The historic Agreed Statement between Anglican and Oriental Orthodox theologians on the Procession and Work of the Holy Spirit has been published. The statement was signed last October after lengthy discussions by members of the Anglican Oriental-Orthodox International Commission (AOOIC). It was published at this year’s meeting of AOOIC, which took place last week in Lebanon. The agreed statement is part of a series of work which has helped to heal the oldest continuing division within Christianity, a schism that goes back centuries. At the core of Agreed Statement is the controversial Filioque clause – appended to the Nicene Creed by the Latin Western tradition causing a schism between the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the western Churches that was inherited by the Anglican tradition. The clause says that the Holy Sprit proceedes “from the Son” (Jesus) as well as the Father. The Agreed Statement says that Anglicans should omit the clause.
This year’s meeting took place just weeks after the death of Metropolitan Bishoy, the Oriental Orthodox Co-Chair of the dialogue. Metropolitan Bishoy co-signed the statement at last year’s meeting alongside the Anglican Co-Chair, the Bishop of St Asaph Gregory Cameron. The published Statement has been dedicated to Metropolitan Bishoy, “monk, bishop, theologian, champion of the Orthodox faith and unity of the Church.”
At this year’s meeting, the Coptic Archbishop of London, Archbishop Angaelos, was unanimously elected as the Oriental Orthodox Co-Chair – a move welcomed by the Anglican members.
This year’s meeting was dominated by work on “Authority in the Church” with discussions on bishops and synods (councils), and the Ecumenical Councils. “It seeks to draw on established ecumenical agreements in the framework of this Commission, and the distinctive characteristics of the two families of Churches”, the communiqué said. “The Commission hopes to finalise and make available the fruits of its work on Ecumenical Councils in 2019.”
Two bishops of Aleppo abducted in April 2013, Metropolitan Mor Gregorios Youhanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church, and Metropolitan Boulos Yazigi of the Greek (Rüm) Orthodox Church of Antioch, continue to be missing. The Commission remembered the two in their prayers.
Metropolitan Mor Gregorios Youhanna Ibrahim, of the Syriac Orthodox Church, and Metropolitan Boulos Yazigi, of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, were kidnapped in Aleppo in April 2013.
Photo: Archbishop Angaelos / Coptic Orthodox Church (via Twitter).
They heard about the “present critical situation of Christians in the Middle East”, particularly in Iraq and Syria, from Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, and Catholicos Aram I of the Holy See of Cilicia.
“The Commission was acutely mindful that its meeting took place in Lebanon, itself home to over a million of refugees from war and conflict in the region”, the Communiqué said. “The Commission holds before the wider oikumene the costly witness of the Churches in this country, offered in love and service to the dispossessed and the victims of war.”
And in an expression of the global nature of Church communions, the communiqué said that members of AOOIC “recognise that it is no longer a question of speaking of the Churches of ‘the East’ or of ‘the West’, as we have become truly global communities.
“Moreover, today we experience one another in different regional contexts and share together in Christian witness and civic engagement in a wide range of countries where Anglicans and Oriental Orthodox are living together.”