really confused

Hi :slight_smile:

I have a question about something, but I dont know if anyone knows the answer. It’s a very deep complex topic. If no one knows, that’s oki. I’ll try to find an answer somewhere. But this is really, really troubling me. :frowning: it’s regarding the filioque and the Schism.

the Catholics and the Orthodox seem to disagree on what the 8th Ecumenical Council was. There was one in 869, which is accepted by the Catholic Church, and another one in 879, which is accepted by the Orthodox Church. The Council in 879 overturned the 869 Council, it also rejected the filioque, and said that anyone who adds to the Creed from Constantinople (381, which mentions the procession) is excommunicated.

Now here is my question. If the 879 Council overturned the 869 one, why does the Church see it as the true 8th Council? Because the Pope was present at the 879 Council too.

Furthermore, the 879 Council was apparently originally accepted by the Church (some debate here…), but later rejected. I don’t know why this was, and if anyone knows, that would be great. My other question is, does the Pope have the authority to reject a council that another Pope had accepted? HOWEVER different historians are saying different things…some are saying that the Pope of the time accepted the 879 Council, others are saying he rejected it… I dont know how I’ll ever find the answer if even the historians can’t make up their minds!!

This is all really causing me to doubt my conversion to Catholicism so if anyone has any info, please let me know. But I know it’s a very complex topic dealing with historical details that few people know…

here’s a wikipedia article about the 879 Council:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photian_council

God bless

I asked in the Eastern Catholics forum too cause maybe they know about this stuff.

The history is murky. I don’t think the Pope was at the 879 Council, but his legates were. This seems, unfortunately, another example of historical events that caused separation and division within Christianity (in this case, one that contributed to the eventual schism between Orthodox and Catholic).

This is not an isolated case of division and misunderstanding.

I’m not sure why this would cause you to doubt your conversion, but I hope this helps.

well there is this…

In his work The Photian Schism, Francis Dvornik [a Jesuit—ML] quotes the letter which Pope John VIII sent to Patriarch Photios wherein he recognizes Photios as Patriarch and the Constantinopolitan synod of 879-80 as a legitimate ecumenical council rescinding the synod of 869-70.
Basically, in his letter, John accepts Photios and his council conditionally. John intructed that his legates should insist on certain assurances from Photios. If his conditions (including that Photios acknowledge Roman supremacy) are met, then the council is accepted. If his conditions are not met, then the council is rejected. So, were John’s conditions accepted by Photios and the Constantinopolitan church? We have no letter in reply from Photios to John which would make his acceptance explicit. As such, given that John’s reception of the 879 synod is conditional on such acceptance, we cannot say with any precision that Rome did or did not receive the 879 synod as authoritative.
The relevant text of the letter reads: Nam et ea, quae pro causa tuae restitutionis synodali decreto Constantinopoli misericorditer acta sunt, recipimus. Si forasse nostri legati in eadem sinodo contra apostolicam preceptionem egerint, nos nec recipimus nec iudicamus alicuius existere firmitatis.
Now given that Rome eventually repudiated said council, we may conclude that in due course she judged the conditions not to have been met. Hence, the council can be said to have bound Rome only if one asumes that its authority obtained with or without Rome’s consent. Catholics as such cannot accept that assumption. And given the broader issues between Catholicism and Orthodoxy, such an assumption would only beg the question against the former.
But even supposing, for argument’s sake, that Rome really had accepted the council of 879-880, there remains the logical question whether the condemnation of adding anything to the confession embodied in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381 (‘NCC’ for short) is dogmatically binding by Rome’s own standards. That would indeed be the case if the condemnation entails that the filioque is, in fact, false, or otherwise adds anything of substance. But the pertinent conciliar text entails no such result. In the translation and with the emphasis Perry uses, here’s the most pertinent passage:

If one dares to rewrite another Symbol besides this one, or add to it, or subtract from it, or to remove anything from it, and to display the audacity to call it a Rule, he will be condemned and thrown out of the Christian Confession.For to subtract from, or to add to, the holy and consubstantial and undivided Trinity shows that the confession we have always had to this day is imperfect. It condemns the Apostolic Tradition and the doctrine of the Fathers. If one, then having come to such a point of mindlessness as to dare do what we have said above, and set forth another Symbol and call it a Rule, or to add to or subtract from the one which has been handed down to us by the first great, holy and Ecumenical Synod of Nicaea, let him be Anathema.

The key thing to note about that is its conditionality. Its condemnation extends to the filioque only if it be granted that the doctrine of the filioque “adds to the holy and consubstantial and undivided Trinity” and thus shows that the earlier confession is “imperfect.” But that is precisely what Rome does not grant.

The position of the Catholic Church is that the filioque does not “add” to the doctrine of the Trinity as developed by councils acknowledged as ecumenical by East and West. The Roman claim is that the phrase filioque merely helps to make explicit what was implicit in NCC, the “symbol” being referred to by the above condemnation. But it follows that the “confession” embodied in NCC is “imperfect” only if Rome’s later adding the filioque to NCC implies that she holds there is something wrong with the confession NCC embodied when it was issued in 381. No such implication holds, nor does Rome think it does. NCC was a perfectly adequate and orthodox response to the issues of its time, and its original text remains perfectly true. It just doesn’t say everything true that later contingencies might call for saying. Now as I’ve said before, I believe that Rome’s later judgment that the filioque was worth adding to NCC was pastorally unsound. But that doesn’t affect the question of the truth of the doctrine expressed by that phrase.

