The Filioque:

What is the Catholic view of the Filioque? I understand that Catholics believe the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, but does the Father send the Holy Spirit through the Son, or do the Father and the Son act together in sending forth the Paraclete? As a 15 year old, I’m confused.

The Catholic teaching, defined at the 4th Lateran Council (among others), is that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father AND the Son. This was declared to oppose to the error that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father THROUGH the Son.

I think this is the wrong forum, but I will answe anyway.

The Son has inherited all the properties of the Father. Everything that the Father is, the Son is also (except for being Father). Just as the Father is eternal and almighty, the Son is also. And since one of the properties of the Father is that the Holy Spirit proceeds from him, he must also proceed from the Son since the Son is everything that the Father is.

This sounds like double-Procession of the Holy Ghost. Are you guys sure this is the official teaching of the Roman Catholic church today?

I seem to recall reading otherwise, although I can’t put my finger on it just now.


The double-procession of the Holy Spirit is a dogma of the Catholic Church:

The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father.
The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son.

Catholics who declare otherwise are only trying to deceive the Orthodox into unity; and in the process, they’re muddling this teaching in the minds of other Catholics.


Catholics who claim otherwise are trying to do no such thing. They are simply stating the official position of the Church. Read the new advent article on the filioque. Although you will see the term “double procession” used, it does not mean exactly what you have posted here. Despite what an above poster claims, the Catholic Church recognizes the terms “and the Son” and “through the Son” as equal in meaning, which there is ample historical and linguistic evidence to support. Even the CCC (248) states as much. You should read (or possibly re-read?) the discussions on the Eastern Christianity forum. Pay particular attention to posts by Ghosty and mardukm, as they tend to hit the nail on the head with this topic.

You should also check out the CA article on Eastern Orthodoxy. The brief section on the filioque states it exactly as I have just written.

Fuerza is correct! The concept of “double procession” is, in fact, not what the filioque was designed to teach. Rather, the filioque was inserted into the Creed in Spain to counter a version of Arianism that had come to Spain from Germany. The teaching that was erroneous said that the Holy Spirit was not the same as the Father or the Son. We have to recall that the Creed originally taught only the nature of the Father and that the Son was homoousias (of the same nature, *consubstantionis) *with the Father. The nature of the Spirit was not directly addressed. Thus, the Spanish addition was designed to preclude the erroneous teaching.

Unfortunately, it was, itself, subject to such errors as the teaching of the double procession. Generally, the Latin Fathers understood this teaching as saying that the Holy Spirit is spirated by the Father but sent to us through the Son. Thus, the teaching that the Holy Spirit is from the Father through the Son.

There is ample support for this understanding in the Catechism as well as in recent documents dealing with the Orthodox on this issue.

Deacon Ed

I completely agree with Deacon Ed.
The Filioque was never a true division.
The enforcement of the Filioque on the entire church is where the problem lay. And also the corruptions like double procession that anyone mistakenly believed.

Today there is no controversy over the filioque with any Eastern Church as long as the proper meaning is understood and the agreement that it is not needed for the entire church, and should not be enforced on it. But it is not heresy.

A better question would be why the filioque was come up with at all as a defense for arianism. In the east they had no reason to add onto the creed in order to defend against arianism.

My guess is that it had something to do with their being a larger proportion of extra stubborn Goths around who needed it drilled into their mind that Christ is begotten not made.

Thank you Deacon Ed. Since getting married 6 months ago that may very well be the first time that I’ve been told that I’m correct. :smiley:

There is nothing innacurate in saying the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son as one principle. The CA article says as much. The Holy Spirit does not proceed through the Son as if He is not consubstantial with the Father.

I am, however, open to the idea that “double-procession” is a misnomer. There is only one procession of the Holy Spirit - from the Father and the Son.

No, there is absolutely nothing wrong with saying “and the Son”, which is why the Church does it. However, “through the Son” is regarded as equivalent and therefore correct, which the CA article says almost verbatim.

Please note that I am not saying that the Son is not consubstantial with the Father, but what I am saying is in fact the official stance of the Church. This has all been discussed in depth on the EC forums, especially the issue of how the Son’s different role in the procession of the Spirit does not impact His consubstantiality with the Father.

Why not just say “through” the Son then?

Would this not be a big help in alleviating the misunderstandings?


I read once that at the Council of Florence, Easterners were allowed to interptret it as “THROUGH the Son.” But perhaps I am mistaken.

I think Eastern Catholic Churches shoudl be required to say the filioque- I mean, if they’re in union with Rome, nominally it should be part of their beliefs…

Error? Not according to your CCC:

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.77 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”,78 for the eternal order of the divine persons in their consubstantial communion implies that the Father, as “the principle without principle”,79 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.80 This legitimate complementarity, provided it does not become rigid, does not affect the identity of faith in the reality of the same mystery confessed.

If you were to go to Rome and look at the Creed as it is inscribed on walls there you would not find the filioque as part of the Creed. When the pope celebrates the Liturgy with the Eastern Churches he omits the Creed. Why should the East be “required” to say what is not a part of the symbolum that was not a) part of their heritage and, b) was not produced by an ecumenical council? While there is union it is not uniformity, nor is it supposed to be.

Deacon Ed

I agree.

"The Holy Father, in the homily he gave in St Peter Basilica on 29 June in the presence of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, expressed a desire that “the traditional doctrine of the Filioque, present in the liturgical version of the Latin Credo, [be clarified] in order to highlight its full harmony with what the Ecumenical Council of Constantinople of 381 confesses in its creed: the Father as the source of the whole Trinity, the one origin both of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.

What is published here is the clarification he has asked for, which has been undertaken by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. It is intended as a contribution to the dialogue which is carried out by the Joint International Commission between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church." (preamble to “The Greek and Latin Traditions regarding the Procession of the Holy Spirit” first published in L’Osservatore Romano Weekly Edition September 20, 1995)

Here is the whole document from the EWTN website.

At the same time, the Filioque, according to Catholic religion, is a Dogma- it is infallible, part of the Deposit of Faith, and binding on all Catholics. Eastern Catholics should say the filioque at the Divine Liturgy because they believe it. Or at least, they should. There have been a lot of pseudo-Eastern "Catholic"s lately- more often than not Eastern Orthodox in everything but name.

Not to say Eastern Catholic Churches oughta be latinized. The thing is, developments in the East have been historically binding in the West (eg the entire Creed sans the filioque), and so developments in the West should be equally binding on Easterners

Phooey on all this Greek philosophy stuff! Let’s just go back to the Apostles’ Creed and be done with it.



The Catholic Church recognizes that the Creed with the Filioque expresses the same faith as the Creed without it. For that reason, and since it is not part of their tradition, the Eastern Catholic Churches are not and should not be required to recite it. Remember, the Filioque was never meant to be binding on the whole Church. It was an addition to the Latin Creed to address a problem faced by the Latin Church. Not only that, but to recite the Filioque in Greek would actually constitute heresy, since the Greek words used alter its true meaning. This is why the Orthodox are so wary of it.

Just some points to ponder:

The Council of Florence, which briefly reunited the Latin and Greek Churches, did not require the Orthodox to adopt the Filioque.

The Popes of the Catholic Church omit the Filioque when concelebrating with Eastern Catholic priests. This is a sign of respect and an acknowledgement of the validity and orthodoxy of their tradition. While there have been some individual Popes who have tried to enforce the Filioque on them, this is not the official position of the Church.

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