"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

Thursday, 22 October 2015


John Zizioulas – Ecclesiological presuppositions of the holy Eucharist
The Eucharist makes the Catholic Church

Thus in the office of the Bishop we encounter at least two fundamental paradoxes which are also paradoxes of the Eucharist. One is that in him the One become Many and the Many becomes One. This is the mystery of Christology and Pneumatology, the mystery of the Church and at the same time of the Eucharist. The other paradox is that in the Bishop the local Church becomes Catholic and the Catholic becomes local. If a Church is not at the same time local and universal, she is not the body of Christ. Equally the Eucharist has to be at the same time a local and catholic event. Without the Bishop it cannot be so.

This links the question of the ecclesiological presuppositions of the Eucharist closely with another aspect of ecclesiology, namely conciliarity. The Eucharist by its very nature transcends the dilemma ‘local or universal’, because in each eucharistic celebration the Gifts are offered in the name of, and for, the ‘one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church’ which exists in the whole world. In practical terms this means that if one is a member of a certain eucharistic community (or local Church), one is ipso facto also a member of all the eucharistic communities of the world: one can communicate in any one of these communities.

It was precisely this nature of the Eucharist and its practical implications that led to emergence of the synod system in the early Church. Conciliarity is closely connected with eucharistic communion – both in its theory and its practice – and with its presuppositions. If two or more Churches are in schism, the eucharistic life (and perhaps also validity?) of all local Churches is upset. Conciliarity as an expression of the unity of the local Churches in one Church, constitutes a fundamental condition for the Eucharist. Just as the many individuals of a local Church must be united in and through the ministry of the One (the bishop, representing Christ), in the same way the many local Churches must be united into one for their Eucharist to be proper ecclesiologically. Ecclesial unity on a universal level is essential for the Eucharist.

[Nicolaus 10, 1982 pp333-49]

I. The subject on which I have been asked to speak is important and vast. Although it is a subject on which I have worked for many years, I fell inadequate to deal with it properly in a brief lecture. What I intend to do here is to offer some general suggestions which may help to deepen the discussion of the subject. I propose to discuss the following questions
a) What phases has the problem of the relation between Church and eucharist gone through before reaching its present state? A brief look at the past is necessity to appreciate the significance of our problem today.
b) What conclusions can we draw from a study of the ancient Tradition, common to both the West and the East, about the relation between Eucharist and Ecclesiology, and more specifically, the ecclesiological presuppositions of the Eucharist ?
c) What conclusions can we draw from all this for our ecumenical situation today? At this point special attention will be paid to the problem of the ‘validity’ of the Eucharist of the divided Churches and the possibilities that may exist for a restoration of eucharistic communion between them.
II. Let us begin with a brief look at the historical background. The history of the relationship between Eucharist and ecclesiology seems to involve the following three fundamental phases:
1. in the primitive phases, that of the ancient Church, the Eucharist is linked closely with the mystery of the Church. Already at the time of St Paul the word Ecclesia and those words which describe the Eucharist signify the same reality. A study of 1 Corinthians 11 show this. Verses 20, 33 and 34 of this chapter leaves us with no doubt that for St Paul the terms ‘Lord’s Supper’ (kyriakon deipnon), ‘coming together in the same place’ (synerchesthai epi to auto) and ‘Church’ (Ecclesia) are used to denote the same reality. It is true that in Paul’s mind the idea of the Church as the ‘people of God’ in its Old Testament sense occupies a place of priority. And yet, if not in general, at least with regard to 1 Corinthians, the Church is above all a concrete community. And what is even more important, the Church in these texts is not simply a concrete community of any kind, but the community of a city united epi to auto to celebrate the Eucharist. For St Paul, the local becomes the very ‘Church of God’ when it gathers to celebrate the Eucharist.
This Pauline ecclesiology which identifies Church and Eucharist so closely is developed further by St Ignatius of Antioch. What characterises Ignatius in particular is that the Eucharist does not simply make the local catholic community into the Church, but that it makes it the catholic Church (katholike ecclesia), that is, the full and integral body of Christ. It would not be an exaggeration to say that for Ignatius the catholicity of the Church derives from the celebration of the Eucharist. And this allows Ignatius to apply the term ‘catholic Church’ to the local community. Each local eucharistic community presided over by the bishop surrounded by the college of presbyters and assisted by the deacons, in the presence of the multitude (plethos), the people, constitutes the ‘catholic Church’ precisely because in it the total Christ is found in the form of the Eucharist.

