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27-08-2007, 09:02 PM,
Dear Peter,

Sorry to hear that your attempts at a family day out were sabotaged in such a manner; I trust that the rest of the holiday was better.

A Catholic friend of mine recommends this site:
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as a good explanation of Catholic teaching. It seems a little simplistic, but is clear and gives us a good idea of what the Catholics mean.

In Christ,

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
31-08-2007, 08:54 AM,
The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church states:
"The eternal origin of the Spirit is not unconnected with the Son's
origin: 'The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is God, one
and equal with the Father and the Son, of the same substance,
and also of the same nature...Yet he is not called the Spirit of the
Father alone... but the Spirit of both the Father and the Son'
(Council of Toledo VI, 638AD). The Creed of the Church from the
Council of Constantinople confesses: 'With the Father and the Son,
he is worshipped and glorified.' (Nicene Creed)"
The Catechism then quotes the Council of Florence (1439): 'The Holy Spirit
is eternally from the Father and Son; he has his nature and his subsistence
at once from the Father and the Son. He proceeds eternally from both as from one principle and through one spiration... And, since the Father has through generation given to the only-begotten Son everything that belongs to the Father except being Father, the Son has also eternally from the Father, from whom he is eternally born, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son.'
The nub of the problem is that, whether it realizes it or not, the Roman Catholic Church wants to have it both ways. If the Holy Spirit is "one and equal with the Father and the Son," how can the Spirit be "the Spirit of both the Father and the Son", how can the Spirit proceed from both the Father and the Son "through one spiration"? The Catholic Church seems to suggest that the Son was begotten first, and then, in one united breath, both Father and Son exhaled the Spirit. This implies that only the Father and Son work in concert with each other, that the Spirit is a subordinate servant, like an angel. Orthodoxy, however, states that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all work in concert with each other.
The Catholic Catechism also states that whilst the Eastern (ie Orthodox) tradition affirms that the Spirit comes from the Father through the Son,
(we are referred to John15:26), the Western tradition "expresses first the consubstantial communion between Father and Son,by saying that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. It says this 'legitimately and with good reason' (Council of Florence, 1439), for the eternal order of the
divine persons in their consubstantial communion implies that the Father is ' the principle without principle' (Council of Florence, 1442), 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 (Council of Lyons II, 1274)."
Ignoring the phrase "legitimately and with good reason" as merely meaning, "we're right because we say so," the above statement clearly contradicts itself. If the Father is 'the principle without principle', and "the first origin of the Spirit", how can the Father also be "with the Son the first origin of the Spirit", how can the Father also be "with the Son, the single principle from which the Holy Spirit proceeds"? Which is it to be? And why, if the Spirit is "one and equal with the Father and the Son", does the Catechism refer to "consubstantial communion" between Father and Son and not also between Father and Spirit and Son and Spirit? The Catechism displays what Orthodoxy worries about, that the Filioque lowers the status of the Holy Spirit from co-equal Person in the Trinity to a servant of a Holy Duality.
John15:26 states:
"But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send you from
the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the
Father, he shall testify of me."
Thus Christ Himself unambiguously states that He will send the Spirit "from the Father", that the Spirit "proceedeth from the Father."
Because most of the other references to the Holy Spirit in the Catechism agree with Orthodoxy, it would seem that with patient, prayerful,
tactful discussion, an agreement could be reached with the RC Church over the Filioque. Am I being naive in hoping for this?

Kirk Yacoub
31-08-2007, 05:33 PM,
Aquinas writes in some detail on the issue of the filioque here...

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and I have to say that I do not find his comments immediately Orthodox, not least because he condemns the Orthodox position as heresy and does not merely say that it is saying the same thing.

I am sure that the Cathechism might take a more eirenic and ecumenical tone but it does still seem to me that there is some justification in considering that there might be a different ontological foundation to the two positions.

The reason I liked the paper I referenced earlier in this thread is because the learned author also considers that the positions do have a difference that is more than semantic, but asks whether the difference is too great to be surmounted.

01-09-2007, 08:40 AM,
Having thought a bit more about the RC Catechism's assertions of the Filioque, and having thought more about the contradictions inherent in the text of the Catechism itself, I'm beginning to think that a/ most Catholics do not understand what is being said when they say that Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son (Catholics I talk to are thinking in a completely different channel), and b/ the Catechism itself often seems to be a "compromise" document trying to stitch together elements that do not really belong with each other.
Anyway, given that the main objection to the Filioque is that it diminishes the role of the Holy Spirit, relegating Him from being a co-equal member of the Holy Trinity to that of a subordinate servant of the Holy Duet of Father and Son, then it is obviously worth while examining the writings of Orthodox Church Fathers who, though not dealing directly with the Filioque issue, explain the nature and role of the Holy Spirit in a way that shows the real, dynamic equality of the Spirit with Father and Son.
Mor Moses Bar Kepho (d901) the Syriac Orthodox Bishop of Mosul wrote a
lengthy "Exposition of the Mysteries" in which he emphasises that the Holy Spirit is called Holy "because there are many spirits", and that, since there also other holy spirits (the angels), then the reality of who the Holy Spirit is must be made precise. The Holy Spirit is "the Lord, the life giver.
That is: this Spirit is Lord; and moreover, He bestows life on all the angels, and on all that live. Equal in essence: that is, He also has another
property which distinguishes Him from all other holy spirits. And what is this? And we say, that He is equal in essence and in Godhead to the Father and the Son..."
That the Holy Spirit is no ordinary agent or messenger is confirmed when Moses Bar Kepho explains the role of the Holy Spirit in the Incarnation of the Logos and in the transformation of the elements during the Liturgy.
"Concerning the calling of the Holy Spirit.
It is right that we enquire here concerning the Holy Spirit, why He comes
down upon the bread and wine which are set upon the altar. We know that
the Son comes down upon the bread and wine and is united to them
hypostatically: but the Holy Spirit, why does He come down? We say, for this reason: as He came down into the womb of the Holy Virgin Mary... and made the body which was from the Virgin the body of God the Word,
so He comes down upon the bread and wine which are upon the altar and makes them that body and blood of God the Word which was from the Virgin. Again we say thus: just as in the case of the Holy Virgin Mary the Father willed that the Son should become incarnate, that the Son came down into the womb of the Virgin and became,and the Spirit also came down
into the womb of the Virgin and caused the Son to be incarnate of her, so here also in the case of the altar the Father wills that the Son be united
hypostatically to the bread and wine that they become His body and blood, so the Son comes down that He may be hypostatically united to them, and the Spirit also comes down that He may unite them to Him, even as He caused Him to be incarnate of the Virgin."
To further underline the vivifying activity of the Holy Spirit, Moses Bar Kepho explains why, during the Liturgy, the priest makes the sign of the Cross three times over the transformed bread and wine:
The first time to "make known that the Father indeed wills, that the
Son consents, and the Spirit sanctifies. By the second time.. that the
Father wills, the Son consents, and the Spirit completes. By the third
time... that the Father wills, the Son consents, and the Spirit perfects."
It is obvious here that the Holy Spirit cannot be a subordinate agent. More precisely Moses Bar Kepho shows that while the Son consents (submits)
to the will of the Father the Spirit sanctifies, completes and perfects the will of the Father, proceeding, therefore, not from both the Father and the Son, but from the Father alone.

Kirk Yacoub

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