chicago studies Winter 2017 | VOLUME 56:2
Paul McPartlan Dei Verbum at the Heart of Vatican II Synodality, Primacy, and the Role of Theology Priesthood and the Deacon “Make knowledge of the Scripture your love ... Live with them, meditate on them, make them the sole object of your knowledge and inquiries.” – St. Jerome
Chicago Studies Editorial Board Thomas Baima
Founding Editor George Dyer
CHICAGO STUDIES is edited by members of the faculty of the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary for the continuing theological development of priests, deacons, and lay ecclesial ministers. The editors welcome articles and letters likely to be of interest to our readers. Views expressed in the articles are those of the respective authors and not necessarily those of the editorial board. All communications regarding articles and editorial policy should be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Indexed in The Catholic Periodical & Literature Index and New Testament Abstracts. Front cover image designed by Thomas Gaida Copyright ÂŠ 2017 Civitas Dei Foundation
Receiving Vatican II Theologically Editor’s Corner – December 2017 By Very Rev. Thomas A. Baima, S.T.D. John Henry Newman, the great theologian of the development of doctrine, held that it takes the Church about two hundred years to process the magisterium of a general council. This corresponds to an important notion in Eastern Christianity that a council receives the teaching of its predecessor. The articles which make up this issue of Chicago Studies represents a disciplined theological attempt at such reception. Understanding the full nuance of the term “reception” is necessary as a prelude to our issue. Theology itself underwent a renewal in the last one hundred years. In many ways, this renewal flowed into the Second Vatican Council as several tributaries flow into the main branch. Given that the name of our journal is Chicago Studies, I might be forgiven a midwestern analogy. The mighty Mississippi River receives its water from the Missouri, Ohio, Illinois, and (since we dug the Sanitary and Shipping Canal) the Chicago Rivers. These different waterways, coming from across the whole Midwest, converge, mingle and create along with the Mississippi’s own headwaters, the greatest river in these United States. The Second Vatican Council can be understood through this analogy. In the years after Vatican I, theology in the West was dominated by neo-scholastic manuals. These manuals shared certain common elements, regardless of the school (Augustinian, Thomist, etc.) in that they approached revelation as propositional and theological method as deductive through logical arguments and proofs. Scripture and Tradition were viewed as sources to be mined for these propositional truths. Already in the nineteenth century, new theological movements and methods were developing. The patristic movement, of which John Henry Newman himself was a proponent, was recovering the literature and theology of the early Fathers of the Church. Perhaps the most significant point to note about the Father was that their preferred theological product was not the treatise, but the sermon or conference. The biblical movement was beginning as well, offering theologians new methods of research into the meaning of the sacred page. The 20th century liturgical movement, in which Mundelein Seminary’s own Reynold Hillenbrand was a leading exponent, was reconnecting worship with its participatory origins. Theologians were not alone in this emerging intellectual revival. The Popes entered the process of re-visioning Catholic teaching with a significant turn to the world in the social encyclicals. Christian philosophy sought to update itself through a return to Thomas Aquinas (as opposed to reading only his commentators) in the Neo-Thomistic revival by such figures as Yves Simon, Etienne Gilson and Jacques Maritain. Outside the Catholic Church, the ecumenical movement was developing new approaches to studying doctrinal controversy with the goal of solving disputes, not simply offering apologetic responses. While the Catholic Church would not join the Ecumenical Movement until the time of the Second Vatican Council, theologians like Yves Congar made significant contributions in the first half of the 20th century which prepared for Vatican II’s engagement of many important issues. I mention all of this because the author of the three articles in this issue himself stands in this great tradition of 20th century theology, and offers his contributions to us now in the second decade of the 21st. Paul McPartlan works principally in the areas of ecclesiology and ecumenism to address the important doctrinal issues which are even now being worked out after the council. Msgr. McPartlan, who served as the 2016-17 Chester and Margaret Paluch Lecturer at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake, used his sabbatical year to explore three of the developing issues of Vatican II.
Councils teach. Theologians explain and explore the magisterium’s teaching. In these articles, you see a theologian engaged in precisely this task. When councils teach, they deliberately leave the work unfinished. It is left to the theologians to explore the next steps. And it will be for the next general council to pass judgment on the exploration. (Unless, of course, if the theologian does something “exceptional” in which case the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith my act sooner). The unfinished work of Vatican II which Msgr. McPartlan engages treats three of the doctrinal developments of the council. These include Dei Verbum: The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Synodality, and the diaconate. One article is devoted to each of these themes. Though these documents are now fifty years old, the issues are quite current as the Church continues to “live into” the teaching of Second Vatican Council. In the first article, Msgr. McPartlan explores Dei Verbum. His argument is that this dogmatic constitution is the very soul and spirit of the Council. He bases this claim on the intensely Christocentric orientation of the Council to re-present Catholic doctrine in relationship to Christ, who continues to be present and alive today in and through his mystical body, especially as the Body carries out the mission commanded in Matthew 28. This point is carried forward in Lumen Gentium where the Council Fathers taught that the Church is “one complex reality which comes together from a human and divine element.” The Christological reference is clear. Thus, everything about the Church must be understood in relationship to Christ and for the sake of mission. Christ is present in the Church. One of the modes of his presence which Vatican II adds to the traditional list is that Christ is present in his word. The faithful transmission of the Word of God to the People of God occurs in the first instance of Tradition, the sacred liturgy. This identifies the personal quality of the transmission of the revelation. God is personal, and his saving dispensation is through his Son. The Logos, the Word of God, is the Revelation. Consequently, revelation is not a proposition but a person, Jesus of Nazareth. McPartlan will show how this central, Christological insight, plays out in the development of doctrine we find in Dei Verbum. In the second article, “Synodality, Primacy and the Role of Theology” Msgr. McPartlan jumps to the present by beginning with Pope Francis’ post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium and then works his way back to the Council. The Council taught the collegiality of the episcopate as one of its major doctrinal developments. In this teaching, Vatican II completed the work of Vatican I, which was interrupted by the Franco-Prussian War and was unable to treat the episcopal office in any detail. Collegiality is one of the central advances of Vatican II in our understanding of the ordered ministry. It also captured a pastoral experience which led Pope Paul VI to establish the World Synod of Bishops to prolong the experience of collegiality experienced by the bishops during the Council. In the past fifty years, the Synod of Bishops has both been involved in most of the major implementations of the Council’s teaching, and at the same time, not lived up to the expectations which many bishops had for it. The reflection of a theologian is needed to explore the particular area where the understanding of the Synod is underdeveloped, namely in the relationship between the primacy and synodality. Vatican II represents a developed viewpoint on this relationship. McPartlan correctly notes how this opens up significant pathways for our relationship with the Orthodox churches from whom we can receive insights since synodality is a more developed theological category for them. If his article on Dei Verbum shows the grounding of Vatican II’s teaching in Christology, here he shows how trinitarian theology is the well-spring for communio ecclesiology. Equally important in this article is his consideration of the role of the theologian. Bishops and theologians are both teachers in the Church however they have distinct yet interrelated roles. These are two callings, two charisms, not parallel magisteria but related through collaboration. Together, they hold up and support the doctrinal edifice of the Church. His treatment of this important question shows how the Church
needs both deliberation and decision as twin gifts to enable our growth in the knowledge of the truth. The theologian must first be a believer, living in the communion of the Church. While the theologian might be an expert in the texts, including the text of the Bible, all interpretation must be read in what McPartlan calls the “broad setting of the faith and life of the people of God.” For this reason, it is not the experts in the text, but the experts in the faith and life of the people of God, i.e., the sacred pastors, who make doctrinal judgments. Theologians clarify both the bishops’ judgments and the help to articulate the sensus fidelium. In this way, each supports the other. Finally, in his third article, Msgr. McPartlan explores the theological questions around the restoration of the diaconate as a permanent order in the Western Church. Having reclaimed the traditional formulation of holy orders as composed of three grades, bishop, presbyter, and deacon, the Council did something similar to what Vatican I did on ecclesiology. It left us with a highly developed teaching on the bishop (on top of the highly developed teaching on the priest from Trent) but only a basic teaching on the deacon. Since the change in the West to confer diaconal ordination solely on candidates for the presbyterate, the Church, in effect, failed to use one of the sacraments instituted by Christ to give grace to his people. Lacking a robust theology, the experience of the reintroduction of the diaconate has been mixed in some dioceses. My own diocese (Chicago) has the largest diaconate in the world, yet I know of other dioceses where new ordinations have been paused due to confusion over the role of the deacon in the life of the Church. Believing as I do that the sacraments are not optional, I find that Msgr. McPartlan provides a valuable contribution here. For if there is pastoral confusion about the application of one of the sacraments, it is for theologians to assist the bishops by offering insights which the bishops can use for clarification. This is a good example of exactly what he wrote in the second article on the contribution theologians are called to make for the good of the Church. Our earlier categories of hierarchy or the distinctions between clergy and laity alone do not provide a sufficient framework to answer the questions around the diaconate. Instead, Msgr. McPartlan proposes communio ecclesiology as the source. In this way, the third article draws on the first two, applying their insights in a constructive way. These three articles which emerged from the Chester and Margaret Paluch Lecture Series for 20162017 represent an important contribution to the reception of Vatican II. Reception, as I alluded to in the beginning of this essay, is a prolonged process involving the whole Church, both the magisterium and the faithful. It is a process which takes time, but which leads to a maturing of the teaching as the whole Church “lives into it.”
On December 3, 2017, Rev. George J. Dyer, the founding editor of Chicago Studies, died after a short illness. Many people knew Fr. Dyer as a teacher, faculty colleague, writer, theologian, pastor, and friend. One small way in which the Editorial Board of Chicago Studies can honor Fr. Dyer is to reprint an article by his long-time friend and colleague, Agnes Cunningham, S.S.C.M. The following article was published in a Festschrift for Fr. Dyer in 2009. May he rest in peace!
George J. Dyer: “What’s Past Is Prologue” By Agnes Cunningham, S.S.C.M. “What’s past is prologue.” In 1611, William Shakespeare put these words into the mouth of Antonio in “The Tempest” (Act II, scene i). He could never have imagined that they might be applied, four centuries later, to a Roman Catholic priest serving in a city called Chicago, in a country known as the United States of America. With George J. Dyer, however, the past has always been prologue. A quick review of an article in the Spring 1999 issue of Chicago Studies, “George Dyer: A Retrospective,” is a good example of this. In that article, George was identified as a theologian, an educator, and a pastor. Everything that can be read there, however, is not all that can be said about him. Following ordination in 1953, young Father Dyer’s first assignment was back to the seminary, to begin studies for the doctorate in sacred theology. He earned the degree, defending his dissertation two years later. At the same time, he was appointed assistant librarian, with responsibility for teaching courses in Patristics and Ancient Christian Literature. His theological career would be furthered, about ten years later, when he pursued studies at the University of Chicago in systematic theology. In the meantime, the past became prologue with recognition of George as a theologian through his activities in the Catholic Theological Society of America and his contributions on the board of that organization. He acquired a unique kind of “fame” as the self-appointed and successful “campaign manager” for the election of the first woman president of the CTSA! Despite that—or, perhaps, because of it---George was honored by the society, in1982, with the John Courtney Murray Award for distinguished achievement in theology. In ecumenical circles, George was hailed as a sensitive understanding partner, when Cardinal Bernardin appointed him to the original archdiocesan JewishCatholic dialogue. The past was prologue, also, in George’s career as an educator. Following his early years of teaching theology, he continued as a professor when he was named Academic Dean at the seminary in the fall of 1967. His students had not been and were not to be seminarians only, however. The founding of Chicago Studies -- whose story lies beyond the limits of our interests here -- expanded his influence outside the classroom, assuring continued formation, initially, for parish priests, and later, for all parochial or catechetical ministers: clergy, religious, and laity. Of particular interest were the “theme issues” of that journal, some produced in collaboration with other scholarly societies, addressing important questions in Catholic life and thought. One notable issue became “The American Catholic Catechism,” which was translated into several languages. The German edition carried a foreword by Karl Rahner and the imprimatur of the cardinal archbishop of Munich, much to the delight of Cardinal Cody.
Another educational venture, launched by Father Dyer under the parent corporation known as “Androgogy,” included a number of pedagogical tools: a weekly column carried in at least one thousand parish bulletins; a newsletter for Catholic school faculty members; and the “Three-Minute Theologian,” an audio-cassette program that provided a handy, contemporary way to promote updating on basic Catholic teaching and clarification of issues in a time of religious uncertainty and confusion. At St. Mary of the Lake, seminary life afforded a unique kind of pastoral experience in what has been known as the “cam” system, where each “living group” of students is mentored by one of the seminary priests. George’s “cam” had the reputation of being amazingly creative, with its organization as a medieval kingdom with king, scribe, jester, and --yes! -- even a mitered abbess! The “kingdom” sponsored great festivities as well as commitment to academic excellence, projects to promote justice, and ventures in volunteering for programs dedicated to care for the needy and marginalized. Some former students, looking back today, compare their experience in that setting to the intense discussions that recalled Plato sitting in the midst of his followers, exploring the great questions that have challenged thinkers in every age. In 1978, George left academe to find that, in a new way, the past had become prologue, when he began leadership as the pastor of St. Patrick’s parish in Wadsworth, Illinois. There, his theological skills found expression in spirit-filled, inspiring homilies, while his educational prowess took new shape in sacramental and faith-formation instructions and programs for parishioners and faculty members of the parish school, as well as through weekly sessions with the grade school students. He was the shepherd who knew his sheep, taking Polaroid snapshots of couples preparing for marriage or entrance into the Catholic Church, posting them around his study until faces and names were firmly established in his memory. He was the kindly priest visited by school children at recess who wanted to play with his huge, but gentle, Newfoundland. He was the confessor known for understanding, compassion, and availability, no matter what time someone rang the doorbell. George’s retirement from St. Patrick’s was marked by the legacy for which he is still remembered today. One treasure that is a special witness to his own faith can be found in the new church that was completed before he left. Of noteworthy interest in that edifice are two statuary groups with life-sized, carved figures: one of Joseph welcoming a pregnant Mary into his home; the other, a scene from the miraculous catch of fish (Lk.5:11; Jn.21:11). Both tell us something about George Dyer, and invite us to prayerful reflection and trust in a loving God who cares for us in all ways, at all times. Was the Spring 1999 Chicago Studies article on George Dyer in any way the testimony of a past that might be prologue? What has the “active-retired” Father Dyer been doing in the last decade, as a theologian, an educator, and a pastor? George the theologian “surfaced” again, so to speak, in April 2008 when Pope Benedict XVI approved the report of the International Theological Commission on the question of children who die without Baptism (Origins, April 26, 2007, vol. 36, no. 45). In that document, George and his doctoral dissertation, “The Denial of Limbo and the Jansenist Controversy” (1955), are cited in a significant footnote. Earlier, in 1964, TIME magazine had featured an adaptation of that work published by Sheed and Ward, calling attention to George’s discussion of it as “a lively survey of the still unfinished debate” about what Albert the Great had named “Limbo.” Following a survey of “optimistic
salvation theories,” George had concluded: “The door has not yet been closed on an ever more hopeful project for bereaved parents: the ultimate salvation of the lost child.” In its report, “The Hope of Salvation,” the International Theological Commission clearly affirmed that Limbo is not “Catholic teaching,” is a “theological hypothesis,” has never been defined as a truth of faith, and remains an “opinion.” Cheers for George J. Dyer! George’s pedagogical and pastoral ministries have developed in new ways in the past decade. He still dispenses inspiration and information through his weekend celebration of the liturgy at one or another parish in the Archdiocese of Chicago. He is known for his insightful and enlightening conferences to residents in a retirement village, or to “golden-agers” on parish spiritual renewal days. In hospitals and nursing homes, Father Dyer is well known and welcomed because of his faithful visits to the elderly ill and infirm, and the hope and compassion he imparts to them. He is, above all, on occasion, an entertaining host and always a faithful friend to a former classmate, colleague, student, or parishioner. April may have been the “cruelest month” for Geoffrey Chaucer, but for George Dyer, it brings the opportunity to honor the holy man after whom he is named. Whatever the status of the many legends surrounding St. George and the dragon, there are no grounds for doubting his historical existence. He has been hailed in works of literature and art, is the patron of fifteen countries and thirteen cities, is invoked by a diversity of workers and craftsmen, and looked to for protection against multiple diseases. George Dyer doesn’t claim such a reputation, except, perhaps, for the number of places to which he has traveled. Most recently, it seems, he was taking a cruise down the Rhine River in Germany. If you’re looking for George Dyer, these days, keep your eyes open for someone wearing the tell-tale Greek sailor’s cap, strolling walks and lanes in the company of his current canine companion, a small, white bichon frisé who answers to the name of “Woodie.” They’ll both welcome you heartily! Yes, the past, indeed, is prologue!
