Communion terminology in the Lutheran-Roman Catholic international dialogue in light of the koinonia language of the Canberra Statement *.
Intrinsic to the consideration of koinonia in interchurch (6) exchange is the recognition of intrachurch (7) reflection and appropriation of the concept. As confessional traditions noted for their documentation, this applies particularly to Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism. In a "movement 'from Federation to Communion,'" (8) the Lutheran World Federation now understands itself as a "global communion of Lutheran churches." (9) As member churches grow in a "relationship as communion in mission and service," (10) the Federation recognizes its need "to focus theologically on its faith, identity, and mission." (11) Likewise, the Roman Catholic Church frames its ecclesiological self-understanding in terms of a theology of communion: "... united in the threefold bond of faith, sacramental life and hierarchical ministry, the whole People of God comes to be ... koinonia/communion." (12) Along with the grounding of the tria vincula of faith, sacraments, and ministry (13) stands the trinitarian foundation of this communion, which is "unity with the Father through Christ in the Spirit." (14)
A so-called "intrachurch koinonia, then, informs the interchurch encounter. Lutherans share full communion with each other, while they participate in a "degree of communion" with Christians of other churches. (15) Roman Catholics are in full communion with one another, while they share a "real though imperfect communion" with other Christians. (16) At the same time, "interchurch koinonia" resulting from cooperation and dialogue among the churches returns to the particular churches and finds expression in their words and deeds. Its capacity for such mutual informing has led the biblical concept of koinonia to find its way to the center of the ecumenical language being crafted to express the nature of the church and its unity.
Indeed, koinonia has virtually become the primary referent and organizing principle of many bilaterals. Forging this key role is the concept's integration of the unity of faith with sacramental life and ecclesial witness, particularly since the dialogical exchange now addresses issues once viewed apart from the fundamental ecclesiological questions as inherent to them. (17) Be it Anglican-Roman Catholic, Anglican-Lutheran, Lutheran-Roman Catholic, Lutheran-Reformed, Anglican-Orthodox, or Methodist-Roman Catholic, koinon-language just about leaps off the pages of the documents produced from these and many other conversations. (18) Further reflection cannot help but reveal a growing convergence on the concept as being foundational to ecumenical theological methodology and a hermeneutics of unity. (19)
While not the focus of this essay, these perspectives on koinonia serve as the lens through which I view the koinon-terminology in the documentation and perceive the reception of the concept's significance for the churches. In short, I believe the convergence on koinonia is neither incidental nor accidental. It is the Christian "sacred thread" enveloping the Christian oikoumene, the ecumenical shroud holding and upholding us together--come what may. (20)
I. Analysis: Communion/Koinonia Terminology in the Documents
Our task is to look at the conciliar text, the Canberra Statement from the W.C.C. Seventh Assembly, and at Ways to Community and Facing Unity from the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Joint Commission. As we proceed, the appended chart-grid identifying the koinonia language in the documents to be discussed in this essay may serve as a guide. (21)
First, let us place our texts in context. We are reading two bilateral documents that were written prior to the multilateral document that serves as the "filter" for this study. Hence, it is a synchronic study of sorts, but it is also done with a view to the diachronic. (22) That is, these three documents take their place in an array of ecumenical documentation and discourse. My point here is that we recognize the mutual informing and forming taking place in the ecumenical movement as its people write and read texts together. The language of "fellowship" belongs to the conciliar ecumenical movement from its inception. Tracing this history leaves little room to doubt the impact that this language has made on the ecumenical movement, including the bilateral dialogues. Likewise, and at times in turn, the influence of the bilaterals upon multilateral settings is undisputed. (23) Second, let us define our terms. We are speaking of language in a particular way. That is, koinon-terminology in English belongs to a spectrum of "koinonia-language" whose richness embraces the plethora of nuances found, for example, in the Latin "communio," the French "communion" and "communaute," and the German "Gemeinschaft." (24) Each renders many variations on the one theme.
Let us look first at the Canberra Statement. The art of the statement is at once simple and profound. Rather than propose an ecclesial model of unity, it opens a vision of church unity founded on the nature and purpose of the church. "Koinonia" articulates this vision of unity. Translated as "communion," this pivotal concept weaves throughout the statement as God's "gift" and God's "calling" to both church and world. More than earlier conciliar documents, the Canberra Statement's depiction of the church understood as koinonia does two things: It integrates the relationship of local and universal expressions of church unity, and it gives importance to the sacramental life of the church.
Features salient to understanding unity in terms of koinonia in this multilateral text find expression also in bilateral statements, as well as in documents internal to the particular churches. Let us note some of these elements:
--trinitarian koinonia grounds ecclesial communion.
--"the church is the foretaste of this communion with God and with one another."
--ecclesial communion serves the "fullness of communion with God, humanity and the whole creation."
--there is scandal in the contradiction that the church, called to be a reconciler and healer of divisions, is itself divided.
--divisions in the church are not only those concerning the classical Faith & Order and Life & Work divide.
--the churches recognize a "certain degree of communion already existing between them," despite long-standing divisions.
--at the same time, there is a certain complacency on the part of the churches in that "they have remained satisfied to coexist in division."
--identifies four criteria given for the unity of the church, which are delineated in terms of koinonia: "unity ... is a koinonia given and expressed in the common confession of the apostolic faith; a common sacramental life entered by the one baptism and celebrated together in one eucharistic fellowship; a common life in which members and ministries are mutually recognized and reconciled; and a common mission witnessing to the gospel of God's grace to all people and serving the whole of creation." (25)
--"full communion is realized when all the churches ... recognize in one another the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church in its fullness." (26)
--"Diversities ... are integral to the nature of communion," contributing to the "richness and fullness" of the church.
--at the same time, diversities are qualified.
--diversities are gifts of the Holy Spirit.
--there are limits to diversity to ensure its legitimacy; in communion there is no place for illegitimate diversity.
In its delineation of the steps toward such unity made possible by convergences and agreements already achieved, Canberra then states the challenge before the churches toward full, visible unity. The focus is on baptism, eucharist, and ministry (BEM); (27) apostolic faith; (28) Christian witness; (29) Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC); (30) and reception: (31)
--(1)"to recognize each other's baptism on the basis of" BEM;
--(2)"to move towards the recognition of the apostolic faith as expressed through the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed in the life and witness of one another;"
--(3)"on the basis of convergence in faith in baptism, eucharist and ministry to consider, wherever appropriate, forms of eucharistic hospitality; we gladly acknowledge that some who do not observe these rites share in the spiritual experience of life in Christ;"
--(4)"to move towards a mutual recognition of ministries;"
--(5)"to endeavour in word and deed to give common witness to the gospel as a whole;"
--(6)"to recommit themselves to work for justice, peace and the integrity of creation, linking more closely the search for sacramental communion of the church with the struggles for justice and peace;"
--(7)"to help parishes and communities express in appropriate ways locally the degree of communion that already exists." (32)
Rounding out the notion of gift and call, article 4.1 concludes this short but rich statement, acclaiming the Holy Spirit as the "promoter of koinonia," while Christ's prayerful plea in Jn. 17:21 for the unity of the church of God becomes realized. (33)
These fundamental ideas of the church understood in terms of koinonia find expression in the Lutheran-Roman Catholic (L-RC) dialogue. The koinonia concept is the principle organizing a hermeneutics of the nature of the church and its unity as bilateral discourse informs and forms bilateral rapprochement. Koinonia is the way to unity; koinonia is the goal of unity. At the heart of Lutheran-Roman Catholic unity lies the notion that their communion rests in a reconciled diversity. (34) A model of "comprehensive union," (35) unity in reconciled diversity affirms confessionality as complementary to being ecumenical because diversities lose their "'exclusive' and 'divisive' character." (36) Ways to Community acknowledges diversity as part of the gift of unity. (37) Facing Unity situates its mainstay in a "structured fellowship." (38) That is, diversity is sustained, reconciled, by a structured unity founded upon the ministry of oversight, episkope. (39) With this frame, each document unfolds a way to Lutheran-Roman Catholic unity.
Ways to Community is essentially a response to the 1972 L-RC Malta Report, The Gospel and the Church. (40) Its attention is drawn to the earlier report's statement that a "process of gradual rapprochement is necessary in which various stages are possible." (41) The document divides its focus into two parts. First. it outlines the goal of unity, understood in terms of the koinonia concept. Second, it identifies concrete steps necessary to achieve "full spiritual and ecclesial fellowship" of Lutherans and Catholics. (42) It is not, therefore, a new study per se. Rather, it offers a theological/theoretical synthesis and proposes pastoral/practical application of general ecumenical consensus already reached. (43) In doing so, Ways to Community draws not only on L-RC sources but also on those of the wider ecumenical arena, particularly conciliar ecumenism.
