Up to the fifth century Christianity was one. The Nestorians were condemned at the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D giving rise to the Nestorian Church Following the Council of Chalcedony in 451 A.D which condemned the so-called Monophysitcs, there arose a division which caused the separation between the Copts, the Ethiopians, the Syrians and the Armenians on the one hand and the Byzantine and Latin body of Churches on the other. In the eleventh century came the Great Schism between the Latinos and the Byzantine when the Byzantine Patriarchies in the East formed what is now known as the Eastern Orthodox Church.


The Ethiopian Church has never tended in fuse with one or other of the two great churches of Christianity, the Orthodox and the Catholic. There was a time when fusion with the Catholics nearly materialized in the 17th century as the extraordinary Father Paez, a Spanish Jesuit, succeeded in converting Emperor Susenyos to Roman Catholicism. He tried to force his subjects adopt Catholicism but failed. The Orthodox Church made efforts in the 19th century and did not get better results. Many times it was believed that union was to be achieved. Emperor Menelik, however, was of the opinion that if his Church attached itself to Constantinople or Moscow, it would lose its independence and original characteristics; he refused to sign any formal agreement.


The Pan-Orthodox meeting at Rhodes in 1961 considered relationships with the Oriental Orthodox Churches (Armenian, Coptic, Syrian, Ethiopian and Indian) to be one of most urgent matters in the realm of ecumenical relationships. The same had been felt by those Orthodox from both sides who participated in various meetings of the economical movement in the last two decades.


Accordingly in 1964 a theological consultation took place at Aarhus, Denmark, between these churches. The purpose of this meeting was to investigate the different theological interpretations regarding the Christological definition of the Fourth Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon.


The Eastern Orthodox participants included the very Rev. Archpriest Vitally Borncoy (Russian Orthodox Church). The Rt. Rev, Emilianos (Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople), Professor J.K. Kariniris (Church of Greece), the Rev. Professor J. Megendorff (Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of North America). The Oriental Orthodox participants included Lique Siltanat Habte Mariam Workneh (Ethiopian Orthodox Church), Dr. Karma Nazir Khella (Coptic Orthodox Church), His Grace Archbishop Mar Severius Zekke Incas of Mosul (Syrian Orthodox Church), His Grace Metropolitan Mar Thome Dionysus, Pathanapuram Kerala, India (Orthodox Syrian Church of the East), the Rev. Professor V.C. Samuel (Orthodox Syrian Church of the East(, His Grace Bishop Karekin Sarkissian (Armenian Apostolic Church), Dr. Getachew Haile (Ethiopian Orthodox Church).


An extraordinary clear agreement was reached concerning the essence of the Christological dogma, something of the greatest importance for other meetings and negotiations between these Churches. This first step was followed by other efforts sponsored by the Holy Synods of the Churches with the hope that in the near future the happy stage of restoring unity in the Orthodox world be reached. It is of interest to note that as very Rev. Archpriest Vitaly Borovoy of WCC for the Russian Orthodox Church has remarked, the question pertaining to the ways and means of an eventual reunion of Christians in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and in particular the reunion of the Oriental national churches which reject the Council of chalcedony with the Orthodox Church which accepts the Council is not new. It appeared at the very initial stages of the schism. Negotiations lasted, with interruptions for entire centuries. It is strongly believed that this time a real henosis dogmatic (love for the truth) will be realized, together with our communion in sacris and a common participation in the life of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, without prejudice to the jurisdictional independence and autocephaly of all our churches, which would keep their national historical characteristics.

Edited by Aymero W and Joachim M., The Ethiopian Orthodox Church, published by the Ethiopian Orthodox mission, Addis Ababa 1970.