Dei Verbum at the Heart of Vatican II By Msgr. Paul McPartlan, S.T.L., D.Phil. Though the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) ultimately produced a well-ordered corpus of sixteen documents, it began in a state of considerable documentary disorder. In March 1962, seven months before the council opened on 11 October, Pope John XXIII asked Cardinal LéonJosef Suenens of Malines, Belgium, one of the leading European bishops, who was looking after an overall plan for the council. He replied that no-one was. He described the situation as “[un] désordre total,” with no fewer than seventy-two disparate draft texts or schemas of various kinds.1 Writing at the time, the young Joseph Ratzinger commented that “[t]he preparatory commissions had undoubtedly worked hard, but their diligence was somewhat distressing.” The two thousand pages of draft texts amounted to more than twice what all previous councils put together had produced.2 Pope John asked Suenens to draw up a plan, which he duly did in April 1962. Suenens recalls that the pope put the plan in the drawer of his desk to await the right moment. Pope John wanted the council “to work out its first steps on its own.” “The Pope’s first duty,” said John XXIII, “is to listen and keep silent to allow the Holy Spirit free play.”3 That Summer, the world’s bishops began to receive the draft texts, largely written in the style of scholasticism, identifying errors and correcting them, and they were not happy. Cardinal Ottaviani, the head of the Holy Office, later admitted that he had received lots of negative comments about the doctrinal schemas, complaining in particular that they lacked “a pastoral character.”4 Pope John’s opening address to the council on 11 October 1962 captured the bishops’ unease and pointed a better way forward. He dismissed the “prophets of gloom” and famously said that “the substance of the ancient doctrine of the faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another.” What was needed, he said, was “a magisterium which is predominantly pastoral in character,” and he put the person of Christ firmly at the center: “Christ is ever resplendent as the center of history and of life.” He is “the glorious and immortal King of ages and of peoples,” and the Church, which takes “its name, its grace, and its meaning” from him exists to spread everywhere “the fulness of Christian charity, than which nothing is more efficacious in promoting concord, just peace, and the brotherly unity of all.”5 Renewed from the center which is Christ, he wanted the Church to look outwards to the whole world, and to be renewed in its mission of bringing unity and peace. One month earlier, in his radio message on 11 September, looking towards the opening of the council, he said succinctly: “The world has need of Christ: and it is the Church which must take Christ to the world.”6 A lot of drafts were duly discussed and found wanting in the first session of the council that Fall, and many were simply rejected, including one entitled, “The Sources of Revelation,” on 20 November 1962. Soon afterwards, Ratzinger explained why. The text, he said, was “utterly a product of the ‘anti-Modernist’ mentality that had taken shape about the turn of the century.” It was written in “a spirit of condemnation and negation,” whereas Pope John in his opening address had insisted “that the Church was no longer to condemn but rather to dispense the medicine of compassion, that the Council was not to speak negatively but to present the faith in a new and positive way, and finally that the Council must refrain from pronouncing anathemas,”7 a significant change in style from all previous ecumenical councils.8 It was on 4 December that, after weeks of growing concern about the initial drafts and where everything was going, Cardinal Suenens finally unveiled his plan, to applause from the
assembled bishops.9 The initial proposal he had developed earlier in the year was to group all of the documents under two headings: first, those dealing with the Church ad extra, “that is the Church as it faces the world of today,” and, second, those dealing with the Church ad intra, “that is the Church in itself, but with the aim of helping it better to respond to its mission in the world.” So, the first group dealt with the Church looking outwards to the world, and even the Church’s internal affairs in the second group were to be treated with a view to helping it in mission. 10 The final version of the proposal placed the Church ad intra before the Church ad extra, but consideration of the Church ad intra was still governed by the idea that the Church is sent to evangelize.11 Suenens focused on Christ himself, as Pope John later did in his opening address. The “essential” point, he said, was that “the Church is Christ living today in his mystical body; it is Christ, our contemporary” — a strikingly personal vision — and, again anticipating Pope John, he prioritized mission. The “central question for the whole Council,” he said, could be this: “How is the Church of the twentieth century measuring up to the Master's last command: Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations. Baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you? [Mt 28:19-20]” The Council should be a thorough self-examination in the light of the Church's task in the world. “To respond to the Saviour's command,” said the plan, “the whole Church must be put ‘on a mission footing.’”12 Fifty years later, in his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis said something remarkably similar. Emphasizing that what he was trying to express had “programmatic significance and important consequences,” he said: “Throughout the world, let us be ‘permanently in a state of mission.’”13 Though he does not actually mention the council as much as his two predecessors, who were personally involved in it, Pope Francis is clearly trying to kindle in the Church precisely the same evangelizing dynamism that the council itself wanted to promote. Returning to late 1962, it might well be said that the spirit of Gaudium et Spes (GS), Vatican II’s pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world, the final document eventually accepted by the council in 1965, was already at work in Pope John and in Cardinal Suenens. There had been no preparatory text along those lines, but an edited list of proposed texts was drawn up in January 1963 and it featured a new Schema XVII on that theme, which later became Schema XIII, when the list was further edited.14 A massive amount of work was needed to pull that document into shape, but it might be said that the big, framing idea was now in place, and the other documents could be revised in the light of it. The constitution on the sacred liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC), was approved with little trouble in 1963, but the dogmatic constitutions on the Church, Lumen Gentium (LG), approved in 1964, and on divine revelation, Dei Verbum (DV), approved in 1965, required a great deal more work. The Configuration of the Four Constitutions I would like to concentrate on those four constitutions out of the sixteen final documents of Vatican II, because they are the pillars of the council’s teaching, and to consider how they might be seen as fitting together within the framework of the big idea just mentioned. So, let us make some connections, first of all between SC and LG. SC on the liturgy is, in fact, a highly ecclesiological document. Many of its statements link the liturgy to the Church, and are in turn echoed and further developed by LG. Indeed, LG can almost be said to be a dogmatic commentary on SC. For instance, SC 2 says that it is especially through the liturgy that “the faithful are enabled to express in their lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true
Church,”15 which it then describes as both human and divine, visible and invisible. LG 8 likewise describes the Church as “one complex reality which comes together from a human and a divine element,” and it then compares the Church to “the mystery of the incarnate Word,” evoking the Christological doctrine of the council of Chalcedon (451). LG 11 echoes the teaching of SC 10 that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the life of the Church, and, both SC 41 and LG 26 teach that the principal gathering and manifestation of the Church is the assembly of the local church with its bishop for the celebration of the Eucharist. LG 26 states that “the Church ... derives its life” from the Eucharist,16 an affirmation seemingly influenced by the eucharistic ecclesiology of the Russian Orthodox theologian, Nicholas Afanassieff (1893-1966), but also, undoubtedly, by the famous principle coined by Henri de Lubac (1896-1991): “the Eucharist makes the Church.”17 So, if we were to depict the relationship between SC and LG, it would seem to be appropriate to draw two circles, with the circle for SC inside the circle for LG (see the diagram below). Let us turn now to the relationship between LG and GS. Broadly speaking, they deal with the Church ad intra and the Church ad extra, respectively, but let us recall Suenens’ point, that the purpose of examining the Church ad intra was so as to help the Church to fulfil more effectively its mission ad extra. In other words, LG should be seen as supporting GS, which is not how they are normally regarded. GS is often thought of simply as an appendix to LG, an application of LG. At the council itself, even late in the day, there was debate as to its status. One of those who pressed, successfully, for it to stand as a constitution was Archbishop Karol Wojtyla of Kracow, the future Pope John Paul II.18 In his later book on the council, Sources of Renewal, Wojtyla said that GS complements and completes LG,19 which does rather make it sound like a secondary text. However, he then explained in what way GS complements and completes LG, namely “because it reveals what the Church essentially is.” “The redemptive work of Jesus Christ which determines the inmost nature of the Church is in fact the redemption of the world.”20 The inmost nature of the Church, considered by LG in great depth, is thus determined by the Church’s mission in the world of proclaiming the redemption won by Christ, which was the concern of GS. It must be said, therefore, contrary to initial impressions, that GS provides the essential context for LG.21 The Church must be structured in order to fulfill its purpose, and a clear vision of its purpose is needed if there is to be a healthy reform of its structures. In accordance with the desire of Pope John and the plan of Cardinal Suenens, GS emphasizes that the Church must be understood as a Church in the modern world, essentially outgoing, charged with a mission. LG then explains the inner composition and structure of such a Church. The powerful opening words of LG already indicate the full perspective: Lumen gentium cum sit Christus (LG 1); since Christ is the light of the world, it is the Church’s task to transmit that light, and everything that the document goes on to say about the Church serves that purpose. GS is like an extended commentary on those opening five words of LG, so that the true context and purpose of the council’s teaching will be clear to all. In the diagram, therefore, the circle representing LG, which contains the circle representing SC, should be understood as radiating outwards to the world. GS expresses that radiance. What then of Dei Verbum, literally, the Word of God? Let us think of SC, let us think of the liturgy at the heart of the Church’s life, and let us ponder the relationship between word and sacrament. SC identified the various presences of Christ in the liturgy. It repeated the teaching of Pope Pius XII in his encyclical letter, Mediator Dei (1947), but with a notable addition. Pope Pius had said that Christ was present in the sacrifice of the altar, in the person of his minister, and especially “under the Eucharistic species”; also, that he was present in the sacraments and finally
in the community at prayer, in accordance with his promise: “When two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20).22 SC 7 repeated that teaching, but added mention of another presence: “He is present in his word since it is he himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church.” That teaching enables us to complete the picture we have been developing. It gives us good grounds for locating DV within the circle for SC in the diagram showing the relationship between the council’s four constitutions. At the very center of the whole diagram stands Christ himself, in accord with Pope John’s great vision in his opening address — Christ at the center, living in his Church and reaching out to the world — and DV is the text that describes how we should understand him, and why he is there. “It pleased God,” says DV, “in his goodness and wisdom, to reveal himself and to make known the mystery of his will (Eph 1:9).” “His will was that [human beings] should have access to the Father, through Christ, the Word made flesh, in the Holy Spirit, and thus become sharers in the divine nature (cf. Eph 2:18; 2 Pet 1:4). By this revelation, then, the invisible God (cf. Col 1:15; 1 Tim 1:17), from the fulness of his love, addresses men [and women] as his friends (cf. Ex 33:11; Jn 15: 14-15), and moves among them (cf. Bar 3:38), in order to invite and receive them into his own company” (DV 2; cf. 21, 25). All of the council’s teaching can be seen as dramatically centered upon the person of Christ, the incarnate Word, sent by the Father to dialogue with humanity, and to draw us into communion with him and with one another in the Holy Spirit. In the liturgy, most of all, Christ comes among his people and dialogues with them. As Pope St John Paul II said: “the liturgical proclamation of the word of God, especially in the eucharistic assembly, is ... a dialogue between God and his people, ... in which the great deeds of salvation are proclaimed and the demands of the covenant are continually restated.”23 Christ summons the faithful, and the covenant is renewed as the liturgy of the Word progresses into the liturgy of the Eucharist. The faithful receive the body and blood of the Lord, and are thereby transformed, as LG says, quoting Pope St Leo the Great, “into that which [they] receive”24 (LG 26). Transformed into the body of Christ, the Church is then sent out — Ite missa est25 — so that in and through the members of his body Christ may continue the dialogue of salvation with the people of today. As Pope Francis says: “God’s word, listened to and celebrated, above all in the Eucharist, nourishes and inwardly strengthens Christians, enabling them to offer an authentic witness to the Gospel in daily life.”26 During the third session of the council, on 19 October 1964, Vatican Radio broadcast a talk in Polish by Archbishop Wojtyla. “Although none of the completed constitutions or directives has the human person as its specific topic,” he said, “the person lies deep within the entire conciliar teaching that is slowly emerging from our labours.” Properly to understand the work of the Church in relation to the human person “will be an enormous contribution, as far as the pastoral aim of the Council is concerned.”27 This revealing comment clearly shows that, for him, pastoral essentially means personal. As a pastoral council, Vatican II was proclaiming afresh that the saving purpose of God is personal: it is focused on the person of his Son, the Word of God, Dei Verbum, who took flesh by the power of the Spirit to dialogue with human persons and to gather them together, with the whole of creation, for salvation. To describe Vatican II as a “pastoral” council in that sense is by no means to imply that it is not a “doctrinal” council, but simply to indicate that its doctrine is presented with an accent on the mystery of the person, as a saving doctrine for the people of today, called to participate in the life of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in and through the Church (cf. LG 4, GS 24).
With that personal/pastoral key, we can see how the four constitutions fit together in a remarkably integrated program. Like players in a musical quartet, they combine and interact with one another in presenting a single harmonious theme, as the diagram tries to show.28 At the heart of it all stands Christ himself. He is “both the mediator and the sum total of revelation,” says DV 2. As such, he is “the light of humanity,” the lumen gentium identified at the very start of the dogmatic constitution on the Church (LG 1). GS teaches that everyone needs to meet Christ, because human life is a mystery that only he can explain. In a famous passage that Pope John Paul quoted repeatedly, it says: “it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear.” “Christ the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling” (GS 22). In his first encyclical letter, Redemptor Hominis, Pope John Paul called that a “stupendous text from the council’s teaching,”29 and he used it to state in one sentence what the purpose of the Church is: “The Church wishes to serve this single end: that each person may be able to find Christ, in order that Christ may walk with each person the path of life.”30 Once again, the accent is on persons. That surely means that through the companionship of Christians, the people of today should actually find themselves in the company of Christ. It may be recalled that St Paul said of his mission to the Galatians: “I am in travail until Christ be formed in you” (Gal 4:19). Now, if Christ is to be formed in his people such that they in turn can take him to others, they must have strong and regular contact with him themselves. Where is Christ encountered? Especially in the liturgy, which always begins with the proclamation of the word. The faithful are first evangelized, and then go out to evangelize;31 but it must be noted that going out is not an end in itself. The Church goes out to gather in, and that is why, in the diagram, there are arrows going out, but then arrows coming back in. SC teaches that the purpose of all of the Church’s apostolic endeavor is that those who are made children of God by faith and baptism should “come together to praise God in the midst of his Church,” taking part in the Lord’s Supper and the sacrifice of Christ (SC 10). That is what the liturgy is, not fundamentally something that the Church does, but rather Christ’s own act of praise and worship, in which he “always associates the Church with himself” (SC 7). Like the other three
constitutions, therefore, SC is focused on the person of Christ. “The Church is Christ, living today ... Christ, our contemporary,” said Suenens. God’s revelation is also, quite simply, that same Christ, said DV, and the Church’s liturgy of praise and thanks is a supremely privileged participation in his praise and thanks, his liturgy, said SC. The Church goes out to gather in. Or rather, in and through the Church, Christ himself goes out to continue the dialogue of salvation still today,32 so as to gather into one the scattered children of God (Jn 11:52), uniting them with his own loving sacrifice to his Father. Dei Verbum: The Council’s Masterpiece If the person of Christ, proclaiming the good news and gathering all to himself, is undoubtedly at the center of the council’s vision, as outlined above, it may correspondingly be suggested that it is Dei Verbum which constitutes the heart of the council’s teaching. Robert Murray comments that DV “both undergirds and touches most of the Council documents.” In a sense, that is obvious, because God’s revelation is the beginning of everything to do with the Church and the Christian faith. But he also says that this document is “the most theologically concentrated” of the four constitutions, and indeed “theologically the most fundamental” of all of the council’s texts,33 which conjures an image of this text as a mighty waterfall at the head of a river which then flows to irrigate all of the other texts of the council at various points downstream. How might such a claim be understood? What is so special about DV? The answer, I would suggest, is its fascination with the person of Christ. The constitution has six chapters, but first there is a prologue that places the whole council at the feet of Christ, so to speak, listening attentively to him together with all his disciples: “Hearing the Word of God with reverence, and proclaiming it with faith,” it says34 — and that, let us recall, is the proper attitude it later specifies for the Church’s magisterium, “not superior to the Word of God, but its servant” (DV 10) — “this sacred synod assents to the words of St John,” which it quotes: “We proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us - that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (DV 1; quotation from 1 Jn 1:2-3). In his rich commentary on the constitution, in which he readily agreed that DV was perhaps the council’s “masterpiece,”35 Henri de Lubac says that the opening biblical text, “which takes us immediately into an atmosphere of contemplation, contains in essence everything that will be said in the first chapter, and that chapter, in turn, governs the whole Constitution.” The object, the mode, the transmission and the purpose of revelation are all there.36 “[Jesus] is both the exegete and the exegesis of Scripture”; more profoundly, “[he] is for us the exegete and the exegesis of the invisible Father.”37 “God speaks, as the next paragraph [DV 2] immediately recalls, to reveal himself to us and to make known to us the mystery of his will, ‘hidden from the beginning,’ which is ‘Christ among us [parmi nous], the hope of glory.’”38 Thus, the correlation between Christian theology and anthropology becomes clear, says de Lubac: “it is certain that in revealing himself in such a way to us, in the call that he addresses to us, God reveals us to ourselves: it is in responding to that call that man, emerging into the light of God, marvelously discovers the greatness of his being.”39 That, of course, is the famous teaching of GS 22, noted above, which de Lubac himself anticipated in his first book, Catholicisme, in 1938.40
A. From propositions to persons I would like, briefly, to highlight three points of particular note, relating respectively to chapters 1, 2 and 3 of DV. In chapter 1, Jesus is described as “both the mediator and the sum total of revelation,” the attractive idea of the dialogue of salvation is presented, and it is stressed that the economy of revelation is one of “deeds and words ... intrinsically bound up with each other” (DV 2). The major step is taken in this chapter from the First Vatican Council’s idea of revelation as propositions, requiring an assent of the “intellect and will,”41 to the idea of revelation as the person of Christ, God’s supreme gift to humanity, the appropriate response being the gift of one’s entire self, which of course includes the assent of intellect and will, but is not confined to the latter. That is how faith is described in the new, personal context of Vatican II (cf. DV 5). Vatican I’s dogmatic constitution on the Catholic faith, Dei Filius, lies in the background here. In spite of its title, the document, promulgated in 1870, is theocentric rather than Christocentric. Christ is presented as the teacher of divine truths, “saving doctrine,” rather than being in himself that truth and that doctrine. Supernatural revelation was received by the apostles “from the mouth of Christ,” says Dei Filius, and it was accompanied by “exterior proofs,” namely miracles and prophecies. “Moses and the prophets” performed many miracles and uttered prophecies, it says, but this was “especially” done by Christ our Lord.42 Dei Filius explains that there is, in fact, “a two-fold order of knowledge, distinct not only in its principle but also in its object”: one is the order of “natural reason,” and the other, the order of “divine faith.”43 The danger here is of a stratification of the orders of nature and grace, or of nature and the supernatural, with little organic connection between them, such that the two orders are simply glued together, as it were, rather extrinsically, by such wonders as miracles and prophecies. De Lubac’s theological career was spent dismantling that stratified picture, and putting something better in its place. Already in his inaugural lecture at the Catholic University of Lyon in 1929 he criticized the kind of apologetics that went with it, which envisaged human reason as enticed by such miracles and prophecies to recognize that something supernatural must be at work which ought to be accepted, rather like fancy wrapping might entice someone to buy a package trusting that something nice must be inside, though they do not quite know what. De Lubac wanted to dispel any such idea. Present the gospel itself to the people of today, and trust in its own intrinsic power to entice. Let it speak for itself! Human minds and hearts were made for that very truth. 44 A certain kind of apologetics, he said, spends all of its time proving that the truth must be true, by external arguments, instead of simply explaining what the truth actually is!45 And a certain kind of theology, he said, seems to forget that God is “the author of both nature and grace, and of nature in view of grace.”46 Three years later, he wrote to Maurice Blondel (1861-1949), praising a phrase of Blondel himself, which he said went to the very heart of the problem: “There’s a fear of confusing things, when what ought to be feared is not uniting enough.... It is, in fact, when people don’t know how to unite things properly that they most fear confusing them.”47 So, how can the stratification be overcome? How can we respect the distinction between nature and grace, the human and the divine, while holding them together, in an intimate unity? The key is Christ himself, who has two natures in one incarnate person. That is why DV’s focus on the person of Christ was such a breakthrough, and why de Lubac regarded the document so highly. It was the vital anchor for the council’s core text, LG: “If the constitution Lumen Gentium is the center around which most of the documents elaborated by the Council are organized,” he said, “the constitution Dei Verbum is
both its doorway and its foundation.”48 The definition of Chalcedon, evoked in LG 8 to explain the Church, as mentioned above, is just as relevant here; in fact it is hinted at in DV 13: “the words of God, expressed in the words of men, are in every way like human language, just as the Word of the eternal Father, when he took on himself the flesh of human weakness, became like men.” Christ is not the bringer of truths, and the convincer by miracles; he himself is “the way, the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6), fully human and fully divine, uniquely capable of revealing both God to man, and man to himself, as GS 22 taught. It is appropriate also to recall in this context what Pope John Paul called “the sublime principle” stated in Vatican II’s declaration on religious liberty, Dignitatis Humanae: “Truth can impose itself on the mind of man only in virtue of its own truth, which wins over the mind with both gentleness and power.”49 There is no need for fancy wrapping, and certainly no place for coercion or force. Allow the Word of God to speak directly to the hearts of human persons — that is the Church’s task. B. One source, not two Moving to chapter two, there is an immediate benefit of shifting the discussion from propositions to persons, and that is the resolution of a centuries-old conflict between Catholics and Protestants regarding whether there are two sources of revelation, namely scripture and tradition, or just one, scriptura sola. Chapter two gets behind the dispute, so to speak, and says that before there is either scripture or tradition there is the person of Christ, and that he himself in person is the one source of revelation. As already mentioned, the title of the original draft document was “The Sources of Revelation” (De fontibus revelationis), and it was rejected by the bishops on 20 November 1962. Yves Congar (1904-1991) later said that that date would be “recognized in the history of the Church as marking the definitive close of the counter-Reformation, because on that day the Council Fathers by a majority vote rejected a document that was too little ecumenical and too inspired by an anti-Protestant Catholicism.”50 Ratzinger likewise acknowledged a “turning point,” adding that it was “a turning point, too, in the sense that, in contrast to Trent and Vatican Council I, the pope had rejected curial dominance and sided with the Council.”51 The following day, Pope John directed that Cardinal Ottaviani and the Holy Office should work with Cardinal Bea and others from the recently established Secretariat for Christian Unity to formulate a new text. The long journey towards DV was to take three years. The idea of scripture and tradition as sources of revelation was actually rather a caricature of the teaching of the council of Trent from which it was supposedly derived. The council of Trent had planned to say that revelation was found partly (partim) in the written books and partly (partim) in unwritten traditions, which would certainly have implied two sources, but it finally took out the “partly-partly,” and said instead that the Gospel preached by Christ was “the source,” in the singular, “of all saving truth and norms of conduct,” and that that “truth and rule” was contained “in the written books and unwritten traditions that have come down to us.”52 leaving open what the precise relationship between scripture and tradition might be.53 Of course, if the focus is on propositions or truths, it is obvious that the Church draws them from various locations, primarily from scripture and tradition, so it is easy to slip into the idea of scripture and tradition as sources of revelation. However, that was not the teaching of Trent. Dei Verbum repeatedly stressed that there is one source of revelation, which it identified as “the Gospel” (DV 7), citing Trent, and “the word of God” (DV 10; amended trans.). It cited Trent,
but it also subtly modified the teaching of Trent, because Trent said simply that the Gospel was promulgated from the lips of Christ,54 making it sound like a message, whereas DV says that the Gospel was fulfilled in the person of Christ and promulgated with his lips (DV 7), making it clear that the focus is personal. Christ himself is the Gospel in person, and he, the incarnate Word, is the source of revelation. “Sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture,” it said, flow out “from the same divine wellspring,” and it gave a clear account of their relationship. “Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit. And Tradition transmits in its entirety the word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit” (DV 9; amended trans.). Clearly, then, scripture should be considered as contained within tradition; it was set down in writing at an early stage of the transmission or tradition of the word of God, and is at the heart of what has been passed on in the Church ever since. For Catholics, then, scripture and tradition were to be regarded as integrated, not separate.55 It was surely not coincidental but providential that a major conference of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches took place at Montreal in 1963. Just as the council was revising the Catholic view of revelation, so the Montreal meeting, with large Protestant representation, took a major step also. Scriptura sola was set aside, the importance of tradition was recognized, and the following was said: “[We] exist as Christians by the Tradition of the Gospel (the paradosis of the kerygma) testified in Scripture, transmitted in and by the Church through the power of the Holy Spirit.”56 By the grace of the Holy Spirit, this convergence of views after such a polarized past smoothed the way for ecumenical dialogue to begin between Catholics and Protestants. This prompts a question: is Christianity a religion of the book? It is sometimes said that it is, particularly in order to foster dialogue with Judaism and Islam, both of which have sacred texts also. However, caution is needed, because Judaism and Islam do not believe in the Incarnation which is central to Christianity: God has not just sent humanity a saving message, he sent his own Son. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992) is very clear: “The Christian faith is not a ‘religion of the book.’ Christianity is the religion of the ‘Word’ of God, a word which is ‘not a written and mute word, but the Word which is incarnate and living.’”57 Born into this world as a baby, Jesus grew and eventually gathered disciples, a community. In due course, he suffered, died, rose again and ascended into heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit to strengthen his followers in communion and to send them out on mission. That community soon felt the need to set down in writing all that had happened and what it meant, and so the scriptures started to be written, within the community of faith. Dei Verbum teaches that “The Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes” (DV 8). That is tradition, both the content and the process, and the scriptures have a unique and normative place within the tradition. It could be said that traditio, handing on, handing over, began when God sent his Son to humanity in the Incarnation. Once again, a personal focus is enlightening. The movement of life from God to humanity began at that point, and that current of life continues to flow through the ages, empowered by the Holy Spirit.
