TALKS to end the 1000-year split between the Catholic and Orthodox churches opened on the island of Patmos last Thursday, but uncertainty over policy between Orthodox delegates delayed the start of serious business until Monday.
The aim is to achieve unity by the end of the century, and Pope John Paul has been a driving force behind the establishment of talks first mooted by Paul VI. The Pope sees reconciliation with the Orthodox as an undertaking laid upon him by the Holy Spirit.
In a recent meeting with the leader of the Syrian church, the Pope repeated Paul VI's statement that differences in doctrine were only apparent because of terminology, and not based on a difference in faith. At the inaugural service at the Orthodox church of the Assumption on Monday, the filioque clause was left out of the Creed.
The Catholic delegation is led by Cardinal Willebrands, president of the Secretariat for Christian Unity. The Orthodox leader is Metropolitan Meliton of Chalcedon, whose brief is complicated by the absence of centralised authority in the Orthodox world.