Index > Interconfessional Dialogues > JWG > Third Official Rep. | CONT. > App. III - II

     INTRODUCTION - select
   III. THE LAITY - select
   I. COMMON WITNESS - select
   CONCLUSION - select
  PART ONE - select
Part Two
  Appendix I - select
  Appendix II - select
Appendix III - select
Appendix IV - select
Appendix V - select
Appendix VI - select
Appendix VII - select
   Contributors - select


Appendix I: ‘Apostle' in the New Testament

The concept of ‘apostolicity' is integrally related to the role of the apostle in New Testament times. The various Christian Churches have always appealed, in different ways, to the description given of the apostles by the New Testament. Such appeals are bound to feel the impact of recent exegetical studies of the ‘apostle' in New Testament times, studies to which scholars from all Christian groups have contributed and which compel all Churches to examine their positions more thoroughly.
  1. Results of Critical Study of the New Testament Description of the Apostles

        There is no consistent portrait of the apostle in the New Testament. Historians have discerned several aspects of the vocation of the apostles but have not settled the degree of importance to be attached to each aspect: the work of the apostles in handing on and preserving the teaching of Jesus; their function as bearers of an authority to preach the Gospel, exorcise evil spirits, forgive sins, celebrate the sacraments, settle disputes, discipline ministers and members; their presence in the Church as messengers of judgment and final salvation, as heralds and forerunners of the kingdom of God and, therefore, as mediators of the Holy Spirit of the last days.
        This diversity of function and conception is to some extent the result of historical development. There is, moreover, striking unanimity on the point that the apostle is someone who has been sent as witness of the risen Jesus. Every New Testament view of the apostle and his function reflects some version of this idea of ‘envoy', depending on the situation in which the New Testament writer lived and on his view of the question of the Church's continuity. Confining ourselves to two of the New Testament views, those known respectively as the Lucan and the Pauline views, we find that for Luke the apostles are the twelve (exclusively or par excellence?) and therefore those who were witnesses of Jesus' earthly ministry. Consequently the picture constructed by Luke stresses the role of the apostle as guarantor of the tradition about Jesus. Paul's view makes room for many other apostles apart from the twelve and does not include the idea of witness to the earthly ministry of Jesus. The Pauline view stresses more the missionary aspect of the apostle. (Scholars are not altogether in agreement how far these views are contradictory or complementary. Nor do they agree as to whether Luke's view is wholly a product of the second Christian generation or reflects an earlier, Jerusalem view of the apostle.)
        The authority of the apostles is also the subject of discussion. Obviously they exercised authority over the communities but was this authority itself centralized in Jerusalem? In what way did the exercise of apostolic authority depend on the community's consent? The New Testament offers no clear answer to the question whether the apostles appointed other ministers or successors and if so, how. Nor are we certain that the same procedure was followed in all the Churches at the same time.

  2. Problems Arising for the Churches from these Critical Studies

        (a) Given this diversity in presentation of the role of the apostles, how can a Church insist on one particular role as normative? Cannot more or less divergent views of apostolicity find support in the differences between the descriptions of the apostle given in the New Testament? By stressing one particular aspect have not the Churches failed in their duty to respect the fullness of the many-faceted apostolic ministry?
        (b) Sent out to bear witness to the world—witness of the risen Jesus—the apostle is oriented both to a present and future situation and to the past. This same tension is evident in the Lucan and Pauline views. In order to claim apostolicity a Church should, in the same way, have both an anamnetic or conservative element looking back to the heritage received by the apostles from Jesus, and an eschatological element prepared to meet new situations with new responses. Which of these elements takes priority? By what rules should a Church combine loyalty to the tradition with the obligation to be flexible in its missionary role?
        (c) If the apostles had authority to govern, how is this authority to govern exercised in the structure of the Churches today? Churches which hold that the apostles received their authority independently of the consent of the community must ask themselves whether the visible expression which this authority must have had is also of divine institution and how such authority can be exercised in the service of the communities thus governed. Churches which hold that the authority of the apostles to govern depended on the consent of the community must ask themselves how then in practice Christianity can avoid becoming a mere matter of majority opinion.
        (d) How are we to understand the normative character of the apostolic teaching or doctrine? On the one hand, the apostles were men of their time, with a view of the world which is not ours. There is, therefore, in their teaching an element which is relative in value. On the other hand, one function of the apostles was, by the power of the Spirit, to unmask and oppose false apostles and, even today, fidelity to their teaching should still be a criterion far unmasking error. Have some Churches made the apostolic teaching so rigid a norm as to stifle new points of view which are vital to a living Christianity? Have other Churches been so precipitate in accepting such deviations from the apostolic teaching that they have become incapable of recognizing false apostles?
        (e) If it is impossible to be sure that offices such as the episcopate were directly established by, the apostles or that those holding this office were appointed by the apostles, what implications does this have, in questions about the union of Churches, for relations between, and perhaps for the union of Churches some of which have the ‘apostolic succession' and others do not, or else hold only a minimizing view of it? The existence in the New Testament of other ministries besides that of the apostles should face modern Churches which have an episcopal structure with the question of how the episcopal function is related to the other ministries. Churches which do not have an episcopal structure, on the other hand, should ask themselves how far the apostolic authority is in practice safeguarded in their structures.