In its employ of koinon-terminology--"communio"/"communion," "community," "fellowship" in particular--the document seemingly assumes an ecclesiology of communion. It gives no detail to understanding the church as communion. Rather, it describes a plan for the restoration of full community among Lutherans and Catholics in terms of goal and steps. Like Canberra, Ways to Community envisions unity as both gift (44) and call. (45) Given "beforehand" (46) and "already begun to be realized," (47) unity is "also awaited and worked for." (48) The giver of the gift is the triune God.(49) Like every good gift, unity ... comes from the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit," (50) who themselves image the "profound communion" to which Christians are called. (51) It is relational, a communion with God and with one another. (52) We can thus speak of a vertical koinonia and a horizontal koinonia. The vertical dimension of relationship is both personal and social. "Christian unity is lived in personal fellowship with the Triune God." (53) Such a fellowship is experienced as one participates fully (54) in the life, prayer, and ministry of the whole Christian fellowship." (55) Likewise, horizontal koinonia embraces two aspects. Ad intra, (56) it is "one fully committed fellowship" (57) of Christian believers. Ad extra, (58) the church exists "for the life of the world (Jn 6:51)." (59) This relationality thus seals the intimate connection of unity and mission: "The church can fulfil its mission only to the extent that it is one." (60)
The goal of unity, then, is a final and complete communion, (61) with outward, visible, and historical manifestation. (62) Ways to Community boldly proclaims that, "in obedience to the faith," (63) Lutherans and Catholics speak with one voice about the unity they seek. It can be nothing short of "full spiritual and ecclesial fellowship," (64) says Ways to Community no. 53, which consists of "'... visible unity in one faith and in one eucharistic fellowship expressed in worship and in common life in Christ ... in order that the world may believe.'" (65)
Ways to Community assumes "a fundamental fellowship," (66) as the point of departure for taking steps necessary to realize full Lutheran-Roman Catholic ecclesial fellowship (67) in "faith, life and witness." (68) Priority is given to the spiritual dimension in the search for unity throughout the document as Lutherans and Catholics attempt to articulate a common vision of ecclesial unity. (69) Screening Ways to Community through the koinonia ecclesiology of Canberra, with an eye also toward Santiago, we can identify the following as essential steps toward full communion between Lutherans and Catholics:
--joint reconsideration of past history, particularly of the sixteenth century, in order to remove "confessionally conditioned prejudices and misjudgements;" (70)
--a more holistic "knowledge of the other church" (71) as "legitimate diversity in the church;" (72)
--centrality of the word of God, (73) and sacraments of baptism and eucharist as imparting fellowship; (74)
--essentiality of the "special ministry" of word and sacrament, which is "divinely instituted" and "conferred through ordination" and that it is "Christ himself who acts through this office and its functions;" (75)
--"theological and canonical clarifications of the concepts of the ministerial office and of ordination;" (76)
--"dialogue committed to the joint search for the fullness of truth;" (77)
--Lutheran-Roman Catholic rapprochement toward full communion takes place within "the context of the whole ecumenical movement" and points beyond itself to the "fellowship of [all] Christians." (78)
Inasmuch as we are reading Ways to Community through the "filter" of Canberra, it pays to remember that this phase of the L-RC dialogue took place as the Lima process approached its climax with the BEM document years earlier. (79) In fact, one can see a structure similar to the BEM process's documentation in the treatment of the sacraments and ministry in Ways to Community. (80)
Also in two parts, the shape of Facing Unity resembles that of Ways to Community. Clearly a segue to Ways to Community, Facing Unity focuses more on implementation of the ways, models, and phases of the unity envisaged by Lutherans and Catholics. When "filtered" through the Canberra Statement, Facing Unity refines the "gift" of the "already existing communion" among churches, and responds to its "call" to the full realization of koinonia among Lutherans and Catholics. (81) The document first overviews the different ecclesial models of unity and then presents the various stages toward full communion. All this is grounded in the general ecumenical consensus reflected in the churches in general (82) and in the fundamental theological consensus that exists between Lutherans and Roman Catholics in particular. (83)
"Fellowship" is the basic koinon-term in the document, (84) with qualifiers denoting the churchly character and order of Christian koinonia. Hence, Facing Unity speaks of church fellowship," (85) concrete and [fully] lived out fellowship," (86) "active fellowship," (87) "full and binding fellowship." (88) Each of these is umbrellaed fundamentally by the concept of "structured fellowship," (89) which itself undergoes qualification: "structured ecclesial fellowship," (90) "structured church fellowship," (91) "fully structured ecclesial fellowship," (92) "full church fellowship," (93) etc. (94) Thus, the document's preface boldly states: "This document strives for clarity regarding the nature of church unity and a concept of that goal which implies neither absorption nor return, but rather a structured fellowship of churches." (95) For the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Joint Commission, the core structure is ministry: the ministry of the whole people of God in general and the ordained ministry, especially the "ministry of leadership and of pastoral supervision (episcope)," in particular. (96) The dialogue entertains the thought that "ecclesial episkope" is a ministry of fellowship that is not only "possible" and "desirable" but even "necessary" (97) and thus proposes its joint exercise as a stage on the way to full Lutheran-Roman Catholic communion. (98) The "common ordained ministry" to which such a joint exercise leads is founded on the recognition and reconciliation of ministry necessary for the establishment of Lutheran-Roman Catholic fellowship.
In support of a concept of unity based on convergence toward consensus on episkope, Facing Unity describes and categorizes diverse ecclesial models of unity that inform and form structured fellowship. We see this in Part I, nos. 2-45, of the document, where eleven models are divided into three categories: (1) models of partial union: spiritual unity, fellowship-in-dialogue, fellowship-inaction, intercommunion/eucharistic hospitality; (2) models of comprehensive union: organic union/unity, corporate union, church fellowship through agreement (concord), conciliar fellowship, unity in reconciled diversity; and (3) fellowship of sister churches: ecclesial "types," sister churches. (99) While it warns against the assumption that "there exists one single model which can lead us to fellowship," (100) Facing Unity seemingly favors comprehensive unions of a more inclusive nature, particularly models upholding diversity in unity, (101) affirming confessional particularity and its endurance as part of the richness of the church universal. (102) At the same time, the text portrays the models also as the raw materials with which to construct a new model proper to Lutheran-Roman Catholic unity vis-a-vis episkope. Certainly, the models need further study vis-a-vis Lutheran-Roman Catholic fellowship. It is important here, as Facing Unity no. 42 notes, that the ecumenical task is not to eliminate the different "typoi" that give variegated expression to ecclesial faith, life, and witness but, rather, to make visible their legitimacy and to preserve them in church fellowship. (103) Catholic-Lutheran fellowship as "a unity in diversity" means neither merger nor absorption but church fellowship shaped by the fundamental theological common ground of faith shared, wherein remaining differences are not divisive and therefore are legitimate (104)--hence, the prospect of crafting a model fitting of the structured ecclesial fellowship of which Facing Unity speaks.
Essential to this fellowship are elements outlined in Facing Unity no. 49 as the path and goal of Lutheran-Roman Catholic unity in terms of church fellowship:
a. fellowship in confessing the one apostolic faith (community of faith);
b. fellowship in sacramental life (community in sacraments);
c. fellowship as a structured fellowship in which community of faith and community in sacraments find adequate ecclesial form and in which common life, common decisions and common action are not only possible; they are required (community of service). (105)
Not only do these elements appear in Canberra, (106) but they also find parallels in the two traditions. They are akin to what Roman Catholicism has traditionally identified as the tria vincula of the church and its unity, (107) and they are the core of the Lutheran Confessio Augustana. (108)
Upon such a foundation, Facing Unity constructs the site of Lutheran-Roman Catholic rapprochement. Via a gradual "mutual recognition and reception," at the heart of which lies recognition and reception of ordained ministry, Facing Unity sketches its profile of structured ecclesial fellowship. (109) In so doing, it draws on the fundamental consensus among Lutherans and Catholics regarding ecclesial faith, sacramental life, and communal service as sufficient for these two communions to come to unity via joint ordination and exercise of their ministers and joint consecration and exercise of bishops, those in pastoral oversight. Its premise is stated as follows:
If a fundamental consensus is reached on faith, sacramental life and ordained ministry such that remaining differences between Catholics and Lutherans no longer can appear as church-dividing, and reciprocal doctrinal condemnations no longer have any basis, then a mutual act of recognition should certainly follow. (110)
In other words, the L-RC Joint Commission is saying that, given the fundamental unity in faith, sacraments, and service, different churches of different confessional traditions can unite by joint ministerial ordinations and joint episcopal consecrations while maintaining the particularity of their confessional identities.
