A Democratic Ecclesiology

from Democracy in the Christian Church by Luca Badini Confalonieri, Chapter 6

published by T & T Clark International

Reproduced here with the necessary permissions

6.1 Introduction

‘Within the church [. . .] power – if by power we intend the ultimate responsibility [. . .] of bishops vis-à-vis the life of the church – is not divisible. ’ ‘[T]he bishop, being the foundation of the unity of his church, cannot delegate such a responsibility of his to anybody, not even to a majority.’ Indeed, the common judgement within a particular church ‘is not measurable with mathematical criteria of majority. Rather, common judgment is not established as such until authority has spoken its last word’. (1) Previously, but in agreement with the above, the late Pope John Paul II had consistently reiterated that

Dissent, in the form of carefully orchestrated protests and polemics carried on in the media, is opposed to ecclesial communion and to a correct understanding of the hierarchical constitution of the People of God. Opposition to the teaching of the Church’s Pastors cannot be seen as a legitimate expression either of Christian freedom or of the diversity of the Spirit’s gifts. When this happens, the Church’s Pastors have the duty to act in conformity with their apostolic mission, insisting that the right of the faithful to receive Catholic doctrine in its purity and integrity must always be respected. (2)

All of those points, but the one on dissent, have been concisely re-stated more recently by Pope Benedict XVI in that crucial sentence of his letter expounding the official understanding of RC ecclesiology to Chinese Catholics: ‘The principles of independence and autonomy, self-management and democratic administration of the Church [are] incompatible with Catholic doctrine’. (3)

The insight common to those statements from the contemporary RC ecclesiastical establishment is that the responsibility for the common action and mission of the church resides entirely with the clerical hierarchy to the exclusion of the laity. The latter do not have any responsibility in determining the decisions of the church; their cooperation in it is apparently a matter of passive obedience, which does not require an assessment either of the intelligence and ethical value of the policy choices made by the church authority, or of the morality of cooperating with them, and certainly does not envisage any kind of public dissent from them. In the current intra-ecclesial discussion this is expressed by affirming that the laity cannot ‘participate’ in the power of governance of the clergy: the most they can do is to ‘cooperate’ with it, in a consultative way only and at the exclusive discretion of the hierarchy. (4)

At the same time, it should not be forgotten that the principles proffered in the above citations are far from being the common stance of Christians – or indeed of Catholics – vis-à-vis church government. They represent, nevertheless,the position presently endorsed by the current Roman Catholic establishment, and thus put forward as the standard, official one of Roman Catholics worldwide. The argument which follows will begin by addressing the nature of ecclesial authority (6.2), as well as the consequences such an understanding of ecclesial authority would have for the selection of church officials (6.3). I will then move to analyse two dysfunctional centralizations of the current RC Church. Sections 6.4–6.6 will be devoted to the centralization of competences caused by the existence at most decisional levels in the church – from the local parish to the worldwide communion – of a single supreme authority whose competence is de iure all-encompassing. The second centralization, examined in 6.7, concerns the disregard of subsidiarity, occurring when a higher authority, instead of being limited to deciding and acting on those specific domains only which individuals and lower levels have deemed beyond their reach and have thus responsibly delegated, exercises an intrusive micro-management of the decisions and actions lying within the lower levels’ operational range.

Section 6.8 focuses on the essential role free and public discussion should play in the church. Free and public discussion will emerge as the chief way, as far as human means are concerned, of both purifying Christianity’s tradition and of developing it so as to understand it ever more fully. Finally, Section 6.9 will offer some guidelines for the structural reform of the Roman Catholic Church.

6.2 Human Consent and Divine Institution: The Nature of Ecclesial Authority

With reference to the nature of authority in the church, a RC default instinct is to oppose the ‘merely human’ authority and the ecclesial one, the former constituted by human consent while the latter by divine institution. The current official RC ecclesiology is in fact still essentially based on what is known historically as the divine-right theory of authority. Its foundational principle, often repeated by papalist theologians, is that all powers in the church come from Christ, either immediately (as it happened during his lifetime, for example when he chose the Twelve), or mediately, that is through the pope and the bishops as only successors of Peter and the Apostles to whom alone Christ had supposedly bestowed the self-mediating supernatural sacra potestas . The point has been made most concisely in a recent introduction to RC canon law:

the power of jurisdiction has been bestowed by Christ to the Apostles; therefore, it is possessed primarily by the pope and the episcopal college with regard to the universal church, and by each of the diocesan bishops with regard to the particular church they preside. [. . .]

The power of jurisdiction admits a vast delegation to secondary bodies; however the power of such bodies is always delegated and, therefore, dependent on and derived from the power of the pope or of the diocesan bishop. There are no phenomena of jurisdiction which are not reconducible to the above mentioned primary organs, insofar as jurisdiction proceeds from Christ, who transmitted it to the Apostles and to them alone. (5)

Such a theory is behind several key contentious issues in current RC ecclesiology. For instance, as then Cardinal Ratzinger observed, it is the reason for the present denial that regional, national and international synodal and conciliar bodies can exercise any proper and ordinary (as distinct from delegated) jurisdictional power, as well as for the concurrent affirmation that they can only exercise as much jurisdictional power as the pope delegates them. (6) All ecclesial institutions of ecclesiastical (as distinct from divine) right – that is everything but the papacy and personal episcopacy – receive their jurisdictional power from delegation by the pope (or, in the case of diocesan bodies, from the local ordinary). In theory, the worldwide episcopal body together with the pope is also the wielder of supreme absolute power in the church. In practice, however, there are no canonically enshrined ordinary structures (as distinct from extraordinary institutions, such as ecumenical councils) for the worldwide episcopal body to act collegially – whether to govern or even only to delegate powers. This leaves the pope alone in exercising the supreme έπισκοπή over the worldwide Catholic communion.

Far from having been superseded by Vatican II, the old theory that all jurisdictional powers in the church derive ultimately from the pope has only been mitigated, not rejected, by the council’s endorsement of the theological doctrine that bishops derive their sacra potestas immediately from Christ, rather than mediately from Christ through the pope. In effect, a crucial passage of the famous Nota explicativa praevia appended to Lumen gentium distinguishes the sacra potestas received through episcopal ordination, and the ‘canonical or juridical determination through the hierarchical authority [i.e. the pope or, in the Oriental Churches in communion with Rome, the patriarch]. This determination of power can consist in the granting of a particular office or in the allotment of subjects, and it is done according to the norms approved by the supreme authority’. (7) Such a distinction means, concretely, that while bishops may receive their sacra potestas directly from Christ, they depend on the pope for the legitimate (as distinct from valid) exercise of such a power, which includes the jurisdictional power. Such a view, which does not modify the substance of the traditional papalist position, appears to have been enshrined in the post-Vatican II reform of canon law, if the conclusion of a recent study on the role of diocesan bishops in the current canon law is true that ‘the general determinations of the Code concerning the episcopate and the diocesan bishop, as well as the standard understanding of this ministry in the determinations of the Code, describe the diocesan bishop as being juridically a functionary of the Pope’. (8) In such a way, the pope maintains a direct control over all jurisdictional powers in the church, including those of local, national and supra-national synods and councils, which only exist by papal delegation.

The first reason for rejecting the view that ecclesial authority comes from Christ through Peter, the Apostles and their successors, to whom alone Christ had directly bestowed the self-mediating supernatural sacra potestas , is simply that such a view is based on a mistaken exegesis without valid scriptural bases (see 3.2, cf. 3.5).

The second reason is that the divine-right construal of church authority is based on a flawed understanding of the relationship between divine action and human cooperation. Indeed, that is the crucial issue lying at the very heart of the divergence between the divine-right and the consensual understandings of ecclesiastical authority. This can be glanced, for instance, from the following description, summarizing the problem as it confronted early-modern divine-right political philosophers:

the claim to divine authority is empty, in the sense that it is easy for anyone to make but impossible for anyone to prove. I can ‘feel’ divinely authorized, but does that mean I am? Someone can proclaim that she has received divine authorization, but does that mean she has? If there are a number of claimants to divine authorization, would we ever be able to tell who really had it? [. . .] The problem of establishing who has God’s authorization has never been satisfactorily resolved, with the result that the divine authorization theory is empty. . . . (9)

It is noteworthy that such a description fits equally well divine-right ecclesiologists. Its last statement, however, is imprecise, to the extent that both some political philosophers and some ecclesiologists did address successfully the problem of divine-human cooperation underlying that quandary. A classic presentation of the solution in the ecclesiological field is the one offered by Nicholas of Cusa (later made Cardinal), according to whom

every ecclesiastical or spiritual rulership was established by Christ through the mediation of human consent. For legitimate superiors are those established by the consent of their subjects. We are obliged to obey them because of having given them our consent as established in authority by men from among men. (10)

Not even the pope’s authority, he insisted, is unmediated by the consent of the church: the only possible alternative, he added, would be if there is ‘some miracle or sign that God wished someone to rule before he had obtained the consent of the faithful (in which case all Christians would be obliged to obey the divine command)’. (11) Differently put, God was ordinarily understood as acting through secondary causes – specifically, the customary electoral procedures or, in Nicholas of Cusa’s more fundamental perspective, human consent.

Indeed, it has long been acknowledged that God ordinarily acts in a way which preserves the laws of creation, even when perfecting their proper nature and working: which, in the case of the establishment of ecclesial (as well as civil) authority, means that the divine action occurs through – that is assists but does not supersede – human beings’ created freedom of and concomitant responsibility for discerning and evaluating the best available candidate for office. Accordingly, just as majority voting does not create truth, so the majority of voters in an election of church offi cials does not create the best available candidate, nor does it bestow his or her humanly acquired skills or divinely bestowed charisms. In both cases, the appeal to the common judgement of the majority is a prudential means for the discernment – not the creation – of what is true and good. The only alternative is to maintain that God ordinarily acts without any human cooperation, bypassing human freedom and responsibility: so that God would somehow impose (and potentially force) ecclesiastical authority on (and potentially over against) the freedom, intelligence and thus responsibility God has endowed human creatures with – something in effect implied by Cajetan when he described the church as a ‘servile’ society (4.4). There is but one chief historical instance in which ‘ecclesial’ officials might be understood as having been established immediately by God: namely, Jesus’ selection of the original Twelve. But since Jesus’ ascension, the process of selecting ministers and leaders for the embryonic church has inevitably followed the pattern of divine-human cooperation outlined above. Indeed, already Matthias was to be chosen by the community with the Spirit’s assistance, as stated in Acts 1.21-26.

The same insights about the relationship between God’s action and human cooperation are also implicit in Cyprian’s understanding of the vox populi as the vox Dei in the context of the selection of bishops (see 2.2, no. 21). Cyprian’s conception also suggests how foreign to the mind of the early church was the view regarding the common judgement and consent of the church as a control over the Spirit. (12) Again, analogous insights were to be expressed more explicitly in Nicholas of Cusa’s above-mentioned assertion that, unless clear evidence exists of a miraculous – and thus by definition extraordinary – divine intervention, God is to be understood as ordinarily acting through the consent of Christians. This is not to deny that all authority, both civil and ecclesiastical, comes from God, as already Paul had stated. Rather, it agrees with a central affirmation of the Scholastics – and especially the Dominicans of the Salamanca School – that while God is indeed the causa prima of authority, it is human consent which is ordinarily its causa secunda . (13) This has long been understood to be the case in the civil and ecclesial societies alike. The only difference should be sought, then, in the motivation for such a consent: in the political sphere, that was identified with the fulfi lment of temporal needs, while in the Christian community delegation to ecclesial officials should be motivated by the fulfi lment of Jesus’ mandate both to spread the Good News and to contribute in different ways to the coming of God’s kingdom on earth. Because such a mandate can only be accepted in faith, the basis for the delegation to church officials is ultimately the supernatural assent of faith. But this only difference should not be seen as incompatible with the fact that the essential requirement of authority – the free, informed assent of intelligent and responsible individuals – remained analogous in both cases. While, then, it is theoretically legitimate to argue that God in appointing church authorities routinely makes a miraculous exception and bypasses his creatures’ freedom and responsibility, still, because mainstream Christian theology regards the continuity between nature and grace as the norm, the burden of proof lies with those wanting to uphold such an admittedly momentous exception to that rule.

The reflection on political authority has been quicker to accept such insights than that on ecclesial authority, and so we see that what John Neville Figgis observed long ago with regard to the ‘desacralization’ of the former can nowadays fittingly describe what is happening with regard to the latter:

the theocratic [. . .] conception of political right has gone from the educated world. Providence, doubtless, has to do with politics as with other human affairs, and all Theists must allow that political associations have some divine sanction. But most are now agreed to relegate the part of Providence to that of final cause. There has been a revolution in political thought, not dissimilar to the substitution of efficient for final causes as an account of natural phenomena. [I]nstitutions and all alleged rights must be able to show some practical utility if their existence is to be maintained. (14)

More recently, Andrés Torres-Queiruga has argued that the very same reasons which recent magisterial teaching highlighted to ‘desacralize’ civil authority must be applied to the church. (15) One of its most concise statements, whose ecclesiological transposition is easily made by simply substituting the word ‘church’ to the word ‘State’, can be found in Pope John XXIII’s encyclical Pacem in terris :

The fact that authority comes from God does not mean that men have no power to choose those who are to rule the State, or to decide upon the type of government they want, and determine the procedure and limitations of rulers in the exercise of their authority. Hence the above teaching [about the divine origins of authority] is consonant with any genuinely democratic form of government. (16)

If it is true, then, that ‘“ Ius divinum ” is the atomic bomb of the reactionary’, (17) it is also true that it is increasingly evident to Christians in general and Catholics in particular that such a ‘nuclear’ deterrent to change is inexistent. (18)

Further clarification from tradition can be had from one of the Scholastics’ central theological insights concerning divine-human cooperation, affirming that facienti quod in se est, Deus non denegat gratiam (God does not deny grace to the one who is doing within one’s power). Or, as Saint Ignatius de Loyola supposedly put it, ‘Pray as though everything depended on God, and work as though everything depended on you’. (19)

Somewhat surprisingly, one of the main arguments still advanced nowadays in favour of a divine-right understanding of church authority appears unaware of those insights into how divine-human cooperation ordinarily works – quite apart from whether it is exegetically sustainable. The NT, such an argument goes, appears to describe church offices as a particular kind of charisms. (20) But charisms have an exclusively pneumatical origin. Hence, the authority of the charismatics (including office-holders) comes directly from God and, accordingly, is in no way dependent on the community’s consent because – and that is the crucial point – that would entail an unacceptable ‘control’ over the Spirit, forcing the Spirit to bestow the required charism of leadership to the chosen person. (21)

Yet, just as God’s sovereign freedom in revealing himself throughout history does not take away the human freedom in discerning and accepting such revelations, so likewise God’s sovereign freedom in bestowing charisms does not entail that human beings are deprived of their freedom in discerning those thus gifted, as well as in subsequently appointing them, if need be. (Suffice here to recall, on the one hand, Paul’s request to the Galatians to reject a different Gospel from the one he had preached even if delivered by an angel of God, and on the other hand, his advice to the Corinthians to test prophets as well as all teachings.) This is arguably what is behind Edward Schillebeeckx’ remark that charismatic grounding of all church ministries, including that of leadership, ‘tells us nothing about how ministers must be appointed’. (22) (Indeed, the insistence that, in bestowing charisms, God is free and not subject to human consent or desires, not only says nothing as to the procedure for selecting and appointing authorities in the church, but actually argues against envisaging ‘ordination’ as bestowing a special power to mediate grace ex opere operato – more on ordination in Section 6.3 below).

