10 November 2010


From Edward Siecienski's new book on the Filioque.

"Among the seventh century councils that taught the double procession, the Council of Hatfield (680) is perhaps the most interesting, especially as its president was a Greek, Theodore of Tarsus (602-90).

"According to Bede, when Pope Vitalian (657-72) appointed Theodore to Canterbury, he sent the monk Hadrian with him 'to prevent Theodore from introducing into the Church over which he presided any Greek customs'. Despite these misgivings, Theodore was a sound choice who antimonothelite credentials were impeccable (he had probably been at the Lateran Synod with Maximus the Confessor in 649). AlthoughBede claimed that Theodore convoked the Council of Hatfield 'to preserve the churches from the heresy of Eutyches', there is some evidence that he also used the gathering to respond to Bishop Wilfrid of York, who had been in Rome complainingabout Theodore's governance of the English Church. The Council's statement of faith, which apparently assured Pope Agatho of Theodore's orthodoxy, affirmed the faith of Nicea, Constantinople, Ephesus, Chalcedon, Constantinople II, and the Lateran Suynod of 649, and included belief in 'the Holy Spirit, ineffably proceeding from the Father and the Son, as proclaimed by all whom we have mentioned above, holy apostles, and prophets, and doctors.

"The two questions raised by this confession of faith were how Theodore would have interpreted this teaching, and how long the filioque had been part of the creed in England. While it is possible that Augustine of Canterbury (d609) might have taught the filioque during his mission to England (given his connection with Pope Gregory I), there is also a chance that it was introduced by Theodore's companion Hadrian, an African by birth whose study of Augustine and Fulgentius would likely have included their teaching on the procession. As for Theodore himself, it is possible that he understood the filioque in accordance with the principles Maximus had enunciated years earlier in the Letter to Marinus, especially if (as is likely) the two knew each other in Rome. What is clear is that Pope Agatho, although busy preparing his own statement of faith for the Constantinopolitans (without the filioque), happily received the proceedings of Hatfield, including its confession in the procession of the Holy Spirit from both the Father and the Son."

I wonder how those 'English Orthodox' and 'British Orthodox' who tell us that the Anglo-Saxon Church was "Orthodox", deal with the little matter of Hatfield.


Acolyte4236 said...

If Theodore believed the Filioque, that isn't evidence of its truth or its legitimate place in the tradition per se.

Second, if he was influenced by Maximus on this point, then he probably didn't and his expressions here should be read as expressing a Maximian view, namely of a shinning forth or an energetic procession.

As Catholic scholars have noted (Fr. Garrigues for exampe) the terms are capable of bearing that meaning, given the imprecision of the Latin and some confusion fro the time of Hilary persisted. Later on the terms were codified to exclude that meaning of hypostatic mediation and mean only hypostatic origination.

In any case, these supposed "Orthodox" groups seem to me to be nothing more than sects, of the same standing as the older "Evangelical Orthodox Church." They wear the clothes but lack legitimacy.

Rubricarius said...

Fr. H,

I see you have caught the attention of possible future co-religionists.

I confess my ignorance of not knowing what 'filoque' (sic) is about and would never describe you as 'cummudgeonly' (sic) or even curmudgeonly, not in the least.

With your vast experience, knowledge and wisdom perhaps you will be able to help them with their letters and writing skills.

Re-training Roman clergy to a basic minimum standard - the first task of the Ordinariate?

Joshua said...

Come, come, R., while some of us are pedantic proof-readers and painfully edit our own blog posts, others simply write and post: it sounds rather catty (Patrimony?) to pick at a priest's spelling ability.

B flat said...

Is it altogether impossible that the word Filioque was intruded into Bede's text by a scandalised copyist?

My understanding of the present controversy over this word, is that the theological meaning and interpretation is not a particular problem to Orthodox?Roman Catholic understanding. Far more intractable is the ecclesiological model which, on the one side permits, on the other absolutely prohibits, any tampering with the Profession of Faith established by the first two Ecumenical Councils, and confirmed by each subsequent one. Hatfield seems to intend to do the same, but its wording is at variance; Theodore cannot have been ignorant of the variation, nor unaware of the Greek sensitivity to any such tampering. It seems altogether improbable that he could have agreed to Hatfield's profession as we have it, and believed that it was the same as that handed down by the Church from earliest times. A change in wording implies a change in the sense conveyed by the original.
Ergo, my scepticism about St Theodore's happily concurring with our extant record of the Hatfield Council's profession.

