There have been many attempts from among both Catholic1 and Eastern Orthodox2 theologians to revisit the theology behind the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son in light of recent ecumenical dialogue in the past decades following the Second Vatican Council. One of the leading figure important in the dispute on the Latin theology of filioque is St. Thomas Aquinas, respected by both Catholics3 and Eastern Orthodox4.

Among the Latin fathers there are two school of thoughts on filioque:

  1. Monarchical filioque is popularized by St. Anselm of Canterbury and Bl. Duns of Scotus. Whereby the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father alone is constituted to be principaliter and immediate while the procession through the Son is secondary and mediate.

  2. Diarchical filioque is a popular view among neo-Thomists who reread the procession of the Holy Spirit to be identical from both the Father and the Son. There is no distinction in the procession itself, with the sole distinction is only in respect to the two spirators as they are distinct from one another.

While there is no dispute that Thomas was advancing St. Augustine's filioque, a disagreement in regards to whether or not his filioque is monarchical versus diarchical remain unresolved. Which of these two camps did he fall into?

1 Rev. Dr. Christiaan Kappes the dean of Ss. Cyril and Methodius Metropolitan Seminary of Byzantine Catholic Church in Pittsburgh has been one among many who popularized a renewal of interest in the Thomist-Scotist debate on the filioque within Catholicism and on its impact on Catholic–Orthodox dialogue.

2 Dr. David Gilbert, an Eastern Orthodox scholar has been one among many who in the past decade is revisiting the Palamite solution on the theology behind the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son in terms of energetic procession.

3 Recognized as a Doctor of the Church in the Catholic Church.

4 Highly praised by Gennadius II Scholarius, a 15th century Greek Patriarch of Constantinople, a Byzantine Thomist, a prophet, and a saint venerated on August 25th in the Greek Orthodox church. "Would O excellent Thomas that you had not been born in the West. Then you would not have needed to defend the deviations of the church there ... you would have been as perfect in theology as you are in ethics." Oeuvres Complètes de Georges Scholarios, eds. Petit, Sidéridès, Jugie (Paris 1928–1936) vol VI, 1.

  • 2
    When your footnotes are three times the length of the question that's a little problematic. It's distracting and muddles what the emphasis is. I see no reason for your first four footnotes, while you give no references or quotes whatsoever to the most important issue: this disagreement over monarchical/diarchical that you claim has recently resurfaced!
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 8:18
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    The body of your question ends in a question mark but grammatically does not actually ask a question. As noted by @curiousdannii the effort to footnote this has actually distracted from what the question even is and what sort of material you are looking for.
    – Caleb
    Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 14:01
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    @curiousdannii the footnotes are lengthy but they are relevant. I expanded footnote 4 to substantiate the claim that Gennadius II Scholarius is venerated as saint and he praised St. Aquinas. The disagreement was an old debate between Thomist-Scotist. In 1999 the Vatican released a document as an authoritative clartification on filioque. That document since then has been criticized by neo-Thomists as betraying the intent of St Aquinas for not emphasizing the participatory faculty of the Son as from one principle with the Father. Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 15:04
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    @curiousdannii do you have any recommendation as to how to frame my question and/or the footnotes? Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 15:17
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    The body of your question still has no questions, only statements.
    – Caleb
    Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 17:49

3 Answers 3


Before we are exploring whether or not St. Thomas of Aquinas deny the Holy Spirit proceeds immediately from the Father alone, firstly it is important to establish that by the doctrine of the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son no Catholics deny the Father alone to be the principaliter of the Holy Spirit. Any Catholics associated the Father together with the Son as the one principle of the Holy Spirit without denying that the Father alone is the principaliter1 while the Son is a principle2, a distinction developed by St. Augustine of Hippo.

Therefore, the Father alone is called author [of both the Son and theSpirit], even though the Son be called principle [of the Spirit] conceptually. [I]deo solus pater auctor dicitur, quamvis etiam filius principium dicatur notionaliter.

St. Thomas of Aquinas, Sentences I:d29:q1(a1).

There are two texts from Summa Theologia that we will be focusing primarily. The first one is from the first book on question 36 at article 2,

For when the Lord says, "No one knoweth the Son, but the Father," the idea of the Son knowing Himself is not excluded. So therefore when we say that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father, even though it be added that He proceeds from the Father alone, the Son would not thereby be at all excluded.

