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Catholic Church must be more conciliar, ecumenists say

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    http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0505465.htm Catholic Church must be more conciliar, ecumenists say By Jerry Filteau Catholic News Service
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 28, 2005

      Catholic Church must be more conciliar, ecumenists say

      By Jerry Filteau
      Catholic News Service

      WASHINGTON (CNS) -- If the papacy is to be exercised in a way that
      serves Christian unity better, the Catholic Church must become more
      conciliar, with broader participation at all levels in church
      governance, several ecumenists said at forum Sept. 26 at Georgetown

      "Hierarchy without conciliarity is tyranny. ... Conciliarity without
      hierarchy is anarchy," said Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, a veteran
      ecumenist and dean emeritus of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological
      Seminary in Crestwood, N.Y.

      The forum, convened by the Woodstock Theological Center to mark the
      30th anniversary of its founding at Georgetown, was titled "Re-
      envisioning the Papacy."

      The ecumenical scholars were responding to the 1995 invitation of
      the late Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical on Christian unity,
      asking church leaders and theologians to "engage in a patient and
      fraternal dialogue" about new ways papal primacy could be exercised
      that would make the pope's ministry more effective in advancing
      Christian unity.

      Episcopal Bishop Mark Dyer, a theology professor at Virginia
      Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Va., and former bishop of
      Bethlehem, Pa., stressed the fundamental notion of the church as
      koinonia, or communion, reflecting in the life of the church the
      divine communion of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

      Viewed that way, "each member of the church is gifted by God's
      spirit," he said, and he would see the pope as one
      who "intentionally lifts up all people's gifts."

      "Lay people should have a place at the table" in all levels of
      church decision-making, he said, and the papacy should "respect
      synodical life at every level" -- parish, diocese, regional or
      national and global.

      "A universal primacy requires universal synodality at every level,"
      he said.

      Participants used conciliarity and synodality interchangeably to
      express various forms of councils in which laity, deacons and
      priests as well as bishops would have a say in church affairs.

      The Rev. Scott Ickert, pastor of Resurrection Lutheran Church in
      Arlington, Va., and a member of the U.S. Lutheran-Catholic dialogue,
      said the fundamental Lutheran position is summarized in one sentence
      in the 1974 U.S. Lutheran-Catholic joint statement on papal
      primacy: "The one thing necessary, from the Lutheran point of view,
      is that papal primacy be so structured and interpreted that it
      clearly serve the Gospel and the unity of the church of Christ, and
      that its exercise of power not subvert Christian freedom."

      Lutherans have a problem with "the extent of papal jurisdiction, the
      reach of the papacy" because they see it undermining the Christian
      freedom of local churches, he said.

      Putting it in terms of the Second Vatican Council's discussion of
      the authority of the college of bishops in union with the pope, Rev.
      Ickert asked, "To what degree does collegiality exist in the
      Catholic Church in reality?"

      He said that papal primacy would be less of an obstacle to unity,
      for example, if local churches had "greater freedom in the selection
      of bishops."

      Protopresbyter Hopko said, "The pope is the de facto leader of the
      Christian world. He is the Dalai Lama of Christianity."

      He said the Orthodox today "would affirm more than ever" the need
      for a single leader of world Christianity," but in Orthodox
      thinking "there is no bishop of bishops. Every bishop is 'servus
      servorum Dei' (the servant of the servants of God, one of the titles
      held by the pope)."

      Conventual Franciscan Father John J. Burkhard, a theology professor
      and acting president of Washington Theological Union presented a
      list of "practical suggestions" that could advance ecumenical
      relations and make the exercise of the papacy less an obstacle to
      Christian unity. They included:

      -- Regular meetings of the pope with the patriarchs of the Orthodox

      -- Inserting the names of the bishop of Rome and the ecumenical
      patriarch of Constantinople in the eucharistic prayers.

      -- "A broader process of electing the bishop of Rome."

      -- Reform of the process of selecting bishops.

      -- Abolishing the "ad limina" visits, trips that bishops who head a
      diocese must make to Rome every five years to give the pope and
      Vatican officials detailed reports on the state of their diocese.

      -- Strengthening the teaching authority of bishops' conferences and
      giving them authority over things such as the adaptation of the
      liturgy to their culture.

      Ann K. Riggs, director of the Faith and Order Commission of the
      National Council of Churches, spoke to the forum not from her
      personal stance as a Quaker but as a theologian articulating the
      faith perspectives that Pentecostals, Baptists, evangelicals and
      others outside the mainline ecumenical churches bring to questions
      of papal primacy.

      "The conceptual traditions of the Catholic Church are almost
      incomprehensible" to members of those churches, she said. She noted,
      for example, that while the Orthodox and mainline Protestants can
      understand the notion of "the sacramentlike quality of the church,"
      that language is alien to Baptists and Reformed Christians, who
      refer even to baptism and Eucharist as "ordinances," not sacraments.

      One problem facing those who approach the notion of church in terms
      of the local congregation, she said, is finding ways for those
      congregations to do mission together. If the bishop of Rome can act
      in ways that help the churches talk about and do mission together,
      it would mean something to those churches, she said.

      Moderating the forum was theologian Monika K. Hellwig, who taught at
      Georgetown for more than 30 years and is now a research fellow at
      Woodstock Theological Center.

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