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Catholic ecclesiology is the theological study of the Catholic Church, its nature and organization, as described in revelation or in philosophy. Such study shows a progressive development over time. Here the focus is on the time leading into and since the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965).
The doctrine of Communitas Perfecta ("Perfect Community") or Societas Perfecta ("Perfect Society") teaches that the Church is a self-sufficient or independent society which already has all the necessary resources and conditions to achieve its overall goal (final end) of the universal salvation of all peoples. It has historically been used in order to best define Church-State relations. Its origins are in Aristotelian political philosophy,although its adaptation to ecclesiology was done by the Scholastics. The doctrine was widely used in Neoscholastic circles before the Second Vatican Council. After the Council, the doctrine all but vanished from ecclesiological discourse.
This approach of Pius XII moved beyond the "perfect society" model to the "Mystical Body of Christ", but still identified the Body of Christ with the Catholic Church in a way that would be transcended by Vatican II.Lumen gentium , after mentioning "Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church" (14), goes on to speak of those who are fully incorporated (14), conjoined (15), and related (16) to the Church. This more expansive idea of the Church is developed in the second chapter of Lumen Gentium on the "People of God". And the Council's decree on ecumenism, Unitatis redintegratio , declares that “The Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using [separated churches and communities] as a means of salvation” (para. 3). This goes beyond the statement in Mystici corporis Christi that says of non-Catholics that “by an unconscious desire and longing they have a certain relationship with the Mystical Body of the Redeemer” (para. 103). Pius XII can be said to have popularized the notion of the Church as the Body of Christ, while Vatican II went on to "broaden" this notion.
The second chapter of Lumen Gentium is entitled "On the People of God". “People” avoids membership disputes: there are various ways of association; see "Body of Christ" above, which comes from this chapter. Since this chapter of Lumen Gentium comes before Chapter 3 "On the Hierarchical Structure of the Church and in particular on the Episcopate", commentators note that it turns the focus from the hierarchy to the laity, declaring that the Holy Spirit "distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank. By these gifts He makes them fit and ready to undertake the various tasks and offices which contribute toward the renewal and building up of the Church" (12). This is described as a "welcoming judgment on a great mass of theoretical and practical experimentation clamoring for recognition… . The Church´s life does not flow down from Pope thru BB and clergy to a passive laity. It springs up from the grass-roots of the People of God, and the function of authority is co-ordination, authentication and, in exceptional cases, control.”
Subsistence is the doctrine that the Church of Christ "subsists in" the Catholic Church.
Subsistit in is a term taken from Lumen Gentium paragraph 8, and is intended to acknowledge that ecclesial elements of the Catholic Church can also be found elsewhere:
This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its visible structure.
The theological commission has stated that "the elements which are mentioned concern not only individuals but their communities as well; in this fact precisely is located the foundation of the ecumenical movement."
Those who insist that this is a development in the doctrine of the Church often remark that the Second Vatican Council did not say that the Church of Christ "is" the Catholic Church.However, in another document promulgated on the same day (21 November 1964) as Lumen gentium, the Council did in fact refer to "the Holy Catholic Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ" (Decree Orientalium ecclesiarum, 2). Here the traditional conventional expression "is" is used, whose clarity can be used to interpret the potential ambiguity of the phrase "subsists in". Then again, the Council's decree on Ecumenism stated that "all who have been justified by faith in Baptism are members of Christ's body." Claiming the identity of the Catholic Church with the body of Christ goes against four decades of teaching by such eminent ecclesiologists as Yves Congar, George Tavard, Joseph A. Komonchak, and Francis A. Sullivan.
These terms were not used to describe the Church either in the Baltimore Catechism of 1885 or in the Catechism of the Catholic Church of 1992. But the latter describes what is meant here when it says: "At the present time some of his disciples are pilgrims on earth. Others have died and are being purified, while still others are in glory."The latter two are commemorated on All Souls' Day (November 2) and All Saints' Day (November 1). .
Roger Haight characterizes the difference in ecclesiologies as "the contrast between a pope with universal jurisdiction and a combination of patriarchal superstructure with an episcopal and synodal communion ecclesiology analogous to that found in Cyprian."
According to the branch theory there are currently branches of the one Church of Christ, each holding the faith of the original undivided Church and maintaining the Apostolic Succession of its bishops.While some limit this to three branches, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Anglican Communion churches, others include the Oriental Orthodox, Church of the East, Old Catholic, and Lutheran churches.
Many Christian churches have nothing approximating the Catholic Sunday celebration of the Mass as sacrifice. This leads to a different understanding of the role of the minister within these churches. At the same time, the notion of the priesthood is evolving within the Catholic church,even as the understanding of sacrifice faces development.
Dominus Iesus is a declaration by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, approved in a Plenary meeting of the Congregation and signed by its then Prefect, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI, and of its then Secretary, Archbishop Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, later Cardinal Secretary of State. The declaration was approved by Pope John Paul II and was published on August 6, 2000. It is subtitled "On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church". It is most widely known for its elaboration of the Catholic dogma that the Catholic Church is the sole true Church of Christ.
