An Imposition

Often in discussions of the Filioque clause, it is pointed out by Catholics that Rome does not require Eastern Catholics to recite the clause. From this it is either argued directly or implied that Rome takes a more tolerant and somewhat charitable position in contradistinction to the Orthodox who do not permit its recitation at all. (Adrian Fortescue exemplifies this in his Rome and Constantinople, 23)

But this is not in fact the case. Rome has directly imposed the recitation of the Filioque on Eastern Catholics and attempted to do so with the Orthodox and the Orientals on a good number of occasions.

Pope Nicholas III for example imposed the recitation of the Filioque as did Martin IV and Nicholas IV. Eugenius IV imposed the Filioque on Armenians when they were received by Rome. When Callistus III sent Simon, O.P. to Crete as an Inquisitor he bid him to make sure that the Greeks recited the Filioque. Even Eastern churches in traditionally Latin geographical locations have been required to employ the Filioque. (See Allatae Sunt, sec. 30-31)

This is not to argue that Rome acted inconsistently. On Catholic principles it is permissible for the Pope to so impose creedal additions, specifically when the Pope deems it necessary out of suspicion that those received might not believe the dogma of the Filioque as was the case in the situations given above. The Pope does not require the consultation of bishops, specifically Eastern Catholic bishops to alter the Creed. What is relevant is that the gloss of Rome as more tolerant is certainly undermined along with the assumption that such a situation among Eastern Catholics is permanent and stable. Such is not the case since the Pope can re-impose its recitation.

The fact that the non-recitation of the clause is not a fixed situation helps bring to light the actual conditions of reception to Rome. Consequently tossing out the fact that Rome now wouldn’t require the Orthodox to recite the Creed with the Filioque is really neither here nor there until such time as there is an official and supremely normative statement by Rome that the recitation of the Creed without the clause is forever fixed for Eastern rites.

To do that though would implicitly weaken the theological standing of the dogma of the Filioque. So, I do not expect Rome to make such a move. Persons considering converting to Rome should therefore keep the actual situation before their mind to help them see things as they in fact are, rather than as some might wish them to be.

9 Responses to An Imposition

  1. photios says:

    After looking through my box of stuff, it looks like my mom has packed away at her house–somewhere–my Tech and high school stuff. I do happen to have a Baylor photo on me with all my gear on, so I hope that will suffice. I’ll scan it in later in the week when I find some time and post it up.


  2. ochlophobist says:


    Please post a photo of you in the Texas Tech uniform. I want to see it for my own eyes.

    I am, not by choice (my parents are both alums and my mom, when almost full term prego with me once went around a corner at school and knocked down Archie Griffen, right after he had finished his last season – this is why he sucked in the NFL, because he couldn’t take a hit from me) but by blood, a fan of The Ohio State University. This leaves me with a soft spot for Texas Tech, because I like fans who believe that violence and vandalism are an integral part of the sport.

    Plus, I always imagine that football in west texas is about as close to the heart of the sport as one can get.

    I went to a high school in Ohio that had 800 students. They dressed 125 for home games (that included jv, who dressed for home games). The high school football stadium seated like 4,500 folks. The town it was in, the county seat, had a population of under 5,000. It was a poor appalachian community with a horrible economy. Football took on an enormous importance. I always imagine it to be even more that way in west Texas.

  3. Oh and don’t worry about the “unchristian” charity. I don’t remember it and probably forgave you at the time anyways. Besides, my tenacious and competitive spirit gets the best of me at times.

    I can’t believe its been almost 14 years since I laced up and put on a pair of shoulder pads.

  4. triple347 says:


    I don’t know if you remember me or not, but I have to come to you in sincere repentance and hope that you will bestow forgiveness on me. I no longer have your email address, so I have to make a very private matter public. For that, I apologize. It has been a long time since I talked with you (since you sent out an email in ’06 about financial issues, of which I replied to you that I was now a “cage-fighter”, which never materialized, thank God). If you remember me, you will now that I was going through quite a rough time and was not sure how to deal with the grief that I was going through at the time. It took me a very long time to come to grips with my grief and overcome it. Thankfully God is faithful, even when I was not.

    I often in “Kerygma” displayed an uncharitable attitude for a perceived wrong for which you had every right to, and was in no way wrong. I then proceeded to call you a “Barlaamite” and I offer my sincere apologies for that and any other thing I did to you which was wrong. I am sincerely sorry, and you taught me much about Orthodoxy (I am still “Reformed”, I guess, but if I didn’t go to the church I go to in the small town I live in I would not be), and I will always be grateful for the things you taught me.


    I also talked with you in “kerygma” and did not always displace charity and grace with you as well. I didn’t have the same amount of interaction with you, but I know that I was often un-Christian with you as well, and I ask you forgiveness (on a side note, as a devoted sports fan (and someone who considered coaching when I was still in a nihilistic stage), I am still impressed that someone with your erudition and intelligence was able to run a 4.4 forty and play at Baylor and Arizona(?)).

    Thank you and God bless.


  5. […] by John at the blog Ad Orientem, a wonderful Orthodox blog I follow regularly. John comments on a post at the blog Energetic Procession (so yes, this is a blog post about a blog post about a blog post – ain’t the Internet great?) […]

  6. JLB says:

    Sorry, my REAL website should now be linked in my name.

  7. JLB says:


    I want to thank you and Photios for maintaining this excellent blog. I am a (formerly Evangelical) undergrad student in history who assents in mind and heart to Orthodoxy, but has hit a snag in the conversion process (family matters). Your writings here have been wonderful consolation to me, especially for the past couple weeks I spent combing through the archives.

    So, thank you. And I hope that your work situation is better now than it was after the plagiarism fiasco.



  8. Ad Orientem says:

    An excellent and succinct post to which I would add very briefly only two points. First irrespective of whether or not the filioque is recited by the Eastern Rite Catholics ever again they are dogmatically bound to accept its legitimacy. And secondly even if they privately disagree with the filioque; by being Eastern Rite Catholic they are in full communion with people who most emphatically DO believe in it and who recite it daily at mass. I don’t remember if it was you or Daniel who made the very pointed observation a while back…

    “You are who you are in communion with.”

    Either the filioque is heresy (I believe it is) or it is not. If it is not then there is no reason for Eastern Rite Catholics to refuse to recite it. And if it is then they are heretics irrespective of how often or whether they recite it at all.

    Under the mercy,

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