Oriental Orthodox at Florence

I’m curious as to why the Oriental Orthodox union at the council of Florence never lasted. At the council there was very little debate between the Latins and the OO and, if memory serves me right, the only real issue was with the Syrians who objected to the filioque but after the Latins explained it, they were satisfied and signed the decree of union. So why didn’t it last? Why did the synods back home reject the union?

I’ve heard more than one opinion about this matter. I wonder if it would take a long time back then for a bull of union to take effect. Travel times were slower than they are now, and thus communication was often delayed. Not long after the bull of union was promulgated, Constantinople was taken over by Muslim invaders, and that could have disrupted communications among the Orthodox and rearranged their priorities. Perhaps that is part of the reason why the union didn’t last.

One time I heard that the Orthodox were forced to sign the bull of union and that most of them repudiated their signatures when they got back to their homes because now they were no longer held at swordpoint. I doubt that’s an accurate story, but I would like to know the truth.

It seems like you are speaking about th eastern orthodox. My concern is not with them but with the Oriental Orthodox (Copts, Armenians, Ethiopians, Syrians etc)

I think a small but important detail of Wandile’s post is that he’s asking about the Oriental Orthodox:

The term Oriental Orthodox refers to the churches of Eastern Christian traditions that keep the faith of only the first three Ecumenical Councils of the Orthodox Church—the councils of Nicea I, Constantinople I and Ephesus. The Oriental Orthodox churches rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451).

Thus, despite potentially confusing nomenclature, Oriental Orthodox churches are distinct from the churches that collectively are referred to as Eastern Orthodoxy.

The Oriental Orthodox churches came to a parting of the ways with the remainder of Christianity in the 5th century.

I believe that both parties to the union assumed that the most or all of the Oriental Orthodox would get on board with it. When that didn’t happen, those OOs who did in fact want to be ICWR were faced with a difficult choice.

From the Coptic Encyclopedia article on the Coptic participation in this event:

“Attached to the bull were two other bulls, Laetentur coeli (on reunion with the Greeks; 6 July 1439) and Exultate Deo (on reunion with the Armenians; 22 November 1439). The document ended with an additional declaration concerning the sacraments. The bull
demanded of Andreas and the Copts “true obedience, to obey always and faithfully the order and commands of the Apostolic See.” This one-sided union had no roots and was doomed to failure, for theological formulas were interpreted differently by both parties.
The Romans understood it as a true submission of the Copts and Ethiopians to the Roman church, whereas the Copts and Ethiopians at first understood it as a reunion of equal partners and in the course of time rejected it along with its Latin interpretation.”

So it would seem that the Roman church and the Orthodox did not understand each other in the beginning, and when it was clear that they did not in fact agree, the idea of reunion was not accepted, since they could not agree to its terms between the two of them.

I wasn’t aware there were any Oriental Orthodox present at Florence. What is the source for this information?

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