"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 7 July 2016


March 3rd, 2008.
my source: Catholic Online

Sunday 2 June 2002 

Dear friends,
after preparing for your Eucharistic Congress with prayer, reflection and charitable activities under the guidance of your Pastor, Archbishop Serafino Sprovieri, the Archdiocese of Benevento decided to undertake a two-fold investigation. It began an in-depth exploration of the relationship between the deepest sacramental mystery of the Church – the Holy Eucharist – and the Church’s most practical, down-to-earth commitment:  her charitable work of sharing, reconciling and unifying. The diocese proposed this exploration the better to celebrate the sacrament and to live more fruitfully Christ’s “new commandment” that we “love one another”.
“Agape, Pax’, Orthodoxy, Orthopraxis
jesus-last-supper.jpgOften, in the primitive Church, the Eucharist was called simply “agape“, that is, “love”, or even simply “pax“, that is “peace”. The Christians of that time thus expressed in a dramatic way the unbreakable link between the mystery of the hidden presence of God and the praxis of serving the cause of peace, of Christians being peace. For the early Christians, there was no difference between what today is often distinguished as orthodoxy and orthopraxis, as right doctrine and right action. Indeed, when this distinction is made, there generally is a suggestion that the word orthodoxy is to be disdained: those who hold fast to right doctrine are seen as people of narrow sympathy, rigid, potentially intolerant. In the final analysis, for those holding this rather critical view of orthodoxy everything depends on “right action”, with doctrine regarded as something always open to further discussion. For those holding this view, the chief thing is the fruit doctrine produces, while the way that leads to our just action is a matter of indifference. Such a comparison would have been incomprehensible and unacceptable for those in the ancient Church, for they rightly understood the word “orthodoxy” not to mean “right doctrine” but to mean the authentic adoration and glorification of God.
They were convinced that everything depended on being in the right relationship with God, on knowing what pleases him and what one can do to respond to him in the right way. For this reason, Israel loved the law:  from it, they knew God’s will, they knew how to live justly and how to honour God in the right way: by acting in accord with his will, bringing order into the world, opening it to the transcendent.
Christ teaches how God is glorified, the world is made just
This was the new joy Christians discovered: that now, beginning with Christ, they understood how God ought to be glorified and how precisely through this the world would become just. That these two things should go together – how God is glorified and how justice comes – the angels had proclaimed on the holy night: “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, goodwill toward men”, they had said (Lk 2,14). God’s glory and peace on earth are inseparable. Where God is excluded, there is a breakdown of peace in the world; without God, no orthopraxis can save us. In fact, there does not exist an orthopraxis which is simply just, detached from a knowledge of what is good. The will without knowledge is blind and so action, orthopraxis, without knowledge is blind and leads to the abyss. Marxism’s great deception was to tell us that we had reflected on the world long enough, that now it was at last time to change it. But if we do not know in what direction to change it, if we do not understand its meaning and its inner purpose, then change alone becomes destruction – as we have seen and continue to see. But the inverse is also true: doctrine alone, which does not become life and action, becomes idle chatter and so is equally empty. The truth is concrete. Knowledge and action are closely united, as are faith and life. This awareness is precisely what your theme seeks to state, “Eucharist, Communion and Solidarity”. I should like to dwell on the three key words you have chosen for your Eucharistic Congress to clarify them.
1. Eucharist
“Eucharist” is today – and it is entirely right that it be so – the most common name for the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, which the Lord instituted on the night before his passion. In the early Church there were other names for this sacrament – agape and pax we have already mentioned. Along with these there were, for example, also synaxis – assembly, reunion of the many. Among Protestants this Sacrament is called “Supper”, with the intent – following the lead of Luther for whom Scripture alone was valid – to return totally to the biblical origins. And, in fact, in St Paul, this sacrament is called “the Lord’s Supper”. But it is significant that this title very soon disappeared, and from the second century it was used no longer. Why? Was it perhaps a moving away from the New Testament, as Luther thought, or something else?
Certainly the Lord instituted his Sacrament in the context of a meal, more precisely that of the Jewish Passover supper, and so at the beginning it was also linked with a gathering for a meal. But the Lord had not ordered a repetition of the Passover supper, which constituted the framework. That was not his sacrament, his new gift. In any event, the Passover supper could only be celebrated once a year. The celebration of the Eucharist was therefore detached from the gathering for the supper to the degree that the detachment from the Law was beginning to take place, along with the passage to a Church of Jews and Gentiles, but above all, of Gentiles. The link with the supper was thus revealed as extrinsic, indeed, as the occasion for ambiguities and abuses, as Paul amply described in his First Letter to the Corinthians.
Liturgy of Word, Prayer of Thanksgiving, Words of Institution
Thus the Church, assuming her own specific configuration, progressively freed the specific gift of the Lord, which was new and permanent, from the old context and gave it its own form. This took place thanks to the connection with the liturgy of the word, which has its model in the synagogue; and thanks to the fact that the Lord’s words of institution formed the culminating point of the great prayer of thanksgiving – that thanksgiving, also derived from the synagogue traditions and so ultimately from the Lord, who clearly had rendered thanks and praise to God in the Jewish tradition. But he had emphatically enriched that prayer of thanksgiving with a unique profundity by means of the gift of his body and his blood.
Through this action, the early Christians had come to understand that the essence of the event of the Last Supper was not the eating of the lamb and the other traditional dishes, but the great prayer of praise that now contained as its centre the very words of Jesus. With these words he had transformed his death into the gift of himself, in such a way that we can now render thanks for this death. Yes, only now is it possible to render thanks to God without reserve, because the most dreadful thing – the death of the Redeemer and the death of all of us – was transformed through an act of love into the gift of life.
Eucharist, Eucharistic Prayer
Accordingly, the Eucharist was recognized as the essential reality of the Last Supper, what we call today the Eucharistic Prayer, which derives directly from the prayer of Jesus on the eve of his passion and is the heart of the new spiritual sacrifice, the motive for which many Fathers designated the Eucharist simply asoratio (prayer), as the “sacrifice of the word”, as a spiritual sacrifice, but which becomes also material and matter transformed: bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ, the new food, which nourishes us for the resurrection, for eternal life. Thus, the whole structure of words and material elements becomes an anticipation of the eternal wedding feast. At the end, we shall return once more to this connection. Here it is important only to understand better why we as Catholic Christians do not call this sacrament “Supper” but “Eucharist”. The infant Church slowly gave to this sacrament its specific form, and precisely in this way, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, she clearly identified and correctly represented in signs the true essence of the sacrament, which the Lord really “instituted” on that night.
Precisely by examining the process by which the Eucharistic sacrament progressively took on its form, one understands in a beautiful way the profound connection between Scripture and tradition. The Bible considered solely in the historical context does not communicate sufficiently to us the vision of what is essential. That insight only comes through the living practice of the Church who lived Scripture, grasped its deepest intention and made it accessible to us.
2. “Communio’
The second word in the title of your Eucharistic congress – Communion – has become fashionable these days. It is, in fact, one of the most profound and characteristic words of the Christian tradition. Precisely for this reason it is very important to understand it in the whole depth and breadth of its meaning. Perhaps I may make an entirely personal observation here. When with a few friends – in particular Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Louis Bouyer, Jorge Medina – I had the idea of founding a magazine in which we intended to deepen and develop the inheritance of the Council, we looked for an appropriate name, a single word, which could fully convey the purpose of this publication. Already, in the last year of the Second Vatican Council, 1965, a review was begun, to serve as the permanent voice of the Council and its spirit, called Concilium. Hans Küng thought he had discovered an equivalence between the words ekklesia (Church) and concilium.The root of both terms was the Greek word kalein (to call) the first word, ekklesia,meaning to convoke, the second word, concilium, to summon together. Therefore both words essentially signify the same thing. From such an etymological relationship one could say the terms Church and Council were something synonymous and see the Church by her very nature as the continuing Council of God in the world. Therefore, the Church was to be conceived of in this “conciliar” sense and “actualized” in the form of a Council; and, vice versa, the Council was seen as the most intense possible realization of “Church”, namely, the Church in her highest form.
In the years following the Council, for a time, I followed this concept – the Church as the permanent council of God in the world – which seemed at first glance rather enlightening. The practical consequences of this conception should not be overlooked and its attractiveness is immediate. Still, though I came to the conclusion that the vision of Hans Küng certainly contained something true and serious; I also saw that it needed considerable correction. I would very briefly like to try to summarize the result of my studies at that time. My philological and theological research into the understanding of the words “church” and “council” in ancient times showed that a council can certainly be an important, vital manifestation of the Church, but that in reality the Church is something more, that her essence goes deeper.
“Koinonia’ lives the Word of life
The council is something that the Church holds, but the Church is not a council. The Church does not exist primarily to deliberate, but to live the Word that has been given to us. I decided that the word that best expressed this fundamental concept, which conveyed the very essence of the Church itself, was koinonia - communion. Her structure, therefore, is not to be described by the term “concilial”, but rather with the word “communional”. When I proposed these ideas publicly in 1969 in my book, The New People of God, the concept of communion was not yet very widespread in public theological and ecclesial discussions. As a result my ideas on this matter were also given little consideration. These ideas, however, were decisive for me in the search for a title for the new journal, and led to our later calling the journal Communio (communion).
The concept itself received wide public recognition only with the Synod of Bishops in 1985. Until then the phrase “People of God” had prevailed as the chief new concept of the Church, and was widely believed to synthesize the intentions of Vatican II itself. This belief might well have been true, if the words had been used in the full profundity of their biblical meaning and in the broad, accurate context in which the Council had used them. When, however the main word becomes a slogan, its meaning is inevitably diminished; indeed, it is trivialized.
Synod of 1985