Appendix II: Identity, Change and Norm

    How can any Church today, of any kind, be identical, particularly in structure and doctrine, with the Christianity of the early centuries and, above all, with primitive Christianity? For a Church today to claim to be in some sense or other the same as that of primitive Christianity, it must surely conform to that Church, not in every respect of course but certainly in essential characteristics.
    To minds specially aware of what history and historicity means, such material identity has become extremely problematical.
    This is not a confessional problem in the sense of being peculiarly Protestant or Catholic; it is a problem facing all confessions. It would seem that no Church has frankly faced this problem, indeed, the very reverse; it is often evaded in the manner in which appeal is made to Scripture or Tradition.
    From the second century at the latest, the identity of the later Church with the Church of the apostles whom Jesus Christ himself called was tested by the criterion of the apostolicity of its institutions and forms of life, in particular its ministry and doctrine. The Church of the apostles as well as the apostolic teaching and institutions served as the norm for all subsequent periods in the history of the Church.
    This was what the Scripture principle or the notion of Tradition, was intended to express. This at once raises two questions: (1) Within the framework of such a perspective can the inevitability and the importance of the modifications undergone by the Church in the course of its history be evaluated precisely? (2) If we adopt this view of Christian identity as conformity with the Church of the apostles, do we have enough information available to fix a norm for the inevitable changes taking place in the Church?
    Modern research into ‘the history of the Church has shown clearly how, from the third and fourth centuries and still more in the middle ages and the modern period, the form and life of the Church and the manner of presenting its doctrine have differed from those of primitive Christianity. How far can these changes be regarded as an organic development of primitive Christian elements? Some modern accounts of the Church's history have made considerate use of the key idea of organic growth; others, on the contrary, have either rejected this as quite unacceptable or else greatly restricted its use. But, if we have to abandon the view that major changes are an organic development of primitive elements, can we nevertheless continue te speak of their Christian legitimacy? Do not these changes simply amount in fact to a departure from apostolic times and therefore from the Christian norm? This seems te be the inescapable conclusion unless we distinguish between what is apostolic, regarded as a norm, and features peculiar to the apostolic age, including even some features of its ecclesiastical institutions and creedal formulas. Is there any room for a normative notion of what is apostolic, one which would not interpret the Church's history in terms of the ideal of a transformation of both the world and the Church which is progressive and from the Christian standpoint inevitable? For the mission of the apostles develops in the Church beyond what the apostles themselves did and is directed to a fulfillment which the Church and all mankind is still traveling towards. It would be necessary to verify the extent to which the idea of mission justifies the actual changes which have taken place in the course of history and, at the same time, ask whether it provides us with a criterion by which to distinguish between changes in line with the valediction of the risen Lord and those which deviate from this Christian mission and so obscure this mandate and the nature of the Church.
    The identity of the Church in spite of and through all changes is to be found, basically, in the faith of its members, a faith which in all ages conforms to the unique and comprehensive truth of God in Jesus Christ. If God revealed himself in Christ, then the knowledge Christians have of their faith can never depart from the truth either completely or in all the Church's members, however far these may be from its fullness and however many the deviations resulting from this. It can sometimes happen, however, that the majority of Christians may be mistaken in their understanding of the faith. Here again, therefore, the problem arises of a criterion by which to determine the true understanding of the Church's living unity and identity, as presupposed by the content of the faith.
    The traditional norms for understanding the faith—Scripture, creed, the magisterium of bishops in the apostolic succession—have themselves undergone changes in the course of history; in the evolution of biblical exegesis, in the history of dogmas, in the origin and development of the episcopal function and its exercise. Can these norms be regarded as unchangeable and set them over against historical development? If not, can the norm itself and the knowledge one has of it be thought of as subject to historical change? If we are to avoid an absolute relativism, where are we to find a norm for this evolutionary process itself?
    The universal saving truth of Jesus Christ, accessible to us in the apostolic writings, is able to govern the course of the Church's history because it is itself the starting point for the apostolic mission and for the transformation which this mission accomplishes and will accomplish in the world and in the people of God. In fact this basic Christian norm seems to include an element of historical change. Christ not only came once; he is to come again in even greater majesty. This surely points to a change which, far from disintegrating the reality of Christ, is directed on the contrary to its fulfilment. How far does this permit the changes which have taken place in the history of the Church to be integrated within the tension between Christ's first coming and his return (a tension which underlies the dynamic of the Church's mission)?
    The one and the same Christ Jesus is present to the circle of believers by the gift of the Holy Spirit who gives life to the tradition of the Church in the communion of faith and the sacraments and, at the same time, in the community which these believers together constitute. It is he who is the unity of his Body through the centuries and in every place in the world; through the presence of his Spirit there exists a ‘communion of saints'. It is he too who is the norm of the understanding of faith; his Spirit, the Spirit of truth, leads into all truth (John 16:13). It is Jesus Christ who, in this twofold way, is the guarantor of the Church's identity. But can the one Christ be designated the norm of the understanding of faith in a uniform and definitive manner? However essential the effort to arrive at a common knowledge and confession of the saving faith may be to ensure the only salvation of mankind in the one Christ, it might well be that the definitive knowledge of how Jesus Christ is the only norm of the Church cannot be achieved by the Church during the time of its pilgrimage because, even for the Church which has received the first fruits, the glory of Christ in his second coming and, therefore, his final revelation still belong to the future. Does this approach merely make possible an openness to historical changes and to ecumenical diversity or does it also permit us to understand the unity of the Church as something which is expressed in this historical process in a catholicity opposed to all unilateral uniformity, open to diversity and precisely in this way comprehensive? Do we not have to understand historical changes and plurality of forms of Christian faith and life as essential marks of Christ's presence as the one Savior of the multitude in the time between his first coming and his parousia?

