Skip to main content

Is Dogma Important?


Are the Dogmas of the Catholic Church important?

Apparently not.

At least not if it is a 'stumbling block' (read: Archbishop Bugnini) between our separated brethren (read: schismatic & orthodox).

But I'm getting ahead of myself ...

What teaching did the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council approve on this topic:
11. The way and method in which the Catholic faith is expressed should never become an obstacle to dialogue with our brethren. It is, of course, essential that the doctrine should be clearly presented in its entirety. Nothing is so foreign to the spirit of ecumenism as a false irenicism, in which the purity of Catholic doctrine suffers loss and its genuine and certain meaning is clouded.
At the same time, the Catholic faith must be explained more profoundly and precisely, in such a way and in such terms as our separated brethren can also really understand.
Moreover, in ecumenical dialogue, Catholic theologians standing fast by the teaching of the Church and investigating the divine mysteries with the separated brethren must proceed with love for the truth, with charity, and with humility. When comparing doctrines with one another, they should remember that in Catholic doctrine there exists a "hierarchy" of truths, since they vary in their relation to the fundamental Christian faith. Thus the way will be opened by which through fraternal rivalry all will be stirred to a deeper understanding and a clearer presentation of the unfathomable riches of Christ.(34) Source:  UNITATIS REDINTEGRATIO
I would submit that anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the english language will note the bi-polar aspects of this quotation (Blue is True, Lavender is Liberal.).  Sad to say this is typical of the documents and the reason, as stated by Traditionalists (Archbishop Lefebvre et al) and admitted by the Miberal / Lodernists (Cardinal Kasper) that there was conflict in the Council between two determined groups (estimates that I've heard were about 10% each side).  So 'compromise' statements are in the documents.

It is obvious that since the Council the doctrine of the Catholic Church has NOT been clearly presented in its entirety - especially when there is conflict with those involved in the sins of heresy or schism.

A stunning case of this occurred in 2005 when the Ukranian Archeparchy of Canada removed the 'Filioque' from its public recitation of the Creed in its liturgy.

Here's their rationale:
Prompted by the Second Vatican Council, and as part of a comprehensive liturgical renewal in the Ukrainian Catholic Church, the Bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada have determined that the Creed once again be recited in its original form, that is, without the words “and the Son.” 
We do so in full support of the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. 
We do so in support of the Roman Pontiff, who himself has publicly recited the Creed without the filioque on several occasions. In doing so, he gives witness to the Church in general, and to the Ukrainian Catholic Church in particular, that the recitation of the Creed in its original form is without prejudice to the Catholic faith. 
We do so also in a greater desire to renew bonds with our Orthodox sisters and brothers, drawing nearer to that day when we may once again be one as commanded by Jesus Himself: “That they may be one, Father, as You are in me and I am in You” (John 17: 21). (source)
Now it is clear that the recitation of the Creed without the Filioque does not constitute an explicit denial of the Dogma as the truth.

However it is important to note the following two elements:
The Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and from the Son as from a Single Principle through a Single Spiration. (De fide.) 
Since the 9th century, the Greek Orthodox Church has taught that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father alone. A Synod at Constantinople in the year 879, under the Patriarch Photius, rejected the "filioque" of the Latins as heretical.(Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma - Ott, 1954 pg 62)
So in removing the "filioque" from the expression of the faith (as it is implicit), a Catholic who believes the Dogma can say the Nicene Creed with a Schismatic Orthodox who does not.

This is called 'keeping appearances'.  It's like a married couple who, by all outward appearances are still living as man and wife. However, inwardly they are living separate lives.  It is simply a marriage of convenience or as others would put it a 'sham marriage'.

There is no true unity and to allow this to occur leads to indifferentism.

If they can remove the filioque from the Creed, then, people will reason that it couldn't have been that important. This is how culture is changed, by changing the 'artifacts', eventually people's values will be altered and given sufficient time, so will their assumptions.

In the end the Catholics, after sufficient alteration in their liturgy and Creed will become a mess of Protestant (heretical) and Orthodox assumptions.

They will be hybrids.

This hybridation is on going and whenever Catholic Dogma is reasserted it prompts a confused reaction from the Orthodox (schismatic).

