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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Edmund Hill OP

The following is the Preface and first chapter of a book and below that a Book Review: 

Ministery of Authority in the Catholic Church by Edmund Hill, OP

(London:C Chapman) 1988
It is being posted to give us a taste of a challenge to the efficacy of the  Catholic Church's teaching authority in our contemporary society. It will be the subject of discussion at our next meeting - probably towards the end of October.  Following this excerpt find below  a review of this book which gives another perspective.

I wish to warn the reader from the beginning that this book is a work of advocacy, not of judicial impartiality. In it I am advocating one view, one theology of authority and ministry in the Church and attacking another. I am pleading a cause, I am taking a side, before the tribunal of Catholic public opinion. If anyone in response should decide to appear for the other side, criticise the theology I advocate and defend the other, I would be delighted. I am continually disappointed in my efforts to provoke the other party (whom in this book I call magisterial papalists, or MPs for short) into debate, by such means as occasional letters to The Tablet.
The other party, being actually in control, and authoritarian in temperament, and regarding its own rightness as axiomatic, ADOPTS A TECHNIQUE  IN THE FACE OF CRITICISM that one is familiar with FROM  THE PRACTICE OF AUTHORITARIAN SECULAR REGIMES, LIKE THE South African government, for example. The first reaction is to ignore the criticism, not to hear it, to turn a deaf ear—the proverbial expression indicates that the technique is as old as sin itself. The next step, when it is no longer possible to pretend that the criticism is not there, is to evade it by attributing all kinds of dubious motives to the critics, from mere crankiness to malice. The actual criticisms levelled are hardly ever met objectively for what they are, and either answered or accepted.
Here then I am challenging the authorities in the Church, those who support the magisterial papalist line, to do just that; and I am inviting my readers to acknowledge, and to ask their spiritual fathers in God to acknowledge, that I have at least made out a case which ought to be answered.

To the innocent child in the story
why the Emperor had no clothes

It is commonly assumed by ordinary Catholics that there is only one Catholic view of authority in the Church, the one that is taken for granted and put into practice by the Vatican. This view is assumed to be Catholic doctrine. Thus in a letter to Tue Tablet, 6 December 1986, a correspondent wrote:
How can Fr Curran say in all honesty as a Catholic.., that no one has a monopoly of the Holy Spirit? Is not that exactly what Jesus gave Peter when he said: ‘I give you the keys of my Church, What, you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and what you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’? J else can that be interpreted other than that the Pope—and h successors in perpetuity, given that Jesus did not intend to found a Church just for the duration of Peter’s life—was given a monopoly of the Holy Spirit?
These are not, of course, the words of a Vatican theologian, but they illustrate how Vatican theology is readily assumed by the ordinary pious Catholic to be Catholic doctrine. The correspondent does not understand how Fr Curran can disagree with his own exaggeration of this theology ‘as a Catholic’.
But: the truth is that within the bounds of Catholic orthodoxy it is possible to hold other views about authority and ministry in the Catholic Church, which differ widely from those of the dominant theology that at present governs the practice of the Roman Curia. My purpose in this book will be to criticise relentlessly this dominant theology of authority, and to propose another which, I will suggest, is more faithful to the gospel, to the most authentic Catholic tradition and—most immediately—to the spirit of Vatican II.
Vatican II unequivocally committed the whole Catholic Church to the ecumenical movement, that is to working for the unity of all Christians; and equally unequivocally it acknowledged that this work is quite distinct from working for the conversion or reconciliation of individuals or groups to the Catholic Church. The Council also endorsed the principle of collegiality, which speaking roughly means ‘power sharing’, or shared authority. And Cardinal Wojtyla, in his speech accepting election as Pope John Paul H, said that the promotion of ecumenism and collegiality would be the chief aims of his policy as pope.
But the view of author in the Church which is still dominant in the V and which the pope, to judge by any number of his actions and statements, seems to share, is simply not compatible either with ecumenism or with collegiality. It is, practically speaking, anti—ecumenical and anti-.collegial.