What is proposed is a model of unity "from below," which is the attempt to establish joint fellowship at local--that is, diocesan/synodal--levels where this is possible and appropriate, by means of integrating ordained ministries. It promotes a reception process, in reverse of the standard direction, of action initiated on the ecumenical ground and then subject to acceptance at higher levels rather than vice versa--hence the attention given in the dialogue to the local church in relation to the church universal. Facing Unity no. 5 says, "The church is therefore a communion (communio) subsisting in a network of local churches." (111) Facing Unity no. 90 speaks of "the fellowship of all local churches," which form the one church as "'people of God' and 'body of Christ,' ... [and] 'temple of the Holy Spirit.'" (112) Facing Unity no. 91 notes the intensity of such a relationship in koinonia: "[such] reciprocal recognition ... commits our churches at both the local and the universal levels not only to an occasional fellowship, ... but to a fully lived-out fellowship that requires for its realization a structured form." (113)
This approach "from below" diverts attention from the classical way of determining whether episkope is of the esse or bene esse of the church and whether a diachronic succession has been maintained to ensure apostolicity. Instead, focus is on the synchronic exercise of episkope as a ministry of unity in word and sacrament, here and now, in this time and in this place. That is to say that the point of departure for discussion is the fact that each tradition, Lutheran and Catholic, claims that a form of episkope exists within the tradition and is responsible for safeguarding unity in word and sacrament. Stress on the liturgical and sacramental dimensions of ordination falls as a natural segue and, with them, ecclesial mission of all the faithful, as noted in Facing Unity no. 86: "The church lives by word and sacrament and also stands in their service. It has therefore a structured form in which the service of the whole people of God and the service of those who have been entrusted with the special ordained ministry can act together." (114)
No proposed blueprint is given in Facing Unity. What is presented are possible provisional steps of jointly exercised ministry toward common ordained ministry of Lutherans and Catholics. In them, the dialogue makes clear its vision of ministry for the sake of church unity. Lutherans and Catholics agree that ordained ministry is "essential" for the church. (115) The dialogue furthers this by claiming the interconnectedness of "fellowship in ecclesial ministry" and "fellowship in episcopal ministry." (116) For Lutherans and Catholics, there cannot be one without the other. The divergence lies in the shape this ministry takes and the manner in which it is exercised. This emerges from the different ways the two traditions interpret the historical development of episkope. (117) The dialogue attempts to nuance this difference as one of accent rather than fundamental theological disagreement. (118)
The resulting complication is the absence of mutual recognition of ministry. Lutheranism recognizes the ordained ministry in the Roman Catholic Church, but Roman Catholicism does not recognize Lutheran ordained ministry. As Facing Unity no. 95 states, this is due to a defectus ordinis, that "they lack the fullness of the ordained ministry since they 'lack of the sacrament of orders.'" (119) Ordained ministry, per se, is not lacking; "fullness" of orders is lacking. Herein lies the apparent openness for the proposal set forth in Facing Unity. The document says these problems "need not block the road to fellowship in the church ministry and therefore to a fully structured ecclesial fellowship." (120) To overcome them and to realize such a fellowship, the document goes on to state what is necessary for such a fellowship to be realized: "renewal and deepening of the understanding of the ordained ministry, particularly the ministry serving the unity and governance (episcope) of the church," (121) which for Roman Catholics includes the Petrine ministry of the Bishop of Rome. (122)
In a sense, the dialogue is a response to its own call. Facing Unity opens the way to such an understanding. Ordained ministry, particularly episkope, is a ministry of unity, safeguarding and deepening ecclesial fellowship. Drawing upon early-church understanding and practice, Facing Unity no. 112 says "the episcopal office" is "a service to the koinonia." (123) The dialogue seeks a retrieval of the holistic understanding of ordination found in the early church. It is charismatic, a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is liturgical, conferred by the laying on of hands during the celebration of word and sacrament. It is ecclesial, a commission, with proper jurisdiction. (124) Clearly, episkope is not perceived as an administrative body constructed for the sake of good ecclesial order and well-being. It is the ministry of word and sacrament and service (125) giving shape to "full and binding fellowship between churches." (126) Its structure can be "manifold and variable," and it "expresses itself in synodal structures and processes." (127) While it affirms a certain hierarchical communion, of "fellowship in the ordained ministry," ordination embraces the service of the whole fellowship. (128) Therefore, its exercise "cannot be separated from the responsibility of the laity or from 'synodality' or conciliarity." (129)
More than connection is proposed here. Facing Unity contemplates an interdependence among the exercise of all ecclesial ministries. As the document outlines the plan making the transition from provisional forms of joint L-RC exercise of the episkope to a fully reconciled and mutually recognized common ordination ministry, this becomes more evident. (130) Such stress on the ecclesial dimension of apostolic succession is central to the proposed structured ecclesial fellowship. Rather than "a succession of one individual to another," it is "a succession in the church, to an episcopal see and to membership of the episcopal college ... the episcope is not exercised in isolation but normally in concert with the community of believers, i.e., within a diversity of ministries and services and in the synodal life of the local church." (131)
Underlying all that has been said is what Facing Unity calls the "indivisibility of the koinonia." (132) At stake here is the impact of particular ecclesial relationships on the wider relationship of churches. It is a question of their compatibility. Andre Birmele deciphered the complexity of the question when he said it is the question each church asks the others, "Are your friends my friends?" (133) He gave the scenario of three churches, A, B, and C:
A is conducting a dialogue with B on a particular question and considerable consensus is achieved in this dialogue. A is also conducting a dialogue on the same topic with C and arrives at a considerable consensus here too. What does this mean for the relation between B and C? Naturally there is no problem if B and C also arrive at a consensus in a dialogue on the same question. But a problem does present itself if B and C, talking about the same topic, cannot reach a consensus. Is there some kind of "circular" or "triangular" compatibility? Are the friends of my friends my friends? (134)
The problem is a real one, especially as the dialogue setting is filled more and more with churches that are engaged in so-called "mutual bilateral dialogues." (135) Returning the focus to the L-RC relations makes this most evident. Lutherans and Roman Catholics are two of the key players on the dialogical fields at all levels: international, national, regional, and local.
Concerning the realization of church fellowship as proposed in Facing Unity, the ripple effect, or lack thereof, of "being friends" is not theoretical. For both Lutherans and Catholics, certainly not all become "friends" in the achievement of this "friendship" of two. Likewise, both traditions assume that compatibility in the "A-B-C" ecclesial relation precludes churches that hold "doctrines which clearly contradict central truths of faith," (136) and it rejects ipso facto admission to eucharistic fellowship. (137) Conditions also accompany such assumptions. For example, such ecclesial relationality require the lifting of any existing mutual condemnations. (138) Joint declaration of their nonapplicability rests not only with the consensus of dialogue interlocutors. Binding force lies in the "chief teaching authorities of each of the churches ... according to its own procedures," (139) that is, the Holy See for the Roman Catholic Church and the synodal process in individual Lutheran churches.
Furthermore, particular concerns exist for each tradition. For Lutherans, this raises an interchurch question as well as a intra-Lutheran one. First is "the question of fellowship with those churches which are in fellowship with the Catholic Church." (140) Second, it presses Lutherans in the dialogical loop to work "towards fellowship of all other Lutheran churches with the Catholic church" and those outside to look at the "possibility of a fellowship with the Catholic church." (141) For Catholics, the question of compatibility is a fundamental one: Is it possible for the Roman Catholic Church "to be in full fellowship with a church which is itself in fellowship with another church with which the Catholic church is not in fellowship?" (142)
Questions of compatibility lead into those of reception. Are the churches able and ready, and do they have the will to ecume, by which I mean to give themselves over to all that is ecumenically possible? This brings us to the second part of the essay.
II. Reception: Terminology Translated into Ecclesial Life
The task here is to entertain the question how Lutheran-Roman Catholic koinonia is being existentially worked and lived out. Where has it gotten Lutheran-Roman Catholic relations? This is a question of a twofold process of reception and recognition, the distinction between and relationship of that Facing Unity makes clearly. (143) In short, recognition is directed to the theological and spiritual affirmation of one church for another for the sake of legitimacy and authenticity. Reception refers to the theological and spiritual affirmation of one church for another for the sake of acceptance and appropriation, which includes correction and complement. As the writers of Facing Unity indicate, there cannot be one without the other. The dual idea bespeaks of the churches' capacity for particular rapprochement--and this in view of compatibility with wider ecumenical relationality.
Certainly, the L-RC Joint Commission recognizes the long road and the advances made thereon since the days of pre-Vatican II ecclesial isolation. (144) Since Vatican II (1962-65), these two churches are no longer distant, no longer strangers to one another. Lutheran observers present during the Council, dialogues launched after, ongoing cooperative endeavors, and the like have dispelled prejudices, judgments, and condemnations--often founded on untruths and misinformation--thereby revealing to one side the churchly character of the other. The two L-RC documents, Ways to Community and Facing Unity, reap the harvest of this maturation and plant new growth in agreement for its bearing further fruition. With this in mind and heart, I will frame my reflection on translating the idealiter of Christian koinonia into realiter, looking at the koinonia concept and the notion of unity in diversity. In so doing, echoes will ring of the substance of the studies under our consideration. I have three points.
First, unity is God's gift to God's church and God's call. That unity is manifested in the richness of the diversity. Understanding the church as communion embraces the dual richness of oneness and difference. Since the beginning, the church has known diversity. Diversity is both the gracious gift of God to God's people and God's people's call in receiving and accepting their giftedness. (145) This is as true for the church of today as it was for the church in earlier times--but with one significant difference. Our ecclesial forebears' departure point of diversity was unity, ensconced in a fundamental eucharistic communion. Our point of departure is disunity. (146) The difference necessarily colors the approach to unity in diversity.
