Christians in Turkey have united for a landmark development in ecumenical unity with the English publication of a book of doctrine endorsed by all the country's major denominations.
The book Christianity: Fundamental Teachings, has now been endorsed by Turkey's Orthodox, Catholic, Armenian, Syriac and Protestant Churches, according to World Watch Monitor.
A joint statement signed by denominational representatives said: '[This book] expresses the shared beliefs of the Churches in Turkey. We approve its publication and recommend that it be widely read.'
The book was originally released in 2015, by The Bible Society of Turkey, but had a formal launch of its English edition on February 3 in Istanbul. Armenian Bishop Sahak Masalyan, the keynote speaker at the launch, said the joint endorsement was 'akin to a miracle'.
The new book's back cover reads: 'For Churches that have ostracised each other for centuries, leaving a legacy of deep divisions and resentments to sign their names to such a work is no small step toward Christian unity.'
Bishop Masalyan said that, 'You cannot find another page like this in Church history.'
He added: 'Through this book we declared to the whole world with a mighty voice that without hesitation, we see every Church and believer who approves of the fundamental principles and doctrines of faith in this book as fellow-heirs of salvation in Jesus Christ, considering them as our "brothers" and "sisters".'
The 95-page publication was brought about through an 11-member joint ecumenical commission which endeavoured to produce a document outlining essential doctrine common to its five denominations.
The commission had originally emerged at the behest of Turkish government officials, who had counselled the leaders seeking clearer information about the Christian faith for use in school textbooks in the majority Muslim country. The English edition, also available as an e-book, is aimed at giving the document a wider international audience, 'reaching out to the most remote parts of Christendom,' Bishop Masalyan said.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said the commission had brought the church branches 'closer to each other, to discover and recognise the fundamental beliefs that unite us...to realise that much more unites us than divides us'.