Bonn Conferences

Two international conferences on church reunion were held in 1874-75 under the presidency of Ignaz Von Döllinger,* precipitated by the Munich Manifesto (1871) of the first Congress of the Old Catholics.* The Manifesto expressed the hope of reunion with the Greek- Oriental and Russian Churches. In March 1872 Von Döllinger delivered a series of lectures on The Reunion of the Churches, in which the Scriptures and the ecumenical creeds of the early church were proposed as a basis for church unity. The first Bonn Conference was an informal meeting of theologians representing Germany, the Eastern Churches, the Anglican and the Dutch Churches. When the Filioque clause concerning the Holy Spirit was debated, a serious division appeared. One year later, the second and larger Bonn Conference took place. Orthodox representation was considerably larger and included the Ecumenical Patriarch, representatives of the Church of Romania and the Church of Greece, and the metropolitan of Belgrade. The crucial question again emerged as the gap between Eastern and Western doctrines of the Holy Spirit. After a prolonged and rather strained discussion, the view of John of Damascus* was agreed upon as having been the prevailing one at the time of the Ecumenical Councils* of the early church. Furthermore, Orthodox representatives refused to commit themselves on the subject of the validity of Anglican orders.