Appendix III: Ministry and Episcopate

  1. The Church of God is not simply the eschatological assembly of believers in Christ but is also sent by Christ to gather all those whom God calls to salvation. This Church is catholic and apostolic in essence. It has therefore to act in a catholic and apostolic way.
        The Holy Spirit has been given to the Church in order that it may serve the sole Mediator and his work of salvation achieved once and for all, for all men of all times (catholicity). The Church is totally ministerial. The way in which it fulfills its diakonia must be determined in accordance with the original mission and ministry of the apostles (apostolicity).

  2. Considerable differences emerge at once in the view taken by the various Churches and their theologians of the essential elements in the ministry of the apostles. It is above all in the New Testament that the Churches engaged in the ecumenical dialogue seek the light they need to interpret or surmount these divergences. But what is striking in the New Testament is that it presents at the heart of the first Christian communities a great variety of ministries which were formed around and following the apostles. Whether these ministries were spontaneously charismatic or institutionally established as ‘authorities', they all appeared in close conjunction with a gift of the unique Spirit, the Holy Spirit, which makes them different but complementary. It is together that they serve to ‘build up' the Body of Christ.

  3. In the course of its historical development, the episcopate seems to have been understood first of all as a function of pastoral ‘supervision' within certain communities. Many historians think that this function was then exercised by several ministers together, doubtless by colleges of presbyters. It is at the beginning of the second century, in the letters of Ignatius of Antioch, that the episcopate appears clearly as a well-defined office entrusted to a single minister who in presiding at the Eucharist embodies the ecclesial unity. This universal structure which comprises the three ranks of bishops, presbyters, and deacons, gradually consolidated itself and soon became general. Primarily pastoral and liturgical at the beginning, it increasingly assumed juridical powers. The question arises as to the extent to which (particularly in the Churches of the West) categories borrowed from civil Roman law influenced a certain conception of the episcopate and of the hierarchical structure of the Church.
        At present agreement between the Churches on the question of the episcopate is proving difficult. The first thing which seems to be needed is for the Churches to know precisely what the positions taken by each other are in this matter of ministerial structure.

  4. In the Orthodox Church the idea of ‘apostolic succession' is fundamental. Yet all ministry, including the episcopate's ministry, is inseparably bound up with the people of God assembled and united in each community. Great importance is also attached to ordinations being performed only within the setting of the Eucharistic assembly. The episcopate itself owes its central position to the fact that each bishop is the head of his community and it is he who presides at the eucharistic celebration. Episcopal ordinations—although they are the business of the entire Church in virtue of the participation of at least three bishops at these ordinations— do not create an ordo in absoluto but an ordo within and related to a particular local church. It is only through the medium of this community that each bishop is linked inseparably to the other bishops, to the entire Church and to the line of the apostles. It is in this way that their ministry is catholic and apostolic.

  5. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priest hood are essentially different (essentia) and not simply in degree. But they are reciprocally directed the one to the other, and—the one and the other, each in its way—participate in the unique priesthood of Christ. On the subject of the ministerial priesthood the Councils of Trent, Vatican I and Vatican II have defined the following points:
        The hierarchy bas been instituted in the Church by a divine disposition. Order is a true sacrament and properly so called. The bishops who succeed to the apostles, belong to the supreme degree of hierarchical order. They are superior to presbyters and to deacons and possess a power of jurisdiction which is ordinary and immediate: a gift made them by the Holy Spirit in ordination.
        The Second Vatican Council teaches in particular that the fullness of priesthood is conferred by episcopal consecration and that this consecration with the munus of sanctifying also confers that of teaching and of governing. But these munera by their very nature cannot be exercised except in hierarchic communion with the head of the (episcopal) college and with its members. This episcopal college, of which the pope is the head, is charged with a universal ministry and enjoys for its exercise a full and supreme authority. Each bishop is equally the principle and the foundation of unity at the heart of the local Church where he exercises the ministry of the Word, of sanctification and of government, assisted by his presbytery and by his ministers. Finally, the bishops as members of the episcopal college, should provide together the concern of the universal Church, in particular that of missions.