Acolyte4236 said...


I can assure that the Orthodox object to the theology of the clause as well as its illigitimate insertion.

It is also true that Rome knew of say Frankish adherence to the Filioque and opposed it for centuries, all the while turning a blind eye to it when it needed Frankish military support. It is not inconceivable that Rome ignored it for a time, hoping later to bring the Brits into line, as she did with the Franks and icons.

Rubricarius said...

Come of what Joshua?

If the RCC has semi-illiterate clergy in it there is clearly a major problem. Standards for ordination have dropped to the bottom of the cask.

Clearly many men have gone through the system who would not have done in better times.

The Flying Dutchman said...


if you want to talk about "catty", Fr Ray Blake has a really catty post about Queen SofĂ­a of Spain and the way she received Holy Communion from the Pope ("The Queens Protest?").

Cattiness, then, is not the exclusive preserve of the Anglican patrimony.

Rubricarius said...

The Flying Dutchman,

Precisely! Hence my profound irritation. I was disgusted to ready Blake's calumny against Her Majesty The Queen of Spain. Of course he has basically copied his vitriol from a certain American cleric who is notorious for mouthing off other Chrisitians in indirect proportion to his liturgical knowledge.

I have this day made representation to Bishop Kieran and His Excellency the Spanish Ambassador about Blake's putrid remarks about HM Queen Sofia. (He cannot even get The Queens (sic
) Protest right - a Freudian slip perhaps?

B flat said...

In response to Acolyte4236:

I doubt that a debate about the theology of filioque is invited by fr H's post. I stated that the theological meaning is not a particular problem to Orthodox/Roman understanding. Understanding does not entail agreement. When the filioque is "unpacked" by commentary on the Catholic side, great care seems to be taken to avoid trespass on the monarchy of the Father, and it is explained as regarding the economy of God, ie external to the manner of being of the Trinity, in ways which seem unobjectionable to me. So it seems that Orthodox theological objections are directed at meanings which are not being proposed by the Catholic side.
At the Judgment, we will learn who is orthodox and recognised by Christ. For the present, I prefer not to pick quarrels unnecessarily with those that are not in communion with the Orthodox Church.

But you took issue with a secondary observation in my comment. I suggested primarily that our record of the result of the conference may be corrupted through a later insertion by copyists, to conform to their contemporary orthodoxy. Is this provenly impossible? Is it unimagible to others than myself?

It seems to me that otherwise, we are left with Theodore, a Greek and a saint of the undivided Church, being a traitor to Orthodoxy in his attempt to confirm it. He cannot plead personal ignorance in his age of the issues we are still discussing in ours. We cannot condemn him as a heretic if we accept him as a saint. Was he therefore being dishonest in subscribing to Hatfield's profession as a statement of the "teaching of all the holy Apostles, prophets and teachers whom we have already mentioned," ie, first among others, "the first five Ecumenical Councils". The Hatfield synodal letter explicitly professes:
"We glorify our Lord Jesus Christ as they glorified Him, neither adding nor withdrawing anything:"
Even if all the other signatories were ignorant of the Traditional Creed of Nicea-Constantinople, Theodore wasn't. The "neither adding nor withdrawing anything" is deliberately included for emphasis, but false, if the profession which we currently have is unadulterated by a later insertion of the f word.

Joshua said...

I think some the above comments about Fr Blake very rude, insinuating that he is an unlearned fool, and seem to confirm my earlier comment. That said, I hadn't paid attention to remarks about the Queen of Spain that he made, which may well be deserving of criticism; nonetheless, to make a crude joke at his expense, implying something by the use of the word "queen", demonstrates a queer double-standard: shocked when remarks are made and words misspelt, yet eager to mock rudely at the expense of another.

I believe that "Come, come" is rather equivalent in English to "Tsk, tsk", said in disapprobation to naughty schoolboys. Frankly, R., I expected better: I for one would never have thought it gentlemanly to mock at a priest if he misspells a word, let alone satirize him with your imputations about education and orientation.

