Relations Between the Churches, And the Filioque, Discussed by North American Orthodox-Catholic Consultation

WASHINGTON (October 30, 2000) -- The fifty-ninth meeting of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation took place at Saint Paul's College in Washington, DC, from October 26 to 28, 2000.

WASHINGTON (October 30, 2000) -- The fifty-ninth meeting of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation took place at Saint Paul's College in Washington, DC, from October 26 to 28, 2000. Discussions focused on recent developments in relations between the churches and the filioque. The meeting was presided over by Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh (the Orthodox Co-Chairman) and Bishop Dale Melczek of Gary in the absence of Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee, the Catholic Co-Chairman.

After examining a number of developments in the lives of the two churches, Rev. John Long, SJ, offered a detailed account of the meeting of the 8th Plenary Session of the International Joint Commission for Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church that took place in Emmitsburg, Maryland, in July 2000. This was followed by a presentation and analysis by Fr. Brian Daley, SJ, of the two recent documents of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith: the declaration Dominus Iesus and the note on the expression "sister churches." Metropolitan Maximos commented on these matters from an Orthodox perspective.

The Consultation also continued its long-range study of the filioque question. This is the insertion of the phrase "and the Son" into the Latin form of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed for liturgical use at the beginning of the second millennium; this development has long been seen as a key issue preventing the reestablishment of full communion between the Orthodox and Catholic churches. Two presentations were made on the Holy Spirit in the Syriac tradition: "Notes on the Holy Spirit in East Syriac Christianity" by Professor Susan Ashbrook Harvey, and "St. Ephraem the Syrian on the Holy Spirit," by Fr. Sidney Griffith. Fr. Alexander Golitzin read his paper, "Adam, Eve and Seth: Pneumatological Reflections on an Unusual Image in Gregory of Nazianzus' 'Fifth Theological Oration.'" The Consultation also examined the revised version of the text, "The Filioque Clause in Ecumenical Perspective," originally drawn up by a group of theologians from eastern and different western traditions when they met at Schloss Klingenthal near Strasbourg, France, in 1978 and 1979. It was decided to continue this study at the Consultation's next meeting, which is to be held at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary in Crestwood, NY, in late May 2001.

The North American Catholic-Orthodox Theological Consultation is sponsored jointly by the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and by the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of America. Since 1997 the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has also been an official sponsor. This was the first official dialogue between the two churches, founded in 1965 and predating the international dialogue by 15 years. Another body, the Joint Committee of Orthodox and Catholic Bishops, has been meeting annually since 1981 to discuss pastoral issues between the two churches.

In addition to the two co-chairmen, the Orthodox members of the Consultation include Rev. Thomas FitzGerald (Secretary), Archbishop Peter of New York, Rev. Nicholas Apostola, Prof. Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Rev. Alkiviadis Calivas, Rev. James Dutko, Prof. John Erickson, Rev. Alexander Golitzin, Rev. Emmanuel Gratsias, Dr. Robert Haddad, Prof. Lewis Patsavos, Rev. Paul Schnierla, Rev. Robert Stephanopoulos, and Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos (staff). The additional Catholic members are Rev. Brian Daley, SJ (secretary), Msgr. Frederick McManus, Rev. George Berthold, Prof. Thomas Bird, Rev. Peter Galadza, Rev. John Galvin, Sr. Donna Geernaert, SC, Rev. Sidney Griffith, ST, Rev. John Long, SJ, Rev. David Petras, Prof. Robin Darling Young, and Rev. Ronald Roberson, CSP (staff).