Index > Interconfessional Dialogues > M-RC > Nairobi Rep. 1986 | CONT. > Sez. 4
  (PREFACE) - select
  section 1 (THE NATURE OF THE CHURCH) - select
  section 2 (CHURCH AND SACRAMENTS) - select
  section 3 (CALLED TO UNITY) - select
Ways of Being One church - Sec. 4
  section 5 (STRUCTURES OF MINISTRY) - select
  section 6 (THE PETRINE OFFICE) - select


   22. As we reflect on a reunited Church we cannot expect to find an ecclesiology shaped in a time of division to be entirely satisfactory. Our explorations towards a more adequate ecclesiology have begun and are helping us to give proper recognition to each other's ecclesial or churchly character. They will also assist in overcoming our present state of division.

    23. We have found that koinonia, both as a concept and an experience, is more important than any particular model of Church union that we are yet able to propose. Koinonia is so rich a term that it is better to keep its original Greek form than bring together several English words to convey its meaning. For believers it involves both communion and community. It includes participation in God through Christ in the Spirit by which believers become adopted children of the same Father and members of the one Body of Christ sharing in the same Spirit. And it includes deep fellowship among participants, a fellowship which is both visible and invisible, finding expression in faith and order, in prayer and sacrament, in mission and service. Many different gifts have been developed in our traditions, even in separation. Although we already share some of our riches with one another, we look forward to a greater sharing as we come closer together in full unity (cf. Vatican II, Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, 4).

   24. In our discussion we found that the following, each in its own way, offered elements for a model of organic unity in the koinonia of the one Body of Christ:

a) considerable value was found in the notion of what have come to be called typoi. This implies that within the one Church in which there is basic agreement in faith, doctrine, and structure essential for mission, there is room for various "ecclesial traditions", each characterized by a particular style of theology, worship, spirituality and discipline;
b) from one perspective the history of John Wesley has suggested an analogy between his movement and the religious orders within the one Church. Figures such as Benedict of Norcia and Francis of Assisi, whose divine calling was similarly to a spiritual reform, gave rise to religious orders characterized by special forms of life and prayer, work, evangelization and their own internal organization. The different religious orders in the Roman Catholic Church, while fully in communion with the Pope and the bishops, relate in different ways to the authority of Pope and bishops. Such relative autonomy has a recognized place within the unity of the Church;
c) a third train of ideas is suggested by the term "sister churches". In its original usage, the expression contained a strong geographical component (e.g. Church of Rome, Church of Constantinople). But more recent usage, as when Paul VI looked forward to the Roman Catholic Church embracing "the Anglican Church" as an "ever beloved sister", hints that it may be possible to envisage reunion among divided traditions as a family reconciliation (cf. Pope Paul VI letter to Patriarch Athenagoras, Anno ineunte, July 25, 1967. In Tomos Agapis [ 1958-82], English Translation, E. J. Stormon, S.J. [New York: Paulist Press, 1986], no. 176);
d) the relations between Churches of the Roman (Latin) rite and those of various oriental rites also in communion with the Bishop of Rome, afford a further possible model for the retention of different styles of devotion and Church life within a single communion.

   25. In trying to take these ideas further, we began to explore the acceptable range of variety and uniformity in the Church.

   26. Christians, sharing the same faith, relate to God in a great variety of ways, often helped by spiritual traditions which have developed, under the providence of God, in the course of history. Some of these traditions are embodied in and furthered by religious societies, renewal movements, and pious associations or institutes. The Church should protect legitimate variety both by ensuring room for its free development and by directly promoting new forms of it.

   27. We broached the question whether such varying needs can be provided for within the framework of the local congregation and how far a particular tradition or form of prayer and worship may require special provisions (parishes, ministries, other organizations). How far would the pastoral) care of such groups require separate, possibly overlapping jurisdictions, or could it be provided by one, single, local form of episkope (supervision or oversight)?

   28. There have to be limits to variety; some arise from the need to promote cohesion and cooperation, but the basic structures of the Church also set limits that exclude whatever would disrupt communion in faith, order and sacramental) life.


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