"In verbo veritatis" (2 Cor 6:7)

January 30, 2021

Defending the Catholic Common Ground Initiative

The Catholic Common Ground Initiative promoted by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin turned out to reveal divisions within the hierarchy of the United States. The controversy soon involved theologians as well, two of whom, Fr. Avery Dulles and Prof. David L. Schindler, strongly criticized the notion of dialogue they believed to underlie the Bernardin proposal. Fr. Dulles’s essay was delivered as the McGinley Lecture at Fordham University on November 19, 1996, and then published as “The Limits of Dialogue” in Crisis (February 1997): 16-19, and then again, much later, in Church and Society: The Lawrence J. McGinley Lectures, 1988-2007 (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008) 221-233. Professor Schindler’s critique was published as “On the Catholic Common Ground Project: The Christological Foundations of Dialogue,” Communio, 23 (1996): 823–5.

It may be that it was an article by Jim Cosgrove, “The Common Ground Project and the Art of Dialogue,” which appeared in the National Catholic Register, on April 6, 1997, that led me to get involved. I dimly recall that I communicated with the editor of the newspaper, Joop Koopman, who invited me to write about the controversy. The result was the following long essay which he published in full in the pages of a journal that had always been rather conservative editorially and in 1995 had been bought by the Legionaries of Christ. In my accompanying letter, dated April 25, 1997, I wrote to Koopman: “I thank you for the invitation to contribute this. I appreciate it that the Register is interested in this kind of ‘dialogue’.” It was not long afterwards that he was replaced as editor of the newspaper, and I wondered whether his publishing of my critique had anything to do with his departure.

JAK – In Defense of the Common Ground Initiative

June 20, 2020

Epistemology of Reception

Filed under: Foundations in Ecclesiology, Uncategorized — komonchak @ 8:48 am

This is the talk I gave at the third Salamanca Conference held in 1996.  I re-read it recently and found that it sets out, in what I confess is a very dense argument, themes that have occupied me ever since I started work in ecclesiology in the late 1960s.  In fact, the central thesis was supposed to be the subject of a major book, something that I fear is never going to be written. One way of putting it is that if God wills that there be a Church, he wills that certain events take place in the subjectivity and inter-subjective relationships of human beings. Here I draw upon Bernard Lonergan’s theorem of divine transcendence and extrinsic denomination to make the point.

Comments very welcome!

JAK Epistemology of Reception

April 20, 2020

Who are the Church?

Filed under: Foundations in Ecclesiology — komonchak @ 12:09 pm

In 2008 I was given the high honor of being asked to deliver the Père Marquette Lecture in Theology at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I decided to devote my talk to an exploration of the claim that anyone who makes a statement about the Church–what it is, what it is saying, what it is doing–should be prepared to say of whom the statement is true, in whom it is true. In this, as I indicate in the lecture, I am asking what St. Augustine asked when explaining the blessing the Psalmist says will come to those who walk in the ways of the Lord: “Your wife a fruitful vine on he sides of the house” (Ps 127[128]:3).  In whom, Augustine wanted to know, is the Church “a fruitful vine”?  It is the question that Yves Congar asked several times in his writings:  “To what, or to whom, does the word ‘Church’ refer?” The question may seem obvious, but I have found that many theologians seem not to have asked it, content to leave the subject of their statements about the Church and the subject of the actions they attribute to the Church unspecified,

JAK – Who are the Church

November 14, 2019

Culture and history in a theology of the local Church

I have been working on the theology of the local Church since at least 1981.  When I first approached the question, I took local cultures to be the decisive element in defining the local character of a local Church.  For reasons set out in the first of the essays found here, I began to move away from culture to history, or historical moment and challenge, as better identifying what makes a local Church local.  The two essays, you will find, have whole sections that are identical.

JAK – Culture and history as conditions

JAK – Catholicity & Redemption

August 30, 2019

Episcopal conferences

Filed under: Essays, Foundations in Ecclesiology, Uncategorized — Tags: , — komonchak @ 5:04 pm

The Final Report of the 1985 Synod of Bishops called for a clarification of the theological and canonical nature of episcopal conferences. Even though the Report could be taken to be calling for theologians and canon lawyers to undertake that task, the Vatican took this to mean that they should appoint a committee to do the clarifying.  The result of this was an “Instrumentum laboris” (working paper) sent out to the bishops of the world.  It would receive severe criticisms from many episcopates, including that of the USA for which I wrote a lengthy critique which was adopted by the bishops.

A symposium on episcopal conferences was held at Georgetown University, the results of which were published in a book. I was asked to write an introduction explaining what the controversies were that surrounded the institution and then to offer a theological assessment of the working paper. Both essays are available here: JAK – Two essays on episcopal conferences .

The official text that came out of the Vatican effort is entitled Apostolos suos. It will be seen that the critiques of the draft had little effect, and this text presented a very narrow vision of the conferences which are basically seen as threats to the pope or to diocesan bishops, or to both.

Pope Francis has asked that the question of the role and authority of episcopal conferences be re-opened. These essays, then, if of little effect forty years ago, may have some pertinence today.

December 19, 2018

Performative Ecclesiology

Asked to participate in a little symposium on Giuseppe Ruggieri’s book Chiesa sinodale, I wrote this essay, which has just been published in Cristianesimo nella Storia. The introduction by Silvia Scatena is in Italian, but my piece is in English.  What I mean by “performative ecclesiology” will be clear, I hope, from this little essay. Briefly it means that ecclesiology should never forget that the Church is not a “thing,” but is en-acted in and as the subjectivity and inter-subjectivity of its members.  Comments, questions, disagreements are all welcome.

JAK – Performative ecclesiology

November 24, 2017

Toward a synodal Church

Filed under: Essays, Foundations in Ecclesiology — komonchak @ 8:42 pm

This is the paper I gave at a Vatican symposium devoted to re-thinking and re-structuring the Synod of Bishops, in February 2016. I attempt to identify the reasons why some cannot understand the need for synodality, co-responsibility at all levels.

JAK – Synodality

April 24, 2015

Diversity and Disagreement

In 2003 I was honored to be invited to deliver the Fifth Annual Lecture of the Catholic Common Ground Initiative, which was then published as a pamphlet which you can find here, along with the response of Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk.

JAK Diversity and Disagreement

Congar: Diversity and Divisions

Filed under: Foundations in Ecclesiology — Tags: , — komonchak @ 2:52 pm

In 1961, a year before Vatican II opened, Fr. Yves Congar gave a lecture on diversity and divisions within the Church that is still worth reading and pondering. Here is my translation of it:  Congar Diversity and Divisions

June 26, 2014

The Synod of 1985

The extraordinary assembly of the Synod of Bishops was convoked by Pope John Paul II to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council. I attended the Synod and wrote a couple of pieces afterwards. One appeared in French as the Introduction to a volume that gathered a great deal of documentation about the event. The original English can be found here:  Introduction to Synode Extraordinaire

Another article appeared in Chicago Studies and can be found here: Notion of the Church at Synod 1985

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