Collegiality and Communio

In addition to John Allen and Joan Chittister, NCR's "Church in Transition Special Report" (which, honestly, by numbering the days makes it seem a little less like an interregnum and more like a hostage crisis), they've been calling in other authors and theologians periodically to pitch an inning.

Today, my dissertation director, Dr. Mary Ann Hinsdale, I.H.M., has a thoughtful piece on her hopes for the new pope's commitment to collegiality. I have to say with the tiniest bit of pride that some of my own research might have helped at least one line of her article: her brief mention of how slippery the words "communion" and "communio" are in contemporary Catholic ecclesiology. JPII and the CDF, following their other ecclesiological presuppositions, definitely see communion primarily in the sense of hierarchical communio, that is, the communion one has with one's bishop. This is a great distance from, say, Leonardo Boff's understanding of communion. Now, that's not to prejudge the question and decide that Boff is right and JPII wrong, or vice versa. It is important, however, to point out that in contemporary Catholic theology, "communion" is a word like "Christian" or "People of God" that relies more on the speaker's other theological and philosophical commitments to be understood than any common agreement on the concept's meaning. (This point has been made by a number of people, including, most forcefully, Nicholas Healy in his work Church, World and the Christian Life.) Perhaps by the time I finish my dissertation everyone will see clearly the way things ought to be...

So, at any rate, bravo Mary Ann!

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