  6. The Churches of the Reformation were led to interpret the ministry from the standpoint of the preaching of the Gospel: ministers should serve in preaching the Gospel and in administering the sacraments. According to the sixteenth-century Reformers, the hierarchy of the Roman Church. in its entirety, was not proclaiming authentically the Word. The uninterrupted succession of its bishops since the time of the apostles, which it asserted, had therefore proved ineffective and even debatable. In the notion of succession, the theologians of the Reformation had emphasized rather continuity in the proclamation of the Word and in the teaching of sound doctrine. Many of them also underlined the pastoral function of bishops and hoped to re-establish this function by reforming it. If then a large number of Protestant Churches seem no longer to have an episcopal ministry, this is still no reason why they should not be able to have one. Some of them are showing today that they are in fact ready to reintroduce such a ministry for the pastoral organization of a particular district. Others consider it as a structure which has definitely had its day, incompatible with a conception of the Church in which pride of place belongs to the believing people. In any case, the uninterrupted succession as an essential element of the ministry is felt to be called in question by the very experience of the Reformation. So too with the sacramental character of ordination and the inherent difference between the function of ministers and that of simple believers.

  7. The Anglican Communion affirms as a fact of history that the threefold ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons has always existed in the Church from apostolic times. At the time of the Reformation, the Church of England took great care to maintain the principle of the apostolic succession of bishops. A certain number of theologians maintain that the episcopate belongs to the esse of the Church; others, doubtless the majority, are content to affirm that it belongs simply to the bene esse of the Church. The present trend emphasizes the pastoral aspect of the episcopal office.

  8. All the views outlined here contain a more or less explicit reference to the fundamental mission of the apostles by Christ and the authority which they received from him. It is therefore by starting from this mission and considering the way in which the Church should fulfil it in order to meet the needs of each period and of each place that an ecumenical study of the ministry seems to become possible. It would also seem that an episcopate regarded as a pastoral function of unity and of ecclesial co-ordination should be studied, in particular from the standpoint of the Church's catholic action.

  9. It would be useful in any case for the Churches engaged together in the ecumenical dialogue to try to answer together the following questions:
        (a) How can an institutional pastoral ministry be justified and co-ordinated taking into account the royal priesthood of believers and charismatic vocations?
        (b) What is the criterion which allows us to discern in the ministry of the apostles that which is absolutely inalienable and specific from that which is transmissible to ministers who continue certain of their functions?
        (c) Does not the local character of the ministry conceived in this way impede the missionary task which falls to the Church?
        (d) To what extent can the episcopate as it bas been defined in the Roman Catholic Church be justified by the New Testament message and by a historical evolution (hierarchical nature, sacramentality, priesthood, jurisdiction, etc.)?
        (e) Does such an episcopate express or cloud the catholic and apostolic being of the Church? Does it favor or thwart its catholic and apostolic action?
        (f) How do the Churches of the Reformation manage to manifest their ecclesial continuity throughout the ages?
        (g) How do they avoid the extremes of spiritualism or of individualism?
        (h) How do they reconcile the authority of preaching and the fundamental equality of all members of the community?
        (i) By what means do they wish to preserve the episcopate which they would be prepared to reintroduce from the risk of being absorbed in administration and thus losing its spiritual character?

Appendix IV: The Sacramental Aspect of Apostolicity

The foundation of the Church's apostolicity is the mission given to Jesus Christ, namely, to accomplish the eternal design of God for the salvation of mankind, ‘to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad' (John 11:52).

  1. Christ Jesus is the sign of the Father's love; he is both the proclamation and the implementing sign of salvation (cf. Tit. 2:11; Phil. 2:8-9). As the one who implements the saving design of God, he is called by Paul: the ‘Mysterion tou Theou' (Col. 2:2, 4:3). The mystery of God's salvation is not a system of truths, but Christ himself, accomplishing the eternal design of God in the history of mankind. The most important events in this accomplishment of God's design—the death and Resurrection of Christ—should be proclaimed by the apostles to every creature.

  2. With reference to the ‘mysterion tou Theou' sacramentality means the presence in the Church, by the power of the Holy Spirit, of the eschatological salvation of Christ. It is by this presence that the Church proclaims the death and Resurrection of Christ so that this proclamation always has a sacramental aspect.
        This proclamation at each moment of history does not simply point back to these past events in the life of Jesus, it is communion in the mysterion and it also announces the future parousia when the risen Christ, by the Holy Spirit, will have completed his mission (cf. 1 Cor. 15:24-28): to gather all mankind—so far as men receive him in faith—and the whole cosmos, into himself and therefore both into the Father. But there is more. In his death and Resurrection, Christ is the sign which accomplishes this eschatological completion (cf. 1 Cor. 1:4-9). He fulfils this role of implementing sign of the parousia in the entire history of salvation although in a variety of ways each of which expresses his personal presence among us. Where two or three are gathered in the name of Christ (cf. Matt. 18:20) there is already a personal presence of the risen Christ. Where the holy Scriptures are read in the Church, there is his personal presence since it is he himself who speaks to us in his Word. He is equally present in the sacraments.

