North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation Evaluates Reactions To Agreed Statement On Filioque; Plans Focus Of Next Stage Of Reflection

June 15, 2004 By Public Affairs Office
WASHINGTON (June 15, 2004) -- The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation evaluated reactions to its Agreed Statement on the Filioque and decided to focus the next stage of its reflection on conciliarity/synodality and primacies in their churches when it met at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts, from June 1-3, 2004. The meeting was co-chaired by Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh and Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati.

In general the members have received positive reactions to the agreed statement on the filioque, and more substantive theological evaluations are awaited. The document is being translated into several languages and is already available on the USCCB and SCOBA websites in French, Greek and Romanian. In particular the members were gratified to learn that His Holiness Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, noted the work of our Consultation in a speech he gave at the Orientale Lumen Conference in Istanbul on May 12, 2004. The Patriarch said that "the theologians [of the Consultation] have provided a number of valuable recommendations to our churches to resolve this historic point of difference. We propose that these significant recommendations be studied formally by our churches so that this issue can be finally resolved."

In view of the next phase of the Consultation's work, which is to focus on conciliarity/synodality and primacies in the Church, the members reviewed first of all two previous statements by the Consultation on related questions: "Apostolicity as God's Gift in the Life of the Church" (November 1, 1986), and "An Agreed Statement on Conciliarity and Primacy in the Church" (October 28, 1989). Metropolitan Maximos presented his paper, "The 'Petrine Ministry': A Brief Response to the Papal Encyclical Ut Unum Sint," and Fr Brian Daley, SJ, provided a summary of his reflections on the papal encyclical, "The Ministry of Primacy and the Communion of Churches." Fr John Long, SJ, brought out the main points of "Petrine Ministry: A Working Draft," a synthesis of reactions to the papal invitation to reflect on the nature of the petrine office that was provided by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Dr Paul Meyendorff presented a reaction to that text which was prepared by the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA. Reflecting further on this topic, Fr John Galvin evaluated a paper by Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon, "Primacy in the Church: An Orthodox Approach," and Dr Thomas Bird summarized the Opening Address given by Cardinal Walter Kasper at a seminar on petrine ministry held in the Vatican in May 2003. Fr Nicholas Apostola spoke about "Recent Discussions on Primacy in Orthodox Theology," an overview that Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon presented at the same Vatican seminar.

As usual, the members also took time to review major events in the lives of their churches that have taken place since the last meeting. Among these were the crisis in relations between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Greece, the first meeting of the new Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic international dialogue, the progress of the Assyrian-Catholic dialogue, the self-governing status of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, the visit of a delegation from the Holy See to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in November 2003, developments in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate, the "Christian Churches Together" initiative, the Foundation for Faith and Order, the visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch to Cuba, developments in the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), the debate on reception of Communion by certain Catholic politicians in the United States, Cardinal Kasper's visit to Moscow, reactions to the prospect of a Ukrainian Greek Catholic Patriarchate, meetings between the Ukrainian Greek Catholic and Ukrainian Orthodox bishops of the USA, the restructuring of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch to the United States.

The 67th meeting of the Consultation is scheduled to take place October 21-23, 2004, at St. Paul's College in Washington, DC.

The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation is sponsored jointly by the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. Since its establishment in 1965, the Consultation has now issued 22 agreed statements on various topics. All these texts are now available on the website of the USCCB at: and on the SCOBA website at:

In addition to the two co-chairmen, the Orthodox members of the Consultation include Father Thomas FitzGerald (Secretary), Archbishop Peter of New York, Father Nicholas Apostola, Prof. Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Father James Dutko, Prof. Paul Meyendorff, Father Alexander Golitzin, Father Emmanuel Gratsias, Dr. Robert Haddad, Father Paul Schnierla, Father Robert Stephanopoulos, and Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos, General Secretary of SCOBA (staff). The additional Catholic members are Father Brian Daley, SJ (secretary), Msgr. Frederick McManus, Prof. Thomas Bird, Father Peter Galadza, Msgr. John D. Faris, Father John Galvin, Sister Jean Goulet, CSC, Father Sidney Griffith, ST, Father John Long, SJ, Father David Petras, and Father Ronald Roberson, CSP (staff).