In light of what has been said earlier, to understand an institutionalized procedure for evaluating and selecting candidates to church office as an unacceptable control over the Spirit and the mediation of grace is as mistaken as understanding a prayer of petition, or a genuine human effort to achieve something with God’s help, as doing the same. Analogously, if requiring the people’s consent to candidates for church office (and specifically ordination) is understood as an absurd control over the Spirit, then so should be the requirement – common to Paul, the mainstream Christian tradition, and canon law – that the community evaluate the presence of certain ‘qualifications’ or dispositions in candidates to office/ordination. Again, it should also be noted that the same people who affirm that elections would bind the Spirit to the human will of the majority also ordinarily assert that the exercise of all other charisms is dependent on their being assessed by office-holders. (23) This makes the authority of all other charismatics dependent on institutional legitimation, and yet that is not ordinarily condemned as ‘control’ of the Spirit. (24) In fact, the correct insight that charisms must be somehow assessed and legitimated provides the answer ad personam to the objection appealing to their divine origin: this latter does not exclude the human mediation in the sense of the responsibility of those on behalf of whom the charism has been given to evaluate its prerequisites or its authenticity.

6.3 The Selection of Church Officials

The problem, then, becomes that of finding the best way for discerning the Spirit’s charisms – or, if one wants to contend that ordination bestows such charisms ex opere operato , for discerning the proper dispositions for receiving them. (25) In any case, the way of discerning the right person has since the very beginning been a matter of working out the most appropriate human technique, in the conviction that the Spirit always works through human means.

Such human means are the specific object of political philosophy, and so we see throughout history a close symbiosis between the latter and ecclesiology. At the lowest level (i.e. house-churches, cell churches or base ecclesial communities), the division of labour is generally done informally: members know directly each other’s strengths and weaknesses, virtues and vices, God-given charisms and humanly acquired skills, and on that basis they will agree on someone to act as teacher, prophet, etc. The discussion about the best procedure of ‘ordination’, understood as the process culminating with the public, official appointment to a church office, arises principally at those levels of church organization above the domestic (from the parish up), where it is a question of appointing representatives with supervisory and decision-making authority over common action. In what follows I will examine mostly the selection and appointment of this latter kind of church officials.

Noteworthy in this connection is how forcefully since the problem arosethe involvement of the church community has been required. The election of έπίσκοποι by the local church has been considered by many Fathers – most famously by Cyprian with all the bishops of Northern Africa, and by Pope Leo I – to be nothing less than of divine institution. They accordingly regarded it as the only proper procedure, all others being illegitimate under ordinary circumstances – a judgement which, in more recent times, was to be recalled and supported with arguments from history and political philosophy by Blessed Antonio Rosmini. (26)

Precisely because the method to discern the best person available to fulfil a certain function – whether administrative or sacramental – has since the very beginning been a matter of working out the most appropriate human technique, we see that considerations in favour of the popular election of bishops have hardly ever been grounded exclusively on purely theological sources. Rather, they have also been endorsed by considerations which today would be called political, that is, stemming from insights into the organization of the human community. Political philosophy proved to be coherent with the early ecclesiological practice by further clarifying why and how an electoral procedure is the best way of carrying out the discernment of church officials. One of the most important reasons, developed at some length by political philosophers and ecclesiologists such as Rosmini, is simply that the discernment of the best person available to fulfil a certain office and function is best carried out through a free and public discussion of all the members concerned – where all data, insights, judgements of fact and judgement of value can emerge and be critically assessed – followed by an election . (27)

But there are other reasons just as fundamental. To deny that the discernment of those members most apt to be church officials can be done by the local community and that accordingly it should be its own inalienable responsibility, means to deny the faithful the possibility of giving a responsible consent to the choice and appointment of office-holders: and that means, in turn, to deny them the possibility of cooperating responsibly, not only to the choice of officials but also to the policies and orientation for common action they will devise. It is therefore quite correct to underscore that the primary objection to any centralized system of appointment disregarding subsidiarity is moral – as Pope Pius XI did when he first formulated that principle 28 – rather than pragmatic or based on considerations of efficiency.

Again, the community’s consent is required not only for the jurisdictional authority – which is natural and delegated by the community – but also for the sacramental authority – despite its supernatural character – because in both cases what the candidate to office/ordination will fulfil is a (jurisdictional/spiritual) service offered to free, intelligent and responsible individuals (a service which is imposed on unwilling subjects would be nothing but coercion), and as such it must rely on the consent of those to whom it is offered.

Finally, such a consent, as noted, takes the form of a reasonable and responsible delegation which may be expressed by means of an election or by other institutional procedures. However structured, such a procedure should respect subsidiarity, that is the inalienable responsibility of each level, from the individual upwards, to determine both what is within and what is beyond the possibilities of one’s competences and charisms.

Again, the consent must not only be free, but also informed and thus responsible: and yet it cannot be such if the selection procedure is badly devised, and thus [1] does not sufficiently allow for information-gathering and assessing, that is the two necessary steps for an informed and thus responsible decision; [2] disregards subsidiarity by taking away the inalienable responsibility of those concerned to select for themselves as an authority the person(s) they deem most appropriate on the basis of their competence. Yet, the current system of episcopal appointments in the RC Church does not envisage any public discussion and largely deprives the local church of its inalienable responsibility to select for itself an overseer. Ninety-nine per cent of the faithful of a local church are routinely excluded from having any significant role in the discernment process, and their inalienable responsibility to discern and choose for themselves an authority disregarded. This would not be the case if church officials were authorized by the community or its democratically elected representatives which, by recognizing their God-given charisma or humanly developed skill/expertise, would also delimit their area of competence. Authority, whether sacramental or jurisdictional, does not come automatically from intellectual and moral competence/ divinely bestowed charism, much less from the office itself. Rather, it comes from the (attentive, intelligent, reasonable and responsible) consent given to the perceived (intellectual and moral) competence/charism of someone and the consequent decision, if need be, to appoint/ordain him/her (compare 5.5). This is analogous to the distinction between the legitimacy and legitimation of authority: one must distinguish the legitimacy (i.e. authenticity) of the ‘empowerment from above’, of the divinely bestowed ‘sacramental power to mediate grace’ – or, more scripturally, of those charisms supernatural in origins – per se , from the legitimation to exercise it, which requires discernment followed by consent. If even Jesus did not force his divine authority on anybody, but rather subjected his teaching to the acceptance of all people of good will, how much more should any authority in the church do the same, and thus legitimize its exercise by the consent of the faithful it is supposed to serve.

The affirmation that any authority in the church is ultimately based on the consent of the community (if not always, with regard to its origins, at the very least with regard to its legitimate exercise) is implicit in the substantive conclusion that several theologians have reached: ‘ordination’/appointment to church ministry should be understood as the public and official reception by the community of a God-given charism/humanly acquired skill in someone willing to put that talent at the service of his/her community. 29 As Miroslav Volf put it:

Ordination is the (provisional) conclusion to the explicit and formal ecclesial reception of the charismata of office whose beginning is represented by the election of officeholders, a reception that is meaningful, however, only as the continuation of the perpetual, ongoing process of informal reception. The conscious election of officeholders should be understood as one moment in this complex process of reception. Charismatic grounding of office thus does not contradict participation of the whole congregation in the election of officeholders, nor is it merely neutral with regard to participation, but rather calls for such participation. (30)

This means that, even when the candidate is not elected directly by the community, but is rather put forward for their consideration by their representatives, the community’s consent is ultimately required for the office-holder to be legitimate and enjoy de facto authority. (31)

That ecclesial authority is based on consent should be emphasized as a key insight of ecclesiology. Already Conciliarist theologians and canonists had done so most clearly and convincingly, and yet there seems to be a trans-denominational reticence among contemporary ecclesiologists to spell it out clearly. Still, the remarkable convergence of Scripture, tradition and reason outlined above strongly suggests that, for all intents and purposes, the discernment, selection and appointment of church officials should occur democratically – the object of such a discernment being the possession of the relevant competence(s) for the job, whether humanly acquired skills and/or divinely bestowed charisms.

6.4 Centralization of Competences in the Roman Catholic Church

Granted that legitimate ecclesial authorities should be established through responsible delegation – ordinarily under the form of an electoral procedure – it is necessary to examine whether the moral norms for such a delegation and, more in general, for the individual’s subordination to an authority to be responsible are respected within contemporary RC ecclesiology. Let us recall them briefly.

The foundational principle is that it is the inalienable responsibility of each decisional level, from the individual upward, to determine the limits, extent and domain of what falls within its operational range, and what instead can only be decided and achieved by cooperation. Only and exclusively a responsible delegation creates legitimate authority (the adjectives here are crucial). A delegation is responsible only if it is motivated by a judgement on the greater accuracy of someone else’s capacity for evaluation and action in comparison with one’s own. It is, accordingly, the delegants – from the individual upwards – who have the inalienable responsibility of determining the limits, extent and domains of delegation and thus of the delegates’ authority. (32) In this regard it should be recalled what can. 133 §1 of the CIC affirms generally with regard to delegation: ‘A delegate who exceeds the limits of the mandate, with regard either to things or to persons, performs no act at all.’

We can now move to inquire whether the current organization of the Roman Catholic Church respects such steps for a responsible delegation to authority, which are also ethical norms necessary for cooperation to be moral. It is fairly evident that the answer must be negative, due to a twofold centralization which disregards each of the main points above. The first is a centralization of competences: the monarchical authority exercised by the hierarchy is conceived as including each and all domains of church life: it is omnicompetent. The second is the centralization resulting from the disregard of the normative limit subsidiarity imposes on authority, namely that of only acting on those issues which are judged by the lower level as beyond its range.

At the level of theory, both centralizations are the consequence of the RC Church’s continuing acceptance of the traditional argument in favour of absolute monarchical government: namely, that for the unity – and ultimately very existence – of a society, the latter must be structured under a unique, indivisible, supreme authority (see 2.5 and 5.7–5.9). (33) That such an authority must encompass all domains of action is also often assumed, despite the fact that it does not follow necessarily from the above. Such an understanding of authority made more sense before the early modern time, when the organization of civil society (in its various forms of empire, kingdom, city-state, etc.), was understood as having a very limited agenda, essentially restricted to defending the internal and the external peace. (34) As I have argued earlier (5.8), such a conception has undergone a radical development in political philosophy, due both to the vast acceleration of the process of social differentiation and specialization since the Industrial Revolution, and to the great expansion of the operational range of the modern state.

As with the process of desacralization of authority, so also with regard to its process of decentralization ecclesiology – in its RC variety at least – appears to lag behind political philosophy. Many of Vatican II’s central ecclesiological tenets are still clearly based on the traditional reasoning concerning the necessity of a single authority for the unity and existence of a community: for instance, that ‘the Roman Pontiff, as the Successor of Peter, is the perpetual and visible source and foundation’ of the unity of the bishops; and that, in turn, ‘The individual bishops [. . .] are the visible principle and foundation of unity in their particular churches’ ( LG §23). More recent magisterial pronouncements are on the same line:

the ordered hierarchical communion of all the Bishops, successors of the Apostles, with the Successor of Peter, [is] a guarantee of the unity of the faith and life of all Catholics. It is therefore indispensable, for the unity of the Church in individual nations, that every Bishop should be in communion with the other Bishops, and that all should be in visible and concrete communion with the Pope. (35)

And again, ‘the profound unity which binds together the particular Churches [. . .] throughout the world, has its roots not only in the same faith and in a common Baptism, but above all in the Eucharist and in the episcopate.’ (36) Apparently, a common fund of shared experiences (and primarily the experience of the Spirit), meanings, values and goals, is either insufficient or unnecessary in that regard: the unity and thus ultimately existence of a community (or collegial body) is understood as warranted both sufficiently and necessarily by a unique monarchical authority. (37) Yet the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians: ‘I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought’ (1 Cor. 1.10; compare Rom. 15.5-6; 2 Cor. 13.11; Eph. 4.3; Phil. 2.2, 4.2). That passage assumes that unity is brought about by agreement, consensus, being of one mind; and its very character as a plea rather than a command underlines the impossibility of bringing it about through authority – unless one misunderstands the latter with coercion.

And so we reach the indivisibility principle of (jurisdictional) power in contemporary RC ecclesiology. (38) That assumption is also, as Ladislas Örsy observed, the reason for the position that ‘non-ordained persons can only cooperate with the power of governance but not participate in it’, and that, conversely, the ordained cannot delegate jurisdictional power to laypeople. (39) While controversial, such a stance is the one accepted and practiced by the current RC establishment. (40)

As for the tenet concerning the omnicompetence of such an authority, it does not seem to be, as noted, a necessary logical consequence of its being unique and indivisible. However, it may be implicit in that pervasive theological current which has been arguing since the Middle Ages that there is an indissoluble link between sacramental/spiritual and jurisdictional/administrative authority. According to this view, only and exclusively the clerical hierarchy of the ordained can exercise jurisdictional power within the church.

This means that the hierarchy possesses an ultimate and exclusive responsibility both over all functions of authority itself (e.g. the legislative, executive, judicial) and over all aspects of church action (not only the primary and in itself enormous domain of evangelization – which includes informing with the gospel both individuals, and the economic, social, political and cultural structures – but also the other domains of financial administration, charitable work, theological research and teaching, preaching, catechetical formation and so on). On this basis, the official post-Tridentine RC ecclesiology has advanced in both theory and practice a growing centralization of competences.

Yet, analogously to what has already happened in political philosophy, ecclesiology too has been undergoing for some time now a process of progressive abandonment of the twin tenets concerning the unicity and omnicompetence of authority respectively.

I have already recalled in the previous chapter a first element which has contributed to disproving the necessity for a unique, indivisible, supreme and all-encompassing (papal) authority. I am referring to the unsuccessfulness and eventual rejection of papal claims of authority over the temporal domain (5.7). The acknowledgement that the temporal authorities are independent and supreme in their own domain of competence was already suggested in the reflections by mediaeval theologians on the real secular authority of non-Christian, pagan kingdoms, and then explicitly and officially acknowledged by Roman Catholicism in many eighteenth and nineteenth centuries concordats between the papacy and European states, and eventually at Vatican II. (41) The latter was to clarify the issue even further, by observing that the evangelization of the world, including of course its social and political domains, is the primary and distinctive responsibility of the laity, and not of the hierarchy ( GS §43). That implies a division of competences even within the church and the recognition, if only in theory, of distinct authorities in it, to the extent that the laity is acknowledged as being ordinarily autonomous and independent from the hierarchy in their own specific domain. Another element contributing to the abandonment of the construal of authority as necessarily unique and omnicompetent is the decline of the traditional view that there is an indissoluble link between the sacramental and jurisdictional powers. Not that such a position had ever been uncontroversial: quite the contrary, it has been contending for centuries against the opposite stance for which sacramental and jurisdictional authorities can be distinguished at the level of theory because they can and have been separated at the level of practice. (42) In the post-Vatican II period, this debate has continued unabated; (43) it seems, however, that despite the fact that the 1983 code of Canon law appears to support the intrinsic union of jurisdictional and sacramental powers (can. §129 44 ), it is the contrary view which is supported by the most data, both scriptural and historical.