To give one instance: 0n 24 November 1986 the BBC reported the pope as saying in New Zealand that the Roman Catholic Church cannot compromise its principles, and that its commitment to the ecumenical movement faced the other Christian Churches with new demands. To be sure, what the pope says and what the BBC reports him as saying are not necessarily quite the same thing. But what he is reported as saying is what he is heard by the world as saying. Now since the question of authority in the Church is generally acknowledged to be perhaps the most intractable obstacle to ecumenical progress, it may be assumed that the Roman idea of authority was at least one of the principles the pope had in mind. And taking his statement as reported, one can only say that it constituted a body blow to ecumenism. It was, in the strictest meaning of the word, scandalous. That is to say, it will have alienated Protestants and seriously discouraged Catholics from pursuing the ecumenical way—which has never, in any case, been a way of requiring any party to compromise it principles, but only to re—examine them critically and in the light of Christ. But the pope’s statement as reported is redolent of the view of authority that prevails in the Vatican: namely that authority in the Catholic Church (to all intents and purposes papal authority) is in the last resort not to be questioned, beyond any human critical judgement, subject to divine judgement alone.
A. The two opinions
Let me now label and describe the two views of authority in the Catholic Church which I shall be opposing to each other in the course of this book. I call the first view, the one at present in control of the levers of ecclesiastical power, magisterial papalist. It has a long history behind it. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries it has been called ‘ultramontane’, the view of authority and the Church held ‘beyond the mountains’, i.e. south of the Alps, i.e. in Rome itself. Mediaeval historians call it, as it was expressed in the Middle Ages, simply ‘papalist’. I call it ‘magisterial papalist’ because one of the most frequently employed terms in its armoury is magisterium, and because I wish to avoid any suggestion that it’s Catholic critics reject or deny the papal authority. As Catholics, committed to upholding the papacy and its authority as defined at Vatican I in 1870, we are all papalist. But we are not, as Catholics, definitely not, committed to the ultramontane view of the papacy so succinctly reduced ad absurdum in the letter quoted above, which I therefore style magisterial papalist—MP for short.
The contrary view I shall be proposing I label ministerial collegialist—MC for short. It too has a long history behind it, and has taken many forms, not all of which by any means would I regard as acceptable. From the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries it was most commonly known as Gallicanism—a view of the Church insisted on above all by the absolute monarchs of France before the French Revolution. From about 1800 onwards some British Catholics adopted the name ‘cisalpine’, meaning ‘this side of the Alps’ in contradistinction to ‘ultramontane’, beyond them. As it found expression in the Middle Ages it is called conciliarism by the historians—the movement that saw in general councils the only remedy for the ills of the Church when the papacy seemed, and was, morally bankrupt.
B. The magisterial papalist view
The MP theory of authority starts with Christ bestowing authority on Peter and the apostles, and only on Peter and the apostles. From them it passes to the pope and the bishops, and only to the pope and the bishops. They are the sole possessors of Christ— given authority in the Church.
I. Concentration of authority in the papacy
But in fact, in this view, this authority is really concentrated in the papacy. The pope, and he alone, enjoys the plenitudo potestatis the fullness of authority. Only the more extreme, or less sophisticated, MPs maintain in theory that the bishops derive their authority immediately from the pope and not immediately from Christ, so that in the government of their dioceses they are no more than the pope’s agents, representatives or lieutenants. Only two or three years ago I heard an excellent and senior priest refer to the Archbishop of Maseru, presiding at a function in his own archdiocese, as ‘the Holy Father’s representative’.
This, though clean contrary to the most formal statements of Vatican II,2 s very understandable, because in practice all MPs envisage the government of the Church in this way, and the Vatican acts in this way. The Church is governed by the pope from Rome, with the assistance of his curia or court, in which he appoints all the bishops (with the rarest of exceptions), and from which he sends them directives and instructions all round the world. The pope with his fullness of authority is responsible, i.e. answerable, to no other human person or authority, but only to God. He is indeed an absolute monarch one can see that the papacy has for centuries been taking on the trappings of absolute monarchy, derived in the first place from the archetype of European absolute monarchies, the late Roman or Byzantine Empire. Thus he officially resides in a ‘Sacred Palace’; his court is divided into ‘Sacred Congregations’; he is assisted by ‘the Sacred College of Cardinals’; he is ‘the most holy Lord’, ‘the Holy Father’; he was until recently crowned with a triple tiara. And more down to earth, he appoints, as we observed, nearly all the bishops. Only in the present pontificate (and the brief one of John Paul I) have some of these trappings, but none of the substance, of absolute monarchy been laid aside.