As a consequence, the Synod of 1985 sought a new beginning by focusing on the word “communion”, which refers first of all to the Eucharistic centre of the Church, and so again returns to the understanding of the Church as the most intimate place of the encounter between Jesus and mankind, in his act of giving himself to us.
It was unavoidable that this great fundamental word of the New Testament, isolated and employed as a slogan, would also suffer diminishment, indeed, might even be trivialized. Those who speak today of an “ecclesiology of communion” generally tend to mean two things: (1) they support a “pluralist” ecclesiology, almost a “federative” sense of union, opposing what they see as a centralist conception of the Church; (2) they want to stress, in the exchanges of giving and receiving among local Churches, their culturally pluralistic forms of worship in the liturgy, in discipline and in doctrine.
Even where these tendencies are not developed in detail, “communion” is nonetheless generally understood in a horizontal sense – communion is seen as emerging from a network of multiple communities. This conception of the communal structure of Church is barely distinguishable from the conciliar vision mentioned above. The horizontal dominates. The emphasis is on the idea of self-determination within a vast community of churches.
Naturally, there is here much that is true. However, fundamentally the approach is not correct, and in this way the true depth of what the New Testament and Vatican II and also the Synod of 1985 wanted to say would be lost. To clarify the central meaning of the concept of “communio”, I would like briefly to turn to two great texts on communio from the New Testament. The first is found in I Corinthians 10,16 ff, where Paul tells us: “The chalice of blessing, which we bless, is it not a participation ["communion" in the Italian text] in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is butone bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread”.
Vertical dimension in Eucharist
The concept of communion is above all anchored in the holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, the reason why we still today in the language of the Church rightly designate the reception of this sacrament simply as “to communicate”. In this way, the very practical social significance of this sacramental event also immediately becomes evident, and this in a radical way that cannot be achieved in exclusively horizontal perspectives. Here we are told that by means of the sacrament we enter in a certain way into a communion with the blood of Jesus Christ, where blood according to the Hebrew perspective stands for “life”. Thus, what is being affirmed is a commingling of Christ’s life with our own.
“Blood” in the context of the Eucharist clearly stands also for “gift”, for an existence that pours itself out, gives itself for us and to us. Thus the communion of blood is also insertion into the dynamic of this life, into this “blood poured out”. Our existence is “dynamized” in such a way that each of us can become a being for others, as we see obviously happening in the open Heart of Christ.
From a certain point of view, the words over the bread are even more stunning. They tell of a “communion” with the body of Christ which Paul compares to the union of a man and a woman (cf. I Cor 6,17ff; Eph 5,26-32). Paul also expresses this from another perspective when he says: it is one and the same bread, which all of us now receive. This is true in a startling way: the “bread” – the new manna, which God gives to us – is for all the one and the same Christ.
The Lord unites us with himself
It is truly the one, identical Lord, whom we receive in the Eucharist, or better, the Lord who receives us and assumes us into himself. St Augustine expressed this in a short passage which he perceived as a sort of vision:  eat the bread of the strong; you will not transform me into yourself, but I will transform you into me. In other words, when we consume bodily nourishment, it is assimilated by the body, becoming itself a part of ourselves. But this bread is of another type. It is greater and higher than we are. It is not we who assimilate it, but it assimilates us to itself, so that we become in a certain way “conformed to Christ”, as Paul says, members of his body, one in him.
We all “eat” the same person, not only the same thing; we all are in this way taken out of our closed individual persons and placed inside another, greater one. We all are assimilated into Christ and so by means of communion with Christ, united among ourselves, rendered the same, one sole thing in him, members of one another.
To communicate with Christ is essentially also to communicate with one another. We are no longer each alone, each separate from the other; we are now each part of the other; each of those who receive communion is “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” (Gn 2,23).
Social universal union
A true spirituality of communion seen in its Christological profundity, therefore, necessarily has a social character, as Henri de Lubac brilliantly described more than a half century ago in his book, Catholicism.
For this reason, in my prayer at communion, I must look totally toward Christ, allowing myself to be transformed by him, even to be burned by his enveloping fire. But, precisely for this reason, I must always keep clearly in mind that in this way he unites me organically with every other person receiving him – with the one next to me, whom I may not like very much; but also with those who are far away, in Asia, Africa, America or in any other place.
Becoming one with them, I must learn to open myself toward them and to involve myself in their situations. This is the proof of the authenticity of my love for Christ. If I am united with Christ, I am together with my neighbour, and this unity is not limited to the moment of communion, but only begins here. It becomes life, becomes flesh and blood, in the everyday experience of sharing life with my neighbour. Thus, the individual realities of my communicating and being part of the life of the Church are inseparably linked to one another.
The Church is not born as a simple federation of communities. Her birth begins with the one bread, with the one Lord and from him from the beginning and everywhere, the one body which derives from the one bread. She becomes one not through a centralized government but through a common centre open to all, because it constantly draws its origin from a single Lord, who forms her by means of the one bread into one body. Because of this, her unity has a greater depth than that which any other human union could ever achieve. Precisely when the Eucharist is understood in the intimacy of the union of each person with the Lord, it becomes also a social sacrament to the highest degree.
Martin de Porres, Mother Teresa
The great social saints were in reality always the great Eucharistic saints. I would like to mention just two examples chosen entirely at random.
First of all, the beloved figure of St Martin de Porres, who was born in 1569 in Lima, Peru, the son of an Afro-American mother and a Spanish nobleman. Martin lived from the adoration of the Lord present in the Eucharist, passing entire nights in prayer before the crucified Lord in the tabernacle, while during the day he tirelessly cared for the sick and assisted the socially outcast and despised, with whom he, as a mulatto, identified because of his origins. The encounter with the Lord, who gives himself to us from the cross, makes all of us members of the one body by means of the one bread, which when responded to fully moves us to serve the suffering, to care for the weak and the forgotten.
In our time, we can recall the person of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Wherever she opened the houses of her sisters to the service of the dying and outcast, the first thing she asked for was a place for the tabernacle, because she knew that only beginning from there, would come the strength for such service.
Whoever recognizes the Lord in the tabernacle, recognizes him in the suffering and the needy; they are among those to whom the world’s judge will say: “I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (Mt 25,35).
Briefly, I would like to recall a second important New Testament text concerning the word “communion” (koinonia). It is found right at the beginning of the first Letter of John (1,3-7), where he speaks of the encounter granted him with the Word made flesh. John says that he is transmitting what he has seen with his own eyes and touched with his own hands. This encounter has given him the gift ofkoinonia - communion – with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. It has become a true “communion” with the living God. As John expresses it, the communion has opened his eyes and he now lives in the light, that is, in the truth of God, which is expressed in the unique, new commandment, which encompasses everything – the commandment to love. And so the communion with the “Word of life” becomes the just life, becomes love. In this way it also becomes reciprocal communion:  “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we are in communion one with another” (I Jn 1,6).
The text shows the same logic of communio that we already found in Paul:  communion with Jesus becomes communion with God himself, communion with the light and with love; it becomes in this way an upright life, and all of this unites us with one another in the truth. Only when we regard communion in this depth and breadth do we have something to say to the world.
3. Solidarity
We arrive finally at the third key world, “solidarity”. While the first two words come from the Bible and from Christian tradition, this word comes to us from outside. The concept of “solidarity” – as Archbishop Paul Cordes has shown – was developed initially among the early socialists by P. Lerou (died 1871) in contraposition to the Christian idea of love, as the new, rational and effective response to social problems.
Without Christ there are no solutions
Karl Marx held that Christianity had had a millennium and a half to demonstrate its capacity to deal with poverty, inequality and injustice, and had only succeeded in proving its incapacity to do so.
Therefore, Marx claimed, new ways had to be employed. And for decades many were convinced that the Marxist socialist system, centred around the concept of “solidarity”, was now the way finally to achieve human equality, to eliminate poverty and to bring peace to the world. Today, we can see what horrors and massacres were left behind by a social theory and policies that took no account of God.
It is undeniable that the liberal model of the market economy, especially as moderated and corrected under the influence of Christian social ideas, has in some parts of the world led to great success. All the sadder are the results, especially in places like Africa, where clashing power blocs and economic interests have been at work. Behind the apparent beneficial models of development there has all too often been hidden the desire to expand the reach of particular powers and ideologies in order to dominate the market. In this situation, ancient social structures and spiritual and moral forces have been destroyed, with consequences that echo in our ears like a single great cry of sorrow.
No, without God things cannot go well. And because only in Christ has God shown us his face, spoken his name, entered into communion with us; without Christ there is no ultimate hope.
Christians have exemplified solutions despite terrible failures
It is clear that Christians in past centuries have been stained with serious sins. Slavery and the slave trade remain a dark chapter that show how few Christians were truly Christian and how far many Christians were from the faith and message of the Gospel, from true communion with Jesus Christ.
On the other hand, lives full of faith and love, as seen in the humble willingness of so many priests and sisters to sacrifice themselves, have provided a positive counterweight and left an inheritance of love, which even if it cannot eliminate the horror of exploitation, can help to lessen it. On this witness we can build; along this path we can proceed farther.
It was in this situation, in recent decades, that the understanding of the concept of solidarity – thanks above all to the ethical studies of the Holy Father – has been slowly transformed and Christianized, so that now we can justly place it next to the two key Christian words, “Eucharist” and “Communion”. Solidarity in this context signifies people who feel responsible for one another, the healthy for the sick, the rich for the poor, the countries of the North for those of the South. It means a sense of individual awareness, of reciprocal responsibility; it means we are conscious that when we give we receive, and that we can always give only what has been given to us and that what we have been given never belongs to us for ourselves alone.