Patricius said...

Some people accuse me of being ''catty'' (and effeminate) - I simply point out the obvious and ask awkward questions...

CPKS said...

I'm with Joshua on this. This is horrible.

Acolyte4236 said...

B flat,

While it is true that Rome takes its explanations not to impinge on the monarchy of the Father, how does it follow from that that they are successful? Monarchy of itself implies a single source relative to hypostatic origination. A sharing of that particular hypostatic power with the Son isn't monarchial or at least not hypostatically so.

The Catholic side does not in fact explain the Filioque relative to the economy since it is a thesis about eternal hypostatic origination. The economia is only relevant as a starting place to reason to the claim of hypostatic origination.

Consequently, the Orthodox objections, good or bad, are aimed at the claims made by Rome concerning the origination of the person of the Spirit.

For myself, I am and always have been as long as I’ve been Orthodox in the GOA. The sects that Fr. Hunwicke points out are just that, sects and are selling people a bill of goods. They are fit for people who wish to delude themselves into purchasing a cheap imitation.

As for Theodore, It is quite possible as you suggest that the text is corrupted but I’d need to look over the texts. That aside, given the semantic confusion at the time, it is not impossible for him to use the language and have the older meaning of hypostatic mediation whose aim was to support the consubstantiality of the persons, in mind. In any case, saints can be wrong. Augustine had a few gems as did Nyssa.

Pastor in Valle said...

Rubricarius, you disappoint me.

Auricularis said...

I would like to know if Rubricarius then supports the "right" of Her Majesty Queen Sophia to receive Holy Communion in the hand?

Rubricarius said...

Pastor in Valle,

You disappointed me a long time ago with your signature being added to a petition against the Old[er] Roman Liturgy at Maiden Lane.

However, notwithstanding, and indeed irrelevant to that, the attack on Her Majesty Queen Sofia was totally unjustified. HM Queen Sofia is known for her caring and good works for Christ's poor and needy. The liturgy in question was hardly the 'gold standard' and 99.9% of people present would have received communion standing and in the hand.

A kneeling-desk was put in front of the versus populum altar for certain dignataries to receive at. However their Majesties King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia had two kneeling-desks before the chairs on their dais, which they did not use during the liturgy. HM Queen Sofia walked between these to receive.

Considering the abysmal quality of this particular liturgy what is truly disappointing is that their Majesties didn't command that a more dignified celebration, ad orientem, take place.

I do not think it is appropriate for a PP in this Realm to launch such a spiteful attack on a foreign Sovereign, and a devout and kindly one in particular.

Joshua said...

In the modern Roman Rite, is it not everywhere mandatory to kneel for the Consecration? (I speak not of whatever contrary practices have crept in, but of the rubrics themselves.) It therefore appears a certain pair of prie-dieux should have been used at least at one point during the Mass. (I am unaware of any special permission for the faithful in the Spanish realm to stand during the Consecration; one assumes in charity that Their Majesties were somehow legitimately prevented from kneeling, and instead devoutly bowed themselves when the Pope genuflected after consecrating the Sacrament in each kind.)

GIMR, n. 43: "Fideles... Genuflectant vero, nisi valetudinis causa, vel ob angustiam loci vel frequentiorem numerum adstantium aliasve rationabiles causas impediantur, ad consecrationem. Hi vero qui non genuflectunt ad consecrationem, inclinationem profundam peragant dum sacerdos genuflectit post consecrationem. ..."

melxiopp said...

I believe Bede and Theodore are 'dealt with' in the same way any saint's errors are dealt with - whether 'Eastern' or 'Western' errors from Eastern or Western saints. It's only once a saint's errors outweigh his/her virtues and orthodoxy, or once individual or regional theologoumena ossify into unilateral, partisan dogma that there is a problem.

There's also the idea that the West broke the agreement hammered out in the 'Eighth Ecumenical Council' of 879/880 thus preferring its own ways to the ways of the Universal Church; prior to that, in the words of St. Gregory the Theologian, “To be only slightly in error [then, concerning the Holy Spirit] was to be orthodox” (quoted in Pelikan, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition, p. 213.).