Unity and Catholicity in Christ: The Ecclesiology of Francisco Suarez, S.J

New York, NY, United States of America: Oxford University Press (2022)
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Abstract

Debates concerning the relationship between Tridentine Catholicism and Catholicism after Vatican II dominate theological conversation today, particularly with regard to understandings of the Church and its engagement with the world. Current historical narratives paint ecclesiology after the Council of Trent as dominated by juridical concerns, uniformity, and institutionalism. Purportedly neglected are the spiritual, diverse, and missional aspects of the Church. This book challenges such narratives by investigating the Spanish Jesuit Francisco Suárez's theology of ecclesial unity and catholicity. Analyzing standard as well as overlooked sources of Suárez's ecclesiology, the author shows how Suárez wrestles with the new demands of his time and anticipates later ecumenical developments in twentieth-century Catholic ecclesiology. Early modern expansion prompted theologians after Trent to reckon with the ecclesial status of baptized Protestants, the Greek Orthodox, and non-believers in the New World. It further prompted reflection on the universality, or catholicity, of the Church, and how the Church's mission to the nations serves her greater unity in Christ. Throughout this exposition, the author reveals Suárez's vision of the Church to be deeply spiritual, diverse, and missional-not at the expense of the institutional, but as it's necessary and life-giving source. The Church, for Suárez, is primarily a way of life. This book explores not only Suárez's speculative ecclesiology, but how the unity and catholicity of the body of Christ is lived out in practice, that is, in the worship and works of the faithful, and, most notably, in the charism of his own religious order, the Society of Jesus. Suárez thus shows his readers what the spiritual dynamic between Christic unity and missional catholicity should look like in the Church.

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