20 March 2017

FILIOQUE

I do not intend to explain what this is all about ab initio to those who do not already know the general outlines. Just to add some facts which some who do know may not be familiar with.

In 1995 the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity published a learned and interesting paper which suggested that a lack of correlation between the Greek (ekporeuesthai) and Latin (procedere) terms for "proceedeth" is part of the problem. ekporeuesthai refers to the origin of the Holy Spirit within the eternal and glorious economy of the Holy Trinity. And, since the Father is the Source (pege, aitia) of the being of the other two Persons, clearly the Spirit ekporeuetai from the Father alone. To suggest that he might ekporeuesthai from the Son as well is to risk positing two sources of Divinity and thus, in effect, to believe in two Gods.

Procedere, on the other hand, is a broader term. As well as sharing the meaning of ekporeuesthai, it also encompasses the Sending (proienai), wthin time, of the Spirit by the Son. And it includes the possibility of asserting that the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son.When the Western Church was battling against Arianism, it seemed important to safeguard the full divinity of the Son by incorporating into the Creed His authentic Missio of the Spirit.

So you could argue that Filioque with ekporeuesthai is gravely erroneous because it is tantamount to polytheism, while procedere without the Filioque is dangerously suggestive of Arianism.

It is well known that Rome firmly forbids the addition of Filioque to the Creed when it is said in (or translated from) Greek - whether by 'uniate' Byzantines or in ecumenical contexts. But she has been slow to delete Filioque from the Creed when it is used in (or translated from) Latin.

However, in 2000 a very significant new development occurred. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger issued a document called Dominus Iesus, which was immediately made the object of hysterical abuse by illiterates who couldn't read it (including poor dopey George Carey) - you probably remember the hooha raised at that time by the ecumaniac industry both inside and outside the Roman Catholic Church. This furore still occasionally has echoes. This is and was unfortunate; the document represented some very interesting advances ecumenically in several respects. Not the least of these is that it began by giving, as 'the fundamental contents of the profession of the Christian faith', the 'Nicene' Creed in Latin and without the Filioque.

I would lose very little sleep if a Roman Pontiff eliminated Filioque from the Latin Creed. But it would leave some traces behind it. In, for example, the Quicumque vult. And I know an Anglican priest who, being very Orthodoxophile, presses his lips together at a certain point in the Creed. But, when he does duty in College chapels here in Oxford, he has to sing, in the Litany, " ... proceeding from the Father and the Son ..." because otherwise disastrous confusion would ensue when the choir came to repeat his words. The learned Dom Benedict of Silverstream once showed me a version of the Pange lingua in which a 'Western Orthodox' had rewritten S Thomas's Doxology ...

No; I would be very unwilling to go down such paths as those. The Latin West is as entitled to the integrity of its own Patrimony as is the Byzantine East. Probably best to leave the sleeping dogs ...

And we gallant presbyters of the Ordinariate are unlikely to forget that Filioque was introduced to the English Church by the Syrian Greek S Theodore whom Pope S Vitalian (657-672) sent to be Archbishop of Canterbury. I think we could catch the stuffier "English Orthodox" on the horns of a juicy dilemma by asking them whether the "Anglo-Saxon Church" of S Theodore was Orthodox ... or not ...

15 comments:

Dominic said...

Thank you very much for this, Father. I am currently on the Aegean island of Chios, and have been going to Mass at the Catholic church, where the Mass is celebrated in modern Greek. I was a very poor student of ancient Greek at school over thirty years ago, and whilst I have been able to follow most of the text of the Ordinary of the Mass, it was only last week that I noticed that the Filioque was missing from the Creed. I am glad that you have saved me from making a fool of myself by querying this with the priest.

I am staggered at the timeliness of this post. God is good!

Dominic Farrell

Claudio Salvucci said...

The argument from that paper struck me like a hammer when I first heard it: so elegant, so historically explanatory, and so hopeful for a resolution.

I've often argued with some fiercely Protestant Anglo-Saxon on some controverted point of NT Greek: "Yes but if your interpretation of Greek is correct, then why do the Greeks not agree with it? You learned Greek from a book. They speak it natively."

The same principle holds here. Latin is our ecclesiastical language. Should anyone be insisting that our "procedere" means a procession as an ultimate source, and necessarily means two principles of divinity, if we ourselves say categorically otherwise?

John Lamb said...

I believe it was the Council of Florence that defined infallibly that the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Son together with the Father as one principle.
St. Thomas says that the Son is the Author, Source, Cause, and Principle of the Holy Spirit (together with the Father).

To say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son in time, but not ab initio, from eternity - would be contrary to the Catholic faith.

There is a sense in which the Holy Spirit proceeds through the Son as opposed to from the Son, in the sense that the Son receives all the power to spirate the Spirit from the Father. I believe this is a logical distinction rather than a real one however. In reality, the Spirit proceeds immediately from the Father and the Son as a single principle.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Prior to the schism the so-called Orthhodox orthodox believed as we did that there is a double procession of the Holy Ghost from The Father and Son and it seems to ABS there is no need for us to ditch Tradition when it comes to that doctrine but that is what we Catholics are constantly doing, ditching this and that to seek the approval of those who reject us.

Ecumenism is the universal solvent of Tradition.

Dominic said...

Dear Father, I cannot believe how timely your post is. I have been on the Aegean island of Chios for the past few weeks. With my schoolboy ancient Greek, I have been able to follow most of the Ordinary of the Mass in the Greek vernacular. However, it was only last week that I spotted that the Filioque was missing from the Creed. Now I know why. Thank you

Woody said...

