Orthodox-Catholic Consultation Continues In-depth Study of Procession of The Holy Spirit

October 23, 2001 By Public Affairs Office
WASHINGTON (October 23, 2001) -- The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation continued its in-depth study of the procession of the Holy Spirit at its 61st meeting, held at Saint Paul's College here from October 11 to 13. The session was co-chaired by Metropolitan Maximos of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Pittsburgh and Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee.

Since June 1999, when it studied the 1995 Vatican Clarification on the filioque, the Consultation has been engaged in an in-depth examination of the teachings of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches on this difficult question. The original version of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed that dates from the 4th century and is still used by the Orthodox states 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 used in the West, so that the phrase would read that the Holy Spirit "proceeds from the Father and the Son." This modification appeared in some areas of western Europe as early as the 5th century but was accepted in Rome only in the 11th century. This change in the wording of the Creed and the underlying variations in understanding the origins of the Holy Spirit within the Trinity have long been considered a church-dividing issue between the two communions.

The meeting began with a paper by Brian Daley, SJ, entitled The Fullness of the Saving God: Cyril of Alexandria on the Holy Spirit, in which he analyzed Cyril's original and complex Trinitarian thought. Alexander Golitizin responded to the paper from an Orthodox perspective.

Paulist Father Ronald Roberson presented a brief paper on the "bestowal model" of inner Trinitarian life in the thought of Jesuit Father Edward Kilmartin, and Nicholas Apostola commented on the insights that the Romanian theologian Dumitru Staniloae brought to this problem. Jesuit Father John Long offered an analysis of the methodological document issued in 1980 by the Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic dialogue in the United States, Purpose, Scope and Method of Dialogue Between the Oriental Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, in order to gain perspectives concerning ways in which doctrinal disagreements can be most effectively addressed.

Towards the end of the session Peter Galadza presented a Catholic summary statement containing twenty points where he felt that agreement could be expressed concerning the history and theological dimensions of the filioque question. Susan Ashbrook Harvey then presented a parallel paper from an Orthodox perspective in which she offered eight basic findings of the investigation grouped under the subheadings of primacy of historical context, theological fruits, and the primacy of primacy. The members decided that while the main lines of a possible future common statement are beginning to emerge, the question will need to be taken up again at the next meeting, where it is expected that papers will be presented on Gregory of Cyprus, Gregory Palamas, Augustine, the filioque in modern Orthodox thought, and the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church. The 62nd meeting of the Consultation is scheduled to take place from June 3 to 5, 2002.

At its usual information-sharing session, the Consultation discussed the visit of Pope John Paul II to Ukraine, the election of a new Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, recent developments in the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of America (SCOBA) and possible autonomy of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, the spring 2001 meeting of the Orthodox Theological Society in America, the delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in Rome on June 29, the death of Archbishop Victorin of the Romanian Archdiocese, the health of Metropolitan Theodosius and Archbishop Peter of the Orthodox Church in America, the visit of Pope John Paul II to Kazakstan and Armenia, the instruction Liturgiam Authenticam and reactions to it, the eighteenth meeting of the Joint Committee of Orthodox and Catholic Bishops, and the first preparatory meeting of the Second North American Conference on Faith and Order, recently held at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana.

Because he will be submitting his resignation to Pope John Paul II when he reaches the age of 75 on April 2, 2002, Archbishop Weakland will be stepping down as Catholic Co-Chairman of the Consultation. As an expression of gratitude for his many years of service in this capacity, Metropolitan Maximos presented him with a Byzantine-style chalice on behalf of all the members. Archbishop Weakland took the occasion to reflect on his years of involvement in this dialogue. He commented that the Consultation has become increasingly scientific and professional in its work over the years. Its contribution to the international Catholic-Orthodox dialogue was very much appreciated, and its work has become even more important at a time when the future of the international dialogue is uncertain. He said that the dialogue with the Orthodox Church is very important for Catholics, as it helps them to appreciate more fully the depth and breadth of the Christian tradition.

The North American Catholic-Orthodox Theological Consultation is sponsored by the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on the Catholic side, and by the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of America on the Orthodox side. 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).