We, as Catholics, are bound to believe in the Immaculate Conception. Eastern Catholics have always believed that Mary was born sinless and stayed such, just look at the prayers of the Divine Liturgy. This is just one of those dogmas that is expressed in a manner that is different.
This raises a point that has always perplexed me, quite frankly. The Immaculate Conception, if taken in the sense of Mary being uniquely holy from her very origin in preparation for her role as Theotokos, seems to be almost a given based on Byzantine tradition. Not only the Liturgical and extra-Liturgical prayers, but also the writings of theologians points to this fact. It’s also a historical fact that the emphasis on the Immaculate Conception of Mary came from the East to the West, not visa versa.
I can understand disagreeing with the theological formula with which the teaching was expressed (“preserved from all stain of sin”), especially since that formula is foreign to the East, but I don’t understand objecting to it on any fundamental level. Mary was specially Graced from Conception, and did not sin in her life; that much has firm grounds in Eastern tradition, and is the teaching of the Immaculate Conception.
I’ve been told by many Roman Catholics that Eastern Catholics must believe in the Filoque clause or we are “schismatics”.
And did these Roman Catholics speak with any kind of authority? Did they cite documents from Councils, or Popes, or even their own Bishops? If not then so what if they say such things?
As for the underlying teaching of the Holy Spirit eternally proceeding Personally from the Father and Son, I find it’s a stickier problem than the Immaculate Conception, but it’s certainly not unresolvable. I don’t see how, on a theological level, this procession of the Holy Spirit through the Son, from the Source who is the Father, can really be denied by any Apostolic Christian. The Cappadocian Fathers, as well as many others East and West, attest to this reality.
Disagreement with its inclusion in the Creed is another issue altogether, and one that even the Latin Church has been revisiting lately. It may well end up being removed from the Latin Creed (it’s worth pointing out that it’s not part of the universal Catholic Creed, after all), but the underlying theology shouldn’t be wiped away, certainly not in the face of the Fathers, in which even St. Maximos the Confessor agreed with the Latin understanding of the filioque (as opposed to its misrepresentations over the years).
That being said, the theology of the filioque really isn’t a major issue, IMO, and doesn’t need to be taught extensively. It’s already implicit, and doesn’t affect our practice of the Faith; it’s true, but it’s a truth that doesn’t require a constant beating of a drum, any more than the truth that gravity pulls us to the ground.
Peace and God bless!