C. Reading scripture “in the Spirit” In his own commentary on DV, written shortly after the council, Ratzinger identified three major factors that had led the council to produce such a document: two significant issues and a welcome development. The issues were, first, the nature of tradition and the relationship between scripture and tradition, already discussed above; and, second, the role in scriptural exegesis of the new critical tools particularly pioneered by Protestant scholars starting in the 19th century. The third factor, a very positive one, was the biblical movement which had grown steadily since the start of the 20th century and had already by the time of the council brought about what he called “a fundamentally new attitude to Scripture in large areas of Catholic Christendom, giving rise to a new familiarity with it and an ever-increasing tendency, both in theology and piety, to go back to it.”58 With regard to the second factor, the Catholic Church had been very wary about the use of critical tools in biblical exegesis. There was a danger in their use that the holy scriptures, given to the Church by God, might be treated as just another piece of literature, like human writings, and analyzed without due respect for their true origin and a proper receptivity to their divine message. It may be said that the basic feature of Modernism in the early 20th century, memorably described by Pope Pius X as “the synthesis of all heresies,”59 was precisely that it made the human mind the measure of the things of God, inverting the proper relationship between God and humanity. Scriptural exegesis was one of its prime battlegrounds, for the reason just given. The Dominican scholar, Marie-Joseph Lagrange (1855-1938), who founded the École Biblique in Jerusalem in 1890, pioneered a responsible use of the new techniques within a Catholic context, but encountered difficulties in the face of Roman regulations. Something of a breakthrough occurred in 1935 when Augustin Bea (1881-1968), who was then rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute and a prominent scripture scholar, and who later exercised great influence at the council, received permission from Pope Pius XI to participate in a conference of scholars of the Old Testament at Göttingen. However, it was Pope Pius XII’s momentous encyclical letter of 1943, Divino Afflante Spiritu, which Bea helped to draft, that opened the doors to serious Catholic biblical scholarship, giving permission for the use of critical tools and for scholars to return to the Hebrew and Greek original texts of the scriptures, rather than using simply the Latin Vulgate. At the Ecole Biblique, work instantly started on a complete new translation with abundant notes, the Bible de Jérusalem (1946-1955), which appeared in English as the Jerusalem Bible in 1966. Dei Verbum strongly endorsed the use of modern critical tools, but with some essential accompanying indications. DV 12 says that the scriptural writers were “true authors”; inspired by God, yes, but using all their human faculties. It is therefore absolutely correct to search out, with all appropriate tools, “the meaning which the sacred writers really had in mind.” Attention must be paid to the literary forms that they used and to the narrative patterns of their times. However, what they wrote has a meaning beyond the merely human; it was inspired by God for the salvation of humanity. So, while use of those tools is necessary, it is not sufficient. Influenced by a remarkable speech from the Melkite Archbishop Néophytos Edelby (1920-1995) of Edessa on 5 October 1964, in a significant Eastern contribution to its deliberations, the council crafted the overall principle that “sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the same Spirit by whom it was written [cum Sacra Scripture eodem Spiritu quo scripta est etiam legenda et interpretanda sit]” (DV12). Edelby reminded the bishops of the fundamental patristic principle that, since the
Holy Spirit had inspired the scriptures, the latter must likewise be read in the Spirit,60 and it is important to realize that that is far from being simply a pious admonition. It actually means something very concrete, namely, that the scriptures must be read in the full context of how the Spirit guides, unifies and equips the Church. Dei Verbum 12 proceeds to unpack the principle. It means that each passage of scripture needs to be read with an eye to the unity of the whole of scripture (because the same Spirit inspired it all and there cannot be any contradictions), with an eye to the Church’s tradition (because the Spirit has guided that, too), and with an eye to the analogy of faith, the overall structure of belief shaped by the Spirit. We may surely add that it means being attentive to the guidance of the magisterium, because the same Spirit provides the Church with shepherds whose prime task is to preach the Gospel, as LG teaches (LG 25), and also that it means being attentive to the sensus fidei, ‘the supernatural appreciation of the faith’ that ‘the whole body of the faithful’ has, thanks to the anointing of the Holy Spirit (LG 12). Again, vital connections can be discerned between the council’s principal texts. DV actually refers to the essential role of the magisterium in chapter 2 (DV 10), and it also alludes there to the sensus fidei, when it speaks of the ways in which “[t]he Tradition that comes from the apostles makes progress in the Church, with the help of the Holy Spirit.” Before specifying the preaching of the pastors as one of those ways, the council mentions first of all “the contemplation and study of believers who ponder these things in their hearts” and have “an intimate sense [intelligentia] of spiritual realities” (DV 8), surely a reference to the sensus fidei. Overall, it might simply be said that the scriptures must be read within the communion of the Church, because the work of the Spirit is to draw humanity into communion or koinonia with God and with one another in Christ, and it is in the Church that that communion is lived and nurtured (cf. 2 Cor 13:13). Under the guidance of the Spirit, the scriptures were written in and by the Church, and it follows that they must be read in and by the Church, if they are to be properly understood. 61 In a very significant phrase, before mentioning the task of the magisterium to give “an authentic interpretation of the word of God,” DV 10 states that scripture and tradition make up “a single sacred deposit of the word of God, which is entrusted to the Church,” and that means the whole company of believers, “the entire holy people, united to its pastors” (amended trans.). Conclusion Recalling the third factor Ratzinger identified as influencing the production of DV, as already mentioned above, I would like to turn in conclusion to the final chapter of DV, which describes the manifold presence that scripture has or ought to have in the life of the Church. It gives many important directives: “access to sacred Scripture should be open wide to the Christian faithful” (DV 23), the “study of the sacred page” should be “the very soul of sacred theology,” the liturgical homily “should hold pride of place” among all the forms of Christian instruction (DV 24), and so on. The chapter starts with the remarkable statement that “[t]he Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures as she venerated the Body of the Lord,” and it refers to the nourishment received in the liturgy from “the one table of the Word of God and the Body of Christ” (DV 21), integrating what SC had said about that two-fold nourishment in terms of two tables (SC 48, 51). Perhaps the best commentary on that teaching was actually given in advance by de Lubac in 1950, when he said: “The life of the Church has its source in Scripture. It has it no less in the
Eucharist. Scripture and Eucharist, moreover, appear closely associated in everything, since it is in the midst of the same assembly, in the course of the same liturgy, that the Bread of the Word is broken and the Body of Christ is distributed. Both are the object of the same veneration.... [I]n both of them, it is the same Logos of God who comes to us and lifts us up to him.”62 Notable again is the unifying emphasis on the Logos, the person of Christ, who comes to the faithful in the liturgy in both of these ways, by means of scripture and by means of the Eucharist. Also, rather significantly, de Lubac’s famous principle, quoted earlier, that “the Eucharist makes the Church,” appears, in the light of these words, to be a somewhat reduced version of his full view. If the liturgy of the Eucharist is the second half of the Mass, the essential prelude is the liturgy of the Word. Together they form what SC describes as “one single act of worship” (SC 56). The Christian East generally understands this unity and harmony rather more easily than the West, probably because polemic between Catholics and Protestants has tragically polarized word and sacrament in Western minds. Alexander Schmemann emphasizes the Orthodox perspective when he says: “The liturgy of the Word is as sacramental as the sacrament is ‘evangelical.’ The sacrament is a manifestation of the Word. And unless the false dichotomy between Word and sacrament is overcome, the true meaning of Word and sacrament ... cannot be grasped.”63 In accord with the teaching of SC and DV, it is imperative to learn to think again of the liturgy with the word of God at its heart, as was depicted in the diagram above. In his address to the council, Archbishop Edelby emphasized that “Scripture is a liturgical and prophetic reality, a proclamation rather than a written book. It is the testimony of the Holy Spirit about the Christ event, whose privileged moment is the Eucharistic celebration.”64 Pope Francis states likewise: “The preaching of the word, living and effective, prepares for the reception of the sacrament, and in the sacrament that word attains its maximum efficacy.”65 A focus on the person of Christ, who, in the liturgical encounter with the faithful, instructs them before feeding them, helps to secure the necessary unity. At the heart of DV’s final chapter stands the famous saying of St Jerome: “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ” (DV 25),66 and since Christ is the light of the world, as LG said, and since all people need to encounter him, as GS taught, everything possible must be done, says DV, to put the sacred books into the hands of men and women so that “the treasure of Revelation entrusted to the Church” may fill their hearts, and, as St Paul said, “the Word of God may speed on and triumph” (DV 26; cf. 2 Th 3:1). Writing soon after the council, Ratzinger noted just how remarkable and new much of this teaching was. Previously, theology had reached its own conclusions by its own methods and then sought out proof-texts from scripture, but now it was being proposed that scripture itself should set the agenda, stimulating theological enquiry;67 it is, after all, the Word of God, conversing with his people. Then also, Catholic piety, which traditionally consisted mainly of devotions, was given “a new orientation.” Bible-reading was placed “at the center of Christian life,” he says, and the council itself practiced what it preached in that the book of the Gospels was enthroned each day in the council assembly, making the point that the “teaching Church” was first of all the “listening Church.”68 Then finally, he adds, “the dissemination of Scripture among non-Christians,” that Catholics normally associate with Protestants, was now commended to Catholics, too.69 The council was expressing, he says, a “confidence in the self-active power of the word”;70 the capacity, that is, of the word of God to work in ways beyond believers’ understanding if only they make it available. As was said above, there is no need for fancy wrapping, and there is no place for coercion. Let the Gospel speak for itself; or rather let the Word of God speak for himself,
to the men and women of today, and trust that, having been made in the image of God, his voice, deep down, is what they are longing to hear. This paper was delivered as part of the Chester and Margaret Paluch Lecture Series for 2016-2017 at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary. Léon-Josef Cardinal Suenens, “A Plan for the Whole Council,” in Alberic Stacpoole, ed., Vatican II by those who were there (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1986), 88-105, here at 88. 2 Joseph Ratzinger, Theological Highlights of Vatican II (New York/Mahwah NJ: Paulist Press, 2009), 19. 3 Suenens, “A Plan for the Whole Council,” 90. 4 Gerald P. Fogarty, “The Council Gets Underway,” in Giuseppe Alberigo, Joseph A. Komonchak, eds., History of Vatican II, vol. 2 (Maryknoll/Leuven: Orbis/Peeters, 1997), 69-106, here at 70. 5 Pope John XXIII, Opening Address, Gaudet Mater Ecclesia, 11 October 1962, in Walter M. Abbott, ed., The Documents of Vatican II (New York: Guild Press, 1966), 710-719. 6 Pope John XXIII, Radio Message, 11 September 1962, in Concilio Vaticano II: Costituzioni, Decreti, Dichiarazioni (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana,1998), 1083. 7 Ratzinger, Theological Highlights of Vatican II, 40, 43. 8 See John W. O’Malley, “Trent and Vatican II: Two Styles of Church,” in Raymond F. Bulman, Frederick J. Parrella, eds., From Trent to Vatican II: Historical and Theological Investigations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 301-320. 9 See Acta Synodalia Sacrosancti Concilii Oecumenici Vaticani II, vol. 1, pars 4 (Vatican City: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1971), 222-227. Cf. Giuseppe Ruggieri, “Beyond an Ecclesiology of Polemics: The Debate on the Church,” in Alberigo and Komonchak, History of Vatican II, vol. 2, 281-357, here at 343-344. 10 Suenens, “A Plan for the Whole Council,” 92. 11 See Suenens, “A Plan for the Whole Council,” 97-98. 12 Suenens, “A Plan for the Whole Council,” 97-98. As Suenens notes, Pope John showed his awareness of the plan when he referred to the final missionary mandate of Jesus, and to the Church ad intra and ad extra in his radio message on 11 September1962, a month before the opening of the council (“A Plan,” 90). It was to that radio message, rather than to Pope John’s opening address, that Suenens in turn referred when he presented his plan to the council (Acta Synodalia, 1/4, 224; Ruggieri, “Beyond an Ecclesiology of Polemics,” 343). 13 Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (2014), n.25. 14 See Jan Grootaers, “The Drama Continues Between the Acts: The ‘Second Preparation’ and its Opponents,” in Alberigo and Komonchak, eds., History of Vatican II, vol. 2, 359-514, here at 365-367. It was Suenens who made the initial presentation of the proposed Schema XVII (Grootaers, 367, note 20). 15 Unless otherwise noted, quotations from the documents of Vatican II are taken from Austin Flannery, ed., Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents (Northport/Dublin: Costello Publishing Company/Dominican Publications, 1996). 16 See also LG 3, 7, 11, regarding the link between the Eucharist and the Church. 17 Henri Cardinal de Lubac SJ, Corpus Mysticum: The Eucharist and the Church in the Middle Ages, trans. Gemma Simmonds with Richard Price (London: SCM, 2006), 88, 260 (French original, 1944, 1949); also, The Splendor of the Church, trans. Michael Mason (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986), 134, 152 (French original, 1953). See Paul McPartlan, “Eucharistic Ecclesiology,” One in Christ 22(1986), 314-331, here at 325-326; also Paul McPartlan, The Eucharist Makes the Church: Henri de Lubac and John Zizioulas in Dialogue, 2nd ed. (Fairfax VA: Eastern Christian Publications, 2006). 18 See Xavier Rynne, Vatican II (Maryknoll NY: Orbis,1999), 550. 19 Karol Wojtyla, Sources of Renewal: The Implementation of the Second Vatican Council (London: Collins, 1980), 35, 69. 20 Wojtyla, Sources of Renewal, 69. 21 See Paul McPartlan, “John Paul II and Vatican II,” in Gerard P. Mannion (ed.), The Vision of John Paul II: Assessing His Thought and Influence (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2008), 45-61, here at 47-53. 22 Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Letter, Mediator Dei (1947), n.19. 23 Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Dies Domini (1998), n.41; quoted by Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, n.137. 1
LG 26, quoting St Leo, Serm. 63, 7 (PL 54, 357C). As Pope Benedict XVI explains in his apostolic exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis (2007), n. 51, this dismissal indicates “the relationship between the Mass just celebrated and the mission of Christians in the world.” “These few words succinctly express the missionary nature of the Church.” On this, see Patrick Mullins, “The Mission Dimension of the Dismissal at Mass,” Milltown Studies 75 (Summer 2015), 52–91. 26 Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 174. 27 “On the Dignity of the Human Person,” in Karol Wojtyla, Person and Community: Selected Essays, trans. Theresa Sandok (New York: Peter Lang, 1993), 177-180, here at 177. 28 For another presentation of the diagram, in the context of a consideration of the teaching of Vatican II on the Holy Spirit, see Paul McPartlan, An Evangelizing Communion: The Church, The Holy Spirit, and Vatican II, at http://www.duq.edu/events/holy-spirit-lecture-and-colloquium/2014. 29 Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter, Redemptor Hominis (1979), n.9. 30 Pope John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis, n.13. 31 See Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Nuntiandi (1975), n.15: “The Church is an evangelizer, but she begins by being evangelized herself”; Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, n.174: “The Church does not evangelize unless she constantly lets herself be evangelized.” 32 See B. C. Butler, A Time To Speak (Southend-on-Sea: Mayhew-McCrimmon, 1972), 165: “The Church, The Body of Christ, has nothing less than Christ to communicate, Christ who is the self-communication in love of God to mankind.” See Paul McPartlan, “The Idea of the Church. Abbot Butler and Vatican II,” The Downside Review 121(2003), 39-52. 33 Robert Murray, “Revelation (Dei Verbum),” in Adrian Hastings, ed., Modern Catholicism: Vatican II and After (London/New York: SPCK/Oxford University Press, 1991), 74-83, here at 74. 34 Ratzinger considers that these opening words make “quite clear programmatically” the connection between the constitutions, DV and LG: “here the whole life of the Church is, as it were, opened upwards and its whole being gathered together in an attitude of listening, which can be the only source of what it has to say.” Joseph Ratzinger, “Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation: Preface,” in Herbert Vorgrimler, ed., Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II, vol. 3, trans. William Glen-Doepel, Hilda Graef, John Michael Jakubiak, and Simon and Erika Young (New York/London: Herder and Herder/Burns & Oates, 1968), 167-169, here at 167. 35 Henri de Lubac, La révélation divine (Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf,1983), 169. 36 De Lubac, La révélation divine, 25. 37 De Lubac, La révélation divine, 26. 38 De Lubac, La révélation divine, 34; cf. Eph 1:9; Col 1:26; 2:2. 39 De Lubac, La révélation divine, 34. 40 See Henri de Lubac, Catholicism: Christ and the Common Destiny of Man, trans. Lancelot C. Sheppard and Sister Elizabeth Englund (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988), 339-340 (French original,1938). 41 First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, Dei Filius (1870), chapter 3 (DH 3008). 42 First Vatican Council, Dei Filius, chapter 3 (DH 3009). 43 First Vatican Council, Dei Filius, chapter 4 (DH 3015). 44 The decisive idea that de Lubac later stated in Catholicism is that “the vision of God is a free gift, and yet the desire for it is at the root of every soul” (Catholicism, 327). In other words, human beings have a natural desire for the supernatural, as de Lubac expounded and defended at length in his celebrated work, Surnaturel (Paris: Aubier,1946). 45 See “Apologetics and Theology,” in Henri de Lubac, Theological Fragments (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1989), 91-104, here at 93. 46 De Lubac, “Apologetics and Theology,” 95. 47 Henri de Lubac, At the Service of the Church: Henri de Lubac Reflects on the Circumstances That Occasioned His Writings, trans. Anne Elizabeth Englund (San Francisco: Ignatius Press,1993), 185; translation amended with reference to Henri de Lubac, Mémoire sur l’occasion de mes écrits (Namur: Culture et vérité, 1989), 189. 48 De Lubac, La révélation divine, 169: “Si la Constitution Lumen Gentium est le centre autour duquel s’organisent la plupart des documents élaborés par le Concile, la Constitution Dei Verbum en est à la fois le portique et le fondement.” It seems likely that he means the doorway and the foundation specifically of LG here, rather than of the council itself, though the latter meaning certainly follows. Charles Moeller similarly commented: “Lumen Gentium is founded on Dei Verbum,” “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World: History of the Constitution,” 25
in Herbert Vorgrimler, ed., Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II, vol. 5, trans. W. J. O’Hara (New York/London: Herder and Herder/Burns & Oates, 1969), 1-76, here at 70. 49 Vatican II, Dignitatis Humanae (1965), n.1; cf. Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Tertio Millennio Adveniente (1994), n.35. 50 Yves Congar, as quoted in “La schéma sur la Révélation,” in Documentation Catholique, LXI (November 1,1964), cols. 1393-1394, quoted in turn by Gabriel Moran, Theology of Revelation (London: Search Press, 1973), 17. 51 Ratzinger, Theological Highlights of Vatican II, 48. 52 Council of Trent, Decree on the Reception of the Sacred Books and Traditions (1546; DH 1501). 53 See Joseph Ratzinger, “Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation: Origin and Background,” in Vorgrimler, ed., Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II, vol. 3, 155-166, here at 156-157; also, Joseph Ratzinger, “Revelation and Tradition,” in Karl Rahner, Joseph Ratzinger, Revelation and Tradition, trans. W.J. O’Hara (Freiburg: Herder, 1966), 26-49, here at 32-33. 54 Trent, Decree on the Reception of the Sacred Books and Traditions, DH 1501. 55 See Pope Benedict XVI, Apostolic Exhortation, Verbum Domini (2010), n. 7: “the Scripture is to be proclaimed, heard, read, received and experienced as the word of God, in the stream of the apostolic Tradition from which it is inseparable.” 56 P. C. Rodger and Lukas Vischer, eds., The Fourth World Conference on Faith and Order: Montreal 1963 (New York: Association Press, 1964), Section Report II, para. 45 (p. 52). 57 Catechism of the Catholic Church (editio typica, 1997), n.108. Cf. Pope Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini, n. 7. 58 Ratzinger, “Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation: Origin and Background,” 155-158. 59 Pope Pius X, Encyclical Letter, Pascendi Dominici Gregis (1907), n.39. 60 See Thomas J. McGovern, “The Interpretation of Scripture ‘in the Spirit’: the Edelby Intervention at Vatican II,” Irish Theological Quarterly 64(1999), 245-259. 61 See the highly regarded document produced by the Pontifical Biblical Commission in 1993: The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church. 62 Henri de Lubac, History and Spirit: The Understanding of Scripture According to Origen, trans. Anne Englund Nash (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2007), 407; French original, 1950. 63 Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy (St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1973), 32-33. He continues: “The proclamation of the Word is a sacramental act par excellence because it is a transforming act. It transforms the human words of the Gospel into the Word of God and the manifestation of the Kingdom. And it transforms the man who hears the Word into a receptacle of the Word and a temple of the Spirit.” Cf. Alexander Schmemann, The Eucharist: Sacrament of the Kingdom (Crestwood NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press,1988), 66; also, John Breck, The Power of the Word in the Worshiping Church (Crestwood NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press,1986), 11-22. 64 McGovern, “The Interpretation of Scripture ‘in the Spirit,’” 249. 65 Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, n.174. He prefaces this statement by saying: “We have long since moved beyond that old contraposition between word and sacrament.” 66 Jerome, Comm. in Isaias, Prol. (PL 24,17) 67 See Joseph Ratzinger, “Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation: Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church,” in Vorgrimler, ed., Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II, vol. 3, 262-272, here at 269. 68 Ratzinger, “Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church,” 270-271. 69 Ratzinger, “Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church,” 271. 70 Ratzinger, “Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church,” 271.