In the context of Ukrainian church realities, the ecumenical breadth of the new Catechism of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church (“CUGCC”) can be measured by the attitude of its authors toward Orthodox theology, and specifically to their own Orthodox roots.
At the outset, the very publication of such a document can be said to be an expression of the Eastern theological identity of the UGCC. When the basis of the first section of the 1992 “Catechism of the Catholic Church” is founded upon the so-called “Apostolic” Symbol of Faith, (See Footnote 1) which is accepted only in the Western Church and in the mainstream Protestant Churches, the CUGCC corrects this anti-Orthodox lapse of the Latin Church and makes specific reference to the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Symbol of Faith, which bears an unquestionable universal authority and is acknowledged as the authentic expression of the faith of the Ancient Church not only by Catholics and Orthodox, but even by the majority of the great Protestant denominations.
However, for some reason the creed is given with the “Filioque” addition, even though in brackets. The particular reasons guiding the authors of the CUGCC in making such an ecumenical faux pas toward their Orthodox brothers is truly incomprehensible. It is well-known that this unfortunate addition was one of the main theological reasons of the Great Schism between East and West. This is even more incomprehensible, if we take into account the fact that the Filioque was dropped even in the declaration of the Vatican Congregation of the Faith’s “Dominus Iesus” (See Footnote 2) (2000 AD). It is obvious that the creators of the CUGCC lacked the courage to clearly articulate the truth of the Eastern theological “Monarchy” or “Single Principle” of the Father. (source)
Lastly, to demonstrate the hybridization of Catholics in process we have the following:

The filioque continues to be a matter of concern among theologians interested in ecumenical discussion and, in that regard, it is to be noted—and in the present context it is very significant—that the vast majority of contemporary Western theologians propose that the filioque be dropped from the Creed when it is recited in the mass.22 This proposal is founded upon two bases: (i) the process by which the filioque was added was questionable at best, and (ii) it remains a barrier to the profession of the common Christian faith expressed in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (which all agree did not contain the filioque).23 (source)
So for the Catholics in the pews, will they even notice the change?  Undoubtedly, because they are used to reciting the Filioque in the Creed.  But as the Ukranian Bishops wrote: "Change is oftentimes difficult, yet necessary. " (source)

Here's the question many Traditionalists are right to ask:

Can a hybrid Heretical/Schismatic/Catholic, truly expand the Mystical Body of Christ by passing on the Catholic Faith to their offspring and by bringing others into the Faith?

Well, if a Ukranian Catholic manages to convince an Orthodox Catholic to 'join' the Church and they refuse to utter the 'Filioque' - are they really Catholic.

The answer is no.



According to Rorate, Doctrine and Clarity are important to the Evangelicals (except Tony Palmer, RIP later).  The Church gives up its treasures and what happens, the Evangelicals want them to give up the Truth.


  1. You don't understand the Eastern Catholic position at all in your critique of the Filioque. They have a different understanding of the Trinity than we do, but just as orthodox. They focus on different things. It is getting tiring hearing that they are diluting dogma! If you read the original Greek, you'll see that it would be heretical to add "and the Son," since the word proceed in the Greek has a far different meaning than the Latin procedit!

    1. The argument is simple: Either the filioque is Dogma or it is not.

      The following is a Dogma of the Catholic Church:

      The Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and from the Son as from a Single Principle through a Single Spiration

      So I think we can set that particular 'the think the same thing we do but differently' argument.

      If they did - then they'd have no problem accepting the filoque - so let's set aside baseless arguments.

      Referencing the greek is a non sequitor, as the creed included the filioque specifically to clarify the Dogma.


    2. Relying on the Catholic Encyclopedia is a bad way to help your evidence. There is so much it got wrong.

      And you just don't understand that the Eastern Catholics have a different understanding of the Trinity, though not opposed to the Latin.

      Are you saying the Eastern Fathers, like St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory Nazianzus, etc. are wrong to say that the Father is the origination of the Son and the Holy Ghost?! Because that is what they are saying in the Greek! The Latin version of procedit is a different meaning from the Greek word for proceeds! If you don't believe so, you better see the original Greek version, since it never added it! You are really just imposing Latin ideas onto the Greeks, who just as well have a misunderstanding of what we mean by Filioque!