Second, there is such a thing as legitimate diversity; and there is such a thing as illegitimate diversity. (147) Diversity is good only when it serves ecclesial communion. This is legitimate diversity, marked by acceptable limits. Legitimate diversity is legitimate insofar as it deepens faith, nourishes life, and inspires witness. (148) Diversity that breaks communion and causes division is bad. This is illegitimate diversity, stamped with extremes of either excessive open-ended variety or retrenching likeness, Illegitimate diversity is illegitimate insofar as it diminishes faith, alienates life, thwarts witness. How much diversity can be reconciled? Where is the divide between independence and a certain interdependence that is characteristic of full ecclesial communion? Affirming the particularity of confessional identity does not preclude limits to diversity of doctrine, liturgy, sacraments, and ministry. Is the "fundamental consensus" of which the L-RC Joint Commission speaks significantly more than a least-common-denominator of faith, order, life, and work from which to shape full ecclesial fellowship based on fellowship in sacramental ordained ministry?
Third, confessionality is here to stay. By this I mean two things. First, the particularity of different confessional traditions configures in the unity of the churches. Second, when we speak of the visible unity of the church recognized, experienced, and realized in the fullest manifestation of koinonia in common creedal faith, common sacramental life, and common missional witness, we are not necessarily talking about either the elimination of existing churches or the absorption of one into another or the assimilation of present churches into a new church. Koinonia ecclesiology interprets confessionality in terms of being an ecumenical Christian.
The documents considered in this essay seem to affirm these three points. More pointedly, they appear to assume them, while using the concept of koinonia as the organizing principle of the dialogical exchange among the churches. Understanding the church as communion emerges as a common "sacred thread" that the churches have with which to weave the ecumenical coat of many colors into the fabric of unity. Yet, I think the complexity of Lutheran-Roman Catholic rapprochement via structured ecclesial fellowship based on fellowship in ordained ministry suggests that full communion of Lutherans and Roman Catholics remains a way off. (149) Facing Unity acknowledges this complexity. Many questions remain open, with ambiguity and obscurity still to be overcome. Looking toward an ongoing discussion, the document also recognizes that the search for Lutheran-Roman Catholic church fellowship takes place in a more encompassing context, that of the unity of all churches. This touches upon the question of compatibility and capacity, already mentioned.
Reception and recognition of a proposal such as the one found in Facing Unity is handled differently in the two communions. For the Roman Catholic Church, even if acted at local (diocesan) levels, it is hard to envision the process being underway without Vatican curial structures' holding the responsibility for response, decision-making, and implementation. For ecumenical matters, that falls to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, in consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. No precedence exists, to my knowledge, for this to happen somewhere without its not happening everywhere in Roman Catholicism. For the Lutheran churches, however, discernment falls to each national church and its appropriate department for ecumenical affairs. An impact study of the effect the proposal makes within Lutheranism needs to be done, as some Lutheran churches enter into the process of gradual recognition of ordained ministry with Roman Catholics and others do not. Likewise, a similar study in terms of the "compatibility question" would be in order, lest these two churches move in a particular direction and leave behind their ecumenical partners. Can Lutherans and Catholics really do what Facing Unity proposes?
On both sides, responses to the way to Lutheran-Roman Catholic church fellowship in Facing Unity have been few (150)--all unofficial and cautious, none looking to an imminent implementation, some wondering about its very possibility. In the words of George Lindbeck: "[Facing Unity] ... develops a suggestion about how unity could be advanced by the formation of common ministry, notes that the specifics would have to vary greatly from place to place, and leaves to the future the question of whether the suggestion will ever anywhere prove feasible." (151)
By no means, however, does such a scarcity of reaction to a specific dialogue round intimate that the process of reception of Lutheran-Roman Catholic fellowship is not in place. After all, Lutheran-Roman Catholic relations have gotten us as far as the Augsburg Accord of 1999, with an array of ecumenical literature and discourse on the doctrine of justification. (152) However, there is nothing in place as yet to revisit L-RC ecclesial fellowship via episcopal fellowship. Just as tremendous preparatory work stands behind this study, much needs doing before taking action on its proposition. Perhaps this will happen with church ministry, authority, and eucharist as the agenda topics on the L-RC Joint Commission's post-justification rounds.
On the one hand, our Lutheran-Roman Catholic study seems to be an affirmation of the necessity of doing something that the writers of Ways to Community and Facing Unity consider ecumenically possible, especially with the as-yet-impossibility of eucharistic fellowship. (153) On the other hand, the vision of Facing Unity toward a gradual achievement of common ordained ministry among Lutherans and Catholics appears to border on the impossible. Is there truly a satis est of fundamental consensus? Can the steps toward ecclesial oversight proposed locally truly be taken by the Roman Catholic Church, whose churches are wedded to each other and to the primatial church of Rome in a hierarchical communion that sustains a fundamental structure of a church "catholic," that is literally/geographically global and universal? A long road lies ahead, given issues such as the defectus in Lutheran ordination according to Roman Catholicism, different accents of personal/synodal understanding and exercise of episkope between the two churches, and, of course, the Petrine ministry.
Can Lutherans appropriate the sacramental tone of ordination given in Facing Unity? Is not the rather Catholic understanding of church and ministry in the dialogue asking Lutherans to deny some fundamental perspectives on single ordained ministry and on the synodal/conciliar structure of episkope? Moreover, is Facing Unity proposing a Western arrangement parallel to the Roman Catholic establishment of Uniate churches, (154) a model no longer considered viable as an expression of ecclesial communion? (155)
Furthermore, for the ecumenical picture that is wider than these specific documents and this particular dialogue, a more general concern about the concept of koinonia arises. It refers to capacity, competence, and compatibility. For koinonia to do all we are asking it to do as an expression of the ecclesial unity of Christians and their churches, the very churches and Christians themselves must be capable of entering into relationships in ways that koinonia ecclesiology indicates. To be "ready, willing, and able" for such relationships, Christians and their churches must acquire a "symbolic competence for communionality." (156) This is my "ecu-speak" for the way to receive an ecumenical ecclesiology of communion. While a detailed account of my idea is not our purpose here, I believe a few features of it might help the dialogue under consideration. Let me define my terms, with an eye toward the L-RC use of the model of unity in diversity.
"Communionality" speaks of will, capacity, and compatibility. It empowers Christians and their churches with the will to ecume. Acceptable limits of diversity are partly determined by the depth of our desire of unity. Communionality makes us able to realize--make real, put into action--the ecumenism of the possible. It frees us from misfocusing energies on what at a given moment is ecumenically impossible. Discerning this difference is part and parcel of unity in legitimate diversity, of compatible diversity in Christian koinonia.
"Communionality" frames what comes next, "symbolic competence." The Greek verb symballo literally means "to throw together." Beyond the literal, its linguistic matrix interfaces with the broad cast of koinon-terminology: for instance, gathering, meeting, conjunction, uniting, pact, communication, participation. Like koinonia, symbol by nature is relational. Symbol is the bridge to relationality. In this capacity, the symbolic bridges our koinonia with God and with one another. It joins us to that inner dynamic unity of the triune relationality of Father, Son, and Spirit, which is ours for the asking, as gift and call. Going over this bridge equips us with the propensity for communionality, gives us the competence to ecume. It is an ecumenical rite of passage. The focus fixes no longer on the theory of "being church" but on the praxis that such theory serves. In the shift, symbolic thinking joins the instrumental thinking characteristic of systematic theology. Thereby, the affective side of ecumenism joins the cognitive; the doxological, the dogmatic. As a result, Christians come to feel the gift and call of unity as well as think it. We no longer edit our ecumenical experience to accommodate a theological ideal. We theologize on our mutuality that is prerequisite for lived ecclesial reality to be a compatible diversity in a unity that is more than human promotion, more than eco-human well-being--for it to be koinonia in God and in each other.
The communionality toward which this tends is this: We shall grow so restless with the present ecumenical situation of unity in a quasi-reconciled diversity that its provisionality is discerned as no longer tenable. Together, we shall cry an "ecumenical maranatha" and be restless in its delay. We have yet truly to celebrate this rite and make this passage as churches together, although we hold before us exemplary people, places, and events so inclined, spearheading the fall of the ecumenical wall of division and the open horizon of living our Christianity together.
At the heart of symbolic competence for communionality is as much the experience of ecclesial encounter of life, prayer, and service, as it is dialogue toward doctrinal agreement. Perhaps we could say that one measure of the churches' symbolic competence for communionality is the extent to which they implement the Lund Principle. (157) If we were so equipped, our pastoral agendas would look different. In fact, if church calendars and weekly bulletins are any sign, there appears to be almost a reverse Lund Principle operative at times in our churches; that is, do everything on your own except, say, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity or Ash Wednesday or Thanksgiving, which are convenient times to be ecumenical. To this, communionality stands as both challenge and enabler to move beyond where we presently are in living ecumenically.
While my wider research attends to relations of the Lutheran, Anglican, and Roman Catholic churches (LARC), associating symbolic competence for communionality with these churches neither denies nor precludes it in other churches. However, certain features of LARC seem to offer a unique composite for a fresh way of ecumenical thinking, as this essay attempts to indicate in its focus on the explicit koinonia frame for ecclesial unity in L-RC. (158) Therefore, a concluding brief scenario of Lutherans and Catholics gifted with and called to symbolic competence for communionality in terms of the concerns in Ways to Community and Facing Unity has implications for the wider Christian fellowship.
