Thank you for your responses to the recent post on the challenges facing our Church in the coming decades, but I feel there may be some misconceptions about the current state of the involvement of the Coptic Church in the ecumenical movement.
My understanding is that the vast majority of the Eastern Orthodox community has accepted that we Oriental Orthodox are in Orthodox in faith and not Monophysite heretics. However, a small section based mainly on the influential Mt Athos monastic community refuses to accept that we are Orthodox. They insist that the proof of our Orthodoxy must include condemning Pope Dioscorus as a heretic and renouncing him, dropping him from our doxologies, synaxarium, commemoration of the saints etc. They also insist that we must accept the Council of Chalcedon (where the split happened in 451AD) as legal or canonical, plus the other three Coucnils that came after it. We currently only accept the first three COuncils as canonical, they accept seven (The Roman Catholics are up to 22 I think, including Vatican II as the most recent).
As far as I know, no one is suggesting that the Oriental Orthodox change their rites or submit to new authorities (except the Catholics who insist the Pope of Rome has absolute authority over all Christians). Even within the Eastern Orthodox community, the Ecumenical Patriarch, based in Constantinople, has no authority over the other Eastern Orthodox Churches, for each one has its own independent Patriarch and Synod. Further, there is a wide variety of rites, languages, cultures, liturgies etc within the existing Eastern Orthodox community, as there is in the Oriental Orthodox. None of that needs to change.
So in summary, the only thing keeping us out of communion with our Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters is this insistence by a stubborn but powerful minority that we rewrite our view of history to agree with theirs.
Nor is this merely a theoretical matter. I can think of at least two reasons why re-establishing communion between us is important and worth pursuing. Firstly, the very practical matter of inter-marriage. In the diaspora, we must accept that more and more of our youth will wish to marry Christians of other denominations. The lack of communion causes incredible heartache and tribulation, sometimes even destroying what might otherwise have been a very successful relationship. The second is the command of Christ that we be one in Him. We believe in the same basic Truths – why should we be separated from each other in this way? I do not think it was ever Christ’s intention that His flock be so divided one against the other. Surely we have a responsibility to do all we can to come together?