When was the Filioque clause added to the creed and what is the reason for that? Did the eastern fathers believe in the filioque?


2 Answers 2


First, to clarify: The Filioque refers to the Latin phrase "and the son," to describe the internal "economy" of the Trinity. It describes the Holy Spirit as proceeding from the Father and the Son, as opposed to from the Father only. The Council of Nicaea [325] required only that a believer stipulate "I believe in the Holy Spirit." The Council of Constantinople [381] described the Holy Spirit as "proceeding from the Father."

The answer to the question "When was the Filioque clause added to the creed?" depends on whether one is speaking of individual church fathers, local churches, papal usage, Catholic liturgy, or ecumenical councils. Several Western Fathers used the clause prior to 381. The Council of Seleucia-Ctesiphon in Persia [c. 410] reportedly used it as well. However, most Eastern churches and teachers abided by the ruling of 381, insisting that only another ecumenical council could change it.

In the 9th century, Pope Leo III used the Filioque, stating that "the Holy Spirit is Complete God begotten of the Father and the Son." It was also endorsed by the Council of Aachen in 809 convened by Charlemagne and governing the practice of the churches under his sovereignty. However, this usage offended Eastern churchmen, who considered the Filioque to violate the teaching of the ecumenical council of 381. The issue became a major international controversy when Patriarch Photius of Constantinopol accused the western church of heresy for using it and attempted to effectively ban its use. In 867 one of several councils held under Photius' leadership excommunicated Pope Nicholas I for using the Filoque and declared the teaching anathema.

The Filioque became a formal part of the Latin rite in Rome in 1014 under Pope Benedict VIII. The issue became the crucial theological question of the East-West Schism

The Filioque clause was generally rejected by the Eastern fathers, especially after 381. The year 1014 is a good a date as any to understand when it became part of Catholic tradition, although Leo III's endorsement in the early 9th century is also a candidate.

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    So is your answer "yes, the Catholic Church changed the Nicene Creed"?
    – user54757
    Commented Aug 13, 2022 at 15:31
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    The question was "When was the Filioque clause added to the creed?" But I certainly think that the RCC added it, since it's not in the original. This is technically not quite the same as changing it. The Nicene Creed is still the creed of 325. What the RCC recites is usually called the Apostles Creed. Let me say that in recent years there have has been progress between Catholic and Orthodox leaders about this, in the sense that they no longer condemn each other on account of it. Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 15:23
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    This is a very studious answer, +1 Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 22:56
  • @SupportiveDante sorry for the delay in responding. The Nicene Creed is still the Nicene Creed. But yes the RCC added the filioque. Previously, in 381 Council of Constantinople added something when it described the HS as "proceeding from the Father." The Nicene Creed doesn't speak of the HS as "proceeding"... only that "I believe in the Holy Spirit." Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 21:23

Going to add onto @Dan Fefferman's comment from November 22, 2022 at 21:33.

Yes the East added to the creed in 381, there was no rule against councils doing this, and this first council of constantinople became the second ecumenical council, everyone accepted the change. Then, the third ecumenical council, the council of ephesus in 431 stated that nobody can alter the creed. Everyone agreed to this third ecumenical council.

So in short, the East got upset because everyone agreed via the third ecumenical council not to alter the creed. The only thing that could allow for a change in the creed would be another ecumenical council, which never came because for a council to be ecumenical it has to be universally accepted and the East rejected the western alterations to the creed.

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    – agarza
    Commented Mar 15 at 14:36

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