A plenary session of the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East took place from 21–22 November 2019 at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in Rome.
The Commission continued its work on the third phase of the dialogue, reflecting on the nature and mission of the Church and the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church. As stated in the communiqué, the task of this phase of the dialogue is one of understanding how to receive distinctive formulations on the mystery of the Church from each other. The members presented papers on the images of the Church found in both traditions, each having developed complementary understandings of the mystery of the Church, including the Body of Christ, the Shepherd and his flock, the Mother, the Ark of salvation, the Bride and bridegroom, the gathering of faithful and the spiritual hospital.
The Commission is co–chaired by His Beatitude Mar Meelis Zaia, Metropolitan of Australia, New Zealand and Lebanon, and the Most Reverend Johan Bonny, Bishop of Antwerp.
The members of the Commission gratefully recalled the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Joint Commission concurrently with the Common Christological Declaration signed by Pope John Paul II and Catholicos Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV on 11 November 1994.
The Assyrian Church of the East, of Syrian-Oriental tradition, originates from the mission of the early Church in Mesopotamia. The original homeland of most of the Assyrian faithful is present-day Iraq, home of the Patriarchal See. However, due to repeated periods of persecution, most of the faithful have emigrated to the West.