Spirituality has to accompany scientific and technical formation
Today we see that it is not enough to transmit technical skills, scientific knowledge and theories, nor the praxis of certain political structures. Those things not only do not help, but even end up causing harm, if the spiritual forces which give meaning to these technologies and structures are not also re-awakened, so as to make their responsible use possible. It was easy to destroy with our rationality the traditional religions, which now survive as subcultures, remnants of superstition, which have been deprived of their better elements and now are practices that can harm people in mind and body. It would have been better to expose their healthy nucleus to the light of Christ and so lead them to the fulfillment of the tacit expectations within them. Through such a process of purification and development, continuity and progress would have been united in a fruitful way.
Where missions were successful, they generally followed this path and so helped to develop those forces of faith which are so urgently needed today.
In the crisis of the 1960s and 1970s, many missionaries came to the conclusion that missionary work, that is, the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, was no longer appropriate today.
They thought the only thing that still made sense was to offer help in social development. But how can positive social development be carried out if we become illiterate with regard to God?
Gospel and social advancement go together
The fundamental idea tacitly agreed upon, that the peoples or tribes needed to preserve their own religions and not concern themselves with ours, shows only that the faith in the hearts of such men had grown cold despite their great good will; it shows that communion with the Lord was no longer seen as vital. Otherwise how could they have thought that it was a good thing to exclude others from these things?
Basically it is a matter here – often without realizing it – of thinking poorly of religion in general and of not esteeming other religions. A person’s religion is considered an archaic relic to be left alone because, ultimately it is thought to have nothing to do with the true greatness of progress. What religions say and do, appears to be totally irrelevant; they are not even a part of the world of rationality; their contents ultimately count for nothing. The “orthopraxis”, which we then look forward to, will be truly built on sand.
It is high time to abandon this erroneous way of thinking. We need faith in Jesus Christ if for no other reason than for the fact that it brings together reason and religion. It offers us in this way the criteria of responsibility and releases the strength necessary to live according to this responsibility. Sharing on all levels, spiritual, ethical and religious, is part of solidarity between peoples and nations.
Globalization means seeking the welfare of all the continents
It is clear that we must develop our economy further in a way that it no longer operates only in favour of the interests of a certain country or group of countries, but for the welfare of all the continents. This is difficult and is never fully realized. It requires that we make sacrifices. But if a spirit of solidarity truly nourished by faith is born, then this could become possible, even if only in an imperfect way.
The theme of globalization arises in this context, but here I am unable to address it. It is clear today that we all depend on each other. But there is a globalization that is conceived of unilaterally in terms of personal interests. There ought to exist a globalization which requires nations to be responsible for one another and to bear one another’s burdens. All of this cannot be realized in a neutral way, with reference only to market mechanisms. For decisions about market value are determined by many presuppositions. Thus, our religious and moral horizon is always decisive. If globalization in technology and economy is not accompanied by a new opening of the conscience to God, before whom all of us have a responsibility, then there will be a catastrophe. This is the great responsibility which weighs today on Christians.
Christianity, from the one Lord, the one bread, which seeks to make of us one body, has from the beginning aimed at the unification of humanity. If we, precisely at the moment when the exterior unification of humanity, previously unthinkable, becomes possible, withdraw ourselves as Christians, believing we cannot or should not give anything further, we would burden ourselves with a serious sin. In fact, a unity that is built without God or indeed against him, ends up like the experiment of Babylon: in total confusion and total destruction, in hatred and total chaos of all against all.
The Eucharist as the Sacrament of Transformation
Let us return to the Holy Eucharist. What really happened on the night when Christ was betrayed? Let us listen to the Roman Canon – the heart of the “Eucharist” of the Church in Rome: “The day before he suffered, he took bread into his sacred hands, and looking up to heaven, to you, his almighty Father, he gave you thanks and praise, broke the bread, gave it to his disciples and said: “Take this all of you, and eat it. This is my body which will be given up for you’. When supper was ended, he took the cup, again he gave you thanks and praise, gave the cup to his disciples and said: “Take, all of you, and drink from it. This is the cup of my blood the blood of the new and everlasting covenant, it will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me’ ” (ICEL Translation).
What is happening in these words?
In the first place we are confronted by the word “transubstantion”. The bread becomes the body, his body. The bread of the earth becomes the bread of God, the “manna” of heaven, with which God nourishes men not only in their earthly life but also in the prospect of the resurrection – which prepares for the resurrection, or rather, already makes it begin. The Lord, who would have been able to transform stones into bread, who was able to raise up from rocks the sons of Abraham, wishes to transform the bread into a body, his body. Is this possible? How can it happen?
Body given, Blood poured out
We cannot avoid the questions that the people posed in the synagogue of Capernaum. He is there before his disciples, with his body; how can he say over the bread: this is my body? It is important to pay close attention to what the Lord really said. He does not say only: “This is my body”, but: “This is my body, which is given up for you”. It can become gift, because it is given. By means of the act of giving it becomes “capable of communicating”, has transformed itself into a gift. We may observe the same thing in the words over the cup. Christ does not say simply: “This is my blood”, but, “This is my blood, which is shed for you”. Because it is shed, inasmuch as it is shed, it can be given.
Real transformation of violence into an act of love
But now a new question emerges: what do “it is given” and “it is shed” mean? In truth, Jesus is killed; he is nailed to a cross and dies amid torment. His blood is poured out, first in the Garden of Olives due to his interior suffering for his mission, then in the flagellation, the crowning with thorns, the crucifixion, and after his death in the piercing of his Heart. What occurs is above all an act of violence, of hatred, torture and destruction.
At this point we run into a second, more profound level of transformation: he transforms, from within, the act of violent men against him into an act of giving on behalf of these men – into an act of love. This is dramatically recognizable in the scene of the Garden of Olives. What he teaches in the Sermon on the Mount, he now does: he does not offer violence against violence, as he might have done, but puts an end to violence by transforming it into love. The act of killing, of death, is changed into an act of love; violence is defeated by love. This is the fundamental transformation upon which all the rest is based. It is the true transformation which the world needs and which alone can redeem the world. Since Christ in an act of love has transformed and defeated violence from within, death itself is transformed: love is stronger than death. It remains forever.
Transformation of death into life
And so in this transformation is contained the broader transformation of death into resurrection, of the dead body into the risen body. If the first man was a living being, as St Paul says, the new Adam, Christ, will become by this spiritual event the giver of life (I Cor 15, 45). The risen one is gift, is spirit who gives his life, “communicates”, indeed, is communication. This means that there is no farewell here to material existence; rather, in this way material existence achieves its goal: without the actual event of death (with its interior transcendence) all this complex transformation of material things would not be possible. And so in the transformation of the resurrection all the fullness of Christ continues to subsist, but now transformed in this way; now being a body and the gift of self are no longer mutually exclusive, but are implicit in each other.
Before going on, let us first seek to sum this up once more in order to understand this whole complex reality. At the moment of the Last Supper, Jesus has already anticipated the event of Calvary. He accepts the death on the cross and with his acceptance transforms the act of violence into an act of giving, of self-giving poured forth, “Even if I am to be poured out as a libation on the sacrificial offering of your faith”, St Paul says on the basis of this and in regard to his own imminent martyrdom in Philippians 2,17. At the Last Supper the cross is already present, accepted and transformed by Jesus.
This first and fundamental transformation draws to itself all the others – the mortal body is transformed into the resurrected body: it is “the spirit which gives life”.
Transformation of bread and wine
On the basis of this the third transformation becomes possible: the gifts of bread and wine, that are the gifts of creation and at the same time fruit of human labour and the “transformation” of the creation, are transformed so that in them the Lord himself who gives himself becomes present, in his gift of self-giving. His gift, himself – since he is gift. The act of self giving is not something from him, but it is himself.
And on this basis the prospect opens onto two further transformations, that are essential to the Eucharist, from the instant of its institution: the transformed bread, the transformed wine.
Through them the Lord himself gives himself as spirit that gives life, to transform us men, so that we become one bread with him and then one body with him. The transformation of the gifts, which is only the continuation of the fundamental transformations of the cross and of the resurrection, is not the final point, but in its turn only a beginning.
Transformation of communicants into one body
The purpose of the Eucharist is the transformation of those who receive it in authentic communion. And so the end is unity, that peace which we, as separate individuals who live beside one another or in conflict with one another, become with Christ and in him, as one organism of self-giving, to live in view of the resurrection and the new world.
Transformation of creation into dwelling place for God
The fifth and final transformation which characterizes this sacrament becomes thus visible: by means of us, the transformed, who have become one body, one spirit which gives life, the entire creation must be transformed. The entire creation must become a “new city”, a new paradise, the living dwelling-place of God: “God all in all” (I Cor 15,28) – thus Paul describes the end of creation, which must be conformed to the Eucharist.
Thus the Eucharist is a process of transformations, drawing on God’s power to transform hatred and violence, on his power to transform the world. We must therefore pray that the Lord will help us to celebrate and to live the Eucharist in this way. We pray that he transform us, and together with us the world, into the new Jerusalem.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger,
Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Conference of Cardinal Ratzinger at the opening of the Pastoral Congress of the Diocese of Aversa (Italy)
On the afternoon of 15 September 2001, at the invitation of Archbishop Mario Milano, His Eminence, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, opened the Pastoral Congress of the Diocese of Aversa (Italy) dedicated to a re-reading of the documents of the Second Vatican Council. This is a translation of Cardinal Ratzinger's opening lecture in Italian.

