Thursday, November 15, 2007

Zenit: Statement of Joint Catholic-Orthodox Commission

Statement of Joint Catholic-Orthodox Commission

"Ecclesial Communion, Conciliarity and Authority"

RAVENNA, Italy, NOV. 15, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the final document of the plenary assembly of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, held Oct. 8-14 in Ravenna. The statement, which was released today, is titled "Ecclesiological and Canonical Consequences of the Sacramental Nature of the Church: Ecclesial Communion, Conciliarity and Authority."

* * *

Introduction

1. "That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (Jn 17, 21). We give thanks to the triune God who has gathered us -- members of the Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church -- so that we might respond together in obedience to this prayer of Jesus. We are conscious that our dialogue is restarting in a world that has changed profoundly in recent times. The processes of secularization and globalization, and the challenge posed by new encounters between Christians and believers of other religions, require that the disciples of Christ give witness to their faith, love and hope with a new urgency. May the Spirit of the risen Lord empower our hearts and minds to bear the fruits of unity in the relationship between our Churches, so that together we may serve the unity and peace of the whole human family. May the same Spirit lead us to the full expression of the mystery of ecclesial communion, that we gratefully acknowledge as a wonderful gift of God to the world, a mystery whose beauty radiates especially in the holiness of the saints, to which all are called.

2. Following the plan adopted at its first meeting in Rhodes in 1980, the Joint Commission began by addressing the mystery of ecclesial koinônia in the light of the mystery of the Holy Trinity and of the Eucharist. This enabled a deeper understanding of ecclesial communion, both at the level of the local community around its bishop, and at the level of relations between bishops and between the local Churches over which each presides in communion with the One Church of God extending across the universe (Munich Document, 1982). In order to clarify the nature of communion, the Joint Commission underlined the relationship which exists between faith, the sacraments -- especially the three sacraments of Christian initiation -- and the unity of the Church (Bari Document, 1987). Then by studying the sacrament of Order in the sacramental structure of the Church, the Commissionindicated clearly the role of apostolic succession as the guarantee of the koinônia of the whole Church and of its continuity with the Apostles in every time and place (Valamo Document, 1988). From 1990 until 2000, the main subject discussed by the Commission was that of "uniatism" (Balamand Document, 1993; Baltimore, 2000), a subject to which we shall give further consideration in the near future. Now we take up the theme raised at the end of the Valamo Document, and reflect upon ecclesial communion, conciliarity and authority.

3. On the basis of these common affirmations of our faith, we must now draw the ecclesiological and canonical consequences which flow from the sacramental nature of the Church. Since the Eucharist, in the light of the Trinitarian mystery, constitutes the criterion of ecclesial life as a whole, how do institutional structures visibly reflect the mystery of this koinônia? Since the one and holy Church is realised both in each local Church celebrating the Eucharist and at the same time in the koinônia of all the Churches, how does the life of the Churches manifest this sacramental structure?

4. Unity and multiplicity, the relationship between the one Church and the many local Churches, that constitutive relationship of the Church, also poses the question of the relationship between the authority inherent in every ecclesial institution and the conciliarity which flows from the mystery of the Church as communion. As the terms "authority" and "conciliarity" cover a very wide area, we shall begin by defining the way we understand them.[1]

1. The Foundations of Conciliarity and of Authority

1. Conciliarity

5. The term conciliarity or synodality comes from the word "council" (synodos in Greek, concilium in Latin), which primarily denotes a gathering of bishops exercising a particular responsibility. It is also possible, however, to take the term in a more comprehensive sense referring to all the members of the Church (cfr. the Russian term sobornost ). Accordingly we shall speak first of all of conciliarity as signifying that each member of the Body of Christ, by virtue of baptism, has his or her place and proper responsibility in eucharistic koinônia ( communio in Latin). Conciliarity reflects the Trinitarian mystery and finds therein its ultimate foundation. The three persons of the Holy Trinity are "enumerated", as St Basil the Great says (On the Holy Spirit , 45), without the designation as "second" or "third" person implying any diminution or subordination. Similarly, there also exists an order (taxis) among local Churches, which however does not imply inequality in their ecclesial nature.

6. The Eucharist manifests the Trinitarian koinônia actualized in the faithful as an organic unity of several members each of whom has a charism, a service or a proper ministry, necessary in their variety and diversity for the edification of all in the one ecclesial Body of Christ (cfr. 1 Cor 12, 4-30). All are called, engaged and held accountable -- each in a different though no less real manner -- in the common accomplishment of the actions which, through the Holy Spirit, make present in the Church the ministry of Christ, "the way, the truth and the life" (Jn 14, 6). In this way, the mystery of salvific koinônia with the Blessed Trinity is realized in humankind.

7. The whole community and each person in it bears the "conscience of the Church" (ekkesiastikè syneidesis), as Greek theology calls it, the sensus fidelium in Latin terminology. By virtue of Baptism and Confirmation (Chrismation) each member of the Church exercises a form of authority in the Body of Christ. In this sense, all the faithful (and not just the bishops) are responsible for the faith professed at their Baptism. It is our common teaching that the people of God, having received "the anointing which comes from the Holy One" (1 Jn 2, 20 and 27), in communion with their pastors, cannot err in matters of faith (cfr. Jn 16, 13).

8. In proclaiming the Church's faith and in clarifying the norms of Christian conduct, the bishops have a specific task by divine institution. "As successors of the Apostles, the bishops are responsible for communion in the apostolic faith and for fidelity to the demands of a life in keeping with the Gospel" (Valamo Document, n. 40).

9. Councils are the principal way in which communion among bishops is exercised (cfr. Valamo Document, n. 52). For "attachment to the apostolic communion binds all the bishops together linking the épiskopè of the local Churches to the College of the Apostles. They too form a college rooted by the Spirit in the 'once for all' of the apostolic group, the unique witness to the faith. This means not only that they should be united among themselves in faith, charity, mission, reconciliation, but that they have in common the same responsibility and the same service to the Church" (Munich Document, III, 4).

10. This conciliar dimension of the Church's life belongs to its deep-seated nature. That is to say, it is founded in the will of Christ for his people (cfr. Mt 18, 15-20), even if its canonical realizations are of necessity also determined by history and by the social, political and cultural context. Defined thus, the conciliar dimension of the Church is to be found at the three levels of ecclesial communion, the local, the regional and the universal: at the local level of the diocese entrusted to the bishop; at the regional level of a group of local Churches with their bishops who "recognize who is the first amongst themselves" (Apostolic Canon 34); and at the universal level, where those who are first (protoi ) in the various regions, together with all the bishops, cooperate in that which concerns the totality of the Church. At this level also, the protoi must recognize who is the first amongst themselves.