For the construal of a unified sacra potestas encompassing both jurisdictional and sacramental powers makes two important assumptions which need to be tested. First, is the existence of a sacramental power to mediate grace consistent with the New Testament? The letter to the Hebrews explicitly argues against the need for a priestly caste with exclusive powers to mediate the divine. Indeed, both the language of ‘clergy’ and ‘laity’ and the corresponding realities are relatively late innovations, unknown and arguably contrary to the NT (see below, Section 6.6). (45) In any case, not even after the introduction of that distinction between the two genera of Christians – laity and clergy – does the ecclesial tradition support the exclusion of the laity from the power of governance: quite the contrary in fact, given the innumerable historical instances witnessing the exercise of jurisdictional authority within the church by laypeople, both men and women. (46)

Second, is a decision-making authority over all areas of church life consistent with the New Testament evidence? As I will argue in more details later (6.6), the chief element suggesting a negative answer is Paul’s insistence about the necessity of a division of labor based on a functional differentiation of charisms (1 Cor. 12). Accordingly, as Hans Küng has suggested concerning the function of church leadership:

The administrative ministry in the Church claims essentially not to be an autocratic form of management which would like to absorb the other functions; it is placed among a multiplicity of diverse functions and charisms; its task is to stimulate, co-ordinate and integrate; it serves the communities and the other ministries, whether those are permanent (catechists, administrators, social workers, various help services, and theologians),or not (visitors’ groups, individuals, and so on). . . . It is not necessary that the president or the community leader should be at the same time a wise theologian, and a counsellor who has had a psychological training, and an expert fi nancier, and a teacher. . . . There is no individual set of abilities that in these days of increasingly specialized requirements, could possibly bear them all, since they always make specialized demands. Now and again, several functions may be united in one individual, and the situation is not always avoidable in actuality; but in principle an accumulation of functions is to be avoided. (47)

6.5 The Relationship between έπισκοπή and Specialized Ministries/ Authorities in the Christian Community

Could, then, such a centralized authority of coordination have decision-making power to dictate policies in every area of church life? That would include financial administration; theological education/teaching/research; preaching, liturgy and other pastoral activities; social and charitable work; the vast work entailed by divinely mandated mission of total evangelization – that is informing with the gospels not only individuals, but also societies and cultures – with all the problems that raises, in the various fields from bioethics to economics.

The obvious problem is that in order for any Christian – including those exercising έπισκοπή – to pass (theologically informed) ethical judgements on technical issues such as those arising in medicine, the environment, the social and economic systems, or even only the fi nancial administration of church assets, specialized knowledge is necessary. (48) But despite ecclesial policymaking being faced with the very same problem as its civil counterpart concerning how to use expertise without forgoing common values and falling into a technocracy, ecclesiologists made relatively little progress in that regard.

By far the most common solution suggested by RC ecclesiologists since Vatican II has consisted not in denying the existence of a centralized hierarchy with exclusive and absolute prerogative for the exercise of jurisdictional and decision-making power over all areas of church life, but rather in insisting that the laity be allowed to participate in the decisions of the episcopal hierarchy. The latter should be bound, morally and perhaps even canonically, to ‘consult’ the church – its general public opinion, relevant experts, or both. (49) [As purely consultative, the role of the non-ordained would not be a real ‘participation’ or sharing in church governance, and would accordingly preserve the clerical hierarchy’s exclusive responsibility in that regard. (50)] In other words, much of the current ecclesiological discussion on the issue of church governance starts by implicitly presupposing the existence of a class of policymakers (i.e. the bishops) with decision-making authority over all the numerous specialized areas of church life, and then attempts to work out how best to make them exploit the relevant specialized expertise and wisdom scattered in their Christian communities. Hence the most they have managed to do has been to insist that bishops should inform themselves before choosing, and so consult the relevant experts whenever needed. (51) Furthermore, often their suggestion does not go beyond leaving bishops full discretion with regard to whom to consult, and whether or not to accept their expert advice. (52)

Yet to frame the issue as that of making sure that those who decide in a community first inform themselves is somewhat a truism. The contribution of political philosophy can, once again, prove illuminating. As I have argued (5.9), in the civil community the purpose of political authority is not that of micro-managing and carrying out the tasks distinctive of a community’s specialized structures of knowledge and evaluation: that would require an almost omnicompetent authority. Rather, it is primarily that of making decisions that determine the general direction of common action on the basis of the delegating community’s scale of values and priorities . But with regard to the various expertises necessary for making those decisions, the political authority must defer, as a matter of moral duty (which should be made legally compulsory), to the relevant specialized authorities.

Exactly the same would apply to the authority of έπισκοπή in the Christian churches. Analogously to the political authority in civil society, έπισκοπή would have two main functions. One would be that of overseeing – as distinct from micro-managing – the procedural correctness of those which are recognized to be the community’s specialized authorities. The other would be that of deciding and guiding the common action of the community in agreement with the latter’s distinctive scale of values and goals.

Such policymaking, of course, requires of έπισκοπή that it exploit the findings of the specialized authorities within the Christian community. To do so έπισκοπή (which cannot normally possess all the expertise needed to plan and decide common policies) must defer to the relevant specialized authorities as a matter of moral duty, by means of the legal institutionalization of binding forms of collaboration (either by consultation or by delegation) with the Christian community’s specialized authorities – including its structures of knowledge and evaluation such as universities, think tanks and so on. Their responses, reports and even decisions should be required before the authority of έπισκοπή (I do not say ‘episcopal authority’, given the excessively centralized power that expression conveys in most mainstream Christian churches) could make a decision.

This is not sufficiently stressed by the CIC currently in force, which simply affirms that ‘According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, [all faithful] have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church’ (can. 212 §3). There is a very subtle but nonetheless real difference between affirming that, in the contemporary highly complex and differentiated societies, specialized authorities should ‘convince’ whoever is delegated with the authority of planning and deciding common policies to consult or delegate to them those tasks requiring specialized competence, and saying that according to the way we come to know and decide, whoever exercises policymaking authority– in the Christian church, arguably the authority of έπισκοπή – has, just like anybody else, a moral duty of deferring to specialized authorities with regard to everything lying within the latter’s expertise.

The exploitation of expert or specialized authorities would not translate into an ecclesial technocracy, if the subsidiarity principle is preserved according to which it is the community who sets standards of expertise, and proceeds to recognize and delegate individuals or groups with relevant specialized competences to deal with particular issues requiring such expertise. The Christian community should identify and officially recognize within itself authorities in the fields of (bio)ethics, economics and social work, politics, ecumenism, interreligious dialogue and so on, which would be both knowledgeable in the relevant field and cognizant of the gospel values, and would accordingly be committed to informing the former with the latter. Expert authorities would enjoy autonomous and supreme decision-making power but only, of course, in that particular field in which they are recognized and trusted as authorities by the delegants (see 5.6 and 5.9). In addition to this, as noted, an effort should always be made to translate technical problems into commonsense language, so that technical findings and proposals be made available for public discussion at large, thus implementing a synergy of public debate and expert decision-making. Finally, the danger of rule by experts is tempered by the fact that, while laypersons may not be able to directly assess the expert authorities, nonetheless the use of expert knowledge and findings is always shaped by and subject to the shared values and priorities of the (majority of) the community.

An example of the difficulty, within the RC Church, of coordinating the supreme authority of έπισκοπή with the output of specialized authorities within that community occurred in the late sixties with regard to the issue of contraception. At that time, for the first time the papacy instituted an experts’ commission on the topic, with a view to expound the Christian approach to that issue and, by the same token, also offer some official guidelines for the Catholic faithful. (53) The commission gathered Catholic experts in the various relevant fields (medicine, psychology, etc., as well as, of course, theology), made also sure to consult widely married laypeople by means of questionnaire polls, and then, by majority vote, gave its official advice against the maintenance of an absolute ban on contraceptive methods. So far so good, for in the perspective of what said above, a similar process – one involving a synergy of free public debate and expert/specialized knowledge – is the correct way of addressing complex problems, and should therefore be legally institutionalized so that its results would be binding on the decision-maker, lest the whole procedure is rendered pointless.

However, this latter possibility is evidenced precisely by our example where, in effect, the commission had the status of the erstwhile counsellors of the prince: it was the deliberating authority itself which would choose, at its complete discretion, when and whom to consult, and whether or not to accept their advice which, as purely consultative, was in no way binding. In that particular case, the result was that the advice of the commission was disregarded.

A major problem in RC ecclesiology, then, is precisely its justification of an absolutist centralization of all powers into a hierarchy which is not legally bound to defer to the specialized competences as an unavoidable moral requirement. Even today, the acknowledgement of the role of specific authorities is often impeded by the old prejudice, dominant for so many centuries, that authority is essentially non-divisible, and thus unique, supreme, omnicompetent and not subject to any control. The hierarchy’s refusal to accept that deferring to such specialized competences is a moral requirement which they cannot bypass finds its key theological justification – complementing the discredited philosophical one on the unicity of authority – from their belief in being endowed with a certain ‘ charisma veritatis ’ (charism of truth), which would obviate the hard work of coming to know in favour of direct inspiration from God. (54) Yet direct inspiration from God of the hierarchy has been explicitly rejected by both Vatican councils, (55) and however the charisma veritatis is interpreted, it is well understood that it can only be some sort of assistance in the fulfilment of the via humana , the human way of coming to know and deciding, perfecting rather than superseding it. (56)

Now, our understanding of the via humana has increased remarkably during the last two centuries on the wake of the development of critical historical studies, hermeneutics and the human sciences more in general. Specifically, with regard to theology, the via humana requires undergoing the very same methodical steps – research (archaeological, philological, literary, etc.); exegesis/ interpretation; historical reconstruction; critical assessment of opposed interpretations/historical reconstructions – which Lonergan detailed as necessary before a correct understanding of doctrines can be attained and, if need be, an official, dogmatic formulation expressed. (57) Lonergan dubbed such steps ‘functional specialties’, to highlight that they are carried out using different specialized methods, each reaching distinctive conclusions which must be taken into account by the others, in an ongoing and cumulative process. Now, it is evident that as exegesis cannot ignore but indeed must defer to new archaeological or philological findings by the relevant experts, so must history do with regard to exegesis, and systematic theology with regard to the findings of all the previous specialties. Analogously, any teacher in the church – including bishops and popes – cannot ignore but on the contrary must defer to the results of the different expert authorities in the several specialized fields constituting a comprehensive theological method. Differently put, to the extent that the magisterium does not enjoy constant private revelations but must, just like all common mortals, follow the methodical order of the functional specialties in retrieving the revelatory meaning in Scripture, tradition and reason, to that extent it depends on the experts dedicated to such an enterprise – primarily, but by no means exclusively, exegetes, historians of Christianity and systematic theologians.

Richard McCormick is among the contemporary RC theologians who has insisted the most that the specialized research and findings of the theologian ‘is a necessary pre-requisite for the proper (contemporary and persuasive) expression of the faith by hierarchical leaders’, and so in that sense the theologian ‘educates the hierarchical magisterium’. (58) However, and the point is crucial, this affirmation should be extended to all Christian experts in all the sundry areas of church life and mission: evangelization and charitable work; ecumenism and interreligious dialogue; bioethics and social justice. Rather than an absolute (papal) monarchy, then, the Christian polity might more helpfully be conceived as encompassing a network of autonomous yet mutually dependent specialized authorities, each recognized as competent in only one area among the innumerable ones comprising the vast mission of informing with the gospel not only the variety of human beings in their many historical and sociocultural contexts, but also the very sociocultural structures which so much influence exert on our intellectual, moral and spiritual development.

6.6 The Pauline Endorsement of the Ecclesial Division of Labour and His Rejection of Mono-ministry

The understanding of a pluralism of parallel, autonomous yet cooperating authorities – and the consequent rejection of the necessity of a unique, supreme and all-encompassing authority – appears to agree with the scriptural evidence. For nowhere does the latter envisage, and much less does it mandate, a class exercising a monopoly of jurisdictional authority in the community. Indeed, as James D. G. Dunn observed, ‘[T]he idea of mono-ministry or ministerial autocracy – that is, of all the most important gifts concentrated on one man (even an apostle) or in a select group – is one which Paul dismissed with some ridicule’ (59) in 1 Cor. 12, esp. vv. 29-30.

It cannot be sufficiently stressed how Paul’s ecclesiological principle that nobody can possess all competences or charisms – something which implicitly discards the possibility of delegating authority over all areas to any one person or group alone – is foundational to any social ethics concerned with the morality of cooperation. Its centrality is highlighted precisely by the fact that it is one of the only two explicitly political principles unambiguously advanced in the entire NT – the other being that concerning the exercise of ecclesial authority as service rather than dominion (treated in Section 6.7 below).

If 1 Cor. 12 is the most explicit NT affirmation of the principle of the division of labour in the Christian community, Acts 6.2 might be its most famous application: the expression used by the Twelve (i.e. ‘ ούκ άρεστόν έστιν ’, that is, ‘It is not fitting’, ‘commendable’ or ‘reasonable’) appears to signify that serving at the tables is inappropriate for those charged with the unrelated task of proclaiming the Good News. (60) The episode suggests that no necessary link existed between the many different competences required by church life. As the Twelve, so too apostles, teachers, preachers and more in general all ministers in the church were not thereby also granted authority over issues beyond the specialized function detailed by their very title. (The fact should also be noted that – as observed by Luke Timothy Johnson – Paul always treats the various ministries and charisms, including leadership, ‘in purely functional terms, without providing any theological legitimation in its support’, (61) in contrast with what will become the norm later, with the appeal to divine right very much the chief justification for the institutional status quo .)

1 Cor. 12 and Acts 6.2 also imply that the chief reason for appointing someone as an authority in his/her own field was the possession of the relevant competence(s) (and I include here both humanly achieved and divinely bestowed skills/charisms). (62) This remains true, even though the consensual acknowledgement that a person had authority – and so, often enough, his/her consequent appointment to office – depended not only on its recognized competence but also on the socially accepted (hence consensual) criteria such as the importance of honour, patronage and the patriarchal organization of the household. (63) Within the limits, then, of the already accepted patterns of cooperation and authority, it was ordinarily the community which would authoritatively discern and select suitable people to carry out administrative or spiritual tasks on its behalf (3.2). In this way the potential pool of possessors of such human skills or infused charisms was not arbitrarily and a priori limited to a separate caste of those who had been enabled through ordination to accomplish certain functions.

We touch here the related issue concerning a key aspect of current RC ecclesiology: namely the concentration of all jurisdictional power over all areas of church life and action in a clerical and patriarchal hierarchy. This goes against the Pauline insistence that there must be a division of labour based on competence/ charism.

