Value of Ecumenical Witness, Meaning of 'Filioque,' Are Themes of Orthodox-Catholic Consultation

November 8, 1999 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON (November 8, 1999) -- The value of ecumenical witness and the filioquewere the main themes of the 57th meeting of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation that was held at Saint Paul'sCollege here from October 28 to 30. The meeting was co-chaired by Metropolitan Maximos, Greek Orthodox Bishop of Pittsburgh, and Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland of Milwaukee.

The members of the Consultation considered a draft text on the value and accomplishments of the dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. They hope to finalize the document next spring while celebrating the 35th anniversary of this dialogue, which has been meeting continuously since 1965.

The Consultation also continued its review of the Vatican's 1995 document, "The Greek and Latin Traditions Regarding the Procession of the Holy Spirit." At this session four papers were heard: "'Another Faith?': Reflections on 'The Greek and Latin Traditions Regarding the Procession of the Holy Spirit' (Rome, September 13, 1999)" by Professor John Erickson of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary; "In Response to a Vatican Document: Greek Patristic Texts Regarding the Procession of the Holy Spirit," by Metropolitan Maximos; "Revisiting the'Filioque' Debate: Contemporary Catholic Approaches to the History and the Doctrine," by Brian Daley, SJ, of Notre Dame University; and "Patristic Sources of 'The Greek and Latin Traditions Regarding the Procession of the Holy Spirit,'" by Professor Robin Darling Young of theCatholic University of America. After discussing these papers, the Consultation decided to begin an in-depth study of this question in relation to the interpolation of the filioque into the Latin version of the Creed. At the next session papers will be presented on the scriptural background of the question, as well as perspectives from the Syriac tradition.

The original version of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed that was affirmed by the Council of Constantinople in 381 stated that the Holy Spirit "proceeds from the Father." The word filioque ("and from the Son") was later added to the Latin version of this Creed, causing the phrase to read that the Holy Spirit "proceeds from the Father and the Son." The addition appeared in some areas of western Europe as early as the 5th century but was accepted in Rome only in the 11th century. The Orthodox East regarded this development as illegitimate, and many consider it to be a significant dogmatic difference that prevents the reestablishment of full communion between the two churches.

The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation is sponsored by the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) and the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB).

In addition to the two co-chairs the members of the Consultation are, from the Catholic Church: Rev. Brian E. Daley, SJ; Rev. Msgr. Frederick McManus, Rev. George C. Berthold, Prof. Thomas E. Bird, Rev. Peter Galadza, Rev. John P. Galvin, Sister Donna Geernaert, SC, Rev. Sidney H.Griffith, ST, Rev. John F. Long, SJ, Rev. David M. Petras, Prof. Robin Darling Young, Rev. Ronald G. Roberson, CSP (staff); from the Orthodox Church: Rev. Thomas E. FitzGerald, Archbishop Peter of New York and New Jersey, Rev. Nicholas Apostola, Prof. Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Rev. Alkiviadis Calivas, Rev. James Dutko, Prof. John H. Erickson, Rev. Alexander Golitzin, Rev. Emmanuel Gratsias, Dr. Robert Haddad, Prof. Lewis Patsavos, Rev. Paul W. S. Schneirla, Rev. Robert Stephanopoulos, and Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos (staff).