11. The Church exists in many and different places, which manifests its catholicity. Being "catholic", it is a living organism, the Body of Christ. Each local Church, when in communion with the other local Churches, is a manifestation of the one and indivisible Church of God. To be "catholic" therefore means to be in communion with the one Church of all times and of all places. That is why the breaking of eucharistic communion means the wounding of one of the essential characteristics of the Church, its catholicity.

2. Authority

12. When we speak of authority, we are referring to exousia, as it is described in the New Testament. The authority of the Church comes from its Lord and Head, Jesus Christ. Having received his authority from God the Father, Christ after his Resurrection shared it, through the Holy Spirit, with the Apostles (cfr. Jn 20, 22). Through the Apostles it was transmitted to the bishops, their successors, and through them to the whole Church. Jesus Christ our Lord exercised this authority in various ways whereby, until its eschatological fulfilment (cfr. 1 Cor 15, 24-28), the Kingdom of God manifests itself to the world: by teaching (cfr. Mt 5, 2; Lk 5, 3); by performing miracles (cfr. Mk 1, 30-34; Mt 14, 35-36); by driving out impure spirits (cfr. Mk 1, 27; Lk 4, 35-36); in the forgiveness of sins (cfr. Mk 2, 10; Lk 5, 24); and in leading his disciples in the ways of salvation (cfr. Mt 16, 24). In conformity with the mandate received from Christ (cfr. Mt 28, 18-20), the exercise of the authority proper to the apostles and afterwards to the bishops includes the proclamation and the teaching of the Gospel, sanctification through the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist, and the pastoral direction of those who believe (cfr. Lk 10, 16).

13. Authority in the Church belongs to Jesus Christ himself, the one Head of the Church (cfr. Eph 1, 22; 5, 23). By his Holy Spirit, the Church as his Body shares in his authority (cfr. Jn 20, 22-23). Authority in the Church has as its goal the gathering of the whole of humankind into Jesus Christ (cfr. Eph 1,10; Jn 11, 52). The authority linked with the grace received in ordination is not the private possession of those who receive it nor something delegated from the community; rather, it is a gift of the Holy Spirit destined for the service (diakonia) of the community and never exercised outside of it. Its exercise includes the participation of the whole community, the bishop being in the Church and the Church in the bishop (cfr. St Cyprian, Ep. 66, 8).

14. The exercise of authority accomplished in the Church, in the name of Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, must be, in all its forms and at all levels, a service (diakonia ) of love, as was that of Christ (cfr. Mk 10, 45; Jn 13, 1-16). The authority of which we are speaking, since it expresses divine authority, cannot subsist in the Church except in the love between the one who exercises it and those subject to it. It is, therefore, an authority without domination, without physical or moral coercion. Since it is a participation in the exousia of the crucified and exalted Lord, to whom has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (cfr. Mt 28, 18), it can and must call for obedience. At the same time, because of the Incarnation and the Cross, it is radically different from that of leaders of nations and of the great of this world (cfr. Lk 22, 25-27). While this authority is certainly entrusted to people who, because of weakness and sin, are often tempted to abuse it, nevertheless by its very nature the evangelical identification between authority and service constitutes a fundamental norm for the Church. For Christians, to rule is to serve. The exercise and spiritual efficacy of ecclesial authority are thereby assured through free consent and voluntary co-operation. At a personal level, this translates into obedience to the authority of the Church in order to follow Christ who was lovingly obedient to the Father even unto death and death on a Cross (cfr. Phil 2, 8).

15. Authority within the Church is founded upon the Word of God, present and alive in the community of the disciples. Scripture is the revealed Word of God, as the Church, through the Holy Spirit present and active within it, has discerned it in the living Tradition received from the Apostles. At the heart of this Tradition is the Eucharist (cfr. 1 Cor 10, 16-17; 11, 23-26). The authority of Scripture derives from the fact that it is the Word of God which, read in the Church and by the Church, transmits the Gospel of salvation. Through Scripture, Christ addresses the assembled community and the heart of each believer. The Church, through the Holy Spirit present within it, authentically interprets Scripture, responding to the needs of times and places. The constant custom of the Councils to enthrone the Gospels in the midst of the assembly both attests the presence of Christ in his Word, which is the necessary point of reference for all their discussions and decisions, and at the same time affirms the authority of the Church to interpret this Word of God.

16. In his divine Economy, God wills that his Church should have a structure oriented towards salvation. To this essential structure belong the faith professed and the sacraments celebrated in the apostolic succession. Authority in the ecclesial communion is linked to this essential structure: its exercise is regulated by the canons and statutes of the Church. Some of these regulations may be differently applied according to the needs of ecclesial communion in different times and places, provided that the essential structure of the Church is always respected. Thus, just as communion in the sacraments presupposes communion in the same faith (cfr. Bari Document, nn.29-33), so too, in order for there to be full ecclesial communion, there must be, between our Churches, reciprocal recognition of canonical legislations in their legitimate diversities.

II. The threefold actualization of Conciliarity and Authority

17. Having pointed out the foundation of conciliarity and of authority in the Church, and having noted the complexity of the content of these terms, we must now reply to the following questions: How do institutional elements of the Church visibly express and serve the mystery of koinônia? How do the canonical structures of the Churches express their sacramental life? To this end we distinguished between three levels of ecclesial institutions: that of the local Church around its bishop; that of a region taking in several neighbouring local Churches; and that of the whole inhabited earth (oikoumene ) which embraces all the local Churches.

1. The Local Level

18. The Church of God exists where there is a community gathered together in the Eucharist, presided over, directly or through his presbyters, by a bishop legitimately ordained into the apostolic succession, teaching the faith received from the Apostles, in communion with the other bishops and their Churches. The fruit of this Eucharist and this ministry is to gather into an authentic communion of faith, prayer, mission, fraternal love and mutual aid, all those who have received the Spirit of Christ in Baptism. This communion is the frame in which all ecclesial authority is exercised. Communion is the criterion for its exercise.

19. Each local Church has as its mission to be, by the grace of God, a place where God is served and honoured, where the Gospel is announced, where the sacraments are celebrated, where the faithful strive to alleviate the world's misery, and where each believer can find salvation. It is the light of the world (cfr. Mt 5, 14-16), the leaven (cfr. Mt 13, 33), the priestly community of God (cfr. 1 Pet 2, 5 and 9). The canonical norms which govern it aim at ensuring this mission.

