The Church: People of God, Body of Christ, Temple of the Holy Spirit
Brian Mullady, OP


In the middle 60s there were many theologians who were either at the Council or were returning from the Council who gave us lectures on the new teaching of Vatican II. Often, to illustrate the teaching of Vatican II on the Church, these theologians drew a pyramid and placed the Pope at the top. They then proceeded to label the pyramid in descending order as cardinals, bishops, priests, religious and laity. They would cross this out and then draw a circle in which they inscribed the term “People of God.” According to them, Vatican II had completely suppressed the old idea of the hierarchical Church in such a way that all the members of the Church were now equal as in a democracy.

Another watchword of this generation was that WE were the Church – the implication being that the hierarchy was not. Another way of expressing this idea was to say that there was no distinction any more between the ecclesia docens (teaching church) and the ecclesia discens (learning church). The hierarchy had to consult the laity who possessed the sensus fidelium (sense of the faithful) and exercised infallibility in believing and was to be treated like a constituency in a democracy. A further variation on this theme was the later much-discussed idea that there was a rival Magisterium to the Magisterium of the Pope and bishops. This was the Magisterium of the theologians. A Dominican friend of mine once explained as justification for dropping the word “men” from the words of institution in the Eucharist (before it was approved by the hierarchy) that the bishops were the ordinary way of doing things in the Church and the theologians were the extraordinary way.

“Paracouncil” vs. the Council
This is an erroneous interpretation of the Council. One wonders how this interpretation has become so pervasive in the post-Conciliar Church. One of the great theologians of the Council, Cardinal Henri de Lubac, attributed this misunderstanding to what he called the “paracouncil which often deserved the name of ‘anti-council.’”1 According to Cardinal de Lubac, this paracouncil wanted “a Church that can no longer be defined ‘according to a descending schema,’ but according to ‘an ascending schema.’”2 This ascending schema looks on the Church as an assembly called into being by the Holy Spirit, but without any structure but a structure of honor. Jurisdiction must derive from the laity and the theologians, while the college of bishops is treated like a parliament. The only fitting image for this structure is that of the People of God because it seems to deny the idea of hierarchy.

The teaching of Vatican II is very different. It is clear that one must examine the whole document, Lumen Gentium, to be able to discern the teaching of the Council on the subject of the Church. In this article, I would like to discuss the general outline of Lumen Gentium, and demonstrate how the basic structure actually gives us three great images of the Church: People of God, Body of Christ and Temple of the Holy Spirit. All of these images must be affirmed and none of them can be understood without the others. Pope John Paul II expressed this idea very well in a summary of Vatican II, which he wrote while Archbishop of Cracow:

    Meditating in the Spirit of Vatican II on redemption as a reality continuously present in the Church . . . we must also have in mind the link between the Mystical Body of Christ and the People of God. The Church is at the same time both one and the other. . . . We should first address our minds to the reality of redemption. . . . If we did not do this, or if we proceeded too rapidly from the theme of redemption to that of the People of God, the latter would not appear to us in the fullness of its significance. . . . One might speak of the vertical dimension being overshadowed by the horizontal.3
While the Pope thinks that the term “People of God” was very important in the theology of Vatican II and that the emphasis on the horizontal dimension was an important contribution to the idea of the Church, he argues that the riches of the Council can only be fully mined “provided we keep in mind the theological richness . . . which derives from the fact that the People of God is contained in the Mystical Body of Christ and vice versa.”4

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (nos. 781-801) treats the Church under the three-fold division of People of God, Body of Christ, and Temple of the Holy Spirit. This demonstrates that the Church wishes this division to be the authentic interpretation of the text of Lumen Gentium. In fact, this is born out by the text itself. Meditation on the complete text of Lumen Gentium serves as a firm foundation for all thinking about the Church. The sad thing is that because of the influence of the “paracouncil,” this meditation is almost completely lacking in the contemporary Church. In addition, meditation on the three images of People of God, Body of Christ and Temple of the Holy Spirit helps us to understand the exact place of the Roman Pontiff in this beautiful ecclesiology.

