action is clear in many modern Catholic documents, notably in The Catechism of the Catholic Church . DJ is at one with other Catholic documents in understanding what constitutes Church in structural terms: “governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him” (paras. 16 and 17), and “apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist” (para. 17). But in DJ, these references to the essential structures that characterise Church make no reference to the Word of God. DJ sees the ecclesial element in Protestant denominations as grounded in baptism, without any reference to the foundational role of the Word 3 . This is 2 “The People of God is formed into one in the first place by the Word of the living God. … The preaching of the Word is required for the sacramental ministry itself, since the sacraments are sacraments of faith, drawing their origin and nourishment from the Word.” ( Presbyterorum Ordinis , para. 4), cited in CCC, para. 1122. 3 “those who are baptized in these communities are, by Baptism, incorporated in Christ and thus are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the Church. Baptism in fact tends per se toward the full development of life in Christ, through the integral profession of faith, the Eucharist, and because the integration of Word and sacrament is relatively new in magisterial teaching and has not yet replaced all the older Catholic reflexes 4 . The documents which make most reference to the Word of God are the liturgical and catechetical documents, such as the document on Restoring the Catechumenate for the Initiation of Adults (1972) and the General Directory on Catechesis (1997). Third, following on from the centrality of the Word of God, there is increasing Catholic recognition that the proclamation of the gospel belongs to the heart of the Church’s calling. Paul VI said in 1975: “Evangelising is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity.” 5 Does this focus require a more dynamic understanding of Church? Does this not imply that Protestant communities that are strongly evangelistic manifest an element of Church? What does this mean in terms of Protestant ecclesial communities that are more evangelistic than local Catholic churches? This is not simply an interior feature, as evangelisation is an outward activity. Fourth, there is now a Catholic recognition of the place of charisms in the life of the Church. First mentioned in Lumen Gentium , John Paul II spoke on this subject at Pentecost 1998 to a large gathering of the new ecclesial movements. In this talk, the Pope said that the Second Vatican Council had restored the charismatic dimension to the life of the Church. He saw in the new ecclesial movements a strong sign of this charismatic dimension. Fr Libero Gerosa of Lugano has pointed out that in Vatican Two the Holy Spirit furnishes the Church with various gifts, full communion in the Church.” (para.
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- Fall '19
- Christianity, Pope John Paul II, Second Vatican Council