20. By virtue of that very Baptism which made him or her a member of Christ, each baptized person is called, according to the gifts of the one Holy Spirit, to serve within the community (cfr. 1 Cor 12, 4-27). Thus through communion, whereby all the members are at the service of each other, the local Church appears already "synodal" or "conciliar" in its structure. This "synodality" does not show itself only in the relationships of solidarity, mutual assistance and complementarity which the various ordained ministries have among themselves. Certainly, the presbyterium is the council of the bishop (cfr. St Ignatius of Antioch, To the Trallians, 3), and the deacon is his "right arm" ( Didascalia Apostolorum, 2, 28, 6), so that, according to the recommendation of St Ignatius of Antioch, everything be done in concert (cfr. To the Ephesians 6). Synodality, however, also involves all the members of the community in obedience to the bishop, who is the protos and head (kephale) of the local Church, required by ecclesial communion. In keeping with Eastern and Western traditions, the active participation of the laity, both men and women, of monastics and consecrated persons, is effected in the diocese and the parish through many forms of service and mission.

21. The charisms of the members of the community have their origin in the one Holy Spirit, and are directed to the good of all. This fact sheds light on both the demands and the limits of the authority of each one in the Church. There should be neither passivity nor substitution of functions, neither negligence nor domination of anyone by another. All charisms and ministries in the Church converge in unity under the ministry of the bishop, who serves the communion of the local Church. All are called to be renewed by the Holy Spirit in the sacraments and to respond in constant repentance (metanoia), so that their communion in truth and charity is ensured.

2. The Regional Level

22. Since the Church reveals itself to be catholic in the synaxis of the local Church, this catholicity must truly manifest itself in communion with the other Churches which confess the same apostolic faith and share the same basic ecclesial structure, beginning with those close at hand in virtue of their common responsibility for mission in that region which is theirs (cfr. Munich Document, III, 3, and Valamo Document, nn.52 and 53). Communion among Churches is expressed in the ordination of bishops. This ordination is conferred according to canonical order by three or more bishops, or at least two (cfr. Nicaea I, Canon 4), who act in the name of the episcopal body and of the people of God, having themselves received their ministry from the Holy Spirit by the imposition of hands in the apostolic succession. When this is accomplished in conformity with the canons, communion among Churches in the true faith, sacraments and ecclesial life is ensured, as well as living communion with previous generations.

23. Such effective communion among several local Churches, each being the Catholic Church in a particular place, has been expressed by certain practices: the participation of the bishops of neighbouring sees at the ordination of a bishop to the local Church; the invitation to a bishop from another Church to concelebrate at the synaxis of the local Church; the welcome extended to the faithful from these other Churches to partake of the eucharistic table; the exchange of letters on the occasion of an ordination; and the provision of material assistance.

24. A canon accepted in the East as in the West, expresses the relationship between the local Churches of a region: "The bishops of each province (ethnos) must recognize the one who is first (protos) amongst them, and consider him to be their head (kephale), and not do anything important without his consent (gnome); each bishop may only do what concerns his own diocese (paroikia) and its dependent territories. But the first (protos) cannot do anything without the consent of all. For in this way concord (homonoia ) will prevail, and God will be praised through the Lord in the Holy Spirit" (Apostolic Canon 34).

25. This norm, which re-emerges in several forms in canonical tradition, applies to all the relations between the bishops of a region, whether those of a province, a metropolitanate, or a patriarchate. Its practical application may be found in the synods or the councils of a province, region or patriarchate. The fact that the composition of a regional synod is always essentially episcopal, even when it includes other members of the Church, reveals the nature of synodal authority. Only bishops have a deliberative voice. The authority of a synod is based on the nature of the episcopal ministry itself, and manifests the collegial nature of the episcopate at the service of the communion of Churches.

26. A synod (or council) in itself implies the participation of all the bishops of a region. It is governed by the principle of consensus and concord (homonoia), which is signified by eucharistic concelebration, as is implied by the final doxology of the above-mentioned Apostolic Canon 34. The fact remains, however, that each bishop in his pastoral care is judge, and is responsible before God for the affairs of his own diocese (cfr. Cyprian, Ep. 55, 21); thus he is the guardian of the catholicity of his local Church, and must be always careful to promote catholic communion with other Churches.

27. It follows that a regional synod or council does not have any authority over other ecclesiastical regions. Nevertheless, the exchange of information and consultations between the representatives of several synods are a manifestation of catholicity, as well as of that fraternal mutual assistance and charity which ought to be the rule between all the local Churches, for the greater common benefit. Each bishop is responsible for the whole Church together with all his colleagues in one and the same apostolic mission.

28. In this manner several ecclesiastical provinces have come to strengthen their links of common responsibility. This was one of the factors giving rise to the patriarchates in the history of our Churches. Patriarchal synods are governed by the same ecclesiological principles and the same canonical norms as provincial synods.

29. In subsequent centuries, both in the East and in the West, certain new configurations of communion between local Churches have developed. New patriarchates and autocephalous Churches have been founded in the Christian East, and in the Latin Church there has recently emerged a particular pattern of grouping of bishops, the Episcopal Conferences. These are not, from an ecclesiological standpoint, merely administrative subdivisions: they express the spirit of communion in the Church, while at the same time respecting the diversity of human cultures.

30. In fact, regional synodality, whatever its contours and canonical regulation, demonstrates that the Church of God is not a communion of persons or local Churches cut off from their human roots. Because it is the community of salvation and because this salvation is "the restoration of creation" (cfr. St Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., 1, 36, 1), it embraces the human person in everything which binds himor her to human reality as created by God. The Church is not just a collection of individuals; it is made up of communities with different cultures, histories and social structures.

31. In the grouping of local Churches at the regional level, catholicity appears in its true light. It is the expression of the presence of salvation not in an undifferentiated universe but in humankind as God created it and comes to save it. In the mystery of salvation, human nature is at the same time both assumed in its fullness and cured of what sin has infused into it by way of self-sufficiency, pride, distrust of others, aggressiveness, jealousy, envy, falsehood and hatred. Ecclesial koinônia is the gift by which all humankind is joined together, in the Spirit of the risen Lord. This unity, created by the Spirit, far from lapsing into uniformity, calls for and thus preserves -- and, in a certain way, enhances -- diversity and particularity.