It also ignores that, nowhere in the NT is a separate sacerdotal class – that is one mediating between the divine and Christians/human beings in general – regarded as desirable – never mind necessary. On the contrary, and quite significantly, several passages explicitly reject it. This is most clear in Hebrews (esp. 4.14 and 8.1) and 1 Pet. 2.9; and as noted, Paul’s ecclesiology appears likewise to exclude it. As James Dunn forcefully put it:

It has never failed to astonish me that a principle so clearly formulated could be so blatantly ignored or side-stepped by those who insist that nevertheless, despite Hebrews, an order of priesthood is necessary within Christianity. To use Hebrews 5.1 to justify or explain Christian priesthood, as Vatican II does, while ignoring the thrust and argument of the Letter as a whole is a form of eisegesis which ranks more as abuse than as correct use of Scripture. Similarly the argument that the function of Christian priests is to represent the one true priesthood of Christ reads more like a rationalization than a justification. And since it interposes once again a mediator of grace between believer and God, when the concern of Hebrews was to convince his readers that such mediation was no longer necessary, it can hardly look for support to Hebrews in good faith. Mormons who operate with two orders of priesthood, the Aaronic and the Melchizedek, seem to have misunderstood the argument of the Letter still more. But the mistake is basically the same. What price the canonical authority of Hebrews when one of its principal concerns is treated so casually and twisted to serve a variation of the very case it was written to oppose? (64)

In the current RC theology, a central raison d’etre of the ‘ordained’, making their existence as a separate priestly class of Christians necessary, is that they are the only ones to be divinely empowered to preside over the most important sacrament, namely the Eucharist. But, once again, such exclusivism is at odds with the earliest scriptural and traditional testimony, according to which a variety of people are reported to have presided over the common Eucharistic meals: most importantly, prophets, teachers and house-church patrons. (65) And because there is unambiguous scriptural as well as historical (66) evidence that all such roles have been fulfilled by women, it is almost certain that women who were apostles (Junia in Rom. 16.7, according to the majority of exegetes), prophets (Acts 21.9; 1 Cor. 11.5), teachers (Acts 18.26; see 1 Tim. 2.12) or house-church patrons, (67) would have not only taught but also presided at Eucharistic meals. (68)

In short if, for simplicity’s sake, we anachronistically apply to the early church the language of sacramental and jurisdictional powers, it would be safe to affirm that throughout a few post-apostolic generations at least, all Christians, women included, could be delegated authority to fulfil specific functions of both an administrative and a sacramental nature – including those who were later to be ordinarily reserved to a special class or ordo of Christians, the clergy: preaching, teaching, baptizing and even Eucharistic presidency (69) – on behalf of the community and for the sake of its evangelizing mission. (70)

To sum up: 1 Cor. 12 suggests that authorities in the Christian community, just like in the human community, are such in the specialized domain only in which they are recognized as being competent. There can, of course, be ecclesial officials exercising a general, political authority of έπισκοπή : however, rather than being all- encompassing, such an authority should only extend to the domain of the subsidiary coordination for unity, while deferring to the specialized authorities in their areas of expertise.

6.7 Micro-management and the Disregard for Subsidiarity in the Roman Catholic Church

We come here to the second centralization plaguing contemporary RC ecclesiology. Defined negatively, it is the one resulting from the disregard of subsidiarity, and defined positively, it is known as micro-management. We see such a dysfunctional disregard of subsidiarity in several elements of the current constitution of the RC Church. A central one is the centralized appointment of bishops worldwide by the pope – a procedure which took place gradually only since the mid-nineteenth century. Another vast field where micromanagement is most evident concerns liturgical translations, customs and more in general local evangelization and the inculturation of the gospel. Those as well as analogous areas of micro-management in the RC Church depend on and are justified by the definition of the powers of bishops as stated by the crucial canon 381 §1 of the 1983 CIC : ‘A diocesan bishop in the diocese entrusted to him has all ordinary, proper, and immediate power which is required for the exercise of his pastoral function except for cases which the law or a decree of the Supreme Pontiff reserves to the supreme authority or to another ecclesiastical authority ’ (my emphasis). (71)

Yet, according to the understandings of delegation, subsidiarity and the division of competences offered earlier, it is always the inalienable responsibility of each decisional level from the individual upward , to determine the extent and limits of what is one’s responsibility to decide and act, and what is instead better delegated to the higher authority – not the other way around. In agreement with subsidiarity, the authority of office-holders must be understood as a subsidiary ‘coordination’ which, rather than entailing some sort of intrusive micromanagement of the decisions and actions lying within the operational range of the individuals or the lower levels (negative prescription), is to be understood as limited to those decisions and actions only which individuals and lower levels have deemed beyond their reach and for which they require accordingly the help and cooperation of the wider community (positive prescription).

Now, both the negative and the positive aspects of this understanding of authority resonate with some important NT data we have on the subject. The NT passages on ecclesial ‘authority’ ordinarily quoted by ecclesiologists (esp. Mt. 20.24-7, 23.8-12; Mk 10.42-44; Lk. 22.26; Jn 13.1-17; 1 Pet. 5.3 and 2 Cor. 1.24) repeatedly distinguish between two conflicting understanding of authority: a negative one, ‘to lord it over’, against which the NT repeatedly warns, and a prescriptive one, ‘ διακονία ’ or service. The former understanding appears to exclude the possibility for authority to micro-manage (‘lord it over’) in violation of the principle of subsidiarity.

On the other hand, the positive ‘service’ authority provides is made more explicit by Paul as that of ‘equipping the saints’ or perhaps, as a possible alternative translation goes, as ‘bringing the saints to maturity’ (Eph. 4.12): (72) whatever the interpretation, it is plausible to infer that Paul understands the function of authority as supplying what enables lower levels to perform at best (which is precisely the most relevant meaning of the Greek καταρτισμός , from the verb καταρτίζω : ‘make whole or perfect’, also used to refer to moral and spiritual maturation (73), that which can be further specified in light of the analysis so far as the function of deciding and coordinating the implementation of only what individuals and lower levels have deemed beyond their reach and for which they accordingly require the help and cooperation of the wider community. It has been noted

that the goal of the ‘apostolic ministry’ is ‘the responsible community’ and also the ‘organization of the community’ (see 1 Cor. 14). The Pauline ideal of the Christian community does not consist in making believers dependent on the ecclesiastical office, but in assisting them towards their own responsibility and independence as self-accountable Christians (see 1 Cor. 3.1-4.) (74)

Arguably, resistance in the RC Church to the application of subsidiarity and to the reform of its absolutist polity largely derives from the fear that to do so would contradict the dogmatically defined immediate, universal and ordinary jurisdiction of the pope. Yet such a fear is mistaken, at least to the extent that they would not abolish such a jurisdiction, but simply restrict it to exceptional cases. (75) Again, subsidiarity remains the only solution to the unresolved issue of the two overlapping jurisdictions of the local bishop and the pope respectively. (76) The acknowledgement of the importance of subsidiarity, and its consequent implementation in the RC Church, would eliminate centralism, while the recognition of the unfeasibility of an omnicompetent authority would eliminate the main source of clericalism.

It is worth drawing out explicitly some implications of what has been said so far which contrast with the current RC organization, even if that will entail some repetition. As elected representatives of the community, the only role of the έπίσκοποι /bishops should be that of determining the church’s policies in its various domains of action: the ecclesial, economic, social, political and cultural. To do so requires discerning Christian solutions to the ecclesial, economic, social, political, cultural and spiritual problems hindering God’s kingdom on earth. With regard to such a discernment, bishops are not given solutions from above; rather, they should first defer to the relevant expert authorities whenever needed, and only then choose among the technically feasible alternatives on the basis of the needs, desires, priorities and goals of the majority of the community they represent and serve.

That should be the only role for the authority of έπισκοπή in the church. It is easyto understand why it is not the task of such an authority to originate, carry out, setor otherwise control specialized research – whether in theology or in any other field.Quite simply, έπίσκοποι would not possess as such the relevant knowledge: not by divine infusion, much less in virtue of their office. For the same reason, έπίσκοποι should be neither the exclusive nor even the primary ‘authentic’ interpreters of revelation in general and Scripture in particular. Indeed, they would not even be suited to adjudicate between different scriptural interpretations. For the authentic interpretation of Scripture is a cooperative enterprise requiring both specialized competences (e.g. knowledge of ancient languages, societies, cultures) and a moral as well as spiritual sensibility. ’Επισκοπή/bishops would not ordinarily have the former, nor would they have any exclusive possession of the latter, which is distributed through the entire community. Hence, the process for such a discernment should ideally include first the peer-review of scholarly research, and then its ‘reception’ by the community through a process of free and public discussion. Any authority or ‘constitutional court’ which might be set up to adjudicate different interpretations of revelation could only act towards the end of such a process (and so must suspend judgement until such end is in sight), and even then its role will ordinarily be to endorse the position which will have won the assent of the church at large. (77) Rosemary Radford Ruether is among those who have long advanced something similar:

We need to be serious about shaping the kind of consultation with all the sources of authority – Scripture and tradition, theological and social experts and the experience of the people – from which credible teaching can emerge. It is then the job of the hierarchy to enunciate, not to originate, this consensus of the church. (78)

This is not to assume that the community will never go astray: rather, it simply affirms the community’s ultimate responsibility to test everything and hold fast to what is good (1 Thess. 5.21). This applies both to ecclesial policies decided by those officials who exercise έπισκοπή as representatives of the Christian community, and to the insights and opinions advanced by its scholars (including theologians), whose soundness will be likewise tested through free and public discussion.

In this connection, the reintroduction of episcopal elections has the potential to yield three results: to enable the expression of the sensus fidelium; to render the episcopal body more representative of the mind of the church universal and to foster ecclesial unity and thus a readier and better involvement and cooperation between the laity and their pastors. In effect, far from promoting the unity of the church, Catholic bishops might today be fostering its break-down, not directly, but indirectly, because of their little representativeness of their diocesans. For ‘the bishop can be a source of unity in [his] church only because he genuinely and legitimately represents it’.(79) To be representative, the bishop must share and faithfully reflect his diocesans’ distinctively Christian experiences, insights, judgements of facts, values and goals: and to the extent that he does not, he is a scandal against rather than an instrument of unity.(80) I have already quoted, in this connection, Nicholas Lash’s observation that the curial appeal to the doctrine of infallibility to vindicate the pope’s unilateral closure of a question still debated by the wider church is a ‘scandalous abuse of power’. (81) Clearly, the unrepresentativeness of bishops in general and popes in particular heightens the probabilities of such abuses happening. In contrast, Vatican II asked for the cooptation of diocesan bishops into curial departments precisely because ‘they will be able to report more fully to the supreme pontiff the thinking, the desires, and the needs of all the churches’.(82)

An elected and representative authority of έπισκοπή such as the one outlined above could very well be monarchical without thereby being anti-democratic and inappropriately centralized. As John De Gruchy observed: ‘If hierarchy were an expression of ministerial representation within the church understood as the whole people of God ( laos ), then many would agree with P. T. Forsyth, the Congregationalist theologian, who argued that there is “no ultimate incompatibility between episcopacy and Congregational principles”.’ (83)

Conversely, to the extent that the current structural outline of the RC Churchdoes not respect the norms for the individual’s cooperation in the common action of a community to be responsible, it is irresponsible and thus potentially immoral by the very standard of the principle of subsidiarity for the individual Catholic to cooperate in the common action of their local church – whether by contributing time, skill or money.

Consider for example the morality of donating money, which is a form of cooperation in the common action of the group, for money funds collaborative projects. Following the scriptural witness in Acts, as well as the above-mentioned philosophical insights into the morality of cooperation, in the Christian church temporal goods belong to the whole community, and so does their administration. In the current RC Church, with regard to the financial administration, canon law apparently allows self-determination: it affirms that dioceses and each parish within a diocese own their own lands, buildings and money, and have a fair amount of autonomy in financial administration – the diocese in particular having virtually no external or regulatory oversight of its financial statements. (84)

Yet the affirmation that the local church own its own assets risks becoming void to the extent that, according to the canon law currently in force, the bishop is the only person ultimately and exclusively responsible for the financial administration of those assets. Additional circumstances make the irresponsibility and thus potential immorality of cooperating financially to one’s RC parish and diocese under the current legal ordering particularly evident: namely, that the bishop is not canonically required to be an expert in financial administration, cannot be expected to be able to elaborate single-handedly the future policies and courses of action to be taken in concert by the local church and, last but not least, is not even legally bound to take into account the analysis of the only expert financial body canon law prescribes at the diocesan level – namely the finance council (can. 492) – unless for amounts of money exceeding a certain limit, which varies from national church to national church (in the United States, it is $1 million for dioceses with more than 500,000 Catholics, and $500,000 for smaller dioceses, see can. 1295). In addition, there are not legal provisions to make such financial decisions open and transparent, a lack which already Antonio Rosmini forcefully denounced more than a century and a half ago. (85) The problem is compounded by the bishop’s virtual lack of accountability for how he administers the assets of his church. Conversely, the donors – and more in general the whole community,to which, it is crucial to remember, ecclesial assets belong – have legally no say on how the money are to be spent. This means that their money may be used for purposes or projects which they deem (and may well objectively be) inappropriate, mistaken or even immoral, without them having the possibility of doing anything about it.(86) And the possibilities of that happening are far from remote for, as noted, the system does not provide legal norms binding the only decision-maker (i.e. the bishop) to be an expert on policymaking and economic administration, nor does it provide any legal warranties that both bind him to consult the competent person(s), and make him accountable in case of misdeeds. (87) Such a ‘blind’ cooperation, with no voice in the discernment for the best course of action possible, no warranty that everything will be done to find it, nor that the values and priorities of those cooperating into the common action are shared by the decision-maker, is irresponsible and potentially immoral.

6.8 Tradition, Authorities, Community: The Role of Free and Public Discussion in the Church, and(Con)sensus Fidelium as Informed Public Opinion

By highlighting the relationship of individuals with their cultural tradition of common meanings and values, the outline of a political philosophy based on Lonergan’s intentionality analysis presented in Chapter 5 also sheds light on the meaning of the concept of social and structural sin, much debated especially since the development of liberation theology. It is true, of course, that there cannot be sin unless with reference to a morally conscious individual subject, and to his/her choices. Still, the subject’s choices can be motivated either by his/her own immanently generated knowledge, or by what s/he believes. Now, by far most of what we know and believe comes from our cultural tradition rather than from our immanently generated knowledge. (88) Accordingly, responsibility is fully personal only and exclusively for those choices – or the portion of those choices – which are fully attributable to the individual subject; while it is a shared (co-) responsibility for those judgements and choices not directly generated by the subject. Hence the responsibility of the individual vis-à-vis the factual as well as evaluative errors of the community is always a very small percentage of the overall, communal co-responsibility for it.

The cumulative results of social inattention, oversight, unreasonableness and irresponsibility constitute what Lonergan calls the ‘social surd’, namely the historical and social results of the sustained inauthenticity stemming from inattention, oversight, unreasonableness and irresponsibility. (89) The individuals’ responsibility with regard to it presupposes the possibility of escaping at least partially from the factual as well as evaluative mistakes contained in one’s sociocultural tradition. Inasmuch as the common fund of knowledge and evaluations is the result of the experiences, understandings, judgements of fact and of value of several generations, individuals can carry out the critique of their sociocultural tradition only in minimal percentages. In effect, while it would of course be nonsensical to say that individuals can escape entirely from the influence of their tradition, still it is possible that, on single occasions, they may perceive the effects of the distortions the social surd produces. And, as Lonergan illustrated, because the correction of a single error can open the way to a systematic tracking of the web of factual as well as evaluative mistakes preceding it, the independent contributions of particular individuals can be the starting point for the critical contribution of others. (90)

Such a collaborative cultural critique will not be a linear or obstacles-free process, so much so that, according to Lonergan, the overcoming of the social surd is simply impossible if one were to consider only the intrinsic capacities of human beings. In order to rise above the biases derived from individual and group egoisms, as well as from commonsense’s tendency to see itself as omnicompetent and so to downplay the importance of specialized findings, it is necessary a further contribution, which Lonergan outlines as the divine integration of human capacities. (91) The healing of the social surd will be, in any case, always and inevitably a very partial and precarious achievement until the παρουσία , or second coming of Christ. Yet such healing, even if inescapably partial, is the overall goal to which the church must contribute in the history of humanity.

Finally, and most significantly for present purposes, the critical assessment of tradition necessary for the healing of the social surd largely depends, as far as human means are concerned, on the existence of the freedoms of information, thought, communication and public debate.