In the dialogue Lutherans and Catholics experience an ecumenical conversion toward the significance of confessional status that enables them "to keep their identity, but at the same time to transcend their confessional ways of interpretation and to think ecumenically." (159) No longer can churches ground confessionality via an instrumental mode of self-understanding defined over against the other, identifying ecclesial difference as church-dividing. Rather, each tradition takes ownership of the common ground of the Tradition upon which all traditions stand and situates itself symbolically therein as an "interpretive community." (160) So perceived, each confession claims its proper place in the koinonia as complement to and compatible with different, but not divided, churches. (161) Each remains the same while being transformed in a differentiated consensus made possible by ecclesial gift, given and received. Each is viewed in terms of the "gift" it offers to the fellowship and not by what it must "give up" in order to participate in the fellowship. Along with Lund, two other principles serve our symbolic mode: from BEM, "that those who interpret the Christian tradition differently should attempt to understand each other on the presumption that each has a 'right intention of faith';" (162) and from classical Orthodoxy the axiom, that "we know where the church is, but we cannot say where it is not." (163) If the koinonia concept confirms confessionality in this way--and I believe it does--then Lutherans and Catholics can consider ways to community and structured ecclesial fellowship anew.
Regarding ecclesial fellowship via ministerial fellowship, consider the sacramental-liturgical and diakonal-missiological tonality of the Facing Unity proposal. Consider this as "symbolically competent," as capable of transcending the obstacles blocking communionality of Lutherans, for whom orders is not a sacrament, and for Catholics, for whom it is. What potential does ongoing dialogue have truly to endow Lutherans and Catholics with the will to ecume on the basis of ministry? Could further study discover a common esse of ministry already shared by Lutherans and Catholics that grounds the establishment of a fully common ordained ministry? In classical terms, could reflection find a way to diminish the hold of a qualitative "plene" qua "defectus" as sacrament and retrieve a fundamental de facto "esse" of sacramental ministry at the service of communionality?
Concerning ways to community, a symbolic mode of thinking calls for action on the ecumenical ground, such as Lutherans and Catholics' living into communion by taking concrete steps that effect and affect their ecclesial life, their liturgical prayer, and their missional service. Could they together identify and implement "ways to community" in such a manner that confronts the ecclesial status quo of sharing a baptismal fellowship in the body of Christ that denies sharing in that body in eucharistic fellowship? A simple starting point would be common preparation for Christian initiation, beginning with common preparation of baptismal candidates and their sponsors. We leave more possibilities to the ongoing conversation that I hope the present reflection invites.
Symbolic competence for communionality is a way toward the compatibility of churches that are different but no longer divided in a koinonia whose whole is more than the sum of its parts. Another principle clarifies the new vision, and with this I conclude so that dialogue may begin. Communionality lets the church be the church, which means that, while still on the way to the fullness of koinonia, ecclesia supplet.
APPENDIX Koinon-Language in Three Ecumenical Documents: The Unity of the Church as Koinonia: Gift and Calling (Canberra Statement); L-RC, Ways to Community, L-RC, Facing Unity Theme/Issue/ Canberra Ways to Topic/Concept Statement community church as koinonia, passim, 1.1, 2.1 passim, 30, 31, 42- communion, fellow- 48 ship, community church as sacrament 18 church, images: 9, 13, 14, 17, 20, 35- body, people. temple 36 church, marks 2.1 92 church, local and 2.1, 3.2 88 universal church & world, 1.1-2, 2.1, 3.2 1, 33, 47 (quoting human commuunity, New Delhi Report JPIC (mission, wit- 10), 48-52, 70-72, ness, service) 76, 85, 94-96 communion, already 1.3, 3.2 Preface [paragraph] 14, existing degree, 45 (quoting UR 7), 58 existing fundamental consensus communion by 1.3, 3.1 Preface [paragraph] 2 stages, steps (quoting Malta Report 73); Part I, 53-96 diversity, intrinsic 2.2 34-37; 37 (quoting to communion UR 4) diversity, limits, 2.2 90 legitimate faith 2.1 25-26, 40, 74-77 "faith, life, and 2.1, 3.2 Preface [paragraph] 6, witness" idea 40, 42-52, 53, 61 expressed together koinonia terminology in document: -communion/com communion: ecclesial commu- munio(German: every article full- nion: 57; ecclesial Gemeinschaft) fullness of fellowship (com- communion: 1.1, munio): 56; final & 2.1, 3.1, 4.1 complete commu- nion: 54, 78; full communion: 92; perfect communion: 92; profound com- munion with triune God: 45; spiritual communion in Christ: 66 -community title: (see--koino- (German: nia) unity as com- Gemeinschaft) munity of Holy Spirit: 13 -fellowship one eucharistic closer fellowship: (German: fellowship: 2.1 59; ecclesial fellow- Gemeinschaft) ship (communio): 56; ecumenical fellowship: 83, 93, 95; fellowship in/of faith, hope, love: 61, 75, 76, 81; fellowship with each other: 85; fellowship of all Christians: 92; fellowship of human beings in Christ: 96; full/one eucharistic fellow- ship: 53, 81, 82; full spiritual & ecclesial fellowship: 53, 62; fundamental fel- lowship: 58; perfect fellowship: 94; per- sonal fellowship with triune God: 45; spiritual fel- lowship: 86; (see --koinonia) -koinonia (German: title title of German Gemeinschaft) 2.1, 4.1 text: Wege zur Gemeinschaft (translated as "community" in title & "fellowship" most often in text) -participation mutual partici- pation: 83 ministry, general 1.3, 3.2 14, 20 ministry, ordained, 21-23, 69-72 episkope models of unity 32-41 -organic union -corporate union -church fellowship through agreement or accord -conciliar fellowship -unity in reconciled 36, 27 diversity -ecclesial types 42-43 -sister churches as fellowship be- tween local churches: 44; fel- lowship between sister churches as fellowship of di- versity: 45 reception 1.3, 3.2 75, 76 references in com- BEM 3.2 (WTC precedes mon to other docu- BEM); 1978 state- ments--general ments preparatory to BEM 21 L-RC Malta Report, passim Eph.1:1.1 Eph. 1:9 Jn 17:21: 4.1 Jn. 17:21:10 references in com- New Delhi Report mon to other docu- 2: 30, 31, 46; ments-koinonia New Delhi Report terminology 10: 47 trinitarian 8, 9-13, 42-45, 92 foundation of koinonia unity, criteria- 2.1 5 recognition: faith, sacraments, min- istry/mission unity, goal of/visible 2.1 Part I, 4-52, esp. 5, 22, 33; Part II: 58 unity as gift & title 4-8 calling -unit as gift/ given 1.1, 1.3, 2.1 4-8,56 -unity as 1.2, 3.1 2,7-8 call/challenge unity understood as title; pass+in, 2.1 passim koinonia/communio/ communion word & sacrament 3.2 14, 15. 70 -word 3.2 15, 62 -sacrament(s) 2.1, 3.2 16-19, 66-68 (see church as sacrament) Theme/Issue/ Facing Unity Topic/Concept church as koinonia, passim, 4, 5-7, 116 communion, fellow- ship, community church as sacrament 72, 85 church, images: 16,87-91 body, people. temple church, marks 5 (quoting LG 26) - 7, 43, 57 (quoting All under One Christ, 61-63, 92, 97-98, 129 church, local and 5-7, 29, 89-90, 91, universal 105 church & world, passim, 49, 86, 88 human commuunity, JPIC (mission, wit- ness, service) communion, already Preface [paragraph] 4 (quoting existing degree, All under One existing fundamental Christ, 25), 1, 51, consensus 55 (quoting All under One Christ, 14,123 communion by 1,117-145 stages, steps diversity, intrinsic 32, 33, 46, 62, 63 to communion diversity, limits, 5, 42, 46 legitimate faith 49 "faith, life, and faith, sacraments, witness" idea service: 49 expressed together koinonia terminology in document: -communion/com church/unity as munio(German: communion Gemeinschaft) (communio): 5, 6; ecclesiology of communion: 6; communio: 47 -community (full) community: (German: 70 Gemeinschaft) -fellowship active fellowship: (German: 90; (Catholic-Luth- Gemeinschaft) eran) church fel- lowship (through agreement): pas- sim, 13, 14, 23-26, 46, 47, 49; church as fellowship (koinonia): 116; conciliar fellow- ship: 14,33; con- crete--fully & lived out fellowship: 89, 91; fellowship-in- dialogue: 10; fellow- ship of faith & life: 20; full & binding fellowship: 92; full church fellowship: 101; whole Christ- ian fellowship: 4; occasional fellow- ship: 91; structured (ecclesial) fellow- ship: 87-102; (see sister churches) -koinonia (German: bishop as member Gemeinschaft) of local koinonia: 109; church as a fellowship (koin- onia): 116; epis- copal office as service to koinonia: 112 -participation 85 ministry, general 49, 86 ministry, ordained, passim, 92-145 episkope models of unity 8-45 -organic union 16-18; body of Christ: 16 -corporate union 19-22; fellowship of faith & life: 20 -church fellowship 23-26 through agreement or accord -conciliar fellowship 27-30 -unity in reconciled 21, 31-40 diversity -ecclesial types -sister churches reception 49 (incl. n. 47) references in com- BEM: passim mon to other docu- ments--general L-RC Malta Report, passim references in com- New Delhi Report mon to other docu- 2: 4 ments-koinonia terminology trinitarian 57 (quoting All foundation of under One Christ) koinonia unity, criteria- 49, 86 recognition: faith, sacraments, min- istry/mission unity, goal of/visible title; passim, 3 unity as gift & Preface [paragraph] 7, 1 calling -unit as gift/ given 1 -unity as 1 call/challenge unity understood as passim, 6, 7, 47 koinonia/communio/ communion word & sacrament 3, 57 (quoting All under One Christ) -word -sacrament(s) 49, 76-82
* This essay was originally a paper presented to the Full Communion Study Group of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.'s Commission on Faith and Order in San Francisco in March, 2001. The author was asked to offer an analysis of the communion terminology in the Lutheran-Roman Catholic International Dialogue in light of the koinonia language of the Canberra Statement.