Synodality, Primacy, and the Role of Theology By Msgr. Paul McPartlan, S.T.L., D.Phil. A word heard more frequently in Catholic circles nowadays, particularly as a result of the teaching of Pope Francis, is “synodality.” In his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis referred to it when talking about relations between separated Christians in light of the working of the Holy Spirit: How many important things unite us! If we really believe in the abundantly free working of the Holy Spirit, we can learn so much from one another! It is not just about being better informed about others, but rather about reaping what the Spirit has sown in them, which is also meant to be a gift for us. To give but one example, in the dialogue with our Orthodox brothers and sisters, we Catholics have the opportunity to learn more about the meaning of episcopal collegiality and their experience of synodality. Through an exchange of gifts, the Spirit can lead us ever more fully into truth and goodness.1 There are various echoes of Pope John Paul II here. In his apostolic letter, Novo Millennio Ineunte (2001), he called for the Church to become “the home and school of communion” and for the promotion of a “spirituality of communion” that would take St Paul’s teaching on the body of Christ seriously. For example, it would mean welcoming the gifts that our brothers and sisters in Christ have received and appreciating each one not only as a gift for them “but also as a ‘gift for me.’”2 In his encyclical letter on ecumenism, Ut Unum Sint (1995), he famously said that ecumenical dialogue “is not simply an exchange of ideas”. “In some way it is always an ‘exchange of gifts,’”3 and he had in mind the teaching of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) about the sharing of gifts that properly occurs within the communion and catholicity of the Church.4 So we are firmly in the context of an ecclesiology of communion, with an emphasis on the work and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who gives the gift of communion (koinonia) to the Church (see 2 Cor 13:13). Synodality is highly prized among the Orthodox and Pope Francis wishes Catholics to learn from Orthodox experience in a spirit of communion. In fact, synodality is normally interpreted as actually referring to the communion life of the Church, with a particular accent on some of its manifestations, such as episcopal collegiality and the holding of synods. The 2007 Ravenna Document, agreed by the international Catholic-Orthodox theological dialogue, likens the word synodality to another, “conciliarity,” and says that both come from the word “council” (synodos in Greek, concilium in Latin), “which primarily denotes a gathering of bishops exercising a particular responsibility.”5 So synodality primarily refers to the communion or collegiality among bishops which is particularly manifest when they gather in councils or synods. However, it adds that “in a more comprehensive sense” the word refers to “all the members of the Church,” to the communion of all the baptized, and it says: “each member of the Body of Christ, by virtue of baptism, has his or her place and proper responsibility in eucharistic koinonia (communio in Latin).” “Conciliarity [synodality] reflects the Trinitarian mystery and finds therein its ultimate foundation.”6 We shall return to the link with the Trinity, but let us note for now the fundamental link between the fellowship of the bishops and the communion of all the baptized. The former has what
Joseph Ratzinger once called its “sustaining foundation” in the latter. In an important article at the end of the Second Vatican Council, which had defined episcopal collegiality (see LG 22) and spoken, as already noted, of the communion life of the Church as a whole, Ratzinger said firmly that “ultimately there is collegiality of the bishops when there is brotherliness of the Church; and the collegiality of the bishops fulfils its meaning only if it serves that brotherliness and if it is actualized in a brotherly spirit.” Moreover, he too anchored both of these manifestations of communion in the Trinity. Stating one of his characteristic themes, he said that in the Christian life “the ‘I’ is in all things fitted into a more comprehensive ‘We’ from which and for which it lives.” The “pluralistic structure of Christian life” and of “spiritual office” relates “in its ultimate depth” to the mystery of God, who, “without injury to his indivisible unity and oneness, comprises the ‘We’ of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”7 During the second of the two sessions of the Synod of Bishops that met in Rome in 2014 and 2015, respectively, to discuss the family, Pope Francis gave a remarkable address marking the 50th anniversary of the institution of the Synod in which he explained his vision of “an entirely synodal Church,” and said that “we are all called” to build such a Church. Turning a familiar image of the Church upside-down, he said that properly understood the Church is “an inverted pyramid,” in which “the top is located beneath the base.” Those with authority, the ministers, are really servants: the bishop is vicar of Christ (see LG 27) in serving the people of his local church, and the pope himself, “Successor of Peter,” is the servant of the servants, “servus servorum Dei.” Synodality, he said, is “a constitutive element of the Church.” It provides a proper framework for understanding “the hierarchical ministry,” and “the Petrine primacy” in particular. “The Pope is not, by himself, above the Church; but within it as one of the baptized, and within the College of Bishops as a Bishop among Bishops, called at the same time—as Successor of Peter—to lead the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches.”8 Pope Francis said those words fully aware that the relationship between synodality and primacy is a crucial issue for Catholic-Orthodox reconciliation,9 currently under discussion by the international theological dialogue,10 and his comment serves to introduce the idea of primacy and to show that, even though Catholic theology understood the pope to be at the top of an upright pyramid depicting the Church for much of the second millennium, the papacy does not have to be seen in that way.11 Pope John Paul expressed his openness to finding “a way of exercising the primacy [of the bishop of Rome] which, while in no way renouncing what is essential to its mission, is nonetheless open to a new situation,” and he famously called for dialogue, especially with the pastors and theologians of the Orthodox Church, to that end. Wanting to seek ways in which that primacy might be recognized as “a service of love,” he looked back to the patterns of the first millennium.12 In quoting St Ignatius of Antioch’s phrase about the church of Rome presiding in charity,13 as he has done many times, beginning with his first balcony appearance after his election, Pope Francis himself was looking back to the earliest patterns of primacy, and suggesting that bishops, metropolitans, patriarchs and ultimately the pope himself are best understood as nodal points in the synodal life of the Church, as focal points in the communion of charity. That is what primacy means in the midst of synodality. I would like to consider, first, the development of communion ecclesiology in recent Catholic theology, especially in the teaching of the Vatican II, and the idea of synodality as a further stage of that development; second, the link between the Church and the Trinity, and how primacy can be understood in relation to synodality; and third, how the role and service of theology might be envisaged in a synodal Church.
Communion Ecclesiology The leading idea in Catholic ecclesiology for much of the second millennium was of the Church as a perfect society (societas perfecta),14 which primarily means not morally perfect but institutionally complete, capable of running its own affairs without interference from civil powers. That notion was crucial in the battle to ensure the independence of the Church from the State. Associated with the image of the (upright) pyramid, it understood the pope at the summit to have the fullness of power (plenitudo potestatis) and the bishops at the level underneath to be sharing in his solicitude for the Church by governing their own dioceses with power delegated from the pope.15 The priests underneath them ministered to the people at the bottom of the pyramid. Two powers were understood to be exercised in the Church: power of order and power of jurisdiction.16 Priests had the fullness of the power of order (though that phrase was not actually used) and becoming a bishop conferred no further power of order, but rather power of jurisdiction to govern the Church, under the pope. In other words, the two powers were exercised by members of the hierarchy, and the people at the bottom of the pyramid were power-less. Pope Gregory XVI (1831-46) expressed the sharp division as follows: “No one can overlook the fact that the Church is an unequal society in which God has destined some to command and others to obey. The latter are the laity, while the former are the clergy.”17 The great Tübingen theologian, Johann Adam Möhler (1796-1838), criticized the idea that “God created the hierarchy and in this way provided more than sufficiently for the needs of the Church until the end of the world”—which might be called a trickle-down view of the Church. Yves Congar characterized such a view as “hierarchology”18 rather than ecclesiology, marked by “the almost obsessive dominance of the Roman pontiff.”19 It was an institutional view rather than an organic one; as he tellingly summarized: “Christ was seen essentially as the founder of this society rather than as its actual foundation.”20 The late-19th and early-20th centuries saw that vision complemented and corrected by prominent scriptural images, especially the body of Christ and the people of God, recovered under the influence of the renewal in biblical scholarship that was one of the most important movements leading to Vatican II. The organic idea of the Church as the (mystical) body of Christ actually appeared in the first chapter of the First Vatican Council’s draft constitution on the Church, but was much criticized21 and did not feature in the short constitution finally promulgated, Pastor Aeternus (1870), which focused on defining papal primacy and infallibility. However, the idea made a decisive return with the encyclical letter of Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis (1943), and was in turn then complemented and corrected by the image of the people of God, which stressed the continuity of the Church with the people of God in the Old Testament, the qahal Yahwe, the ekklesia tou Theou, and incorporated the idea of pilgrimage to a destination still in the future.22 With that sense of still journeying as sinners and not yet having reached perfection, it remedied the tendency of the body of Christ image so to identify the Church with Christ that, as Ratzinger says, “any criticism [of the Church] could appear as an attack on Christ himself,” ignoring what he calls “the human and all too human aspects of the Church.”23 Both of these images were ultimately prominent in Lumen Gentium: the body of Christ receiving special attention (LG 7) amid the wide range of scriptural images for the Church treated in chapter one, and reflection on the people of God constituting the whole of chapter two (LG 917). Particularly significant in light of the development of Catholic ecclesiology was the decision taken during discussion of the draft constitution in 1963 to divide into two the chapter that had
been entitled “The people of God and the laity in particular” and had followed, in pyramidal fashion, the chapter on “The hierarchical constitution of the Church and the episcopate in particular,” so as to distinguish between the people of God and the laity and place a new chapter on the people of God before the chapter on the hierarchy.24 Such an order clearly indicated that the ordained are baptized members of the people of God first of all, subsequently called to a ministry of service, as in the inverted pyramid preferred by Pope Francis. In 1970, Congar, who greatly influenced the council in this and other areas, looked back on the development of his own thought on the laity and ministries in the Church since the 1950s. Very significantly, he said that he originally adopted a linear scheme from Christ to the hierarchy to the Church, or Christ to the priesthood to the faithful, but had come to see that as inadequate, because it considered the priest prior to and outside of the community, and “effectively reduced the edification of the community to the action of the hierarchy.” The reality is “much richer,” he said. “It is God, it is Christ who, by the Holy Spirit, continually builds up his Church,” through charisms and a variety of ministries. Instead of using the simple distinction between priesthood and laity, as he himself had done, it was therefore better to think in terms of a single community with many internal ministries and services. In short, what Christ wants, he said, is “a structured community,” as is evident from the very start when he chose the Twelve “from within the community of his disciples.”25 This changed viewpoint is repeatedly reflected in the teaching of Vatican II. The people of God is treated before the hierarchy in Lumen Gentium, as just seen, and in consequence the sensus fidei of the people as a whole, “aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth” (LG 12), is treated before the teaching office or magisterium of the pope and the bishops (LG 24-25). Vatican II’s dogmatic constitution on divine revelation teaches that scripture and tradition make up “a single sacred deposit of the word of God, which is entrusted to the Church,” that is “the entire holy people,” before referring to the office of authentically interpreting that word, which has been entrusted to the magisterium (DV 10), and it teaches that tradition makes progress in the Church “through the contemplation and study of believers” before referring to progress via the preaching of the bishops (DV 8). Similarly, with reference to the relationship between St Peter and the apostles, the council’s decree on ecumenism says that Christ entrusted the three offices of teaching, ruling and sanctifying to “the College of the Twelve” and then that from among them he chose Peter and conferred on him the keys of the kingdom (UR 2). Lumen Gentium correspondingly teaches that bishops are actually ordained to their office (so that they have “the fullness of the sacrament of Orders,” unlike the scholastic understanding mentioned earlier), and that they receive from their ordination not only the office (munus) of sanctifying but also the offices of teaching and ruling which should be exercised in “hierarchical communion” with the pope and the college of bishops (LG 21), but it is clear that those gifts do not come to the bishop from the pope or through the pope, as was often taught in the second millennium.26 In each of these cases, a pyramidal understanding, from Christ through the pope and the bishops to the people, is being replaced by a communional understanding of the bishops among the people and the pope among the bishops, all being sustained in their gifts and various roles by the Holy Spirit. The Extraordinary Synod held in 1985 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the closing of Vatican II said that “[t]he ecclesiology of communion is the central and fundamental idea of the Council’s documents.”27 Some lamented that with this strong statement the idea of communion eclipsed the image of the people of God that was so prominent in Lumen Gentium.28 However, the crucial role and pervasive presence of the idea of communion in the council’s documents29 cannot
be denied. Communion may be said to be the very essence of the body of Christ, as the bond between the many members; the council itself refers to the people of God as “a communion of life, love and truth” (LG 9); and the link frequently made between the Church and the Trinity (e.g. LG 4, UR 2, GS 24) most fundamentally grounds the idea. Nevertheless, if the image of the body of Christ needed nuance to take account of the sins and failings of Church members still far from a state of perfection, surely the same is true of the Church as communion, icon of the Trinity.30 The Church is indeed a communion, but still striving to live that life more truly, still on pilgrimage. History must not be forgotten.31 The image of the people of God supplied that awareness to balance the image of the body of Christ, and I would suggest that the idea of synodality does the same for the idea of communion, because synodality in fact has an intriguing double sense. It means communion, conciliarity, and collegiality, as mentioned above, but literally it means “journeying together,” taking the way together (syn + hodos), a description Pope Francis has frequently applied to the Church: “the Church is nothing other than the ‘journeying together’ of God’s flock along the paths of history towards the encounter with Christ the Lord.”32 So synodality may be said to be communion-onthe-way. The Church is a community which journeys together and gathers along the way, regularly for the liturgy and periodically to take counsel together in synods of various kinds.33 Synodality dynamically captures both of those dimensions of the Church in history, and implicitly acknowledges that the Church as communion is a work in progress. Trinity, Church and Primacy As already mentioned, the link between the Church and the Trinity is taught several times by Vatican II. Lumen Gentium quotes St Cyprian saying that the universal Church is “a people brought into unity from the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” (LG 4).34 Unitatis Redintegratio says of “the sacred mystery of the unity of the Church” that its “highest exemplar and source” is “the unity, in the Trinity of Persons, of [the] one God, the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit” (UR 2). Finally, Gaudium et Spes teaches that when Jesus prayed to his Father for his disciples at the Last Supper “that they may all be one ... even as we are one” (Jn 17:21-22) he “opened up new horizons closed to human reasoning by implying that there is a certain parallel between the union existing between the divine persons and the union of the [children] of God in truth and love” (GS 24). These texts mark a significant deepening of reflection on the Church. The pre-conciliar renewal of ecclesiology had recovered the biblical idea of the Church as the body of Christ, a union and communion in him. However, since Christ is God the Son incarnate, the second person of the Trinity, most deeply it can be said that the life in which the members of the Church participate in Christ is the communion life of the Trinity. Congar pioneered that deepening in his landmark study of ecumenism in a Catholic context, Chrétiens Désunis, in 1937,35 which included a section “Ecclesia de Trinitate” in which he explained the unity of the Church as “a communication and extension of the unity of God himself.”36 Highlighting the crucial importance of the Incarnation, he said: “The Church is in a sense an extension or manifestation of the Trinity, the mystery of God in humanity; the Trinity and the Church, it is truly God who comes from God and returns to God, bringing back with him and in him his human creature.”37 It is therefore in Christ and only in him that the Church has its relationship with the Trinity: “the Church is the actual sharing of the life of the Blessed Trinity in Christ.”38
It follows that in any statement linking the Church to the Trinity the mediation of Christ is implicit and understood. Behind, as it were, the mystery of the body of Christ lies the mystery of the Trinity; it is as the body of Christ that the Church is icon of the Trinity, and that gives rise to many fascinating questions with regard to the theological basis for primacy. Primacy in the Church most immediately follows from the fact that the body of Christ has a head, namely Christ himself. There is no communion among the members without Christ as head; synodality needs primacy. On the other hand, it must immediately be added that the whole purpose of Christ’s coming was to take his bride to himself (see Eph 5: 25-27), so Christ is really unthinkable without his body the Church, as St Augustine profoundly expressed in referring to the totus Christus, head and body.39 Thus, there is no head without a body, and it follows that there is no primacy without synodality. The Catholic-Orthodox Ravenna Document states as a matter of principle that “[p]rimacy and conciliarity [synodality] are mutually interdependent,”40 and it applies that understanding at three levels of the Church’s life: local, regional and universal.41 The link between primacy and the headship of Christ is well understood in Catholic ecclesiology. The universal primacy of the pope has long been associated with the title “vicar of Christ,” particularly claimed by Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) in the context of a pyramidal understanding of the Church.42 A notable feature of the communion ecclesiology of Vatican II, characterized by an emphasis on the Eucharist, on the local church and on the collegiality of the bishops, was an extension of that title so as to recognize every bishop as a “vicar of Christ” (LG 27, also 21), as mentioned already. The regional level of the Church, marked in the Latin West by the existence of episcopal conferences, is much more strongly recognized in the Christian East, where patriarchs exercise primacy over their churches. The Ravenna Document highlighted the headship of regional primates by recalling an ancient canon, Apostolic Canon 34, dating probably from the 5th century, which says that the bishops of “each province (ethnos)” should “recognize the one who is first (protos) amongst them, and consider him to be their head (kephale).” The canon says that the bishops “must not do anything important without [the primate’s] consent” and that he likewise “cannot do anything without the consent of all.” In that way, it says, “God will be praised through the Lord in the Holy Spirit.”43 That interesting Trinitarian conclusion takes us back to the mystery of the Trinity which lies behind the mystery of the body of Christ, and prompts a question: is there a headship in the Trinity, so that structurally, so to speak, the Church with primacy and synodality at its three levels reflects not only the mystery of Christ and his body but also the mystery of God himself? It can certainly be said that among the Trinitarian persons there is one who is first, namely the Father, of whom the Son is begotten and from whom the Spirit proceeds, as is professed in the Creed.44 However, Catholic theology and, with one notable exception, Orthodox theology have not traditionally related primacy in the Church to the position of God the Father in the Trinity.45 The notable exception is the celebrated Greek Orthodox theologian, Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon, who has argued that there is a consistent motif of “the one and the many” in the being of God, in the being of Christ, and in the Church itself at the local, regional and universal levels,46 and that “Church hierarchy is modeled on the personal relations of the Holy Trinity.”47 The one and the many, he says, is “the mystery of Christology and Pneumatology, the mystery of the Church and at the same time of the Eucharist.”48 The celebration of the Eucharist is in fact the focal point for the communication in Christ of the life of God himself to the local church: “[i]n the Eucharist the Church becomes a reflection of the eschatological community of Christ, the Messiah, an image of the Trinitarian life of God”;49 and the one Eucharist in all local
churches unites them regionally and universally not simply as a “unity in collectivity” but much more radically as a “unity in identity.”50 It is thus the Eucharist that unites all of the instances of the one and the many in Zizioulas’ understanding and gives his vision its striking cohesion, and he maintains that, particularly in the light of its concluding Trinitarian doxology, Apostolic Canon 34 gives a template for the relations between the one (i.e. the primate) and the many at all levels, including the universal, in the Church. It can therefore serve as “the golden rule of the theology of primacy.”51 How distinctive his view is, even within Orthodoxy, can be gauged from the fact that in the paper just cited he refers approvingly to Alexander Schmemann’s presentation of “The Idea of Primacy in Orthodox Theology,” in which Schmemann himself argues for primacy in the Church not only regionally but also at the universal level, and cites Apostolic Canon 34, but without the concluding doxology. It seems that for Schmemann the doxology is insignificant; his argument is based not on the Trinity but completely on the idea of the Church as the body of Christ and on a eucharistic ecclesiology developed without explicit reference to the communion of the Trinity.52 The systematic cohesion of Zizioulas’ proposal is impressive, and it opens important pathways for further research and ecumenical dialogue. He acknowledges that, especially with regard to the way in which he integrates Christology and Pneumatology, his proposal is not widely endorsed ecumenically, nor even agreed among his fellow Orthodox.53 By its very boldness, it prompts many questions as to the adaptations needed across the manifold applications of the motif of the one and the many. Also, for instance, even if the communion of the body of Christ undoubtedly derives from the communion of the Trinity, is there need in the Church for “a ministry reflecting and imaging the Father,”54 as Zizioulas says, when the Church as the body of Christ offers worship through him, with him and in him to God the Father.55 Is it not significant that, of the two typologies used by Ignatius of Antioch, according to which the bishop in the liturgy would represent God the Father and Christ, respectively, it was the latter that prevailed?56 In striving for Catholic-Orthodox consensus on synodality and primacy, the Ravenna Document and the recent Chieti Document57 are both more nuanced, particularly in their use of Apostolic Canon 34, while clearly affirming that “the Church is an ‘eikon’ of the Holy Trinity.”58 It is agreed that synodality and primacy are “interrelated, complementary and inseparable,”59 but also that their relationship has taken “various forms” in the history of the Church,60 and that it surely varies in its manifestation at the local, regional and universal levels of the Church’s life. Nevertheless, eucharistic ecclesiology, pioneered by Nicholas Afanassieff and Henri de Lubac, and remarkably developed by Zizioulas,61 strongly taught by Vatican II (see SC 2, 10; LG 3, 7, 11, 26), and increasingly emphasized in Catholic teaching since the council,62 has provided the framework for Catholic-Orthodox dialogue from the outset, and is of the utmost importance for Catholic-Orthodox progress on synodality and primacy.63 Even if primacy is not explicitly related to the role of God the Father in the Trinity, there is a growing consensus that in all its forms, local, regional and universal, it is related to the celebration of the Eucharist in which holy communion is received by the Church in and through Christ from its ultimate source in the Trinity. With regard to universal primacy, in particular, which is the most problematic issue for Catholics and Orthodox to resolve, the Chieti Document acknowledges the “eucharistic character”of the communion of the patriarchal sees, and the need for the traditional taxis or ordering among them, in which Rome occupies first place, in order to know how concelebrating patriarchs will stand in the Eucharist,64 and of course who will preside. It also recognizes the necessary involvement of the bishop of Rome for a Church council to be