St. Thomas of Aquinas, Summa Theologia, I:36:ii(a1).

In here we find a positive affirmation from the Angelic Doctor whereby there will not be any theological difficulty "even though it be added that [the Holy Spirit] proceeds from the Father alone." He is especially respected by his opponents particularly because he honor the interlocutors by representing them with their best arguments. He did this by showing that no contradiction can be found by those insisting that the Holy Spirit in a sense is eternally proceeding from the Father alone and in another sense to be from the Son as later will be shown to be clear.

To put to rest the two extremities among his interlocutors who emphasized the involvement of the Son in the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit at the expense of the sole monarchy of the Father and against those who attributed the procession from the Son in the economy alone to combat diarchy, Aquinas maintain an important distinction. A distinction that was introduced by Augustine to keep the involvement of the Son in the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit in balance with the sole monarchy of the Father who alone is the principaliter of the Holy Spirit. The second important text that explicitly address this distinction is from the same question 36 at article 3,

So, if we consider in the Father and the Son the power whereby the spirate (virtus qua spirant) the Holy Spirit, there is no mean (medium), for this is one and the same power (virtus est una et eadem). But if we consider the persons themselves spirating (spirantes), then, as the Holy Spirit proceeds both (communiter procedat) from the Father and from the Son, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father immediately (immediate), as from him, and mediately (mediate), as from the Son; and thus he is said to proceed from the Father through the Son (per filium), which has the same meaning.

ibid, ST, I:36:iii(a1).

In this second text, he addressed two important points. The first is the unity of father/son as the one spirator of their Holy Spirit. This is an important point that shows the unity not shared by father/spirit or son/spirit. This unity between the Father and the Son distinguishes the two from their Holy Spirit.3 At the Council of Florence the language "as from one principle" is a reflection of this unitive spiration from the Father and the Son, whereby the Holy Spirit is their Holy Spirit.

The second important point is the crux of the debate whereby he distinguished the immediate procession from the mediate. Had he has in mind that the procession from the Son is identical and in the same sense as from the Father, he would be enforcing the diarchical filioque or the eternal procession immediately from both. The mediation of the Son is a reflection to the fact that the Son is spirating His Spirit as He is receiving Him from the Father, or in another way to see it is that the Father is begetting the Son in order to send His Spirit to rest in the Son. Hence, the spiration of the Holy Spirit is not an after thought but rather inherent in the generation of the Son that He is being begetting so that through the mediation of the Son in that generation the Holy Spirit also proceeding in Him.

To remove any possible misrepresentation or misinterpretation on the doctrine of filioque, St. John Paul II in 1995 commissioned Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity to release an authoritative magisterial statement:

On the basis of Jn. 15:26, this Symbol confesses the Spirit "to ek tou Patros ekporeuomenon" ("who takes his origin from the Father"). The Father alone is the principle without principle (arche anarchos) of the two other persons of the Trinity, the sole source (peghe) of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, therefore, takes his origin from the Father alone (ek monou tou Patros) in a principal, proper, and immediate manner.

The Greek Fathers and the whole Christian Orient speak, in this regard, of the "Father's Monarchy," and the Western tradition, following St. Augustine, also confesses that the Holy Spirit takes his origin from the Father principaliter, that is, as principle (De Trinitate XV, 25, 47, P.L. 42, 1094-1095). In this sense, therefore, the two traditions recognize that the "monarchy of the Father" implies that the Father is the sole Trinitarian Cause (Aitia) or Principle (Principium) of the Son and the Holy Spirit.

This origin of the Holy Spirit from the Father alone as Principle of the whole Trinity is called ekporeusis by Greek tradition, following the Cappadocian Fathers. St. Gregory of Nazianzus, the Theologian, in fact, characterizes the Spirit's relationship of origin from the Father by the proper term ekporeusis, distinguishing it from that of procession (to proienai) which the Spirit has in common with the Son. "The Spirit is truly the Spirit proceeding (proion) from the Father, not by filiation, for it is not by generation, but by ekporeusis" (Discourse 39. 12, Sources chretiennes 358, p. 175). Even if St. Cyril of Alexandria happens at times to apply the verb ekporeusthai to the Son's relationship of origin from the Father, he never uses it for the relationship of the Spirit to the Son (c.f. Commentary on St. John, X, 2, P.G. 74, 910D; Ep 55, P.G. 77, 316D, etc.). Even for St. Cyril, the term ekporeusis as distinct from the term "proceed" (proienai), can only characterize a relationship of origin to the principle without principle of the Trinity: the Father.