3. The Universal Level

32. Each local Church is in communion not only with neighbouring Churches, but with the totality of the local Churches, with those now present in the world, those which have been since the beginning, and those which will be in the future, and with the Church already in glory. According to the will of Christ, the Church is one and indivisible, the same always and in every place. Both sides confess, in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, that the Church is one and catholic. Its catholicity embraces not only the diversity of human communities but also their fundamental unity.

33. It is clear, therefore, that one and the same faith is to be confessed and lived out in all the local Churches, the same unique Eucharist is to be celebrated everywhere, and one and the same apostolic ministry is to be at work in all the communities. A local Church cannot modify the Creed, formulated by the ecumenical Councils, although the Church ought always "to give suitable answers to new problems, answers based on the Scriptures and in accord and essential continuity with the previous expressions of dogmas" (Bari Document, n.29). Equally, a local Church cannot change a fundamental point regarding the form of ministry by a unilateral decision, and no local Church can celebrate the Eucharist in wilful separation from other local Churches without seriously affecting ecclesial communion. In all of these things one touches on the bond of communion itself -- thus, on the very being of the Church.

34. It is because of this communion that all the Churches, through canons, regulate everything relating to the Eucharist and the sacraments, the ministry and ordination, and the handing on (paradosis) and teaching (didaskalia) of the faith. It is clear why in this domain canonical rules and disciplinary norms are needed.

35. In the course of history, when serious problems arose affecting the universal communion and concord between Churches -- in regard either to the authentic interpretation of the faith, or to ministries and their relationship to the whole Church, or to the common discipline which fidelity to the Gospel requires -- recourse was made to Ecumenical Councils. These Councils were ecumenical not just because they assembled together bishops from all regions and particularly those of the five major sees, Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem, according to the ancient order (taxis). It was also because their solemn doctrinal decisions and their common faith formulations, especially on crucial points, are binding for all the Churches and all the faithful, for all times and all places. This is why the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils remain normative.

36. The history of the Ecumenical Councils shows what are to be considered their special characteristics. This matter needs to be studied further in our future dialogue, taking account of the evolution of ecclesial structures during recent centuries in the East and the West.

37. The ecumenicity of the decisions of a Council is recognized through a process of reception of either long or short duration, according to which the people of God as a whole -- by means of reflection, discernment, discussion and prayer -- acknowledge in these decisions the one apostolic faith of the local Churches, which has always been the same and of which the bishops are the teachers (didaskaloi) and the guardians. This process of reception is differently interpreted in East and West according to their respective canonical traditions.

38. Conciliarity or synodality involves, therefore, much more than the assembled bishops. It involves also their Churches. The former are bearers of and give voice to the faith of the latter. The bishops' decisions have to be received in the life of the Churches, especially in their liturgical life. Each Ecumenical Council received as such, in the full and proper sense, is, accordingly, a manifestation of and service to the communion of the whole Church.

39. Unlike diocesan and regional synods, an ecumenical council is not an "institution" whose frequency can be regulated by canons; it is rather an "event", a kairos inspired by the Holy Spirit who guides the Church so as to engender within it the institutions which it needs and which respond to its nature. This harmony between the Church and the councils is so profound that, even after the break between East and West which rendered impossible the holding of ecumenical councils in the strict sense of the term, both Churches continued to hold councils whenever serious crises arose. These councils gathered together the bishops of local Churches in communion with the See of Rome or, although understood in a different way, with the See of Constantinople, respectively. In the Roman Catholic Church, some of these councils held in the West were regarded as ecumenical. This situation, which obliged both sides of Christendom to convoke councils proper to each of them, favoured dissentions which contributed to mutual estrangement. The means which will allow the re-establishment of ecumenical consensus must be sought out.

40. During the first millennium, the universal communion of the Churches in the ordinary course of events was maintained through fraternal relations between the bishops. These relations, among the bishops themselves, between the bishops and their respective protoi , and also among the protoi themselves in the canonical order (taxis) witnessed by the ancient Church, nourished and consolidated ecclesial communion. History records the consultations, letters and appeals to major sees, especially to that of Rome, which vividly express the solidarity that koinônia creates. Canonical provisions such as the inclusion of the names of the bishops of the principal sees in the diptychs and the communication of the profession of faith to the other patriarchs on the occasion of elections, are concrete expressions of koinônia.

41. Both sides agree that this canonical taxis was recognised by all in the era of the undivided Church. Further, they agree that Rome, as the Church that "presides in love" according to the phrase of St Ignatius of Antioch (To the Romans, Prologue), occupied the first place in the taxis, and that the bishop of Rome was therefore the protos among the patriarchs. They disagree, however, on the interpretation of the historical evidence from this era regarding the prerogatives of the bishop of Rome as protos , a matter that was already understood in different ways in the first millennium.

42. Conciliarity at the universal level, exercised in the ecumenical councils, implies an active role of the bishop of Rome, as protos of the bishops of the major sees, in the consensus of the assembled bishops. Although the bishop of Rome did not convene the ecumenical councils of the early centuries and never personally presided over them, he nevertheless was closely involved in the process of decision-making by the councils.

43. Primacy and conciliarity are mutually interdependent. That is why primacy at the different levels of the life of the Church, local, regional and universal, must always be considered in the context of conciliarity, and conciliarity likewise in the context of primacy.

Concerning primacy at the different levels, we wish to affirm the following points:

1 Primacy at all levels is a practice firmly grounded in the canonical tradition of the Church.

2 While the fact of primacy at the universal level is accepted by both East and West, there are differences of understanding with regard to the manner in which it is to be exercised, and also with regard to its scriptural and theological foundations.

44. In the history of the East and of the West, at least until the ninth century, a series of prerogatives was recognised, always in the context of conciliarity, according to the conditions of the times, for the protos or kephale at each of the established ecclesiastical levels: locally, for the bishop as protos of his diocese with regard to his presbyters and people; regionally, for the protos of each metropolis with regard to the bishops of his province, and for the protos of each of the five patriarchates, with regard to the metropolitans of each circumscription; and universally, for the bishop of Rome as protos among the patriarchs. This distinction of levels does not diminish the sacramental equality of every bishop or the catholicity of each local Church.

45. It remains for the question of the role of the bishop of Rome in the communion of all the Churches to be studied in greater depth. What is the specific function of the bishop of the "first see" in an ecclesiology of koinônia and in view of what we have said on conciliarity and authority in the present text? How should the teaching of the first and second Vatican councils on the universal primacy be understood and lived in the light of the ecclesial practice of the first millennium? These are crucial questions for our dialogue and for our hopes of restoring full communion between us.