ecumenical, and the historical role of the bishop of Rome in receiving appeals from bishops both western and eastern.65 While the first of these roles of the bishop of Rome is explicitly eucharistic, it is possible to see the latter two services as implicitly eucharistic, and thereby to suggest overall that “the universal primacy exists in order to symbolize and serve the harmony of the Church in unity, charity and peace that comes from its regular Eucharistic life.”66 Vatican II taught that in the Eucharist “we take part in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the Holy City of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims” (SC 8). In a synodal Church, a communion-on-the-way, the Eucharist gives food for the journey, and the ministry of primacy which provides focal points for the communion of the Church at various levels can be seen, fundamentally, as a service to the mystery of the Eucharist. In a synodal Church, journeying and gathering, the primate is not above but among. Several times in 2013 Pope Francis spoke of the importance of bishops being among their people. “The Bishop has to be among his people in three ways: in front of them, pointing the way; among them, keeping them together and preventing them from being scattered; and behind them, ensuring that no one is left behind, but also, and primarily, so that the flock itself can sniff out new paths,”67 thanks to the sensus fidei that the people have.68 Such is likewise the role and place of the universal primate. In his major address on synodality on 2015, Pope Francis said that a synodal Church is “a Church which listens.” “It is a mutual listening in which everyone has something to learn. The faithful people, the college of bishops, the Bishop of Rome: all listening to each other, and all listening to the Holy Spirit, the ‘Spirit of truth’ (Jn 14:17), in order to know what he ‘says to the Churches’ (Rev 2:7).” He then described the process followed by the Catholic Church’s Synod of Bishops. It begins with “listening to the people of God” who share in Christ’s prophetic office (see LG 12), then continues by “listening to the pastors ... as authentic guardians, interpreters and witnesses of the faith of the whole Church,” (see LG 25, DV 10) and “culminates in listening to the Bishop of Rome ... as ‘pastor and teacher of all Christians.’”69 This description of stages in an unfolding process corresponds to the communional understanding of the Church outlined earlier: it is within the believing Church that the bishops lead and teach, and within the body of bishops that the bishop of Rome leads and teaches, leading and teaching going together because Christianity begins with the proclamation of the Good News of peace and reconciliation in Christ. The Church’s leaders, as signs and servants of the unity which is intrinsic to the Gospel, are necessarily guardians of the Church’s teaching, also: proclaiming the Gospel is their own primary task (LG 25), and determining what is truly in accordance with it is properly their responsibility (DV 10).70 The Role of Theology In its 2012 document, Theology Today: Perspectives, Principles, and Criteria, the International Theological Commission (ITC) said that, in exercising their teaching office (magisterium), the Church’s leaders should call upon the assistance of theologians,71 certainly not as a “parallel” magisterium (TT 39), but rather because of the particular calling that theologians themselves have, namely to “explore and explain” the faith of the Church (TT 35). In fact, in accordance with the complementarity of gifts in the body of Christ, it indicated the mutual benefits of collaboration between the (ecclesiastical) magisterium and theology: “the magisterium needs theology in order to demonstrate in its interventions not only doctrinal authority, but also theological competence and a capacity for critical evaluation,” and in turn “the magisterium is an
indispensable help to theology by its authentic transmission of the deposit of faith ..., particularly at decisive times of discernment” (TT 39). The relationship between theologians and the magisterium can be difficult at times (see TT 42), and those two key principles helpfully highlight the distinction of roles and responsibilities between bishops and theologians, the division of labor, so to speak, that accords with the respective gifts of the Spirit that members of both groups have received for the overall benefit of the Church.72 The gifts might perhaps broadly be described as geared to deliberation and decision, respectively. For good results, the “times of discernment” just mentioned should be richly ecclesial times, with ample listening, as in the three-stage process outlined by Pope Francis in his account of synodality in action: listening to the people, then to the bishops, and then to the bishop of Rome. The bishops are gifted for decision by the “sure charism of truth [charisma veritatis certum],” that is conferred with episcopal ordination, as Vatican II recognized (DV 8), following St Irenaeus,73 but that truth lives in the Church as a whole, “pillar and bulwark of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15), as the council also acknowledged. The “single sacred deposit of the Word of God” has been entrusted to the entirety of God’s holy people (DV 10), as was seen earlier. It is the Church’s faith that the bishops teach, as it is the infallibility “with which the Divine Redeemer willed his Church to be endowed”74 that the bishop of Rome, head of the college of bishops, and the college as a whole in union with him exercise on particularly solemn occasions (see LG 25). It is the proper task and responsibility of theologians to enable the corporate deliberation that should therefore undergird magisterial pronouncements to be as well informed, abundantly resourced and carefully pondered as possible, and that is why the magisterium needs theologians and bishops should call upon them (see TT 39), the towering example of such collaboration in recent times being the vast theological endeavor that facilitated the work of the bishops at Vatican II. More generally, however, outside of the particular context of a council or of preparation for a magisterial act, it is the regular responsibility of theologians to foster the searching exploration of the Church’s faith and the fruitful interaction between bishops and the people of God as a whole75 and also between the Church and the world that enables the mind of the Church to mature into the mind of Christ (see 1 Cor 2:16). The ecclesiology of communion espoused by the council and developing now in the direction of synodality provides a very favorable context for the collaboration and dialogue experienced at the council to be broadened and deepened. At its heart, the council had an understanding of the dynamism of the word of God.76 Dei Verbum recalls the request of St Paul for prayers that “the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph” (2 Thess 3:1; see DV 26), a request that evokes the power of God’s word in the history of the world, and echoes God’s pledge through the prophet Isaiah that his word would not return to him empty but would accomplish his purpose (Is 55:11). The ITC document reflects that intrinsic dynamism and power when it says that listening to God’s Word is “the definitive principle of Catholic theology” and that “it leads to understanding and speech and to the formation of Christian community” (TT 4). Being made in the image and likeness of God as human beings are, the very truth of God, accepted in faith, “stimulates the believer’s reason”; and the understanding of faith, the intellectus fidei, “unfolds naturally from the believer’s act of faith” (TT 62-63). To receive and thrive on that truth is why we were made; faith naturally seeks understanding, to recall St Anselm’s definition of theology (see TT 19),77 and while in a sense that means that all believers so seeking can be called theologians78 the term is specifically used for those who seek in diverse fields and with many specialized skills “to present the content of the Christian mystery in a rational and scientific way” (TT 18), organized and intelligible (see TT 62), in service to the Church and
its mission, which is to proclaim the good news to people of every nation, tribe, people and language ..., and, by enabling them to hear the voice of the one Lord, to gather them all into one flock with one shepherd” (TT 3). Many works nowadays present themselves as works of theology. The ITC document seeks to offer criteria for theology in the Catholic Church’s understanding of the term. That still embraces “a multitude of forms” but one with “distinctive family traits” (TT 2). Rightly understood, the criteria are far from being restrictions. Rather, they seek to identify the relationships and the proper disciplines that enable theology truly to be itself, making its essential contribution to the life and health of the Church. The fundamental principle is that theology is a “ministry ... exercised in and for the Church” (TT 45)—in the sense that theologians should work in an ecclesial spirit, whether or not their teaching role is formally recognized by the Church79—and the criteria closely reflect the understanding of the Church that we have been developing here, as a synodal community journeying with its pastors and regularly gathering to praise God and to take counsel. The document states that “theology is Catholic ... if it situates itself consciously and faithfully in the communion of the Church” (TT 3), and in the chapter titled “Abiding in the Communion of the Church” it emphasizes a number of points: first, with Dei Verbum, that the “study of the sacred page” should be the “very soul of sacred theology” (TT 21; quoting DV 24) and that “exegesis should strive to read and interpret the biblical texts in the broad setting of the faith and life of the people of God, sustained through the ages by the working of the Holy Spirit” (TT 22; see DV 12). Next it stresses the importance of fidelity to the apostolic tradition, which is “something living and vital” that “makes progress in the Church, with the help of the Holy Spirit,” “liturgical worship” (TT 26) and councils of bishops (see TT 28-29) being among its prime components. It then highlights the importance of attention to the sensus fidelium: “theologians depend on the sensus fidelium, because the faith that they explore and explain lives in the people of God,” from which it follows that “theologians themselves must participate in the life of the Church to be truly aware of it.” Within the context of the Church and its life and worship, one of their key roles is “to clarify and articulate the ... sensus fidelium” (TT 35).80 The Church’s pastors likewise are “first of all members of the communion of believers,” so in accord with the changed viewpoint of Vatican II, examined earlier, the document treats the relationship between theologians and the magisterium after emphasizing their necessary attention to the sensus fidelium. Again, it highlights the idea of “the Church as communion” (TT 38). Bishops and theologians have “distinct callings,” it says, and there is care and nuance in its description of their proper relationship. “Theology investigates and articulates the faith of the Church” (TT 38), and, since that faith is authentically interpreted “by the living teaching office of the Church alone,” (DV 10) “[f]idelity to the magisterium is necessary for theology to be the knowledge of faith ... and an ecclesial task” (TT 37) “Bishops and theologians have distinct callings, and must respect one another’s particular competence, lest the magisterium reduce theology to a mere repetitive science or theologians presume to substitute the teaching office of the Church’s pastors” (TT 37). The document esteems the solidarity between theologians: “they support, encourage and inspire one another” and they also question and correct one another (TT 45, 48); and in two notable passages it recognizes that the Church is a communion-on-the-way and the particular bearing this has on the task of theologians. “In the nature of their task,” it says, “theologians often work at the frontiers of the Church’s experience and reflection” (TT 47; see also GS 62). Many kinds of frontiers can be identified: geographical, encountering new peoples; scholarly, debating new ideas;
experiential, weighing new cultural issues; and simply temporal, dealing with new times and events. Fresh thinking and evaluation is constantly needed as the Church goes out to “the ‘peripheries’ in need of the light of the Gospel.”81 That is all part of the challenge and excitement of theology. However, such work in particular, and in fact theological work in general, if done in and for the Church, has an “intrinsic provisionality” from being part of the overall, ongoing enterprise of faith seeking understanding, and theologians should therefore be ready to accept “scrutiny and evaluation” from the Church as a whole, and from the bishops “who watch over the faithful” (TT 47-48). Then finally in that chapter, with many references to Gaudium et Spes, the document says that the Church as a whole is “always in dialogue and in movement,” living on “the boundary between the past and the future, as history moves forward” (TT 52). Within such a Church “led by the Spirit of the Lord who fills the whole world” (TT 51, quoting GS 11), all the faithful are called to interpret the signs of the times, and to discern how the Spirit may be speaking through events in the Church and in the world. Theology has “a particular competence and responsibility” in that regard, through its “constant dialogue” with cultural currents and its interaction with other sciences (TT 52-54). Those few words summarize wide-ranging and often highly skilled engagements of theologians. Reading the signs of the times is essential for the Church and its mission, and the expert contribution of theologians to that task is indispensable: “the more acute understanding of the world that results cannot fail to prompt a more penetrating appreciation of Christ the Lord and of the Gospel since Christ is the Saviour of the world” (TT 55). All in all, while expressing “the joy and privilege of a theological vocation” (TT 100), the document also plainly acknowledges the demands and challenges of that vocation. One particular issue, already touched upon, is that of the freedom of theology and theologians. Are all of the criteria identified not constraints upon theology, reducing it to a “confessional” exercise rather than a truly “scientific” one? The ITC rejects such a contrast as “inadequate” (TT 43). It may be said that by its very nature theology is confessional in that it arises from reflection on the confession of faith that the theologian makes as a member of the Church, participating in the faith of the Church itself (see TT 13). Nevertheless, it is a rigorously scientific reflection that is expected of the theologian (see TT 62). Conclusion Theology—the study of God and his ways—cannot be done in the abstract, without attachment in faith to Christ, because “no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Mt 11:27). The rightful freedom of theology and theologians (see GS 62) is then part of the “glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom 8:21), and the proper framework for that liberty is the Church as the body of Christ, a vibrant Church in which there is esteem and respect for all of the members with their respective gifts, because it is through baptism that we become children of God, and baptism gives membership of the Church. It is “the truth” that makes us free (Jn 8:32), and the truth is ultimately Christ himself (Jn 14:6). Jesus promised that the “Spirit of truth,” whom the Father would send in his name, would lead the Church “into all the truth” (Jn 16:13), and it follows that the rigorous pursuit of that one truth which is the proper task of theologians is rightly carried out in the Church, in the communion of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 13:13), in a constructive and collaborative relationship with the pastors endowed by that same Spirit with “the sure charism of truth” (DV 8), as seen above, and with
commitment to the Church’s saving and healing mission in the world.82 Tensions inevitably arise between theologians and bishops, and indeed in the life of the Church in general. In his celebrated Preface to the third edition of The Via Media (1877), John Henry Newman endeavored to explain them. Acutely analyzing the interaction in the Church of the three offices of Christ as prophet, priest and king, he speaks frankly of the many and various tensions that can arise. He describes them, however, as “lying in the nature of the case,” given the complexity of the Church’s mission and the sinfulness of its members.83 In light of our reflection here, perhaps a further factor can be identified, also lying in the very nature of the case, namely the multiple limitations simply associated with being disciples still in formation, in a communion still on the way. Full and perfect unity in faith and knowledge lies ahead, as St Paul teaches. Grace has been given “to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift,” he says, some being “pastors and teachers,” but the gifts are for “building up the body of Christ.” The work is not yet complete, the journey is still underway, and “speaking the truth in love” is the path to follow as we grow “to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph 4:7-16). This paper was delivered as part of the Chester and Margaret Paluch Lecture Series for 2016-2017 at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary. 1
Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (2013), 246. Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Novo Millennio Ineunte (2001), 43. 3 Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter, Ut Unum Sint (1995), 28. 4 See Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium (1964; hereafter LG), n.13. All quotations from Vatican II documents are taken from Austin Flannery, ed., Vatican Council II. Vol. 1 The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents (Northport NY: Costello Publishing Company/Dublin: Dominican Publications, 1996). The following documents of the council will also be cited, with the abbreviations shown: Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium (1963; SC); Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio (1964; UR); Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum (1965; DV); Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes (1965; GS). 5 Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, Ecclesiological and Canonical Consequences of the Sacramental Nature of the Church: Ecclesial Communion, Conciliarity and Authority, Ravenna, 13 October 2007 (the “Ravenna Document”), n. 5. The present author has been a member of the Joint International Commission since 2005. 6 Ravenna Document, n. 5. 7 Joseph Ratzinger, “The Pastoral Implications of Episcopal Collegiality,” Concilium, vol.1, no.1 (1965), 2034, here at 24, 26. 8 Pope Francis, Address at the Ceremony Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Institution of the Synod of Bishops, 17 October 2015. 9 In his Address, Pope Francis recalled his words to a delegation from the Patriarchate of Constantinople about the importance of an examination of synodality and primacy for “the progress of relations between our Churches.” 10 See Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, Synodality and Primacy during the First Millennium: Towards a Common Understanding in Service to the Unity of the Church, Chieti, 21 September 2016 (the “Chieti Document”). 11 Speaking at Graz in 1976, Joseph Ratzinger emphasized that the form that the primacy took in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries should not be regarded as “the only possible form” and therefore as “binding on all Christians.” In fact, he notably proposed that “Rome must not require more from the East with respect to the doctrine of primacy than had been formulated and was lived in the first millennium,” Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987), 198-199. 12 Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter, Ut Unum Sint, nn. 95-96. 2
Cf. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Romans, Prologue. See Yves Congar, OP, “Moving Towards a Pilgrim Church,” in Alberic Stacpoole, ed., Vatican II by those who were there (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1986), 129-152, here at 132-133. 15 See Paul McPartlan, A Service of Love: Papal Primacy, the Eucharist and Church Unity, new ed. (Washington DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2016), 31-34. 16 See Laurent Villemin, Pouvoir d’ordre et pouvoir de jurisdiction (Paris: Cerf, 2003). 17 Quoted by Congar, “Moving Towards a Pilgrim Church,” 133. 18 Congar, “Moving Towards a Pilgrim Church,” 133-34. For a fuller discussion of “hierarchology” and of Congar’s alternative vision of a “total ecclesiology,” see Rose M. Beal, Mystery of the Church, People of God: Yves Congar’s Total Ecclesiology as a Path to Vatican II (Washington DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2014). 19 Congar, “Moving Towards a Pilgrim Church,” 141, also 134. 20 Congar, “Moving Towards a Pilgrim Church,” 134. 21 See Henri de Lubac, The Splendor of the Church (San Francisco: Ignatius Press,1986), 94. 22 See Yves Congar, “The Church: The People of God,” Concilium, vol. 1, no. 1 (1965), 7-19. For a good account of the successive emergence and prominence of various images of the Church through the twentieth century, see Edward P. Hahnenberg, “The Mystical Body of Christ and Communion Ecclesiology: Historical Parallels,” Irish Theological Quarterly 70(2005), 3-30. 23 Joseph Ratzinger, Church, Ecumenism and Politics: New Essays in Ecclesiology (Slough: St Paul Publications,1988), 16. 24 See Herbert Vorgrimler, ed., Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II, vol. 1 (New York: Herder and Herder,1967), 110, 119, 127-8, 153; Giuseppe Alberigo and Joseph Komonchak, eds., History of Vatican II, vol. 3 (Maryknoll: Orbis/Leuven: Peeters, 2000), 59, 80-81. 25 Yves Congar, Ministères et communion ecclésiale (Paris: Cerf, 1971), chapter 1, “Mon cheminement dans la théologie du laïcat et des ministères,” 9-30, here at 15-19 (emphasis in original). The translation, “My Pathfindings in the Theology of Laity and Ministries,” The Jurist 32(1972), 169-188, is to be used with caution because of some inaccuracies. 26 See the “per Petrum” view in McPartlan, A Service of Love, 19, 37-38. 27 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, Final Relatio, II, C, 1, Osservatore Romano, 19 December 1985, 6-9, here at 7. 28 See Rembert Weakland, “Images of the Church: From ‘Perfect Society to ‘God’s People on Pilgrimage,’” in Austen Ivereigh, ed., Unfinished Journey: The Church 40 Years after Vatican II (London: Continuum, 2003), 7890, here at 87; also Hahnenberg, “The Mystical Body of Christ and Communion Ecclesiology,” 24. For concern that “people of God” was being reduced just to “people” and interpreted sociologically and politically, see Ratzinger, Church, Ecumenism and Politics, 21. 29 See Dennis M. Doyle, Communion Ecclesiology: Visions and Versions (Maryknoll NY: Orbis, 2000), 7378. 30 The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992) teaches that “in her whole being and in all her members, the Church is sent to announce, bear witness [to], make present and spread the mystery of the communion of the Holy Trinity” (n. 738). 31 As Miroslav Volf says, since the Church is “a sojourning people of God,” “[t]he ecclesiologically relevant question is how the church is to correspond to the Trinity within history” (After our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity [Grand Rapids MI/Cambridge UK: Eerdmans, 1998], 200 (emphasis in original). Likewise, Hahnenberg suggests that “the future of communion ecclesiology lies ... with versions that attend to the concrete historical existence of the Church” (“The Mystical Body of Christ and Communion Ecclesiology,” 28). 32 Pope Francis, Address on the 50th Anniversary of the Synod of Bishops, 17 October 2015. 33 For the close relationship between synods and the Church’s eucharistic life, see John Zizioulas, Being as Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1985), 155-158. 34 Quotation from Cyprian, De Orat. Dom. 23 (PL 4: 556). 35 Yves Congar, Chrétiens Désunis (Paris: Cerf,1937); trans. M. A. Bousfield, Divided Christendom (London: Geoffrey Bles/The Centenary Press, 1939). 36 Divided Christendom, 48-59, here at 48 (amended trans.). Quite remarkably, all three of the statements of Vatican II linking the Church and the Trinity are directly foreshadowed in the pages of Congar on “Ecclesia de Trinitate.” He cites the quote from Cyprian on p. 48; the statement of UR 2 is already to be found on p. 58; and he interprets Jn 17 on p. 59. 37 Divided Christendom, 56 (amended trans.). 14