  2. BTW, would you say Fr. Fortescue was wrong here:

    In this deplorable story we notice the following points. It is easier to understand how a schism continues than how it began. Schisms are easily made; they are enormously difficult to heal. The religious instinct is always conservative; there is always a strong tendency to continue the existing state of things. At first the schismatics were reckless innovators; then with the lapse of centuries their cause seems to be the old one; it is the Faith of the Fathers. Eastern Christians especially have this conservative instinct strongly. They fear that reunion with Rome would mean a betrayal of the old Faith, of the Orthodox Church, to which they have clung so heroically during all these centuries. One may say that the schism continues mainly through force of inertia.

    In its origin we must distinguish between the schismatical tendency and the actual occasion of its outburst. But the reason of both has gone now. The tendency was mainly jealousy caused by the rise of the See of Constantinople. That progress is over long ago. The last three centuries Constantinople has lost nearly all the broad lands she once acquired. There is nothing the modern Orthodox Christian resents more than any assumption of authority by the oecumenical patriarch outside his diminished patriarchate. The Byzantine see has long been the plaything of the Turk, wares that he sold to the highest bidder. Certainly now this pitiful dignity is no longer a reason for the schism of nearly 100,000,000 Christians. Still less are the immediate causes of the breach active. The question of the respective rights of Ignatius and Photius leaves even the Orthodox cold after eleven centuries; and Caerularius’s ambitions and insolence may well be buried with him. Nothing then remains of the original causes.

    There is not really any question of doctrine involved. It is not a heresy, but a schism. The Decree of Florence made every possible concession to their feelings. There is no real reason why they should not sign that Decree now. They deny papal infallibility and the Immaculate Conception, they quarrel over purgatory, consecration by the words of institution, the procession of the Holy Ghost, in each case misrepresenting the dogma to which they object. It is not difficult to show that on all these points their own Fathers are with those of the Latin Church, which asks them only to return to the old teaching of their own Church.

    That is the right attitude towards the Orthodox always. They have a horror of being latinized, of betraying the old Faith. One must always insist that there is no idea of latinizing them, that the old Faith is not incompatible with, but rather demands union with the chief see which their Fathers obeyed. In canon law they have nothing to change except such abuses as the sale of bishoprics and the Erastianism that their own better theologians deplore. Celibacy, azyme bread, and so on are Latin customs that no one thinks of forcing on them. They need not add the Filioque to the Creed; they will always keep their venerable rite untouched. Not a bishop need be moved, hardly a feast (except that of St. Photius on 6 Feb.) altered. All that is asked of them is to come back to where their Fathers stood, to treat Rome as Athanasius, Basil, Chrysostom treated her. It is not Latins, it is they who have left the Faith of their Fathers. There is no humiliation in retracing one’s steps when one has wandered down a mistaken road because of long-forgotten personal quarrels. They too must see how disastrous to the common cause is the scandal of the division. They too must wish to put an end to so crying an evil. And if they really wish it the way need not be difficult. For, indeed, after nine centuries of schism we may realize on both sides that it is not only the greatest it is also the most superfluous evil in Christendom.

    Sorry, but this article seems to stem from a Latin superiority complex, although perhaps it is unconscious.

    1. You have missed the point. It is not about forcing the ortho's to say the filioque. It is about removing the filioque from the Latin Creed.

      Secondly, you need to read the whole quote carefully:
      It is not difficult to show that on all these points their own Fathers are with those of the Latin Church, which asks them only to return to the old teaching of their own Church.

      1. If they accept the Dogma by returning to the Faith of their Fathers - no biggy.
      2. As noted earlier, the Filioque is implicit in the Creed they recite - again no biggy.
      3. Forcing Roman Catholics (Ukranian and otherwise) to drop the Filioque introduces an ambiguity: Do they no longer belive it?


    2. And I am saying again that you're confusing two Truths: the Filioque refers only to the Father and the Son in the context of a collective procession, whereas the Greek version refers to the Father as the source of the Son and the Holy Ghost, which doesn't contradict Catholic Truth! The Greeks, in their schism, believed the Latins made heresy by saying the Father and the Son are the double origination of the Holy Ghost, which is wrong to say the least!

      It would be nice if you would actually read the Fathers, not just speaking past me in just quoting theology manuals!