That is why the Orthodox Orient has always refused the formula to ek tou Patros kai tou Uiou ekporeuomenon [an unwisely proposed translation of "who proceeds from the Father and the Son"] and the Catholic Church has refused the addition kai tou Uiou [and the Son] to the formula ek to Patros ekporeumenon in the Greek text of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Symbol, even in its liturgical use by Latins. ...

The doctrine of the Filioque must be understood and presented by the Catholic Church in such a way that it cannot appear to contradict the Monarchy of the Father nor the fact that he is the sole origin (arche, aitia) of the ekporeusis of the Spirit. ...

We are presenting here the authentic doctrinal meaning of the Filioque on the basis of the Trinitarian faith of the Symbol professed by the second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople. We are giving this authoritative interpretation, while being aware of how inadequate human language is to express the ineffable mystery of the Holy Trinity, one God, a mystery which is beyond our words and our thoughts.

PCPCU, The Father as the Source of the Whole Trinity: The Procession of the Holy Spirit in Greek and Latin Traditions (1995). Emphasis by the authors.

In 2003 the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops published an addendum to earlier 1995 Clarification on the Doctrine of Filioque,

No clear record exists of the process by which the word Filioque was inserted into the Creed of 381 in the Christian West before the sixth century. ... None of these writers, however, makes the Spirit’s mode of origin the object of special reflection; all are concerned, rather, to emphasize the equality of status of all three divine persons as God, and all acknowledge that the Father alone is the source of God’s eternal being. ...

Much of the difference between the early Latin and Greek traditions on this point is clearly due to the subtle difference of the Latin procedere from the Greek ekporeuesthai: as we have observed, the Spirit’s “coming forth” is designated in a more general sense by the Latin term, without the connotation of ultimate origin hinted at by the Greek. The Spirit’s “procession” from the Son, however, is conceived of in Latin theology as a somewhat different relationship from his “procession” from the Father, ...

[T]he Catholic Church, following a growing theological consensus, and in particular the statements made by Pope Paul VI, declare that the condemnation made at the Second Council of Lyons (1274) of those “who presume to deny that the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son” is no longer applicable.

USCCB, The Filioque: A Church Dividing Issue?: An Agreed Statement (2013).

Expanding upon its statement 'all acknowledge that the Father alone is the source of God’s eternal being,' it affirms that '[t]he Spirit’s “procession” from the Son, however, is conceived of in Latin theology as a somewhat different relationship from his “procession” from the Father.'

In regards to Medieval fathers, Dennis Ngien wrote:

Thus the filioque, far from dividing the Godhead into two separate sources, safeguards its fundamental unity. Even though the Spirit does not proceed from the Son in the same way as from the Father, it is vitally necessary that we name the Father and the Son together in affirming his procession; otherwise we might exclude the Spirit from the ontologically fundamental unity. Dennis Ngien, Apologetic for Filioque in Medieval Theology, 31-2.

While there is only one spiration the procession is differentiated between immediate from the source and mediate through the channel, similar to how water propagate from the fountain through the river.4 St. Anselm of Canterbury says:

The Son and the Holy Spirit have their being from the Father—but each in a different way: one by generation, the other by procession, so that they are thus distinct from one another. ... For even if for no other reason were the Son and the Holy Spirit distinct, this alone would suffice.

St. Anselm of Canterbury, De Processione Spiritus Sancti, I

1 The Father as the principle without principle in Latin is principium non de principio.

2 The Son is a principle from the principle, in Latin is principium de principio.

3 Because the Holy Spirit does not have the property to spirate, He has no paternal/filial namesake but rather called as a neuter common to the Father and the Son as their Holy Spirit.

4 Ss. John of Damascus and Anselm of Canterbury illustrated the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father through the Son with an analogy of water flow from the spring through the river to the lake.

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    It would be helpful if we integrate the Wisdom inspired to St.Kolbe on "quasi incarnate" as it will fully defined John14:16 and link it with St.Liguori's teaching on the "another Advocate". There lies the distinction of the type of the role of Holy Spirit played. The Eastern Orthodox was correct but the West was precise as they pointed to "another Advocate" proceeding from the prayer of glorified God-Man Jesus request and the Father abiding the request. Unlike the Holy Spirit that descend from Jesus in Baptism which is a direct act from the Father alone. Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 2:46

I believe that St Augustine falls in the second category closer to the position of Aquinas. He speaks about the procession being from Father and Son as one and not some passing from the Father through the Son.