Such is, in extremely summarized form, the vision elaborated by Lonergan, in harmony with his philosophical and theological system. (92) Lonergan argued that the problem of evil, namely human beings’ fundamental moral impotence or ‘basic sin’ – understood as their incapacity of being attentive, intelligent, reasonable and responsible consistently and for a sustained period, and which is the cause of the social surd and would quickly bring to the end of humanity – is not something which can be addressed by our natural capacities: rather, it requires a supernatural solution. This solution he envisaged precisely as a supernatural integration of the human capacities which strengthens but does not destroy or supersede them. (93) Lonergan’s perspective is a development of the Thomist conception of the continuity between nature and the supernatural. It is relevant for our present purposes in two ways: first, by clearly envisaging the sociocultural dimension of sin and the need for divine redemption at that level too, it confirms that the church’s role in God’s universal salvific plan must include a distinct and arguably irreplaceable contribution to the communal striving for the constantly needed redemptive recovery of the social surd. Second, it highlights both the need of critically assessing a community’s tradition in order to heal its social surd and, most to the point, the fact that such a critical assessment depends, as far as human means are concerned, on the existence of the freedoms of information, thought, communication and public debate.

The ecclesial community too must provide for the purification, diffusion and development of its own fund of knowledge and values. Only thus it will be able to live up to the times and contribute to the overcoming of the social surd. This is because, on the one hand, this overcoming presupposes the conversion of the individual, but on the other, it is itself the presupposition for the preparation, purification and completion of the individual’s conversion itself. (94)

If this is so, there is a clear need to nourish the critical assessment and development of the common fund of knowledge and evaluations of a community, and to foster its critical appropriation by its members. To this goal, modern societies have developed a certain number of institutions concerning education and mass communication. Those institutions are geared towards assuring the freedoms of conscience, research and communication, which are the fundamental conditions for the development of culture just mentioned. We find again here another key element of the analogy between human and ecclesial authority (cf. Section 6.2 above): in both, the conditions for the decision to delegate are the same, namely that there be sufficient information for such a decision to be informed and thus responsible. Thus, just as the more the state wants to realize the democratic ideal of the responsible delegation, the more it must invest in promoting the diffusion of knowledge, so too in the case of the church: the adhesion of the people of God is the more responsible the more it is informed and critical.

I have already noted how the early house-churches were self-governing; one of their key functions was precisely that of providing a locus for debate for the purposes of community-building (i.e. the critical formation of a shared fund of common experiences, meanings, values and goals) as well as mutual edification and common decision-making. Indeed, as Pheme Perkins has observed, ‘Even when [the apostle Paul] appears most dogmatic, regulating the conduct of women prophesying in the assembly (1 Cor. 11.3-16), he uses rhetorical formulas that leave the matter open to communal discernment as long as the church is not split over the issue.’ (95)

In contrast, the impossibility of public criticism is the death-sentence of any society: for just as self-critique is an absolutely necessary premise for individual conversion – conversion always stems from the realization of the sinfulness of one’s own current ways – so public debate and critique is an absolutely necessary premise for social and cultural conversion, and this applies within the church as well. (96) Free and public discussion is a necessary feature for the very continuation – and indeed the very establishment (97) – of any community in the technical meaning of the word detailed above, as a group characterized by common experiences, insights, judgements of fact and values. It is, in effect, the only means whereby the common fund can be exploited. Besides bringing to the surface all the available knowledge and wisdom of the community, it also filters biased, ideological counter-positions, so that it is necessary for an informed assessment and selection of potential authorities and thus for a responsible delegation. A final problem to be addressed concerns the relationship between a community’s tradition, its institutional authorities and its current (developing) consent. History shows that all three can be mistaken, and the point has long been recognized by theologians. With regard to tradition, for example,

Already Tertullian contended that consuetudines [customs] in the Church had to be examined in the light of truth: Dominus noster Christus veritatem se, non consuetudinem, cognominavit [Our Lord Christ designated himself, not as custom but as truth; De virginibus velandis , I.I]. The phrase was taken up by St. Cyprian and was adopted by the Council at Carthage in 256. In fact, ‘antiquity’ as such might happen to be no more than an inveterate error: nam antiquitas sine veritate vetustas erroris est [for antiquity without truth is the age old error], in the phrase of St. Cyprian ( Epist. 74.9). St. Augustine also used the same phrase: In Evangelio Dominus, Ego sum, inquit, veritas. Non dixit, Ego sum consuetudo [In the Gospel the Lord says – ‘ I am the truth .’ He did not say – I am custom; De baptismo , III. 6.9]. (98)

The same has been said with regard to institutional authorities – bishops as well as popes have often passed misguided judgements both in matters of church governance and on properly theological issues. The same, finally, can be said with regard to the synchronic as well as diachronic consent of the church at large. History suggests that neither the antiquity nor the majoritarian character of the Christian community’s agreement on something warrant its correctness – although they often do. Alternatively stated, the constant consensus throughout history is far from being always infallible – indeed it can even be a consensus in error rather than in truth. (99)

In the case of civil society, I have argued that the solution to conflicts on specific topics between a community’s inherited tradition, its institutional authorities and its developing worldview requires putting the means in place for exploiting as much as possible the community’s evolving fund of experiences, insights, judgements of facts and values. Now, as far as human means are concerned, free and public discussion is the only way to do so, for it alone can maximize the exploitation of both the achievements of the community’s past tradition and of those of its current members, that is the fresh insights God’s people develop as they grow in their understanding of the good news.

Because of the traditional theological axiom that grace perfects nature without destroying it, the above means that sensus fidelium , understood as the Spirit’s inspiration of Christians, can only develop and be discerned through free and public discussion. By fostering the formation of a mature and informed public opinion, free and public discussion will enable the critical examination not only of the beliefs of current Christians, but also of those of past Christians. When the latter diverge significantly with contemporary insights, it is particularly important to analyse the arguments supporting past opinions in the light of the much expanded knowledge of the present times in comparison with past centuries.

Differently put: sensus fidelium is the equivalent of the informed (and the adjective here is crucial) public opinion of Christians, which is reached and sustained through free and public discussion. The process of discussion and discernment may be quite lengthy, stretching several years, decades and perhaps, on particularly complex issues, even centuries: but when eventually the great majority of informed Christians converge on a position, there are good grounds to maintain that we have there an expression of the sensus fidelium . A poll, or an election, coming at the end, not the beginning, of such a process of free and public discussion – where all available data, insights, judgements of fact and of value have been assessed – can reveal the existence of such a convergence. Hence, with that proviso, a poll or an election can indeed be the way to determine the sensus fidelium .

6.9 Some Guidelines for the Structural Reform of the Roman Catholic Church

With regard specifically to the RC Church, one can forsee the following adjustments. Church officials will be delegated and authorized to act as such by the community on the basis of their competences. Such competences can be humanly acquired or divinely bestowed, and the possible specializations are innumerable. They all contribute to the common good and the goal of informing individuals, societies and cultures with the Good News. In any case, to encompass their differences by means of the distinction between jurisdictional and sacramental authority appears an unhelpful simplification. Perhaps a more helpful categorization might distinguish between, on the one hand, the countless specializations which in one way or another are functional to the fulfilment of the church’s mission, and that concerned with their coordination and oversight (έπισκοπή), primarily through the allocation of financial resources. The former kind would include evangelization, cathechesis, Christian formation and spiritual guidance; the specializations concerning the church’s charitable and social action (with a particular attention to the weak, the poor and the oppressed); those pertaining to theological research, to the liturgy and so on.

On the other hand, the specialization concerning the coordination of common action by devising effective policies and allocating resources to the various specialized authorities would belong to the distinctively ‘political’ authority of coordination and oversight (έπισκοπή ). In his sketch of the future church, John Beal has recently argued for understanding the role of the bishop as that of formulating ‘the parameters of strategic plans and policies’ for the common action of the diocese. Bishops should ‘refrain from meddling in operational matters of the local units’ (i.e. parishes). Then, ‘freed from the burden of involvement in day-to-day decision-making, the bishop could assume the sort of role suggested by the ancient term episkopē . A key element of this episkopē would be monitoring the performance of local units and their leadership and coordinating the activities of these units’.(100) The analysis offered so far would largely agree with that; however, I would also emphasize that such a reformed έπισκοπή would have only a function of coordination with regard to the independent tasks pertaining to liturgical/cultic leadership, spiritual guidance, preaching, teaching theology and so on. Accordingly, it should consist in a political function – to use the old scholastic language, it might be said to correspond roughly to the potestas iurisdictionis minus the potestas docendi . (101) It should fulfil the task of the subsidiary coordination of those common decisions and actions alone exceeding the possibilities of lower levels. Most importantly, its function should be to devise policies and pass decisions for common action on the basis of the needs, desires and goals of the local community, and in agreement with the specialized authorities in all other areas of church life and action. Its scope could encompass both those matters pertaining to the local church’s internal life and those pertaining to its external mission, including the coordination with other dioceses. Finally, it should remain at the service of, and accountable to, the community. What about the former potestas ordinis ? If ordained people are not ordinarily to be bestowed – or, rather, burdened with – the potestas iurisdictionis or έπισκοπή , what is their function? As I have noted above, its traditional conception as a sacramental ‘power to mediate grace ’ does not appear to be consistent with the New Testament data we have, which exclude quite unambiguously the need for any priestly mediation between God (and his χάρις ), and his adopted children in Christ. In addition, Paul clearly conceives church governance as a charism/competence on its own functional terms: nowhere does he subject or bind it to the possession of a kind of mediating priestly power – indeed, that would appear to be contrary to his thought.

On the other hand, the clerical ordo has long been ordinarily distinguished not only by its priestly function as mediator of grace, but also by its role as spiritual guide. While the former function appears excluded by the NT, the latter role is of enduring usefulness. It would be best fulfilled by those whom Lonergan would dub as having attained the ‘religiously differentiated consciousness’, that is those who have attained a high degree of spiritual sensibility.(102) From a similar viewpoint, Paul Lakeland recently argued that ‘the most important requirement we have of our church is that its ordained members attend to the spiritual welfare of the people and, if I may exaggerate just a little, leave the mission of the church to the world in the hands of us, the experts’. (103) Today’s clergy should become, in other words, but one ministry among many, fulfilling one specialized task only among many: that of spiritual guidance. ’Επισκοπή , in contrast, should be exercised by those people the community will deem most suitable to represent them, because he or she will have the task of making choices regarding the direction of common action according to the scale of values and goals of the community.

Finally, such an arrangement would effectively overcome the division of Christians in two hierarchical castes, a governing clergy and a subordinate laity. (104) To reiterate, what is wrong is not the fact of having a (freely and responsibly delegated) hierarchy: indeed, that can prove extremely useful for enhancing cooperation. Rather, it is the fact of having (and maintaining in existence) one which is unelected, male-only, self-perpetuating, unaccountable, priestly and omnicompetent (i.e. allegedly authorized immediately by God to exercise authority over all areas of church life).

At the lowest level, the vision outlined above would be largely congruent with the house-church model described recently by Frank Viola, as well as with the Comunidades Eclesiales de Base , to the extent that both models are based on and committed to an understanding of the local Christian congregation where everyone has a function, based on his/her talents as recognized by the others. (105) At the higher levels (from the parish up), it would entail a democratization of the structures and offices carrying ecclesial decision-making authority, in agreement with subsidiarity and on the basis of a rationalization and responsabilization of the relationship of authority.

6.10 Conclusion

The present chapter was motivated by the twofold concern for assessing both the extent to which the current RC polity opposes the moral norms for the individual’s responsible cooperation in a common action, and whether it is really possible to affirm that those insights are invalid within the church because incompatible with scriptural and/or traditional data on the church.

The arguments here have suggested both that current official RC ecclesiology does in fact contradict in important respects some foundational principles of political freedom and responsibility, and that such principles appear to resonate with, rather than contradict, Scripture and tradition. Among the common elements between the last two and contemporary democratic political philosophy, I have mentioned the importance that officials be appointed by popular election, or other procedure, as long as it is suitable for expressing the necessary consent of the community to those in authority. Again, I have insisted that the understanding of authority implicit in the principle of subsidiarity seems to be, if not explicitly endorsed, at least in agreement with key ecclesiological insights from the NT. Indeed, it specifies the twofold NT description of authority – positively as ‘service’ and negatively as ‘not lording it over’ – by envisaging the very raison d’être of authority as that of helping the lower decisional level (from the individual upwards) attain what it would otherwise have to forsake – hence its diaconal element – and by the same token limits such an authority by forbidding micro-management – hence its ‘not lording it over’ element. Finally, I have commented on the importance of free and public discussion for the very formation as well as maintenance and critical development of a community. Free and public debate, of course, is implied by the NT term παρρησία – itself an important concept of Greek political thought (106) – which was a central element of the common life of the early church. There is today a wide agreement that the common house-meetings and assemblies ( έκκλησίαι ) at the basis of the Christian fellowship ( κοινωνία ) were events in which discussion – for mutual edification, growth in understanding of the Good News, discernment of the common good and decision-making for common action – was a primary and indeed essential purpose. (107) Today, public debates should be promoted also on all available ecclesial mass-media.

The guidelines offered above aim to overcome the centralization of competences resulting from not recognizing that every authority has only a subsidiary function with regard to its lower level and, accordingly, should not act in any of those matters that the lower level deems, on the basis of its own personal judgement, to lay within its capacity and thus responsibility. Until the Roman Catholic ecclesial polity does not redress that centralization – and the changes required, as might be appreciated, are momentous – it can be foreseen that the current situation of indifference, disengagement and alienation affecting a large portion – arguably a majority – of those baptized Catholics is not likely to improve. (108)


1. All three extracts are from Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, ‘Chiesa e democrazia: analogie e differenze’, (4 December 2008), available at www.vatican.va/roman_curia/secretariat_state/card-bertone/2008/documents/rc_seg-st_20081204_lectio-magistralis_it.html (author’s translations). Cardinal Bertone, then Secretary of State of the Vatican, reiterated such affirmations in the context of two lectiones magistrales at the faculties of canon law and theology of Venice, Italy and, Wroclaw, Poland in 2008 and 2010,respectively.

2. ‘Veritatis splendor . Encyclical Letter on the Church’s Moral Teaching (6 August 1993) §113, available at www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_06081993_veritatis-splendor_en.html. The points are made more thoroughly in ‘ Donum veritatis . Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian’ (24 May 1990), §§21–41, available at www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19900524_theologian-vocation_en.html. The current RC magisterium is forcefully opposed to public dissent in the church even only against its non-irreformable teachings, see esp. ibid., §§30–31. One of the most famous implementations of that stance occurred with the condemnation by the CDF of distinguished moral theologian Charles Curran. In effect, one of the primary motivations for that sentence was precisely Curran’s public dissent towards some magisterial teachings on ethical matters, see Curran, Loyal Dissent: Memoir of a Catholic Theologian (Washington DC: Georgetown University, 2006), pp. 107, 124. Moreover, the 1983 CIC introduced a completely new canon, canon 1371, further modified in 1998 (by means of Pope John Paul II’s motu proprio Ad tuendam fidem ’ available at www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/motu_proprio/documents/hf_jp-ii_motuproprio_ 30061998_ad-tuendam-fidem_en.html), stating that those who dissent after a warning even from non-irreformable teaching must be punished with a just penalty: see the commentary in Canon Law Society of America, New Commentary of the Code of Canon Law (ed. John P. Beal, James A. Coriden, Thomas J. Green; Mahwah NJ: Paulist Press, 2000), pp. 21–2, 275–6, 917; 1582–3. 3. Benedict XVI, ‘Letter to the Bishops, Priests, Consecrated Persons, and Lay Faithful of the Catholic Church in the People’s Republic of China’ (27 May 2007), available at www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/letters/2007/documents/hf_ben-xvi_let_ 20070527_china_en.html. The target of such a statement is the understanding of RC ecclesiology advanced by the Chinese government. Contrast this with Hans Küng’s earlier opposite assessment: ‘The three demands by the Chinese [Catholics] for self-support, self-government, and self-propagation of the regional and national churches correspond not only to the contemporary understanding of democracy. They also thoroughly correspond to the early Christian constitution of the Church and the great Catholic tradition of the first millennium’ ‘A Vision of a Future Church’ [1987], in Küng (ed.), Reforming the Church Today: Keeping Hope Alive (trans. Peter Heinegg with Francis McDonagh; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1990), pp. 155–68 (162). The historical reading presented in Section 3.5 is largely congruent with Küng’s judgement here.