  3. The sacraments demonstrate visibly to believers how the essence of the universal apostolic task is precisely the proclamation of the death and Resurrection of Christ. Paul explains baptism by using the image (Rom. 6:4-5) of our union with the death and Resurrection of Christ. And Christ on the eve of his Passion instituted the Eucharist as a sign which, by representing (actualizing) his death, also proclaims the fulfilment in the basileia tou Theou (Mark 14:25 and 1 Cor. 11:26). In other words the eschatological situation has already entered into the history of mankind, although under the limiting sign of death, but a death overcome in the victory of the Resurrection of Christ.
        But the sacraments were instituted by Christ as a realization, in the earthly ‘aeon' a provisional and veiled realization of the eschatological salvation; in this sense the eschatological state has not yet been realized.

  4. The sacraments thus at the same time symbolize and effect a union with the death and Resurrection of Christ. It is by this union that, where the Gospel is ‘purely' preached and the sacraments ‘rightly' administered, the communion of believers is constituted as the holy Church.
        It thus becomes clear that the fact of proclaiming the death and Resurrection of Christ points back to these past events and announces the parousia, but furthermore represents (actualizes) the personal presence of the risen Lord. It is precisely this task which Christ has entrusted to his apostles and through them to his Church.

    Conclusions and Questions

        We are all agreed that the apostolicity of the Church consists in fidelity to the proclamation of the death and Resurrection of Christ, in the faithful continuation of the universal mission given first of all to the apostles.

  1. We are thus agreed that the apostolicity of the Church includes not only the faithful preaching of the Gospel but also the communication of the ‘Pneumatic' presence of Christ in other ways, in particular through the sacraments. But we must not forget that the preaching of the Gospel, the response of faith and the sacraments are inseparably united: all the sacraments are sacraments of faith, born of the Word and nourished by the Word. All the Churches should ask themselves whether, in the light of the mysterion tou Theou they have respected the true balance between Word and sacraments. And this not only in their doctrine but also in their worship: prayers, hymns, litanies, and in the central act, namely the Eucharist. The Churches should also ask themselves whether the sacramental aspect of their apostolicity necessarily implies that the apostolic succession in the ministry can only be assured by a sacrament of ordination.

  2. Does not the personal presence of Christ sanctify the communion of believers in their totality by the union of this communion with Christ in his Body? The Churches should ask themselves if their essential sanctity does not then imply that they should show themselves distinct from the world even while professing their solidarity with the world? On the other hand are the Churches really aware of the fact that their sanctity (like their unity, their catholicity, and their apostolicity) will never be perfectly realized in this aeon? That in them sanctity coexists with sin, cause for skandalon and hindrance to the Gospel? Are they aware of needing to beg incessantly, as Churches, God's pardon, of always needing constantly to be converted to him?

Appendix V: Conciliarity and Primacy

    The Church is a community, a communion. It has to achieve and express this unity both at the universal and local levels. It expresses its catholicity first of all by constantly founding in all places in the hearing of the Word and in the celebration of the Eucharist new particular communities. But it expresses it equally in knowing itself to be in all places one and the same people which as such grasps and announces the truth of the Gospel and which constantly overcomes the conflicts which threaten to divide it.
    The New Testament shows us clearly that the communities consulted one another and took responsibility for one another. We need only recall the activity of the apostles, of the prophets (cf. Agabus), the exchange of messengers, etc. The epistles which have come down to us in the New Testament are themselves evidence of this sense of universality. This accord between the communities covers not only major declarations having creedal status but even rules of behavior. ‘We recognize no other practice, nor do the Churches of God' (1 Cor. 11:16).
    The Church imperatively needs conciliar forms if it wishes to maintain and constantly renew this universal communion. The word ‘conciliarity' is used here to denote the communion in which the different local Churches are joined. It is an essential feature of the Church; this term has always been kept for representative assemblies which examine problems and deal with them with the claim to be heard by the Church. The Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) is an example. Examples of conciliarity are found in various forms throughout the entire history of the Church.
    In what structures should the universal community be expressed? Answers vary. Whereas on the one hand primary emphasis is placed on the constant freedom of the Church to provide itself with structures in accordance with a just appreciation of the existing situation and of missionary needs, on the other hand, it is argued that the foundations of a fixed structure are given in the New Testament, that they were developed in the ancient Church and that they remain obligatory far the Church in every age: the Church can only demonstrate her catholicity if it adheres to the structures established by Christ. Neither of these points of view is held in an exclusive manner. Even the Churches which are in principle in favor of freedom to develop new structures regard it as important to conform to the basic affirmations of the New Testament on the essence of the Church. And where stress is laid on fidelity to established structures room still remains far adaptations and recognition even of their necessity.
    The structure established by Christ in the apostolate is variously interpreted. What role has the group called the twelve? In what sense did they form a college? What was Peter's place within the twelve? Whereas on one side it is held that Peter must have presided over the college and that in this role he must have had a line of successors namely bishops of Rome, on the other hand it is thought that it was in all bishops that Peter had a successor or again that the promises made to Peter hold good for the whole college and that the totality of bishops or even the entire people must be regarded as the successors. These differences and others lead to different conceptions of the way in which the community which the Churches form between themselves should be expressed.
    Although these divergences have far from been surmounted, there is nevertheless agreement that they appear in a new light when discussed within the framework of recent redefinition of catholicity and apostolicity. The decisive question must be this: how is the conciliarity of the Church to be expressed today? The historical development has broadened the horizon te include mankind as a whole; the totality of men begins to become a quantity which can be grasped as a whole. How can the Church in this situation not only ensure conformity with its origins but, more than that, as a whole continue the mission of the apostles?
    At the Second Vatican Council the Roman Catholic Church tried te answer this question by setting in the forefront of ecclesiology the communion of the people of God and by completing the traditional doctrine of the primacy by the notion of collegiality. Collegiality, a more restricted notion than conciliarity, means the common responsibility, falling on those who preside over the local Churches, to represent the people of God and to take the necessary decisions. It is common knowledge that many other Churches are beginning to adopt conciliar forms of a more universal kind. This twofold movement prompts the following questions:

