The Chaldean Patriarch consulted the Vatican about the problem; and, in its turn, the Vatican consulted a number of theologians who are also liturgists. Their reply was unanimous: many of the earliest anaphoras were without the words of institutiton; that the original idea was that the whole prayer was consecratory and not just a few words within it;hence, that the words of institution consecrate in the Latin Rite does not mean that the same is true in other rites; that the Roman Church has always recognized the validity of the sacraments in the Assyrian Church; and that the Anaphora of SS Addai and Mari was composed around the year 200AD and is thus probably the oldest anaphora in use at the present time. On the basis of these findings, the Vatican published the following document. Its conclusions are important and highly authoritative: it was signed by the Cardinals in charge of various Vatican departments, including Cardinal Ratzinger, and was initialled by Pope John Paul II. Here it is:
It is not necessary to give a commentary on the whole document. The key text that certainly needs a commentary is this one:
"The Catholic Church recognises the Assyrian Church of the East as a true particular Church, built upon orthodox faith and apostolic succession." It does not accept the councils of Ephesus or Chalcedon, even though the joint Christological Declaration says that there is no difference in our belief in the Incarnation, in spite of the historical controversies. Whether the fundamental agreement always existed and the Assyrians and the Catholic Church simply misunderstood each other, as some claim, or whether the action of the Holy Spirit invoked in the Liturgy gradually cleansed the Assyrian Church of heresy, I simply do not know enough to hazard an opinion. What I do know is that we are in agreement now. Nevertheless, there remains the question, How can a Church which does not accept those two councils be called "a true particular Church, built upon orthodox faith and apostolic succession". Also, how can a Church be true when it is separated from the Holy See and rejects its authority? If communion with Rome and accepting the teaching of general councils are not part of the essence of what makes up a "true Particular Church", what is essential?
In Pope Benedict's words, the Eucharist is the constitution of the Church. It is exactly the same Eucharist throughout time since the Apostles first celebrated until now, and well into the future, and in every place.. Every Eucharist is the act of the whole Church and not just of the group that is celebrating and unites them to Christians everywhere by organic ties so that it is possible to say that the body of Christ is everywhere and from the times of the apostles to the end of time; and it can be said, equally truly, that the body of Christ exists in each local eucharistic assembly. Where the Mass is, there is Christ; and where Christ is, there is the fullness of Catholicism: he is its fulness.
The Holy Spirit, invoked at the epiclesis, is sent by the Father at the prayer of his Son, to turn the bread and wine into yhe body and blood of Christ; and the same Spirit makes us capable of receiving Christ and leading us to all truth. The Holy Spirit is always with the Church; and hence there is no particular time when the Spirit is more with the Church than other times, since the time of the apostles. This truth is contained and expressed in the liturgy which springs out of the apostilic preaching and understanding of the faith and which bears the marks of the history of Catholic understanding down the ages from the time of the Apostles until now. In each and all generations, it is the product of the synergy between the Holy Spirit and the Church. From early times, the liturgy has taken different forms according to the history of the churches that celebrate it; but each form has a continous history from apostolic times, and all celebrate the same Mystery of Christ. A Catholic understanding of a liturgical tradition must, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI, be reached by the "hermeneutic of continuity".
To understand this, we can make a comparison between the ecumenical task with the Assyrians and the Anglicans. The Assyrian Church has kept its liturgical tradition intact, in spite of the schism; and its liturgy has always been recognised as a Catholic liturgy of orthodox faith. The Christological Declaration was made because we recognise that their faith is in accordance with their liturgy and with Catholic understanding. They are still separated; so there is a contradiction between the organic unity they achieve with the Catholic Church by celebrating the Eucharist, and the lack of organic ties with the Catholic Church in their ecclesial life. Who is to be blamed for that is a totally different question and probably has more than one answer. However, their gradual re-integration into the mainstream is the way forward, while keeping their liturgical life intact. In contrast, the Anglican Church abolished the Roman Rite to which they belonged and wrote a liturgy that expressed their own insights into the nature of Christian life, following their own way. By so doing they unchurched themselves. The ecumenical task here is to re-integrate them into the Roman Rite from which they were untimely ripped, but in such a way that the life of grace which the Spirit has given them in their separation should also be integrated. This is what is happening with the Ordiariates.
The Catholic Church considers all the Churhes, Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and others as true particular Churches, built on Orthodox faith and apostolic succession. Hence each and all are identical with Catholic Churches at the altar, each celebration including all the others, each finding in the eucharistic Christ and in their liturgical celebration the fullness of Catholicism; but they are unable by schism from fully participating in the organic unity they celebrate in the Liturgy. This has nothing to do with who is to blame. The truth is that only the universal Primacy of Rome enables us to act worldwide as a single unit.