Just after the First World War, Romano Guardini coined an expression that quickly became a slogan for German Catholics: "An event of enormous importance is taking place: the Church is awakening within souls". The result of this awakening was ultimately the Second Vatican Council. Through its various documents it expressed and made part of the patrimony of the whole Church something that, during four decades full of ferment and hope (1920 to 1960), had been maturing in knowledge gained through faith. To understand Vatican II one must look back on this period and seek to discern, at least in outline, the currents and tendencies that came together in the Council. I will present the ideas that came to the fore during this period and then describe the fundamental elements of the Council's teaching on the Church.

I. The Church, the Body of Christ

1. The Image of the Mystical Body

"The Church is awakening within souls". Guardini's expression had been wisely formulated, since it finally recognized and experienced the Church as something within us—not as an institution outside us but something that lives within us.

If until that time we had thought of the Church primarily as a structure or organization, now at last we began to realize that we ourselves were the Church. The Church is much more than an organization: it is the organism of the Holy Spirit, something that is alive, that takes hold of our inmost being. This consciousness found verbal expression with the concept of the "Mystical Body of Christ", a phrase describing a new and liberating experience of the Church. At the very end of his life, in the same year the Constitution on the Church was published by the Council, Guardini wrote: the Church "is not an institution devised and built by men ... but a living reality.... It lives still throughout the course of time. Like all living realities it develops, it changes ... and yet in the very depths of its being it remains the same; its inmost nucleus is Christ.... To the extent that we look upon the Church as organization ... like an association ... we have not yet arrived at a proper understanding of it. Instead, it is a living reality and our relationship with it ought to be—life" (La Chiesa del Signore, [English translation: "The Church of the Lord"]; Morcelliana, Brescia 1967, p. 160).

Today, it is difficult to communicate the enthusiasm and joy this realization generated at the time. In the era of liberalism that preceded the First World War, the Catholic Church was looked upon as a fossilized organization, stubbornly opposed to all modern achievements. Theology had so concentrated on the question of the primacy as to make the Church appear to be essentially a centralized organization that one defended staunchly but which somehow one related to from the outside. Once again it became clear that the Church was more than this—she is something we all bring forward in faith in a living way, just as the Church brings us forward. It became clear that the Church has experienced organic growth over the centuries, and continues to grow even today. Through the Church the mystery of the Incarnation is alive today: Christ continues to move through time. If we were to ask ourselves what element present from the very beginning could still be found in Vatican II, our answer would be: the Christological definition of the Church. J.A. MöhIer, a leader in the revival of Catholic theology after the devastation of the Enlightenment, once said: a certain erroneous theology could be caricatured with the short phrase: "In the beginning Christ created the hierarchy and had thus taken adequate care of the Church until the end of time". Opposed to this concept is the fact that the Church is the Mystical Body; Christ and His act of founding are never over but always new. In the Church Christ never belongs just to the past, He is always and above all the present and the future. The Church is the presence of Christ: He is contemporary with us and we are His contemporaries. The Church lives from this: from the fact that Christ is present in our hearts and it is there that Christ forms His Church. That is why the first word of the Church is Christ, and not herself. The Church is healthy to the extent that all her attention is focused on Him. The Second Vatican Council placed this concept masterfully at the pinacle of its deliberations; the fundamental text on the Church begins with the words: Lumen gentium cum sit Christus: "since Christ is the Light of the World ... the Church is a mirror of His glory; she reflects His splendour". If we want to understand the Second Vatican Council correctly, we must always go back to this opening statement....

Next, with this point of departure, we must establish both the feature of her interiority and of her communitarian nature. The Church grows from within and moves outwards, not vice-versa. Above all, she is the sign of the most intimate communion with Christ. She is formed primarily in a life of prayer, the sacraments and the fundamental attitudes of faith, hope and love. Thus if someone should ask what must I do to become Church and to grow like the Church, the reply must be: you must become a person who lives faith, hope, and charity. What builds the Church is prayer and the communion of the sacraments; in them the prayer of the Church comes to meet us. Last summer I met a parish priest who told me that for many years there hadn't been a single vocation to the priesthood from his parish. What ought he do? We cannot manufacture vocations, it is the Lord who raises them up. Should we therefore stand by helpless? The priest decided to make a pilgrimage every year, a long and difficult pilgrimage to the Marian Shrine of Altötting to pray for vocations, and invited those who shared in this intention to join him in the pilgrimage and common prayer. Year after year the number of participants in this pilgrimage grew until finally, this year, the whole village with great joy, celebrated the first Mass in living memory said by a priest from the parish....

The Church grows from within: this is the meaning of the expression "Body of Christ". The phrase implies something more: Christ has formed a body for himself. If I want to find Him and make Him mine, I am directly called to become a humble and complete and full member of His Body, and, by becoming one of His members, becoming an organ of his Body in this world, I will be so for eternity. The idea of liberal theology that whereas Jesus on his own would be interesting, the Church would be a wretched reality, contradicts this understanding completely. Christ gives Himself only in His body, and never as a pure ideal. This means that He gives Himself, and the others, in the uninterrupted communion that endures through time and is His Body. It means that the Church is not an idea, it is a Body. The scandal of becoming flesh that Jesus' incarnation caused so many of His contemporaries, is repeated in the "scandalous character" of the Church. Jesus' statement is valid in this instance: "Blessed is he who is not scandalized in me".

The communitarian nature of the Church necessarily entails its character as "we". The Church is not somewhere apart from us, it is we who constitute the Church. No one person can say "I am the Church", but each one of us can and ought to say, "we are the Church". This "we" does not represent an isolated group, but rather a group that exists within the entire community of all Christ's members, living and dead. This is how a group can genuinely say: "we are the Church". Here is the Church, in this open "we" that breaches social and political boundaries, and the boundary between heaven and earth as well. We are the Church. This gives rise to a co-responsibility and also the possibility of collaborating personally. From this understanding there derives the right to criticize but our criticism must be above all self-criticism. Let us repeat: the Church is not "somewhere else"; nor is she "someone else". We ourselves build the Church. These ideas matured and led directly to the Council. Everything said about the common responsibility of the laity, and the legal forms that were established to facilitate the intelligent exercise of responsibility, are the result of this current of thought.

Finally, the concept of the development and therefore of the historical dynamic of the Church belongs to this theme. A body remains identical to itself over the course of its life due to the fact that in the life process it constantly renews itself. For the great English Cardinal, Newman, the idea of development was the true and proper bridge to his conversion to Catholicism. I believe that the idea of development belongs to those numerous fundamental concepts of Catholicism that are far from being adequately explored. Once again it is Vatican II to which we owe the first solemn formulation of this idea in a Magisterial document. Whoever wants to attach himself solely to the literal interpretation of the Scriptures or to the forms of the Church of the Fathers imprisons Christ in "yesterday". The result is either a wholly sterile faith that has nothing to say to our times, or the arrogant assumption of the right to skip over 2,000 years of history, consign them to the dustbin of mistakes, and try to figure out what a Christianity would look like either according to Scripture or according to Jesus. The only possible result will be an artificial creation that we ourselves have made, devoid of any consistency. Genuine identity with the beginning in Christ can only exist where there is a living continuity that has developed the beginning and preserved the beginning precisely through this development.

2. Eucharistic Ecclesiology

Let us go back and look at developments in the pre-Conciliar era. Reflection on the Mystical Body of Christ marked the first phase of the Church's interior re-discovery; it began with St Paul and led to placing in the foreground the presence of Christ and the dynamics of what is alive (in Him and us). Further research led to a fresh awareness. Above all, more than anyone else, the great French theologian Henri de Lubac in his magnificent and learned studies made it clear that in the beginning the term "corpus mysticum" referred to the Eucharist. For St Paul and the Fathers of the Church the idea of the Church as the Body of Christ was inseparably connected with the concept of the Eucharist in which the Lord is bodily present and which He gives us His Body as food. This is how a Eucharistic ecclesiology came into existence.

