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Protester urges the Pope: ‘Drop the Filioque!’

One humorous punter had a banner which even the Pope might have enjoyed

By on Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Amidst the thousands who protested the Pope’s visit to Britain, one protester stood out. Fr John Zuhlsdorf over on What does the Prayer Really Say? found a picture of a young man who was protesting the Pope in a very particular way. Benedict XVI would probably have enjoyed the sight.

Armed with a black marker and a pizza box, Toby Guise, a 29 year-old communications consultant from London, wrote:

“Drop the Filioque!”

The Filioque is a clause added to the Nicene Creed by the Western Church and addresses the way the Trinity is understood. It has been a source of division between the Eastern Churches and the Western Church.

Mr Guise said: “There was a serious point behind the banner. Putting the Filioque up for discussion would effectively roll things back to the last Ecumenical Council in 787 – sending out a tacit but momentous appeal for Christian unity, yet without necessarily sacrificing a point upon which many Catholics are very impassioned. The hope would be for other denominations to respond by looking at ways in which they could re-enter into communion with the Catholic Church and with each other, including on thornier issues than the Filioque.”

He also added: “I didn’t actually point the banner at the Pope, thinking it was more important to welcome him unconditionally and that he had probably had enough disagreements for one weekend.”

Mr Guise was first spotted by Greg Burke of Fox News.

  • Vladimir Moss

    As an Orthodox Christian, I applaud Mr. Guises' initiative. The Filioque is a heresy which the Roman Catholics must drop if they are to return to Orthodoxy. It should be remembered that in about 800 Pope Leo III had the Creed inscribed on gold and silver plates WITHOUT the Filioque.

  • Bob Shaffern

    But Latin Christians have been using the filioque in their worship since the third century, and many an early medieval council decreed that Latins and Greeks could agree to differ on its use.

  • Jack

    Bob, you have to understand that later on during the Middle Ages the Orthodox realized that they understand the subtleties of Latin better than the Latins.

  • Robert Tickle

    I saw some rather aggressive Apprentice Boys Orangemen at St Pancras Staion who had been protesting. Tjhere was also a small gaggle of SSPX protesting outside Hyde Park. I always remeber Paisleyite demonstrators at the Walsingham National Pilgrimage shouting “papsts” at some Orthodox in the proicession. The Orthodox bishop stopped and siad to the prots” may I remind you that the pope is the father of protestantism!”

  • Justin Wong

    The last valid ecumenical council that is recognised by the universal church was in the 1960s. This man seriously does not know his church history.

  • Jhammer

    As a Catholic I would love to drop the 'filioque' if it meant we could once again be fully united with the Orthodox. If we believe that the Son is one with the Father then – as both Catholics (or western orthodox) and Orthodox (Eastern Catholics!) do then does it do any harm to drop the filioque? I think not. And the Holy Father has said the creed a number of times and dropped the filioque.

  • Curious George

    Err… to deny the doctrine would do harm. The Father and Son are one in essence, not one person, and an important truth is affirmed when we say the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. Setting aside the many scriptural proofs, it is interesting to note that even some E. Orthodox writers (e.g. Richard Swinburne, a convert from Anglicanism) have argued that the filioque is fundamental to a coherent account of Trinitarian relations.

  • Thomas Athanasius

    Mr Wong, would that you had learned your own Church History.
    Yes, the last ecumenical council accepted by the *CATHOLIC* Church was in the 1960s.
    However, since the Greeks went into schism in 1054, the church has been somewhat less than universal, doncha think?

  • Thomas Athanasius

    Mr Moss,
    If the phrase “and the Son” is added in Greek, it is indeed heretical.
    However, in Latin, due to nuances in the meaning of the verb used, it is not heretical.
    For further reading, I would recommend the writings of my friend, Dr. Michael Liccione, at

  • Toby Guise

    The real point is that the Bride of Christ has become the Bridezilla of Christ, complete with three-way schizophrenia. We are not supposed to be doing this any more than children are supposed to conduct psychoanalysis on their parents. 2 Peter says 'No prophecy of scripture is a matter open to our own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man but by men moved by the Holy Spirit spoken from God.' Theology is not prophecy, it is not equal to scripture. We need to get very real and resolve our differences before Chirst comes back, sits down the church leaders and ask why they did not dwell in unity as it says in John 7, thereby failing to provide the very example to the world of his own unity with the father that he comissioned them to.

    I am amazed there is not a greater sense of urgency over this!