2. Magisterium and hierarchy
Two further words are associated with this concept of authority in the Church: ‘hierarchy’ and ‘magisterium’. The pope and the bishops, to whom alone authority in the Church belongs, are in common ecclesiastical parlance known as ‘the hierarchy’. It is an axiom of the MP party that our Lord instituted the Church as a ‘hierarchical society’—in contrast, for example, to an egalitarian or democratic society; more precisely, as a society to be governed by hierarchs or high priests.
The authority of these hierarchs, pope and bishops, vests them with a power not only to govern but to teach—a magisterium, the authority of the magister or master in the sense of ‘teacher’. The word ‘magisterium’ in recent ecclesiastical documents (it is, theologically, a very recent word) is often concretised to mean those who exercise it, and sometimes qualified characteristically with the word ‘sacred’, so that you may come across such a phrase as ‘It is the common teaching of the Sacred Magisterium that…’ The reference, as often as not, will be simply to the pope or the Holy See.
3. Sacerdotalism, clericalism
Two other concepts colour the MP view of authority in the Church. We have observed the frequent use of the word ‘sacred’ in MP language. The usage derives, as I suggested, from Byzantium, not from Galilee. But its justification has come to be that the authority in question is essentially priestly or sacerdotal, and priests are by definition persons invested with sacred powers, and indeed are as such sacred persons. Now again in common Catholic parlance it is not only—or mainly—popes and bishops who are called priests, but ordinary Catholic clergymen like the author, collectively known as ‘the clergy’. Technically we belong to the second rank of the hierarchy (in a slightly different sense now) of bishops, priests and deacons. So we are not, in theory, vested with any authority except what is delegated to us by bishops or pope. But again in practice we are commonly regarded by the faithful as vested with a kind of sacred authority, within very definite limits.3
So authority in the MP view is sacerdotal and hence clerical, because all priests belong to a class or caste called ‘the clergy’, from which of course all bishops and popes are drawn. And one of the chief concerns of the MP party is to preserve the sacredness— i.e. the distinctness or apartness in the service of God—of the clergy. Hence the absolute insistence on compulsory celibacy for the clergy, and the refusal even to discuss the matter, or related matters like the ordination of women.
The title of this book includes the word ‘ministry’, and the reader may have noticed that I have not used it at all in my description of the MP position. This is not because it does not occur in the MP vocabulary, but because when it is used in its strong sense as service of God and the community by persons in authority as servants, it is treated purely as a kind of moral ideal for such persons, who ought to regard their exercise of authority in that light—as I am sure very many of them do. But the concept of ministry or service is not seen in the MP scheme of things as essentially qualifying the notion of authority, which is defined without reference to it.
C. The ministerial collegialist view
I come now to the ministerial collegialist view, that is to the particular form of it which I prefer. There are various forms of it, no doubt, but here I can only state my own personal view.
To start again then with Christ, to whom ‘all authority in heaven and on earth has been given’ (Mt 23:13). MCs of my sort agree that he gave his authority to Peter and the apostles, and hence to the pope and the bishops as their heirs. But first of all we do not agree that the apostles derived their authority from or through Peter, and therefore we do not admit that bishops derive their authority from the Pope. They are indeed subordinate to the pope in their exercise of their authority, but not merely his agents or delegates. They have—or should have by rights—their proper autonomy.
And secondly as an MC I hold that Christ did not share his authority only with Peter and the apostles, the pope and the bishops. I maintain that he also shared it with the whole Church, with all the faithful. When MPs assert that authority and magisterium are the prerogative exclusively of the hierarchy, they are ignoring certain important New Testament texts and misconstruing others, e.g. Jn 1:12; Gal 4:4—7; 1 Pet 2:5, 9; Rev 1:6; Mt 18:15-18.
I. ‘Churches’ and ‘Church’
So as an MC I strongly disapprove of the concentration of all authority in the Holy See—or should I rather say that I see it as a purely historical development, something unknown in the first thousand years of Christian history; something that may possibly have had some value in the political contexts of mediaeval and post—Tridentine western Europe, but is now unrealistic and counter—productive.