Divided Christendom, 59. Augustine, Contra Donat ep., 4, 7 (PL 43: 395): “Totus Christus caput et corpus est. Caput unigenitus Dei Filius et corpus ejus Ecclesia, sponsus et sponsa, duo in carne una (Eph 5: 23, 30-31).” 40 Ravenna Document, 43. 41 See Ravenna Document, 17-44. 42 See Eamon Duffy, Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes, 3rd ed. (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2006), 128-130. 43 See Ravenna Document, 24. 44 See Paul McPartlan, “Showing what God is Like,” Priests & People 17(2003), 315-319; also A Service of Love, 3. Western use of the filioque does not alter the fundamental understanding that the Father is the “principle without principle” and “the first origin of the Spirit” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 248). 45 With regard to structural implications of the link between the Church and the Trinity, Vatican II gives a clue in the words immediately following the passage from GS 24 already quoted: “it follows, then, that ... man can fully discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself [see Lk 17:33].” It seems that the perichoresis or circumincession of the persons of the Trinity is being recalled, whereby each person indwells the others in an utter unity. We might recall how St Paul describes the unity of the body of Christ, “we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another” (Rom 12:5; also Eph 4:25; 1 Cor 12:26). Vatican II draws no structural conclusions with regard to headship or primacy in the Church. 46 There is a summary presentation of all of these instances of the one and the many in John Zizioulas, “Primacy in the Church: An Orthodox Approach,” in James F. Puglisi, ed., Petrine Ministry and the Unity of the Church (Collegeville MN: Liturgical Press 1999), 115-125, here at 118-125. See also Paul McPartlan, The Eucharist Makes the Church: Henri de Lubac and John Zizioulas in Dialogue, 2nd ed. (Fairfax VA: Eastern Christian Publications, 2006), 166-186, 203-211, 251-252. 47 John Zizioulas, Communion and Otherness: Further Studies in Personhood and the Church, Paul McPartlan, ed. (London: T & T Clark, 2006), 147. 48 John Zizioulas, “The ecclesiological presuppositions of the holy Eucharist,” Nicolaus 10(1982), 333-349, here at 346. Zizioulas considers that because Christ is constituted by the Spirit, he must be understood as a “corporate personality.” “Christology without ecclesiology is inconceivable.... If the Church disappears from his identity he is no longer Christ” (John Zizioulas, “The Mystery of the Church in Orthodox Tradition,” One in Christ 24, 294303, here at 299-300; see also Zizioulas, Being as Communion, 182). 49 Zizioulas, Being as Communion, 254; see also McPartlan, The Eucharist Makes the Church, 135. The use of “eschatological” here is important. Because the Spirit “bring[s] into history the last days, the eschaton” (Being as Communion, 130), Zizioulas understands the corporate personality of Christ, constituted by the Spirit (see previous note), to be Christ together with “the eschatological company of the ‘Saints’” (“The ecclesiological presuppositions of the holy Eucharist,” 342). 50 Zizioulas, Being as Communion, 157-158 (emphasis in original). 51 Ioannis Zizioulas,” Recent Discussions on Primacy in Orthodox Theology,” in Cardinal Walter Kasper, ed, The Petrine Ministry: Catholics and Orthodox in Dialogue (New York/Mahwah NJ: The Newman Press,2006), 231-248, here at 235, 243. 52 Alexander Schmemann, “The Idea of Primacy in Orthodox Ecclesiology,” in John Meyendorff, ed., The Primacy of Peter (Crestwood: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1992), 145-171; see 161 for Apostolic Canon 34. 53 See Zizioulas, “The Mystery of the Church in Orthodox Tradition,” 299; Being as Communion, 126, 139; “Primacy in the Church: An Orthodox Approach,” 119. 54 Zizioulas, Communion and Otherness, 148. 55 See Vatican II, SC 7; also Zizioulas, “The Mystery of the Church in Orthodox Tradition,” 298. 56 See McPartlan, The Eucharist Makes the Church, 195-196. 57 See above, note 10. 58 Chieti Document, n. 1, quoting St Maximus the Confessor, Mystagogia (PG 91: 663D); see also Ravenna Document, nn. 3, 5, 6. 59 Chieti Document, n. 5; see also Ravenna Document, n. 43. 60 Chieti Document, n. 7. 61 See Paul McPartlan, “Eucharistic Ecclesiology,” One in Christ 22(1986), 314-331; also, The Eucharist Makes the Church. 62 See McPartlan, A Service of Love, 15-28. 63 See McPartlan, A Service of Love, 6-12. 39
Chieti Document, nn. 15, 17. Chieti Document, nn. 18-19. 66 McPartlan, A Service of Love, 83. In my paper, “Primacy and Eucharist: Recent Catholic Perspectives,” in John Chryssavgis, ed., Primacy in the Church: The Office of Primate and the Authority of Councils (Yonkers NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2016), vol. 1, 217-236, I compare and contrast the understandings of universal primacy of Zizioulas, who relates it to Trinitarian theology, as seen above, and Ratzinger, who prescinds from such an argument and relates it primarily to the Eucharist, referring to the Trinity only to identify the ultimate reason why the Christian life and office in the Church have a communional or “pluralistic” structure (see above, note 7), rather as Vatican II itself simply evokes the perichoresis of the three divine persons when it relates the Church to the Trinity (see above, note 45). For a valuable study of Ratzinger and Zizioulas with regard to the link between the Church and the Trinity, see Volf, After Our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity. 67 Pope Francis, Address to the Leadership of the Episcopal Conferences of Latin America, Rio de Janiero, 28 July 2013, 5.4. 68 See Pope Francis, Meeting with Clergy, Consecrated People and Members of Diocesan Pastoral Councils, Assisi, 4 October 2013, 2; Address to Recently Appointed Bishops, Rome, 19 September 2013, 2b. For an extensive study of the sensus fidei, see the recent document of the International Theological Commission, Sensus Fidei in the Life of the Church (2014). 69 Pope Francis, Address on the 50th Anniversary of the Synod of Bishops, 17 October 2015, with a final quotation from Vatican I, Pastor Aeternus (1870), ch. 4 (DH 3074); see also LG 25. 70 See also Vatican I which, in defining both papal primacy and infallibility, said that “the supreme power of teaching is ... included in [the] apostolic primacy [of] the Roman pontiff” (Pastor Aeternus, ch. 4, DH 3065). 71 International Theological Commission, Theology Today: Perspectives, Principles, and Criteria (2012; hereafter TT), n. 39. The present author was a member of the ITC 2004-2009 and 2009-2014. 72 There is much practical wisdom regarding bishops and theologians, their respective callings and the relationship between them in the article by Cahal B. Daly, who was both bishop and theologian: “Theologians and the Magisterium,” The Irish Theological Quarterly 43(1976), 225-246; reprinted as a booklet, Theologians and the Magisterium (Dublin: Veritas, 1977). 73 See Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, 4, 26, 2. 74 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, ch. 4 (DH 3074). 75 In an address to theologians a short time after the close of Vatican II, Pope Paul VI said that theology is, “to a certain extent, a mediator between the faith of the Church and the Magisterium,” and he asked theologians for their help and collaboration with himself and with all bishops “in maintaining and defending Catholic truth and in giving public witness to it” (Pope Paul VI, Discorso ai partecipanti al Congresso Internazionale di Teologia del Concilio, 1 October 1966; see also Daly, Theologians and the Magisterium, 19, 27). 76 See Paul McPartlan, “Dei Verbum at the Heart of Vatican II,” Chicago Studies 56(2017). 77 St Anselm, Proslogion, Proemium: “fides quaerens intellectum.” 78 In a somewhat similar way, referring to liturgy as “the ritualized response by the body of Christ to the activity of the Trinity,” David W. Fagerberg says that “[t]his response is itself, in its ritual form, theological.” Calling this form of theology theologia prima, and referring to all practitioners of liturgy, namely all baptized members of the body of Christ, as “liturgists,” he says, therefore, that “[e]very liturgist is called to be a theologian (even if not of the academic variety).” “[T]he community’s transformation in liturgical encounter with God is ... truly ... a theologia prima, and Christian theology arises from the Church-at-liturgy.” (Theologia Prima: What is Liturgical Theology? 2nd ed. [Chicago/Mundelein IL: Hillenbrand Books,2004], 7-8, 15, 63). 79 See TT 39, footnote 87. 80 See also, ITC, Sensus Fidei in the Life of the Church, nn. 81-84. 81 Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 20. 82 The danger of doing theology somewhat in the abstract even within the Church is a real one. Pope Francis calls it “desktop theology”, and he often criticizes it. “[G]ood theologians, like good shepherds, have the odour of the people and of the street and, by their reflection, pour oil and wine onto the wounds of mankind.” Pope Francis, Letter to the Grand Chancellor of the Pontificia Universidad Católica Argentina, 3 March 2015. 83 John Henry Newman, ‘Preface to the Third Edition’, in The Via Media of the Anglican Church, ed. H. D. Wiedner (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990), 10-57, here at 26-27; see also TT 42. 65
Priesthood and the Deacon By Msgr. Paul McPartlan, S.T.L., D.Phil. During the half-century or so since the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) decided “to restore the diaconate as a proper and permanent rank of the hierarchy,”1 the Catholic Church has been rediscovering this important ordained ministry that was an integral part of the life of the early Church.2 Given that the diaconate in the West had been in decline and largely transitional for approximately fifteen hundred years prior to the council,3 it is only reasonable to expect that appreciating the true nature and value of this ministry and realizing its potential for the life and mission of the Church today will take some time. Like the council itself,4 the diaconate is a gift from the Holy Spirit to the Church that is still being unpacked. Part of that unpacking is consideration of whether women might be ordained to the diaconate. This is a live issue in both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, particularly given the establishment by Pope Francis on 2 August 2016 of a commission to study the question of the female diaconate, and the consecration of five deaconesses in the Democratic Republic of Congo by the Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria on 17 February 2017. This paper will not directly consider the issue of the female diaconate, about which there is a large literature reflecting a wide spectrum of opinions.5 I will focus rather on the meaning and purpose of the diaconate, while certainly acknowledging that discerning who is called to this ministry and seeking a deeper understanding of the ministry are closely interlinked. In particular, since it may surely be presumed that by the guidance of the Spirit the various teachings and decisions of Vatican II fit together in a harmonious program, I propose to relate the restoration of the permanent diaconate to some other key aspects of the council’s program and so to reflect more deeply on the theology of the diaconate. Making connections will be a recurrent motif. In 1993, Pope John Paul II identified two particular historical and pastoral reasons that prompted the restoration of the permanent diaconate. First, as Vatican II itself noted in its decree on the Church’s missionary activity, there were laymen already exercising a diaconal ministry, especially in mission territories, by “preaching the word of God as catechists, governing scattered Christian communities in the name of the bishop or parish priest, or exercising charity,” and it would help and strengthen them if they actually received diaconal ordination. “They would be more closely bound to the altar and their ministry would be made more fruitful through the sacramental grace of the diaconate” (AG 16). Mention of the altar is significant here. Deacons are “dedicated to the People of God” in the threefold service “of the liturgy, of the Gospel and of works of charity” (LG 29), and in a sense, as we shall see, liturgical service at the altar anchors the deacon’s ministry of the word and of charity. It was thought that those already exercising two of the deacon’s three ministries, of the word and of charity, would be energized by diaconal ordination, through which those ministries would be complemented and completed by ministry at the altar. Pope John Paul spoke of the value of laymen involved in “certain charitable services” who were “conscious of being called to the Church’s Gospel mission” receiving “an official consecration.”6 The second reason identified by Pope John Paul for the restoration was that it was “necessary to provide for the scarcity of priests.” However, he saw both of those reasons as factors through which the Holy Spirit was “mysteriously working” for a broader purpose, namely to revitalize the Church by restoring the full complement of the ordained ministry, “traditionally
composed of bishops, priests and deacons.” With the support once again of that threefold ministry, Christian communities today would be “more like those founded by the apostles, which flourished in the early centuries, always under the impulse of the Paraclete.”7 The implication seems to be that without the full benefit of all three ordained ministries, the Church has for centuries been underpowered, like a car with a faulty engine, and that restoring the permanent diaconate will boost the vigor of the Church in its life and mission today. How that may be so is what we are seeking to clarify. Locating the Diaconate It must be acknowledged straight away that the permanent diaconate still faces opposition in some quarters, both clerical and lay. A recent letter to The Tablet summarizes the deep-felt misgivings of some laypeople especially: “The permanent diaconate ... creates an extra later of hierarchy and appropriates to the clerical state services that emanate from our baptismal vocation, relegating [laypeople] once again to passive roles, expected only to pray, pay and obey.” 8 Such views reflect the lingering effect of a pyramidal understanding of the Church as a perfect society, which held sway in the Catholic Church for much of the second millennium, and in which power of order and power of jurisdiction were exercised by the pope at the summit and by bishops and priests, with the laity notably power-less at the bottom of the pyramid. Vatican II adopted a radically different understanding of the Church in terms not of two powers exercised by the clergy with regard to a powerless and passive laity, but of the three offices of Christ, as prophet, priest and king (or “teacher, shepherd and priest,” LG 21), in which all the baptised participate (see LG 31),9 the clergy being called to a ministry of service from among the baptized and given further participations in the three offices in order to accomplish their respective ministries for the upbuilding of their brothers and sisters (see LG 21, 28, 29). The restoration of the permanent diaconate is properly understood as an integral part of that decisive shift from a pyramidal to a communional understanding of the Church,10 and in that light I would suggest that the diaconate’s true role is precisely to promote a strong and healthy relationship between a newly active and energized laity and their bishops and presbyters. Simply to slot the diaconate into a new layer of its own in a persisting pyramid of powers would run quite contrary to that ministry’s intrinsic embodiment of service. The quoted comment may unfortunately reflect experience of such a situation, but even so it must be said that in principle and rightly understood and implemented there cannot be a contradiction between the restoration of the permanent diaconate and the apostolate of the laity, since one and the same council advocated both (see LG 29, OE 16, AG 16; and AA, respectively). However, rightly understanding and implementing the permanent diaconate is a continuing challenge. Certainly, if it stifles the laity or, for that matter, impedes the bishops and presbyters, then the diaconate is not serving its true role. So, the proper context for understanding the ministry of the permanent deacon is an ecclesiology of communion. LG 29 says that “strengthened by sacramental grace [deacons] are dedicated to the People of God, in communion with the bishop and his presbyterate [in communione cum Episcopo eiusque presbyterio]” (amended translation), and it is therefore appropriate to think of the bishop as having two sets of co-workers in his local church, namely his presbyters and his deacons,11 with their respective roles and responsibilities. That would certainly fit with the situation in the early Church, when the deacons had considerable administrative responsibilities in caring for the poor and the needy12 and a bishop’s successor was often elected
from among their number.13 It was particularly in the fourth century that the relationship between deacons and presbyters started to change dramatically. With the great increase in numbers of Christians, parishes were established, the presbyters who had surrounded the bishop in the liturgy were now dispersed to care for the parishes, one in each as “parish priest,” representing the bishop, and it seems that the deacons began to lose their own role as the bishop’s personal representatives and often became assistants to the presbyters, which they had never been before. Under the influence of the Roman imperial practice of rising through the ranks of office in the cursus honorum, the idea of advancing through the minor orders to the major orders of subdeacon, deacon and priest gradually took hold in the Church over the coming centuries, and the diaconate increasingly became simply a transitional and largely liturgical ministry, clearly subordinate to the priest/presbyter and much reduced from its vigor and prominence in the first three centuries, “a vestigial remnant ... of the great diaconate of the early Church.”14 It was precisely that “great diaconate” that was the inspiration for the renewal of the permanent diaconate at Vatican II. It should emphatically be noted in passing that, while the phrase “transitional diaconate” is still sometimes used in reference to those ordained a deacon while in training for the priesthood, there is only one diaconate and one rite of ordination to the diaconate. In his motu proprio, Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem (1967), the first of his two documents implementing the permanent diaconate in accordance with the council’s desire, Pope Paul VI firmly stated: “[the diaconate] is not to be considered as a mere step towards the priesthood, but it is so adorned with its own indelible character and its own special grace ... that those who are called to it ‘can permanently serve the mysteries of Christ and the Church’ (cf. LG 41).”15 This reference to an “indelible character” is significant. Vatican II mentioned the character imparted by episcopal and presbyteral ordination, respectively (see LG 21, PO 2), but not a character for deacons. However, the imparting of a character follows from the council’s teaching on the diaconate as part of the sacrament of orders, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church subsequently reiterated that deacons are marked by the sacrament “with an imprint (‘character’) which configures them to Christ, who made himself the ‘deacon’ or servant of all.”16 That fundamental configuration to Christ the servant abides indelibly in all who are ordained deacon, and surely continues to undergird the ministry of those subsequently ordained to serve the Church as presbyter or bishop. Vatican II is especially known for its teaching that the episcopate is “the fullness of the sacrament of orders” — contrary to the teaching of scholasticism, seen above, that the priesthood was the highest of the major orders17 — a fullness which is called the “high priesthood” in early sources such as the possibly third-century Apostolic Tradition (see LG 21),18 and also for its doctrine of episcopal collegiality (see LG 22), for which it drew upon St Cyprian (died 258) and others, complementing what Vatican I had taught on papal primacy. Already in its first document, the constitution on the liturgy, it signaled its intention of looking to the earliest centuries of Christian tradition for a renewed understanding of the bishop and the local church. The bishop “is to be considered as the High Priest of his flock,” and, with footnote reference only to St Ignatius of Antioch (died c.107), the council added that the gathering of all the people of the local church around their bishop with his presbyters and deacons for the celebration of the Eucharist is “the principal manifestation of the Church” (SC 41). As it turned to such early sources for an understanding of the bishop’s ministry, it could hardly fail to notice the prominence of deacons alongside the bishops, and the council’s desire to restore the permanent diaconate (and likewise an understanding of priests as forming a presbyterate around the bishop) can therefore be seen as a natural accompaniment to its renewed understanding
of the bishop. Referring to a number of those early sources, Pope Paul VI said that “the diaconate flourished in a wonderful way” in the early Church, and “gave an outstanding witness of love for Christ and the brethren through the performance of works of charity, the celebration of sacred rites, and the fulfilment of pastoral duties.”19 The bond between the deacon and the bishop is very pronounced in the documents of that time. Pope Paul quotes the striking description in the early-3rd century Didascalia Apostolorum of the deacon as “the bishop’s ear, mouth, heart and soul,” and, with a further reference to the Apostolic Tradition, comments: “The deacon is at the disposal of the bishop in order that he may serve the whole people of God and take care of the sick and the poor.” The deacon in a sense embodies the bishop’s concern for his people, especially for those who are most in need, and in turn channels their concerns to him. St Ignatius of Antioch goes so far as to suggest that the relationship between the bishop and the deacon in caring for the people may be likened to that between God the Father and Christ.20 In short, the deacon serves the communion between the bishop and his people, and that certainly implies that, while deacons today might well be appointed to serve with presbyters in parishes, it is particularly appropriate for them to have diocesan responsibilities, especially caring for the needy and the vulnerable, and directly reporting to the bishop.21 After several decades’ experience of the newly restored permanent diaconate, two Vatican dicasteries issued major documents in 1998 which offered substantial reflection on the significance of diaconal ministry. The Congregation for Catholic Education issued Basic Norms for the Formation of Permanent Deacons, and the Congregation for the Clergy issued the Directory for the Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons.22 The Basic Norms describe the specifically diaconal participation in the three offices of Christ. Exercising the prophetic office of teaching (the munus docendi), “the deacon is called to proclaim the Scriptures and instruct and exhort the people.” “The munus sanctificandi [the office of sanctifying, i.e. the priestly office] of the deacon is expressed in prayer, in the solemn administration of baptism, in the custody and distribution of the Eucharist, in assisting at and blessing marriages, in presiding at the rites of funeral and burial and in the administration of sacramentals,” and “the munus regendi [the kingly office] is exercised in dedication to works of charity and assistance and in the direction of communities or sectors of Church life, especially as regards charitable activities” (Basic Norms, 9). With regard to the three munera, the document makes two important qualifications. First, it highlights that the latter activities of charity and administration constitute “the ministry most characteristic of the deacon,” and second, rather like Vatican II, it emphasizes nevertheless the anchoring of the diaconate in the ministry of the altar: “the diaconal ministry has its point of departure and arrival in the Eucharist, and cannot be reduced to simple social service” (Basic Norms, 9). One or another of the three offices may predominate for a given deacon, but every deacon’s ministry must encompass all three, because “these three ministries are inseparably joined in God’s plan for redemption.” They represent “a unity in service,” in which again the altar occupies the focal point: “the ministry of the word leads to ministry at the altar, which in turn prompts the transformation of life by the liturgy, resulting in charity” (Directory, 39). The latter statement may be seen as interpreting for the deacon the celebrated principle that Vatican II enunciated for the Church as a whole, namely that the liturgy is the summit and source of the life of the Church (SC 10; see also LG 11). It suggests that ministry at the altar somehow holds the key to diaconal ministry as a whole, and invites reflection as to the specific way in which deacons minister at the altar, a question to which we shall return below.