After Ignatius the preoccupation of the Church with the danger of Gnosticism and other heresies forced her to emphasise orthodoxy as the fundamental and decisive ingredient of ecclesiology. Thus, the relation between Church and Eucharist seems to be weakened to some extent in the writers of the second century, though it is not absent from their thought. The situation is exemplified by St Irenaeus who regards orthodoxy as fundamental to ecclesiology while making the Eucharist the criterion of catholicity: ‘Our faith (belief: gnome) is in accordance with the Eucharist and the Eucharist confirms our faith’ (Adv Haereses 4.8,5). It is mainly for this reason that in all ancient writers before St Augustine each local Church is called catholic, the full and integral body of Christ.
With St Augustine something seems to change in this respect. Striving with the provincialism of the Donatists, for the first time the term ‘catholic Church’ acquires the meaning, not of the local Church, but of the Church universal. This gives catholicity the meaning of universality, and with it a quantitative and geographical content instead of the original qualitative one.
This change was destined to exercise a decisive influence in the subsequent centuries in the West. And yet as has been shown in the remarkable studies of scholars such as Henri de Lubac and Yves Congar, the link between Church and Eucharist was not weakened at all as a result of this in the West up to the thirteenth century. The Eucharist continued to constitute the sacrament of the Church, that which expresses the Church’s unity and which makes the body of Christ and the body of the Church identical. Church, Eucharist and Body of Christ continue up until that time to constitute one and the same reality in the West as in the East. In the latter, despite certain shifts of emphasis that led Byzantine theology with a preoccupation with the anthropological rather than the strictly ecclesiological dimensions of the Christian faith, the holy Liturgy never ceased to occupy the centre of the Church’s life and to be regarded as the ecclesiological event. In the East one still speaks of ‘going to Church’ when going to the Eucharist – thus preserving the early link between Eucharist and ecclesiology.
2. From the thirteenth century onwards the relation between Church and Eucharist entered a new phase which was destined to exercise an enormous influence on the theology of the subsequent centuries up to our own time. With the help of subtle distinctions used by the scholastic theologians of the time, the terms ‘body of Christ’, ‘body of the Church’ and ‘body of the Eucharist’ ceased to be identical. This, together with the appearance of a sacramental theology independent of both Christology and ecclesiology, led to a disjunction between Eucharist and ecclesiology, and to a conception of the Eucharist as one sacrament among many. Thus the Eucharist was no longer identified with the Church; it became a means of grace, something assisting the faithful in their spiritual life, which was no longer regarded as manifesting the total body of the Church. As result eucharistic celebrations could become ‘private’ – something unheard of in the early Church – and the sole presence of a presbyter, in the absence of the other orders of the Church, as regarded as sufficient for a ‘valid’ Eucharist. Church and Eucharist were thus gradually disassociated from each other both in theory and in practice.
The Reformation, though critical of many of the medieval practices around the Eucharist, seem to have done little to restore the old link between Church and Eucharist. It is true that the Reformers were strongly concerned with the centrality of communion – community of laity – in the eucharistic celebration. But by attributing greater centrality to the preaching of the Word in the Church’s life and by opening the way to less frequent celebration of the Eucharist during the year – in many cases under the influence of civil authority and in contrast with the theology of the Reformers – the Reformation weakened even further the already loose link between Eucharist and ecclesiology. In this respect it continued faithfully the medieval post-thirteenth century conception of the Eucharist as one sacrament among other sacraments – this time two rather than seven.
The Counter-Reformation insisted on the same line and reinforced it in the West. The eucharist remained a sacrament produced by the Church and not constitutive of her being. The ecclesiological presuppositions of the Eucharist were in this way understood to involve a ‘valid’ ministry, through ordination, which conferred a character indelibilis, and a potestas to perform the sacraments regardless of any other conditions, such as the presence of the community, orthodox faith or other such factors.
At this time the East, struggling to relate to debate between Roman Catholics and Protestants, produced its own confessions. It assumed without criticism the problematic inherited in the West from medieval scholasticism, and tried to reply to the Protestant views by using Roman Catholic arguments and vice versa. Thus, in the very centre of Orthodox theology and in spite of the continuous centrality of the Eucharist in Orthodox Church life, an ecclesiology developed at the academic level which regarded the Eucharist as one sacrament among many (usually seven), and which distinguishes very clearly between Church and Eucharist in its methodology. The consequence of this was the emergence of a dichotomy of academic ecclesiology and ordinary liturgical Church life, a dichotomy which is still responsible for many of the problems of today’s Orthodoxy.
3. This takes us to the third phase in the history of the relation between Church and Eucharist, which is our contemporary era. Our own situation has been changed radically by the revival of Biblical, Patristic and Liturgical studies since the beginning of the twentieth century. This revival has recovered the ancient link between Church and Eucharist which was obscured, if not lost, in the Middle Ages. Thanks to the work of scholars such as G. Dix, O. Casel and W. Elert and others in the West, Orthodox theologians themselves have been reminded of the Patristic concept of the Eucharist as leitourgia, a work of the people and as gathering epi to auto to realise the ecclesial event par excellence. As a result of this revival, the Orthodox theologian N. Afanassieff launched his ‘eucharistic ecclesiology’, the main principle of which is: ‘wherever there is the Eucharist, there is the Church.’ Since Afanassieff, the Orthodox are known as the promoters of the eucharistic presuppositions of ecclesiology, and less for the ecclesiological presuppositions of the Eucharist. ‘Eucharistic ecclesiology’ represents a one-sided view, which requires clarification and even correction in order to do justice to the Patristic roots of Orthodoxy.
The recovery of the link between Church and Eucharist seems to be a characteristic of the contemporary ecumenical situation. With its help the Roman Catholic Church seems to have rediscovered the ecclesiological fullness of the local Church since Vatican II. At the same time, Protestant Churches also attach increasing centrality to the Eucharist in their ecclesiologies, even to the point of reaching an amazing convergence with the Roman Catholics and Orthodox on this point, as is evident from the latest work of the Faith and Order Movement. It is therefore appropriate to deal with the implications of this new situation for our present-day life and for our Church life.
This brief historical sketch shows that we have inherited a problem in theology which would have been inconceivable in the early Church. The problem is expressed in the question: does the Eucharist make the Church or is the reverse true, namely that the Church constitutes the Eucharist?
This theological tradition which has been influenced by medieval scholasticism both in the West and in the East has tended to answer this question by saying that it is the Church that makes the Eucharist. Some Orthodox theologians, on the other hand, under the influence of the ‘Eucharistic ecclesiology’ of Afanassieff, have taken the opposite view. The debate is not closed, and what I have to say here is nothing but a modest contribution to this discussion.
1. In the first place I should like to draw our attention to the deeper theological roots of this problem. The question we have raised is part of a broader and more fundamental question of the relation between Christology and Pneumatology, or even between History and Eschatology. Behind the position that the Church precedes the Eucharist lies the view that Christology precedes Pneumatology and that the institutional or historical aspect of the Church is what causes the Eucharist to exist. This position forms part of an Ecclesiology which views the Church as the Body of Christ which is first instituted in itself as an historical entity and then produces the ‘means of grace’ called sacraments, among them primarily the Eucharist. The order that is suggested by traditional dogmatic manuals is precisely this: first comes Christ, then follows the Spirit, then the Church, and finally the sacraments (including the Eucharist). If this order is followed you must first have the Ministry of the Church who actually makes the Eucharist. The Eucharist is a product of the priestly machinery. In many people’s minds this is the assumption.
In speaking about the ecclesiological presuppositions of the Eucharist I wish to exclude such an assumption right from the start. If there are ecclesiological presuppositions of the Eucharist – and there certainly are – these must not be understood to involve a priority of the Church over against the Eucharist. The position I will develop here is that the Church constitutes the Eucharist while being constituted by it. Church and Eucharist are interdependent, they coincide, and are even in some sense identical.
In order to find the deeper roots of this coincidence between Church and Eucharist we must again go back to the question of the relation between Christology and Pneumatology. All the biblical accounts of Christology seem to speak of Christ as being constituted by the Holy Spirit and in this sense as a corporate personality, the Servant of God or the Son of Man. The Person of Christ is automatically linked with the Holy Spirit, which means with a community. This community is the eschatological company of the Saints who surround Christ in this kingdom. This Church is part of the definition of Christ. The body of Christ is not first the body of the individual Christ and then a community of ‘many’, but simultaneously both together. Thus you cannot have the body of the individual Christ (the One) without having simultaneously the community of the Church (The Many).
The Eucharist is the only occasion in history when these two coincide. In the Eucharist the expression ‘body of Christ’ means simultaneously the body of Jesus and the body of the Church. Any separation between these two leads to the destruction of the Eucharist. Therefore, the ecclesiological presuppositions of the Eucharist cannot be found outside the Eucharist itself. It is by studying the nature of the Eucharist that we can understand the nature of the Church which conditions the Eucharist.
2. The body of Christ, which is the body of the Eucharist and of the Church at the same time, is the body of the Risen, the eschatological, Christ. This means that the ecclesiological presuppositions of the Eucharist are to be found in a consideration of the eschatological Church and the eschatological community. Let me briefly mention the basic elements which constitute this eschatological community.