I prefer to think of the Church, in fact, as a Church of Churches, not as one uniform society divided in to administrative units called dioceses (another term borrowed from the administration of the late Roman Empire). Rather it is seen as a great number of local communities or Churches of  believers (this is Paul’s customary language—the Church of Corinth, the Church of Philippi, the Churches of Judaea etc.) united in their common faith and hope under the presiding charity of the local Church of Rome the New Testament, when the universal Church is mentioned, which is rarely, it is not some world—wide organisation that is being referred to, with its administrative structure, but a heavenly or cosmic mystery or idea, which is embodied in each local Catholic Church, not constituted by them as by its parts.
Now there is no going hack on the fact that the Church has become a world—wide organised society. But we MCs maintain that it really requires little or no central government, that its most natural form of organisation is on a regional basis in what used to be known as provincial councils or synods, presided over by metropolitans or primates (whose authority varied enormously from one region and period to another), and what are now known as bishops’ conferences.
2. Churches as brotherhoods
Instead of thinking of the Church as essentially a hierarchical society, MCs consider the local Churches to be essentially brotherhoods—and the essence of the fraternal relationship is equality. They are, we agree, organised brotherhoods, with gradations of authority. But these are purely functional— necessary, yes, but not of the essence of the society. We are chary of the words ‘hierarchy’ and ‘magisterium’ for reasons that will appear in later chapters. We cannot seriously consider teaching, or teaching authority to be the exclusive concern of the hierarchy; a vast array of Christians, from parents and school teachers and catechists to parish priests, seminary profcssors and theologians, lay as well as clerical, are involved in handing on the true faith with a measure of authority, in maintaining and developing the tradition. Some of them are formally recognised as Doctors (i.e. teachers) and Fathers of the Church.
Nor is teaching the simple business of an active teacher handing on the goods to a passive audience, as much of the official use of the magisterium concept seems to imply. MCs simply reject the old distinction between ecclesia docens and ecclesia discens, the teaching and the learning Church, in so far as it was intended to refer to two groups of people, the hierarchy and the rest. The whole Church in all its members from the pope down is both teaching and learning. The two processes are in fact practically identical. Teaching involves, means, implies, arguing, questioning, disagreeing, criticising, being convinced, being criticised, learning.
3. Authority as service
Finally MCs place great stress, in fact the main stress, on authority as service or ministry. We don’t simply see this, like MPs, as a moral ideal to be set before persons in authority. To safeguard this essentially Christian quality of authority, we think it needs to be institutionalised i.e. to be expressed in certain kinds of institution with which we are in fact quite familiar.
For instance, employers like to be able to choose their servants, though I admit this is not always possible. Well, members of Christian brotherhoods which we call local Churches should be able to choose their servants, namely their bishops and clergy, and not just have them appointed over them from above. This was indeed the ancient and canonical procedure; bishops were supposed to be elected by clergy and people.5 All sorts of difficulties arose, to be sure. But I really do not see why, if Anglicans in most of the provinces of the Anglican communion can elect their bishops, not to mention the forms of election employed by Presbyterians and Congregationalists, it should be impossible for Roman Catholics to do it too.
And then law—making. We are familiar with representative institutions. So was the Catholic Church in bygone days, and indeed the old canon law, with its principle of ‘what touches all should be approved by all’ (quod omnes tangit ab omnibus approbetur), was a prime agent in the development of such institutions in mediaeval Europe. They serve to ensure, to some extent, that those in high authority act as the servants of the community they are meant to be. The idea that the pope is the sole legislator for the whole Church, and under him bishops are sole legislators for their dioceses, is a principle of absolute monarchies—’what seems good to the prince has the force of law’ (quod principi placuit legis habet vigorem)—Byzantine not evangelical.
In the following chapters I hope to provide the evidence to support my rejection of magisterial papalism and my championing of ministerial collegialism. The evidence will he taken from the New Testament, from Church history, and from an assessment of the most recent Councils, Vatican I and Vatican II.
1 There are some exceptions, the best known, no doubt, being Hans Kung. But there are other Catholic theologians who do not think that Catholics are irrevocably committed to the definitions of 1870. Luis M. Bermejo, a Spanish Jesuit who has worked all his life in India, and writes in English, argues that it is by no means certain that we have to, or should treat the first Vatican Council—or any general council of the past millenium whose membership has been confined to the Latin Church—as in the strictest sense ecumenical. If it was not ecumenical, it could not make infallible definitions therefore its definition of papal primacy and infallibility was not itself infallible.