The examination of Lumen Gentium must begin with a primordial text that summarizes the whole thrust of the document and sets the tone of the treatment of the Church into the classic three images (chapter 1). After a brief introduction and three paragraphs summarizing the missions of the three Persons of the Trinity in history, the Fathers of the Council quote a text from St. Cyprian, which is also reflected in St. Augustine and in St. John Damascene, who represents the Eastern Fathers: “Hence the universal Church is seen to be a people brought into unity from the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”5

The purpose of the Church, as of any society, is to allow the members of the Church to realize their human potential in a more perfect and complete manner than a solitary man could. This social unity is an expression of the mission of the Trinity.

Mission has a twofold aspect when it comes to God. “Mission . . . in God means procession according to origin.”6 The Father sends the Son and the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit eternally by relation of origin. This same relationship is expressed in time in the manner in which God is revealed to the Church.

    Mission not only signifies procession from the principles, but also includes the temporal term of the procession. Hence mission is only temporal. Or we may say that it includes the eternal procession with the addition of a temporal effect.7
The mission of the Father sending the Son, which is expressed in the term “People of God,” and of the Son as being sent by the Father, is now completed in the very action of God himself to which the person is directed who enters into the other two mysteries. This is the mission of the Holy Spirit who cannot be sent apart from the Father and the Son. The spiritual mission of the Holy Spirit, which is sanctifying grace and charity, cannot occur apart from the Father and the Son. There is no true baptism in the Holy Spirit apart from the confession of the Creed, the sacraments, and the hierarchy. The hierarchical Church and the spiritual Church are one and the same.

This introduction sets the tone for the first part of the document, which distinguishes between the being of the Church (chapters1-4) and the act of the Church (chapters 5-8). The section on the being of the Church first discusses those general things that set it apart from all other religions, which is expressed in the term “People of God” (chapter 2). “People of God” expresses the vertical relationship of a society that has God as its rector or head and the general horizontal relationship between this society and all other human societies and religions. This society is a true commonwealth of God.8 This treatment occupies paragraphs 4-17.

The People of God in the Mystical Body of Christ
The basic constitution of the People of God is then delineated in terms of the relation of that people to the Body of Christ. As the Son is sent by the Father in eternity, so does the Father establish his society in relation to his Son. This society is at once interior and exterior, immanent and transcendent, visible and invisible. The distinction of the hierarchy (chapter 3) and the laity (chapter 4) is itself a division of the being of the Church. This distinction perfectly expresses the mission of Christ, and the Council examines the participation of both hierarchy and laity in the existence of the Church. The treatment of the People of God and the structure of that people as the Mystical Body of Christ occupies the rest of the first part of the document, paragraphs 7-38. One will note that the treatment of the Church as People of God and Mystical Body of Christ overlaps to show their essential union.

In the third and last section, the Council treats man as a Temple of the Holy Spirit. This is holiness and this holiness is the act as well as the purpose of the Church. The horizontal dimension of the Church as a society begins in the vertical dimension. This horizontal dimension finds its origin in the Trinity and its destiny must also be there. “It [the Redemption] is the meeting-place of the two dimensions clearly described by Vatican II – the vertical dimension constantly extends into the horizontal and transforms it again into the vertical.”9

The holiness of the Church includes the universal call to holiness (chapter 5); the religious life, which is the embracing of the state of perfect holiness here on earth (chapter 6); the completion of holiness, which is the vision of the God in heaven (chapter 7); and the perfect model of holiness, Our Lady (chapter 8). The Church as the Temple of the Holy Spirit is the theme of the whole second half of the document and occupies paragraphs 39-69.

Obviously, it is not possible to separate any of the truths about the Church contained in one of these terms from the truths about the Church contained in the others. Rather, like the Trinity whose missions these terms represent, each of these terms can only be understood completely as complementary to the others. Pope John Paul II calls this the “principle of integration.”10 Each of these terms can only be understood in the context of the whole Creed.

Let us apply these general ideas to particular points. The missions of the Trinity are expressed in the images used of whole Church. The term “sacrament” is used to express the dual dimension. The Church is not a sacrament in the formal sense that Trent gave to the term. It is not an outward sign instituted by Christ that in itself causes grace ex opere operato. Still, the use of this term to describe the Church is not completely equivocal to the term of Trent. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church so neatly explains, “The Church, then, both contains and communicates the invisible grace she signifies. It is in this analogical sense, that the Church is called a sacrament.”11 This society of the Church is brought into being by the very grace of the Holy Trinity.