46. We, the members of the Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, are convinced that the above statement on ecclesial communion, conciliarity and authority represents positive and significant progress in our dialogue, and that it provides a firm basis for future discussion of the question of primacy at the universal level in the Church. We are conscious that many difficult questions remain to be clarified, but we hope that, sustained by the prayer of Jesus "That they may all be one … so that the world may believe" (Jn 17, 21), and in obedience to the Holy Spirit, we can build upon the agreement already reached. Reaffirming and confessing "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Eph 4, 5), we give glory to God the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who has gathered us together.

* * *

[1] Orthodox participants felt it important to emphasize that the use of the terms "the Church", "the universal Church", "the indivisible Church" and "the Body of Christ" in this document and in similar documents produced by the Joint Commission in no way undermines the self-understanding of the Orthodox Church as the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, of which the Nicene Creed speaks. From the Catholic point of view, the same self-awareness applies: the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church 'subsists in the Catholic Church' (Lumen Gentium, 8); this does not exclude acknowledgement that elements of the true Church are present outside the Catholic communion.

Magister on Romano Amerio, again

A Great Reunion: Romano Amerio and the Changes in the Catholic Church

Have the changes of the conciliar era affected the essence of Catholicism, or not? "L'Osservatore Romano" brings the great Swiss thinker back into vogue. And archbishop Agostino Marchetto demolishes the theses of his adversaries: the "Bologna school" founded by Dossetti and Alberigo

See also:

Blessed Liberty: The Posthumous Miracle of Antonio Rosmini

The great classical thinker was under condemnation by the Holy Office until six years ago. He was exonerated. And now, he's been proclaimed blessed. The philosopher Dario Antiseri paints the portrait of this teacher of a form of liberalism open to religion

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Papal Message on the Common Good

Papal Message on the Common Good

"Only Together Is It Possible to Attain It and Safeguard Its Effectiveness"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 14, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the letter Benedict XVI sent on the occasion of the Sept. 23-28 Italian Catholic Social Week.

* * *

LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE ITALIAN BISHOPS' CONFERENCE ON THE OCCASION OF THE CENTENARY OF THE ITALIAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL WEEK

To my Venerable Brother Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco President of the Italian Bishops' Conference

This year is the centenary of the first Italian Catholic Social Week, which was held in Pistoia from 23 to 28 September 1907 particularly at the initiative of Prof. Giuseppe Toniolo. He was a splendid lay Catholic, scientist and social apostle, protagonist of the Catholic Movement at the end of the 19th century and the dawn of the 20th. On this important jubilee, I willingly send my cordial greeting to you, Venerable Brother, to Bishop Arrigo Miglio of Ivrea, President of the Scientific Committee and organizer of the Social Weeks, to the collaborators and to all the participants in the 45th Week that will be held in Pistoia and Pisa from the 18th to the 21st of this month. Although the theme chosen -- "The common good today: a commitment that comes from afar" -- has already been treated during previous Weeks, it has kept its timeliness intact. Indeed, it is appropriate that it be studied and explained precisely now in order to avoid a generic and at times improper use of the term "common good".

The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, with reference to the teaching of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (cf. "Gaudium et Spes," n. 26), specifies that "the common good does not consist in the simple sum of the particular goods of each subject of a social entity. Belonging to everyone and to each person, it is and remains "common' because it is indivisible and because only together is it possible to attain it, increase it and safeguard its effectiveness, with regard also to the future" (n. 164). Francisco Suárez, a theologian, had already earlier identified a "bonum commune omnium nationum," which means: "a common good of the human race". Therefore, in the past and especially today in the epoch of globalization, the common good has been and should be considered and promoted also in the context of international relations. It clearly appears that precisely for the social foundation of human existence, the good of each person is naturally connected with the good of all humanity. The beloved Servant of God John Paul II noted in this regard in the Encyclical "Sollicitudo Rei Socialis" that: "It is above all a question of interdependence, sensed as a system determining relationships in the contemporary world, in its economic, cultural, political and religious elements, and accepted as a moral category" (n. 38). And he added: "When interdependence becomes recognized in this way, the correlative response as a moral and social attitude, as a "virtue', is solidarity. "This then is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. "On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all" (ibid.).

In the Encyclical "Deus Caritas Est," I wanted to recall that "the formation of just structures is not directly the duty of the Church, but belongs to the world of politics, the sphere of the autonomous use of reason" (n. 29). I then noted that: "The Church has an indirect duty here, in that she is called to contribute to the purification of reason and to the reawakening of those moral forces without which just structures are neither established nor prove effective in the long run" (ibid.). What better occasion than this to reaffirm that working for a just order in society is a direct task proper to the lay faithful? As citizens of the State, it is their duty to take part in public life in the first person and, with respect for the legitimate autonomies, to cooperate in forming social life correctly, together with all other citizens, in accordance with the competencies of each one and under his or her own autonomous responsibility. In my Intervention at the National Ecclesial Convention of Verona last year, I reaffirmed that the immediate duty to act in the political sphere to build a just order in Italian society is not the Church's task as such, but rather, that of the lay faithful. They must dedicate themselves with generosity and courage to this duty of great importance, illuminated by faith and by the Church's Magisterium and animated by the charity of Christ ("Address at the Fourth Italian National Ecclesial Convention," 19 October 2006; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 25 October, p. 8). For this reason the Social Weeks for Italian Catholics were wisely instituted, and this providential initiative will also be able to make a crucial contribution to the formation and animation of Christianly inspired citizens in the future.

The daily news demonstrates that contemporary society is facing many ethical and social emergencies that could undermine its stability and seriously jeopardize its future. Particularly relevant is the current anthropological question which embraces respect for human life and the attention to be paid to the needs of the family founded on the marriage of a man and a woman. As has been affirmed several times, it is not a matter of solely "Catholic" values and principles but of defending and protecting common human values, such as justice, peace and the safeguarding of creation. What can then be said of the problems concerning work in relation to the family and young people? When lack of steady work does not permit young people to have a family of their own, society's authentic and full development is seriously jeopardized. Here I repeat the invitation I addressed to Italian Catholics at the Ecclesial Convention in Verona, to be ready to welcome the great opportunity that these challenges offer and not to react with a defeatist withdrawal into themselves, but on the contrary, with a renewed dynamism, to trustingly open themselves to new relationships and not waste any energy that could contribute to Italy's cultural and moral growth.