As the title of Fr Bermejo’s book shows— Towards Christian Reunion (Gujarat Sahitya Prakash Anand, India)—the context of his argument is ecumenical discussion. What he is arguing towards is the assertion that the Roman Catholic Church, without necessarily giving up the papal doctrines defined at Vatican I (and reaffirmed almost obsessively at Vatican II), should not by rights make their acceptance by other Christian communions a sine qua non for reunion.
In the long run this may be so—who can tell? But in the short run I personally think his approach is a tactical mistake in the campaign within the Catholic Church to dislodge or outflank the ultramontane obstacle to ecumenical progress.
2 ‘Bishops govern the particular churches entrusted to them as the vicars and ambassadors of Christ... This power, which they personally exercise in Christ’s name is proper, ordinary and immediate, although its exercise is ultimately regulated by the supreme authority of the Church. . . The pastoral office or the habitual and daily care of their sheep is entrusted to them completely. Nor are they to be regarded as vicars of the Roman Pontiff, for they exercise an authority which is proper to them . . .’  (Lumen Gentium, 27: as in The Documents of Vatican II, ed. Walter J. Abbott, SJ, pp. 49-50).
3 If a priest, whether a theologian or not, says anything that seems novel, i.e. is not obviously related to what has been learned in catechism or heard regularly in Church, then a mental safety curtain will come down in the minds of many Catholics, and what he says will either not be heard, or ignored, or misrepresented or in the last resort rejected. The same is, I must concede, probably true if it is a bishop, cardinal or even a pope saying something that sounds novel. Fundamentally, this is as it should he. In the long run it is the sensus fidelium working, a contribution to that infallibility in believing which the whole People of God enjoys as its share in Christ’s prophetic office (Lumen Gentium, 12.). But in the short run it means that there is a built—in bias in the popular Catholic mind in favour of a naive ultramontanism, as the letter quoted at the beginning of this chapter indicates. However, the widespread non—acceptance of some of the teaching of Paul vi’s encyclical Humanae  Vitae  by millions of ordinary Catholics shows that the ultramontane stronghold in the minds of ‘simple Catholics’ is by no means impregnable.
4 Cf. a phrase of St Ignatius of Antioch in his letter to the Christians of Rome, written as he was on his way to martyrdom in the Colosseum there about AD 110. Two things are remarkable about this letter, with respect to our present concern: first, the exceptional respect he shows to the Church of Rome, in comparison with all the other local Churches to which he wrote; secondly, that he never once mentions the bishop of the Roman Church, whereas reverence for the bishop was a major theme of all his letters to the other Churches. One plausible inference that can be drawn from this silence is that the Roman Church—conservative from the beginning—had not yet adopted the institution of episcopacy!
5 In the history of the Church there has been almost endless variety in the way in which bishops have been chosen. That the popular element in their election was still a reality in the fourth century, after the peace of Constantine, is shown by the two famous cases of Ambrose in Milan and St Augustine in Hippo. But this element was difficult, indeed almost impossible to regulate canonically, and was occasionally riotous and violent. In the Middle Ages the canonical right of election belonged to cathedral chapters, but was more often than not overruled, or at least ‘directed’, by lay rulers. To counteract this lay control the popes first challenged the greater rulers, especially the German emperors, in what are known as the wars of investiture; and then from the thirteenth century on began extending the practice of what was known as papal ‘provision’ to bishoprics—and to other ecclesiastical offices. This in turn was resisted by lay rulers, notably by the kings of England, and by the fifteenth century it had become a matter of bargaining between the Holy See and the courts of Europe. Canonically speaking, papal provision to bishoprics was the exception right up to the promulgation of the Code of Canon Law in 1917. So its treatment as the norm in the New Code recently promulgated can hardly be regarded as an ancient tradition in the Catholic Church. Vestiges of the election by the people can he found in the current rite of ordination of a bishop, though it is now reduced to a token ‘Thanks be to God’ after the reading of the apostolic letter of mandate from the Holy See; however, the rubrics do admit ‘... or (the people) give their assent to the choice in some other way, according to local custom’.
