Community and Communion: An Analysis of the Understanding of Community in Some "Communion Ecclesiologies" in Post-Vatican Ii Roman Catholic Thought and a Proposal for Clarification and Further Dialogue

Dissertation, Graduate Theological Union (1997)
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Communion ecclesiology amounts to what others have called a "Copernican revolution" in ecclesiology. This revolution demands not only a thorough and systematic recovery of the New Testament and the traditional theological sources of this theology, but a new interpretation of the foundational principles--the metaphysics--that ground this ecclesiology and its broader context. Community and communion emerge as leading ideas and guiding principles of the the Second Vatican Council's self-definition of the Church and the parameters of this ecclesiology are indeed embedded in the Vatican II documents themselves, but not in a simplistic or overt way. The starting point for this dissertation is a subtle reading of the significant texts of the council by putting them in their proper historical and broader theological context. ;After examining the sources and development of the ecclesiology of "the Mystical Body of Christ," particularly as it is articulated in the papal encyclical, Mystici Corporis Christi, I explore its development in the seminal work of the theologians Yves Congar and Jerome Hamer. Next I examine and delineate the understanding of "community" of three different, and often competing, communion ecclesiologies emerging in post-Vatican II Roman Catholic discourse. I confine my analysis to three sources: recent Vatican documents, Leonardo Boff and J. M. R Tillard. ;Finally, I analyze of the understanding of community in the mature work of Josiah Royce. Because Royce develops a foundational and metaphysical understanding of community and then moves to theology and ecclesiology his work serves as an heuristic device for understanding the nature of community in general, and aids in interpreting and clarifying many issues and concepts central to communion ecclesiology in the current discussions. ;This dissertation concludes that a greater understanding and clarification of the idea of community itself helps to resolve some of the major differences in regard to the critical implications of communion ecclesiology, and expands this ecclesiology to meet the challenges arising out of both internal and ecumenical ecclesial discussions



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