Lastly, I cannot fail to mention a specific context that prompts Catholics also in Italy to question themselves: it is the context of the relationship between religion and politics. The substantial novelty brought by Jesus is that he opened the way to a more human and freer world, with full respect for the distinction and autonomy that exists between what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God (cf. Mt 22: 21). If, therefore, on the one hand, the Church recognizes that she is not and does not intend to be a political agent, on the other, she cannot avoid concerning herself with the good of the whole civil community in which she lives and works and to which she makes her own special contribution, shaping in the political and entrepreneurial classes a genuine spirit of truth and honesty geared to seeking the common good rather than personal advantage.

These are the particularly timely topics to which the upcoming Italian Catholic Social Week will give its attention. I assure my special remembrance in prayer to those who will be taking part in it and as I wish them fertile and fruitful work for the good of the Church and the entire Italian People, I warmly impart to all a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 12 October 2007

© Copyright 2007 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Lecture at BC on Aristotle by Pierre Destrée

From the BC philosophy department

Prof. Pierre Destrée,

Dept. of Philosophy, University of Louvain-la-Neuve

Will give a public lecture entitled:

“Aristotle on Responsibility for one’s Character”

on Friday, November 16 at 3 PM

in Room 328, 21 Campanella Way.

This lecture is sponsored by the Philosophy Department at Boston College

Faculty and students are cordially invited to attend.

Zenit: Cardinal Poupard on "Populorum Progressio"

Cardinal Poupard on "Populorum Progressio"

"Lack of Education Is As Serious As Lack of Food"


ROME, NOV. 13, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of a speech delivered by Cardinal Paul Poupard, retired president of the Pontifical Councils of Culture and Interreligious Dialogue, titled "'Populorum Progressio': Education for Development."

The speech was given Oct. 29 at the Patristic Augustinianum Institute during an event organized by the Society of Jesus' Commission for Social Communications, which presented the "Give 1, Get 1" initiative of the One Laptop per Child Project.

* * *

1. At the invitation of the Secretary of the Commission for Social Communications of the Society of Jesus, Father Thomas Rochford, I am pleased to be here to speak about the encyclical letter "Populorum Progressio," whose fortieth anniversary we are celebrating this year. Previously Father Rochford has approached me regarding the Nexus Mundi Foundation, which I know some of you are familiar with. Today, instead, we are here to hear about another project: Nicholas Negroponte's project One Child One Laptop. To all of you my cordial salutations.

Paul VI's encyclical on the development of peoples contained two great affirmations, one in the introduction, "the social question ties all men together", and the other in the conclusion "Development is the New Name for Peace". Between them Papa Montini articulated a solemn call to "urge all men to pool their ideas and their activities for man's complete development and the development of all mankind" (§ 5). Our reflection on this encyclical -- taken largely from my recent publication "Populorum progressio tra ricordi e speranze" -- aims to continue its message within today's conference, resurrecting the spirit of hope and confidence for the integral development of each individual in an atmosphere of fraternal concern, the central thrust of the encyclical.

2. I was a young collaborator in the Secretariat of State of Pope Paul VI when he himself asked me to present his encyclical letter "Populorum Progressio" at the Press Room of the Holy See. It was my first press conference, and so you can imagine what an emotional occasion it was for me! And not only for me, there was great expectation among the bishops, the clergy, religious men and women, and lay people, and also further afield among men and women of goodwill who saw this occasion as the next great moment in the pastoral care of the Catholic Church for the contemporary world. Indeed, some journalists measured the arc of time in terms of the Second Vatican Council document "Gaudium et Spes," John XXIII's "Pacem in Terris" and now this new encyclical of Paul VI, whose publication date was adjusted to Tuesday of Easter Week, due to the great amount of interest. In fact, the document did have other precursors in Leo XIII's encyclical "Rerum Novarum," Pius XI's encyclical "Quadragesimo Anno," Pius XII's radio messages to the world, and John XXIII's "Mater et Magistra." And let us not forget too that since then we have had "Laborem Exercens," and "Sollicitudo Rei Socialis." But by far the most dramatic document, for its timing, insight, and sense of occasion, was Paul VI's "Populorum Progressio."

3. When the encyclical was conceived, we were living through times of great ferment. The third world had made its voice heard through their bishops at the Second Vatican Council, right at the heart of the Church, which had opened itself to the world, wishing to be as leaven in the bread, to nourish and sustain the world in transformation, a world which was increasingly multicultural and multiracial, a world inebriated by its technological progress and facing the nuclear threat, a world in which east and west, north and south were in ever closer contact. A world that had become socialised.

The 1960s would see Kennedy and Khrushcev, Chairman Mao and President Johnson, and then that cultural, social and political movement in the Springtime of Prague and the student revolutions across the world, notably in California, Paris and Turin. A cultural revolution which expelled age-old institutions and educational models, opening the door to new challenges and opportunities; an ambience in which customs, mindsets, and ways of life would change, the very fabric of culture transformed as people sought a society less authoritarian and free. Religious, political and civil authority changed its nature, and the bizarre slogan became the new gospel "interdit d'interdire", "no banning allowed". While the intentions of the student movement were to replace the old institutions with a more humane society, what actually happened was the creation of a void which would be filled by economic promoters eager to make material gain; publicity and marketing became the new truth, particularly with the rise of television, and man became closed in on himself, or as my friend the poet Pierre Emmanuel put it, we became "ontologically distracted." It was a world living for the here and now. The Second World War had been forgotten, economic prosperity had brought great distractions; Europeans had forgotten the meaning of hunger, fear, and, what is worse, had closed their eyes, minds and hearts to the downtrodden, the poor and the weak.

4. It was with courage that Paul VI spoke to men and women ensnared in this endless series of distractions -- "divertissements" as Pascal put it. The Pope spoke not out of opportunity, but out of necessity. The populations of the world had become in one way nearer, but at the same time less familiar with each other. He sought to recover the meaning and duty of fraternity. He appealed not just for economic progress, but for a fraternal progress. And he did so with an urgency, for it was no longer the case of just the poor man, Lazarus holding out his hand not to receive any crumbs. Now it is was not just Lazarus, but entire multitudes of peoples who were hungry, illiterate, and on the verge of war. And the response needed was to be built not on the basis of an ideal, but in the concrete reality of what it means to be truly human, underlining what it means to recognise the poor as brothers, to be solidaritous, to seek development for the poor for the sake of all.

5. Historians will have an easy task in examining the preparations of the encyclical, for there are volumes of notes and dossiers in the Vatican archives[1]. But the spirit of love that drove the preparations, an essential characteristic of Pope Paul VI himself, is already clear for all to see. When I presented the document I had this to say...