As the council’s great pastoral constitution, Gaudium et Spes, makes clear, the Church of Vatican II is engaged with the world, in solidarity with the world23 and at the service of the salvation of the world.24 After the late-19th and early 20th centuries, when, as Joseph Komonchak says, “opposition to the world that had emancipated itself from the Church was a constitutive part of the official self-definition of modern Roman Catholicism,”25 that engagement was something new, exciting, and demanding for all members of the Church, and perhaps particularly for lay people who were now seen as being on the front-line, called to exercise an apostolate which, “through the vigor of their Christian spirit,” would truly be “a leaven in the world” (AA 2). The restored diaconate was strongly related to this renewed understanding of the Church, as the document on Basic Norms makes clear. “The spirituality of service is a spirituality of the whole Church,” it says, “insofar as the whole Church ... is at the service of the salvation of the world.” “And so that the whole Church may better live out this spirituality of service, the Lord gives her a living and personal sign of his very being as servant,” namely the deacon, who is constituted by his ordination as “a living icon of Christ the servant within the Church” (Basic Norms, 11). The restoration of the permanent diaconate was thus a means of securing the Church’s new stance of engagement with the world, and it follows, as said above, that, rightly understood and implemented, the diaconate should be a support for the apostolate of the laity. As well as being ordained ministers, many permanent deacons have jobs of various kinds in the world, and it may therefore be said that in their own persons they embody the very solidarity between the Church and the world expressed in Gaudium et Spes. They are signs of the solidarity between the Church and world willed by Vatican II,26 and they support the laity at work in many secular contexts by actually being alongside them. In 1993, Pope John Paul said that “A deeply felt need in the decision to reestablish the permanent diaconate was and is that of a greater and more direct presence of Church ministers in the various spheres of the family, work, school, etc..” That, he added, is precisely why the council “permitted this Order to be conferred on ‘mature married men.’”27 “To the extent that he is present and more involved than the priest in secular environments and structures, [the deacon] should feel encouraged to foster closeness between the ordained ministry and lay activities, in common service to the kingdom of God.”28 But what exactly is the deacon himself encouraging by being alongside lay people in the workplace? As an initial answer, we might say that he is encouraging an awareness of the connection between the Church and the world, between the liturgy at which he visibly ministers on Sunday and everyday life in which he participates during the week, so that lay people themselves will see the connection between their work and their worship and feel the call to holiness in all that they do.29 We shall return to that idea in a moment, but let us first note a significant correction that Pope John Paul II made to the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Lumen Gentium 29 highlighted a distinction already made in early sources when it said that deacons are ordained “not unto the priesthood, but unto the ministry.”30 This, we may note, is the key phrase that opens up the possibility of discussion of the female diaconate without any necessary implications for priestly ministry.31 However, the editio typica of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1997) subsequently said in an undifferentiated way of all ordained ministries: “By ordination one is enabled to act as a representative of Christ, Head of the Church, in his triple office of priest, prophet and king” (CCC, n. 1581). In order to align the Catechism with LG 29, Pope John Paul approved a change to that wording in 1998, so as to say instead: “From him [Christ], bishops and presbyters receive the mission and faculty to act in the person of Christ the Head, deacons receive the power
of serving the people of God in the diakonia of liturgy, word and charity.” In 2009, Pope Benedict added a new third paragraph to can. 1009 of the Code of Canon Law so as to say, correspondingly: “Those who are constituted in the order of the episcopate or the presbyterate receive the mission and capacity to act in the person of Christ the Head, whereas deacons are empowered to serve the People of God in the ministries of the liturgy, the word and charity.”32 In short, there seems now to be a clear distinction in Catholic teaching between the imaging of Christ the head that is proper to the bishop and priest/presbyter, who act in persona Christi capitis (see CCC 1548-9),33 especially when presiding at the Eucharist, and the imaging of Christ the servant that is proper to the deacon. So, the deacon is ordained, but to the ministry not to the priesthood. He is not a layperson, but he is not a priest, either. As Pope Paul VI said, the permanent diaconate is “an intermediate order [medius ordo] between the higher ranks of the Church’s hierarchy and the rest of the people of God, ... as a sign or sacrament of the Lord Christ himself, who ‘came not to be served but to serve.’”34 Bearing in mind the fact that the faithful themselves exercise a priesthood through their baptismal configuration to Christ (see LG 31, 34), the deacon can be seen to be located between the exercise of two priesthoods, the royal priesthood of the baptized and the ordained or ministerial priesthood of bishops and priests/presbyters. Recalling that the deacon serves the communion between the bishop (and priest) and the faithful and that his ministry is particularly anchored in service at the altar, it seems that it may be said that the heart of the deacon’s ministry lies in serving, in manifold ways, the communion and fruitful eucharistic interaction between the royal and ministerial priesthoods in the Church. The Priesthood of the Faithful and the Ministerial Priesthood Again, we are making connections, here between the restoration of the permanent diaconate and the new prominence, in terms of Catholic doctrine, that the priesthood of the faithful gained at Vatican II. The latter is a scriptural teaching: “be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 2:5; also v. 10), closely related to the teaching of St Paul: “I appeal to you, therefore, ... by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Rom12:1). Christians are called to offer themselves as a sacrifice — a priestly act — to God, “through Jesus Christ,” that is, thanks to Christ’s own act of self-offering once and for all as “high priest” (see Heb 9:11-14, 24-28). Catholic belief is that the ordained ministry exists precisely so that Christ himself can continue to be “present to his Church as Head of his Body, Shepherd of his flock, high priest of the redemptive sacrifice, Teacher of Truth” (CCC 1548),35 and in particular that, as Christ instituted the Eucharist so as to leave the Church “a visible sacrifice” — “as human nature demands” in the sacramental economy — by which his one sacrifice would be forever present and effective in the Church,36 at the same time and correspondingly he instituted a “a new, visible and external priesthood”37 by which he himself, “a priest forever” (Ps 110:4),38 would continue to be present in the power of his one redeeming sacrifice. This clear and firm teaching invites a complementary teaching on the priesthood of the faithful which, most especially in the Eucharist, engages with the action of the ordained priesthood. However, such a teaching was not given by the Council of Trent, primarily because the priesthood of the faithful was advocated as the only priesthood existing in the Church by Martin Luther (1483-
1546), who rejected the sacrament of ordination and the idea of an ordained priesthood,39 and in reaction the Catholic Church greatly prioritized the ordained priesthood in its teaching, rather than the priesthood of the faithful.40 Thus, two doctrines which fundamentally need to go together were tragically polarized by conflict and polemic, and the observation of Henri de Lubac in his first book, Catholicisme (1938) was sadly borne out: “‘It is a great misfortune ... to have learned the catechism against someone.’ For it is to be feared ... that in such a case it was but half learned.” 41 The polarization ceased on the Catholic side at Vatican II, and was slightly eased ecumenically by the Faith and Order document, Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, in 1982.42 Still in 1947, when Pope Pius XII (1939-58) issued his encyclical letter, Mediator Dei, which recognized and affirmed the liturgical movement43 and was a landmark on the way to Vatican II, the pope expressed concern that some were “approximating to errors long since condemned”44 and teaching that the only priesthood in the New Testament is that of all the baptized. Pope Pius himself repeatedly emphasized the high priesthood of Christ and the “visible, external priesthood of Jesus Christ ... conferred on designated men, through ... holy orders” (MD 41), and stressed in line with the pyramid model of the Church mentioned earlier that the faithful do not have “priestly power” (MD 82). Clearly moving towards the doctrinal balance achieved at Vatican II, however, he said that earnestly participating in the Eucharistic sacrifice is the “chief duty and supreme dignity” of all the faithful, uniting themselves with the high priest to such an extent that they offer the sacrifice with him and through him, and indeed in union with him “offer up themselves” (MD 80). With reference to the teaching of 1 Pet 2:5, he affirmed that “with the High Priest and through Him [the faithful] offer themselves as a spiritual sacrifice” (MD 99). Nevertheless, it is notable that while emphasizing at many points the offering made by the faithful in the Mass, only once did he allude to that offering being an exercise of “priesthood”: “By the waters of baptism ... Christians are made members of the Mystical Body of Christ the Priest, and by the ‘character’ which is imprinted on their souls, they are appointed to give worship to God. Thus they participate, according to their condition, in the priesthood of Christ” (MD 88). Mention of participating and participation, key words used many times in the encyclical, recalls the liturgical movement’s slogan of “active participation,” which in turn derives from the statement by Pope Pius X (1903-14) in 1903: “It being our ardent desire to see the true Christian spirit restored in every respect and be preserved by all the faithful, we deem it necessary to provide before everything else for the sanctity and dignity of the temple, in which the faithful assemble for the object of acquiring this spirit from its foremost and indispensable fount, which is the active participation in the holy mysteries and in the public and solemn prayer of the Church.”45 The person who popularized the call for active participation and gave the liturgical movement great momentum was Dom Lambert Beauduin (1873-1960).46 Strictly speaking, Beauduin was more a dogmatic theologian than a liturgist. What brought him with the utmost enthusiasm into the field of liturgy was the insight that the liturgy is where the Church is most truly itself as the body of Christ. It is “the very dynamo of ecclesial vitality,”47 and active participation in the liturgy is therefore the key to the renewal of the Church (see SC 1, similarly). “By means of living the Liturgy wholeheartedly, Christians become more and more conscious of their supernatural fraternity, of their union in the mystical body of Christ. And this is the most powerful antidote against the individualism to which our natural egoism surrenders itself so readily.”48 It is notable that in his only book, La Piété de l’Église: Principes et Faits (1914),49 while repeatedly advocating the active participation of the faithful in the liturgy, Beauduin does so on
the grounds of their membership of the body of Christ and never mentions the priesthood of the faithful. This is all the more surprising in that the participation he urges is emphatically sacrificial, it is “the active participation of all in the solemn Sacrifice of the Day of the Lord.”50 “Sacrifice is the primary act of worship, and the eucharistic Sacrifice is the centre of the worship of the Church. The Liturgy gives its full value to the element of sacrifice and intimately associates all the faithful with this central hearth.”51 The priesthood highlighted by Beauduin throughout is “the visible priesthood of Jesus Christ” exercised by the hierarchy, with which “souls seeking God must associate themselves as intimately and as frequently as possible” in order to come “under the influence of the priesthood of Jesus Christ Himself.”52 Though clearly all are called to participate in the liturgy, he says starkly that “The Liturgy comprises the priestly acts of the hierarchy.”53 The one-sidedness of that view seems again to reflect an over-reaction to Luther’s stance. In the 1950s, the term “priesthood of the faithful” was rehabilitated in Catholic theology. It was advocated by de Lubac and particularly championed by Yves Congar. In his Méditation sur l’Église (1953), de Lubac said firmly that the priesthood “attributed to all of us” in 1 Pet 2:9 “is not a kind of metaphor,” nor is it “a priesthood-on-the-cheap, a priesthood of inferior rank or a priesthood of the faithful merely; it is the priesthood of the whole Church.” “[Christ] is the sole true Priest, and all Christians are identified with Him,” and “[e]very Christian participates in the one and only sacrifice of Jesus Christ.” So, “[e]very Christian is ... a priest, in a profound and primary sense of the term,” though, he added, and here we still detect the note of caution, “we must go on at once to explain it if very grave misunderstandings are to be avoided.”54 “[T]he Christian people, as a whole ... really plays a priestly role in relation to the whole world as it celebrates its ‘spiritual worship’ [Rom 12:1].” However, he said, rather jarringly, “this priesthood of the Christian people is not concerned with the liturgical life of the Church, and it has no direct connection with the production of the Eucharist.”55 It may have nothing to do with the production of the Eucharist — that is the prerogative of the ordained priesthood, rather mechanistically put — but is it not deeply involved with the liturgical life of the Church, where, rightly understood, it interacts with rather than encroaching upon the ordained priesthood? In his Jalons pour une théologie du laïcat (1953, revised 1964), Yves Congar gave a lengthy and profound analysis of the meaning and role of both the priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial priesthood,56 which can help us to understand both the distinction that de Lubac made and the more unified teaching of Vatican II. First of all, after examining the scriptural sources, he says that “the worship and sacrifice of the faithful, and therefore their corresponding priesthood, are essentially those of a holy life, an apostolic life of religion, prayer, dedication, charity, compassion.” Except perhaps implicitly, they are not considered liturgically or sacramentally in the New Testament and in other early texts. They are not “defined by a relationship with the eucharist.”57 In scriptural and patristic terms, they are “spiritual,” not by comparison with a ministerial priesthood that is real — he insists that that was not the comparison being made — but rather by comparison with the levitical priesthood in the Old Testament, which was only figurative in comparison with the reality (i.e. the “spiritual” nature) of the priesthood of Christians. So, a comparison between the two Christian priesthoods, baptismal and ministerial, must not be read into the terminology — the scriptures and the fathers never made such a comparison. Only later, says Congar, particularly in the Catholic response to Luther, was the priesthood of the faithful considered in relation to sacramental worship, and in that context it was subordinated to the hierarchical priesthood, “a rather surprising attitude when compared with that of the New Testament.”58
Very significantly for our purpose here, Congar says that the relationship between the priesthood of the faithful and the Church’s liturgical life, “especially with the offering of the eucharist,” became “more explicit ... in our own time.” So it would seem that in his estimation recent theology and the teaching of Vatican II itself have contributed significantly to clarifying this issue.59 Congar himself offers a remarkable, balanced formulation, which recognizes both the ministerial priesthood and the priesthood of the faithful as “liturgical” and “sacramental.” “Christ’s sacrifice includes our own, and ours has to be joined with it in as much as it exists under a sacramental and liturgical form in the sacraments, particularly the eucharist: and to this sacrifice of Jesus Christ there corresponds a sacramental or liturgical priesthood, that of the sacramental characters.”60 “This priesthood is truly liturgical ... and it is exercised by a ministerial priesthood which celebrates and a non-hierarchical priesthood which participates.” Thus, he says, “we will speak of a liturgical or sacramental priesthood of the faithful, which can be called ‘common,’ or ‘general,’ and ‘baptismal,’ and of a liturgical or sacramental priesthood of the ministers, which can be called ‘hierarchical,’ or ‘ministerial.’”61 Before moving on, it should be noted that Congar hails the genius of St Augustine in describing “the sacrifice of Christ and of Christians in relation to the great biblical landscape” in “two brilliant chapters” of the City of God (book 10, chapters 5and 6). Congar clearly regards Augustine’s outstanding formulation as offering an abiding template to guide discussion of the relationship between the priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial priesthood. The key passage is as follows: There is ... a true sacrifice in every work which unites us in a holy communion with God, that is, in every work that is aimed at that final Good in which alone we can be truly blessed.... [T]he whole of that redeemed city, that is, the congregation or communion of saints, is offered as a universal sacrifice to God through the High Priest who ... offered Himself in His passion for us that we might be the body of so glorious a Head.... Such is the sacrifice of Christians: “We, the many, are one body in Christ.” This is the Sacrifice, as the faithful understand, which the Church continues to celebrate in the sacrament of the altar, in which it is clear to the Church that she herself is offered in the very offering she makes to God.62 Preparing the Gifts In the preparatory period immediately before Vatican II there was considerable debate, especially in the commission drafting the constitution on the liturgy, about “the doctrinal foundation for the participation of the faithful in the liturgy.” Was that foundation the priesthood of the faithful? Presenting a report on the topic on 21 April 1961, A.M. Roguet offered also his personal theological view that the priesthood of the faithful was truly liturgical and that it was indeed the basis for the participation of the faithful in the liturgy.63 Because this was a doctrinal matter, it seems that treatment of the priesthood of the faithful was left to the dogmatic constitution on the Church. The constitution on the liturgy, the council’s first promulgated document, gave a profound account of the nature of the liturgy as “an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ” in which “full public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and his members” (SC 7), and subsequently gave considerable emphasis, as already seen, to the bishop’s role in presiding at the liturgy, and especially at the Eucharist, in his local church (SC
41). However, with regard to the priesthood of the faithful it said nothing explicitly, but hinted that it was indeed the basis for the “full, conscious, and active participation” of all the faithful in liturgical celebrations that it vigorously promoted, by saying that that participation was “demanded by the very nature of the liturgy” and that it was the baptismal “right and obligation” of the Christian people as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people (1 Pet 2:9, 4-5)” (SC 14). The dogmatic constitution on the Church treated the priesthood of the faithful and its relationship with the ministerial priesthood strongly and clearly, along the lines indicated by Congar, who of course was one of the major drafters of the conciliar texts.64 In the course of treating the baptismal participation of the faithful in each of the three offices of Christ, as priest, prophet and king, respectively (see LG 31, 34-36), it fully recognized the priesthood of the faithful and taught that it was liturgical, having direct consequences for the participation of the faithful in the Eucharist. It indicated indeed that all the activities of life are capable of becoming spiritual sacrifices offered to God in the liturgy. Since he wishes to continue his witness and his service through the laity also, the supreme and eternal priest, Christ Jesus, vivifies them with his spirit and ceaselessly impels them to accomplish every good and perfect work. To those whom he intimately joins to his life and mission he also gives a share in his priestly office, to offer spiritual worship for the glory of God the Father and the salvation of man.... For all their works, prayers and apostolic undertakings, family and married life, daily work, relaxation of mind and body, if they are accomplished in the Spirit — indeed even the hardships of life if patiently borne — all these become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Pet 2:5). In the celebration of the Eucharist these may most fittingly be offered to the Father along with the body of the Lord (LG 34). This passage may be compared with what is said of priest/presbyters in LG 28: “they unite the votive offerings of the faithful to the sacrifice of Christ their head, and in the sacrifice of the Mass they make present again and apply, until the coming of the Lord (cf. 1 Cor 11:26), the unique sacrifice of the New Testament, that namely of Christ offering himself once for all a spotless victim to the Father (cf. Heb 9:11-28).” In both cases, it is clear that the sacrifices of the faithful are being joined to the one sacrifice of Christ in the Eucharist, and offered to God with it. That is the fundamental conjunction that occurs in the Mass between the two priesthoods active there. What varies between the two accounts is the understanding of who is doing the joining and offering: in LG 28 it sounds like the priest, whereas in LG 34 it is the faithful themselves. The latter seems more consistent. LG 10 carefully identifies the two priesthoods at work in the Church, distinguishes them, and explains their vital conjunction in the celebration of the Eucharist. It focuses first on Christ the priest, and says that he has made his people “a kingdom of priests” and “a holy priesthood” by baptism,”that through all the works of Christian [people] they may offer spiritual sacrifices ... (cf. 1 Pet 2:4-19).” Identifying the content of those sacrifices, it says: “all the disciples of Christ ... should present themselves as a sacrifice, living, holy and pleasing to God (cf. Rom 12:1).” From among the people who exercise the “common priesthood of the faithful” some are called to “the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood,” and LG 10 describes the respective tasks of the two
priesthoods. “The ministerial priest ... forms and rules the priestly people; in the person of Christ he effects the eucharistic sacrifice and offers it to God in the name of all the people.” Turning to the faithful, it says that “by virtue of their royal priesthood, [they] participate in the offering of the Eucharist,” it says, which seems to indicate that they offer the sacrifice of the Lord together with the priest and join to it the sacrifice of themselves just mentioned.65 It is quite clear, therefore, that two complementary priesthoods are at work in the celebration of the Eucharist: the ministerial priest, acting in the person of Christ, makes present the one sacrifice of Christ, and the faithful participate in the offering of that sacrifice and join their own spiritual sacrifices to it. So both of those priesthoods are liturgical, as Congar said in Jalons. Three essential points remain to be made. First, LG 10 says that the two priesthoods “differ essentially and not only in degree.” Congar comments that this formula derives from Pope Pius XII, and means that “sacerdotal ordination, in relation to the baptismal character, presents a new reality, and not simply a deepening or making more precise of what already exists.”66 In other words, the passage eschews a comparison of the priesthoods in terms of higher and lower and simply asserts that they are different.67 Second, LG 10 stresses that the two priesthoods both derive from the one priesthood of Christ, which each shares “in its own proper way,” and that they are complementary: they are “ordered one to another.” This is immensely important. Clearly the priesthood of the faithful depends on the ministerial priesthood for its exercise, so that the sacrifices of the faithful can be joined to the one sacrifice of Christ, but the council seems to indicate complementarily that, in some sense, the one sacrifice of Christ relies on the sacrifices of the faithful being joined to it, clearly not for the salvation of the world, since that was accomplished fully by the one sacrifice of Christ, but rather for the full realization of that salvation in the world. Congar refers to the teaching of Augustine who augments his idea of Christ and the Church together forming the totus Christus by referring to the totum sacrificium, namely the sacrifice of Christ and the Church.68 In other words, the whole evangelizing mission of the Church, which includes the apostolate of the laity, is being evoked. That the realization of the salvation of the world in some sense depends on the participation of the faithful through the exercise of their own priestly ministry is clear from the final sentence of LG 34: “worshipping everywhere by their holy actions, the laity consecrate the world itself to God.” Third, the healthy activity of the Church in the world as “the universal sacrament of salvation”(LG 48), both “manifesting and actualizing the mystery of God’s love for [humanity]” (GS 45), clearly depends, therefore, on the strong and effective interaction between the ministerial priesthood of bishops and presbyters and the priesthood of the faithful, and the restoration by Vatican II of the permanent diaconate, a medius ordo between the bishops and presbyters and the rest of the people of God,69 invites an understanding of the diaconate as facilitating that priestly interaction. In that light, one of the proper activities of the deacon in the liturgy begins to seem particularly significant. The deacon prepares the altar with the gifts of bread and wine, ready for the eucharistic sacrifice.70 Those gifts are often brought up in procession through the church because they symbolize not only the elements of creation, the “fruit of the earth” and “fruit of the vine,” but all the strivings of the faithful, the “work of human hands”71 and the spiritual sacrifices to be united at the altar with the one sacrifice of Christ and offered to God by the bishop or priest in union with the priestly people. In preparing the gifts all of the work of the deacon promoting communion between the bishop and the people, solidarity between the Church and the world, and the link between the altar
and the workplace is symbolized. All of that work can be seen, in ways more or less remote, as preparation of the gifts: alleviating suffering and hardship so that the needy can feel the love of the Lord, hear the Gospel and respond to it (see Acts 6:1-6); being alongside people at work, sharing their troubles and dreams, helping them to see that all of those matter to the Lord who came to save us and that nothing is beyond the scope of his mercy; keeping the Church’s leaders and members aware of the marginalized and the abandoned, and seeking in every way to facilitate contact and care. In countless practical ways, the deacon is called to connect the world to the saving sacrifice of the Lord, and to help transform the raw material of human life into spiritual sacrifices. If priests must “teach the faithful to offer the divine victim to God the Father in the sacrifice of the Mass and with the victim to make an offering of their whole life” (PO 5), the task of deacons is to help the faithful to do so and to show them how. Conclusion Thinking of the Church in simple categories of hierarchy and laity, clergy and faithful, or even more starkly priests and people, is of no help in understanding the diaconate. To understand the diaconate, a communional understanding of the Church as the body of Christ in which many complementary gifts are acknowledged is essential. As “icon of Christ the servant” (Basic Norms, 11), the deacon promotes a communion based on mutual service, in accordance with the injunction of the Lord (see Mt 20:25-28). Likewise, a functional approach to the Church, purely in terms of what each member can do, is of no help. The deacon symbolizes service, and is a living reminder to all that the Christ who is present on the altar (see Mt 26:26-28) is also present in the most needy (see Mt 25:31-46), and that truly to love him means serving him in both of those places. By being pledged to do precisely that, the deacon embodies the salutary awareness that “there can be no actuosa participatio in the sacred mysteries without an accompanying effort to participate actively in the life of the Church as a whole, including a missionary commitment to bring Christ’s love into the life of society.”72 This paper was delivered as part of the Chester and Margaret Paluch Lecture Series for 2016-2017 at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary. 1
Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium (1964; hereafter, LG), n. 29. Unless otherwise noted, quotations from council documents are taken from Austin Flannery, ed., Vatican Council II. Vol.1: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, new revised ed. (Northport NY: Costello Publishing Company/Dublin: Dominican Publications, 1996). The following documents will be quoted, using the abbreviations shown: Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, SacrosanctumConcilium (1963; SC); Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes (1965; GS); Decree on the Catholic Eastern Churches, Orientalium Ecclesiarum (1964; OE); Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity, Ad Gentes (1965; AG); Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People, Apostolicam Actuositatem (1965; AA); Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis (1965; PO). Reference will also be made to the documents produced in 1998 by the Congregation for Catholic Education, Basic Norms for the Formation of Permanent Deacons (hereafter, Basic Norms), and by the Congregation for the Clergy, Directory for the Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons (hereafter, Directory). These were published together, with a Joint Declaration and Introduction, by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana in 1998. 2 In his Letter to the Trallians, written around 100AD, St Ignatius of Antioch said that without the three orders of bishop, presbyters and deacons “no church has any right to the name” (n. 3). See Early Christian Writings: The Apostolic Fathers, trans. Maxwell Staniforth, intro. and ed. Andrew Louth (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1987), 79.