  1. The notion of conciliarity shows that representative assemblies are necessary in order to tackle problems arising in the life of the Church. The important thing is that the whole people of God should be represented by these assemblies.
        (a) To what extent is it necessary for there to be a function restricted to one person alone in order that the people should be represented as constituting a whole? The Second Vatican Council speaks unequivocally of the dependence of the college in relation to the primacy but not vice versa of the dependence of the primate in relation te the college. Does not the notion of collegiality presuppose a reciprocal dependence?
        (b) How are conciliarity and collegiality related?
        (c) How can the voice of the whole people be made effective over and above the representation assured by the bishops?
        (d) What is the role of prophetism in the universal community?
        (e) What importance attaches to the reception by the people of God of conciliar decisions?

  2. What role is attributed te Peter in the New Testament?
        (a) What constitutes Peter's special and unique role? To what extent is he set above the other apostles?
        (b) To what extent can one speak of a successor of Peter?
    (3) ‘The Spirit will lead you into all truth.' How is this promise fulfilled?
        (a) What precisely does it mean te say that Christ does not abandon his people to error?
        (b) Can the Church live as one and the same people in the truth of the Gospel without a central authority? Without such an authority can it ever arrive at a conciliar practice?
        (c) Can conciliar assemblies such as synods speak with the same authority when they are not derived from an authority given in the apostolic structures?
        (4) Does the Church need a geographical center?
        (a) What relation is there between Jerusalem and the heavenly Jerusalem?
        (b) Importance and meaning of fixed places in the life of the Church?
        (c) Why Rome? And why not Rome?
        (5) When the Church manifests its universality today, what is the relation between this universality and the efforts made by men to manifest the universality of mankind? How can the service rendered by the Church in the demonstration of its inherent universality be made to be felt?

