(ACNS) The official dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Oriental Orthodox Churches have reached further agreement on the theological understanding of the Holy Spirit. The Anglican Oriental Orthodox International Commission met last week in Lebanon, Beirut, to consider their consideration of the Holy Spirit, which began last year in Wales.
Last year, the AOOIC communiqué recommended the omission of the Filioque clause – the words “and the son” which western churches added to “…which proceeds from the Father” in the Nicene Creed without international consensus. The Anglican co-chair of the Commission, Bishop Gregory Cameron from St Asaph in Wales, said at the time that it had “long been a source of contention between Western and Eastern Christians.”
In their communiqué issued at the end of last week’s talks, the members of the AOOIC said that “having completed its work on the Procession of the Holy Spirit at its 2015 meeting, the Commission continued its reflection on the second part of its Agreed Statement on pneumatology, ‘The Sending of the Holy Spirit in Time (Economia).’
“This second part considers the action of the Holy Spirit in the life and mission of the Church making it one, holy, catholic and apostolic. The Co-Chairs signed the second part of Agreed Statement that will be sent to our churches for reflection and comment, after which the Commission will produce the full statement, ‘The Nature and Work of the Holy Spirit,’ in its final form.”
The new agreement concludes: “In a world of enforced displacement and fearful arrival; in a world of accelerated movement; in a world of war-torn fragmentation and courageous martyrdom; the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, transcends time and space and yet inhabits both. The same Spirit is sent to commission and empower the weak to be strong, the humble to be courageous and the poor to be comforted and blessed in a fallen world that is upheld by the providence and grace of God the Trinity who makes all things new in faith and hope and love.”
The director of unity, faith and order for the Anglican Communion, the Revd Canon Dr John Gibaut, explained that the text of the agreement “will first be sent to the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO). . . Its feed back to the AOOIC, along with any Oriental Orthodox feedback, will be incorporated in a final text that could be finished in 2017, and that would sent to ACC-17 [the Anglican Consultative Council] and/or the Lambeth Conference.
During their meeting, members of the AOOIC discussed the plight of Christians in the Middle East and heard reports about the difficulties facing churches in Syria and Iraq, and the situation of refugees in Lebanon.
“There was a consideration of the most practical ways in which the Anglican Communion in its various countries could respond effectively to the challenges facing Christians in the Middle East,” the Communiqué said.
“Members of the Commission continue to pray for the Middle East, for the victims of war, for refugees, and for all hostages,” it said. “We also continue to pray for our fellow Christians, and especially the 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 Orthodox Church of Antioch.”