The communion of the Persons of the Trinity in heaven is imaged in sign here on earth in the communion of the members of the Church with one another. This communion is a hieratic and hierarchical one because it images heaven and supernatural life, and participates in the next life in exactly the same order as we find among the Persons of the Trinity in their communion with each other. Though the communion on earth is not the same as the Persons of the Trinity, it is caused by the Divine communion, images the Divine communion and has as its purpose participation here on earth and in heaven in that communion.

The concept of communion lies “at the heart of the Church’s self-understanding,” insofar as it is the mystery of the personal union of each human being with the Divine Trinity and with the rest of mankind, initiated with the faith, and, having begun as a reality in the Church on earth, is directed towards its eschatological fulfillment in the heavenly Church.

If the concept of communion, which is not a univocal one, is to serve as a key to ecclesiology, it has to be understood within the teaching of the Bible and the patristic tradition, in which communion always involves a double dimension: the vertical (communion with God) and the horizontal (communion among men).12

The mission of the Father is expressed in the distinction between the Church as a whole and other religious expressions. First, there is no other society, religious or secular, like the Church because the Church is directly founded by Christ.13 Various images are used in Holy Scripture for this foundation, including the sheepfold, the cultivated field, the building of God, family life and marriage.14

The greatest of these images is the Mystical Body of Christ because this emphasizes the primacy of Christ as the Head of creation and the Church, the conformity of the members with the Head, the increase of the Body under the influence of Christ in heaven, the activity of the Spirit who is sent into the Church by the Head and the fullness of the Church received by the Head.15 The purpose of this section is to emphasize that the mystery of the Church is present and clearly seen in the concrete everyday society we experience. The visible and the spiritual assembly are not two things, but one complex reality, which is both the means of salvation and the fruit of salvation.

The Church is one, but there are what the doctrinal commission of Vatican II calls “ecclesial elements” (elementa ecclesialis) outside the Church. Far from being a rival community of salvation, these elements are naturally found in the Church and naturally impel toward unity with her. “Since these are gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, they are forces impelling toward Catholic unity.”16 The famous change from “is” to “subsists in” (subsistit in) is understood by the doctrinal commission to better correspond to the teaching that there are ecclesial elements outside the Church which are directed in formation in an accidental way to her.17

The second chapter then takes up the integration of People of God with Mystical Body in terms of what both terms share. This chapter is not an exhaustive analysis of every facet of the communion enjoyed by the People of God. In this chapter “first the general conditions of the People of God are indicated and then membership . . . either in act or in potency.”18 The Church is declared to be the successor of the commonwealth of God prepared in the Old Testament. The New Covenant ratified in the death and resurrection of Christ is the definitive foundation of the society of God on earth. This new People is characterized by the very indwelling Holy Spirit, which roots it firmly in the unity of the Trinity mentioned in paragraph 4, even though the consummation of that unity is found only in heaven.

The consecration in the Holy Spirit is the common element of the two groups in the Church who participate in his action. The first is the priesthood of all believers, which is granted to them in baptism. The second is the ministerial priesthood, which is a further consecration in the Holy Spirit granted in Holy Orders. Though the two priesthoods are related to each other, they “differ essentially and not only in degree.”19 Ministerial priests serve the priesthood of the laity.

Paragraph 11 delineates the manner in which the whole consecrated community acts. This includes both those consecrated by baptism only and those further consecrated in a special way by Holy Orders. These acts are the sacraments and the virtues. Though this chapter clearly distinguishes between the hierarchical priesthood and the common priesthood, the purpose of the chapter is not to speak of hierarchical delineation, but of what all Catholics share in common as consecrated members of the new community of the Church.

Paragraph 12 takes up this same theme with respect to the prophetic office received by every Catholic in baptism, which is his share in the three-fold office of Christ as priest, prophet and king. This common prophetic office is shown in the infallibility of the faithful in believing. The Holy Spirit assists the intellectual participation of the whole Church in belief. This doctrine is not new. The doctrinal commission comments:

    Passive infallibility or infallibility in believing arises from active infallibility as effect from cause . . . The greatest post-Tridentine theologians (M. Cano, St. Robert Bellarmine, Gregory of Valencia, Suarez, Gonet, Billuart) clearly teach the infallibility of the faithful in believing. Their manner of proceeding in both exposition and argument is often explicitly from faithful to the hierarchy, or from infallibility in believing to infallibility in teaching; nor does there seem to be any danger in this for the hierarchy. . . . Nevertheless the hierarchy, especially the Supreme Pontiff pertain also to the faithful.20
Paragraph 13 is the “hinge and chain”21 of the whole chapter. The unity of the whole People of God as generally expressed in the Mystical Body is communion with the Trinity and Christ as the Head of the Body. “There is a universal vocation to one faith and one People of God in the whole world. 2. This catholic unity is already being effected on earth, although imperfectly. 3. The foundation of this universal union is charity given by God. 4. Nevertheless men relate or are ordered to this unity in different ways.”22 This unity is the visible communion that expresses the eternal communion of the Persons of the Trinity. For this reason, this unity is founded on and reflects the missions of the Trinity.23

The Council then develops this idea of communion of all men in the missions of Christ and the Holy Spirit. The Council states that those who are fully members of the People of God and therefore incorporated into the Body of Christ are those who have the characteristics of profession of faith, unity of sacraments, and ecclesiastical government and communion of charity (collegialitas affectiva et effectiva) with the visible structure of the Church of Christ, who rules through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops.24 These criteria are traditional and correspond to the constant teaching of the Popes summarized very well already by Pius XII in Mystici Corporis.25

The Council Fathers went beyond traditional language by substituting the word full (plene) for only and simply (tantum, simpliciter, reapse). The Doctrinal Commission of the Council clarifies that the reason “full” was finally used in the document was so that children who had not yet reached the age of reason and also the more unevangelized Christians who are not instructed enough to fulfill or to know all the conditions for membership, would not be excluded from the Church.26 This paragraph also makes the traditional point that those who are in the state of mortal sin are like dead members of the Church.

The Council then takes up the question of the various Christian societies that do not participate fully under these criteria. Following the idea that other Christians are not fully incorporated because they are not in full communion with all the means of salvation, the Council nevertheless wished to emphasize certain de facto common possessions. These common possessions are very many with the Eastern Orthodox churches, which are truly described as “churches.” As for other Christian communities, the means of union are varied and disparate. Still, they are there and they may be means by which the Holy Spirit operates in sanctifying grace. The Council emphasizes the difference between these societies and churches by not using the word “church” to refer to them. Rather, they are called “ecclesial communities.”27 The Council also uses the expression that these communities have “some real joining” with the Catholic Church. 28 The Doctrinal Commission says that some of the Fathers did not want the word “some” used because this would seem to suppress the action of the Holy Spirit in non-Catholic Christians who were well-disposed.29 The Commission chose to keep this word to show that the “joining” of Protestant and Catholic was not perfect but added the word “true” (vera) to avoid a pejorative interpretation.

The same intention stands behind paragraph 16, which points out the various positive elements in non-Christian religions that orient them in potency to the Catholic Church. The doctrine invoked here is traditional. The interpretive device for understanding it is found in the note from Thomas Aquinas (note 18). In the text to which the Council refers (ST III, q. 8, a. 3, ad 1), St. Thomas teaches that all men are in some way joined to Christ the Head, except the damned who have been fixed in their choice against him. There are various degrees of membership in his Mystical Body. In fact, the term “Mystical Body” differs from a natural body because it includes both actual and potential members. In the Mystical Body, there is a progression of membership both actual and potential.

Those who are infidels, although they are not in the Church in act are nevertheless in her in potency. This potency is founded on two things: first and principally, on the power of Christ, which is sufficient to save the whole human race; secondly, on free will.30

This doctrine is also found in many of the Fathers of the Church, who refer to things such as “seeds of truth,” “affinity between the creature and Creator” and “divine pedagogy” in natural religions. These elements, which presumably are reflections of the natural law, are stated by the Doctrinal Commission to be “divinely given preparation”31 for the Gospel, but are not identified with the Gospel.

The Hierarchical Constitution of the Church
After the Council’s discussion of the general communion of the People of God in the Mystical Body of Christ, fundamental distinctions within the Church are discussed. Chapters 3 and 4 distinguish between the hierarchy and the laity. Though both groups participate in the Mystical Body of Christ and in all of the characteristics of the grace of the Holy Spirit, they have specifically different contributions to make. The laity are not merely passive recipients of the life of the Spirit. Indeed, the whole reason the hierarchy exists is to encourage and maintain the presence of the Holy Trinity in the hearts of the whole Catholic faithful as they actively live the life of grace.

