Issued by His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church and His Holiness Karekin I, Catholicos of all Armenians
H.H. Catholicos Karakin I, the Catholicos of all Armenia, visited Egypt from January 14-18, 1998. On Wednesday, January 14, he visited H.H. Pope Shenoud who introduced him and invited him to address the thousands of people who usually attend H.H. Pope Shenouda’s weekly meeting. The Catholicos spoke about the importance of Church unity and the close cooperation between the Armenina and Coptic Orthodox Churches. Then he gave a sermon about Baptism and the new Birth as mentioned in John 3.
H.H. Pope Shenouda spoke about the historical relations between the two Churches and their full unity in faith and his visits to Armenia in 1995. Then he gave his weekly sermon.
At the end of the visit of the Catholicos, a common declaration was released.
The Following Is The Text Of The Common Declaration:
We humbly give thanks to God, the Fr., the Son and The Holy Spirit who once more graced us with a new and richer opportunity of giving tangible expression to our mutual brotherly love, to our unity in the Christian faith and to our common ministry of service to the people entrusted to our spiritual care. We are, indeed, deeply grateful to Him who enabled us, during the first pastoral visit of His Holiness Karekin I to His flock in Egypt, to meet together here, in Cairo, Egypt, in the days between the 14th and 18th January in this spiritually most enriching season of the feast of Nativity and Epiphany, to pray together and to deliberate together on our common calling in the service to our Lord Jesus Christ, through our churches within the family of the Oriental Orthodox Churches .How rewarding it was to once more reaffirm the unity of our Christian faith that has been faithfully maintained all along the past centuries, and which is based on the Holy Scriptures on the early church Tradition as promulgated by the first three Ecumenical Councils, namely, of Nicea (325), of Constantinople (381) and of Ephesus (431). We renew our commitment to give more concrete expression to that unity in the life and witness of our churches in faithful obedience to the will of our Lord Incarnate, Jesus Christ, and in continuation of the Orthodox legacy of the sacred Tradition of our Church Fathers.
We render thanks and glory to the Holy Trinity for having blessed our Coptic and Armenian Orthodox Churches in the past centuries of consecrated life and sound teaching of our saints and martyrs, and for the unshaken and unbroken continuity in the unity of faith which was "once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude, 3), and for the spiritual well being of our beloved peoples. We commit ourselves to promote in more visible and tangible ways the close cooperation of our respective Churches of the family of Oriental orthodox Churches in our involvement in the Ecumenical Movement on Local, regional and world levels, to pursue more actively our common task in facing and meeting the new challenges of the modern world where extreme secularist trends of life are so deeply affecting the spiritual, moral and social life of our people in this century which is drawing its end. In Christian hope we look forward to the dawn of the third millennium of our Christian history, as earnest, pray our Lord to make it a time of greater spiritual renewal .
We appeal to all our Diocesan Metropolitans, bishops, parish priests and lay people in our own countries of Egypt and Armenia as well as in the world wide Diaspora, to develop closer relationships and to advance in the genuine ecumenical ways of mutual cooperation by being motivated by the unity and demand of our faith and by the concern for the spiritual health and creative service of our people around the world, particularly in our service to the young generation.
We encourage the pursuit of greater collaboration in the areas of the Theological Education, to bring into focus the living traditions of our respective churches. Exchange of students and professors of theology is one of the immediate ecumenical tasks that we recommend to our Theological schools and other centers engaged in theological research and studies, to pursue more actively today then has been done before.
The sound and healthy edification in the Christian faith of the children and the adult, in accordance with the Orthodox doctrine and moral teachings of our churches, is another area where we instruct our churches to create new and more relevant and productive ways of cooperation.
We endorse the promotion of the social services of our churches particularly for the poor and the under – privileged, for the sick and the handicapped. We suggest to all our organizations with diagonal vocation! and mandate to engage in increased and concerted efforts in this area of need .
We look forward to closer and more frequent mutual visitations between not only Heads of our churches, but also between Metropolitans, bishops, priests and lay servants, with a perspective and a vision for mutual solidarity and enrichment.
We pray with all the members of our churches for the peace and Justice in the world and for true human prosperity of Egypt, of the whole of the Middle East, of Armenia and Nagorno – Karabagh and for the world at large. May God guide us, our churches and all the peoples in the way to peace for the Kingdom of God for His glory.
Karekin I & Shenouda IlI
18th of January 1998