What do we mean today by "Eucharistic ecclesiology"? I will attempt to answer this question with a brief mention of some fundamental points. The first point is that Jesus' Last Supper could be defined as the event that founded the Church. Jesus gave His followers this Liturgy of Death and Resurrection and at the same time He gave them the Feast of Life. In the Last Supper he repeats the covenant of Sinai—or rather what at Sinai was a simple sign or prototype, that becomes now a complete reality: the communion in blood and life between God and man. Clearly the Last Supper anticipates the Cross and the Resurrection and presupposes them, otherwise it would be an empty gesture. This is why the Fathers of the Church could use a beautiful image and say that the Church was born from the pierced side of the Lord, from which flowed blood and water. When I state that the Last Supper is the beginning of the Church, I am actually saying the same thing, from another point of view. This formula means that the Eucharist binds all men together, and not just with one another, but with Christ; in this way it makes them "Church". At the same time the formula describes the fundamental constitution of the Church: the Church exists in Eucharistic communities. The Church's Mass is her constitution, because the Church is, in essence, a Mass (sent out: "missa"), a service of God, and therefore a service of man and a service for the transformation of the world.

The Mass is the Church's form, that means that through it she develops an entirely original relationship that exists nowhere else, a relationship of multiplicity and of unity. In each celebration of the Eucharist, the Lord is really present. He is risen and dies no more. He can no longer be divided into different parts. He always gives Himself completely and entirely. This is why the Council states: "This Church of Christ is truly present in all legitimate local communities of the faithful which, united with their pastors, are themselves called Churches in the New Testament. For in their locality these are the new People called by God, in the Holy Spirit and with great trust (cf. 1 Thes. 1,5).... In these communities, though frequently small and poor, or living in the diaspora, Christ is present, and in virtue of His power there is brought together one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church" (Lumen Gentium, n. 26). This means that the ecclesiology of local Churches derives from the formulation of the Eucharistic ecclesiology. This is a typical feature of Vatican II that presents the internal and sacramental foundation of the doctrine of collegiality about which we will speak later.

For a correct understanding of the Council's teaching, we must first look more closely at what exactly it said. Vatican II was aware of the concerns of both Orthodox and Protestant theology and integrated them into a more ample Catholic understanding. In Orthodox theology the idea of Eucharistic ecclesiology was first expressed by exiled Russian theologians in opposition to the pretensions of Roman centralism. They affirmed that insofar as it possesses Christ entirely, every Eucharistic community is already, in se, the Church. Consequently, external unity with other communities is not a constitutive element of the Church.

Therefore, they concluded that unity with Rome is not a constitutive element of the Church. Such a unity would be a beautiful thing since it would represent the fullness of Christ to the external world, but it is not essential since nothing would be added to the totality of Christ. The Protestant understanding of the Church was moving in the same direction. Luther could no longer recognize the Spirit of Christ in the universal Church; he directly took that Church to be an instrument of the anti-Christ. Nor could he see the Protestant State Churches of the Reformation as Churches in the proper sense of the word. They were only social, political entities necessary for specific purposes and dependent on political powers—nothing more. According to Luther the Church existed in the community. Only the assembly that listens to the Word of God in a specific place is the Church. He replaced the word "Church" with "community" (Gemeinde). Church became a negative concept.

If we go back now to the Council text certain nuances become evident. The text does not simply say, "The Church is entirely present in each community that celebrates the Eucharist", rather it states: "This Church of Christ is truly present in all legitimate local communities of the faithful which, united with their pastors, are themselves called Churches". Two elements here are of great importance: to be a Church the community must be "legitimate"; they are legitimate when they are "united with their pastors". What does this mean? In the first place, no one can make a Church by himself. A group cannot simply get together, read the New Testament and declare: "At present we are the Church because the Lord is present wherever two or three are gathered in His name". The element of "receiving" belongs essentially to the Church, just as faith comes from "hearing" and is not the result of one's decision or reflection. Faith is a converging with something I could neither imagine nor produce on my own; faith has to come to meet me. We call the structure of this encounter, a "Sacrament". It is part of the fundamental form of a sacrament that it be received and not self-administered. No one can baptize himself. No one can ordain himself. No one can forgive his own sins. Perfect repentance cannot remain something interior—of its essence it demands the form of encounter of the Sacrament. This too is a result of a sacrament's fundamental structure as an encounter [with Christ]. For this reason communion with oneself is not just an infraction of the external provisions of Canon Law, but it is an attack on the innermost nature of a sacrament. That a priest can administer this unique sacrament, and only this sacrament, to himself is part of the mysterium tremendum in which the Eucharist involves him. In the Eucharist, the priest acts "in persona Christi", in the person of Christ [the Head]; at the same time he represents Christ while remaining a sinner who lives completely by accepting Christ's Gift.

One cannot make the Church but only receive her; one receives her from where she already is, where she is really present: the sacramental community of Christ's Body moving through history. It will help us to understand this difficult concept if we add something: "legitimate communities". Christ is everywhere whole. This is the first important formulation of the Council in union with our Orthodox brothers. At the same time Christ is everywhere only one, so I can possess the one Lord only in the unity that He is, in the unity of all those who are also His Body and who through the Eucharist must evermore become it. Therefore, the reciprocal unity of all those communities who celebrate the Eucharist is not something external added to Eucharistic ecclesiology, but rather its internal condition: in unity here is the One. This is why the Council recalls the proper responsibility of communities, but excludes any self-sufficiency. The Council develops an ecclesiology in which being Catholic, namely being in communion with believers in all places and in all times, is not simply an external element of an organizational form, it represents grace coming from within and is at the same time a visible sign of the grace of the Lord who alone can create unity by breaching countless boundaries.

I. The Church, as the People of God

After the initial enthusiasm that greeted the discovery of the idea of the Body of Christ, scholars analyzed and gradually began to refine the concept and make corrections in two directions. We have already referred to the first of these corrections in the work of Henri de Lubac. He made concrete the idea of the Body of Christ by working out a Eucharistic ecclesiology and opened it in this way to concrete questions about the juridical ordering of the Church and the reciprocal relations between local Churches and the universal Church. The other form of correction began in Germany in the 1930's, where some theologians were critical of the fact that with the idea of the Mystical Body certain relationships were not clear between the visible and the invisible, law and grace, order and life. They therefore proposed the concept of "People of God", found above all in the Old Testament, as a broader description of the Church to which one could more easily apply sociological and juridical categories. While the Mystical Body of Christ would certainly remain an important "image", by itself it could not meet the request of theology to express things using "concepts".

Initially this criticism of the idea of the Body of Christ was somewhat superficial. Further study of the Body of Christ uncovered its positive content; the concept of "People of God", along with the concept of the Body of Christ, entered the ecclesiology of the Council. One wondered if the image of the Mystical Body might be too narrow a starting point to define the many forms of belonging to the Church now found in the tangle of human history. If we use the image of a body to describe "belonging" we are limited only to the form of representation as "member". Either one is or one is not a member, there are no other possibilities. One can then ask if the image of the body was too restrictive, since there manifestly existed in reality intermediate degrees of belonging. The Constitution on the Church found it helpful for this purpose to use the concept of "the People of God". It could describe the relationship of non-Catholic Christians to the Church as being "in communion" and that of non-Christians as being "ordered" to the Church where in both cases one relies on the idea of the People of God (Lumen Gentium, nn. 15, 16).

In one respect one can say that the Council introduced the concept of "the People of God" above all as an ecumenical bridge. It applies to another perspective as well: the rediscovery of the Church after the First World War that initially was a phenomenon common to both Catholics and Protestants. Certainly the liturgical movement was by no means limited to the Catholic Church. This shared character gave rise to reciprocal criticism. The idea of the Body of Christ was developed within the Catholic Church, when the Church was designated as "Christ who continues to live on earth" and so the Church was described as the incarnation of the Son that continues to the end of time. This idea provoked opposition among Protestants who saw in the teaching an intolerable identifying of the Church herself with Christ. According to Protestants the Church was in a way adoring herself and making herself infallible. Gradually, the idea struck Catholic thinkers who, even though they did not go that far, found that this understanding of the Church made her every declaration and ministerial act so definitive that it made any criticism appear to be an attack on Christ himself and simply forgot the human, at times far too human, element of the Church. The Christological distinction had to be clearly emphasized: the Church is not identical with Christ, but she stands before Him. She is a Church of sinners, ever in need of purification and renewal, ever needing to become Church. The idea of reform became a decisive element of the concept of the People of God, while it would be difficult to develop the idea of reform within the framework of the Body of Christ.