"It is a letter, not a tract, nor a course, nor an erudite article; but a letter, and so it is inspired by Christian love. So it aims to resolve and energise, bringing the attention of the Church and the world's public opinion to the issues discussed therein, to offer human and scientific solutions, able to define the thought of the Church in this field and to help the world think along these lines of thought."

As with our current Pontiff, Benedict, love was a theme of the Pope from Brescia. In his first message to the human family, titled "Qui fausto Die", no sooner had he announced the continuation of the Council than he signalled another principal aim of his PontifIcate, and I quote,

"The unequivocal order of love of neighbour, the proof of the love of God, demands from all men a more equitable solution of the social problems; it demands provisions and cures for developing countries, where often the standard of life is not worthy of the human person; it imposes a global study to improve the conditions of life. This new era, which has been opened to humanity through the conquests of space, will be blessed by the Lord if men learn how to recognise each other as brothers not competitors, to build a world order in holy reverence of God, respecting his Law, in the sweet light of charity and mutual collaboration."

From its beginning to its end, "Populorum Progressio" is aimed at action inspired by love. There is also an adoption of the threefold method dear to Catholic Action: "voir -- juger -- agir." Having noticed the "immediate misery" (n.9), the "growing unbalance" (n.8), "the scandal of clamourous inequality" (n.9), Paul VI offered a new standard for growth: the transcendent humanism which the person achieves by being inserted into Christ is the ultimate goal of development, and the "integral development of the individual necessarily entails a joint effort for the development of the human race as a whole" (n. 43). Hence the call for action, to mutual solidarity, to work for social justice, a promotion of universal charity, dialogue between nations, equity in trade relations, the creation of a fund for relief of impoverished peoples, and a renewed sense of hope for the future.

6. In "Sollicitudo Rei Socialis," John Paul II underlined some nodes of our encyclical, especially its theme, development, which needs to be seen not only as a term of social and economic sciences, but primarily in its ethical, cultural and spiritual dimensions; and he noted how it opened the "social question" to a wider scale, not just geographically or globally, but in its human dimension as a moral question, with the duty of solidarity -- dutiful today as it was 40 years ago tying development to universal interdependence. This meant there was a reappraisal of the meaning of development, which is now seen in its fraternal and universal dimension for the whole of each and every person; it cannot be built on National or individual egoisms or restricted to mere material gain. Economic issues can no longer be considered without the full dimension of the human person, for the economy exists for man, through man and in man. No one, no people, no culture, no aspect of the human person can be excluded from it. In speaking with such realism and offering a message of hope founded on Revelation -- Paul VI's was a call for a programme of economic stability, moral dignity, education, and universal collaboration between nations, reminding the men and women of the world of the serious and urgent duty of promoting an international social justice.

7. While Paul VI's words were prophetic, it is sad to see how little the situation changed. Despite industrial and economic growth, humanity still suffers. War, poverty, both material and spiritual, and misery remain. Yet Paul VI's views on development as the pathway to peace, have become recognised as a valid and fundamental therapy. His is a form of development worthy of the name, bringing it to each and every person, and in every aspect of their humanity.

Within this new vision of development -- and here I conclude for today's conference -- Pope Paul VI gave priority of place to education. Let us hear his words as I quote from number 35:

"We can even say that economic growth is dependent on social progress, the goal to which it aspires; and that basic education is the first objective for any nation seeking to develop itself. Lack of education is as serious as lack of food; the illiterate is a starved spirit. When someone learns how to read and write, he is equipped to do a job and to shoulder a profession, to develop self confidence and realize that he can progress along with others" ("Populorum Progressio," 35).

And again at number 76, under the magisterial title Development is the new name for peace he warns of the urgency of this need:

"Extreme disparity between nations in economic, social and educational levels provokes jealousy and discord, often putting peace in jeopardy." ("Populorum Progressio," 76).

To that prophetic voice of Paul VI we still have a duty to listen and to respond. Let us do so with urgency and with care, lest we be accused with the words I heard drastically at the time of the publication of "Populorum Progressio" from the mouth of someone from the developing world. I remember his piercing accusation only too well. He said, "You have kept Christ for yourself, and left us only with the cross".

Thank you for your time.

* * *

[1] The document itself mentions the Holy Father's collaborators in reading the signs of the times and, with the pastoral gaze of a shepherd, expert in humanity thanks to the perspective of Revelation, setting out priorities for a strategic response. They were Jacques Maritain, Colin Clark, Von N ell-Breuning, Mons Larrain, Fr De Lubac, and Maurice Zundel. I will never forget Fr Lebret Indeed, Earlier this month I was able to give a talk in the distinctive Abbaye Saint Jacut de la Mer which was the home of Pere Lebret It was his work that helped to shape the future encyclical, particularly his 1963 dossier titled: "Sur Ie developpement economique, social, moral- Materiel d'etude pour une encyclique sur les principes moraux du developpement humain." For justice's sake I might also mention Francois Perroux, a regular visitor to Papa Montini. His thought and work notably influenced the encyclical. Indeed he was so upset at not being mentioned in the footnotes that he came to remonstrate with me: a fact which caused some consternation up in the Third Loggia due to his deafness and tendency to speak very, very loudly.

Zenit interview with Bishop Roche

A Richer Liturgical Translation: Interview With Bishop Roche

LEEDS, England, NOV. 13, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The English translation of the 2002 Roman Missal in Latin will be an opportunity for the faithful to discover the great theological richness of the text, according to the bishop in charge of the translation process.

Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds, chairman of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), announced Nov. 1 that the draft phase of the process to translate the 2002 Roman Missal from Latin to English has been completed.

He reported that the last installment -- the appendices -- of the draft version of the English translation was sent to the bishops of the commission's 11 member conferences.

In this interview with ZENIT, the bishop comments on the five-year process of translating the sacred liturgy, and how he thinks this translation will serve as an opportunity for catechesis.

Q: Can you describe the process of translation from the original text in Latin? How many editors and translators have worked on the text sent out now to the bishops?

Bishop Roche: It is quite a long process and very thorough as it involves a wide number of people. For example, each text is translated initially by a base translator, who has the "nihil obstat" of the Holy See. This version is seen by three or four revisors, who send their comments to the secretariat of ICEL, where a revised version is prepared that takes these comments into account.

This revised version then goes before an editorial committee composed of six people, the majority of whom are bishops. They further revise the text and propose a version for submission to the 11 bishops of the commission. When the commission meets it discusses the text, amends it if necessary, and then sends it out as a draft version in a Green Book to all the bishops of ICEL's member conferences.