On the filioque, if one desires to get deeply into it, one will want to read Prof. A.E Siecienski's book on the subject. Here is a link to Prof. Adam DeVille's interview with him. http://easternchristianbooks.blogspot.com/2011/06/authorial-interview-e-siecienski-on.html

Monica said...

Thank you, Father. I, too, (deemed - with not much justification - to be a died-in-the-wool Tridentinist) would lose no sleep if a successor of St Peter was to eliminate 'filioque' from the Latin text of the Creed. However, someone would have to adjust the chants to accommodate this. That, in itself, would be an interesting consideration.

Mike Hurcum said...

I have an orthodox Archbishop lives down the road, His priests are very hot on the early English church being orthodox, They completely and utterly deny the valid of the Two English Synods of Bishops that say the English Church at that time answered to Rome by their own acclamation. The English Bishops that is. They say it was not done by orthodox bishops.. I laughed and ask them when did the Orthodox of their species start>

Mike Hurcum said...

I forgot the Beatific Vision properly explains the to and froing of the Holy Ghost the Divine Eternal Spirit. Thre is a very good description written by the Benedictine Priest Fr or Dom Louismet Sauvignon

Deacon Nicholas said...

"The Latin West is as entitled to the integrity of its own Patrimony as is the Byzantine East."

Well, no, because the patrimony of West and East alike includes the third and eighth Ecumenical Councils. No matter what bishops of Rome might have said later.

D. Benedict Andersen OSB said...

(Oh dear, Father H. is so intent on wrecking my humility this Lent!!!)

The official Latin text in the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate in the USA is:

Genitori, Genitoque
Laus et iubilatio,
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedictio:
Procedenti ab illoque
Compar sit laudatio.

(From the Orthodox Ritual, St Luke's Priory Press, 1993)

In English I think their text is “Who from One with Both is One”.

I have great respect and affection for my WRO friends but yes, this sort of thing goes quite a bit further than Latinisations amongst Catholic Easterners ... latinizations which the Holy See, by the way, has for quite some time condemned, including under John Paul II the slavish imitation of decadent Latin "ad populum" celebration.

It's one thing to restore the original text of the Constantinopolitan Creed (Card. Ratzinger, speaking magisterially on behalf of John Paul II, did this in the opening paragraphs of Dominus Iesus). It is another thing entirely to take a composition by a fervent filioquist and make it say the exact opposite of his intention. The WRO version of the Quicumque vult also subverts the traditional Latin pneumatology.

Our Jewish brothers and sisters, I think, call this "chutzpah"!

roberts said...

Yup.
John Lamb has seen the little problem in Father Hunwicke's otherwise timely meditations:

"To say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son in time, but not ab initio, from eternity - would be contrary to the Catholic faith."
The Son is the Author, Source, Cause, and Principle of the Holy Spirit together with the Father: from all eternity.
Not, obviously, as a separate divine principle. But the perichoresis requires it...
Thanks St Maximus the Confessor for developing that.
And thus for being that most troublesome and most welcome of theologians: A Roman Catholic Orthodox Saint!

So when ARE the Orthodox going to come to terms with their residual Monarchianism over this question?

And when will dear Father Hunwicke REALLY put himself at the school of St Thomas : )

¡Hagan Lío!

Alexander Jordan said...

"Procedere, on the other hand, is a broader term. As well as sharing the meaning of ekporeuesthai, it also encompasses the Sending (proienai), wthin time, of the Spirit by the Son. And it includes the possibility of asserting that the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son.When the Western Church was battling against Arianism, it seemed important to safeguard the full divinity of the Son by incorporating into the Creed His authentic Missio of the Spirit."

An Orthodox asked, "If being the source of procession is necessary for the Son to possess full divinity and be equal with the Father, The Holy Spirit must also be the source of other hypostasis' procession in order to be equal with the Father and The Son."

Can you help me to answer this question, Father?

Chris Jones said...

Dom Benedict,

It is another thing entirely to take a composition by a fervent filioquist and make it say the exact opposite of his intention. The WRO version of the Quicumque vult also subverts the traditional Latin pneumatology.

It's certainly not the first time (or the last) that a Christian group has altered a text (which they otherwise rightly esteem) for theological reasons. It's true that if we are going to use a hymn of Aquinas we owe him some degree of loyalty to the integrity of his composition; but not as much as our loyalty to orthodoxy. However ardent his filioquism, if he was wrong, he was wrong.

Similarly, from an Orthodox perspective the WRO changes to the Quicumque Vult do not subvert the traditional Latin pneumatology, they correct it; and it is not chutzpah, it is the Orthodox Church exercising the Apostolic authority of the Catholic Church that she believes and proclaims herself to be. The charge of chutzpah implies that the Orthodox Church owes some deference to a Church which, however ancient and extensive, she regards as schismatic and heterodox. She does not.

(Full disclosure: I'm not WRO (any more) and don't speak for the Orthodox. But I still know what their teachings are, and largely agree with them.)

D. Benedict Andersen OSB said...

Chris, as you know, I'm all too familiar with Orthodox claims to ecclesiological exclusivity and the very different ways in which different WRO "philosophies" seek to incarnate this in Western liturgical praxis.

The Orthodox can, and will, do whatever they like, according to their own self-understanding and their estimation of Latin aberrancy.

Something tells me, however, that the Orthodox would not respond with your dispassion were Old Rome to let loose an orthodox Thomist to "correct" hesychastic elements in post-schismatic Orthodox hymnology.