"...it must be admitted that the Father and the Son are a Beginning of the Holy Spirit, not two Beginnings; but as the Father and Son are one God, and one Creator, and one Lord relatively to the creature, so are they one Beginning relatively to the Holy Spirit...."


"...God the Father alone is He from whom the Word is born, and from whom the Holy Spirit principally proceeds. And therefore I have added the word principally, because we find that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son also. But the Father gave Him this too, not as to one already existing, and not yet having it; but whatever He gave to the only-begotten Word, He gave by begetting Him. Therefore He so begat Him as that the common Gift should proceed from Him also, and the Holy Spirit should be the Spirit of both....*


"He has also, that from Him too proceeds the Holy Spirit; and hence the Holy Spirit has from the Father Himself, that He should proceed from the Son also, as He proceeds from the Father.


But the Holy Spirit does not proceed from the Father into the Son, and from the Son proceed to sanctify the creature, but proceeds at once from both; although the Father has given this to the Son, that He should proceed, as from Himself, so also from Him.

From the quotes, while St Augustine speaks of the Father also is from whom the Spirit proceeds principally, this indicates not some procession through and out of the Son, but that the Son receives to have the Spirit proceed from Him together as one beginning with the Father. While some of the wording seems like that of Anselm, overall the theology is that of Aquinas.


However, there is one caveat in that it can be argued that St Augustine, while establishing an eternal ability of the Spirit to proceed from the Son as from the Father, does not conceive of that procession occurring other than in the economy of salvation.

"For the Spirit is a gift eternally, but a thing that has been given in time."

And also:

"He was already a gift also before He was given. But if He does not proceed unless when He is given, and assuredly could not proceed before there was one to whom He might be given"

And also:

"For there is a difference in meaning between a gift and a thing that has been given. For a gift may exist even before it is given; but it cannot be called a thing that has been given unless it has been given."

  • Thank you Fr. John for your contribution. I will add a few clarification regarding Augustinian eternal filioque in lieu with Palamite eternal manifestation. So that the language "from the Son" can be shown to be intrinsically monarchical rather than dyarchical as popularized by neo-Thomists. Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 23:23
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    Patrick, is this intended to be a comment on Adithia Kusno's answer, or a stand alone answer to the question posed? Welcome to Christianity.SE. Please take the tour and visit the help center to see how an SE Q&A site is not a discussion forum. If you can revise this material so that it supports an answer to the question as asked (be it yes or no) it will be better received. The question seems to be about where Aquinas stood on the topic, not St Augustine. Commented Mar 31, 2019 at 0:58
  • Fr.John don't you think St.Liguori's understanding of John14:16 is the missing link from St.Augustine & St.Thomas teaching? St.Liguori's teaching the "another Advocate" is the Theotokos & the Holy Spirit that proceeded from the Father & the Glorified Son is the Spirit of Created Wisdom in Proverbs8:22, that's why it was described as a Holy Spirit with no authority of it's own and only will reveal things to glorify the Son.It is a Holy Spirit liken to the Logos who comes with a temporal mission although co-substantial with the Father but with less authority? Its the Spirit of Created Wisdom. Commented Mar 31, 2019 at 1:05

Did St. Thomas of Aquinas deny the Holy Spirit proceeds immediately from the Father alone?

The answer is No.

St.Thomas Aquinas understanding is more focus on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit that will defined it's role on every mankind. It is somehow distinguished as the Holy Spirit that proceeded from the "Love of the Father and the Son from eternity". And the Holy Spirit that proceeded from the First Act of Mediation of the God-Man Jesus to the Abba Father.

A good way to understand St.Thomas understanding of the Holy Spirit is his teaching on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Link below is St.Thomas articles related to the Holy Spirit as the Gifts poured into humanity.

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit according to Thomas Aquinas https://www.pathsoflove.com/blog/2008/11/gifts-of-the-holy-spirit-in-aquinas/

From here lies the distinction of the East & West understanding. They are both correct that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father alone but the West taking into consideration of John14:16 passages spells out the distinction. We are going to unearth the deep mystery hidden in John14:16. Let's ponder..

