Meeting in Lebanon 24 – 29 OCT 2016, the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission held a 5th meeting. We covered the 4th meeting last year when the Commission published an agreement on the Incarnation of Christ and a preliminary agreement on the Holy Spirit. At that time the Commission had recommended that Western churches drop from the Nicene Creed, the filioque clause – in English, the words “and the son” which western churches had added to the phrase in English, “…which proceeds from the Father.”
At this 5th meeting, the Commission completed the work on the agreement regarding the Holy Spirit, the action of the Spirit in the life and mission of the Church. Following their work, the Commission released a Communiqué.
AOOIC Communiqué 2016
The Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission held its fifth meeting from the 24th to 29th October 2016 at the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia, Antelias, Lebanon.
The Commission greatly appreciated the welcome to the Armenian Catholicosate by His Holiness Aram I of the Holy See of Cilicia, and was grateful for the kindness and hospitality offered by the Catholicosate brotherhood members and staff.
At the opening session, the Commission was welcomed by His Holiness the Catholicos, who addressed its members, and encouraged the continuation of its work towards full visible unity in the face of existing and ongoing differences and disagreements. 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 Commission discussed the present situation of Christians in the Middle East and heard reports on the difficulties facing churches, particularly 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.
Members of the Commission continue to pray for the Middle East, for the victims of war, for refugees, and for all hostages. 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.
The Commission visited a number of religious sites reflecting some of the spiritual diversity of Lebanon, including the Armenian Genocide Orphans’ ‘Aram Bezikian’ Museum. The Commission also recognised that the International Day for Religious Freedom was marked during its meeting, and so prayed for all, Christians and others alike, deprived of the right to hold and practice their faith openly.
Mindful of the global context of migrants and refugees, particularly in the local context of Lebanon, where a third of the population are refugees from Palestine, Syria and Iraq, and the dismantling of the migrant community at Calais during this week, the present Agreed Statement finished with the following words:
“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 sixth meeting of the Commission will take place, God willing, in Dublin, Republic of Ireland, from the 23rd to 28th October 2017, hosted by the Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson, Archbishop of Dublin, a member of the Commission.
At the conclusion of its meeting, the Commission thanked the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for the mutual understanding, joy, and friendship that was experienced and shared, and looks forward to continuing its work.
Present at the meeting in Antelias 2016-
The Rt Revd Gregory K Cameron (Co-Chair), The Church in Wales
The Revd Canon Dr John Gibaut (Co-Secretary), Anglican Communion Office
The Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson, The Church of Ireland
The Rt Revd Dr Geoffrey Rowell (Consultant), The Church of England
The Very Revd Dr Samy Shehata, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East
The Ven Dr Edward Simonton OGS, The Anglican Church of Canada
The Revd Stephen Stavrou, The Church of England
The Revd Canon Dr William Taylor, The Church of England
The Revd Neil Vigers, Anglican Communion Office
Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria
His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy (Co-Chair), Egypt
His Grace Bishop Angaelos, England
Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch
His Eminence Polycarpus Augin Aydin, The Netherlands
The Very Revd Fr Roger Akhrass, Syria
Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church – Holy See of Cilicia, Antelias – Lebanon
The Very Revd Fr Housig Mardirossian (Co-Secretary), Lebanon
The Revd Fr Boghos Tinkdjian, Lebanon
Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church
The Revd Fr Dr KM George, India
Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
The Revd Fr Kaletsadike M. Argaw, Ethiopia