Catholic ecclesiology

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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).

In Christian theology, ecclesiology is the study of the Christian Church, the origins of Christianity, its relationship to Jesus, its role in salvation, its polity, its discipline, its destiny, and its leadership.

Catholic Church Largest Christian church, led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. 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 is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.

Revelation the revealing or disclosing of some form of truth or knowledge through communication with a deity or other supernatural entity

In religion and theology, revelation is the revealing or disclosing of some form of truth or knowledge through communication with a deity or other supernatural entity or entities.

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Saint Raphael Catholic Church (Springfield, Ohio) - stained glass, Upon this Rock, detail - St. Peter's Basilica.jpg
Stained glass window in a Catholic church depicting St. Peter's Basilica in Rome sitting "Upon this rock," a reference to Matthew 16:18. Most present-day Catholics interpret Jesus as saying he was building his church on the rock of the Apostle Peter and the succession of popes which claim Apostolic succession from him.
AugsburgConfessionArticle7OftheChurch.jpg
A 17th century illustration of Article VII: Of the Church from the Augsburg Confession, which states "...one holy Church is to continue forever. The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered." Here the rock from Matthew 16:18 refers to the preaching and ministry of Jesus as the Christ, a view discussed at length in the 1537 Treatise . [1]

Communitas Perfecta

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, [2] although its adaptation to ecclesiology was done by the Scholastics. The doctrine was widely used in Neoscholastic circles before the Second Vatican Council. [3] After the Council, the doctrine all but vanished from ecclesiological discourse.

Second Vatican Council Roman Catholic ecumenical council held in Vatican City from 1962 to 1965

The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, commonly known as the Second Vatican Council or Vatican II, addressed relations between the Catholic Church and the modern world. The council, through the Holy See, was formally opened under the pontificate of Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and was closed under Pope Paul VI on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on 8 December 1965.

Body of Christ

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. [4] 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". [5] 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). [6] 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. [7]

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, and was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on 21 November 1964. Its title is taken from the opening words of the Latin text. The opening of the document's English translation is: "The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council."

<i>Mystici corporis Christi</i>

Mystici corporis Christi is a papal encyclical issued by Pope Pius XII during World War II, on the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ. It is one of the more important encyclicals of Pope Pius XII, because of its topic, the Church, and because its Church concept was fully included in Lumen gentium but also strongly debated during and after Vatican II. The Church is called body, because it is a living entity; it is called the body of Christ, because Christ is its Head and Founder; it is called mystical body, because it is neither a purely physical nor a purely spiritual unity, but supernatural.

People of God

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.” [8]

Subsistence

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: [9]

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." [9]

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. [10] 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." [11] 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. [12]

Church Militant, Suffering, and Triumphant

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." [13] The latter two are commemorated on All Souls' Day (November 2) and All Saints' Day (November 1). .

Criticism of Catholic ecclesiology

Eastern Orthodox

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." [14]

Anglican

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. [15] 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. [16]

Protestant

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, [17] even as the understanding of sacrifice faces development. [18] [19] [20]

Related Research Articles

<i>Dominus Iesus</i>

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.

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.

Magisterium

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 church 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."

Body of Christ

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 Last Supper that "This is my body" in Luke 22:19–20, or to the usage of the term by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:12–14 and Ephesians 4:1–16 to refer to the Christian Church. It may also refer to Christ's post-resurrection body in Heaven. Christ also associated himself with the poor of the world and this is also called the Body of Christ.“If we truly wish to encounter Christ, we have to touch his body in the suffering bodies of the poor, as a response to the sacramental communion bestowed in the Eucharist. The Body of Christ, broken in the sacred liturgy, can be seen, through charity and sharing, in the faces and persons of the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters.” said Pope Francis on launching the World Day of the Poor.

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.

Catholic Church and ecumenism

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 the eighth paragraph of Lumen gentium, a landmark document of the Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church:

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 of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity.