(a) The eschatological community, both in its ecclesial and its eucharistic form, is above all a synaxis epi to auto (coming together in one place) of the dispersed people of God. It is no accident that in Paul and Ignatius the expression synagesthai epi to auto means simultaneously the Church and the Eucharist. It follow from this that it is impossible to have the Eucharist celebrated properly without the gathering of the people of God in one place. The people are indispensable for the Eucharist. They constitute it, together with the other orders through their responses to the prayers, through their Amen, which is the prerogative exclusively of the lay, of the people. It appears therefore that a fundamental ecclesiological presupposition of the Eucharist is the gathering of the lay people in one place. The Eucharist is a leitourgia, an act of the People.
b) Another characteristic of the eschatological community which the Eucharist as the body of the Risen and corporate, spiritual Christ must portray, is its charismatic nature. All the members of the Church possess the Holy Spirit through Baptism and Chrismation (or Confirmation), and being a ‘charismatic’ means in the final analysis being a member of the Church. Ordination is a bestowal of a particular charisma on certain people and as such it does not raise the ordained person above or outside the community, but assigns him to a particular position, an ordo. The Eucharist includes not only the laymen but also other charismata and orders. Its proper performance therefore must include a variety of orders and not simply what we call the ‘laymen’ – or the ‘clergy’.
Among these orders there are three that have survived in history as constitutive for the Eucharist in addition to that of the laymen. St Ignatius of Antioch says that ‘without these the Church cannot be constituted’. One of them is the Bishop. The others are the deacons and the presbyters. The constitutive role of the deacons for the Eucharist has been almost lost in our time. Are the deacons necessary for the celebration of the Eucharist? Few people, if any, would be inclined to answer this question in the affirmative. The deacons have become almost a decorative element of the Liturgy.
The presbyters, on the other hand, have assumed a eucharistic role that was not originally theirs. Since the Middle Ages they have become the main presidents of the Eucharist. One could call them the sole ecclesiological presupposition of the Eucharist: if you have the presbyter (priest) you do not need anything else in order to have the Eucharist. This widespread assumption, which led to the practice of the private Mass, is absolutely wrong and contrary to the ancient tradition and ecclesiology. The presbyters are only part of what is necessary in order to have a valid Eucharist. This function was originally to surround the bishop on his throne as the Twelve will surround Christ in the Kingdom, as serve as a collegium, not as individuals, in the eucharistic community. The Eucharist is not presbyteri-centric but episcopal in its nature.
(d)Thus we arrive at the question of the Bishop as the presupposition of the Eucharist. In what sense is he such a condition? Here the following points emerge from a study of the Ancient Church.
1. The Bishop is not a minister that exists outside or above the Church but is part of the community. There is no pyramidal structure in ecclesiology, and the idea that the bishops in any sense precede the community can be very misleading. The best way to understand the office of the bishop is through the biblical image of the One and the Many to which I referred earlier. Just as the One (Christ) cannot be conceived without the Many (the Body), so also the Bishop is inconceivable without his community. The practice of titular bishops can be misleading, if it does not imply that a bishop is part of a community.
2. However something must immediate be added to this. The Bishop has at the same time the special ministry of representing Christ to the community. This is the paradox in the office of the Bishop which is the very paradox of Christ’s position in the Eucharist. In the Eucharist Christ represents the community to the Father. He offers the Eucharist as the first-born of the brethren, as part of the community. At the same time he addresses the community, especially by giving it the Holy Spirit, the charismata. In this sense he stands above the community. The bishop does the same paradoxical work he offers the Eucharist as part of the community and as its head. At the same time, he is the sole ordainer, no one else can give the Spirit to the community, no on else can ordain. In this sense he is addressing the community: he constitutes it, as the ecclesial presupposition par excellence. The Bishop thus becomes also the ecclesiological presupposition par excellence of the Eucharist.
(3) Though these functions we must add another important one. The Bishop is the link between the local and the universal Church. He is part of our local community, and yet not in the same way as are the presbyters, the deacons and lay people of that community. He is ordained by more than one bishop and as such his ministry transcends the local community. In fact it is the Bishop that makes each local Church catholic. This applies also to the Eucharist.
The Eucharist would remain a local event of a local Church were it not for the Bishop. The bishop is a necessary condition of the Eucharist because, through him, each Eucharist become the one Eucharist of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. If a Eucharist does not take place in the name of a Bishop, it risks remaining a local event without catholic significance. This is one of the profoundest reasons for the importance of the Bishop as an ecclesiological presupposition of the Eucharist.
Thus in the office of the Bishop we encounter at least two fundamental paradoxes which are also paradoxes of the Eucharist. One is that in him the One become Many and the Many becomes One. This is the mystery of Christology and Pneumatology, the mystery of the Church and at the same time of the Eucharist. The other paradox is that in the Bishop the local Church becomes Catholic and the Catholic becomes local. If a Church is not at the same time local and universal, she is not the body of Christ. Equally the Eucharist has to be at the same time a local and catholic event. Without the Bishop it cannot be so.
This links the question of the ecclesiological presuppositions of the Eucharist closely with another aspect of ecclesiology, namely conciliarity. The Eucharist by its very nature transcends the dilemma ‘local or universal’, because in each eucharistic celebration the Gifts are offered in the name of, and for, the ‘one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church’ which exists in the whole world. In practical terms this means that if one is a member of a certain eucharistic community (or local Church), one is ipso facto also a member of all the eucharistic communities of the world: one can communicate in any one of these communities.
It was precisely this nature of the Eucharist and its practical implications that led to emergence of the synod system in the early Church. Conciliarity is closely connected with eucharistic communion – both in its theory and its practice – and with its presuppositions. If two or more Churches are in schism, the eucharistic life (and perhaps also validity?) of all local Churches is upset. Conciliarity as an expression of the unity of the local Churches in one Church, constitutes a fundamental condition for the Eucharist. Just as the many individuals of a local Church must be united in and through the ministry of the One (the bishop, representing Christ), in the same way the many local Churches must be united into one for their Eucharist to be proper ecclesiologically. Ecclesial unity on a universal level is essential for the Eucharist.
These therefore seem to be the fundamental conclusions that can be drawn from a study of the ancient tradition with regard to the ecclesiological presuppositions of the Eucharist. Let me summarise them:
1. The celebration of the Eucharist requires the concrete gathering of the local community – not simply a parabolic or implicit representation of it in the person of a priest.
2. The Eucharist requires the gathering of all the members of a local community, including all the orders of this community. Here the problem of the Parish arises acutely. The parish is not only part of the people of a certain place, but also part of the structure of the community. It does not include the Bishop, except by implication. For the parish Eucharist to exist properly it is necessary to be understood as an extension of the Bishop’s one Eucharist. The ancient practice of the Fermentum indicated this very clearly, and the same is true of the Anti-mension used in the Liturgy in the East. One would not exaggerate therefore, if one said that the ecclesiological presupposition of the parish Eucharist is not only its celebration by an ordained priest, but its celebration in the name of the local bishop.
It follows from this that the Eucharist requires the presidency of the Bishop for the following reasons: (a) in order to preserve its character as a gift from God and not simply as a gift to God, ie as a product of human community. (b) In order to preserve the paradoxical nature of a unity in diversity, in which no member of the Church can relate to God individually, but only as a member of a body. (c) In order to preserve its paradoxical nature as a local and at the same time universal event.
If these theological conclusions are to be translated into canonical terms, it is clear that the validity of the Eucharist depends on the following conditions:
(1) The presidence (direct or indirect) of the Bishop.
(2) Communion with the other Churches in the world (both in terms of space and time, ie Apostolic succession and conciliarity).
(3) The presence of the community with all its members and order, including the (lay) people.
If we tried to apply these theological and canonical conclusions to our ecumenical situation today, it would appear that no attempt to restore eucharistic communion among divided Churches would ignore the above mentioned ecclesiological presuppositions of the Eucharist. This would mean that all Churches wishing for such a restoration of communion should ask themselves whether not only in theory but also in practice they fulfil these principles. It may be that many Churches who do not accept these principles in theory (the Episcopal office, apostolic succession) in fact practise them, while other Churches, who profess these principles in their doctrine, in fact fall short of applying them in their liturgical and canonical practice. No progress towards full eucharistic communion can be made without some kind of reformation of existing practices taking place in all Churches in one form or another. The eucharistic communion requires a solid common ecclesiological ground both in theory and in practice – especially in the latter.
These observations apply particularly to the relation between the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches. A great deal of what has been proposed here is shared by these Churches in doctrine, especially as the common ground of the ancient undivided Church is gradually rediscovered and stressed by theologians of both Churches. It is to be hope that liturgical and canonical practice will be adjusted to this growing theological consensus. What in the light of this paper would emerge as particularly important in this case is a proper understanding of the Ministry of the Church so that the mystery of the Eucharist, which is at the same time the mystery of the Church as the One and the Many may be fully expressed and experiences in eucharistic communion.

