochion by the ruling prince Constantine Mavrokordatos and Silvestros initiated among other the rebuilding of its church.
The Patriarch wasn’t at his first printing initiative in the Romanian Lands. During the previous two years, as well as in early 1747 he had published four other books in another Arabic printed press, located at the Saint Sabbas Monastery in Jassy, in the Principality of Moldavia.
All the books printed by Silvestros of Antioch are bibliographical rarities, most of them preserved in only one known copy available to scholarly research. This is the case of the Arabic Book of Psalms printed in 1747. After a thorough research a copy was obtained (from Bucharest or from Aleppo) by the leading French Oriental scholar of early 19 th century Silvestre de Sacy. De Sacy’s copy of the book was described by Christian Friedrich von Schnurrer in his Bibliotheca Arabica (1811). Afterwards, however, the trail went cold and the book was no longer available for study. It was presumed lost and even its existence was questioned. The idea was that von Schnurrer’s description referred to a copy of the 1752 Beirut Psalter.
In the present paper we will endeavor to retrace the history of the 1747 Book of Psalms and to locate its only available copy, the same one owned by de Sacy. A short description of this extremely rare book will be provided, showing Silvestros’ achievements in book printing and the connections with the typographical activity in Wallachia.

   Session 7: Relations with Rome

Fr. Michel Najim

Uniatism in contemporary Orthodox Catholic Dialogue

The difficulties with uniatism, which emerged from the Papal policies of proselytizing the populace of the Church of Antioch from the 15th to the 18th Century, adversely impacted modern Orthodox Catholic Dialogue. These persisting difficulties vanquished what the Orthodox Church hoped for in overcoming by the Holy Spirit all the past attempts to weaken all the autocephalous Orthodox Churches. This Papal policy of establishing Uniate Communities across the Orthodox Churches, and especially within the Church of Antioch created an ecclesiological abnormality which adversely affected modern dialogue. This presentation will examine the stages of this dialogue, and especially the ecclesiological complications of the Plenary Session Baltimore -Emmitsburg 9-19, July 2000. The unpublished document of this Plenary Session will be disclosed to show that the Orthodox Church cannot accept the principle of creating Eastern Catholic communities (Uniate) parallel to already existing Orthodox Churches whether in the past, present or future. This document proves that uniatism is incompatible with the ecclesiology of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and proves that it constitutes an obstacle to reestablishing communion between the Orthodox Church and the Papal communities.

Professor Souad Slim

Three Orthodox Manuscripts from Balamand in Reply to the Catholic Claims

This article analyzes three manuscripts found in the Balamand Monastery. They together are a response to the foreign missionaries who came from the West, and to their teachings that affected a large group of Orthodox who later formed the Roman Catholic community in the East. The manuscripts are "A Space of Truth and Telling the Truth", "The Evangelical Trumpet" and "A Response to the Latins". It is remarkable that these writings do not deal with the basic theological issue that divided Christianity between East and West in the eleventh century, i.e. the issue of the procession of the Holy Spirit, but rather center around the issue of papal primacy over all Christians. It seems that the Orthodox who were contemporary with this schism, considered that this movement, which threatened the wellness of the Church, was mainly aimed at seizing the holy places that had always been under the supervision of the orthodox Church.

These writings emphasize the authority of the popes who, since the first seven councils, that they have been trying to impose their authority but have failed. But this increased their quest and enthusiasm to take the place of the ancient Roman emperors. Instead of imitating Christ's humility, they worked to gain more power, prestige, material wealth, and greatness. The Western parishes replaced Christ with the Pope. They tried to win over the easterners who were given gifts and money, but were not convinced of their views. These writings rarely address the causes of other disputes, such as unleavened and leavened bread, purgatory, and fasting. Since his first accession to the Patriarchate, Cyril Tanas worked to terminate the sacred fasts (Dormition, the Apostles, Nativity) except for the forty-day fast, and replaced it with a one-day fast before the feast.

However, this decision faced strong objection within the Catholic community themselves. We see that the Shuweri monks of Aleppo rejected this decision and continued to practice fasting as it is in the Orthodox Christian tradition. It remains that these writings mainly stressed that these Catholics are from the West and are strangers to the East and its faith and traditions.
Contact us
Saint John of Damascus Institute of Theology
The University of Balamand

Address: Monastery of Balamand, PO Box 100, Tripoli, Lebanon
Tel: 00961 (0) 6 930 305 - Fax: 00961 (0) 6 930 304
email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Copyright (c) 1999 - 2011