This module is largely reflective. It will explore the meaning and significance of the term ‘Church’ as used in the earliest days and later developments. It will go on to look at recent ecclesiological sources, in particular at Lumen Gentium from Vatican 11, and consider the mission of the Church today, and the relationship of Church to other Christian denominations and other faiths. I would like us all to think about how we belong and how we see ‘church’ for ourselves.
The sessions should allow us to
Explore the origin, nature and function of Church;
reflect on, and be challenged by, different models of Church;
be introduced to and challenged by the requirements of collaborative ministry and the role of the laity;
reflect on the relationship of Christian traditions to each other and to other major faith traditions and to the secular world.
Sequence of sessions 1-5 Session 1: Nature of ‘church’ Church as mystery
Session 3: The Church in history: response to changing culture Some early indications:
Clement and Rome
Ignatius of Antioch
Constantine: 312 – what does it feel like to be ‘accepted’?
The Great Schism: ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ Christianity
The Reformation and Counter Reformation
Council of Trent and the Fortress Church
Session 4:Vatican 11 Lumen Gentium First and Second Vatican councils
Lumen Gentium: some central ideas
Session 5: Current issues Women priests?
Ecumenism: relationship between Christian communities
Relationship with Judaism
Assignments might include: A common teenage cry is “Why should I go to Church?” Write an article for a secondary school magazine in answer to this question
Do a case study of your own parish - or another parish with which you are familiar - seeking to discern what model or models of Church are predominant within it.
Many people would like the church to be more ’democratic’. Examine the ways, universal and local, in which greater democracy could or could not be introduced into the Church, giving close attention to how this relates to the vision of church in Lumen Gentium.
What is the role of the laity in the modern Christian Church?
Prepare a talk for parish ministers on the nature and mission of the Church. The talk should be both uplifting and practical.
What do enquirers on the RCIA need to know about the Church?
How has our understanding of Church altered over the past 60 years?
Was Gaudium et Spes pie-in-the-sky?
Should we have women priests? What might be the implications for the Church?
Reading If you have access to Contemporary Catholic Theology: there are 6 chapters here, all useful.
Please also look at your Catechism which summarises an amazing amount of material in a short space.
Documents from the 2nd Vatican Council can be accessed here:
Lumen Gentium; Gaudium et Spes; Ad Gentes: Nostra Aetate - all worth reading.
Please bring a Bible too.
I will provide a series of notes on this topic some of which come from Father Tony Milner (English College Rome) and Father Rob Esdaile (PP Thames Ditton and Adult Formation for A&B Diocese): many thanks for their permission to use these. The New Jerome Bible Commentary: possibly a little intimidating but there is some very useful stuff near the end about the idea of ‘church or ekklesia’ in the New Testament*.
The Church: Bibliography The principal texts for the course are the Bible and the Documents of Vatican II – available online or in the Flannery edition (see below). All students should have read both Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes. The Catechism of the Catholic Church fills these out with patristic references, etc., and offers a compendium of contemporary official Roman Catholic teaching, but should not be regarded as a substitute for reading the conciliar texts themselves for the purposes of this course. Articles in theological dictionaries and encyclopaedias are another useful tool, especially for initial studies and a couple of these are listed below.
ARCIC II (1991) Church As Communion, London, Catholic Truth Society
ARCIC II (1999) The Gift of Authority. Authority in the Church III, London, Catholic Truth Society
ARCIC = Anglican and Roman Catholic discussion group which worked over a period of years from 1969 to the present day and covered (see documents mentioned above for examples) and still covers a variety of topics relevant to their rapprochement. This has been a very successful activity in that deep scrutiny by both sides produced a surprising degree of agreement. Sadly (depending on your point of view) further closeness of the two groups was scuppered (possibly not exclusively) by the ordination of women in the Anglican Church. Subsequently the Vatican established the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham which caused tensions between the Anglican Church and the Roman Catholic Church. However these documents are still important.