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 19th, 2006 at 9:06 am and is filed under John Zizioulas. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

my source: Catholic Voices Comment

Posted on August 28, 2013

The council of cardinals created by Pope Francis to advise on curial reform and church governance in general has been active over the summer, exchanging papers in advance of their meeting with the Pope in October, when a three-day meeting is likely to produce concrete changes to personnel and structure. The purpose is to make the Vatican civil service fit for purpose — that is, to serve the universal ministry of the Pope.

But Francis’s reforms are more ambitious than those he proposes to make to his civil service. He wants to change the way the universal Church is governed, in such a way that the local Church — dioceses, bishops’ conferences — plays a much larger part in the decisions that affect it, while ensuring that Rome (the Vatican, including his own Petrine ministry) better serves the Church worldwide. In short, Francis wishes to shorten the distance between Rome and the local Church, to ensure that they act better together.

As this becomes clear in the next few months, the media are likely to report the changes in terms familiar to the world of secular governance – ‘democratisation’ or ‘decentralisation’.  But while there might be analogies between these concepts and the coming reform, they obscure more than they illuminate. The changes will need to be understood in the Church’s own terms — and that means grasping the key concepts involved.

There are two words, heavily laden with canonical and theological significance, which you can expect to hear often in the coming months: ‘collegiality’ and ‘synodality’. Although they are older than the Second Vatican Council, they are strongly linked to it.

Collegiality refers to the Pope governing the Church in collaboration with the bishops of the local Churches, respecting their proper autonomy.  Synodality is the practical expression of the participation of the local Church in the governance of the universal Church, through deliberative bodies.

Both have been arenas of sometimes intense disagreement in the past decades.

Communion in church governance

The Vatican II dogmatic constititution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, sought to overturn the Counter-Reformation model of the Church as a “perfect society” and to move it in the direction of communio, a metaphor derived from theological reflection on the Mystical Body of Christ. Pius XII’s 1943 encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi set the stage for a re-casting of ecclesiology from biblical, patristic and medieval sources: because every individual member, and each distinct ecclesial community, shares in the same head (Christ), the same Soul (the Holy Spirit), and in the same scriptures, sacraments, doctrine and hierarchical authority, all can be described as single whole, brought into unity by the Holy Spirit.

This led, at the Council, to a renewed emphasis on the local Church. In the 1917 Code of Canon Law, the local Church – in so far as it is mentioned at all – is seen as gravitating around the universal Church; in the 1983 Code, the emphasis shifts: the universal Church ‘subsists in’, but is not limited to, each particular Church in a way that is analagous to the way in which Christ is entirely present in, but not limited to, each eucharistic celebration. The universal Church exists ‘in and out of’ the particular Churches, as c. 368 of the Code puts it.