4. The canonical difference between ‘cooperation’ and ‘participation’ will be briefly outlined in 6.4, as well as in no. 50 below.

5. Javier Hervada, Elementos de derecho constitucional canonico (Pamplona: Ediciones Universidad de Navarra, 2nd edn, 2001 [1987]), p. 237 (author’s translation), available at www.javier.hervada.org/edcc.pdf.

6. ‘Questions about the Structure and Duties of the Synod of Bishops’, in Church, Ecumenism and Politics: New Essays in Ecclesiology (trans. Robert Nowell; Slough: St Paul, 1988), pp. 51–68 (57).

7. ‘ Nota explicativa praevia ’, §2, available at www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_ /documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html.

8. Thus Georg Bier, Die Rechtsstellung des Diozesanbischofs nach dem Codex Iuris Canonici von 1983 (Würzburg: Echter Verlag, 2001), p. 376, quoted in Hervé Legrand, ‘Receptive Ecumenism and the Future of Ecumenical Dialogues – Privileging Differentiated Consensus and Drawing Its Institutional Consequences’, in Paul D. Murray (ed.), Receptive Ecumenism and the Call to Catholic Learning. Exploring a Way for Contemporary Ecumenism (Oxford: OUP, 2008), pp. 385–98 (397, no. 36). As Bier concisely observed elsewhere, it is ‘the pope [who] determines the extent of the diocesan bishop’s power of governance [ Leitungsgewalt , or potestas regiminis ]’. ‘Das Verhältnis zwischen Primat und Episkopat. Anknü pfungspunkt für einen ökumenischen Konsens über den Petrusdienst?’, in Wolfgang Bock (ed.), Glaubigkeit und Recht und Freiheit: Okumenische Perspektiven des katholischen Kirchenrechts (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2006), pp. 53–76 (59).

9. Jean Hampton, Political Philosophy (Boulder CO: Westview Press, 1997), p. 9.

10. The Catholic Concordance (ed. and trans. Paul E. Sigmund; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), bk ii, §262 (p. 202); also §§124 (p. 95), 130 (p. 100), 132 (p. 101) and passim .

11. Catholic Concordance , bk ii, §262 (p. 202). Thus J. N. Figgis correctly summarized Nicholas of Cusa’s position as affirming that ‘the consent and agreement of the Christian community is the origin of Papal authority, which is a delegation from the people, and may be removed at their will’. Political Thought from Gerson to Grotius, 1414–1625: Seven Studies (Cambridge: CUP, 2nd edn, 1916, reprinted by the Thoemmes Press, Bristol, 1998), 52. Examples of affirmations that the bishops’ and the pope’s authority depend on the consent of the church could be multiplied (Almain, Gerson, Panormitanus, etc.); as Arthur Monahan concluded: ‘it is ironic, though not totally unexpected, that the first formulations of a coherent theory of limited or constitutional government based on popular consent are found in canonical and theological sources’. From Personal Duties towards Personal Rights. Late Medieval and Early Modern Political Thought, 1300–1600 (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1994), p. 85.

12. Cyprian explicitly expressed more than once his conviction that God, with whom the real decision in episcopal elections lies, speaks through the voice of the people ( Epist . 43, 1; 55, 8; 59, 5; 68, 2). See also the analysis in Peter Norton, Episcopal Elections 250–600: Hierarchy and Popular Will in Late Antiquity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 12–13.

13. A point first made officially, to my knowledge, by Pope Leo XIII, ‘ Immortale Dei : On the Christian Constitution of States’ (1 November 1885), §§3–4, quoted in 2.5, no. 102.

14. John Neville Figgis, Political Thought from Gerson to Grotius , p. 16; also Francis Oakley, ‘In Praise of Prolepsis: Meaning, Significance, and the Medieval Contribution to Political Thought’, History of Political Thought 27, no. 3 (Autumn 2006), pp. 407–22 (414–15). Compare the final sentence with Avery Dulles’ conclusion related in Section 3.4: ecclesial structures should be evaluated against whether they conflict with either ‘the Church’s mission as embodied in the divine mandates [. . .], or [. . .] with the transcendental precepts that hold good for any society’. Failure to pass such a functional/pragmatic test would suggest that the ecclesial institution in question cannot be God’s will for the church, ‘[f]or it is difficult to see how God could will for his Church something that is a countersign or is counterproductive’. Dulles, ‘ Ius Divinum as an Ecumenical Problem’, Theological Studies 38 (1977), pp. 681–708 (705).

15. ‘Vatican II and Theology’, Concilium 4 (2005), pp. 21–33 (31). 16 ‘ Pacem in terris . Encyclical Letter on Establishing Universal Peace in Truth, Justice, Charity and Liberty’ (11 April 1963), §52 (see also GS §74), available at www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_xxiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_j-xxiii_enc_ 11041963_pacem_en.html.

17. Piet F. Fransen, ‘Criticism of Some Basic Theological Notions in Matters of Church Authority’, in Leonard Swidler and Piet F. Fransen (eds), Authority in the Church and the Schillebeeckx Case (New York: Crossroad, 1992), pp. 48–74 (67).

18. For complementary reflections on Christians’ freedom to devise the polity of their own faith community, see the opening paragraphs of Lewis S. Mudge, ‘Ecclesia as Counter-Consciousness’ [1971] in Rethinking the Beloved Community. Ecclesiology, Hermeneutics, Social Theory (Lanham MD: University Press of America, 2001), pp. 63–75 (63).

19. Joseph de Guibert, S. J., The Jesuits: Their Spiritual Doctrine and Practice (trans. William M. Young; Chicago: Loyola University, 1964), 148, no. 55; consult also J. P. M. Walsh, ‘Work as if Everything Depends On – Who?’, The Way Supplement 70 (Spring 1991), pp. 125–36.

20. See Volf, After Our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1998), p. 246.

21. Joseph Ratzinger, ‘Demokratisierung der Kirche?’, in Ratzinger and Hans Maier (eds), Demokratie in der Kirche: Moglichkeiten, Grenzen, Gefahren (Limburg: Lahn-Verlag, 1970), pp. 7–46 (26), as summarized by Volf, After Our Likeness , pp. 254–5.

22. Church: The Human Story of God (trans. by John Bowden; New York: Crossroad, 1990), p. 207.

23. In contrast, the official RC position can be found in LG §7; also for example John Paul II, ‘ Christifi deles laici . Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World’ (30 December 1988), §24, available at www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_Exhortations/documents/hf_jp-ii_exh_30121988_christifideles-laici _en.html. More specifically, for instance, while Vatican II is explicit that priests are empowered by Christ rather than the bishops (‘ Presbyterorum ordinis . Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests’ [7 December 1965], §§12, 2, 5, available at www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_ vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decree_19651207_presbyterorum-ordinis_en.html; ‘ Ad gentes . Decree on the Mission Activity of the Church’ [7 December 1965], §39, available at www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/ vat-ii_decree_19651207_ad-gentes_en.html), still the 1983 Code of Canon Law gives the diocesan bishop full discretionary power in the selection and appointment of priests to specific parishes (can. 523–4), see Robert Ombres OP, ‘What Future for the Laity? Law and History’, in Noel Timms and Kenneth Wilson (eds), Governance and Authority in the Roman Catholic Church. Beginning a Conversation (London: SPCK, 2000), pp. 91–102 (100). The post-Tridentine hierarchy has arrogated to itself even the selection of seminarians, setting in canon law strict guidelines for assessing the authenticity of what is elsewhere judged to be a divine personal calling originally independent of any ecclesial mediation. And the papacy of the last century and a half has proceeded to the current centralization of worldwide episcopal appointments. In other words, in the current organizational layout of the RC Church, the discernment of whether a certain individual possesses a God-given charism, which was once the prerogative of the whole church, has been restricted exclusively to the episcopal hierarchy and to the pope.

24. Although contrast this with the argument condemning precisely ecclesiastical legitimation as ‘control’ over the Spirit advanced in Emil Brunner, The Misunderstanding of the Church (trans. Harold Knight; London: Lutterworth Press, 1952), pp. 81–2; also Volf, After Our Likeness , p. 249.

25. It seems that the scriptural evidence supports the position Pentecostals affirmed in their dialogue with Roman Catholics: ‘Pentecostals recognize that a charism of teacher/pastor is recognized or can be given to a person at the laying-on of hands, but they do not consider that at ordination the power of the Holy Spirit is bestowed to the person being ordained. Instead, ordination is a public acknowledgment of a God-given charism which a person has received prior to the act of ordination’. ‘Perspectives on Koinonia. Report from the Third Quinquennium of the Dialogue between the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Some Classical Pentecostal Churches and Leaders’, in Jeffrey Gros, Harding Meyer and William G. Rusch (eds), Growth in Agreement II: Reports and Agreed Statements of Ecumenical Conversations on A World Level, 1982–1998 (Geneva/Grand Rapids MI: WCC Publications/W.B. Eerdmans, 2000), pp. 735–52 (§85, p. 747), available at www.pro.urbe.it/dia-int/pe-rc/doc/i_pe-rc_pent03d.html. Catholic theologians Michael Himes and Richard Gaillardetz recently agreed that ‘you [don’t] ordain someone and suddenly they are empowered to perform a ministry’, but rather ‘you recognize the charism already present and then you ordain the person’, ‘Panel Discussion’, in Richard W. Miller II (ed.), Lay Ministry in the Catholic Church: Visioning Church Ministry Through the Wisdom of the Past (Liguori MO: Liguori Press, 2005), pp. 89–108 (pp. 104 and 105 respectively). For two instances of such an interpretation, see the references at no. 58 below.

26. See my article ‘The Election of Bishops by Clergy and People: Antonio Rosmini’s Neglected Solution’, Theological Studies 73 (March 2012), pp. 82–114.

27. See Rosmini, ‘Letter III’, Five Wounds , p. 184: ‘It is certain that private judgment, greatly influenced by particular longings and inclinations, is often deceived. [Besides,] a person acting alone cannot normally take into account all that has to be considered. On the other hand, a unanimous judgment is not so easily deceived nor affected by prejudice because [. . .] individual leanings cancel one another out, and particular lights and insights gradually grow to completion in unity [. . .]. Moreover, when everyone can state his opinion and the majority prevail, any suspicion of favouritism is eliminated, and all are assured that everything has been done to discover the truth. The heightened possibility of finding the truth more easily when many agree, and its clearer recognition and acceptance by all, is a twofold reason prevailing in the ancient discipline governing the choice of bishops ’ (my emphasis, note omitted).

28. Pope Piux XI, ‘ Quadragesimo anno . Encyclical Letter on the Reconstruction of the Social Order’ (15 May 1931), §79, available at www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xi/ encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_19310515_quadragesimo-anno_en.html.

29. See especially Miroslav Volf, After Our Likeness , pp. 248–9; Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, who noted that ‘For most [Free churches] ordination is just a public confirmation of a divine call already active in one’s life’, Introduction to Ecclesiology: Ecumenical, Historical & Global Perspectives (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 65, with further bibliographical references concerning the Pentecostal position; also Hans Küng, Why Priests? (trans. John Gumming; London: Collins, 1977 [1971]), pp. 67–8: ‘The call issued by men (the Church or those in charge of the Church) is a public acknowledgement and sanction of a previous call by God ’.

30. Volf, After Our Likeness , p. 249 (note omitted).

31. ‘To have the requisite ability and to be active do not of themselves give a person a particular position in a congregation. There must also be the recognition of leadership by the voluntary act of following. One has to have the recognition of the church as well as the gifts and doing the work to be a bishop, evangelist, or deacon in the church.’ Everett Ferguson, The Church of Christ: A Biblical Ecclesiology for Today (Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans, 1996), p. 297, also pp. 310–18 on ordination. Compare, more recently, Paul Murray, ‘The Need for an Integrated Theology of Ministry within Contemporary Catholicism: A Global North Perspective’, Concilium 1 (2010), pp. 43–54 (48 and 51–3).

32. Conversely, ‘whether a decision has authority depends on the person to whom the order is addressed, not on “persons of authority” who give orders’, Karl Weick, The Social Psychology of Organizing (Reading PA: Addison-Wesley, 1969), p. 3.

33. Christopher W. Morris, An Essay on the Modern State (Cambridge: CUP, 1998), pp. 172–99 (178), with specific bibliographic references to several political philosophers from the early modern period onwards who have upheld such a view. Antony Black, Monarchy and Community: Political Ideas in the Later Conciliar Controversy 1430–1450 (Cambridge: CUP, 1970), pp. 53–84, offers an excellent survey of how analogous arguments have been advanced by papalist theologians during the later conciliar controversy.

34. Marsilius of Padua’s Defensor Pacis reflects such a conception of the role of political authority in its very title.

35. Pope Benedict XVI, ‘Letter to the Catholic Church in the People’s Republic of China’, §5; also the analogous affirmations by then Cardinal Ratzinger in ‘The Key Question in the Catholic-Protestant Dispute: Tradition and Successio Apostolica ’, in Principles of Catholic Theology. Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology (trans. Mary Frances McCarthy; San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987 [1985]), pp. 239–84 (253–4).

36. Pope Benedict XVI, ‘Letter to the Catholic Church in the People’s Republic of China’, §5 (my emphasis). The document refers to LG §26, from which it would seem that episcopacy is indispensable because it is the priestly caste which alone can carry out the Eucharistic sacrifice essential to the new covenant.

37. It has been noted, in contrast, that ‘when a Pope becomes incapable of acting as Pope, as for instance when he is mentally ill or falls into heresy or has died [. . .], the college of bishops would not cease to exist as a college [. . .], because important factors of unity remain effective – unity in confession of Christ, unity in the Spirit, in love, in the celebration of the memorial sacrifice’. Georg Schweiger, ‘Pope’, in Karl Rahner (ed.), Encyclopedia of Theology: The Concise Sacramentum Mundi (Tunbridge Wells: Burns & Oates, 1975), pp. 1243–55 (1252). An analogous reasoning can be made at the larger level of the community: its unity is essentially constituted and sufficiently preserved by a common mind, and so ultimately by consent. Ecclesiastical authority is useful, but it is itself primarily a product and manifestation of the community’s unity (in agreeing over who is most suited for leadership), not its original source. Once established, it can be undoubtedly an important element for maintaining and even increasing unity: but it can likewise be instrumental in weakening and even destroying the latter, by acting contrary to the insights and values of the (majority of the) community (see no. 80 below).

38. ‘Chiesa e democrazia: analogie e differenze’, available at www.vatican.va/roman_curia/secretariat_state/card-bertone/2008/documents/rc_seg-st_20081204_lectiomagistralis_ it.html.

