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.
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