The significance of this is clear. Bishops are not agents of the Pope or servants of the Curia; the Curia is at the service of the College of Bishops. And while the Pope is the head of the College, he does not govern apart from the bishops but with them. In the classic formula, the Church is governed by the bishops cum et sub Petro — “with and under Peter”. In this sense, the governance of the Catholic Church holds in fruitful tension the authority of the bishops and the special authority of the Pope. They need each other. “Never Peter without the Eleven, never the Eleven without Peter”, as the expression has it.

Finding the structural expression of this idea has been, however, problematic.  A Nota Praevia, a preliminary note, attached to Lumen Gentium by Pope Paul VI, directed that none of the document’s teaching on collegiality or the Synod of Bishops should prejudice the rights and privileges of the pope and the Holy See. On the one hand, according to Lumen Gentium 22, Peter and the other apostles form ‘a unique apostolic college’, yet  — according to the Nota Praevia — the term collegium ‘was not to be understood in its strict, juridical sense.’  While the College of Bishops is the ‘bearer of full and supreme power over the universal Church’, as Lumen Gentium states, this is only true, says the Nota, when the college acts with the pope as its head; and indeed cannot act in any way without the pope. Hence c. 336, which says the College of Bishops is the subject of supreme and full power ‘together with its head and never without its head.’

In effect, the universal power of the episcopal college is restricted in practice to an ecumenical council called by the pope and then only when it acts with the consent of the pope, who in c. 333 of the Code determines ‘the manner, whether personal or collegial, of exercising this office’, and has the final say. There are no juridical safeguards in the Code against  abuses of papal authority; yet the spirit of the Code reflects communio in its assumption that papal decisions and actions which do not agree with the convictions of the bishops and the ecclesial community are pretty much unthinkable. (Pope Benedict was always careful not to pronounce on doctrinal matters without first consulting widely, and only when he was confident he was speaking with the mind of the Church.)

But how are those convictions to be expressed in practice? Lumen Gentium  encouraged ‘particular councils’, or provincial synods, which the council fathers hoped would ‘flourish with new vigour’ as they did in the early Church; but there have been few of these.

More successful are national bishops’ conferences – which began in the nineteenth century, were encouraged by Pope Leo XIII – which have become standard in the contemporary Church, usually in the form of twice-yearly assemblies. But do they possess teaching authority? This is suggested but not resolved in the Code.

Then there are the supra-national assemblies of bishops such as the European CCEE, the Asian FABC and the largest and oldest of all, CELAM, which first brought together the Latin-American & Caribbean bishops in 1955. Lumen Gentium encourages them; but again, their authority is ambiguous. No one doubts their importance in deepening the collegiality of the bishops; but  — to use more buzz-words — is this ‘affective’ or ‘effective’ collegiality? In other words, to what extent do such bodies have legislative teeth?

That same question has hovered over the main expression of post-conciliar collegiality, the Synods of Bishops, which used to be a feature of the early Church. There have been 25 such synods since 1965, roughly one every 2-3 years, when they were re-established by Paul VI. They are of two kinds: “ordinary” assemblies consider matters of importance to the universal Church (the last one was in October last year, on the ‘new evangelisation’ ) while “special” assemblies focus on particular geographical areas (the last one, in 2010, focussed on the Middle East).

Synods, attended by about 300 representatives of the world’s bishops’ conferences, are “consultative” and “advisory”. They are called by the pope, managed by the Vatican, and intended to offer “genuine counsel on various topics related to the Church”.  The only teaching document ever issued directly by a Synod was “Justice in the World” in 1971. Ever since then, any decisions taken as result of the gatherings are the Pope’s, issued in the form of a document (a post-synodal apostolic exhortation) by him a year after the gathering.

Although the synods have many positive aspects — not least in bringing the voice of the local Church into the heart of Rome — participants have often complained that it is unwieldy and over-controlled. As far back as 2004, for example, Cardinal Schönborn of Vienna was calling for “a rethinking” of its functions to allow “more plenary discussion, more consultation on issues developing an atmosphere of a real debate, a real exchange, and to be liberated a little bit from that narrow framework that has developed in the last decades.”

Francis’ call for  collegiality and synodality

Francis is the first Pope to have been president of a national body of bishops — he was twice elected head of the Argentine bishops’ conference — and the first pope to be involved in a supra-national bishops’ body: he chaired the drafting of the concluding document at CELAM’s last gathering, at Aparecida, Brazil, in 2007. He is also the first pope to have experience in chairing a synod. In September 2001, the then Cardinal Bergoglio was named relator of the Synod of Bishops meeting in Rome, to replace Cardinal Egan of New York who had to hurry back to his city following the attack on the Twin Towers.

It was Cardinal Bergoglio’s outstanding performance in these ‘collegial’ roles that brought him to the attention of the world Church, and helped to persuade his fellow cardinals to elect him in the conclave in March.

In his first public words as Pope, Francis referred to himself as “Bishop of Rome” (“You know the work of the conclave is to give a bishop to Rome”) before adding:  “I thank you for this welcome by the diocesan community of Rome to its bishop.”

He went on to speak of the Church of Rome (and himself as its Bishop) as [leading] all the churches in charity, a journey of fraternity, of love, of trust among us”. To those aware of the debates over collegiality in the modern Church, the words were immediately recognisable; for in the collegial formula, the Church of Rome “presides” over the local Church “in love.”

The message could not have been clearer. The Pope intends to govern in a collegial fashion. On the one hand, this means the Pope exercising his authority in a more circumspect fashion; on the other, it means taking concrete steps to increase the voice of the local Churches in the governance of the universal Church.

Examples so far of Francis’s collegial approach

There are two obvious examples of the first. Pope Francis, in contrast to John Paul II and Benedict XVI, has from the very beginning been reluctant to use other languages in his weekly Wednesday addresses. Although some saw this as a sign that he is not at ease in tongues other than Spanish and Italian, it has become clearer that sticking to Italian when in Rome reinforces this idea of himself as Bishop of Rome rather than a universal monarch. And everything else Pope Francis has done to shed the trappings of the Counter-Reformation model of papacy — his much-commented-on  preference for simplicity and humility in dress and transport — is designed to make clear this idea of himself as Bishop of Rome presiding in charity over but always with the other bishops, a primus inter pares.

