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THE VOCATION OF THE LAITY TO EVANGELIZATION: AN ECCLESIOLOGICAL INQUIRY INTO THE SYNOD ON THE LAITY (1987), CHRISTIFIDELES LAICI (1989), AND DOCUMENTS OF THE NCCB (1987-1996).

THE VOCATION OF THE LAITY TO EVANGELIZATION: AN ECCLESIOLOGICAL INQUIRY INTO THE SYNOD ON THE LAITY (1987), CHRISTIFIDELES LAICI (1989), AND DOCUMENTS OF THE NCCB (1987-1996). By Robert W. Oliver. Tesi Gregoriana, Serie Teologia. Rome: Gregorian University, 1997. Pp. 360. $26.

The chief value of this dissertation is its presentation of the reasoning behind these documents, as the Church assesses the last 30 years' evolution of Vatican II's teaching on the laity. O. demonstrates that the council's ecclesiology of communion has proven a particularly apt instrument for describing the secular nature of the lay faithful's participation in the mystery of the Church and its mission.

Evangelization has emerged with social justice as the true fulfillment of the universal call to holiness, which must embrace a call "to change the world" (50). O. provides the precounciliar deliberation as interpretive background and interlaces his text with ample notes on participant interventions, together with theologians' critical analysis, which amounts to a status questionis on topics like inculturation, lay spirituality, formation, and ministry. The Church has become conscious that evangelizing is her "deepest identity" (95), and that lay persons have an essential role to play in its every dimension. Discussion of the relationship between clergy and the laity, which is defined in a delicate balance between authority and charism, taking many forms of coresponsibility and reciprocity, is refreshingly realistic. Here some will lament O.'s choice to skirt specifically women's issues, "because this dissertation is primarily concerned with the mission of all lay persons" (16).

O.'s final section treats NCCB strategies, regrettably omitting any evaluation of success and failures. Curiously, he sometimes treats the Synod's instrumentum laboris as equal to Christifideles laici or to the final Synod and NCCB statements. A thematic index would have made the work much more useful for us in the field, and the absence of a conclusion leaves the reader a bit disappointed. However, the work's intention is a current ecclesiology, and this O. has masterfully accomplished.

TERENCE MCGOLDRICK

University of San Diego
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:MCGOLDRICK, TERENCE
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 1999
Words:335
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