As always, the key issue lurking in the background here is that of “development of doctrine.” In a spirit quite similar to that of certain Catholic traditionalists and Protestant fundamentalists, Perry and some other Orthodox deny that there is any legitimate DD. I shall shortly resume addressing that issue in its own right.

mliccione.blogspot.com/2007/05/filioque-v-replies-to-objections.html

Maybe it all goes back to if we believe in the authority of the Pope or not… for me it’s hard not to, with the part in Matthew and Isaiah… catholic-pages.com/pope/hahn.asp

yea…I’m getting really lost with the history, and different sources are saying different things.

the reason this is causing me to doubt everything is because IF the 879 council is the true one, and replaced the 869 council, and if the Pope originally agreed with the 879 council… then why is it different now? why does the Church now accept only the 869 one?

btw, I was informed that the Orthodox don’t see the 879 council as ecumenical anyways… they only have 7 ecumenical councils.

maybe it was all more political than theological?

i also read that the Church (the Pope) accepted the 879 council on condition that Photios would honour the primacy of Rome… the conditions were not met, so maybe that is why the Church ultimately rejected the Council.

maybe it all comes down to the authority of the Pope… and that makes sense both Scripturally and from a Church history perspective…

also, I’ve always wondered why the EO don’t have ecumenical councils anymore, and maybe that is because they don’t have the Pope.

It is political rather than theoloical in my opinion. When I see the history of councils I believe that Photios didn’t really have anything worth doctrinal value in the 879. This wouldn’t have been the first time Photois called a council which would not be recognized since he did it once before in 867. From what I see all he did in the 879 council was affirm the orthodox position rather than romes, because of this there was no reason to count it by the Catholic Church as legitimate, and no reason for the Orthodox to count it as the eight since he didn’t change anything doctrinal for them from the preceding councils… In either way to have a problem with the filioque is rediculous, especially when after Christs death and ressurection he comes to his apotles and says over them receive the Holy Spirit, receive the Holy Spirit, receive the Holy Spirit! He spoke with authority as one giving them what they were to receive (the Holy Spirit). He didn’t show up and say Father send down the Holy Spirit, now receive the Holy Spirit.

The split between and schism of the Orthodox over the filiogue was never really theological but more political wrapped and masked under the impression there is a theoligical issue for saying the holy spirit proceeds from the Father, and Son. It was more because at the time the creed was being properly defined the members of the now orthodox church were not present and because of this they caused a stink about it which would later lead and is leading many Christians into error, and away from the one true Church, The Catholic Church. I hope, and pray that there will be unity though, and that we will see our Orthodox brothers come back to the Catholic Church.

I think that’s a good point, that’s what another source says too…

"It was in A.D. 867 that Patriarch Photius of Constantinople became the first Byzantine with any real authority to formally condemn Filioque as an “error.” And while he probably realistically believed that it was, please consider the historical context which led him to denounce the Western doctrine. The Byzantine Empire desperately needed to exert political influence over the Bulgarians and Slavs on their northern borders –something it had typically done through religious assimilation (that is, by making potential invaders part of its imperial “state cult”). But, at this very same time, the Carolingian Franks had a strong presence (both militarily and religiously) in the Balkans, and were trying to recruit the natives into their sphere of influence. Thus, Photius’ condemnation of the Filioque was not driven by mere religious conviction, but principally by the already-existing civil / ecclesial conflict over the Balkans, and it served as a way to undermine and discredit the Roman religion of Byzantinum’s Western rivals –to exploit a notable difference between the two competing Empires. This is the true beginning of the popular Eastern Orthodox objection to Filioque, and one must be honest about that. That is, one must admit that an ulterior motive was involved –a motive that was very nationalistic. For, a strong prejudice against Filioque would be enshrined with the promotion of Photius as a saintly champion of the Byzantine way of life. The fact that Photius’ theological arguments against Filioque were based on misinterpretations, and possibly even intentional mischaracterizations, was not important. If nothing else, Photius was a Byzantine hero –a personality who clearly and forcefully articulated that there was indeed a difference between “us” and “them.” What is unfortunately is that this “difference” was merely superficial and cultural, and not a substantial difference in the Apostolic Faith. "

catholic-legate.com/articles/filioque.html

also another Biblical reason for the filioque might be in Revelation, where it says that the river of life flowed from the throne of God and of the Lamb… the river, or water of life symbolizes the Holy Spirit in other passages.

the problem is that some people would say that originally Rome did accept this council…

however, it is argued it was a conditional acceptance, and the conditions weren’t met, so Rome later on rejected the council. One of these conditions was to accept the primacy of Rome…

“Basically, in his letter, John accepts Photios and his council conditionally. John intructed that his legates should insist on certain assurances from Photios. If his conditions (including that Photios acknowledge Roman supremacy) are met, then the council is accepted. If his conditions are not met, then the council is rejected. So, were John’s conditions accepted by Photios and the Constantinopolitan church? We have no letter in reply from Photios to John which would make his acceptance explicit. As such, given that John’s reception of the 879 synod is conditional on such acceptance, we cannot say with any precision that Rome did or did not receive the 879 synod as authoritative.
The relevant text of the letter reads: Nam et ea, quae pro causa tuae restitutionis synodali decreto Constantinopoli misericorditer acta sunt, recipimus. Si forasse nostri legati in eadem sinodo contra apostolicam preceptionem egerint, nos nec recipimus nec iudicamus alicuius existere firmitatis.
Now given that Rome eventually repudiated said council, we may conclude that in due course she judged the conditions not to have been met. Hence, the council can be said to have bound Rome only if one asumes that its authority obtained with or without Rome’s consent. Catholics as such cannot accept that assumption. And given the broader issues between Catholicism and Orthodoxy, such an assumption would only beg the question against the former.”

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