Pope Francis address to media

The second indication is his refusal to wade in on issues such as same-sex marriage following the legalisation of these in the UK and France. It is wrong to assume, as some have, that his silence on these indicates he cares less about them than his predecessors; instead, it reflects his ecclesiological belief that such statements should be made firstly and primarily by the local bishops. Rather than Rome issuing documents which then need to be interpreted and implemented by the local Church, Pope Francis would rather bishops make their own statements on such matters. Where guidance is needed for the whole Church, this should come from gatherings of bishops and cardinals in Rome — examples, in other words, of synodality.

All the indications are that Francis intends to develop the concept of synodality, meaning that various deliberative bodies might have an increased role in church governance. So far he has taken a number of concrete steps in that direction, such as appointing a council of cardinals from each of the continents to advise him on church governance and curial reform and naming a group of lay people to advise on the Vatican Bank. The council of cardinals, he has indicated, may well be replaced in future years by a council elected by the Synod.

Strengthening the Synod

In mid-June, when he met with bishops planning the next meeting of the Synod of Bishops, he spoke of strengthening the Synod’s role.

The Synod of Bishops “has been one of the fruits of the Second Vatican Council,” he said. “Thanks to God that, in these almost fifty years, we have been able to feel the benefits of this institution that, in a permanent way, is at the service of the Church’s mission and communion as an expression of collegiality.”

He said the Synod “has to take a new path that expresses its uniqueness when united with the Petrine ministry,” adding: “This is a big challenge.” He said there needs to be greater reflection on “the church, the mother church, with all its nuances, including that of synodality.” And he said that one of the challenges of the cardinals’ council will be to “find a path for coordination between synodality and the bishop of Rome.”

Other statements by Pope Francis

Among other important statements made by Pope Francis:

On the Feast of St Peter and Paul (30 June), when Pope Francis imposed the pallium on 34 new archbishops, he said:  “We need to develop the Synod of Bishops in harmony with the primacy and grow in synodality, in harmony with the primacy.” The ceremony was attended by Orthodox bishops; speaking to them, Francis referred  to “episcopal collegiality, and the tradition of synodality, so typical of the Orthodox churches.” (The comment is striking because the monarchical papacy has been a major sticking-point with the Orthodox Churches, where Synods play a key role in governance.)

In his address to CELAM delegates in Rio de Janeiro, Francis said:  “There is need for a greater appreciation of local and regional elements. Central bureaucracy is not sufficient; there is also a need for increased collegiality and solidarity.” What is needed is “not unanimity, but true unity in the richness of diversity.”

In his interview aboard the papal plane, Francis referred to “the maturing of the relationship between synodality and primacy”, noting that his council of cardinals “will favour synodality, they will help the various episcopates of the world to express themselves in the very government of the Church.” He also suggested that there had been many proposals for future reforms, such as “the reform of the Secretariat of the Synod and its methodology” and “the Post-Synodal commission, which would have a permanent consultative character” and “the consistories of Cardinals with less formal agendas — canonisation, for example, but also other items”. This last idea refers to the regular gatherings of cardinals in Rome. Consistories, held every three or four years, are usually called only for the purpose of appointing cardinals. Francis is suggesting they could become a part of the governance of the universal Church — agreeing on who, for example, is to be made a saint.

What this points to

There is no doubt that what is coming down the pipeline will have a tremendous impact on the Church.

  Greater synodality and collegiality will increase the participation of the local Church in the decisions of the universal Church, but it won’t subject those decisions to votes (as, for example, in the Anglican model of synodal government). And while the reforms  aim to overcome the distance between Rome and the bishops’ conferences — the latter have often complained that the Vatican is often out of touch with the reality on the ground — that doesn’t automatically mean more teaching will be done locally rather than from Rome. In fact, it might increase what comes out of Rome — while ensuring that what does is the result of  deliberation by representatives of the local Church. That is why the terms ‘democratisation’ or ‘decentralisation’ fail to capture the meaning of these shifts.

What is at stake here is a rebalancing act — an attempt to recover something of what has been lost: the balancing-act between Peter and the other apostles in the governance of the Church. It is reform, certainly; and some of it will be radical. But it is not designed to modernise the Church or make it more like the modern world, but to bring it closer to  what Jesus intended it to be. And that is the only reason for needing to carry it out.

On June 29, during the ceremony of the blessing and imposition of the pallium on 34 metropolitan archbishops, Pope Francis spoke about “the path of collegiality” as the road that can lead the church to “grow in harmony with the service of primacy.” So I ask: “How can we reconcile in harmony Petrine primacy and collegiality? Which roads are feasible also from an ecumenical perspective?”

The pope responds, “We must walk together: the people, the bishops and the pope. Synodality should be lived at various levels. Maybe it is time to change the methods of the Synod of Bishops, because it seems to me that the current method is not dynamic. This will also have ecumenical value, especially with our Orthodox brethren. From them we can learn more about the meaning of episcopal collegiality and the tradition of synodality. The joint effort of reflection, looking at how the church was governed in the early centuries, before the breakup between East and West, will bear fruit in due time. In ecumenical relations it is important not only to know each other better, but also to recognize what the Spirit has sown in the other as a gift for us. I want to continue the discussion that was begun in 2007 by the joint [Catholic–Orthodox] commission on how to exercise the Petrine primacy, which led to the signing of the Ravenna Document. We must continue on this path.”

I ask how Pope Francis envisions the future unity of the church in light of this response. He answers: “We must walk united with our differences: there is no other way to become one. This is the way of Jesus.”

Pontiff makes major address on 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops

Pope Francis at the meeting marking the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Synod of Bishops (AP)

my source:Il sismografo 
From the beginning of my ministry as Bishop of Rome I intended to enhance the Synod, which is one of the most precious legacies of the Second Vatican Council. For Blessed Paul VI, the Synod of Bishops was meant to keep alive the image of the Ecumenical Council and to reflect the conciliar spirit and method. The same Pontiff desired that the synodal organism "over time would be greatly improved." Twenty years later, St. John Paul II would echo those sentiments when he stated that "perhaps this tool can be further improved. Perhaps the collegial pastoral responsibility can find even find a fuller expression in the Synod.” Finally, in 2006, Benedict XVI approved some changes to the Ordo Synodi Episcoporum, especially in light of the provisions of the Code of Canon Law and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, promulgated in meantime.
We must continue on this path. The world in which we live and that we are called to love and serve even with its contradictions, demands from the Church the Church the strengthening of synergies in all areas of her mission. And it is precisely on this way of synodality where we find the pathway that God expects from the Church of the third millennium.
In a certain sense, what the Lord asks of us is already contained in the word "synod."  Walking together – Laity, Pastors, the Bishop of Rome – is an easy concept to put into words, but not so easy to put into practice. After reiterating that People of God is comprised of all the baptized who are called to "be a spiritual edifice and a holy priesthood," the Second Vatican Council proclaims that "the whole body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of belief and manifests this reality in the supernatural sense of faith of the whole people, when 'from the bishops to the last of the lay faithful' show thier total agreement in matters of faith and morals."
In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium I stressed that "the people of God is holy because this anointing makes [the people] infallible "in matters of belief”, adding that "each baptized person, no matter what their function is in the Church and whatever educational level of faith, is an active subject of evangelization and it would be inappropriate to think of a framework of evangelization carried out by qualified actors in which the rest of the faithful People were only recepients of their actions.  The sensus fidei prevents rigid separation between “Ecclesia” (Church) and the Church teaching, and learing (Ecclesia docens discens), since even the Flock has an "instinct" to discern the new ways that the Lord is revealing to the Church.
It was this conviction that guided me when I desired that God's people would be consulted in the preparation of the two-phased synod on the family. Certainly, a consultation like this would never be able to hear the entire sensus fidei (sense of the faith). But how would we ever be able to speak about the family without engaging families, listening to their joys and their hopes, their sorrows and their anguish? Through the answers to the two questionnaires sent to the particular Churches, we had the opportunity to at least hear some of the people on those issues that closely affect them and about which they have much to say.
A synodal church is a listening church, knowing that listening "is more than feeling.” It is a mutual listening in which everyone has something to learn. Faithful people, the College of Bishops, the Bishop of Rome: we are one in listening to others; and all are listening to the Holy Spirit, the "Spirit of truth" (Jn 14:17), to know what the Spirit "is saying to the Churches" (Rev 2:7).
The Synod of Bishops is the convergence point of this dynamic of listening conducted at all levels of church life. The synodal process starts by listening to the people, who “even participate in the prophetic office of Christ", according to a principle dear to the Church of the first millennium: "Quod omnes tangit ab omnibus tractari debet" [what concerns all needs to be debated by all]. The path of the Synod continues by listening to the pastors. Through the Synod Fathers, the bishops act as true stewards, interpreters and witnesses of the faith of the whole Church, who must be able to carefully distinguish from that which flows from frequently changing public opinion.
On the eve of the Synod of last year I stated: "First of all, let us ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of listeining for the Synod Fathers, so that with the Spirit, we might be able to hear the cry of the people and listen to the people until we breathe the will to which God calls us.”
Finally, the synodal process culminates in listening to the Bishop of Rome, who is called upon to pronounce as "pastor and teacher of all Christians," not based on his personal convictions but as a supreme witness of “totius fides Ecclesiae” (the whole faith of the Church), of the guarantor  of obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ and to the Tradition of the Church. 
The fact that the Synod always act, cum Petro et sub Petro - therefore not only cum Petro, but also sub Petro – this is not a restriction of freedom, but a guarantee of unity. In fact the Pope, by the will of the Lord, is "the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops as much as of the multitude of the faithful." To this is connected the concept of “ierarchica communio” (hierarchical communio) used by Vatican II: the Bishops being united with the Bishop of Rome by the bond of episcopal communion (cum Petro) and at the same time hierarchically subjected to him as head of the college (sub Petro).
As a constitutive dimension of the Church, synodality gives us the more appropriate interpretive framework to understand the hierarchical ministry. If we understand as St. John Chrysostom did, that “church and synod are synonymous,” since the Church means nothing other than the common journey of the Flock of God along the paths of history towards the encounter of Christ Lord, then we understand that within the Church, no one can be raised up higher than the others. On the contrary, in the Church, it is necessary that each person be “lowered " in order to serve his or her brothers and sisters along the way.
Jesus founded the Church by placing at its head the Apostolic College, in which the apostle Peter is the "rock" (cfr. Mt 16:18), the one who will confirm his brothers in the faith (cfr. Lk 22: 32). But in this church, as in an inverted pyramid, the summit is located below the base. For those who exercise this authority are called "ministers" because, according to the original meaning of the word, they are the least of all. It is in serving the people of God that each Bishop becomes for that portion of the flock entrusted to him, vicarius Christi, (vicar of that Jesus who at the Last Supper stooped to wash the feet of the Apostles (cfr. Jn 13: 1-15 ). And in a similar manner, the Successor of Peter is none other than the servus servorum Dei (Servant of the servants of God).
Let us never forget this! For the disciples of Jesus, yesterday, today and always, the only authority is the authority of the service, the only power is the power of the cross, in the words of the Master: “You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them, and their leaders oppress them. It shall not be so among you: but whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave" (Mt 20:25-27). “It shall not be so among you:” in this expression we touch the heart of the mystery of the Church and receive the necessary light to understand hierarchical service.