39. Örsy, Receiving the Council. Theological and Canonical Insights and Debates (Collegeville MI: Liturgical Press, 2010), p. 40. For the canonical difference between ‘cooperation’ and ‘participation’ see no. 50 below.

40. Besides Örsy’s work, consult also Beal, Coriden and Green (eds), New Commentary of the Code of Canon Law , p. 187, commentary to canon 131.

41. GS §76: ‘The political community and the Church are autonomous and independent of each other in their own fields.’

42. ‘Distinguishing already at the start of the fourteenth century (and in a way destined to become classic) between, on the one hand, the sacramental powers conferred on priests and bishops by ordination and consecration, and, on the other, the various jurisdictional or governmental powers they exercise within the church, the Dominican theologian John of Paris made a pertinent and fundamental point. Whereas the sacramental powers, he said, are of supernatural provenance, “what is of [the power of ecclesiastical] jurisdiction is not supernatural or outside the ordinary operations of human affairs. For it is not beyond the ordinary condition of man that some men should have jurisdiction over others, for that is in a certain way natural. . . . So then, just as jurisdiction is conferred by consent of men, so contrariwise may it be taken away by consent”.’ Francis Oakley, ‘Constitutionalism in the Church?’, in Oakley and Bruce Russett (eds), Governance, Accountability and the Future of the Catholic Church (New York/London: Continuum, 2004), pp. 76–87 (81–2), quoting John of Paris, De potestate regia et papali [ On Royal and Papal Power ], ch. 25.

43. For a comprehensive historical survey of the theological reflection on the two powers, see Laurent Villemin, Pouvoir d’ordre et pouvoir de jurisdiction: histoire théologique de leur distinction (Paris: Cerf, 2003); for the post-Vatican II discussion see Adriano Celeghin, Origine e natura della potesta sacra. Posizioni postconciliari (Brescia: Morcelliana, 1987); Francesco Viscome, Origine ed esercizio della potestà dei vescovi dal Vaticano I al Vaticano II. Contesto teologico-canonico del magistero dei ‘recenti Pontefici’ (Nota Explicativa Praevia 2) (Rome: Pontificia Univ. Gregoriana, 1997); and J. Beal, ‘The Exercise of the Power of Governance by Lay People: State of the Question’, The Jurist 55 (1995), pp. 1–92. Consult also the succinct outline of the issue in Edward P. Hahnenberg, Ministries. A Relational Approach (New York: Herder & Herder, 2003), pp. 137–8 in the box. It should be noted that Vatican II never espoused the theory about the sacramental origin of the power of jurisdiction. Consult the unambiguous official response by the Secretariat of the Pontifical Commission for the Revision of the Code of Canon Law, denying that Vatican II taught ‘the sacramental origin of all jurisdictional power and thus the absolute exclusion of the laity from the munus regendi ’. Vatican II left the question open, and so it still is: the debate went on in the post-conciliar period without the magisterium ever intervening to officially settle the issue: thus Viscome, Origine ed esercizio , pp. 227–43 (esp. 229–31; 242–3).

44. The fundamental objection to canon 129 is that it hardly has any scriptural or traditional basis: ‘It is significant that the most pivotal canon we have, canon 129§1, has no source assigned to it except canon 196 of the 1917 Code; nothing at all from Vatican II. In turn, the 1917 canon had as its two main sources a 1794 condemnation of one proposition attributed to the council of Pistoia (1786) and a general reference to the entire encyclical Pascendi (1907), part of the anti-Modernist campaign. The years 1794 and 1907 were not ideal for balanced theological reflection in Rome on the authority of the laity’, Robert Ombres OP, ‘What Future for the Laity? Law and History’, in Timms and Wilson (eds), Governance and Authority , pp. 91–102 (95–6). (One may further point to two facts: first, it is generally understood that a layperson elected pope would enjoy the fullness of jurisdictional powers from the moment of his election rather than from his episcopal ordination; second, canon 274 §1 allows laypersons to become ecclesiastical judges and thus exercise jurisdictional power proper.)

45. James Dunn, Unity and Diversity in the New Testament: An Inquiry into the Character of Earliest Christianity (London: SCM Press, 3rd edn, 2006 [1977]), p. 446; also Herbert Haag, Worauf es ankommt: Wollte Jesus eine Zwei-Stände-Kirche? (Freiburg/ Basel/Vienna: Herder, 1997).

46. See the historical examples and commentary offered in James A. Coriden, Canon Law as Ministry: Freedom and Good Order for the Church (Mahwah NJ: Paulist Press, 2000), pp. 125–31; also Örsy, Receiving the Council , p. 39.

47. Why Priests? , p. 61. And of course, as I will argue with more details later, ‘The New Testament and the requirements of present-day democratic society demand that this ministry [of leadership in the Church] should have a functional basis. This function is not understood here to be primarily sacramental, like that of the consecrator, but primarily ecclesial and social, whatever may still be said of the function of the president in the sacramental action.’ Ibid., p. 60. The current CIC does state the principle that ‘Two or more incompatible offices, that is, offices which together cannot be fulfilled at the same time by the same person, are not to be conferred upon one person’ (can. 152).

48. ‘Anyone who wishes to teach right behavior in international politics, change in tribal marriages, the correct realization of human sexuality in different phases, situations and cultures, etc., must be very competent in all these matters of human reality. It is clear that Christians as such, and the people involved in the church’s magisterium as such, have no privileged competency with regard to such questions [. . .]. If one wishes to give moral instructions and teachings concerning such human realities, inasmuch as they are human, one must acquire sufficient competence, receiving information from others who are more competent.’ Josef Fuchs, Christian Morality: The Word Becomes Flesh (trans. Brian McNeil; Washington DC: Georgetown University Press, 1987), p. 115, cited in Mark E. Graham, Josef Fuchs on Natural Law (Washington DC: Georgetown University Press, 2002), p. 163, but consult also pp. 162–6 and 183–5.

49. The point has been ordinarily made with regard to the teaching function of the magisterium: ‘To perform its doctrinal task successfully the hierarchy must take the necessary means. It must study the sources and the tradition, consult the sense of the faithful, and make use, on occasion, of the advice of qualified experts.’ Avery Dulles, ‘Faith and Revelation’, in Francis Schüssler Fiorenza and John P. Galvin (eds), Systematic Theology: Roman Catholic Perspectives (vol. 1; Minneapolis MN: Augsburg Fortress, 1999), pp. 89–128 (123); also Francis A. Sullivan, Magisterium: Teaching Authority in the Catholic Church (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 1983), pp. 31–2; and especially Coriden, Canon Law as Ministry , pp. 124–5. What has been said there of the teaching function, however, applies equally to all policymaking in every area of church action.

50. The Munich school of canon law has argued against the use of the verb ‘participate’ (‘ partem habere ’) to define the role of the laity in the exercise of jurisdiction (governance) within the church, because they consider jurisdiction to be intrinsically linked to the sacramental power of order, and thus as exclusive to the ordained. Hence they successfully proposed that, in the crucial canon 129, §2 of the 1983 CIC , the verb ‘participate’ be substituted with ‘cooperate’, meaning with the latter that laity can be involved only in the preparation, accompaniment and execution of acts of jurisdiction: see the helpful summary of the two opposing stance – in favour and against the possibility that the laity exercise jurisdictional power – in Canon Law Society of America, New Commentary of the Code of Canon Law , pp. 184–5. For a more general discussion of the issue concerning the exercise of the potestas regiminis by the laity, see Thomas A. Amann, Laien als Träger von Leitungsgewalt? Eine Untersuchung aufgrund des Codex Iuris Canonici (Münchener Theologische Studien, III; St. Ottilien: Eos, 1996).

51. For example Joseph Fuchs, Christian Morality , p. 115, quoted above, no. 48; Gerard Mannion, ‘Collective Discernment in Medicine and Theology: Recent Developments from an Ecumenical Roman Catholic Perspective’, in D. Gareth Jones and R. John Elford (eds), A Glass Darkly: Medicine and Theology in Further Dialogue (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2010), pp. 81–109 (87); Richard McCormick, Critical Calling. Refl ections on Moral Dilemmas Since Vatican II (Washington DC: Georgetown University 2006 [1987]), pp. 84–5; Stephen Sykes, ‘Appendix D: A Theology of Episcopacy’, in House of Bishops of the Church of England (ed.), Resourcing Bishops: The First Report of the Archbishop’s Review Group on Bishops’ Needs and Resources (London: Church House Publishing, 2001), pp. 217–26 (223–4).

52. Marie Breitenbeck, ‘The Requirements for Experts in Church Law’, The Jurist 50 (1990), pp. 257–88; House of Bishops of the Church of England, Bishops in Communion: Collegiality in the Service of the Koinonia of the Church (London: Church House Publishing, 2000), pp. 29–30.

53. Consult the thorough chronological account of the commission’s work in McClory, Turning Point .

54. The point has been made very well by Daniel Maguire, who spoke in that regard of an ‘assistance theology [. . .] liable to charges of magic (achieving effects without appropriate causation)’. And he went on, ‘Catholic moral theology has condemned the rash expectation of divine assistance when one has not used the ordinary means to the desired end. This expectation, in effect, challenges God to supply for your negligence. Jesuit theologians Noldin and Schmitt give the clear example of the priest who relies on God’s assistance rather than preparing his sermon; they call this behavior a mortal sin of presumption. Henry Davis, S.J., says such tempting of God is a “sin against faith and religion.” To expect bishops or popes who are not professional theologians to stand in judgment on theologians while the bishops rely not on study or expertise but on the assistance of God tempts God and violates a healthy Catholic understanding of responsible conduct’. See for further his ‘Introduction: Charles E. Curran: Catholic Theologian, Priest, Prophet’, in James J. Walter, Timothy E. O’Connell, Thomas A. Shannon (eds), A Call to Fidelity: On the Moral Theology of Charles E. Curran (Washington DC: Georgetown University Press, 2002), pp. 1–16 (12).

55. See LG §25: ‘The Roman Pontiff and the bishops, in view of their office and the importance of the matter, by fitting means diligently strive to inquire properly into that revelation and to give apt expression to its contents; but a new public revelation they do not accept as pertaining to the divine deposit of faith.’

56. See also Thomas F. O’Meara, ‘Divine Grace and Human Nature as Sources for the Universal Magisterium of Bishops’, Theological Studies 64, no. 4 (2003), pp. 683–706.

57. A detailed description in Lonergan’s Method in Theology (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 2nd edn, 1973).

58. Richard A. McCormick, ‘The Role of the Magisterium and of the Theologians’, Proceedings of the Catholic Theological Society of America 24 (1970), pp. 239–54 (247–8).

59. Unity and Diversity in the New Testament , p. 123. One of the best treatments of this principle in NT ecclesiology is Hans Küng, Infallible? An Inquiry (trans. Eric Mosbacher; London: Collins, 1971), pp. 127–38. Similarly, Everett Ferguson remarked that ‘The distribution of the various functions of Christ among a variety of functionaries shows that no one person can assume the whole of his work.’ The Church of Christ , pp. 298–9.

60. Contrast, however, John Collins’ exegesis, according to which the διακονία provided by the Seven did not concern the distribution of food, but precisely the preaching of the Good News in Greek for the Hellenist widows who could not understand Aramaic, see his Deacons and the Church: Making Connections Between Old and New (Leomister: Gracewing, 2002), p. 57. That might well be the case; but in any case, the point remains: the NT knows nothing of a minister with authority over all areas of church life and action, analogous to what will be the case with the later clerical system.

61. Johnson, ‘Paul’s Ecclesiology’, in James D. G. Dunn (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to St Paul (Cambridge: CUP, 2003), pp. 199–211 (208).

62. Robert Banks, Paul’s Idea of Community: The Early House Churches in Their Historical Setting (Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans, 1988), p. 146: ‘in Acts we find that, either through the word of a prophet in the assembly (13:3) or through the discerning choice of all the members (6:1–6), people were chosen with a view to their fitness for the task. Hands were laid upon them as a tangible sign of fellowship and prayer, not as a mechanism for the creation of a ministry or imparting of special grace.’ An analogous interpretation is advanced by Dunn, Unity and Diversity in the New Testament , p. 116.

63. Consult Andrew D. Clarke, Serve the Community of the Church. Christians as Leaders and Ministers (First-Century Christians in the Graeco-Roman World; Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans, 2000).

64. Dunn, ‘Church Ministry: A View from New Testament Theology’, in Dunn and J. M. Mackey (eds), New Testament Theology in Dialogue: Christology and Ministry (London: SPCK, 1987), pp. 121–40 (125–6). The development of the distinction between clergy and laity has been thoroughly traced by Alexandre Faivre’s trilogy, The Emergence of the Laity in the Early Church (trans. David Smith; New York: Paulist Press, 1990); Ordonner la Fraternité: Pouvoir d’innover et retour à l’ordre dans l’Eglise ancienne (Paris: Cerf, 1992); and Les premiers laïcs: Lorsque l’Eglise naissait au monde (Strasbourg: Éditions du Signe, 1999).

65. For a clear instance, see the practice attested by Tertullian and discussed in Roland Minnerath, ‘La présidence de l’eucharistie chez Tertullien et dans l’Église des trois premiers siècles’, in Christian Grappe (ed.), Le Repas de Dieu – Das Mahl Gottes (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 169; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2004), pp. 271–98.

66. Kevin Madigan and Carolyn Osiek (eds and trans), Ordained Women in the Early Church: A Documentary History (London: Johns Hopkins University, 2005).

67. Among female patrons of Pauline house-churches alone one can mention: Prisca and probably Chloe at Corinth; Phoebe at Cenchreae (Rom. 16.2); Euodia, Syntyche and arguably Lydia at Philippi (Phil. 4.1-2; Acts 16.14-15); Nympha at Laodicea (Col. 4.15); Junia (with Andronicus) at Rome (Rom. 16.7). With only slightly less certainty, one can add ‘Mary, Tryphaena, Tryphosa and Persis (Rom. 16.6, 12), all described as “hard-workers” – a description which elsewhere is usually taken as an indication of leadership (I Cor. 16.16; I Thess. 5.12). As these are the only ones so described in the list of greetings in Rom. 16, we should presumably conclude that women were particularly prominent in the leadership of the earliest churches in Rome’: Dunn, Unity and Diversity in the New Testament , p. 134, also L. Michael White, ‘Paul and Pater Familias ’, in J. Paul Sampley, Paul in the Greco-Roman World: A Handbook (Harrisburg PA: Trinity Press International, 2003), pp. 457–87 (467).

68. Didache 15.1 is fundamental in witnessing the shift from an arrangement that it was appropriate, where possible, that ‘fellowship’ or ‘Eucharistic’ meals (for their difference see Dunn, Unity and Diversity in the New Testament , pp.138–9) be presided by prophets and teachers (albeit, it is important to note, without the slightest suggestion that the latter had the exclusive competence or ability to do so), to an arrangement where the community was to select among itself έπίσκοποι and διάκονοι to fulfil that role when prophets and teachers were lacking. Indeed, ‘the Didache [15.1] urges that the bishop be held in great respect because he celebrates the same liturgy that the prophets celebrate’, Enrico Mazza, The Celebration of the Eucharist. The Origin of the Rite and the Development of Its Interpretation (trans. Matthew J. O’Connell; Collegeville MN: Liturgical Press, 1999), p. 96. Moreover, because we know that there were many women prophet, it is most likely that women did preside over the Eucharistic meal. As Mazza observed, a telling instance in this regard comes from Irenaeus’ description of the Eucharistic meals held in the community of a certain Marcus: while condemning several of his Eucharistic practices, he pays no attention whatsoever to the fact that a woman prophet pronounced the thanksgiving that ‘made the Eucharist’, ibid., 123, no. 80, referring to Irenaeus, On Heresies , bk I, ch. 13, §2. See also Elisabeth Schüssler-Fiorenza, ‘Tablesharing and the Celebration of the Eucharist’, Concilium 152 (1982), pp. 3–12. That issue of Concilium is entirely devoted to the question ‘Can we always celebrate the Eucharist?’.

