APPENDICES: AREAS OF FURTHER RESEARCH
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.
of Critical Study of the New Testament Description of the Apostles
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.
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 worldwitness
of the risen Jesusthe 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
(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
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
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 traditional norms for understanding the
faithScripture, creed, the magisterium of bishops in
the apostolic successionhave 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
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).
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
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
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
ordinationsalthough 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.
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, andthe
one and the other, each in its wayparticipate 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.
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.
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.
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.
It would be useful in any case for the Churches engaged together
in the ecumenical dialogue to try to answer together the following
(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?
IV: The Sacramental Aspect of Apostolicity
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).
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 designthe death and Resurrection
of Christshould be proclaimed by the apostles to every
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 mankindso
far as men receive him in faithand 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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
(e) What importance attaches to the reception
by the people of God of conciliar decisions?
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
(3) The Spirit will lead you into all truth.' How is this
(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
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
unityPeter; 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
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
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
(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
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
(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.