There is a third factor that favoured the idea of the "People of God". In 1939 the Evangelical exegete, Ernst Käsemann gave his monograph on the Letter to the Hebrews the title, The Pilgrim People of God. In the framework of Council discussions, this title became right away a slogan because it made something become more clearly understood in the debates on the Constitution on the Church: the Church has not yet reached her goal. Her true and proper hope still lies ahead of her. The "eschatological" import of the concept of Church became clear. The phrase conveys the unity of salvation history which comprises both Israel and the Church in her pilgrim journey. The phrase expresses the historical nature of the pilgrim Church that will not be wholly herself until the paths of time have been traversed and have blossomed in the hands of God. It describes the unity of the People of God amid the variety, as in all peoples, of different ministries and services; yet above and beyond all distinctions, all are pilgrims in the one community of the pilgrim People of God. In broad outline, if one wants to sum up what elements relating to the concept "People of God" were important for the Council, one could say that the phrase "People of God" conveyed the historical nature of the Church, described the unity of God's history with man, the internal unity of God's people that also goes beyond the frontiers of sacramental states of life. It conveys the eschatological dynamic, the provisional and fragmentary nature of the Church ever in need of renewal; and finally, it expresses the ecumenical dimension, that is the variety of ways in which communion and ordering to the Church can and do exist, even beyond the boundaries of the Catholic Church.

However, commentators very soon completely handed the term "people" in the concept "People of God" to a general political interpretation. Among the proponents of liberation theology it was taken to mean "people" in the Marxist sense, in opposition to the ruling classes, or more generally, it was taken to refer to popular sovereignty at long last being applied to the Church. This led to large-scale debates on Church structures. On occasion the expression was understood in a peculiarly Western sense as "democratization" or more in the sense of the so-called Eastern "People's Republics". Gradually this "verbal fireworks" (N. Lohfink) died down either because the power games ended in exhaustion and gave way to the ordinary work of parish councils, or because solid theological research had irrefutably demonstrated the impossibility of politicizing a concept that had arisen in an entirely different context. Bochum Werner Berg provides an example of the meticulous exegesis that characterized this theological research when he affirmed: "in spite of the small number of passages that mention the 'People of God' (it is a rare expression in the Bible) one common element is immediately apparent: the expression 'People of God' describes the relationship with God, the connection with God, the link between God and those designated as the People of God, it is therefore a 'vertical relationship'. The expression does not lend itself easily to a description of the hierarchical structure of this community, especially if 'People of God' is used in "contrast" to the ministers…" If we begin with the biblical meaning of this expression it can no longer be easily understood as a cry of protest against the ministers: "We are the People of God". Josef Meyer zu Schlochtern, the Professor of Fundamental Theology at Paderborn, concludes his discussion of the concept "People of God" with an observation on Vatican II's Constitution on the Church. The document concludes by "depicting the Trinitarian structure as the foundation of the final determination of the Church…". The discussion is brought back to the essential point: the Church does not exist for herself; rather, she is God's instrument to gather mankind in Himself and to prepare for that time when "God will be all in all" (I Cor 15,28). The very concept of God was left out of all the "fireworks" surrounding this expression, thus depriving the expression of its meaning. A Church which existed only for herself would be useless. People would realize this immediately. The crisis of the Church reflected in the expression "People of God" is a "crisis of God". It derives from our abandoning the essential. All that remains is a struggle for power. This sort of thing is already abundantly present in the world—there is no need for the Church to enter this arena.

III. The Eccelesiology of Communion

Around the time of the extraordinary Synod of 1985 which attempted to make an assessment of the 20 years since the Council there was a renewed effort to synthesize the Council's ecclesiology. The synthesis involved one basic concept: the ecclesiology of communion. I was very much pleased with this new focus in ecclesiology and I endeavoured, to the extent I was able, to help work it out. First of all one must admit that the word ''communio" did not occupy a central place in the Council. All the same if properly understood it can serve as a synthesis of the essential elements of the Council's ecclesiology. All the essential elements of the Christian concept of "communio" can be found in the famous passage from the First Letter of Saint John (1,3); it is a frame of reference for the correct Christian understanding of "communio". "That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship (communio) with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing this that our joy may be complete". The point of departure of communio is clearly evident in this passage: the union with the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who comes to mankind through the proclamation of the Church. Fellowship (communio) among men is born here and merges into fellowship (communio) with the One and Triune God. One gains access to communion with God through the realization of God's communion with man—it is Christ in person. To meet Christ creates communion with Him and therefore with the Father in the Holy Spirit. This unites men with one another. The goal of all this is the fullness of joy: the Church carries in her bosom an eschatological dynamic. This expression "fullness of joy" recalls the farewell address of Jesus, His Paschal mystery and the Lord's return in the Easter apparitions which prefigure His definitive return in the new world. "You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy ... I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice ... ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full (Jn 16, 20.22.24). If this verse is compared to the invitation to prayer in St Luke (Lk 11,13) it is apparent that "joy" and the "Holy Spirit" are equivalent. Although John does not explicitly mention the Holy Spirit in his first Epistle (1,3) he is hidden within the word "joy". In this biblical context the word "communio" has a theological, Christological, soteriological and ecclesiological characteristic. It enjoys a sacramental dimension that is absolutely explicit in St Paul: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a communion in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body ... " (I Cor 10,16ff.). The ecclesiology of communion at its very foundation is a Eucharistic ecclesiology. It is very close to that Eucharistic ecclesiology that Orthodox theologians so convincingly developed during the past century. In it—as we have already seen—ecclesiology becomes more concrete while remaining totally spiritual, transcendent and eschatological. In the Eucharist, Christ, present in the bread and wine and giving Himself anew, builds the Church as His Body and through His Risen Body He unites us to the one and triune God and to each other. The Eucharist celebrated in different places is universal at the same time, because there is only one Christ and only a single body of Christ. The Eucharist comprehends the priestly service of "repraesentatio Christi" as well as that network of service, the synthesis of unity and multiplicity which is expressed in the term "communio". Without any possible doubt one could say that this concept conveys a synthesis of ecclesiology which combines the discourse of the Church with the discourse of God, and to life through God and with God. This synthesis assembles all the essential intentions of Vatican II ecclesiology and connects them with one another in an appropriate fashion.

For these reasons I was both grateful and happy when the 1985 Synod placed "communio" at the centre of their study. The following years demonstrated the fact that no word is safe from misunderstanding, not even the best and most profound word. To the extent that "communio" became an easy slogan, it was devalued and distorted. As happened to the concept 'People of God', one must point to a growing horizontal understanding that abandoned the concept of God. The ecclesiology of communion was reduced to a consideration of relations between the local Church and the universal Church; this in turn was reduced to the problem of determining the area of competence of each. Naturally the egalitarian thesis once more gained ground: only full equality was possible in "communio". Here again was the exact same argument that had exercised the disciples about who was the greatest amongst them. Obviously this was something that would not be resolved within a single generation. Mark's description of the incident is the most forceful. On the road from Jerusalem Jesus spoke to His Disciples about His coming Passion for the third time. When they arrived at Capernaum He asked them what they had been talking about on the road. "They were silent" because they had been discussing who among them would be the greatest—a sort of discussion about the primacy (Mk 9, 33-37). Isn't it just the same today? The Lord is going towards His Passion, while the Church, and in her Christ, is suffering and, we on the other hand are entangled in our favorite discussion: who comes first with the power. If He were to come among us and ask what we were talking about we would blush and be silent.

This does not mean that there should be no discussion of good government and the division of responsibility in the Church. It is certainly true that there are imbalances that need correcting. We should watch for and root out an excessive Roman centralization that is always a danger. But questions of this sort ought not to distract us from the true mission of the Church: the Church should not be proclaiming herself but God. It is only to assure that this is done in the purest possible way, that there is criticism within the Church. Criticism should insure a correlation between discourse on God and common service. To sum it up, it is no accident that Jesus' words "the first shall be last and the last first" occur more than once in the Gospel tradition. They are like a mirror constantly focused on us all.

Faced with the post-1985 reduction of the concept of "communio", the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith thought it appropriate to prepare a "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of the Church Understood as Communion". The Letter was issued on 28 May, 1992. Today, any theologian concerned about his reputation feels obliged to criticize all documents from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Our Letter met with a storm of criticism—very few parts of the text met with approval. The phrase that provoked the most controversy was this statement: "The universal Church in her essential mystery is a reality that ontologically and temporally is prior to every particular Church" (cf. n. 9). There was a brief reference to this statement being based on the Patristic notion that the one, unique Church precedes the creation of particular Churches and gives birth to them. The Fathers were reviving a rabbinical concept that the Torah and Israel were pre-existent. Creation was conceived as providing space for the Will of God. This Will needed a people who would live for the Will of God and would make it the Light of the world. Since the Fathers were convinced of the final identity of the Church and Israel, they could not envision the Church as something accidental, only recently created; in this gathering of people under the Will of God the Fathers recognized the internal theology of creation. Beginning with Christology this image was amplified and deepened: they explained history—under the influence of the Old Testament—as a story of love between God and man. God finds and prepares a Bride for His Son—the unique Bride who is the unique Church. In the light of Genesis 2,24, where man and woman become "two in one flesh" the image of the Bride merges with the idea of the Church as the Body of Christ—an analogy derived from the Eucharistic liturgy. The unique Body of Christ is prepared; Christ and the Church will be "two in one flesh", one body and in this way "God will be everything to everyone". The ontological priority of the universal Church—the unique Church, the unique Body, the unique Bride—vis-à-vis the empirical, concrete manifestations of various, particular Churches is so obvious to me that I find it difficult to understand the objections raised against it. These objections only seem possible if one will not or cannot recognize the great Church conceived by God—possibly out of despair at her earthly shortcomings. These objections look like theological ravings. All that would remain is the empirical image of mutually related Churches and their conflicts. This would mean that the Church as a theological theme is cancelled. If one can only see the Church as a human institution, all that remains is desolation. In this case one has abandoned not only the ecclesiology of the Fathers, but the ecclesiology of the New Testament and the understanding of Israel in the Old Testament as well. It is not just the later deutero-Pauline letters and the Apocalypse that affirm the ontological priority of the universal Church to the particular Churches (reaffirmed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith). This concept can be found in the great Pauline letters: in the Letter to the Galatians, the Apostle speaks about the heavenly Jerusalem not as something great and eschatological, but as something which precedes us: "This Jerusalem is our mother" (Gal 4,26). H. Schlier comments that for St Paul, inspired by Jewish tradition, the Jerusalem above is the new aeon. For St Paul this new aeon already exists "in the Christian Church. For him the Church is the heavenly Jerusalem in her children".