(1) The transliterated English "koinonia" is employed in English to embrace the plethora of koinon-terminology that renders the meaning of the Greek koinonia. Notwithstanding this richness, the word is commonly translated in ecumenical writing and discourse as "communion" or "fellowship" and is thus used interchangeably with these words. Unless otherwise noted, the present essay follows this precedence, while being mindful of the limitation in doing so. We note here a few sources for background on the concept. For an excellent, short synopsis of the concept in scripture in both the Christian traditions and the ecumenical movement, see Communio/Koinonia: A New Testament-Early Christian Concept and Its Contemporary Appropriation and Significance (Strasbourg: Institute for Ecumenical Research, 1990). For an exegetical study, a more elaborate work is the doctoral dissertation of George Panikulam, Koinonia in the New Testament." A Dynamic Expression of Christian Life (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1979). This work includes the history and synthesis of biblical scholarship on the concept of koinonia. See also John Reumann, "Koinonia in Scripture: A Survey of Biblical Texts," in Thomas F. Best and Gunther Gassmann, eds., On the Way to Fuller Koinonia: Official Report of the Fifth Worm Conference on Faith and Order (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1994), pp. 38-69 (often referred to as the Santiago meeting). A detailed ecclesiological study of the koinonia concept throughout Christian history is found in J.-M. R. Tillard, Eglise d'Eglises: L'eeclesiologie de communion, Cogitatio Fidei 143 (Paris: Cerf, 1987; E.T.: Church of Churches: The Ecclesiology of Communion [Collegeville, MN: A Michael Glazier Book, Liturgical Press, 1992]).
(2) Our discussion focuses on the official international dialogue between Lutherans and Roman Catholics, which is jointly sponsored by the Lutheran World Federation on behalf of its member churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church. The current name of this bilateral commission is the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity. At the time of the dialogue rounds treated in this essay, it was called the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Joint Commission, the name by which it will be referred to here.
(3) The Canberra Statement, The Unity of the Church as Koinonia: Girl and Calling, is article 18 in Best and Gassmann, On the Way to Fuller Koinonia, pp. 269-270. It is also published as document 75 in Jeffrey Gros, Harding Meyer, and William G. Rusch, eds., Growth in Agreement H: Reports and Agreed Statements of Ecumenical Conversations on a World Level 1982-1998, Faith and Order Paper 187 (Geneva: WCC Publications; Grand Rapids, MI, and Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000 [based on Dokumente wachsender Ubereinstimmung II: 1982-1990 (Paderborn: Bonifatius Verlag; Frankfurt a/Main: Verlag Otto Lembeck, 1992)]), pp. 937-938. The Canberra Statement underwent deeper reflection during the Santiago conference.
(4) Ways to Community , in Harding Meyer and Lukas Vischer, eds., Growth in Agreement." Reports and Agreed Statements of Ecumenical Conversations on a World Level [vol. 1, 1971-1982, including an Anglican-Old Catholic statement from 1931], Ecumenical Documents 2, Faith and Order Paper 108 (New York and Ramsey, NJ: Paulist Press; Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1984), pp. 215-240. The bilateral document is also published separately as Lutheran-Roman Catholic Joint Commission, Ways to Community  (Geneva: Lutheran World Federation, 1981).
(5) Facing Unity: Models, Forms, and Phases of Catholic-Lutheran Church Fellowship, March 3, 1984, document 2 in William G. Rusch and Jeffrey Gros, eds., Deepening Communion." International Ecumenical Documents with Roman Catholic Participation (Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 1998), pp. 15-71. This bilateral document is also published separately as Lutheran-Roman Catholic Joint Commission, Facing Unity: Models, Forms and Phases of Catholic-Lutheran Church Fellowship  (Geneva: Lutheran World Federation, 1985); and in Gros, Meyer, and Rusch, Growth in Agreement II as document 42, pp. 443-484.
(6) I.e., ecumenical, between and/or among different churches.
(7) I.e., the fellowship within a particular ecclesial body.
(8) Jens Holger Schjorring, Prasanna Kumari, and Norman A. Hjelm, eds., and Viggo Mortensen, coord., From Federation to Communion: The History of the Lutheran Worm Federation (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1997) (in cooperation with the Lutheran World Federation Department for Theology and Studies), p. 76. As the title suggests, this volume traces the historical, theological, and pastoral trajectories of the L.W.F. vis-a-vis the development of its self-understanding. See its preface, pp. xiii-xx.
(9) Ibid., p. 78.
(10) Ibid., quoting from "From Budapest to Curitiba, 1985-1989," LWF Report 27 (November, 1989): 41.
(11) Ibid., p. 81.
(12) Pontificium Consilium ad Christianorum Unitatem Fovendam, Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism (Vatican City: Vatican Press, 1993), no. 12; hereafter cited as DAPNE.
(13) References to the tria vincula--vinculum symbolicum, vinculum liturgicum, and vinculum sociale vel hierarchicum--may be found in the following sources: Article 815 of the Catholic Catechism identifies these as the "three bonds of fellowship"; see Interdicasterial Commission for the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church (Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference/Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1994). As already noted, DAPNE, no. 12, refers to them as the "threefold bond of faith, sacramental life and hierarchical ministry." See also the following articles in the documents of Vatican II: Unitatis redintegratio 2, Lumen gentium 14. The Latin original and an English translation of the Council's documents may be found in Norman P. Tanner, ed., Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, vol. 2: Trent to Vatican H (original text established by G. Alberigo and others) (London: Sheed & Ward; Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1990). Among other translations of the documents is Walter M. Abbott, ed., The Documents of Vatican II (New York: Guild Press, 1966). This essay uses Tanner for references to the conciliar documents: Lumen gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church; and Unitatis redintegratio, the Decree on Ecumenism. The Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue texts discussed in this essay cite the Abbott edition, although nowhere does the dialogue state this.
(14) DAPNE, no. 13.
(15) Canberra Statement 1.3.
(16) This is a paraphrase of Unitatis redintegratio, no. 3.
(17) See Canberra Statement 1.2.
(18) The terminology varies. E.g., the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue ordinarily centers on "communion." The Anglican-Lutheran dialogue uses "fellowship" and "communion" for the most part. The Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue refers mostly to "fellowship." In the Methodist-Roman Catholic dialogue, Catholics resonate with "communion" and Methodists like "community"; together, the two traditions recognize a commonality in usage of the two terms as synonymous, and to them add "fellowship." "Fellowship" dominates the Lutheran-Reformed dialogue. The language of "communion," "community," and "participation" run passim throughout Anglican-Orthodox conversations. The transliterated "koinonia" is common to all, emerging more and more as dialogues progress. A sampling of the statements of these bilaterals readily gives evidence of the dialogues' koinon-language. Two helpful sources in English for the dialogues on the world level are Meyer and Vischer, Growth in Agreement; and Gros, Meyer, and Rusch, Growth in Agreement II.
(19) On method, see G[illian] R. Evans, Method in Ecumenical Theology: The Lessons So Far (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996). On hermeneutics, see Commission on Faith and Order, A Treasure in Earthen Vessels: An Instrument for an Ecumenical Reflection on Hermeneutics, Faith and Order Paper 182 (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1998).
(20) I borrow the idea of a "sacred thread" from Hinduism. For a brief description of the sacred thread in the Hindu tradition, see "Upanayana" in John Bowker, ed., Oxford Dictionary of the World Religions (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 1007.
(21) See the Appendix below, "Koinon-Language in Ecumenical Documents."
(22) Another agenda might have called for a diachronic study of another sort, i.e., looking at the koinonia language of Canberra in light of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic (L-RC) dialogue.
(23) Two cases bring the point close to home. Would the Commission on Faith and Order of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. be making the current study on full communion had the concept not emerged from many ecumenical settings, bilateral and multilateral? Likewise would the Commission be studying church authority so intensely today had it not been for the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission's work over recent years?
(24) Along with English, the major working languages of the L-RC dialogue are French and German.