These bishops consult whom they wish, and send their comments to the secretariat; local liturgical commissions often assist in this process by making a provisional collation of the comments.

By this time the text has been seen by a great number of people. The commission then reviews the text once again in the light of comments received, and either sends out another Green Book for further consultation, or issues a Gray Book, which contains its final version.

It is at this point that the bishops take a canonical vote on the text and forward it to Rome for the "recognitio" by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

Q: In translations, a decision often has to be made between translating exact words and translating concepts (formal equivalence versus dynamic equivalence). In translating the liturgy, how is that decision made, and what are the implications for bad liturgical translations?

Bishop Roche: The terms "formal equivalence" and "dynamic equivalence" are outmoded these days. They have been abandoned by their originator, Eugene Nida, who considered that his theories had been misunderstood and abused. Translation theory has moved on since the 1960s.

Language conveys not only facts and concepts but also images and feelings. We use words not only to say things but also to do things. These considerations are clearly important for the translation of the liturgy.

Just a quick example. There are various ways in which one can ask a person to close a door: "Shut the door"; "Shut the door, please"; "Would you mind closing the door, please?" Which, if any, of the courteous forms is appropriate for the liturgy?

The prayers of the Roman rite do not order God around, they respectfully request and plead. Nor do they tell God who he is, they acknowledge his greatness and his power, his love and his compassion and generosity.

Q: Other than the problem of literal-versus-conceptual translation, what is the main difficulty in translating Latin texts into the vernacular?

Bishop Roche: Latin shows the function of a word by means of its ending, English by its place in the sentence. In Latin, word order often expresses emphasis. English has to try to convey this, but has fewer means for doing so.

In some cases, Latin has many words for a concept for which English has few -- for example, "love." Sometimes, the reverse is true.

Q: Can you comment on some of the principal differences between the translation of the 2002 Roman Missal, and that of the one translated more than 30 years ago?

Bishop Roche: When the present English missal was published back in the 1970s, it was readily accepted by the bishops of the day that the translation would need to be revisited, because the translation had been done speedily in order to supply an English text, as quickly as possible, for the revised liturgy.

The new English translation of the now third edition of the Latin "Missale Romanum" will be a fuller and therefore a more faithful translation. We have endeavored to ensure a nobility of language as well as faithfulness to the Latin words and to the origins of the prayers themselves. A great deal more time and expertise, from a very wide range of scholars as well as bishops, has been employed producing the new translation.

So, for example, the new English texts will show more clearly the relationship between the liturgical texts and their scriptural origins. Let me give you an example in order to demonstrate this as well as the painstaking scholarship that goes into the translation of a text.

Sometimes at Mass we hear the priest greet us with these words: "The grace and peace of God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, be with you all." ICEL is proposing this: "Grace to you and peace from God, Our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."

Some will wonder "why make such a trivial change, what difference does it make?" Well, that greeting, "Grace to you and peace from God, Our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ," comes eight times in those exact words, in the letters of St. Paul. Outside the writings of St. Paul in the New Testament, the phrase, "Grace to you and peace," occurs in the First and Second letters of St. Peter and in the Book of Revelation. It is a slightly odd form, "Grace to you and peace from God," with the two nouns, "grace" and "peace," and the "to you" between them.

Wouldn't it be more natural to say, "Grace and peace to you?" I think it probably would be. But the fact that it occurs so often in the New Testament, no less than 11 times, suggests that that distinctive form of words has been a greeting among the Christian people from the very earliest times.

And you know the way it is sometimes, when you greet somebody or somebody greets you, the way they greet you tells you what sort of person they are, where they come from, from where they belong. Sometimes it's a secret sign, maybe a handshake or a wink. Or it might be a particular way of speaking, like "G'day sport." If you hear someone speak to you that way you would assume that the person came from Australia.

Well that slightly quirky form of words, "Grace to you and peace" seems to be an indication from the earliest times of the way Christians have greeted each other. The Greek, as well as the Latin, translation keeps that same word order: "Grace to you and peace."

Even Martin Luther, one of the first translators of the Bible into the vernacular in modern times, kept that order of words, "Grace to you and peace." And in the King James Version, produced for the Church of England, your find the same: "Grace to you and peace." It's the same in the Douay Bible, the Catholic version that was made in the 16th century: "Grace to you and peace." Then if you come up to more recent times, the Revised Standard Version, the New Revised Standard Version, those two also have that form of the words, "Grace to you and peace."

So across 2,000 years, translators have thought it wise to preserve that distinctive pattern, the distinctive word order, that distinctively Christian greeting, "Grace to you and peace." ICEL is proposing that this word order continue to be used in the Christian assembly, 2,000 years on. It puts us in touch with a very early stratum of Christian tradition.

There are lots of other examples, too: e.g., "The Lord be with you. And with your spirit" (Galatians 6:18; 2 Timothy 4:22); "Behold the Lamb of God" (John 1:29); and "Blessed are those called to the banquet of the Lamb" (Revelation 19:9).

Q: How will the eventual changes be introduced? What consequences will this have for the Catholic in the pews? Will the new translation be problematic or helpful for the faithful?

Bishop Roche: The introduction of new texts is a matter for local bishops' conferences. With good catechesis, on which work is already in progress, the new translation will help deepen the understanding and spirituality of everyone in the Church.

I believe that Catholics will welcome these next texts -- they are fuller and very beautiful. Of course, anything new always takes a little getting used to, but Catholics are generous and I believe that the Catholic instinct for truth, depth, accuracy and nobility of language will dispose them to the beauty of these new texts.

It has not been uncommon for me to hear from those with whom I have shared the new texts, comments like: "But I had no idea that this is what the text was trying to say!" There is a great theological richness being uncovered in these translations which itself will be highly catechetical.

We have a saying: "lex orandi lex credendi." In other words, the way we pray is formative of our faith. The Roman Missal conveys the faith of the Church, carefully handed down to us century by century since earliest times. This is a treasure from which we shall be fed and nurtured each day and one that needs to be carefully handed on.

Q: It has been stated that the post-conciliar Roman breviary also has many translation problems. How did these problems arise? Will a new version of the breviary be issued?

Bishop Roche: Like the missal, the breviary was translated in a hurry for the same understandable reasons. From what I can gather, there seems to have been little overall editorial control on the translations we have and therefore, there is an unevenness in the translation of the texts. A new version is most certainly needed, but until the Roman Missal is completed, it would be impossible to embark on such a project. It will be for the member conferences of ICEL and for the Holy See to consider what should then follow.