Do Melkite Catholics believe in the Filioque?

I went to a Melkite Mass last Sunday. No mention of the Holy Spirit proceedinh from the Son as well as the Father. My friend who was a semenrian for the Latin Rite says they do believe in the Filioque. Is this accurate?

This is not the way to phrase the question.

The question should be phrased as “does the Melkite Catholic church teach that it’s members should/must believe the filioque?”

Asking it the way you have is like asking “do Latin Catholics believe in the Real Presence?” and of course we know they are supposed to, but it is far from certain that all Latin Catholics actually believe in it. The reports and polls seem to indicate otherwise.

So the question would have to be “does that church teach it?” That’s the best we can hope for. We can verify if a church teaches something, but we cannot tell if the followers accept it and we cannot assume they all do.

This is kind of an odd situation, because (as I understand it) Eastern Catholics under the Pope might not actually be taught the filioque, and might not be required to recite it, but they (again, as I understand it … I could be wrong here … ) are not allowed to publicly deny it or preach against it [no, I don’t have a reference]. This requirement wouldn’t necessarily come from the Patriarchal synod, although it could, but could and probably would come from the Supreme Authority, which desires that all Christians accept Latin theological constructs as legitimate beliefs.

I don’t think that is a suitable answer to the question. Perhaps someone with close connections to this church will clarify for us. :slight_smile:

Pax et Bonum

First, its called Divine Liturgy, not Mass.

Second, the recitation of the Filioque is not used in the Eastern Catholic Churches. Do we believe in the Filioque? Our official stand stand on it is we do not disagree with it. We understand what our Latin brethren teach and believe that it is not contrary and completely compatible to what we believe in. But do we teach it? Depends what you mean by “teach”. Since what we believe about the procession of the Holy Trinity is the same, then in that sense we do teach it. But we do not teach it in a way that you recite it. In fact our stand on it is that you should not recite it. It was never in our tradition therefore we shouldn’t adopt it.

As a later Western theological development, that came about in response to legitimate theological and dogmatic problems in the West (the rise of certain heresies), the Melkites understand that the filioque is an acceptable Western theologoumena (basically theological speculation). Whether it ought to have been inserted into the Creed and recited publicly at the Mass is a completely different question. For most Melkites this question doesn’t really even come up on their radar. More ecumenically-minded Melkites might say that it ought not to have been added to the Creed without the consent of an ecumenical council.

It should also be noted that the theology behind the filioque is unique to the Latin Church and does not reflect Byzantine-Melkite Trinitarian theology. So, again, while we may agree that the filioque, in its proper context, is an acceptable and orthodox Western theologoumena, we would also say that it is really no more than theological speculation and really not a dogmatic matter.

Ah, so I can deny that the Holy Spirit proceeds hypostatically from the Son and still become a RC as long as I don’t condemn it? :confused:

The Holy Spirit proceeds through the Son that comes from the Father by generation, the Holy Spirit comes from the Father by spiration.

The Catholics of the Latin Rite, the Eastern Catholics and the Orthodox have really an extremely close understanding of the relationship of the three persons of the Trinity. One of the major problems is that is we use different theologies thus we cannot say exactly the same thing.

I was referring to

Which made it sound like the filioque is an optional belief in the Roman Church, and I doubt that.

I doubt that as well, and was given to understand that the filioque is a required belief for Catholics, Latin and Eastern.

What does RC mean? Are you referring to Latin Catholics in particular, or are you referring to all Catholics under the Pope?

The proper understanding of the procession is a necessary belief, the term filioque in itself is not that important even to Latin Catholics. Different theologies of the same mystery might not be in disagreement (and that is what is critical for the Church) but they do not have to say the same thing. The different theologies depend also a lot on the philosophical frameworks that they were developed upon, and that is what creates most of the misunderstandings when Latin Catholics try to dwell with Eastern theology just by playing with words. Trinitarian theology is already a difficult task for educated theologians and anyone without a solid background in philosophy and theology can look like a fool when trying to argue such topics.

The latter.

What is the proper understanding?