The hierarchy exhibits “ministries” (ministeria) that truly are invested with sacred power (qui sacra potestate pollent).32 The Council affirms the teaching of Vatican I about the central power of the Pope in the visible communion of the society of the Church. The expression could not be stronger.

    In order that the episcopate itself, however, might be one and undivided he (Jesus) put Peter at the head of the other apostles, and in him he set up a lasting and visible source and foundation of unity both of faith and communion.33
The Fathers then apply this to the question of the participation of the bishops’ Magisterium in this same communion of faith. Their participation is called “the college.” The contribution of Vatican II, then, to ecclesiology was to recognize the dignity and active character of the laity in the life of the Church and to establish the exact place of the bishops’ participation in the one teaching authority of Christ.

With respect to the latter point, the Council is clear, first of all, that the bishops do not receive their authority to teach from the Pope. Each bishop in his own diocese is the center of communion with the teaching authority of Christ and the Trinity. He receives this from his ordination. He is not a papal legate. Each bishop is a successor in his own right of the apostles, as the Pope is of Peter.34 Ordination, then, is the source of the being or existence of the bishop’s authority.35

Yet, the second point is no less essential. Since this power is rooted in the People of God and is an extension of the mission of the Son and the Spirit, it must be exercised in union with the whole Mystical Body. This power must be exercised in act collegially. The duties of teaching and ruling “of their very nature can be exercised only in hierarchical communion with the head and members of the college.”36 This means that the episcopal college is not a parliament or government of equals or a constitutional monarchy replete with checks and balances. Such an authority structure would be incompatible with the mission of the Triune God, who imparts his truth and life to the whole Church. The college and the collegial unity demanded of this teaching cannot occur in opposition to the Tradition of the Church, nor to the teaching of the Pope.37 Even if the whole episcopacy of a country were to vote against the teaching of the Pope, those bishops would only be speaking as private persons and not in their office. They would not be able to bind the consciences of the faithful.

The Council affirms the infallibility of the ex cathedra papal magisterium as taught by Vatican I and goes a step further in proclaiming the infallibility of the episcopal college. According to the “paracouncil,” Vatican II taught less about the infallibility of the Magisterium. In fact, it taught more. The infallibility of the Magisterium shows that the authority of the Church has no relation whatsoever to the authority of the state, but is a unique example of authority because it is the authority of Christ and therefore of the whole Church. The Pope is the visible center of unity of that authority, which is not a vague primacy of honor, but truly involves the ability to bind the conscience through teaching, as the Pope is assisted by a charismatic grace to proclaim what Christ and the Spirit through his Church have always taught.

The Temple of the Holy Spirit
The communion of the Church with the Trinity, which is founded in the Mystical Body and the People of God, must be completed in the image of the Church as the Temple of the Holy Spirit. The first two images respect the being of the Church, the last expresses the act of the Church. Holiness is the completion of the act of the Church. This invisible holiness is the expression of the Mission of the Holy Spirit. The last four chapters of Lumen Gentium (chapters 5-8) speak of this holiness, which forms the purpose of the whole Church.

Chapter 5 speaks to the universal call to holiness of everyone in the Church because they receive communion with the Trinity through sanctifying grace. Chapter 6 explains the special call of religious to encourage others to live and desire this holiness because religious are “eschatological signs” of what the consummation of the Church and the resurrected life will be. Chapter 7 was especially requested by John XXIII to combat any earthly triumphalism. Therein the consummation of the Church is situated in the communion with God of vision in heaven. Chapter 8 summarizes the whole document with an examination of she who is the holiest one in the Church, our Lady.

Our Lady is not a member of the hierarchy, but in her the whole reason for the existence of the hierarchy is seen. From her, the body of Christ came forth and in her the Holy Spirit dwells in as a shrine. She summarizes all of the characteristics of the People of God because she is the Daughter of Zion who is faithful to the end.

    In the Church this communion of men with God, in the “love [that] never ends,” is the purpose which governs everything in her that is a sacramental means, tied to this passing world. “[The Church’s] structure is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ’s members. And holiness is measured according to the ‘great mystery’ in which the Bride responds with the gift of love to the gift of the Bridegroom.” Mary goes before us all in the holiness that is the Church’s mystery as the bride without spot or wrinkle. This is why the “Marian” dimension of the Church precedes the “Petrine.”38
Vatican II contributed much to the understanding of the horizontal dimension of the Church. But that very contribution cannot be assessed unless it includes the vertical dimension of the Trinity with which it begins, of which it is an image and to which it is oriented as a goal. The “paracouncil” fails on all points.