Chapter 2.
In this chapter I shall be examining, first, the nature of authority as redefined by Jesus in the gospels; second, the distribution of authority within the community of believers; and third, the various ways in which authority was deployed or exercised in the different local Churches of which we have evidence in the New Testament. We are, of course, only interested in authority as belonging to God and Jesus Christ, and as vested lay Christ in his followers. We shall not take much notice of what the New Testament has to say—-it is merely descriptive in any case—about the secular authority of such persons as Herod, or Caesar or Pilate, or even Satan, whose authority (and it is real enough) can I suppose be rightly called secular.
A. The nature of authority…


London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1988. Pp. 142. 7.95.

Readers will not find in this book a serene, dispassionate, and impartial analysis of ministry and authority. The author, presently teaching theology in Lesotho, says that his book is a work of advocacy, a taking of sides, a forthright challenge to Church authorities. He writes out of frustration and exasperation. In short, he has written a brief for one particular view of authority and has condemned another. His trenchant opinions, at times caustic but not without the occasional humorous aside, are confrontational, not soothing.
Hill contrasts two views of authority in the Catholic Church: the "magisterial papalist" (MP) and, the one he supports, the "ministerial collegialist" (MC) - The magisterial papalist approach is the product of the second millennium of Christianity, reaching its peak during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is the ultramontane view with its excessive papalism and the concentration of all authority in the Holy See and the papacy. It identifies the Church with the papacy and affirms a hierarchical, clerical view of Church and authority. The author calls this approach "unrealistic and counter-productive" and claims that its advocates are deaf to any criticism. Using a pyramidal conception of the Church that is Byzantine and juridical, Hill argues that the MPs hold that all authority descends from the hierarchical summit. Church authority, the exclusive possession of the hierarchs, is an instrument of control and is not to be questioned. The magisterial papalists oppose ecumenism and collegiality and are threatened by lay involvement in Church affairs. This view dominated Vatican I and is still in control. The author's purpose is "to criticize relentlessly" MP theology and to propose another model of ecclesial authority.
The "ministerial collegialist" position, according to Hill, is more faithful to the Gospel, the tradition of the first millennium, and the spirit of Vatican II. The MC school, as the name suggests, favors collegiality, a broad concept of ministry, and ecumenical openness. An MC himself, he considers the centralization of authority in the Holy See to be a historical development that has outlived its usefulness. He asserts that Christ did not bestow authority on the pope and the bishops alone; they share it with the entire People of God. The Church as a whole is the primary recipient of the sacrament of order. The Church is a Church of churches rather than a hierarchical, world-wide institution. Christian communities are united in common faith and hope with the Bishop of Rome. In contrast to the MP view, teaching authority is not the exclusive prerogative of the hierarchy; many other Christians are also involved in handing on apostolic faith. MCs insist that authority is not domination but service or ministry. There is no need for Rome in every instance to appoint bishops for local Churches; they should ordinarily be chosen by their own clergy and people.
With the battle lines thus drawn, Hill marshalls evidence for the MC approach from the New Testament and Church history, concentrating on the meaning and development of authority, ministry, and magisterium. He devotes separate chapters to analyses of Vatican I and Vatican II and concludes with a utopian scenario of what Church authority ought to be in the third millennium.
Hill has some explanatory footnotes and refers often to scripture and Vatican II. But he rarely cites any individual theologians who support his position, nor does he often refer to his MP opponents by name. Yet he does say that the present pope, the Roman Curia, and Cardinal Ratzinger follow the MP theology. A list of theologians who adhere to the principles of the MP or MC positions and an index would have been useful additions to the book.
Resorting to the broad brush of rhetoric to construct a convincing argument may be an effective debating technique, but it can be misleading. As a result, some of Hill's comments need further clarification. The following appeared to me as typical.
First, he states that "he [the Pope] is an absolute monarch" (p. 4) . This assertion needs qualification. The papacy may have trappings of monarchy and theologians in the past may have described the Church in monarchical terms, but the pope is not an absolute monarch. More correctly, if one wishes to speak of monarchy, and neither Vatican I or Vatican II used the term, the pope is a constitutional monarch. He is bound--to name but a few limits--by the constitution of the Church itself, by revelation, by divine and natural law, by previous articulations of dogmatic truth. No pope can remain a pope if he rejects the above. Undoubtedly, the author would agree with this, but his initial phrasing lacks the proper nuances.
