Thrissur (Ker): Talks between the Roman Catholic Church and Assyrian Church of the East (ACoE) on ironing out their differences and a possible merger would resume on October 4 at the Vatican.
"The main agenda of the third and final stage of talks would be about the Pope`s stand if both Churches came together together," said Mar Aprem, Senior Metropolitan of ACoE and Patriarchal Delegate to India.
The noted Church historian and Aramaic scholar said a decision to resume the talks was taken at the recent eight-day 14th Holy Synod of the Assyrian Church at Chicago (USA), which was attended by 13 prelates from the US, Europe, Canada, Iraq, Australia, Iran, New Zealand, Lebanon and India.
Mar Yohannan Yoseph and Awgin Kuriakose were the other bishops from India at the synod, he said.
It was also decided to send a representative delegation comprising Metropolitan Mar Meealis Zaia, Bishops Mar Odisho Oraham, Mar Awa Royel, Synod Secretary and Archdecon William Toma for preliminary talks, he said.
The dialogue was established in 1985 with a view to ironing out some of their differences, he said.
In the first round of talks, Mar Dinkha IV, head of Assyrian church, and Pople John Paul II signed a common Christorlogical Declaration, which solved the vexed issue of Theotokos (Mother of God), held dear by Roman Catholic church and Christotokos (Mother of Christ), which the Assyrian church stood by, he said.
Another difference was on Vatican insisting on accepting the seven traditional sacraments like Baptism to five by the Assyrian Church. This was also solved with finalisation of a sacramental declaration in 2004, though not signed in the second phase, he said.
"The hitch in smooth finalisation of the issue will be the determination of the place of Pope and Catholicos patriarch, the supreme head of the Assyrian Church," he said.
The Synod also decided to have a dialogue with the Greek Orthodox Church, with about 200 million faithful the world over, with which there were some minor differences, Aprem said.