In the 1960s, it was customary to hang banners in the Church for the liturgy. One of the common quotes used for these banners was from St. Irenaeus, “The glory of God is man fully alive!” This seems to affirm the intention of the “paracouncil.” Those who put these banners up forgot to include the second half of the quote, which exactly situates Lumen Gentium in its proper context. St. Irenaeus actually says, “The glory of God is man fully alive! But man fully alive is man when he sees God!”39

Fr. Brian Mullady, O.P., teaches theology at Holy Apostles Seminary.
  1. Henri de Lubac, A Brief Catechesis on Nature and Grace (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1984), 238.
  2. Ibid, 239.
  3. John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla), Sources of Renewal (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1979), 90-91.
  4. Ibid.
  5. “Sic apparet universa Ecclesia sicuti ‘de unitate Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti plebs adunate’” Lumen Gentium, n. 4.
  6. Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra Gentiles, I, 43, 4, ad corp.
  7. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I, 43, 1, ad corp.
  8. “. . . communitatem seu rempublicam hominum sub Deo,” Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologicae, I-II, 100, 5, ad corp.
  9. John Paul II, Renewal, 84.
  10. “First and foremost, all that Vatican II has said must be subjected to the principle of integration of faith. The Council did not concern itself with the whole content of our faith, and did not formulate a Creed comprising all its truth. This was done . . . by Paul VI in the Credo Populi Dei (AAS, 60 (1968) 443-5). This Credo clearly indicates that the teaching of Vatican II, which centers above all on the reality of the Church, must be organically inserted into the whole deposit of faith, so as to be integrated with the teaching of all preceding Councils and pontiffs,” John Paul II, Renewal, 39.
  11. n. 774.
  12. Some Aspects of the Church Understood as Communion, Letter of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, May 28, 1992, n. 3.
  13. LG, n. 5.
  14. Ibid., n. 6.
  15. Ibid., n. 7.
  16. “. . . quae ut dona Ecclesiae Christi propria, ad unitatem catholicam impellunt,” LG, n. 8. This point is well-explained in a pre-conciliar source. “It is important to note here that when we say that the Church is information outside the Church, we are looking at things in a way which, from the ecclesiological standpoint, is accidental and secondary. We mean that those who broke with the Church took with them certain good things which by their very nature belong to her. In themselves, in virtue of their own internal exigencies, these scattered fragments demand to be integrated in the Church . . . Outside the Church the Church is in formation, but this comes about accidentally, by violence done to the course things have taken. Outside the Church, the Church, of itself, is in decomposition. Any fragments of life broken off from her are no sooner detached from their native whole and subjected to the influence of the principle of dissidence, than they begin to disintegrate and decay.” Charles Journet, The Church of the Incarnate Word (London: Sheed and Ward, 1954), p. 38.
  17. Cf. Synopsis Historica: Lumen Gentium (Bologna, Istituto per le Scienze Religiose, 1975), 440.
  18. “. . . nempe primam in qua indicantur generales conditiones Populi Dei, et alteram in qua agitur de membris eius sive actu sive potentia . . . ,” Synopsis, 445.
  19. “. . . licet essentia et non gradu tantum differant . . .,” LG, n. 10.
  20. “. . . infallibilitas enim passiva seu in credendo, ab activa tamquam effectus a causa oritur. . . . Maximi theologi post-tridentini (M. Cano, S. Rob. Bellarmino, Gregorius de Valencia, Suarez, Gonet, Billuart) clare infallibilitatem fidelium in credendo docent. Modus progredendi eorum in expositione et argumentatione saepe explicite est ‘ a fidelibus ad hierarchiam’, seu ab infallibilitate in credendo ad infallibilitatem in docendo; neque ullum in hoc vident periculum pro hierarchia. . . . tamen ad fideles etiam pertinere hierarchicos, immo Summum Pontificem,” Synopsis, 444.
  21. “. . . cardo et vinculum . . .,” Synopsis, 445.