  • Jhammer

    I see what you mean..I think! But my intention would not be 'to deny' any doctrine. Goodness me! The Roman church has produced a very large corpus of doctrine since both the time of the church fathers and the time of the filioque – so the Orthodox know we are capable of 'elaborating on tradition' and have not said they want to unravel the lot. But I think the creed is a special case owing to its liturgical, as opposed to doctrinal, status in all liturgies (catholic, orthodox and anglican). I rather like Fr Timothy Radcliffe's explanation, by the way, that the Holy Spirit is the conversation between the Father and the Son into which we are invited – how much more joyful if the orthodox are drawn into the same conversation!

  • Curious George

    There are Greek Catholics. The universality of the Church is not lessened by the decision of some to depart from her unity.

  • Curious George

    Omission of the filioque is not the same as its denial. Eastern Orthodox should follow the lead of Richard Swinburne, whom they accepted as a convert without requiring him to abjure his belief in, and writings in defence of, the filioque.

  • James Likoudis

    Some Eastern Orthodox declare the 'Filioque heretical. Others do not. Instead of asking Catholics to drop the Filioque from the Latin text of the Creed and from the Profession of Faith, it might be best for the Orthodox to overcome their own confusion regarding the faith of the Church. The fact remains there is no Unity in faith among the Orthodox regarding the Procesion of the Holy Spirit and the Catholic Church cannot reject the treaching of an Ecumenical Council (Florence, 1439) that the word “Flilioque” was not only legitimately added to the Latin text of the Creed but that it also expresses an article of Catholic faith, namely that the Holy 'Spirit lproceeds FROM ALL ETERNITY from the Father AND the Son. Protests to drop the Filioque only too often mask a denial of Catholic dogma.

  • Toby Guise

    Maybe he did see my sign after all! Seriously though, great rhetoric from the Pope yesterday morning, this is something we should all pray for…

  • Sr Petra Clare

    Agree one hundred percent – an Orthodox student of this field has suggested it could maybe be considered as a local addition, without everyone having to sign up for it…which of course is how it started out!

  • joe

    excuse me the last ecumenical council held by the univerisal church was the 7th ecumenical council we eastern orthodox christians do not recognize any council held after 1054 ad

  • Alan F.

    “Tjhere was also a small gaggle of SSPX protesting outside Hyde Park.”

    As one of this “gaggle of SSPX” I can safely say, for the record, that we weren't protesting, we were handing out leaflets defending the Catholic Priesthood from recent media attacks concerning the child abuse scandal.

    The leaflet can be found here:

  • Savvas_savva21

    Um No I don't think you do… LOL The Pentarchy split in 1054 with mutual excomunication between Rome and Constantinople. So the last Universal Church Council accepted by the one Church was prior to that!

    1960 LOL gee

  • Savvas_savva21

    I think Rome departing from the other 4 centres of Christendom (Constantinople, Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria (who are all united still) is somewhat more dramatic to what you make it out to be

  • SSS

    If you say the Father and Son are ONE in essence but 2 persons… then if the Spirit proceeds from both does this not mean there are 2 distinct spirits??????

    Secondly if the Son is begotten from the Father and co-eternal and you claim the Spirit is also begotten from the Son does this not call for a Pentarchy instead of a Trinity – making the Son a “Father” 2?

    So the Filioque does not strengthen Jesus as Co-eternall but destroys the perfect relationship of the Trinity as understood and explained by Church Fathers including Pope Leo III

  • Sss

    Pope Leo III forbade the addition of filioque to the Nicene Creed which was added by Franks in Aachen in 809. He also ordered that the Nicene creed be engraved on silver tablets so that his conclusion might not be overturned in the future. He wrote «HAEC LEO POSUI AMORE ET CAUTELA ORTHODOXAE FIDEI» (I, Leo, put here for love and protection of orthodox faith).

  • Elise B.

    I have heard an Orthodox priest say, mentioning St. John Chrysostomus, that it would be acceptable to both Catholics and Orthodox to say: proceeds from the Father through the Son.
    I do not have the time to verify, but I seem to remember that, in the Gospels, Jesus refers to the Spirit sometimes as the Spirit of the Father and sometimes as his Spirit. But I may be wrong.
    I think, however, that some connection to the Son has to be made for the Trinity to be complete.

  • Mary Frances

    In accordance with the Roman Catholic Church's practice of including the clause when reciting the Creed in Latin,[68] but not when reciting the Creed in Greek,[69] Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have recited the Nicene Creed jointly with Patriarchs Demetrius I and Bartholomew I in Greek without the Filioque clause.[70][71] The action of these Patriarchs in reciting the Creed together with the Popes has been strongly criticized by some elements of Eastern Orthodoxy, such as the Metropolitan of Kalavryta, Greece, in November 2008.[72]

  • Dooby

    What? The Apprentice Boys of Derry and the Orangemen are two different Institutions so who the hell are the Apprentice Boys Orangemen?

    By Paisleyite do you mean Free Presbyterian?

    A sectarian, misinformed rant which is little better than the protestors ramblings.