Appendix VI: Unity and Plurality

    If in the design of God the Church should be one in Christ through the action of the Holy Spirit, this unity can be understood in a variety of ways all of which affect the idea of catholicity and that of apostolicity. Too often the tendency has been to identify catholicity with uniformity in geographical expansion and to reduce apostolicity to the simple common denominator of a ministry deriving from the apostles; or else to regard the plurality and variety of ecclesial forms as the very essence of catholicity and the diversity of New Testament charisms transmitted through the centuries by the Holy Spirit as the only basis of the Church's apostolicity.
    The following points an unity and plurality in God's design can be found in the Bible:
    In the Old Testament, by a series of covenants, particularly that made with Abraham and that of Sinai, God chose for himself a people. But in Abraham all the peoples of the earth are to be blessed. And it is the twelve tribes which are the object of the unique Sinaitic covenant, several of these tribes having a special destiny in the one design of God. The pluralism found throughout the Old Testament can only be understood in terms of the gathering into unity, both for the people of Israel and for mankind as a whole. The Old Covenant already has an eschatological catholic dimension and presupposes that communion which means primarily obedience in a multiplicity of ways to the one saving design of God.
    In the New Testament even greater stress is placed on the unity of God's design; unity through Jesus Christ, the one Mediator; a unity which is the work of the Spirit who gathers all the nations into a single people. Clearly this does not exclude real diversity On the contrary, the working of the Spirit is shown in the freedom of all in Jesus Christ and in the variety of callings and charisms. Such diversity already emerged: (a) In the choice of the twelve and in the special apostolic mission of some; there are apostles who are the special ministers of this gathering into unity—Peter; Peter and the eleven; Peter, James and John; Peter and John; Peter and Paul. (b) At the theological level: Jewish-Christians and Gentile Christians; plurality of Gospel traditions; Paul, the Synoptics, and John do not have identical standpoints. (c) At the sociological and ecclesiological level, the multiplicity of local communities: Jerusalem, Antioch, the Churches founded by Paul. This multiplicity is also symbolized by the seven Churches of the Apocalypse, sign of completeness and of unity in diversity The difficulty for each community is to discern what really comes from the Spirit of God and all the possible forms of false prophecy. For this reason, the apostolic witness has constantly to take its bearings from the design of God revealed in the risen Lord. It is the one Gospel kerygma which is the theme of the multiform announcement of Jesus as Lord; it is the Holy Spirit who, in the multiform announcement and in freedom, gathers a single people in different places and in different ways. The communion of one and all with Jesus in the Holy Spirit is expressed in concrete forms of which baptism, the Eucharist, the ministries, hospitality, the collection are the most obvious examples.
    Mission commits the Church to show its apostolicity and its catholicity in various forms appropriate to the places and times in which it embodies the Gospel message. But its goal is the unity of all in Christ, as Christ is one with the Father, and ultimately it is the Spirit who is the agent and guarantor of this unity.
    This plurality of forms of ecclesial life finds expression at the very threshold of the Church's history. No longer is Jerusalem the center of the communion, as in the time of Paul. A multiplicity of local Churches clustered around other larger local Churches (whether because of their true or supposed apostolic origin, or because of the political importance of the cities in which they were located, or for both these reasons). All these local Churches took pains to maintain among themselves communion of faith and sacramental life and to attest their agreement. agreed canon of Scriptures, mutual aid, hospitality, and, as far as possible, unanimous decisions about doctrine and discipline: local councils and, later, ecumenical councils. But at the same time, we find a certain variety of ecclesiastical organization (liturgical and disciplinary) and above all of theological outlook between the Churches. In practice the principal Churches served as centers of reference and tended to impose their views. Among them Rome occupied a special place, but there was no uniform interpretation of its role neither in Rome itself nor in the West nor the East. Rome was not alone in seeking to impose some sort of uniformity in every sphere of ecclesial life.
    On the other hand, very early in the history of the Church, there were those who claimed a freedom to manifest charisms which could collide with institutional forms. In the second century the Montanist crisis broke; later on certain monastic and spiritual movements showed the same tendency (cf. Messalianism) which reappeared at a much more recent period, opposing freedom of the Spirit to institutional norms.
    Moreover, although almost all accepted more or less consciously a certain liturgical, spiritual and disciplinary plurality, the same did not apply to pluralism in doctrinal formulation of the mystery of faith. It was found difficult to distinguish between the substance of the mystery of faith, identical everywhere and always, and the possible diversity of verbal formulation or of theological approaches (cf. the classic instance of the Antiochene and Alexandrian Christologies). This difficulty, which also involves the question of liturgical rites and formulas and the question of different spiritualities, is felt in all periods (East and West; problems of grace; relation of faith and works; problems of ministries; epiclesis; criteria of dogmatic orthodoxy). The various possible approaches to the mystery of the faith have often been confessionalized by an exclusivist attitude and this has frequently resulted in atrophied views of unity. Sometimes the desire to eliminate differences of approach has led to artificial simplifications and forced syntheses.
    If we are to respect the catholicity and apostolicity of the Church which proclaims ‘one sole Gospel in a plurality of forms and in the freedom of the Spirit, then all Churches today must consider the following problems.
    (1) Is it possible, in respect of the mystery of faith, to distinguish between the formulas and their content?
    (2) In respect of the unique communion in Jesus Christ, what significance has a hierarchy of truths of faith, all of which have to be held in reference to Jesus Christ and are therefore incapable of being reduced to a least common denominator?
    (3) Is it possible to distinguish between a common theological utterance and a variety of spiritual, liturgical and canonical traditions? Is the whole life of a Church expressed in its theology? Are the various traditions in some sense complementary?
    (4) What relation is there between the real life of Churches in worship, preaching and spirituality and the common formulations they must hold in order to bear united witness in the world?
    (5) What are the essential ecclesial structures (ministries) which correspond to what Christ willed so that, by the work of the Spirit, might be manifested that community of salvation which is intended to incorporate all men into Christ as one single people?
    (6) Are there instances where rebellion against institutional structures can be an authentic expression of the freedom of the Spirit?
    (7) Are there instances when the unity of the mission to the world requires us to rethink and reformulate dogmatic statements of the common faith? How can such instances be recognized?
    (8) Have our Churches kept the complete, freedom which can be found in the Scriptures as one of the essential features of ecclesial life in Jesus Christ?