(25) Canberra Statement 2.1. The points are not numbered in the original document, though they are used in the version in Gros, Meyer, and Rusch, Growth in Agreement II. The points appear in other conciliar statements, e.g., New Delhi (1961), Salamanca (1973), and Nairobi (1975). See the Report of the Section on Unity, Third Assembly of the W.C.C., New Delhi, 1961, pp. 88-92; and the Report of Section II: What Unity Requires, Fifth World Assembly of the W.C.C., Nairobi, 1975, pp. 110-113, in Michael Kinnamon and Brian Cope, eds., The Ecumenical Movement: An Anthology of Key Texts and Voices (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.; Geneva: WCC Publications, 1997). The Salamanca Statement, The Unity of the Church--Next Steps (1973), appears in Gunther Gassmann, ed., Documentary History of Faith and Order 1963-1993, Faith and Order Paper 159 (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1993), pp. 35-49.
(26) Crucial here, of course--particularly but not solely for Roman Catholics--is the "fullness" qualifier, differentiating the final goal from the partial or imperfect communion already existing and recognized as such in and by the churches. It is an important distinction in Roman Catholicism, as indicated in Unitatis redintegratio, nos. 3 and 4.
(27) The document of reference for this is Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry, Faith and Order Paper 111 (Geneva: Commission on Faith and Order, World Council of Churches, 1982). Hereafter, the document is cited as BEM and the baptism, eucharist, and ministry study process in general as BEM.
(28) The document of reference for this is Confessing the One Faith: An Ecumenical Explication of the Apostolic Faith as it is Confessed in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (381), rev. ed., Faith and Order Paper 153 (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1991).
(29) The document of reference for this is Church and World; The Unity of the Church and the Renewal of the Human Community: A Faith and Order Study Document, Faith and Order Paper 151 (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1990).
(30) For an overview of the "JPIC" process, see Nicholas Lossky et al., eds., Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement (Geneva: WCC Publications; Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1991), pp. 557-559.
(31) For an overview of the concept of reception, see ibid., pp. 844-845.
(32) Canberra Statement 3.2. The numbering of the points is ours; it does not appear in the Canberra Statement.
(33) Canberra Statement 4.1.
(34) Facing Unity, nos. 32 and 47.
(35) Ibid., nos. 31-34.
(36) Ibid., no. 32, quoting "The Ecumenical Role of the World Confessional Families in the One Ecumenical Movement," in LWF Report 15 (June, 1983): 31.
(37) Ways to Community, nos. 34-36.
(38) Facing Unity, nos. 87-102.
(39) The L-RC Joint Commission dialogue is not consistent in its orthography of this term. Ordinarily it uses "episcope," but "episkope" also appears. This essay per se uses "episkope."
(40) L-RC Joint Commission, The Gospel and the Church (Malta Report 1972), in "Lutheran-Roman Catholic Conversations," in Meyer and Vischer, Growth in Agreement, pp. 168-189.
(41) Ibid., no. 73.
(42) Ways to Community, nos. 53 and 62.
(43) See ibid., no. 58.
(44) Ibid., nos. 4-8 and 56.
(45) Ibid., nos. 2 and 7-8.
(46) Ibid., no. 4 (emphasis in original).
(47) Ibid., no. 6 (emphasis in original).
(48) Ibid., no. 8.
(49) Ibid., nos. 8, 9-13, and 43-45.
(50) Ibid., no. 9.
(51) Ibid., no. 45.
(52) Ibid., nos. 42-47.
(53) Ibid., no. 45 (emphasis in original).
(54) Ibid., no. 47. This article illustrates the dialogue's employ of "participation" terminology, which also belongs to the wider koinon-vocabulary.
(55) Ibid., no. 46, quoting W. A. Visser 't Hooft, ed., The New Delhi Report: The Third Worm Assembly of the World Council of Churches, 1961 (London: SCM, 1962), no. 2, p. 116.
(56) Ways to Community, nos. 46-47.
(57) Ways to Community quotes the language of New Delhi 2. See Ways to Community, no. 46, and also nos. 30 and 31.
(58) Ways to Community, nos. 48-51.
(59) Ibid., no. 48 (emphasis in original).
(60) Ibid., nos. 49; also see nos. 92-96.
(61) Ibid., nos. 54 and 78.
(62) Ibid., no. 33.
(63) Ibid., nos. 2 and 53.
(64) Ibid., no. 53.
(65) Ibid., quoting the Constitution of the World Council of Churches, 111.
(66) Ways to Community, no. 58. The document makes no attempt to delineate this.
(67) Ibid., nos. 53, 54, 56, 78, and 92.
(68) This expression comes from the Fifth World Conference on Faith and Order held in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, in 1993, whose theme was "Koinonia in Faith, Life, and Witness." It is found passim throughout Best and Gassmann, On the Way to Fuller Koinonia. This conference reflected on the implications of the church understood as koinonia, using three documents of the World Council of Churches' Commission on Faith and Order to situate the three dimensions: on faith, Confessing the One Faith; on life, BEM; on witness, Church and World.
(69) Spiritual ecumenism runs passim throughout the document; see, e.g., Ways to Community, nos. 56-60 and 61-72. It is also central to the document's structure of the realization of community in terms of the three theological virtues in nos. 24-31 and 73-85.
(70) Ibid., no. 59, first and second points.
(71) Ibid., third point.
(72) Ibid., no. 90.
(73) Ibid., no. 15.
(74) Ibid., nos. 66-68.
(75) Ibid., no. 21 (emphasis in original).
(76) Ibid., no. 70.
(77) Ibid., no. 74 (emphasis in original).
(78) Ibid., no. 92 (emphasis in original).
(79) Ways to Community precedes the Lima text. There is reference to the preparatory statements of BEM in Ways to Community, no. 20.
(80) Cf., e,g, Ways to Community, nos. 15-23 and 66-72, with the layout of BEM and its preparatory texts from the Commission on Faith and Order, One Baptism, One Eucharist, and a Mutually Recognized Ministry: Three Agreed Statements, Accra Report 1974, Faith and Order Paper 73 (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1978).
(81) This is evident in the comparative picture presented in the Appendix below.
(82) See Facing Unity, Preface.
(83) See Ways to Community, no. 58; Facing Unity, nos. 51 and 123. In Facing Unity, the Preface and no. 66 make similar references, citing respectively article 25 and article 14 of the L-RC Joint Commission statement, All under One Christ, 1980 [Statement on the Augsburg Confession by the Roman Catholic/Lutheran Joint Commission], in Meyer and Vischer, Growth in Agreement, pp. 241-247; this document is also published as All under One Christ, 1980." Statement on the Augsburg Confession by the Roman Catholic/Lutheran Joint Commission, in Ways to Community (see note 4, above), pp. 29-35. (84) Facing Unity, no. 116.
(85) Ibid., nos. 13, 14, 23-26, 46, 47, and 49.
(86) Ibid., nos. 89 and 91.
(87) Ibid., no. 90.
(88) Ibid., no. 92.
(89) Ibid., nos. 87-102.
(90) Ibid., no. 87.
(91) Ibid., no. 92.
(92) Ibid., no. 99.
(93) Ibid., no. 101.
(94) See the Appendix below for additional qualified expressions.
(95) Facing Unity, Preface [paragraph] 7.
(96) The quotation is from article 42 of L-RC Joint Commission, The Ministry in the Church, 1981, cited in "Lutheran-Roman Catholic Conversations," in Meyer and Vischer, Growth in Agreement, pp. 248-275. This document is also published as L-RC Joint Commission, The Ministry in the Church (Geneva: Lutheran World Federation, 1982). The notion in Facing Unity of structured fellowship builds on this statement. It is quoted in Facing Unity, no. 92. Facing Unity also describes and/or defines episkope in the following terms: no. 99: "ministry serving the unity and governance (episcope) of the church"; no. 111 : "bishops are servants of unity and of the fellowship among the churches"; no. 124: "full fellowship (communio ecclesiarum)."
(97) See Facing Unity, no. 93.
(98) Ibid., nos. 117-119.
(99) Ibid., nos. 8-12, 13-34, and 41-45, respectively.
(100) Ibid., no. 46.
(101) Ibid., no. 47; see also nos. 21, 31-34, 42-43, and 46. That this is the dominating model in the statement is also stressed by others. See, e.g., Anna Marie Aagaard, in "Facing Unity: For What," Ecumenical Trends 15 (December, 1986): 177-179. (102) See Facing Unity, nos. 32-33.
(103) Ibid., no. 43; see also nos. 42, 46, 47, and 63.
(104) Ibid., no. 47; on sacraments, see no. 76.
(105) Ibid., no. 49; see also nos. 57 and 86.
(106) Canberra Statement 2.1.
(108) See note 13, above.
(108) Confessio Augustana VII, as foundational, and with it CA V, XIV, XV, XXVIII, and Apologia Confessionis XIV, as found in Concordia Triglotta: The Symbolic Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, German, Latin, English, ed. Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1921; Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Publishing House [2nd repr. with permission of the original publisher]).
(109) In essence, the latter half, nos. 86-149, of the second part of Facing Unity outlines this.
(110) Ibid., no. 123.
(111) Ibid., no. 5; see also nos. 6-7, 29, and 89-90.
(112) Ibid., no. 90 (emphasis in original).
(113) Ibid., no. 91.
