Removing Filioque from the Creed

Hello All,

I am wondering how Latin Catholics feel about the removal of filioque.

I myself am not Latin, but come from the Oriental Tradition. I do not believe filioque is a heresy, if one understands the Latin theological perspective. I don’t mind if filioque is removed or retained.

Many non-Latins feel removing filioque right now would be a good sign of willingness to achieve unity. I disagree. Due to my own background, I feel it is more important that theological understanding come first before any consideration of removing filioque from the Latin Creed.

So I have created this poll to get your point of view. I have set it up so you can choose several options at the same time.

Thank you for your participation and comments in advance.


I have tried to understand the issue from both sides. I have learned much about Eastern and Latin theology concerning the Holy Trinity but find myself unable to fully “buy into” any particular description of relationship within the Godhead. These relationships are a divine mystery that is wholly beyond human understanding. I find both descriptions helpful (along with the shamrock, egg and other trite yet novel analogies) in meditating on the mystery.

I suspect the Filioque controversy is more of a standard to gather under for those who oppose Christian unity or who would enforce it unjustly.

The Anglican Church of Canada removed it from the Creed in their newer liturgy book, with the intent of dropping it altogether, in the early 80s. They made a point of saying that this did not represent a change in doctrine.

I don’t think anyone really appreciated it as a big gesture. And mostly people still use it.

But I tend to think that the theological issues are fairly well appreciated, and it wouldn’t be possible to get everyone to agree, so at some point leadership in the latin Catholic Church would have to just go ahead if that was their goal. I don’t see how they could do so though - they have invested a lot in the idea that they are correct.

If they dropped it without changing their doctrine, I don’t think anyone would be impressed - it would probably convince the Orthodox that Catholicism was something to stay away from.

I thought the Anglicans in Canada use the Apostles Creed which has never had the filioque.

In answer to the OP, I don’t see anything wrong with the filioque, the Latins should continue to have it. They should be open to discussing it, however, if it proves to be an obstacle to unity with the Orthodox.

There is nothing theologically wrong with the filioque, yes of course. Insofar as it is an obstacle to Christan unity, though, unity is more important than this particular addition to what ecumenical councils taught.

I understand the reason the Latin Church added the Filioque. But since it is meant to be a creed of all Christianity, it should be uniform throughout the entire Church. I mean, should say California add a few words to the Pledge of Allegiance while the rest of America keep it as is? Even if the reason is valid and the intention is good, why be different?

Also today we have the Catechism of the Catholic Church to explain the entire Creed for us. It is not like hundreds of years ago where the Creed is one of a few sources of learning about the faith. I think the Latin Church can drop the Filioque while maintaining the same teaching.

That’s an interesting and highly probable observation.


I think the Latin Church could do so. The problem is the triumphalism that could potentially erupt from the Easterns (not an unrealistic scenario).

If they dropped it without changing their doctrine, I don’t think anyone would be impressed - it would probably convince the Orthodox that Catholicism was something to stay away from.

Yes, and I think that’s the whole problem with dropping filioque without ensuring a concurrent or even prerequisite theological understanding of the issue. The idea that the Latins need to change their doctrine is ludicrous. Filioque is not heretical. It simply means that the Spirit is consubstantial with the Father and the Son. Why should Latins be forced to deny something that is entirely orthodox?


How about a new creed to signal the reunification? A new creed of common belief. I’m pretty sure before reunification is we’ll have to iron out a lot of details, that should be emphasized in a new creed.

Dear brother ConstantineTG,

But is today an opportune time to do so? I surmise that if you poll maybe 100 Orthodox Christians (Oriental and Eastern), you may find a handful or even less that would not call filioque a heresy. Wouldn’t removing filioque at this time reinforce the lie that the Latin Church was in heresy all this time?

I propose we wait another generation. What do you think?


Haven’t we waited long enough? My reason for it is simple, keeping the creed as it was written. Perhaps my second suggestion would be a good idea as well, reunification would entail an ecumenical council, thus a new creed could be written as agreed by all.

I think there is a third option (which I support) but making it “from the Father and the Son” to “from the Father through the Son”.
It in no way changes Latin theology, but is just rather a clarification of what we mean by “and the Son”. Both the Eastern sui juris churches and the Latin church, which together compose the holy Catholic Church, fully agree on this as on all other dogmata.

The separated Eastern churches, I think, would find no problem with this formula, and if I remember right I believe this formula was talked about at the Council of Florence.

Dear brother Matariel,

Thank you for your input.

But I think there’s actually two things to consider here:
(1) Is it OK for a local Church to have a slightly different, while perfectly orthodox, Creed? If so, then filioque need not be removed. This is my personal position. It can be removed, but it need not be removed. We need to look at the original intention of the Second Ecumenical Council, not just the mere text. The original intention of the Second Ecum Council in adding “proceeds from the Father” was to defend the divinity of the Holy Spirit. With that in mind, the local Latin Creed is seen to be prefectly orthodox. The fact is, the Churches in the first millenium were able to live side by side perfectly well with slightly different textual, yet fully orthodox, creeds.