Appendix VII: The Local Church and the Universal Church

    According to Scripture there is only one people called by God, only one Church, Christ's Body, Christ's Bride. By the work of the Holy Spirit given by Christ, this people is destined to embrace all mankind, all creation, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Deriving from the proclamation of the Good News at Jerusalem, it is founded on the apostles and prophets, but it bas also to carry this Gospel to the whole universe.
    Each local community gathers together those whom God calls, in a particular place, and for this reason is also called Church. Wherever the Word is proclaimed and received in faith, wherever the Lord's Eucharist is celebrated, wherever the ministers serve the flock of God, there too the one Church of God is present.
    By their very nature, the local Churches are open to the fullness of the mystery of Christ and to all men, irrespective of the differences of race and social class. Each local Church thereby shares already in the growth of all mankind to fullness in Christ. The universality of the Church is manifested in the communion of the local Church with all other Churches by the same faith, the same sacraments, the action of the same Spirit. This communion is also expressed by the concord between ministers of the different Churches who govern them in the name of the Lord and are mutually recognized by the different Churches as ministers of the Word and sacraments for the one people of God. This communion finds expression, for example, in hospitality, in the collection for the ‘saints' in Judea and Jerusalem.
    The history of the ancient Church is somewhat reticent about the origins of the episcopate but it is fairly certain that it was early established almost everywhere, so that from the middle of the second century one finds an identical conception of the pastoral ministry in the community and of the role of the bishop in the maintenance of communion with other Churches.
    In the course of the second century we encounter two complementary affirmations of this kind: where the bishop is, there is the catholic Church (cf. Ignatius); ‘Where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God and where the Spirit of God is there is the Church and all grace' (Irenaeus, AH, III, 24). The one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church was thus present and manifested in the local Church united to the person of its bishop; it was at the same time present and active wherever the Spirit of God was. Today, in contrast, the different confessions discuss to what extent the union of the local Church with the person of the bishop or of the legitimate ministry is a manifestation of the one Church in a particular local Church.
    Nevertheless, the local Church is the visible ‘place' where the people of God is gathered together by the Word and sacrament, guided by the Spirit of Christ present invisibly in the service of his ministers and led to attest to the world the salvation accomplished in Jesus Christ.
    Each local Church, on the other hand, by its very nature, is both linked historically with the apostles and set within a sociological context in which the Gospel is ‘incarnate' in a culture, at a particular time and place. It therefore has its own lineaments: liturgical, spiritual, and theological, but also sociological. In the context of modern civilization, however, it is more and more the case that the traditional structure of the local Church no longer corresponds te the given sociological facts of today. Thus the local Church, in practice, finds itself centered more on the celebration itself than on its own geographical character.
    In the life of the local Church, the celebration of the liturgy, and in particular the Eucharist, holds an important place as constituting it the Body of Christ and demonstrating it to be the Church of God. Through the Eucharist, all members of the people of God are in communion with each other, since they partake of one loaf, the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 10:27) and all the local Churches are only one and the same Church of God.
    This is why excommunication and the breaking off of communion (which are firstly sacramental acts and only then have canonical implications) express the extremely serious position in which an individual or a community finds itself. Deprivation of eucharistic communion is intended to lead the member concerned, or the community subjected to it by other local communities, to repentance and to conduct worthy of their calling, to action becoming a child of God and a Church of God.
    On the other hand, te bear clear witness to men, the local Church needs te give concrete form to its solidarity with the other local Churches; whence the need for regional organizations, councils, or a world organization which manifests this common mind in communion. But these sporadic forms (councils) or permanent forms (organizations) should not obscure the eschatological significance of catholicity. the fullness of catholicity will only be fully expressed in the eschatological future. The universality of a council and the catholic significance of a regional or world organization ought also to be related to the eschatological anticipation of the fulness of catholicity expressed by them in various degrees of completeness.
    In practice there are many factors which reopen the question of the meaning of the local Church and open the way to find new dimensions for it.
    (1) There seems to have been on the part of Churches have become strongly centralized in the course of history a rediscovery of the significance of the local Church as the highest expression of the Church of God (for the Roman Catholic Church, cf. The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of Vatican II, no. 41). On the other hand, Churches which have undergone a kind of confessional fragmentation seem to be rediscovering the need for a certain expression of catholicity at the world level. Are these two movements, apparently in opposite directions, complementary and making for the same goal, namely, the expression of catholicity as anticipation of the eschatological fullness?
    (2) If the local Church in its celebration of the Eucharist (Word and sacrament) is the highest expression of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, what is the meaning of a universalist conception of the Church which regards local Churches merely as parts of the whole?
    (3) What is the relation between the local Church, on the one hand, and the diocese and the parish, on the other? If in fact we define the local Church in terms of the place where the Word is preached and heard in faith and the sacrament celebrated in a given community, what possible ecclesiological significance can the modern diocese and the modem parish have? To what extent are they bound up with the old conception of the polis and of the village? What in future gives the local Church stability and continuity as an expression of the catholicity and apostolicity of the Church?
    (4) Have the liturgical communities which are bound up with sociological stratifications different from those of the past a new importance in this expression of catholicity and apostolicity— cultural and professional groups, etc.? In that case would the stability and continuity of the local Church in these new forms be even more dependent on large ecclesiastical organizations for expressing the Church's catholicity and apostolicity?
    (5) Who has authority to pronounce excommunication as defined above? Those with pastoral charge of the local Churches? Or is the consensus of the whole community needed for the sentence of excommunication? Does an excommunicated individual or community have a right of appeal to a higher court? What is the role of the collegiality of pastors in pastoral charge of the Churches? Possible role of a primate? Of an ecumenical council as representing the consensus of the whole people of God?
    (6) Can two local Churches exist in one and the same place without schism in the ecclesiological sense? Here the problem of personal dioceses and various jurisdictions and ‘rites' in one place within one communion arises. It is right to distinguish this problems without detaching it, however, from the problem of the presence of two or more ‘Churches' of different communions in one and the same place.


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