In a Synodal Church, the Synod of Bishops is only the most obvious manifestation of a dynamism of communion that inspires all ecclesial decisions.  The first level of exercize of synodality is realized in the particolar (local) Churches. After having recalled the noble institution of the diocesan Synod, in which priests and laity are called to collaborate with the Bishop for the good of the whole ecclesial community, the Code of Canon Law devotes ample space to those that are usually called “bodies of communion” in the local Church: the Council of Priests, the College of Consultors, the Chapter of Canons and the Pastoral Council. Only to the extent that these organizations are connected with those on the ground, and begin with the people and their everyday problems, can a Synodal Church begin to take shape: even when they may proceed with fatigue, they must be understood as occasions of listening and sharing.
The second level is that of Ecclesiastical Provinces and Regions, of Particular (local Councils) and in a special way, Episcopal Conferences. We must reflect on realizing even more through these bodies – the intermediary aspects of collegiality – perhaps perhaps by integrating and updating some aspects of early church order. The hope of the Council that such bodies would help increase the spirit of episcopal collegiality has not yet been fully realized. As I have said, “In a Church Synod it is not appropriate for the Pope to replace the local Episcopates in the discernment of all the problems that lie ahead in their territories. In this sense, I feel the need to proceed in a healthy "decentralization."
The last level is that of the universal Church. Here the Synod of Bishops, representing the Catholic episcopate, becomes an expression of episcopal collegiality inside a church that is synodal. It manifests the affective collegiality, which may well become in some circumstances "effective," joining the Bishops among themselves and with the Pope in the solicitude for the People God.
The commitment to build a Synodal Church to which all are called – each with his or her role entrusted to them by the Lord is loaded with ecumenical impications. For this reason, talking recently to a delegation of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, I reiterated the conviction that "careful consideration of how to articulate in the Church's life the principle of collegiality and the service of the one who presides offers a significant contribution to the progress of relations between our Churches."
I am convinced that in a synodal Church, the exercise of the Petrine primacy will receive greater light. The Pope is not, by himself, above the Church; but inside it as one baptized among the baptized, and within the College of Bishops as Bishop among Bishops; as one called at the same time as Successor of Peter – to lead the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches.
While I reiterate the need and urgency to think of " a conversion of the papacy,” I gladly repeat the words of my predecessor Pope John Paul II: "As Bishop of Rome I know well [...] that the full and visible communion of all the communities in which, by virtue of God's faithfulness, his Spirit dwells, is the ardent desire of Christ. I am convinced that you have in this regard a special responsibility, above all in acknowledging the ecumenical aspirations of the majority of the Christian Communities and in heeding the request made of me to find a form of exercise of the primacy which, while in no way renouncing what is essential to its mission, is nonetheless open to a new situation.”
Our gaze extends also to humanity. A synodal church is like a banner lifted up among the nations (cfr. Is 11:12) in a world that even though invites participation, solidarity and transparency in public administration – often hands over the destiny of entire populations into the greedy hands of restricted groups of the powerful. As a Church that “walks together" with men and women, sharing the hardships of history, let us cultivate the dream that the rediscovery of the inviolable dignity of peoples and the exercize of authority, even now will be able to help civil society to be founded on justice and fraternity, generating a more beautiful and worthy world for mankind and for the generations that will come after us.
Footnotes (Italian text)
 1 Cfr. FRANCESCO, Lettera al Segretario Generale del Sinodo dei Vescovi, Em.mo Card. Lorenzo Baldisseri, in occasione dell 'elevazione alla dignità episcopale del Sotto-Segretario, Rev.mo Mons. Fabio Fabene, 1° aprile 2014.
2 Cfr. BEATO PAOLO VI, Discorso per l'inizio dei lavori della I Assemblea Generale Ordinaria del Sinodo dei Vescovi, 30 settembre 1967.
3 BEATO PAOLO VI, motu proprio Apostolica Sollicitudo, 15 settembre 1965, proemio.
4 SAN GIOVANNI PAOLO II, Omelia nella conclusione della VI Assemblea Generale Ordinaria del Sinodo dei Vescovi, 29 ottobre 1983.
5 Cfr. AAS 98 (2006), 755-779.
6 CONCILIO ECUMENICO VATICANO II, cost. dogm. Lumen gentium, 21 novembre 1964, 10.
7 Ibid., 12.
8 FRANCESCO, esort. ap. Evangelii gaudium, 24 novembre 2013, 119.
9 Ibid., 120.
10 Cfr. FRANCESCO, Discorso in occasione dell'Incontro con i Vescovi responsabili del Consiglio Episcopale Latinoamericano (C.E.L.A.M) in occasione della Riunione generale di Coordinamento, Rio de Janeiro, 28 luglio 2013; ID., Discorso in occasione dell'Incontro con il Clero, Persone di Vita consacrata, e Membri di Consigli pastorali, Assisi, 4 ottobre 2013.
11 Cfr. CONCILIO ECUMENICO VATICANO II, cost. past. Gaudium et spes, 7 dicembre 1965, 1.
12 Ibid., 170.
13 CONCILIO ECUMENICO VATICANO II, cost. dogm. Lumen gentium, 12.
14 FRANCESCO, Discorso in occasione della Veglia di preghiera in preparazione al Sinodo sulla famiglia, 4 ottobre 2014.
15 CONCILIO ECUMENICO VATICANO I, cost. dogm. Pastor Aeternus, 18 luglio 1870, cap. IV: Denz. 3074. Cfr. anche CODEX IURIS CANONICI, can. 749, § 1.
16 FRANCESCO, Discorso per la Conclusione della III Assemblea Generale Straordinaria del Sinodo dei Vescovi, 18 ottobre 2014.
17 CONCILIO ECUMENICO VATICANO II, cost. dogm. Lumen gentium, 23. Cfr. anche CONCILIO ECUMENICO VATICANO I, cost. dogm. Pastor Aeternus, prologo: Denz. 3051.
18 Cfr. CONCILIO ECUMENICO VATICANO II, cost. dogm. Lumen gentium, 22; ID., decr. Christus Dominus, 28 ottobre 1965, 4.
19 SAN GIOVANNI CRISOSTOMO, Explicatio in Ps. 149: PG 55, 493.
20 Cfr. CONCILIO ECUMENICO VATICANO II, cost. dogm. Lumen gentium, 27.
21 Cfr. FRANCESCO, Discorso per la Conclusione della III Assemblea Generale Straordinaria del Sinodo dei Vescovi, 18 ottobre 2014.
22 Cfr. CODEX IURIS CANONICI, cann. 460-468.
23 Cfr. ibid., cann. 495-514.
24 Cfr. ibid., cann. 431-459.
25 FRANCESCO, esort. ap. Evangelii gaudium, 16. Cfr. anche ibid, 32.
26 Cfr. CONCILIO ECUMENICO VATICANO II, decr. Christus Dominus, 5; anche CODEX IURIS CANONICI, cann. 342-348.
27 Cfr. SAN GIOVANNI PAOLO II, esort. ap. postsinod. Pastores gregis, 16 ottobre 2003, 8.
28 FRANCESCO, Discorso alla Delegazione Ecumenica del Patriarcato di Costantinopoli, 27 giugno 2015.
29 Cfr. SANT'IGNAZIO DI ANTIOCHIA, Epistula ad Romanos, proemio: PG 5, 686.
30 FRANCESCO, esort. ap. Evangelii gaudium, 32.
31 SAN GIOVANNI PAOLO II, lett. enc. Ut unum sint, 25 maggio 1995, 95.

32 Cfr. FRANCESCO, esort. ap. Evangelii gaudium, 186-192; ID., lett. enc. Laudato si', 24 maggio 2015, 156162.

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