Haec Ecclesia, in hoc mundo ut societas constituta et ordinata, subsistit in Ecclesia catholica, a successore Petri et Episcopis in eius communione gubernata, licet extra eius compaginem elementa plura sanctificationis et veritatis inveniantur, quae ut dona Ecclesiae Christi propria, ad unitatem catholicam impellunt.

Mysterium Fidei is an encyclical letter of Pope Paul VI on the Eucharist, published in September 1965.

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.

Theological differences between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church

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 linguistic developments, and the ensuing theological differences between the Western and Eastern churches.

A number of Christian denominations assert that they alone represent the one true church – the church to which Jesus gave his authority in the Great Commission. The Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox communion and the Assyrian Church of the East each understands itself as 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". The concept of schism somewhat moderates the competing claims between some churches – one can potentially repair schism. For example, the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches each regard the other as schismatic rather than heretical.

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.

Catholic-Orthodox relations have warmed over the last century, as both churches embrace a dialogue of charity. The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) ushered in a new era of relations for the Catholic Church towards the Eastern Church, fondly describing the Orthodox as “separated brethren” with valid sacraments and an apostolic priesthood. The Orthodox Church, on the other hand, encouraged local churches to prepare for future dialogue in the Third Pan-Orthodox Conference in Rhodes (1964), and has since engaged in several ecumenical efforts with the Vatican. Significantly, in 1965 Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople mutually lifted their respective excommunications.

References

  1. Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, paragraph 22 and following
  2. Aristotle, Politics, Bk. I, Ch. 1
  3. Leo XIII, "Immortale Dei", Human and Community Christlicher review, Freiburg (1945), pp. 571–602, paragraphs 852, 857.
  4. Duffy, Eamon (1997). Saints and Sinners. New Haven: Yale. ISBN   978-0300073324.
  5. Gaillardetz, Richard R. (2006). The Church in the Making: Lumen Gentium, Christus Dominus, Orientalium Ecclesiarum (Rediscovering Vatican II). ISBN   0809142767.
  6. Pelotte, Donald E (1976). John Courtney Murray: Theologian in conflict. Paulist. ISBN   978-0809102129.
  7. Stefon, Matt. "Mystical body of Christ". Encyclopedia Britannica.
  8. Butler, Basil Christopher (1981). The Theology of Vatican II. Christian Classics. pp. 71, 76. ISBN   978-0870610622.
  9. 1 2 Gaillardetz, Richard R. (August 27, 2007). "The Church of Christ and the Churches: Is the Vatican retreating from ecumenism?". America Magazine.
  10. Hebblethwaite, Peter (July 1, 1993). Paul VI: The First Modern Pope. ISBN   080910461X.
  11. "Unitatis redintegratio (3)". www.vatican.va. Retrieved 2019-09-27.
  12. "The Church of Christ and the Churches: Is the Vatican retreating from ecumenism?". America Magazine. 2007-08-27. Retrieved 2019-09-27.
  13. "CCC, 954". Vatican.va.
  14. Citation error. See inline comment how to fix. [ verification needed ]
  15. "Branch theory of the Church". The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford University Press. 2005. ISBN   978-0-19-280290-3.
  16. See The Christian Faith: An Introduction to Dogmatic Theology, by Claude Beaufort Moss, SPCK, 1943, p. 279, available online at "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-26. Retrieved 2011-12-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. "Text of Pope's Letter to Pontifical Commission for Latin America". Zenit. 2016-04-27. Retrieved 2018-04-14.
  18. Daly, Robert J. (February 2003). "Sacrifice Unveiled or Sacrifice Revisited: Trinitarian and Liturgical Perspectives". Theological Studies. 64 (1): 24–42. doi:10.1177/004056390306400130. ISSN   0040-5639.
  19. Brown, Raymond E. (1990). "Pauline Theology, 82, #73". New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Pearson. p. 1399. ISBN   0136149340.
  20. Kilmartin, Edward J. (1999). The Eucharist in the West, History and Theology. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1999. pp. 381f. ISBN   0814661726..