69. ‘[A]s far as eucharistic presidency is concerned, there is no indication anywhere in the New Testament of an explicit link between the Church’s office and presiding at the Eucharist. There is certainly no attempt to link theologically the discernment of charismatic gifts and the developing notions of office with particular powers, functions or responsibilities with respect to the Eucharist. There is no suggestion that anyone was ordained or appointed to an office which consisted primarily of saying the blessing over the bread and wine.’ House of Bishops of the General Synod of the Church of England, Eucharistic Presidency (London: Church House, 1997), §4.21, p. 41. To quote Herbert Haag’s concluding sentence of his study on the development of a distinct clergy during the early centuries of Christianity: ‘For nearly four hundred years an “ordained” [ Priesterweihe ] was not necessary for the performance of the Eucharist. Why should it be essential today?’, Worauf es ankommt , p. 111 (see also p. 46: ‘. . . in the first two hundred years not a consecration [ Weihe ], but a commission [ Auftrag ] was the determining criterion for the presidency at the Eucharistic celebration . . .’). Other historical surveys reaching an analogous interpretation are, for example, William J. Bausch, Traditions, Tensions, Transitions in Ministry (Mystic CT: Twenty-Third Publications, 1982), chapter two, pp. 27–43; Frank Viola and George Barna, Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices (Carol Stream: Barna, 2008), chapter five. For a recent analysis of the Neotestamentarian and early church data on Eucharistic presidency see Nicholas H. Taylor, Lay Presidency at the Eucharist? An Anglican Approach (London: Continuum, 2009), pp. 30–98. The most plausible picture is the one advanced by E. Schillebeeckx, who suggested that, to put it in contemporary language, ‘[I]n the ancient church the whole of the believing community concelebrated, albeit under the leadership of the one who presided over the community’, Ministry (London: SCM Press, 1981), p. 49, quoted approvingly by Dunn, Unity and Diversity in the New Testament , p. 446, no. 14.

70. With regard to the role of women in earliest Christianity, see the article by Frances Young, ‘Hermeneutical Questions: The Ordination of Women in the Light of Biblical and Patristic Typology’, in Ian Jones, Kirsty Thorpe and Janet Wootton (eds), Women and Ordination in the Christian Churches: International Perspectives (London: T&T Clark, 2008), pp. 21–39. Consult also Elisabeth Schüssler-Fiorenza, In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins (London: SCM, 2nd edn, 1995), for example the succinct conclusion at p. 183; and the foundational study by Ute E. Eisen, Women Officeholders in Early Christianity: Epigraphical and Literary Studies (trans. Linda M. Maloney; Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2000 [1996]).

71. For a thorough exposition of how such an understanding informs the current CIC , consult the short study by Monica-Elena Herghelegiu, Reservatio Papalis : A Study on the Application of a Legal Prescription According to the 1983 Code of Canon Law (Tübinger Kirchenrechtliche Studien, 8; Berlin: LIT Verlag, 2008).

72. Sydney H. T. Page, ‘Whose Ministry? A Re-appraisal of Ephesians 4:12’, Novum Testamentum 47, no. 1 (2005), pp. 26–46 (35); also Paula Gooder, ‘ Diakonia in the New Testament: A Dialogue with John N. Collins’, Ecclesiology 3, no. 1 (2006), pp. 33–56 (54–5).

73. Page, ‘Whose Ministry’, pp. 32–5, esp. p. 34.

74. Josef Blank, ‘The Concept of Power in the Church: New Testament Perspectives’, Concilium 197, no. 3 (1988), pp. 3–12 (10). That the general goal and raison d’être of ecclesial offi cials was only that facilitating the maturation of the entire community is a clear Pauline teaching, as observed at some length by R. Banks, Paul’s Idea of Community , pp. 64, 88–90.

75. A point which was apparently implicit in the definition of Vatican I, whose statements on papal primacy ‘were conceived for extreme and exceptional situations’, Walter Kasper, ‘A Discussion on the Petrine Ministry’, in Kasper, That They May All Be One: The Call To Unity Today (London and New York: Burns & Oates, 2004), pp. 136–54 (145). Consult also J.-M. Tillard, ‘The Jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome’, Theological Studies 40, no. 1 (1979), pp. 3–22 (9), who also reports the official explanation of Pastor aeternus by Mgr. Zinelli, spokesperson of the Deputatio de Fide at the First Vatican Council.

76. This understanding has already been advanced several times: see for example Joseph S. George, The Principle of Subsidiarity With Special Reference to Its Role in Papal and Episcopal Relations in the Light of Lumen Gentium (Canon Law Studies, 463; Washington DC: Catholic University of America, 1968); A. Leys, Ecclesiological Impact of the Principle of Subsidiarity (Kampen: KOK Pharos, 1995), p. 212; Patrick Granfield, The Papacy in Transition (Garden City NY: Doubleday, 1980), pp. 76–8; Jean-Marie Tillard, The Bishop of Rome (trans. John de Satge; London: SPCK, 1983), pp. 183–4. It is to be noted however that all of the above ecclesiologists appear to have missed the point that subsidiarity entails that it is the responsibility of the lower delegating level to judge on the operational range of the higher delegated level, not the other way around.

77. The point has been emphasized with regard to infallible definitions ‘the teaching on infallibility found in the constitutions of the last two general councils is about the articulation of Catholic faith. It is not about equipping those in authority with weapons by means of which to attempt to resolve disputed questions through the arbitrary exercise of power’. Nicholas Lash, ‘On Not Inventing Doctrine’, The Tablet (2 December 1995), p. 1544, available at www.womenpriests.org/teaching/lash.asp (emphasis original). Lash concluded: ‘The attempt to use the doctrine of infallibility, a doctrine intended to indicate the grounds and character of Catholic confidence in official teaching, as a blunt instrument to prevent the ripening of a question in the Catholic mind, is a scandalous abuse of power’.

78. Contemporary Roman Catholicism: Crises and Challenges (Kansas City: Sheed and Ward, 1987), p. 73, to which she added: ‘They should do this modestly, as a “working consensus” that is open to the critical voice, which may not yet be widely understood but which may be the harbinger of a larger truth’, ibid. That is quite correct; I would only note, however, that teaching is the distinctive task not of church officials exercising έπισκοπή , but of teachers, catechists and theologians. Compare also similar considerations advanced by Schillebeeckx, Church , pp. 220–1.

79. John Beal, ‘Toward a Democratic Church: The Canonical Heritage’, in Eugene C. Bianchi and Rosemary Radford Ruether (eds), A Democratic Catholic Church: The Reconstruction of Roman Catholicism (New York: Crossroad, 1992), pp. 52–79 (65–6).

80. Indeed, such can be the case even with the pope: thus Rosemary Radford Ruether observed that ‘it was the Pope, not the people, who chose to dissent from the consensus of the church in 1968 when he issued ’, Contemporary Roman Catholicism , p. 73; analogously, after the publication of Ordinatio sacerdotalis Norbert Greinacher called on Pope John Paul II to resign on the grounds that he had ‘separated from the faith of the church’, as cited by Peter Hebblethwaite, Pope John Paul II and the Church (Kansas City MO: Sheed & Ward, 1995), p. 276.

81. ‘On Not Inventing Doctrine’, The Tablet (2 December 1995), p. 1544.

82. CD , §10, available at www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/ documents/vat-ii_decree_19651028_christus-dominus_en.html.

83. John W. De Gruchy, Christianity and Democracy. A Theology for a Just World Order (Cambridge: CUP, 1995), p. 252, although I could not find Forsyth’s original statement in his ‘Lectures on the Church and Sacrament’ at the page indicated by de Gruchy.

84. A point made in Robert West and Charles Zech, ‘Internal Financial Controls in the U.S. Catholic Church’, Journal of Forensic Accounting 9 (2008), pp. 129–56 (134); a final draft is also available at http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/national/CatholicChurchfinances.pdf.

85. See The Five Wounds of the Church , chapter five. For the current state of affairs with regard to financial checks and balances, West and Zech, ‘Internal Financial Controls in the U.S. Catholic Church’, pp. 135–6. Eighty-five per cent of the seventy-eight chief financial officers responding to the Zech–West survey acknowledged that embezzlement had occurred in their dioceses over the past five years.

86. It is hardly the case to recall here that RC bishops secretly used church goods to cover for abusive priests, not only in the United States but also, notably, in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

87. Statistical studies show that Catholics on average donate significantly less to their church than most Protestant denominations: see for example Dean R. Hoge et al., Money Matters: Personal Giving in American Churches (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996): the average Catholic Household was reported at $819 in the early 1990s, the lowest of the five Christian denominations studied, that is Lutherans ($1,196), Presbyterians ($1,635), Baptists ($2,479) and members of the Assemblies of God ($2,985). Is that because Catholics are greedier or less generous than other Christians? Or is it because they perceive the dangers of donating under the current arrangement? Indeed, church members responding to the study did indicate that if churches wanted them to give more, the churches should be prepared to give them a say in how the money was spent. Catholics, the lowest givers, expressed the greatest dissatisfaction with being left out of financial decisions. More than two-thirds of Protestant respondents said members had enough influence in how church money was spent; only 48 per cent of Catholics said they had enough influence. Seventy-eight per cent of Catholics surveyed said laypeople and clergy should handle financial matters jointly. Only 9 per cent wanted to leave finances to priests only. In fact, it has further been statistically observed that Catholics’ contribution is positively affected, among other things, precisely by the extent of the community’s (i.e. the donors’) decision-making power with regard to how the donations are to be used, and by the extent to which an active majority of parishioners are involved: see on this Peter Zaleski and Charles Zech, ‘Economic and Attitudinal Factors in Catholic and Protestant Religious Giving’, Review of Religious Research 36 (December, 1994), pp. 158–67.

88. ‘Our finite historical being is marked by the fact that the authority of what has been handed down to us – and not just what is clearly grounded – always has power over our attitudes and behavior. All education depends on this.’ Lonergan, Insight. A Study of Human Understanding (Collected Works of Lonergan, 3; Toronto: Toronto University, 1992 [1958]), p. 280; also pp. 196–8; 311–12; 315 (on the social dimension of such a self-correcting process); 728 (on its relationship with both immanently generated [i.e. personally discovered] knowledge and with the web of beliefs constituting most of what we know); idem , ‘The Human Good’ (1976), Philosophical and Theological Papers 1965–1980 (ed. Robert C. Croken and Robert M. Doran; Toronto: University of Toronto, 2004), pp. 332 – 52 (340 –2).

89. Lonergan, Insight , pp. 651–6; also ‘Dialectic of Authority’, in A Third Collection: Papers by Bernard J. F. Lonergan (ed. F. E. Crowe; Mahwah NY: Paulist Press, 1985), pp. 8–10; ‘Healing and Creating in History’, in ibid., pp. 100–8 (104–8).

90. See the detailed treatment in Insight , pp. 736–9.

91. The general lines of the solution are presented in chapter 20 of Insight , pp. 709–51.

92. For a much more comprehensive account, consult the monograph by Tatha Wiley, Original Sin: Origins, Developments, Contemporary Meanings (Mahwah NJ: Paulist Press, 2002).

93. Insight , p. 747.

94. The cultural world mediated by meanings and motivated by values makes individuals far more than they make it, for they assimilate and are thus essentially informed by it – a process which in its various aspects is named socialization, acculturation and education. See Lonergan, ‘The Human Good’, Philosophical and Theological Papers 1965–1980 , pp. 340–2.

95. ‘“Being of One Mind”: Apostolic Authority, Persuasion, and Koinonia in New Testament Christianity’, in Stephen J. Pope (ed.), Common Calling: The Laity and Governance of the Catholic Church (Washington DC: Georgetown University Press, 2004), pp. 25–38 (32), referring to Troels Engberg-Pedersen, ‘1 Corinthians 11:16 and the Character of Pauline Exhortation’, Journal of Biblical Literature 110 (1991), pp. 679–89.

96. See John R. Quinn, ‘Reform and Criticism in the Church’, in The Reform of the Papacy: The Costly Call to Christian Unity (New York: Crossroad, 1999), pp. 36–75.

97. ‘Through communication there is constituted community, and, conversely, community constitutes and perfects itself through communication.’ Lonergan, Method , p. 363.

98. Georges Florovsky, ‘The Authority of the Ancient Councils and the Tradition of the Fathers’, ch. VI of The Collected Works of Georges Florovsky , vol. I, Bible, Church, Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View (Vaduz, Europa: Buchervertriebsanstalt, 1987), pp. 93–103 (98–9), available at http://jbburnett.com/resources/florovsky/1/florovsky_1–6-auth-councils.pdf.

99. One might well point to historical examples of both magisterium and faithful agreeing on some issues that one side later repudiated. The issues of usury, slavery and freedom of conscience come to mind: the history of the change in their moral evaluation can be found in John Thomas Noonan, Jr., A Church that Can and Cannot Change: The Development of Catholic Moral Teaching (Notre Dame IN: University of Notre Dame, 2005).

100. John P. Beal, ‘Business Class: Corporate Body and Church Soul in the United States’, in T. Frank Kennedy, S. J. (ed.), Inculturation and the Church in North America (New York: Crossroad, 2006), pp. 79–123 (122).

101. Viscome, Origine ed esercizio, p.236.

102. Lonergan, Method in Theology , pp. 266, 273; a lengthier explanation can be found in John D. Dadosky, ‘Returning to the Religious Subject: Lonergan and Eliade’, Method: Journal of Lonergan Studies 19 (2001), pp. 181–202 (esp. 197–8).

103. Paul Lakeland, ‘The Call of the Baptized: Be the Church, Live the Mission’, unpublished keynote address to the Synod of the Baptized, ‘Claiming Our Place at the Table’, 18 September 2010, Catholic Coalition for Church Reform, at http://cccrmn.org/v2/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=158%3Apaul-lakelands-synod-talk&catid=35%3Aeccesiology&Itemid=131.

104. Descriptions of the damaging effects of the clergy-laity dichotomy are numerous; consult for example Frank Viola, Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2008), pp. 159–64; Paul Lakeland, The Liberation of the Laity. In Search of an Accountable Church (New York/London: Continuum, 2003), pp. 189–90, 194–7.

105. Viola, Reimagining Church ; Wolfgang Simson, Houses That Change the World: The Return of the House Churches (Carisle: OM, 1999); Leonardo Boff, Ecclesiogenesis: The Base Communities Reinvent the Church (trans. Robert R. Barr; Maryknoll NY: Orbis Books, 1986).

106. See Heinrich Schlier, ‘ παρρησία, παρρησιαζομαι ’, in Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich (eds), Theological Dictionary of the New Testament(vol. 5; Ann Arbor: Eerdmans, 1967), pp. 871–86.

107. Hamilton Hess, The Early Development of Canon Law and the Council of Serdica (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. 5–6, 33–4, quoted in 3.5 and 2.2 respectively.

108. For an analysis of the silent schism of alienated Catholics from the current ecclesiastical establishment, see Peter Steinfels, A People Adrift: The Crisis of the Roman Catholic Church in America (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004).