Lumen gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, is one of the principal documents of the Second Vatican Council. This dogmatic constitution was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on 21 November 1964, following approval by the assembled bishops by a vote of 2,151 to 5. As is customary with significant Roman Catholic Church documents, it is known by its incipit, "Lumen gentium", Latin for "Light of the Nations".
Unitatis redintegratio is the Second Vatican Council's decree on ecumenism. It was passed by a vote of 2,137 to 11 of the bishops assembled at the Council, and was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on 21 November 1964.
Full communion is a communion or relationship of full understanding among different Christian denominations that share certain essential principles of Christian theology. Views vary among denominations on exactly what constitutes full communion, but typically when two or more denominations are in full communion it enables services and celebrations, such as the Eucharist, to be shared among congregants or clergy of any of them with the full approval of each.
The magisterium of the Catholic Church is the church's authority or office to give authentic interpretation of the Word of God, "whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition." According to the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church, the task of interpretation is vested uniquely in the Pope and the bishops, though the concept has a complex history of development. Scripture and Tradition "make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God, which is entrusted to the Church", and the magisterium is not independent of this, since "all that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is derived from this single deposit of faith."
The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2019. As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church consists of 24 particular churches and almost 3,500 dioceses and eparchies around the world. The pope, who is the Bishop of Rome, is the chief pastor of the church, entrusted with the universal Petrine ministry of unity and correction. The church's administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, a tiny enclave of Rome, of which the pope is head of state.
In Christian theology, ecclesiology is the study of the Church, the origins of Christianity, its relationship to Jesus, its role in salvation, its polity, its discipline, its eschatology, and its leadership.
In Christian theology, the term Body of Christ has two main but separate meanings: it may refer to Jesus' words over the bread at the celebration of the Jewish feast of Passover that "This is my body" in Luke 22:19–20, or it may refer to all individuals who are "in Christ" 1 Corinthians 12:12–14.
Ut unum sint is an encyclical by Pope John Paul II of 25 May 1995. It was one of 14 encyclicals issued by John Paul II. Cardinal Georges Cottier, Theologian emeritus of the Pontifical Household, was influential in drafting the encyclical.
The Catholic Church has engaged in the modern ecumenical movement especially since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the issuing of the decree Unitatis redintegratio and the declaration Dignitatis humanae. It was at the Council that the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity was created. Before that time, those outside of the Catholic Church were categorised as heretics or schismatics.
Subsistit in is a Latin phrase which appears in Lumen gentium, the fundamental document on the church from the Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church. Since the Council the reason for use of the term "subsists in" rather than simply “is” has been disputed. Generally, those who see little or no change in church teaching in Vatican II insist on the equivalence of subsistit in and “is”. Those who point to a new, ecumenical thrust in Vatican II insist that the term was introduced as a compromise after much discussion, and acknowledges new elements in the Council's teaching.
Mysterium Fidei is an encyclical letter of Pope Paul VI on the Eucharist, published in September 1965.
Head of the Church is a title given in the New Testament to Jesus. In Catholic ecclesiology, Jesus Christ is called the invisible Head or the Heavenly Head, while the Pope is called the visible Head or the Earthly Head. Therefore, the Pope is often unofficially called the Vicar of Christ by the faithful.
Ecclesiam suam is an encyclical of Pope Paul VI on the Catholic Church given at St. Peter's, Rome, on the Feast of the Transfiguration, 6 August 1964, the second year of his Pontificate. It is considered an important document, which identified the Catholic Church with the Body of Christ. A later Council document Lumen gentium stated that the Church subsists in the Body of Christ, raising questions as to the difference between is and subsists in.
The Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church have been in a state of official schism from one another since the East–West Schism of 1054. This schism was caused by historical and language differences, and the ensuing theological differences between the Western and Eastern churches.
The expression "one true church" refers to an ecclesiological position asserting that Jesus gave his authority in the Great Commission solely to a particular Christian institutional church— what others would call a denomination, believers of this doctrine consider pre-denominational. This view is maintained by the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox communion, the Assyrian Church of the East, the Ancient Church of the East and the Churches of Christ. Each of them maintains that their own specific institutional church (denomination) exclusively represents the one and only original church. The claim to the title of the "one true church" relates to the first of the Four Marks of the Church mentioned in the Nicene Creed: "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church". As such, it also relates to claims of both catholicity and apostolic succession: asserting inheritance of the spiritual, ecclesiastical and sacramental authority and responsibility that Jesus Christ gave to the apostles.
The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) is a pontifical council whose origins are associated with the Second Vatican Council which met intermittently from 1962 to 1965.
Separated brethren is a term sometimes used by the Catholic Church and its clergy and members to refer to baptized members of other Christian traditions. The phrase is a translation of the Latin phrase fratres seiuncti.
A particular church is an ecclesiastical community of faithful headed by a bishop, as defined by Catholic canon law and ecclesiology. A liturgical rite depends on the particular church the bishop belongs to. Thus "particular church" refers to an institution, and "liturgical rite" to its practices.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the Catholic Church: