North American Orthodox-catholic Theological Consultation

WASHINGTON (June 7, 2001) -- The sixtieth meeting of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation was held at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, NY, from May 29 to 31, 2001.

WASHINGTON (June 7, 2001) -- The sixtieth meeting of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation was held at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, NY, from May 29 to 31, 2001. The meeting was chaired on the Orthodox side by His Eminence Metropolitan Maximos, Presiding Bishop of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Pittsburgh. The Catholic Co-Chairman, Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee, was unable to attend because of pressing matters in his Archdiocese.

At this session the Consultation continued its study of the problem of the filioque, the insertion by the Western Church of the phrase, "and the Son" into the article of the Creed dealing with the Holy Spirit. This practice, which was first sanctioned in Spain at the Council of Toledo in 598 but was not accepted in Rome until the 11th century, has for many centuries been the object of dispute between the Orthodox and Catholic churches. Along these lines Rev. George Berthold presented a paper entitled "The Procession of the Holy Spirit in Some Greek Fathers," which studied those texts frequently cited by Latin authors in defense of the filioque. Professor Robert Haddad read his paper, "The Stations of the Filioque," which surveyed the evolution of the filioque controversy in its political and ecclesiological context. Rev. James Dutko presented an article by Theodore Stylianopoulos entitled, "The Filioque: Dogma, Theologoumenon or Error?" that had been read at a 1985 consultation on the Holy Spirit sponsored by the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA.

In addition, Fr. Paul Schnierla presented a brief paper on Archbishop John Quinn's 1999 book, "The Reform of the Papacy: The Costly Call to Christian Unity," and the members
examined a number of developments in the lives of their respective churches and the relations between them. The Consultation's study of the filioque problem will continue at its next meeting, scheduled to take place from October 11 to 13, 2001, in Washington, DC.

The members of the Consultation were honored on May 30 with a visit from His Eminence Iakovos, former Greek Orthodox Archbishop of North and South America, one of the founders of the North American dialogue. In his extemporaneous remarks, His Eminence recalled events early in his life that caused him to become firmly committed to the effort to reestablish full communion between the Catholic and Orthodox churches. He encouraged the members to continue in the same spirit in which the dialogue had begun, and thanked them for not growing tired with its slow pace, especially on the international level. While some have lost hope that the goal of unity will be achieved, it is nevertheless the will of Christ, his Eminence said. The Archbishop advised patience and fervent prayer that the Holy Spirit will reanimate the old fire in our hearts for unity.

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 the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of America. It 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).