17 Pages, Grade: A
At the interruption of the First Vatican Council, the Church was left with a number of questions which needed to be addressed.1 Having alone defined the primacy and infallibility of the Roman Pontiff, questions surrounding the issue of collegiality in the episcopal college became increasingly important, along with the need to understand the mission of the Church amidst the many revolutionary changes which marked society in the 20th century. Recognizing the need for the Church to further reflect upon her nature and mission in light of the new sociological conditions in which she found herself, Pope John XXIII announced the beginning of two landmark events in the history of the Church: (i) the convocation of an ecumenical council and (ii) the call for the revision of the Code of Canon Law. While the announcement of the Council solicited great anticipation the world over, the Code's revision was, for the most part, the subject of very little discussion. The fact that the announcements were made together, however, reveals the desire of the Pope that the revision of the Code would ultimately be the fruit of the Council.
This reflection, which seeks to rediscover the continuity that exists between the Church's conciliar teaching and that of its juridical expression, will be the first of a series of three papers which will each look at a specific aspect of the reception of the Second Vatican Council in the 1983 Code of Canon Law. As the Church's constitution will remain foundational throughout, we will be concerned in the first place with looking at the ecclesiology of communio which had such a profound impact on both the Council and the Code. By beginning with this essential and thematic doctrine of the Church, we hope to 1 Cf. W. ABBOT, The Documents of Vatican II with Notes and Comments by Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Authorities, pg. 9., “. . .The definitions regarding the primacy and infallibility of the Pope, unaccompanied by any treatment of the other bishops and members of the Church, gave a somewhat unbalanced picture. Many critics of the Council charged that it had converted the Catholic Church into a monarchy in which the other bishops would be mere lackeys of the Pope.”
proceed in accord with the methodology of the Council itself, which will in turn provide the necessary backdrop for developing further thoughts and reflections along the way. While it goes without saying that the canons of the Code do not contain all of what is found in the conciliar documents, it is certainly the case that the teaching of the Council can be seen, in some places to greater degrees than others, in the canons of the Code. We must bear in mind, however, the intrinsic limitation on the part of the Code to express in juridical language the theological realities which are by their very nature superior to the categories and restrictions which are natural to juridic expression. Nevertheless, as the very existence of the Code itself is necessitated by the demands of a legal structure which serves the Church's eschatological aim, we should rightly hope to find the canons of the Code reflecting the supernatural end to which they are ordered. In this way, inasmuch as the latter remains in the service of the Church's final end, our inquiry into the theological import of the canons is aimed precisely at uncovering in them the supreme law of the Church which is the salvation of souls.2 In his address to the International Congress of Canon Law in Milan of 1973, Paul VI commented on the relationship between the Church as communio and the need for its concrete juridical expression in the law:
Communio is the union of those baptized, a spiritual reality, but represented in social terms. . .all members of the Church are obliged to recognize the demands of a legal system; if this should fail, the communio in Christ could not be put into effect in social terms, nor could it function effectively.3
In presenting the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ, Paul VI's ecclesiology was informed by the Church's participation in the Mystery of the Incarnation. In this very rich and ancient model, the Church is seen as a divine institution which is at one and the same
time invisible and spiritual, while at the same time being constituted as a visible social community in need of governance and order. As this vision permeated both the conciliar documents as well as the task of revising the Code, its value as a hermeneutical principle can hardly be overestimated. This influence is made clear in the Code's ecclesiological emphasis as it seeks to foster a greater participation in the communio envisioned by the Council. In so doing, the revised legislation of the Church not only reflects the ecclesiology of Vatican II in the formulation of its canons, but it does so in a uniquely pastoral way.
In beginning a series of Angelus reflections in celebration of thirty years after the close of Vatican II, Pope John Paul II called attention to the dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium (LG), which he referred to as “the keystone” of the Council's whole Magisterium. The Pontiff points out that it is precisely in this document that the Church desires to illuminate its own reality by affirming and expounding upon its human and divine elements. Thus, as the Church moves forward in reflecting upon herself as the Mystical Body of Christ journeying through history, so too does she unfold the complex reality of being ever ancient and ever new. The Holy Father is mindful that in order to properly understand the Church as a reality which is both spiritual and institutional, we must take as our point of departure the Church as mystery.4 It is only in approaching the Church from this foundational theological datum that we are able to begin to penetrate the complexities which surround her nature and mission. Moreover, in so doing, we not only safeguard ourselves from the danger of defining the Church exclusively in terms of its institutional or spiritual elements (as if they were somehow in opposition to one another), but we are likewise immediately made aware of the need to capture even the most seemingly mundane of institutional realities against the backdrop of the Church's saving mission.5
1 Cf. W. ABBOT, The Documents of Vatican II with Notes and Comments by Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Authorities, pg. 9., “. . .The definitions regarding the primacy and infallibility of the Pope, unaccompanied by any treatment of the other bishops and members of the Church, gave a somewhat unbalanced picture. Many critics of the Council charged that it had converted the Catholic Church into a monarchy in which the other bishops would be mere lackeys of the Pope.”
2 Cf. CIC/83, can. 1752
3 PAULUS PP. VI, “Discorso ai partecipanti,” in Persona e ordinamento nella Chiesa. Atti del II Congresso internazionale di diritto canonico, Milano 10-16. September, 1973.
4 IOHANNES PAULUS PP. II, Sunday Angelus Reflection, 22 October 1995, “It is the great merit of Lumen gentium to have forcefully reminded us that if we want to have a satisfactory understanding of the Church's identity without neglecting the institutional aspects, it is necessary to begin with her mystery.”
5 Cf. CIC/83, can. 1752, “. . .and keeping in mind the salvation of souls, which in the Church must always be the supreme law.”
Master's Thesis, 104 Pages
Bachelor Thesis, 50 Pages
Term Paper, 32 Pages
Doctoral Thesis / Dissertation, 191 Pages
Thesis (M.A.), 129 Pages
Seminar Paper, 11 Pages
GRIN Publishing, located in Munich, Germany, has specialized since its foundation in 1998 in the publication of academic ebooks and books. The publishing website GRIN.com offer students, graduates and university professors the ideal platform for the presentation of scientific papers, such as research projects, theses, dissertations, and academic essays to a wide audience.
Free Publication of your term paper, essay, interpretation, bachelor's thesis, master's thesis, dissertation or textbook - upload now!