Here, the words of HG Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan (of venerable memory) of the Armenian Apostolic Church rings loudly with Divine Truth that we can all live by:
"Pegging down orthodoxy to the authority of Councils and to the fixity of theological propositions issued by them, and judging orthodoxy or otherwise of a section of the Church on the basis of its acceptance or rejection, as the case may be, has failed to produce unity in the Church, and most probably will continue to do so…[W]hen we take a Council dealing with doctrinal matters as a teaching organ rather than a legislative organ of the church, and focus our attention on the insights contained in its expositions, then the desired consensus will be possible to produce."

(2) Should the whole Church add “through the Son” to its universal Creed?
There should really be no question of just making the change of per filium in the Latin Church. If that change were allowed for the Latin Church, then there is no reason to keep filioque to begin with. If per filium were adopted, it would have to be a universal change. While this would be acceptable, it is not actually ideal at the present time. There has been a novel development in Eastern Orthodoxy on the matter. While Traditional Eastern sources such as St. Gregory Palamas and the Synod of Blarchanae view the energetic procession as eternal, current EO apologetics demand that is is only temporal. That is a rather drastic change IMO. If these particular EO are willing to return to their sources, then there might be hope for rapprochement on per filium.

The most ideal solution would simply be to remove filioque from the Latin Creed, but I believe it would be foolhardy to do so without getting either a preliminary or concurrent official recognition from the Orthodox Churches (both OO and EO) that the theology of filioque is perfectly orthodox.


The OO have waited 1500 years for a resolution on the Christological matter. Patience, brother.:slight_smile:

My reason for it is simple, keeping the creed as it was written.

Isn’t that a little legalistic given the potential harm it could do?

I challenge you to give a single Eastern source prior to the 20th century that called for removal of filioque apart from its theological import. If you cannot, then would it not be the case that theological understanding takes priority over the mere appearance of unity based on the text?


I haven’t voted yet, but I would give my two cents: if the Roman Rite drops the Filioque, the Mozarabic Rite should drop the et Filio in their version of the Creed (Credimus), which was and is different from the Roman version, as well.

Funny you should mention that. The Armenian Apostolic Church also uses a rather enriched, extended variant of the Creed. “Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, was incarnate, was made man, was born perfectly of the holy virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit; by whom He took body, soul, and mind, and everything that is in man, truly and not in semblance” would be a sample phrase.

If we’re going by the “recite it as written” approach we should convince the Armenians to drop their troped Creed. Or for that matter, many of us should say “We believe” instead of “I believe” because the Creed as found in the texts of the two councils are in the plural. Not to mention that the Latin Church should also drop the phrase Deum de Deo (Deum ex Deo for Mozarabs) not found in the Greek. :wink:


That should read: “If that change were allowed for the Latin Church, then there is no reason to remove filioque to begin with.”


Asking human language words to describe the relationship between the Members of the Godhead is not realistic anyway. Filioque or no Filioque, we can’t know the inner workings of God as long as we are stuck in spacetime. IMHO, the argument is irrelevant in a theological sense. This is more about turf.

The filioque clause, or the addition of the second procession of the Holy Spirit to the Nicene Creed qui ex Patre, Filioque procedit (who proceeds from the Father and the Son), rather than the original form “who proceeds from the Father” is still a contentious issue between the Greek Orthodox and Rome. Both the single and double procession seem to give the impression that the Holy Spirit is somewhat inferior to the Father and the Son. The Sabellians maintained that the person who is being sent represents the sender. The Arian sect believed that the sender is far superior to the person he sends. The Scriptures and the Church teach that the Holy Spirit is consubstantial, coexistent and coequal with the Father and the Son. The Catholic Apostolic Fathers have chosen the term “proceeds” because it does not convey the idea of inferiority of the person sent but rather denotes the procession of the person sent from the person who sends. Simply stated, the word “proceeds” meant to reflect the chronological order of appearance of the three persons of the Godhead as shown in the Bible. The Father is the person revealed first in the Bible. Immediately after the original sin, the Father promised to send the Son to redeem man. The Son, before ascending to heaven, promised the apostles to send the Holy Spirit. The Roman Church, therefore, states that the Holy Spirit is sent or proceeds from the Father and the Son. The Greek Church states that the Holy Spirit is sent or proceeds from the Father.  Both forms of the Creed sound like a semantic game. Dogmas of faith are difficult to fathom but none of them is as obscure as this one. Whether the Holy Spirit is sent by the Father and the Son or by the Father only, by way of “spiration” or by any other way, it may not matter because the Holy Spirit is equal to the Father and the Son. Both processions could be eliminated without altering neither the identity of the Holy Spirit nor the truth of the dogma. The new Nicene Creed would read: 
“We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified and has spoken through the prophets.”

They use either, depending on the context. In the new liturgies the Apostle’s Creed is offered as an alternative during the Eucharistic liturgy. In the old liturgy, it isn’t. The Apostle’s Creed is used during the daily office and at baptism.

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