The meeting between the Holy Father and the Russian Orthodox Patriarch is truly historic—the first in almost a thousand years—and, we pray, as meaningful.

Pope Benedict XVI wrote, in his wonderful book: Introduction to Christianity, which is about the Apostle’s Creed; an interesting couple paragraphs—mentioning Fr. Teilhard de Chardin— concerning the Western and Eastern Church which could play a significant role in any future discussions.

“From about the fifth century, possibly as early as the fourth, we come across the legend of the apostolic origin of this text. [The Apostle’s Creed]. Very soon (probably still in the fifth century) this legend crystallized into the assumption that each of the twelve articles into which the whole was now divided had been contributed by one of the twelve apostles.

“In the East this Roman symbol or creed remained unknown; it came as no small surprise to the Roman representatives at the ecumenical Council of Florence in the fifteenth century when they learned from the Greeks that the symbolum presumed to stem from the apostles was not employed by them. The East had never developed a unified symbol of this sort because no individual Church there occupied a position comparable with that of Rome in the West—as the one “apostolic see” in the Western world. The East was always characterized by the variety of its symbols, which also deviate somewhat in theological type from the Roman symbol. The Roman creed (and with it the Western creed in general) is more concerned with the history of salvation and with Christology. It lingers, so to speak, on the positivistic side of the Christian story; it simply accepts the fact that to save us God became man; it does not seek to penetrate beyond this story to its causes and to its connection with the totality of being. The East, on the other hand, has always sought to see the Christian faith in a cosmic and metaphysical perspective, which is mirrored in professions of faith above all by the fact that Christology and belief in creation are related to each other, and thus the uniqueness of the Christian story and the everlasting, all0embracing nature of the creation come into close association. We shall return later to discuss how today this enlarged perspective is at last beginning to gain currency in the Western consciousness as well, especially as a result of stimuli from the work of Teilhard de Chardin.” (pp. 84-85)

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI). (2004) Introduction to Christianity. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.