Official teaching has changed throughout the whole history of the Church

18 May 2017 | by Sara Maitland


Official teaching has changed throughout the whole history of the Church

I find myself darkly baffled by the – to me bizarre – conviction held by clearly honest and profoundly faithful Catholics – including many theologically well-trained highly placed clerics – that the teaching of the Church cannot change. I am baffled on two levels simultaneously: in the first place it is patently untrue, and more seriously I don’t understand why anyone sane would want it to be true.

Official teaching – not just on ethics, but on fundamental doctrine – has changed (or “developed” to the point that it might more honestly be called changed) throughout the whole history of the Church. Perhaps the most egregious example was in 1014 when Pope Benedict VIII officially inserted the “filioque” clause into the Nicene Creed, in contradiction of the ecumenical councils and in the knowledge that this would be deeply offensive to the Churches of the East. The “procession of the Holy Spirit”, and therefore the “economy” of the Trinity, is a major, central theological issue, part of our primary orthodox understanding of the person and nature of God – and it changed.

Sara Maitland

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