  22. “Divisio huius expositionis, quae non valde dilucida apparebat, fere huc redibat: 1. Universalis est vocatio ad unam fidem et unum Populum Dei in universo mundo. 2. Haec catholica unitas iam his in terris, licet imperfecte, efficitur. 3. Fundamentum huius universalis unionis est caritas a Deo data. 4. Ad eam tamen homines diversimode pertinent vel ordinantur,” Ibid.
  23. “De indole universali Populi Dei, fundata in pincipiis [sic] huius Populi, nempe in unitate naturae humanae et in missione Christi, Spiritus Sancti, et Ecclesiae,” Ibid.
  24. “Illi plene Ecclesiae societati incorporantur, qui Spiritum Christi habentes, integram eius ordinationem omniaque media salutis in ea instituta accipiunt, et in eiusdem compage visibili cum Christo, eam per Summum Pontificem atque Episcopos regente iunguntur, vinculis nempe professionis fidei, sacramentorum et ecclesiatici regiminis ac communionis, ” LG, n. 14.
  25. Cf. “Actually only those are to be numbered among the members of the Church who have received the laver of regeneration and profess the true faith, and have not, to their own misfortune, separated themselves from the structure of the Body, or for very serious sins have not been excluded by lawful authority, ” Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, AAS 35 (1943), 202 f., DS 3802.
  26. “Commissio admisit expressionem ‘plene’, et delevit ‘tantum’, ne excludantur pueri, usum rationis nondum habentes, vel etiam rudiores, qui omnes conditiones implere et agnoscere non valent, ” Synopsis, 446.
  27. “. . . in propriis Ecclesiis vel communitatibus ecclesiaticis. . .,” LG, n. 15.
  28. “. . .vera quaedam coniunctio,” Ibid.
  29. “. . . in christianis non-catholicis bene dispositis . . .” Synopsis, 447.
  30. “Ad primum ergo dicendum quod illi qui sunt infideles, etsi actu non sint de Ecclesia, sunt tamen in potentia. Quae quidem potentia in duobus fundatur: primo quidem et principaliter, in virtute Christi, quae sufficiens est ad salutem totius humani generis; secundario, in arbitrii libertate,” Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, III, 8, 3, ad 1.
  31. “. . . et tamquam praeparatio divinitus data considerari,” Synopsis, 448.
  32. Synopsis, n. 18.
  33. “Ut vero Episcopatus ipse unus et indivisus esset, beatum Petrum ceteris Apostolis praeposuit in ipsoque instituit perpetuum ac visibile unitatis fidei et communionis principium et fundamentum,” LG, n. 18.
  34. “The holy synod teaches, moreover, that the fullness of the sacrament of Orders is conferred through episcopal consecration . . . Now, episcopal consecration confers, together with the office of sanctifying, the duty also of teaching and ruling . . .,” n. 21.
  35. “It is the unmistakable teaching of tradition, including liturgical tradition, that an ontological share in the sacred functions is given by consecration,” LG, Nota Praevia of Paul VI.
  36. “. . . munera quoque confert docendi et regendi, quae tamen natura sua nonisi in hierarchica communione cum Collegii Capite et membris exerceri possunt,” Ibid.
  37. “The word College is not to be taken in the strictly juridical sense, that is as a group of equals who transfer their powers to their chairman, but as a permanent body whose form and authority is be ascertained from revelation. . . . There is not such thing as a college without its head: . . . In other words it is not a distinction between the Roman Pontiff and the bishops taken together but between the Roman Pontiff by himself and the Roman Pontiff along with the bishops. . . The Pope alone, in fact, being head of the college, is qualified to perform certain actions in which the bishops have not competence whatsoever. . .” LG, nota praevia of Paul VI.
  38. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 773.
  39. Cf. St. Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, bk. 4, c. 20, 7; also CCC, #294; also “The passage is taken from St. Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, bk. 4, chap. 20, 7. But the quotation is incomplete and misleading. Irenaeus wrote, “For the glory of God is man who lives; and the life of man is the vision of God,” Sources chrétiennes (Paris: Cerf, 1965), vol. 100, 2, 648-49. This passage sums up a number of others like it in books 4 and 5. In recent times the quotation has frequently been given incompletely. Henri de Lubac, A Brief Catechesis on Nature and Grace (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1984), 238.

This article first appeared in Catholic Dossier