17 June 2006

Bishops & Koinonia.

William Cardinal Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, addresses the bishops of the Church of England on the possibility of consecrating ("ordaining" in Catholic parlance) women to the episcopate, and the effect of such consecrations on the quest for unity. One can't help but note the relevance of his arguments for our current crises surrounding sexuality in the Episcopal Church:

"...According to the testimony of the Acts of the Apostles, unanimity was one of the signs of the first church (1:14; 2:46; 4:24, et al.). The significance of unity in the Church and under the apostles emerges from the way the Church dealt with the conflict regarding the continued validity of Jewish law, which touched on the foundations of Christianity. After extensive discussions the controversy was settled at that time with a handshake as a sign of communion ("koinonia") (Acts 15; Galatians 2).

So "koinonia"/"communio" is a foundational term which gained fundamental significance for the early church, and which in the eyes of many once more occupies a preeminent place in defining the essence of the Church today. The Church is shared participation in the life of God, therefore "koinonia" with God and with one another (1 John 1:3).

So from the beginning the episcopal office was "koinonially," or collegially, embedded in the communion of all bishops; it was never perceived as an office to be understood or practiced individually..."

 

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