On the history of the diaconate, see Edward P. Echlin, The Deacon in the Church: Past and Future (Staten Island NY: Alba House, 1971); James Monroe Barnett, The Diaconate: A Full and Equal Order (Harrisburg PA: Trinity Press International, 1995); International Theological Commission, Le Diaconat: évolution et perspectives (2003), available at http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents /rc_con_cfaith_pro_05072004_diaconate_fr.html; English trans., From the Diakonia of Christ to the Diakonia of the Apostles (London: Catholic Truth Society, 2003). It should be noted that the English translation uses as the title of the whole document what is properly simply the title of its first chapter. There is also valuable discussion of the history and nature of the diaconate in James Keating, ed., The Deacon Reader (New York/Mahwah NJ: Paulist Press, 2006). 4 In his Apostolic Letter, Novo Millennio Ineunte (2001), Pope John Paul II referred to Vatican II as “the great grace bestowed on the Church in the twentieth century” (n. 57; italics in original). 5 In favor, see, e.g., Phyllis Zagano, ed., Women Deacons? Essays with Answers (Collegeville MN: Liturgical Press, 2016); against, see Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Priesthood and Diaconate: The Recipient of the Sacrament of Holy Orders from the Perspective of Creation Theology and Christology, trans. Michael J. Miller (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2002). Taking a somewhat intermediate position in the conclusion of its document on the diaconate (see above, note 3), the International Theological Commission drew attention to two points: first, that the deaconesses mentioned in early Church sources “were not purely and simply equivalent to the deacons,” and second, “the unity of the sacrament of Holy Orders,” and finally commented with regard to the ordination of women to the diaconate that “it pertains to the ministry of discernment which the Lord established in his Church to pronounce authoritatively on this question.” 6 Pope John Paul II, General Audience, “Deacons Serve the Kingdom of God,” 6 October 1993. See also the following General Audience, “The Deacon Has Many Pastoral Functions,” 13 October 1993. 7 Pope John Paul, General Audience, 6 October 1993. 8 Letter in The Tablet, 11 March 2017, p.17, with reference to the possibility of the diaconate for women. 9 See AA 3: “In the organism of a living body no member plays a purely passive part, sharing in the life of the body it shares at the same time in its activity. The same is true for the Body of Christ, the Church.” 10 See Paul McPartlan, “Synodality, Primacy and the Role of Theology,” Chicago Studies 56(2017). 11 The first sentence of LG 29 is phrased rater differently and says in pyramidal fashion that deacons are found “at a lower level of the hierarchy.” This may be seen as one of the places in the council’s teaching where the pyramidal and communional models of the Church stand in a certain tension. On that larger question, see Antonio Acerbi, Due ecclesiologie: ecclesiologia giuridica ed ecclesiologia di communione nella “Lumen Gentium” (Bologna: Dehoniane, 1975). 12 Pope Fabian (236-250) divided Rome into seven districts to administer such care, each under a deacon, there being seven deacons in Rome in imitation of the choice of the seven in Acts 6. Pope Sixtus V (257-258) was put to death in 258 with six of his deacons, the principal deacon, Lawrence, being executed four days later, having presented the poor to the authorities when ordered to hand over the Church’s treasure. See Barnett, The Diaconate, 65-66. 13 See Barnett, The Diaconate, 66-67. It may be recalled that on the death of Pope Zephyrinus (198-217), it was the deacon, Callistus, who succeeded him as bishop of Rome rather than the presbyter, Hippolytus, much to the latter’s chagrin. 14 Barnett, The Diaconate, 123-124; see 88-125 for an account of this complex development. 15 Pope Paul VI, Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem (1967); available at http://w2.vatican.va/content/paulvi/en/motu_proprio/documents/hf_p-vi_motu-proprio_19670618_sacrum-diaconatus.html. The second implementing document was Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Letter, Ad Pascendum (1972), in Flannery, ed., Vatican Council II. Vol.1, 433440. 16 Catechism of the Catholic Church: Revised in Accordance with the Official Latin Text Promulgated by Pope John Paul II, second ed. (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2000; hereafter, CCC), n. 1570. See also, Basic Norms, n. 7. 17 For St Thomas Aquinas’ agreement with this view in principle, but nuanced with regard to the sacramentality of episcopal ordination, see Walter Cardinal Kasper, Leadership in the Church: How Traditional Roles Can Serve the Christian Community Today, trans. Brian McNeil (New York: Crossroad, 2003), 76-113. 18 Apostolic Tradition, 3; see Paul F. Bradshaw, Maxwell E. Johnson, L. Edward Phillips, ed., The Apostolic Tradition (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002), 30-31. On the dating of the Apostolic Tradition, see John F. Baldovin, “Hippolytus and the Apostolic Tradition: Recent Research and Commentary,” Theological Studies 64(2003), 520-542. 19 Pope Paul VI, Ad Pascendum, in Flannery, ed., Vatican Council II. Vol. 1, 435. 20 Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Trallians, n.3: “hold the deacons in as great respect as Jesus Christ; just
as you should also look on the bishop as a type of the Father” (Early Christian Writings, ed. Louth, 79). 21 See Directory, n. 42: “Numerous opportunities for the fruitful exercise of the ministry of deacons arise at diocesan level.” 22 See above, note 1. 23 See the famous opening words of GS: “The joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the [people] of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflcted in any way, are the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well” (GS 1). 24 See GS 45: “Whether it aids the world of whether it benefits from it, the Church has but one sole purpose — that the kingdom of God may come and the salvation of the human race may be accomplished.” 25 Joseph Komonchak, “Modernity and the Construction of Roman Catholicism,” Cristianesimo nella storia 18(1997), 353-385, here at 378. 26 See Paul McPartlan, “The Deacon and Gaudium et Spes” in Keating, ed., The Deacon Reader, 56-77, here at 68-69. 27 Pope John Paul II, General Audience, 6 October 1993, with reference to LG 29. 28 Pope John Paul II, General Audience, 13 October 1993. 29 Somewhat similarly, the convergence statement, Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (Geneva: World Council of Churches, Geneva,1982), produced by the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches, with the participation of theologians from a wide range of Christian traditions, said: “Deacons represent to the Church its calling as servant in the world. By struggling in Christ’s name with the myriad needs of societies and persons, deacons exemplify the interdependence of worship and service in the Church’s life” (Ministry, 31; emphasis in original). 30 LG 29 quotes from the Constitutions of the Egyptian Church, III, 2. The Apostolic Tradition states that only the bishop lays hands on the new deacon at his ordination “because he is not ordained to the priesthood but to the service of the bishop” (Apostolic Tradition, 8; see Bradshaw et al., The Apostolic Tradition, 60). 31 If diaconal ordination is simply a transitional step towards priestly ordination then Catholic teaching against the possibility of women being ordained as priests (see Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Inter Insigniores, 1976, and Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, 1994) would obviously rule out their diaconal ordination also. However, if it is a different kind of ministry from that of the priest, to which people may be called in a lifelong way, as Vatican II recognized, then that would seem to open up for discussion and discernment the possibility of its exercise by women. 32 Pope Benedict, Apostolic Letter motu proprio, Omnium in Mentem (2009). Regarding the earlier change in the Catechism, see also Archbishop Francesco Coccopalmerio, “On Omnium in Mentem: The Basis of the Two Changes,” available at http://www.ewtn.com/library/CANONLAW/bas2changes.HTM 33 See also, Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation, Pastores Dabo Vobis (1992), which at many points, especially in nn. 13-18, 21-23, refers to the priest as configured to Christ, the head and shepherd of the Church. 34 Pope Paul VI, Ad Pascendum; in Flannery, ed., Vatican Council II. Vol.1, 435-436. See also, William S. McKnight, “The Diaconate as Medius Ordo: Service in Promotion of Lay Participation,” in Keating, ed., The Deacon Reader, 78-98. 35 This statement, which resembles that in CCC 1581, must be considered to be likewise nuanced by the subsequent amendment of Pope John Paul II, mentioned above. 36 Council of Trent, Doctrine and Canons on the Sacrifice of the Mass (1562), chapter 1 (DH 1740). 37 Council of Trent, Doctrine and Canons on the Sacrament of Order (1563), chapter 1 (DH 1764). 38 Council of Trent, Doctrine and Canons on the Sacrifice of the Mass, chapter 1 (DH 1740). 39 See, for example, Martin Luther, De Captivitate Babylonica Ecclesiae (1520): “Of this sacrament [ordination] the Church of Christ knows nothing” (7.1); “Let everyone ... who knows himself to be a Christian be assured of this, and apply it to himself — that we are all priests, and there is no difference between us; that is to say, we have the same power in respect to the Word and all the sacraments”(7.15); available at http://www.lutherdansk.dk/Web-Babylonian%20Captivitate/Martin%20Luther.htm#_Toc58730611 40 The latter was not forgotten, however. The Catechism of the Council of Trent teaches that there is a “twofold priesthood” in the Church: the “internal” priesthood of all the baptized faithful, as shown in Rev 1:5-6; 1 Pet 2:5; Rom 12:1; and prefigured in Ps 50(51):17; and the “external” priesthood of the ordained (The Catechism of the Council of Trent, trans. John A. McHugh OP and Charles J. Callan OP [Rockford IL: Tan Books, 1982], 330-331). 41 Henri de Lubac, Catholicism: Christ and the Common Destiny of Man, trans. Lancelot C. Sheppard and Sister Elizabeth Englund, OCD (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988), 309. De Lubac continued unsparingly: “even if all of it that is remembered is literally and absolutely accurate, still does not the consequent narrowness of outlook and lack of proportion amount in practice to error?” (310)
Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (see above, note 29), Ministry, 17: “Ordained ministers ... may appropriately be called priests because they fulfil a particular priestly service by strengthening and building up the royal and prophetic priesthood of the faithful through word and sacraments, through their prayers of intercession, and through their pastoral guidance of the community.” On the continuing ecumenical discussion of this and other issues within the ambit of Faith and Order, see Paul McPartlan, “The Church — Towards a Common Vision: A Roman Catholic Response,” Ecclesiology 12(2016), 298-315. Considerable progress between Catholics and Methodists on baptism, Eucharist and ordained ministry is reflected in the agreed statement of the International Commission for Dialogue Between the Roman Catholic Church and the World Methodist Council, Encountering Christ the Saviour: Church and Sacraments (Lake Junaluska NC: World Methodist Council, 2011). 43 See Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Letter, Mediator Dei (1947; hereafter MD), nn. 4, 7. The numbering of paragraphs in Mediator Dei is taken from http://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_pxii_enc_20111947_mediator-dei.html 44 MD 83, with reference to the Council of Trent, Doctrine and Canons on the Sacrament of Order (1563), can. 4 (DH 1774). 45 Pope Pius X, Tra le sollecitudini (1903); quotation from R. Kevin Seasolz, ed., The New Liturgy: A Documentation, 1903-1965 (New York: Herder and Herder, 1966), 4. 46 See Bernard Botte, From Silence to Participation: An Insider’s View of Liturgical Renewal, trans. John Sullivan OCD (Washington DC: Pastoral Press, 1988); also, Paul McPartlan, “Liturgy, Church and Society,” Studia Liturgica 34(2004),147-164. For the life of Beauduin, see Sonya A. Quitslund, Beauduin: A Prophet Vindicated (New York: Newman Press, 1973), and the full biography by Raymond Loonbeek and Jacques Mortiau, Un Pionnier, Dom Lambert Beauduin (1873-1960): Liturgie et Unité des chrétiens, 2 vols. (Louvain-la-Neuve: Editions de Chevetogne, 2001). 47 Quitslund, Beauduin, 16. 48 Lambert Beauduin OSB, Liturgy the Life of the Church, trans. Virgil Michel OSB, third ed. (Farnborough: St Michael’s Abbey Press, 2002), 24. 49 Translated as Liturgy the Life of the Church, see previous note. 50 Beauduin, Liturgy the Life of the Church, 59. 51 Beauduin, Liturgy the Life of the Church, 58 (emphasis in original). 52 Beauduin, Liturgy the Life of the Church, 15. 53 Beauduin, Liturgy the Life of the Church, 32. 54 Henri de Lubac, The Splendor of the Church, trans. Michael Mason (San Francisco: Ignatius Press,1986), 134-136. 55 De Lubac, The Splendor of the Church, 138. 56 Yves Congar, Lay People in the Church, trans. Donald Attwater, revised ed. (London: Geoffrey Chapman/Westminister MD: Christian Classics,1985), 121-233. This is a translation of the revised edition of Jalons, that Congar produced in 1964. The revised edition contains some clearly marked additions, e.g. here on 232-233. 57 Congar, Lay People, 136-137 (emphasis in original). Congar also notes the distinction, “popular at the time of the Council of Trent” and used in its Catechism (see above, note 40), “between the inward worship which each one offers up in the temple of his soul, to which corresponds an internal priesthood, and the outward worship celebrated in material temples, to which corresponds a priesthood that is external and ‘ecclesiastical’ (i.e of the Church)” (185186). 58 Congar, Lay People, 136, also 188. 59 Congar however does add that it is still not “perfectly clear” (Lay People, 136). 60 Congar, Lay People, 188. The plural is notable here, presumably referring to the characters imparted in baptism (and confirmation) and ordination, respectively (see 187, 189). 61 Congar, Lay People, 188. This passage is original to the 1953 French edition and not one of the additions in 1964. I have amended the translation of “we speak” to “we will speak” since Congar says “parlerons,” seemingly indicating his own personal decision and intention (Jalons pour une théologie du laïcat [Paris: Cerf, 1953], 243). In 1964, Congar added some further lines of explanation: “We still hold that [the] common priesthood is a spiritual priesthood, but real, not simply metaphorical; and that its proper object is the offering of our own life as a spiritual sacrifice, uniting it with the Church’s offering of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which alone is acceptable to God for its own sake. A person’s spiritual sacrifice, corresponding to his personal priesthood, must then be consummated by uniting it with Christ’s sacrifice.... [It] cannot be consummated without taking part in the eucharist: this we are enabled to do by the sacramental character of baptism, which is a cultic power, and by the ministry of ordained priests of the public priesthood” (Lay People, 232-233). 42
St Augustine, City of God, X, 6, quoted from St Augustine: The City of God: Books VIII-XVI, trans. G. Walsh and G. Monahan (New York, 1952), 125-127; see Congar, Lay People, 127-128. 63 A. M. Roguet, “Relazione introduttoria alla discussione sullo schema ‘De fidelium participatione,’” in Angelo Lameri, ed., La «Pontificia Commissio de Sacra Liturgia Praeparatoria Concilii Vaticani II» Documenti,Testi, Verbali (Rome: CLV-Edizioni Liturgiche,2013), 185-188, here at 187. I am grateful to Rev Dr Peter McGrail for drawing my attention to this pre-conciliar liturgical debate. Curiously, Roguet contrasts his view with that of Congar and others who, he says, hold the view that the priesthood of the faithful is “primarily spiritual and analogical, and not properly liturgical” (187). In light of the views of Congar just examined, that judgement would seem to need more nuance. See further, Angelo Lameri, ed., Alla ricerca del fondamento teologico della participazione attiva alla liturgia: Il dibattito nella commissione liturgica preparatoria de ConcilioVaticano II (Rome: CLV-Edizioni Liturgiche, 2016). 64 See Yves Congar, My Journal of the Council, trans., Mary John Ronayne, Mary Cecily Boulding, ed., Denis Minns (Dublin: Dominican Publications, 2012), 871 (entry for 7 December 1965), for a list of the main texts of the council to which he contributed. 65 LG 10 indicates how all-encompassing the spiritual sacrifices of the faithful are by adding that the faithful exercise their priesthood also “by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, abnegation and active charity.” 66 Congar, Lay People, 188-189. 67 With regard to the latin original, which says that the priesthoods differ “essentia et non gradu tantum,” it may thus be said that it is better to think of the difference between the two priesthoods in terms of essence and not so much (“tantum”) in terms of degree; see Michael Richards, A People of Priests: The Ministry of the Catholic Church (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1995). 68 St Augustine, City of God, X, 6: “totum sacrificium ipsi nos sumus”; see Congar, Lay People, 127. Perhaps the teaching of St Paul in Col 1:24 may be recalled, also: “in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church.” 69 See above, at note 34. 70 According to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (2010), n. 94, the duties of the deacon at Mass include “ministering to the Priest,” “preparing the altar,” “serving the celebration of the Sacrifice,”and “distributing the Eucharist to the faithful.” http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/the-mass/general-instruction-of-the-roman-missal/ 71 See the prayers at the preparation of the gifts in the Roman Missal (2010). 72 Pope Benedict XVI, Apostolic Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis (2007), n. 55.
Authorsâ€™ Page Paul McPartlan The Reverend Msgr. Paul McPartlan is a priest of the Archdiocese of Westminster (UK) and Carl J. Peter Professor of Systematic Theology and Ecumenism at The Catholic University of America. During the 201617 academic year he served as Chester and Margaret Paluch Lecturer at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois. After his post-graduate studies and parish ministry in London, he was appointed to the faculty of Heythrop College in the University of London, where he taught systematic theology for ten years before coming to CUA in 2005. He served for two terms on the International Theological Commission (2004-2009, 20092014). A member of the International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church since 2005, he has participated in international Anglican-Roman Catholic and Roman Catholic-Methodist dialogue, also. He was appointed as a Chaplain of Honor of His Holiness by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008, and served as Acting Dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at CUA in 2014-2015. His undergraduate studies were at the University of Cambridge (Mathematics). He studied Philosophy and Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He gained his doctorate from the University of Oxford. He did two years additional studies as a post-doctoral research fellow at St. Edmund's College, Cambridge.
Published on Jan 2, 2018