Boff, L. (1985) Church, Charism & Power, London, SCM
*Brown, R.E., Osiek, C., Perkins, P., (1989) “Early Church”, in Brown, R., Fitzmyer, J.A. & Murphy, R.E. (Eds.) The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, London, Geofrey Chapman, 1338-53
Butler, C.(1981) The Theology of Vatican II, London, Darton, Longman & Todd
Byrne, L. (1994) Woman At The Altar, London, Mowbray
CCC (1999) Catechism of the Catholic Church, London, Geoffrey Chapman
Comby, J. (1985) How To Read Church History. Vol 1. From The Beginnings to the Fifteenth Century, London, SCM
Comby, J. & MacCulloch, D. (1989) How To Read Church History. Vol. 2. From the Reformation to the Present Day, London SCM
Tillard, J.M.R. (1983) The Bishop of Rome, London, SPCK
Walsh, M.J. (Ed.) (1994) Commentary On the Catechism of the Catholic Church, London, Geoffrey Chapman
Winter, M. (1985) Whatever Happened to Vatican II? London –
Wojtyla, K. (1980) Sources of Renewal. The Implementation of the Second Vatican Council, London, Collins
World Council of Churches (1982) Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, Geneva, World Council of Churches
Zagano, P., & Tilley, T.W. (Eds.) (1998) The Exercise of the Primacy. Continuing the Dialogue, New York, Crossroad
Web-Sites and Electronic Resources:
See the comprehensive survey included in McGrath, Alistair E., Christian Theology. An Introduction, Oxford, Blackwell, 2001, 589-92
The Vatican Website (www.vatican.va) – the official Vatican website includes both the online edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/ccc_toc.htm) and documents arranged chronologically by Pontiff (www.vatican.va/archive/index.htm)
The Jewish People and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/pcb_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20020212_popolo-ebraico_en.html Look also for ‘Guidelines and Suggestions for implementing the Conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate’
Anglicans Online (www.anglicansonline.com)
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Waleswww.catholic-ew.org.uk – including their own publications
Catholic Net (www.catholic.net) a US-based information service (including Rome’s Zenit news agency)
Catholic USA (www.catholicusa.com) – a US guide to Catholic Internet Resources
Centro Pro Unione - Rome-based independent website dedicated to ecumenical issues http://www.prounione.urbe.it/home_en.html
Church Net UK (www.churchnet.org.uk) – ecumenical UK list of resources and contacts for all major denominations
Independent Catholic News Service (www.indcatholicnews.com) – London-based agency run by Catholic journalists
www.csbsju.edu/library/internet/theosubj.html – useful index page including Patristic and historical theology on-line archives
www.dabnet.org – the Catholic Diocese of Arundel & Brighton’s site, including some useful links (see www.dabnet.org/doctrine.htm) as well as diocesan directory, etc.
www.newadvent.org – another Catholic internet portal
www.osjspm.org/cst/index.html – a useful set of documents on RC social teaching, courtesy of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ Office For Social Justice
www.thetablet.co.uk – Britain’s most informed and influential Catholic weekly magazine, complete with online books.
More Sources for Non-Roman Catholic Ecclesiology: The following books deriving from the Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant traditions deserve to be added to the Bibliography:
Avis, P. (Ed.) (2000), The Anglican Understanding of the Church, London, SPCK
Booth, J.E. and Sykes, S.W. (Eds.) (1998), The Study of Anglicanism, London, SPCK
Bulgakov, S. (2002), The Bride of the Lamb, Edinburgh, T & T Clark (esp. Chapter 5, “The Church, pp. 253-314)
Clements, K.W (1988), Lovers of Discord. Twentieth Century Theological Controversies in England, London, SPCK
De Satgé, J. (1981) Peter & the Single Church, London, SPCK
Franklin, R.W. (Ed.) (1996), Anglican Orders. Essays on the Centenary of Apostolicae Curae, 1896-1996, London, Mowbray
Hardy, D.W. (2001), Finding the Church, Explorations in Anglican Ecclesiology, London, SCM
Hill, C. & Yarnold, E. (1997), Anglican Orders. The Documents in the Debate, Norwich, Canterbury Press
Hylson-Smith, K. (1996, 1997, 1998) The Churches In England From Elizabeth 1 to Elizabeth II, 3 Vols, London, SCM
McCord, P.J. (Ed.) (1977), A Pope For All Christians? An Inquiry into the Role of Peter in the Modern Church, London, SPCK
Moltmann, J. (1977), The Church in the Power of the Spirit, London, SCM
Moorman, J.R.H. (1953), A History of the Church In England, London, A. & C. Black
Nichols, A. (1995), Light From the East. Authors and Themes in Orthodox Theology, London, Sheed & Ward (esp. Chapter 7, 114-128)
Pawley, B. & Pawley, M. (1981), Rome & Canterbury Through Four Centuries, London, Mowbray, 2nd edn.