  3. For example, St. Maximos the Confessor clearly saw no problem with the theology behind Filioque. At the height of the Monothelite controversy, when the Roman curia issued its profession of faith to the imperial court of Constantinople, employing the Greek term "ekporeusis," but then including "and the Son," the Byzantines were understandably scandalized, since the expression in Greek obviously (though unintentionally) implied two Causes for the Spirit. However, St. Maximos came to Rome’s defense, writing …

    "Those of the Queen of cities (Constantinople) have attacked the synodal letter of the present very holy Pope, not in the case of all the chapters that he has written in it, but only in the case of two of them. One relates to the theology [of the Trinity] and according to this, says 'the Holy Spirit also has his ekporeusis from the Son.' The other deals with the Divine incarnation. With regard to the first matter, they (the Romans) have produced the unanimous evidence of the Latin Fathers, and also of Cyril of Alexandria …On the basis of these texts, they have shown that they have not made the Son the Cause of the Spirit --they know in fact that the Father is the only Cause of the Son and the Spirit, the one by begetting and the other by procession --but that they have manifested the procession through Him [the Son] and have thus shown the unity and identity of the essence. They (the Romans) have therefore been accused of precisely those things of which it would be wrong to accuse them, whereas the former (the Byzantines) have been accused of those things it has been quite correct to accuse them (i.e., Monothelitism). In accordance with your request I have asked the Romans to translate what is peculiar to them (the 'also from the Son') in such a way that any obscurities that may result from it will be avoided. But since the practice of writing and sending (the synodal letters) has been observed, I wonder whether they will possibly agree to doing this. It is true, of course, that they cannot reproduce their idea in a language and in words that are foreign to them as they can in their mother-tongue, just as we too cannot do." (Epistle to Marinus, PG 91, 136.)

    As you can see, there are quite big differences when translating from Greek to Latin! If you ever added "and the Son" to the Greek version, it would be heretical! Period.

  4. That said, I agree that the Eastern Orthodox have overreacted to the Filioque, and must accept that the Western addition doesn't contradict their Creed, provided the correct understanding, and must also refuse any serious errors on this issue.

  5. Paul,
    I wasn't speaking past you - I was making a distinction about the core issue as I see it.

    The distinction is:
    1. The Dogma is as I quoted it.
    2. The suppression of the article from the Creed enables an ambiguity.

    If the Eastern Orthodox accept the Filioque with the meaning ascribed by the Church - irregardless of language barrier - then there isn't really a problem with leaving the Filioque in the Creed is there?



Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Thirty Days Prayer to Our Lady -

Providence has cast this prayer in my path twice in the last week.  I decided to post it here in order to have a copy handy.


Source Intro Prayer

With the condition of affairs in the cultural, political and physical world in a state of disarray we enter Lent - Ash Wednesday - February 25th - 2004 - more compelled then ever to pursue, diligently and faithfully, our personal road to holiness. It is a long, difficult path each of us treads, however, we do know the journey can be sweeter and more blessed if we travel it with others. Jesus has told us: "Wherever two or more are gathered in my name, I am with you." And there are many other biblical passages, as well, that urge us to love and help one another.

A 'Thirty Day Prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary ' was said by many Catholics during troubled times in their lives up until Vatican II. While looking through old stored away boxes, I came across a small white prayer book of the kind give…

Homily vs Sermon

Something that I've noticed is that Modern Catholics use the phrase 'Homily' instead of 'Sermon'.

I've often wondered about this difference.

Here's what I found

Catholic Encyclopedia (1910) Homily:
...Since Origen's time homily has meant, and still means, a commentary, without formal introduction, division, or conclusion, on some part of Sacred Scripture, the aim being to explain the literal, and evolve the spiritual, meaning of the Sacred Text.  ...
Wikipedia Sermon::
A sermon is an oration, lecture, or talk by a member of a religious institution or clergy. Sermons address a scriptural, theological, religious, or moral topic, usually expounding on a type of belief, law, or behavior within both past and present contexts. Elements of the sermon often include exposition, exhortation, and practical application.  
Catholic Encyclopedia (1910) Sermon:
As to preaching at the present day, we can clearly trace the influence, in many respects, of Schola…