Let me conclude. To understand the ecclesiology of Vatican II one cannot ignore chapters 4 to 7 of the Constitution Lumen Gentium. These chapters discuss the laity, the universal call to holiness, the religious and the eschatological orientation of the Church. In these chapters the inner goal of the Church, the most essential part of its being, comes once again to the fore: holiness, conformity to God. There must exist in the world space for God, where he can dwell freely so that the world becomes His "Kingdom". Holiness is something greater than a moral quality. It is the presence of God with men, of men with God; it is God's "tent" pitched amongst men in our midst (cf. Jn 1,14). It is a new birth—not from flesh and blood but from God (Jn 1,13). Orientation towards holiness is one and the same as eschatological orientation. Beginning with Jesus' message it is fundamental for the Church. The Church exists to become God's dwelling place in the world, to become "holiness". This is the only reason there should be any struggle in the Church—and not for precedence or for the first place. All of this is repeated and synthesized in the last chapter of the Constitution on the Church that is dedicated to the Mother of the Lord.

As everyone knows, the question of dedicating a specific document to Mary was widely debated. In any event I believe it was appropriate to insert the Marian element directly into the doctrine on the Church. In this way the point of departure for our consideration is once more apparent: the Church is not an apparatus, nor a social institution, nor one social institution among many others. It is a person. It is a woman. It is a Mother. It is alive. A Marian understanding of the Church is totally opposed to the concept of the Church as a bureaucracy or a simple organization. We cannot make the Church, we must be the Church. We are the Church, the Church is in us only to the extent that our faith more than action forges our being. Only by being Marian, can we become the Church. At its very beginning the Church was not made, but given birth. She existed in the soul of Mary from the moment she uttered her fiat. This is the most profound will of the Council: the Church should be awakened in our souls. Mary shows us the way.

Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
23 January 2002, page 5
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Pope Benedict XVI and the Church
Posted on: 16th September 2010  |Author: Thomas P. Rausch SJ
Category: Church and Papacy, Theology, philosophy and ethics
my source: Thinking Faith

Photo by patkoszeg at flickr.com

As Pope Benedict XVI is welcomed by the Scottish public on the streets of Edinburgh, there is much anticipation of what he will say to the people of the UK over the course of his four-day visit. Thomas Rausch SJ, author of Pope Benedict XVI: An Introduction to his Theological Vision, looks closely at the ecclesiology of the Pope, who has already begun to present his thoughts on the Church and society in the first address of his visit.

Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, has long been interested in the theology of the Church. His doctoral dissertation, Volk und Haus Gottes in Augustins Lehre von der Kirche (‘The People and the House of God in Augustine’s doctrine of the Church’), at the University of Munich was on Augustine’s ecclesiology. Though only 35 years old when the Second Vatican Council opened, he attended as a peritus (‘expert’) to Cologne’s Cardinal Joseph Frings and played an important role in developing some of the Council’s most important documents, among them the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum), the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen gentium), the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et spes), and the Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church (Ad gentes).

From 1959 to 1977, Ratzinger was professor of fundamental theology, first at Bonn, then at Münster, Tübingen, and finally Regensburg; in March 1977 Pope Paul VI named him Archbishop of Munich and Freising and then, in June, cardinal. Pope John Paul II appointed him prefect of the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1981 and he moved to Rome. He was elected to the Chair of Peter on April 19, 2005.

Pope Benedict’s Ecclesiology

Ratzinger/Benedict’s ecclesiology is biblical, grounded in Christology. The Church has its origins in Jesus’s gathering of the community of the new covenant (Luke 22:20). From the beginning, the Church has a structure; it is not ‘an amorphous mob,’ but centred on Jesus’s choice of the Twelve and Peter. [1] He stresses that the primacy of Peter is recognised by all the major New Testament traditions, and that even the great Rudolf Bultmann acknowledged that Peter was entrusted with the supreme leadership of the Church, though Ratzinger rejects the Protestant view that the Petrine succession consists solely in the word as such, rather than in any ‘structures,’ since the New Testament is careful to bind the word of Scripture to specific witnesses.[2]

Two themes stand at the centre of Pope Benedict’s ecclesiology. One is that his vision of the Church is fundamentally eucharistic. Appealing to Paul’s description in 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 of our becoming the one body of Christ by sharing in his body in the Eucharist, he argues that the Church is founded on the Eucharist: ‘The Church is the celebration of the Eucharist: The Eucharist is the Church; they do not simply stand side by side; they are one and the same.’[3] Sharing in the Eucharist, for Benedict, breaks down the divisive walls of our subjectivity, gathering us into a deep communion with Christ and with each other.

Thus from this eucharistic ecclesiology flows the second theme so important to Benedict, the Church as a communion (communio). The recovery of this ancient concept since the mid- twentieth century[4] has helped move official Catholic ecclesiology from a juridical, institutional ecclesiology to a more theological one based on a shared life in Christ and in the Spirit. United by word and sacrament, especially the Eucharist, the Church is a communion, a uniting of men and women vertically with the triune God and horizontally with one another, becoming truly one body. The Church has its origins, not as a club or circle of friends, but as the ‘people of God’ coming together for the word of God and especially the Eucharist. Thus, ‘the centre of the oldest ecclesiology is the eucharistic assembly—the Church is communio.’[5]

For Ratzinger, the Church cannot be understood as a ‘federation of communities,’ still less as different denominations as it exists today. More properly, the primitive Church was an ecclesia in ecclesiis, one Church existing in many local Churches: the one body of the Lord, whole in every community, each united with its bishop, who were all in communion with each other and with the bishop of Rome, symbolising the one Church of God in this world.

He is critical of efforts to reduce an ecclesiology of communion to an aggregate of self-sufficient local Churches. A Church that does not live in visible, sacramental communion with other Christians, or that does not seek communion with the worldwide communion of the ecclesia catholica may be an ecclesial community, but not a Church in the proper sense. Hence his emphasis on apostolic succession, understood as the succession in the historic episcopacy. This is one of his foundational ecclesiological principles, the essence of the Church’s catholicity and apostolicity. He sees this as the key question between Catholics and Protestants, arguing that Luther reduced the Eucharist to an ‘assurance to the individual’s troubled conscience that his sins have been forgiven,’ with the result that the Reformation lost a sense of the eucharistic context which constitutes the Church as a communion.[6]

Nor can the Church be separated from the kingdom of God, as not infrequently happens in some liberation or pluralist theologies. The 2000 declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dominus Iesus, issued under Ratzinger’s presidency, insists on the inseparability of kingdom of God from Christ or from the Church (no. 18). From the days of his study of Bonaventure, Ratzinger has been strongly against what he sees as any effort to ‘immanentise’ the eschaton, to use a term of Eric Vögelin.[7] That would mean for him making salvation something within history, rather than beyond it, reducing the Church to a Church of the poor, with a mission which is primarily social rather than based on hierarchical mediation.[8]

Leadership in a Global Church

The Roman Catholic Church over which Pope Benedict presides has a number of unique claims. It is the world’s oldest institution, with a continuity of identity, structures, and faith that reaches back to the first Christian communities. Even as outspoken a critic as Hans Küng acknowledges that only one Church from the time of Ignatius of Antioch (c. 110) has been known as the ‘Catholic Church,’ despite the wish of other Churches to be called catholic. Even if other Churches do not wish to be considered ‘new’ Churches and are not ‘uncatholic’ communities, each of them owes part of its nature as a Church either directly or indirectly to its relationship with the Catholic Church.[9]

Second, the Catholic Church is already a world Church, linking Christians locally and universally into one communion. Embracing more than half of all Christians in the world, some 53 percent, it is present in almost every country. At the 1985 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, 74 percent of the bishops attending came from countries other than those of Europe or North America. At the 2005 Synod on the Eucharist, the 244 bishops present came from some 118 different countries. With international structures such as synods of bishops, religious orders and lay movements, a developed social teaching and a universal spokesman in the person of the pope, the Catholic Church is uniquely positioned to witness to the kingdom of God in an era characterised by globalisation. With such structures and networks in place, it could link other Christian Churches together into a communion of communions that would be truly catholic.