I think that the first stepping point of a proper understanding is to go to the Catechism of the Catholic Church at paragraph 248:

At the outset the Eastern tradition expresses the Father’s character as first origin of the Spirit. By confessing the Spirit as he “who proceeds from the Father”, it affirms that he comes from the Father through the Son. The Western tradition expresses first the consubstantial communion between Father and Son, by saying that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (filioque). It says this, “legitimately and with good reason”, for the eternal order of the divine persons in their consubstantial communion implies that the Father, as “the principle without principle”, is the first origin of the Spirit, but also that as Father of the only Son, he is, with the Son, the single principle from which the Holy Spirit proceeds. This legitimate complementarity, provided it does not become rigid, does not affect the identity of faith in the reality of the same mystery confessed.

These concepts come from the Council of Florence. You must understand that dogmatic statements, especially in the Latin Rite, have been made in order to address specific heretical ideas. Thus a dogmatic statement, while always true, addresses a specific point in a given context. However, the same statement might not cover other aspects of the Truth in its totality. When you look at how Easter theology and Latin theology differ, you will see that to be the case, they do not contradict each other because they both state the same Truth; however, sometime they might appear orthogonal to each other because they are dealing with two different contexts and two different philosophical constructs supporting them. For example I could say the my mother gave me birth and my father would say that my mother is a woman, both statements are part of a bigger truth. They do not contradict each other but someone could start arguing that all mammals give birth or that not all women give birth and a lot of confusion would come from that depending in what is most important at the time, my relation with my mother or my father’s relation with my mother. Just be careful to read to much into what I say because my explanations can be quite rough, I am not an educated theologian I just enjoy theology and philosophy but I am no expert at all.

Check out the books by James Likoudis.

Would you be so kind to be a little bit more specific? I just Googled him and he seems to be a prolific writer. I would probably buy one of his books as a starter but not all of them. :slight_smile:

These are complicated matters that I often fail to understand, so someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but…

Wouldn’t all sides agree that it would be outright heresy to say that the Holy Spirit proceeds hypostatically from the Son as well as the Father? That’s been my impression; thus, I don’t think the filioque is meant to be claiming such a thing.

There was a thread on this recently where some very detailed discussion was going on, particularly, if I recall correctly, between Cavaradossi (who is eastern Orthodox) and Mardukm (who is an Oriental Catholic).

The Trinitarian dogma underlying all orthodox theology on the matter is required belief for all Catholics.

That the filioque is, understood properly, in full conformity with orthodox Trinitarian theology is required belief for all Catholics.

To actually use the filioque itself, and to teach about the Trinity according to the theological terminology that makes the filioque work, is not required. And as it’s not a legitimate part of eastern Christian theology, the eastern Catholic churches ought not to use it.

The argument winds up conflated because of a lot of linguistic issues, but at its core, I think it has to do with causality. The Florentine decree, which I suppose would still be the official Catholic teaching on the matter, attributes the two Greek terms aitia (cause) and arche (principle) to the Son. All of the other disagreements (whether the subsistence, hypostasis, energies, etc. of the Holy Spirit come from or through one person or another) are in some sense secondary to the one over causality, because they follow the argument over causality.

Among the Greek tradition, it was almost unanimously confessed that the Father is the only cause and principle. Even Gregory of Nyssa, who is the most Filioque friendly Cappodocian Father, in terms of proof-texts, does not ascribe these two terms to the Son. Instead, he divides the persons into the cause and the uncaused, and then of the uncaused, he distinguishes between the two by having one of the caused (the Spirit) being from the cause (Father) through the other caused (the Son), while the other caused (the Son) is from the Father through none other.

Gregory the Theologian, on the other hand (the Cappodocian Father used against the Filioque the most), speaks of the Father as the cause, the Son as the begotten and the Spirit as the proceeding. This distinction between begetting and procession, originally made to combat the Eunomian thesis that the Son and Spirit cannot both be caused by the Father, as the Spirit would be a second Son, preserves the connection of the Spirit to the Son without having to engage in Gregory of Nyssa’s more speculative approach to differentiating the two caused persons. Instead of cataphatically attempting to define the difference like Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory the Theologian apophatically defines procession as a mode of generation which is not begetting, pointing out that we should refrain from attempting to define cataphatically procession when we cannot even do the same with the generation of the Son.

