In the unique polarity relating these two words we capture in arresting fashion the interrelation between unity and fullness, between primacy and episcopate. While the name "Roman Catholic" points to the phenomenon of the split in Catholicism, it reveals at a deeper level the basis of this split by bringing to light that fundamental conception of unity and catholicity which has always divided the minds of men and continues to do so.
The plan of John XXIII for the council has once more brought this problem into the centre of theological inquiry, and, after decades of concentration on "Roman", which followed the Vatican Council, has again directed more attention to the other side of the scale, to "Catholic", with which, to be sure, "Roman" forms a paradoxical unity, so that one separated from the other would no longer be itself. Theologians are preparing to rewrite the textbook tracts "De episcopo" and "De conciliis" now that they have been able to bring such a high degree of clarity to the tract "De primatu"2. We here attempt a modest contribution to this discussion by a study of the idea of succession. It is, however, important to avoid false problems and making irrelevant matters or others in no need of clarification the object of misapplied subtlety. We must rather concentrate on those truly open questions the discussion of which will afford some hope of more than verbal progress in the quest to understand the Church's nature, and thus can render a genuine service to divided Christianity.
Let us then first ask what is the certain teaching of the Church, the data which we can and must presuppose in discussion both among Catholics and with others. First, it is the certain teaching of the Church that the pope has immediate, ordinary, truly episcopal power of jurisdiction over the whole Church.3 The Vatican Council calls the primacy of the pope the apostolic primacy, and the Roman See the apostolic see.4 Thus in the realm of doctrine the pope, in his official capacity, is infallible, his ex cathedra decisions being irreformable ex sese5 and not in virtue of the Church's subsequent confirmation. So far as communio is concerned, the other pillar of the Church, it follows that only he who is in communion with the pope lives in the true communio of the body of the Lord, i.e., in the true Church.6
Dom Olivier Rousseau recently drew the attention of theologians to a sadly neglected document, which he rightly judges to be an authentic commentary on the Vatican Council. One could indeed look on it as a sort of postscript to the tract De episcopo which the Council did not embark upon. It is, at any rate, a most important supplement for it provides the key to the full meaning of the Vatican decrees. It is the "Collective Statement of the German Episcopate concerning the Circular of the German Imperial Chancellor in respect of the Coming Papal Election", of the year 1875, which received the express and unqualified endorsement of Pius IX.10 Rousseau summarizes the content of this document in seven points.
1. "The pope cannot arrogate to himself the
episcopal rights, nor substitute his
power for that of the bishops;
2. the episcopal jurisdiction has not been
absorbed in the papal jurisdiction;
3. the pope was not given the entire fulness
of the bishops' powers by the decrees of
the Vatican Council;
4. he has not virtually taken the place of
each individual bishop;
5. he cannot put himself in the place of a
bishop in each single instance, vis-a-vis
6. the bishops have not become instruments of
7. they are not officials of a foreign sovereign
in their relations with their own governments."11
Humana ratio per se in presenti generis humani conditione
certo cognoscere potest firmam certitudinem revelatio
tribuit omnibus hominibus
Now if we consider the paragraph De R. Pontificis et episcoporum jurisdictione 13a often lightly passed over, then we see that it brings into the doctrine on the primacy that same dialectic which characterizes the Council's notion of faith and revelation/ Once again there are two series of statements confronting each other and not easily brought into a simple unity. Only as they stand can they approximately express the whole, no less complicated, reality. To borrow the expression of Heribert Schauf, the Church is not like a circle, with a single centre, but like an ellipse with two foci, primacy and episcopate.14
We can express this in terms of the history of dogma. In the centuries-long struggle between episcopalism-conciliarism on the one side and papalism on the other, the Vatican Council is not at all a clear victory for the latter, as it might well seem to the superficial observer. According to the classical papalism of the Middle Ages, "the hierarchical culmination of the priesthood in the episcopate, i.e., the jurisdictional superiority of the bishop" was "a disciplinary measure of the Church", explained by the consideration that "the pope, simply as a matter of fact, is not in a position to shepherd and govern all the faithful". The pope can, according to this theory, "define, narrow or even suppress the jurisdictional power of a bishop at any time".15 The Vatican Council stands for a condemnation of papalism as much as of episcopalism. Actually, it brands both doctrines as erroneous and, in place of one-sided solutions stemming from late theology or power politics, it establishes the dialectic of the reality we have from Christ. Precisely in disclaiming any simple formula which would satisfy reason, it attests its respect for truth.
The fact that, according to the Vatican Council, not only episcopalism but also papalism in the narrower sense must be regarded as a condemned doctrine, must be impressed much more efficaciously on the Christian consciousness than has been done to date. In the great historical struggle between the two powerful movements, the Vatican Council takes neither side, but creates a new position, which, transcending all human constitutional thought, formulates the special quality of the Church, which comes, not from the discretion of men, but in the final analysis, from the word of God.
Our investigation into the certain teaching of the Church has thus led us into the midst of the problems connected with these matters of certainty, and, of course, also made clear their limits. Episcopate and primacy in the Church are, according to the Catholic Faith, of divine origin. There can be no question, consequently, of the Catholic theologian playing one off against the other; he can only attempt to understand more deeply the vital relationship between the two. Thus he will help, by his study, towards the proper development of this relationship, which, of course, is realized through men and is the mould, ever open to human violation, of the divine data and commands.