Second, Hill writes that the sacrament of order is "the one sacrament that is in itself detrimental to the salvation of the individual recipient" (p. 511). Not only does it not help the individual toward salvation, he argues, but it is a positive hindrance. In his polemical enthusiasm, Hill overstates the "danger" of power corrupting those in the clerical rank. Of course, opportunities for abuse may possibly emerge also in the sacraments of baptism, marriage, and the Eucharist. His presentation of the sacrament of order is overly negative. A more positive and balanced explanation can be drawn from the rich Christian tradition and from the documents of Vatican II.
Third, Hill describes the synod of bishops as "really not much more than an august talking shop" (p. 116). Through 1989, eleven synods have been held, and most observers of these synods--myself included--would agree that in some respects they have been disappointing. Yet despite their shortcomings, the synods are visible signs of episcopal collegiality and actively engage the local Churches in their preparation and implementation. The synod of bishops may not be perfect, but it is a significant element in the Church's organizational structure. The synods have unrealized potential which must be developed.
Fourth, in his discussion of infallibility at Vatican I, the author states that when the pope defines something he is making a "final judgment" (p. 100), and "he deliberately utters the last word on some point of doctrine" (p. 102). This explanation is misleading. The doctrine of infallibility means that the pope, if he follows the conditions given at Vatican I, can define a doctrine and in so doing, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, his judgment is free from error. Such teachings are irreformable: they are true, and they cannot be contradicted. Infallible definitions set limits, but they are not the "last word." The development and further understanding of doctrine must continue. As Rahner puts it: "Definitions are much less an end than a beginning" (Theological Investigations, Vol. 1, p. 10).
Fifth, it is strange that in presenting the MC position, Hill devotes so little space to the role of the Bishop of Rome. He is correct in saying that the local Churches are "united with each other in one communion under the presidency of the local Church of Rome and the primacy of its bishop" (p. 109). But he should explain it further. In the Catholic tradition the office of the papacy is an essential factor in the unity of the Churches. What are the functions of the papacy in a more collegial Church? What does "presidency" mean concretely? What authority does the pope have as he "presides in charity"? Hill does not tell us.
In the final chapter, Hill suggests several concrete steps that can and should be taken if the MC ecclesiology is to become an effective force in the next millennium. First, make the synod of bishops a deliberative body. Hill does not mention it, but, in fact, the pope can endow the synod with deliberative power (Canon 343). He has yet to do so. Second, turn the Roman Curia into a purely consultative and advisory organization. Third, discontinue the present curia1 appointments of bishops and allow for different methods of episcopal selection that would, however, still require papal confirmation. Fourth, give episcopal conferences greater legislative authority. They would become a modern version of the ancient synodal form of Church government. More pointedly, what he is asking for is "the 'planned dissolution' of the Latin Church into a considerable number of distinct, autonomous 'patriarchates'" (p. 132). These suggestions, although not original, are intriguing. They deserve, however, more than three pages. What is needed is a detailed presentation of these changes, indicating their historical context, their advantages and disadvantages, and their practical implementation.
Despite the criticisms given above, there is much good material to be found in this crisply written book. I agree in general with Hill's judgment that Church authority should embody a collegial rather than a monarchical ecclesiology. He shows that the MC ecclesiology has a solid foundation in scripture and tradition and its cornerstone is the theology of the local Church. Furthermore, he is correct in insisting that the doctrines of collegiality and the priesthood of the faithful are urgent questions in contemporary ecclesiology and that they have broad ecumenical ramifications. He speaks convincingly of greater lay participation, local autonomy, consultation, and accountability. At the same time, his partisanship leads him to caricature the MP view. He will not persuade many MP supporters by criticizing their "highhanded authoritarianism and paternalism" (p. 53) and "ecclesiastical dishonesty" (p. 127) or by claiming that the Roman Curia "is neurotically obsessed with the matter of papal authority" (p. 114). Hill makes many valid and important points, but, on occasion, he weakens them by exaggeration. At times his partisan style overcomes his theological substance.
The Catholic University of America
Washington, D.C.

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