Pope John Paul II was remarkably creative in showing the potential of the papacy for religious leadership on a global level during his pontificate, calling the Church to a ‘purification of memory’ and asking forgiveness of those the Church had unintentionally offended in its long history at the beginning of the new millennium, and gathering religious leaders from around the world at Assisi for prayer and the renunciation of violence after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.

It is perhaps too early to assess what Pope Benedict’s legacy will be. There are a number of positive signs of his leadership. First, he has been particularly concerned with what Pope John Paul II termed the ‘new evangelisation’ or ‘re-evangelisation,’ calling back to the practice of the faith in countries with Christian roots entire groups of the baptised who have lost a living sense of the faith, or no longer consider themselves members of the Church.[10] Benedict sees this especially as his mission to Europe. Even his choice of his papal name was related to this at least in part, as he explained a few days after his election. His nominal predecessor Benedict XV was the pope who worked so hard for peace during the First World War, and Saint Benedict of Nursia, the great founder of the Benedictine Order, represented ‘a fundamental reference point for European unity and a powerful reminder of the indispensable Christian roots of its culture and civilisation.’[11] But today the culture of Europe is determinedly secular. With negative birth rates and the Churches’ continued loss of members, the only religion that seems to be growing is Islam.

Second, under Benedict, relationships with the Orthodox, particularly the Russians, have improved considerably. Both the Orthodox and Benedict are concerned with the secularism of Europe and the growth of Islam. But there has been little progress in relations between Catholics and Protestants. The 2007 document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) on ‘Response to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine of the Church’ makes it evident that Rome is a long way from recognising the full ecclesial status of the Reformation Churches. Relations with the Anglican Communion have been complicated by the decision of the Church of England to proceed with the ordination of women to the episcopacy, while Benedict’s 2009 Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus, which provides for ‘Personal Ordinariates,’ preserving some Anglican usages for those Anglicans unhappy with changes in the Communion and wanting to enter into full communion with Rome, took Canterbury by surprise. Thus full communion with Anglicans and Protestants remains a more distant goal.

Finally, while Ratzinger may have been initially slow to grasp the enormity of the problem of sexual abuse by clergy, he has shown himself to have been much more proactive than his predecessor and other Vatican officials in addressing it. In spite of the unfair criticism he has received, he has played an important role in centralising the way the Vatican dealt with accusations of sexual abuse. In 2001 he ordered that all cases be reported to the CDF. According to Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, he helped bring about changes in church law, among them ‘the inclusion in canon law of Internet offences against children, the extension of child abuse offences to include the sexual abuse of all under 18, the case by case waiving of the statute of limitations and the establishment of a fast-track dismissal from the clerical state for offenders.’[12] Furthermore, as Prefect of the CDF, he reviewed all these cases,[13] which provided him with a long and painful education. Shortly after becoming pope, he ordered the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Father Marcial Maciel Dellogado, against whom at least nine former seminarians had brought allegations of abuse and who later was found to have fathered at least one child, to cease all public ministry and to retire to a life of prayer and penance. Though these allegations went back to at least the mid nineties, Maciel had been repeatedly praised by Pope John Paul. In 2004 Ratzinger initiated an investigation of the charges on his own authority.

During his visit to the United States in 2008, he met with five men and women who had been abused by members of the clergy in what all accounts described as a very moving meeting. He also raised the scandal of sexual abuse by clergy at least five times, acknowledging to the bishops that it had been ‘sometimes very badly handled.’[14] He has since met with victims in Australia and on the island of Malta. In his letter to the Catholics of Ireland, he expressed his willingness to meet with some of the victims.

From a more critical perspective, Benedict seems to address these cases of sexual abuse as a spiritual problem, a crisis of faith, brought on by secularisation or even by misinterpretations of the Second Vatican Council. His solution is turning to prayer and penance, but he does not raise questions about church structures or the way in which clerical authority is exercised. He once described church reform as consisting, not in remodelling the Church according to our tastes, but in clearing away subsidiary constructions, like the sculptor allowing the image hidden in the stone to be revealed.[15] In his 20 May 2010 pastoral letter to Catholics in Ireland, he used very strong language, speaking of the shame and betrayal felt by Irish Catholics, the ‘often inadequate’ responses and ‘serious mistakes’ of the bishops, but apart from ordering an apostolic visitation of Irish dioceses and religious houses, his suggestions were spiritual rather than practical or structural.

What might he do to address this problem in terms of church governance? In an interview with the Italian paper La Repubblica, Cardinal Walter Kasper called for a ‘serious housecleaning in our church.’ While he said that the Pope was not standing by idly, he also suggested that with such a difficult problem emerging not only in Ireland, but in Holland, Germany and the United States, ‘perhaps it deserves a more general analysis that applies to the universal church and not just a single nation.’[16]

One thing Benedict might consider would be to ask a Synod of Bishops to address this problem in the near future. Another might be to review the question of how bishops are advised. How often have we heard that if parents had been among the advisors of those bishops who reassigned offending priests they would not have done so? Making sure that there were lay men and women among the bishops’ advisors or consultants would have a number of advantages. It would broaden the base of the bishops’ advisors by expanding it beyond the clerical circle. It would address what remains a major failing of the way authority is exercised in the Catholic Church, the virtual exclusion of the laity from the bishops’ decision-making. It would also recognise more clearly the Church’s nature as a communion of all the baptised, rather than a top down structure in which authority moves only in one direction. Finally, the presence of such advisors in the bishops’ inner circle would keep them informed on what lay people are really thinking about a number of other issues that remain just below the official surface of the Church, foremost among them issues of sexuality, gender and ministry.

It is also true that Benedict has done little to undo the re-centring of authority in Rome that took place under his predecessor. Though shortly after the Council ended he wrote positively about moving beyond papal centralism, reforming the Curia, and collegiality, including the rediscovery of the local Church and the ‘long-awaited’ synod of bishops as a collegial organ rather than a papal instrument,[17] in more recent times he has stressed the ontological priority of the universal Church over the local or particular Church and made a number of decisions without consulting the bishops, for example, his 2007 apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum, giving general permission to celebrate the ‘Tridentine’ Mass and his lifting the excommunications on the four Lefebvrist prelates in 2009.

While he insists that the universal Church does not mean Rome, a number of theologians argue that Vatican II not only failed to develop an adequate theology of the local Church, but also that since the Council, Rome has emphasised a universalist ecclesiology which has resulted in many bishops putting the priority on their relationship with Rome, to the detriment of their accountability to their local Churches. With the relationship between the universal and the local Church unresolved, Christopher Ruddy maintains that Church documents remain universalistic, and thus ‘a juridical ecclesiology triumphs over an ecclesiology of communion.’[18] This affects everything from how bishops are selected, whether local and regional Churches can effectively address their own issues, and how local experience enters into decision-making in Rome.

Pope Benedict remains focussed on the Church’s official language, its theology. Today his tone has changed. The critical analysis of the university professor has given way to the more positive tones of the pastor. But if he is to contribute significantly to the reconciliation of the Churches, a task which remains one of his priorities, he will have to find ways to show those other Churches that the government of the Roman Catholic Church is truly collegial.

Thomas P. Rausch SJ is the T. Marie Chilton Professor of Catholic Theology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He is the author of Pope Benedict XVI: An Introduction to his Theological Vision (Paulist Press, 2009).

[1] See Joseph Ratzinger, Called to Communion: Understanding the Church Today (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1991) 24.

[2] Ibid., pp. 52-67.

[3] Joseph Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987) 53.

[4] See Ludwig Hertling, Communio: Church and Papacy in Early Christianity, trans. Jared Wicks (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1972) first published in Miscellanea historiae pontificiae, 7 (1943).

[5] Principles of Catholic Theology, 254.

[6] Ibid., 260-61.

[7] See Eric Vögelin, The New Science of Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1952) 120.

[8] See Thomas P. Rausch, Pope Benedict XVI: An introduction to his Theological Vision (New York: Paulist Press, 2009) 53-54.

[9] Hans Küng, The Church (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1967) 307.

[10] Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, no. 33.

[11] Benedict XVI, “General Audience (April 27, 2005).

[12] catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1001299.htm.

[13] ‘Three Catholic Church reformers reflect on latest sexual abuse reports’; http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/03/three_catholic_church_reformer.html.

[14] Pope Benedict XVI, ‘Meeting with the Bishops of the United States,’ April 16, 2008; see Origins 37/46 (2008) 737.

[15] Ratzinger, Called to Communion, 140-41.

[16] Catholic News Service; http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1000962.htm.

[17] Joseph Ratzinger, Theological Highlights of Vatican II, (New York: Paulist, 2009) esp. 91-93, 135-39, 161-76, 199-206; first published 1966.

[18] Christopher Ruddy, The Local Church: Tillard and the Future of Catholic Ecclesiology (New York: Crossroad, 2006) 52.

 Pope Benedict XVI: An Introduction to his Theological Vision by Thomas P. Rausch SJ

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