Father Karl Rahner has tried to explain this relationship more exactly in the light of the notion of communio.16 This remains undoubtedly the central point of attack since the Church by her inmost nature is communio, fellowship with and in the body of the Lord.17 Father Rahner's reflection leads to the corrollary, that the Church of the Incarnate Word is in turn the Church of the "word" and not merely the Church of the sacraments. Sacrament and word are the two pillars on which the Church stands.18 Once again, in the relation between these two, we find an irreducible polarity of unity and duality, such as is the sign of living being, that precedes the constructions of logic and can never be entirely circumscribed by them.
If now in our quest we begin with the notion of word, we are led to the notion of successio. This notion was not derived (at least not primarily) from a consideration of communio, but rather from the struggle for the "word", and is more germane to this context, even though objectively it necessarily connotes the aspect of communio. The problem of primacy and episcopate is mirrored in the notion of succession inasmuch as it is said on the one hand that the bishops are the successors of the apostles, while on the other, the predicate apostolicus is reserved to the pope in a special way. Thus the question arises whether there is a double succession and therefore a double participation in apostolicity. It would seem better first to inquire into the nature of succession itself, and then to weigh the meaning of the word apostolicus in connection with the notion of succession.
1 Pacian of Barcelona, Ep. 1, 4, in C. Kirch, Enchiridion Fontium Historiae Ecclesiasticae Antiquae (1941), p. 627: "Christianus mini nomen est, catholicus cognomen." Catholicity as a concrete sign of the true Church is especially clear in Augustine. Cf. F. Hofmann, Der Kirchenhegriff des hi. Augustinus (Munich, 1933); J. Ratzinger, Volk und Haus Gottes in Augustins Lehre von der Kirche (Munich, 1954).
2 Recent attempts to develop the traditional teaching De episcopo are K. Rahner, Episcopate and Primacy, Part I of this book; H. Schauf, De Corpore Christi Mystico (Freiburg, 1959), pp. 305-310; 298-301 (a reproduction of the theses of C. Schrader); K. Hofstetter, "Der romische Pri-matsanspruch im Lichte der Heilsgeschichte", Una Sancta 11 (1956). pp. 176-183; O. Karrer, ,,Das kirchliche Amt in katholischer Sicht". Una Sancta 14 (1959), pp. 39-48; F. Amiot and J. Colson, "Eveque". CatholicismeW, pp. 781-820; J. Gewiess, M. Schmaus and K. M6rsdor£ ,,Bischof", Lexikon fur Theologie und Kirche II2, col. 491-505, with a full bibliography. Cf. also the survey article "Was ist ein Bischof", HerJer-Korrespondenz 12 (1957/1958), pp. 188-194.
3 Dz 1827, 1831
4 Dz. 1832, 1836.
5 Dz. 1839.
6 The two orders of "communio" and "doctrine" are expressly placed side by side in Dz. 1827: ". . . ita ut, custodita cum Romano Pontifice tarn communionis quatn ejusdem fidei professionis imitate, Ecclesia Christi sit unus grex sub uno summo pastore.
7 Dz. 1828.
8 Dz. 1828.
9 CJC, can. 329, par. 1.
10 O. Rousseau, "La vraie Valeur de l'Episcopat dans l'£glise d'apres d'importants documents de 1875", Irenikon 29 (1956), pp. 121-150. Rousseau rightly pointed out that this is a text that ought to be included in "Denzinger".
11 The German translation fromRousseau in Una Sancta 12 (1957), p. 227. (The English was checked with the original French of Rousseau.) In Rousseau's article, footnote 6, a similar statement by Cardinal van Roey is mentioned. Note 4 refers to a corresponding.declaration of the English bishops and of Cardinal Dechamps. The texts of the double acknowledgement of the Pope are on p. 225 if.
12 Dz. 1785ff. Cf. H. U. von Balthasar, Karl Barth (Cologne, 1951),
p. 318; and in general, pp. 314-335.
13 Dz. 1790: "... signa sunt certissima et omnium intelligentiae accommodata."
The "resistere posse" in Dz. 1791.13a Dz. 1828
14 H. Schauf, p. 307, op. at. in footnote 2
15 This was the view of one of the earliest advocates of papalism, Herveus Natalis (d. 1323). The quotations are from L. Hoedl, De Jurisdictione. Ein unveroffentlichter Traktat des Herveus Natalis O. P. iiber die Kirchengewalt (Munich, 1959), p. 11 (Mitteilungen des Grabmann-Instituts, edited by M. Schmaus, Heft 2). For the history of the origins of papalism: J. Ratzinger, "Der EinfluB des Bettelordensstreites auf die Entwicklung der Lehre vom papstlichen Universalprimat", Theologie in Geschichte und Gegenwart (Schmaus-Festschrift) edited by J. Auer and H. Volk (Munich, 1957), pp. 697-724; for further history of the problem: F. Cayre, Patrologie et histoire de la theologie II (Paris, 1955) pp. 620ff.; 681-696
16 Cf. Part One of this book. H. Schauf, op. cit., critical of Rahner, suggests a solution based on the biblical idea of multiple witness and isthus closer to a theology of the "word" and an interpretation which I alsofavour. Yet I would like to point out, against Schauf, that besides hisnotion, and indeed prior to it, the development of the question from the notion of communio is possible and justified. The question has two aspects, which, in accordance with the dual structure of the Church
arising from sacrament and word, do not exclude but complete each other
17 M.-J. Le Guillou, O. P., "Leglise et communion. Essai d'ecclesiologie comparee." Istina 7 (1959), pp. 33-82 with full bibliography. An historical treatment in W. Elert, Abendmahl und Kirchengemeinschaft in der alten Kirche hauptsdchlich des Ostens (Berlin, 1954); J. Ratzinger, Volk undHaus Gottes in Augustins Lehre von der Kirche (Munich, 1954).
18 Cf. the passage from the Vatican Council quoted in note 6: Dz. 1827.