(114) Ibid., no. 86.
(115) Ibid., no. 96, citing The Ministry in the Church. 1981, no. 17.
(116) Ibid., no. 98.
(117) See ibid., nos. 97-103.
(118) See ibid., nos. 97-98.
(119) Ibid., no. 95, referring to The Ministry in the Church, 1981, nos. 75-78, which refers to Unitatis redintegratio, no. 22: "praesertim propter sacramenti ordinis defectum." Tanner translates this as: "especially because the sacrament of orders is lacking."
(120) Facing Unity, no. 99.
(122) Ibid., nos. 100-103.
(123) Ibid., no. 112.
(124) Ibid., no. 108.
(125) See, e.g., Ways to Community, nos. 14, 20, and 61; and Facing Unity, nos. 49 and 116.
(126) Facing Unity, no. 92.
(127) Ibid.; see also no. 105.
(128) Ibid., no. 92.
(129) Ibid., no. 112.
(130) Note the progressive movement in the steps and options of reception and recognition in ibid., nos. 117-145.
(131) Ibid., no. 110 (emphasis in original).
(132) Ibid., nos. 146-149.
(133) This is a paraphrase of Andre Birmele's idea in "International Bilateral Theological Dialogues by the L.W.F.: Are They Compatible with Each Other?" in Eugene L. Brand, ed., Communio and Dialogue: Compatibility, Convergence, and Consensus--A Report from the Consultation on Ecumenical Dialogues, Venice, 24-28 September 1991 (Geneva: Lutheran World Federation, 1992), pp. 17-27.
(134) Ibid., p. 23.
(135) This phrase is mine, not Birmele's.
(136) Facing Unity, no. 148a.
(137) Ibid., no. 147; the Lutheran expression is in terms of "fellowship." In no. 148b, the Roman Catholic articulation is in terms of admission to the eucharist.
(138) Ibid., nos. 67-69. See also Ways to Community, no. 59.
(139) Facing Unity, no. 69.
(140) Ibid., no. 147a [second].
(141) Ibid., no. 147b, c [second].
(142) Ibid., no. 148.
(143) See ibid., no. 49 and its note 47.
(144) Ibid., no. 52.
(145) See Lumen gentium, no. 13.
(146) See Frederick M. Bliss, Catholic and Ecumenical: History and Hope: Why the Catholic Church Is Ecumenical and What She Is Doing about It (Franklin, WI: Sheed & Ward, 1999), p. 5.
(147) Best and Gassmann, On the Way to Fuller Koinonia, p. 241, quoting the Canberra Statement 2.2.
(148) See ibid., p. 240.
(149) See the "Future Perspective" in Facing Unity, no. 149. I summarize here its main points.
(150) For a response to Ways to Community, see Joseph Lescrauwaet, "Observations on the Document Ways to Community," Information Service, vol. 46, no. 2 (1981), pp. 79-83. For some responses to Facing Unity (in addition to the Aagaard article in note 101, above), see John T. Ford, "Facing Unity: Models, Forms, and Phases of Catholic-Lutheran Church Fellowship (Lutheran World Federation, 1985): A Roman Catholic Comment," Ecumenical Trends 15 (April, 1986): 56-59 [There are errors in the article's citations of Facing Unity.]; Reginald H. Fuller, "Facing Unity: Models, Forms, and Phases of Catholic-Lutheran Church Fellowship (Lutheran World Federation, 1985): An Anglican Comment," Ecumenical Trends 15 (April, 1986): 53-55; Robert Tobias, "Facing Unity: Models, Forms, and Phases of Catholic-Lutheran Church Fellowship (Lutheran World Federation, 1985): A Lutheran Comment," Ecumenical Trends 15 (April, 1986): 59-62; and Jared Wicks, "Observations on Facing Unity," Information Service, vol. 59, nos. 3-4 (1985), pp. 74-78.
(151) George A. Lindbeck, "Episcopacy and the Unification of the Churches: Two Approaches," in H. George Anderson and James R. Crumley, Jr., eds., Promoting Unity: Themes in Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue (Festschrift for Johannes Cardinal Willebrands) (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress Press, 1989), p. 64. In his essay (pp. 51-65), Lindbeck compared the criteria set forth in Facing Unity for church unity with that of the proposal of Heinrich Fries and Karl Rahner in their Unity of the Churches: An Actual Possibility (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985; E.T. of Einigung der Kirchen--reale Moglichkeit [Freiburg im Breisgau: Verlag Herder, 1983]).
(152) The joint declaration of which was signed by representatives of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Lutheran World Federation in October, 1999. This Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification is published in Gros, Meyer, and Rusch, Growth in Agreement II as document 44, pp. 566-582. It is also published separately as L-RC Joint Commission, Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (Geneva: Lutheran World Federation; Rome: Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, 1997).
(153) Ways to Community, nos. 81-84.
(154) I.e., Eastern Catholics in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church who retain the particularity.
(155) On the critique of Uniatism as a model of full communion among Eastern Orthodox and Catholics, see Uniatism: Method of Union of the Past, and the Present Search far Full Communion, issued at Balamand, Lebanon, on June 23, 1993, by the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, in Gros, Meyer, and Rusch, Growth in Agreement II, document 52, pp. pp. 680-685. This "Balamand Statement" was also published as the "Agreed Statement on Uniatism, Balamand, 1993," in Origins 23 (August 12, 1993): 166-169.
(156) The phrase is original, coined in my doctoral research as an expression to propose a more integrative and transformative approach to an ecumenical ecclesiology of communion. A rudimentary explanation of my theory follows.
(157) The Lund Principle is from the Third World Conference on Faith and Order held in 1952 in Lund, Sweden. The central point of the principle reads: "Should not our churches ask themselves ... whether they should not act together in all matters except those in which deep differences of conviction compel them to act separately?" The quotation appears in Lossky et al., Dictionary, p. 633; and in Oliver S. Tomkins, ed, The Third World Conference on Faith and Order (London, SCM Press: 1953), p. 16.
(158) In my extended research, I identified other features inherent to LARC relations that accompany the employ of the koinonia concept as the primary hermeneutical referent: a developmental, nonnormative methodology; its stress that the church is visible, locally and globally; and its need for a visible ordering of faith, life, and witness. I believe the array of intra- and interchurch documentation that grounds this helps to substantiate and situate a symbolic competence for communionality in the LARC matrix.
(159) "Towards a Hermeneutics for a Growing Koinonia," Part I, [paragraph] 7, in Alan Falconer, ed., Faith and Order in Moshi: The 1996 Commission Meeting, Faith and Order Paper 177 (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1998), p. 265.
(160) Ibid., Part I, [paragraph] 18, p. 269.
(161) See ibid., Part I, [paragraph] 24, p. 270.
(162) Ibid., quoting BEM, M52.
(163) This idea comes from Timothy Ware, who attributed the basic principle to Irenaeus. See chap. 16, "The Orthodox Church and the Reunion of Christians," in Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church (London and New York: Penguin Books, 1993 repr. of 1964 rev. [orig., 1963]), p. 308, which states: "Many people may be members of the Church who are not visibly so; invisible bonds may exist despite an outward separation. The Spirit of God blows where it chooses and, as Irenaeus said, where the Spirit is, there is the Church. We know where the Church is but we cannot be sure where it is not."
Lorelei Francis Fuchs, S.A. (Roman Catholic), is a member of the Society of the Atonement, Graymoor, Garrison, NY. Since her religious profession in 1978, Sr. Fuchs has ministered throughout the U.S.A. and in Canada and Europe. In 1990 she was named Associate Director of the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute in New York City, where she is a researcher and lecturer in ecumenical theology, a co-editor of Ecumenical Trends, and the Institute's liaison for ecumenical worship. Until 2002 she staffed its desk for Lutheran-Anglican-Roman Catholic relations, and from 1993 to 2003 she was the Institute's editor of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity resources for the U.S.A. She currently oversees the desk for ecumenical affairs. She has her B.A. from Wheeling (WV) Jesuit University and an M.A. in theology from the University of Notre Dame. She holds an M.Th., an S.T.L., a Ph.D. and an S.T.D. (2003) from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Louvain, Belgium). An active member of the North American Academy of Ecumenists and the National Association of Diocesan Ecumenical Officers, she is an ecumenical partner in the Episcopal Diocesan Ecumenical Officers and the Lutheran Ecumenical Representatives Network. She is a commission member of New York's Anglican-Roman Catholic and Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogues and is Roman Catholic representative to the Lutheran-Episcopal dialogue of New York. In 2002 she was appointed to the Methodist-Roman Catholic Joint Commission, as it entered its eighth quinquennium of dialogue. She has served on Faith and Order studies for the National and World Council of Churches and currently co-chairs the study group on full communion of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.'s Faith and Order Commission, as well as serving on its executive committee. Co-editor of Encounters for Unity (Canterbury Press, 1995), her published works include articles in various ecumenical journals and books and compilations of ecumenical bibliographies. She has lectured on ecumenism each summer since 1994 at Centro Pro Unione in Rome.
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|Author:||Fuchs, Lorelei F.|
|Publication:||Journal of Ecumenical Studies|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2002|
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