"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— (John14:16)

We can see here Jesus the God-Man the Incarnated Logos and not the "LOGOS the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity" who exist in eternity are the one requesting or Mediating to the Father. This is the First Act of the God-Man Jesus when He enters the Glory of Heaven. The Abba Father hearing the request of the now Mediator between God and Man hears His petition and now send the Holy Spirit. What type of Holy Spirit did the Abba Father had sent?

What is the difference of the Holy Spirit that descended unto Jesus in the Baptism in the Jordan and the Holy Spirit that proceeds from the prayer request of Jesus to the Abba Father?

The Holy Spirit that descended to Jesus soul since it was begotten not made is the Third Person of the Trinity the Infinite Holy Spirit because Jesus soul's was able to hold Her being co-substantial. The Holy Spirit anointed Jesus humanity to become the First Advocate.

On the other hand, Jesus prayer in John14:16 is also to send the Holy Spirit but this time the recipient are created human being with a finite soul and will not be able to hold the Infinite Holy Spirit in their soul. So, the Holy Spirit that proceeds from the Abba Father upon the request of the First Act of the Mediation of Jesus was described by St.John as has no authority on it's own, a mystery to unfold.

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (John16:12-16)

The Holy Spirit that will descend to become the "another Advocate" and the "Spirit of Truth" has no authority.Also the intriguing part is that all the knowledge that the Spirit will possess will come from Jesus Himself and worst this Spirit will have to glorify Jesus the God-Man.Can we imagine the Holy Spirit who is equal with Jesus and the Father be described in a manner devoid of Power & Authority?

It's like Jesus the God-Man who emptied himself assuming the nature of man with Jesus humanity not possessing "omnipotence".The passage below described how Jesus omnipotence relied only on the revelation to him by God the Father.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.

In closing, the mystery here lies on the difference of Holy Spirit as the Love that proceeded from Son the Second Person and the Abba Father in eternity. And the Holy Spirit that proceeded from the First Act of Mediation of the Jesus the Incarnated Logos and the Abba Father that speaks more of a Gift or a Role of the Holy Spirit.

This mystery is explained simply by the words of St.Alphosus Liguori a Doctor of the Church.

"In his eagerness to show you mercy, God has given His Son as your Advocate. And then to make your confidence even stronger.He has given you "another Advocate". who obtains thru Her prayers whatever She asks. Go to Mary and you will see salvation."

The mystery can be understood in Jesus Humanity possessing a Divine Soul and assumed humanity that can hold the Infinite Holy Spirit as co-substantial that took place in the Baptism in the Jordan. While in the Upper Room the recipient of the Holy Spirit are all finite creature in the Apostles & Disciples with the exception of the Blessed Virgin Mary who possessed a mysterious soul.

The Blessed Virgin Mary pure womb contained the Logos which the Highest Heavens cannot contained.

"The Highest Heavens cannot contained God whom She carried in Her pure womb." (Book of Kings)

Can the mysterious soul of Mary formed in the Eternal Realms of Most Holy Trinity hold the the Third Person the Holy Spirit infinitely? Where does the Holy Spirit resides in Mary?

The answer lies in Her Sorrowful & Immaculate Heart pierced with the Seven Swords.

"Wisdom has built her house; she has carved out her seven pillars."(Proverbs9:1)

To put it in a beautiful phrase on the reflections of this mystery;

Jesus the Begotten Son of the Father "assumed humanity" in descending from Heaven to earth while Mary the beloved daughter of the Abba Father "assumed divinity" in the proclaimed Church Dogma of the Assumption. The "assumed humanity" of Christ had glorified the Handmaid of the Lord to possessed an "assumed divinity" crowned in Heaven as the Soveriegn Queen of Heaven & Earth. (Revelation12:1)

  • "In his eagerness to show you mercy, God has given His Son as your Advocate. And then to make your confidence even stronger.He has given you "another Advocate". who obtains thru Her prayers whatever She asks. Go to Mary and you will see salvation." Have you (through St.Alphosus Liguori) just declared that the "Spirit of Truth", the "Advocate" that is sent by the Father in the name of the Son is Mary?!?! Commented Dec 19, 2020 at 14:37
  • John 16:7b "...But if I go, I will send him to you." Masculine 3rd person singular. Commented Dec 19, 2020 at 14:47

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