To sum up over fifteen hundred years of theological thought, to this day, the East still rejects ascribing any sort of causality to the Son, because causality and principle are hypostatic properties of the Father.

Catholics who become Eastern Orthodox are still expected to repudiate the filioque (see here and scroll down). I wonder how much agreement exists between Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox scholars on the compatibility of the filioque with their Church’s theology? what conception of that endlessly-disputed phrase was in view for the Orthodox hierarches who drew up those questions for Catholic catechumens?

Oh, I’m well aware of that.

I think it varies.

I’d imagine that, across the board, eastern Catholics could be counted upon to believe that the filioque - though they don’t use it and probably even dislike it - is not necessarily heretical.

Orthodox opinion, obviously, varies in my experience. Plenty definitely consider it heterodox; others are open to the position that it can be interpreted in a manner that conforms to the Orthodox Faith. I have no idea what the percentage is in terms of how many Orthodox hold which position.

Honestly I wonder how much agreement exists even among the average Latin Catholics. As Cavaradossi said there are a lot of implications depending on the terminology used. Honestly I have difficulties in having a complete clear idea of what I understand of the procession and how should I confront it with the “official” understanding of the Latin Church, I can only stick with reasonable concepts and nothing more.
I would say that my basic understanding of procession from the Son because it is through the Son makes immediately sense and I feel comfortable saying that it is aligned with what should be taught. However when we start to discuss about principles and causes things become more complicated because for example often people do not make a distinction between a primary cause vs. a secondary cause, a necessary cause vs. a sufficient cause, and we have similar issues with principles. I like the way the eastern theology uses essence and energies to explain a lot of things, the make things much easier given my way of thinking; however, I am knowledgeable enough that I can get a glimpse of their Trinitarian theology but so deeply ignorant that I have difficulties in truly understand supposed errors even when pointed to by more educated people.
I went through the sharing of my self assessment to let people that I do not believe that once an average Latin Catholic joins an Orthodox Church he is capable of rejecting the filioque. My opinion is that it is not a rejection of the filioque at all but simply an assent to agree with all the teachings of the specific Orthodox Church.

Bishop John A. Elya, will answer your questions

They accept the filioque as all doctrines the pope teaches, because they are 100% in union with the pope.

making them a hundred per cent Catholic

What about indulgences, & legalism? or the concept of purification of the soul after death? Or development ?.

excerpt from this last link (all emphasis mine)

I am often astonished at remarks that the legal nature of indulgences seem to prove that they are applicable only to the Latin Church and are thus foreign to our Eastern theology. Many people do not realize that the legal aspects of church life, including canon law, began in the East. The Emperor Justinian and the Byzantine court developed canons that are still the basis for many principles of law used in the church today.


The idea of temporal punishment due to sin is not entirely foreign to our Eastern theology. In some Eastern cultures, the surviving family members of dead offer candy to passersby at a Memorial Service, especially on the Saturday of the Dead, praying that the person would offer forgiveness to the deceased for any wrongs, imagined or real. In the prayers of absolution said over the deceased, the Church prays for the dissolution of any bonds that would keep the deceased tied, in a temporal way, to the corpse or to an intermediate state of purification.


Our Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Apostolic See of Rome have experienced theological developments and growth. We, as we walk with the successor of Peter, are not bound to the forms of the ancient East in a slavish manner, but rather interpret our liturgy and forms of prayer through the eyes and insights of a church that is both alive and evolving. It is a grave error to keep ourselves blindly confined to the theological ideas of the first 10 centuries. My family has been Melkite Catholic for many generations. Are we to discard our Catholic beliefs because they find their origins in Catholic thought of the 20th century? We appreciate and value our heritage, but we are open to the development of new theological insights as they develop under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We are a living Church.

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