Sunday, August 02, 2009

Vatican II and the Church that Jesus Founded: Hierarchical Government

What did Vatican II teach about the Church which Jesus Christ founded? This series is meant to show what elements of the Church Vatican II teaches as being ordained by God rather than invented by man. This installment looks at the hierarchical governing of the Church by bishops and priests, led by the Pope.

Christ established his Church to have a visible hierarchical structure
"Christ, the one Mediator, established and continually sustains here on earth His holy Church, the community of faith, hope and charity, as an entity with visible delineation through which He communicated truth and grace to all. But, the society structured with hierarchical organs and the Mystical Body of Christ, are not to be considered as two realities, nor are the visible assembly and the spiritual community, nor the earthly Church and the Church enriched with heavenly things; rather they form one complex reality which coalesces from a divine and a human element. For this reason, by no weak analogy, it is compared to the mystery of the incarnate Word. As the assumed nature inseparably united to Him, serves the divine Word as a living organ of salvation, so, in a similar way, does the visible social structure of the Church serve the Spirit of Christ, who vivifies it, in the building up of the body." (Lumen Gentium 8)

Christ established Bishops as shepherds and rulers in the Church
"For the nurturing and constant growth of the People of God, Christ the Lord instituted in His Church a variety of ministries, which work for the good of the whole body. For those ministers, who are endowed with sacred power, serve their brethren ... Jesus Christ, the eternal Shepherd, established His holy Church, having sent forth the apostles as He Himself had been sent by the Father; and He willed that their successors, namely the bishops, should be shepherds in His Church even to the consummation of the world." (Lumen Gentium 18)

"[T]he apostles, appointed as rulers in this society, took care to appoint successors." (Lumen Gentium 20)

"[T]he Holy Spirit unfailingly preserves the form of government established by Christ the Lord in His Church." (Lumen Gentium 27)

"In order to establish this His holy Church everywhere in the world till the end of time, Christ entrusted to the College of the Twelve the task of teaching, ruling and sanctifying." (Unitatis Redintegratio 2)

"Jesus Christ, then, willed that the apostles and their successors — the bishops with Peter's successor at their headshould preach the Gospel faithfully, administer the sacraments, and rule the Church in love." (Unitatis Redintegratio 2)

"In exercising their office of father and pastor, bishops should stand in the midst of their people as those who serve. Let them be good shepherds who know their sheep and whose sheep know them. Let them be true fathers who excel in the spirit of love and solicitude for all and to whose divinely conferred authority all gratefully submit themselves." (Christus Dominus 16)

Christ ordained the primacy of the Roman Pontiff
"And in order that the episcopate itself might be one and undivided, He placed Blessed Peter over the other apostles, and instituted in him a permanent and visible source and foundation of unity of faith and communion. And all this teaching about the institution, the perpetuity, the meaning and reason for the sacred primacy of the Roman Pontiff and of his infallible magisterium, this Sacred Council again proposes to be firmly believed by all the faithful." (Lumen Gentium 18)

"And the apostles, by preaching the Gospel everywhere, and it being accepted by their hearers under the influence of the Holy Spirit, gather together the universal Church, which the Lord established on the apostles and built upon blessed Peter, their chief, Christ Jesus Himself being the supreme cornerstone." (Lumen Gentium 19)

"These individual Churches, whether of the East or the West , although they differ somewhat among themselves ... in liturgy, ecclesiastical discipline, and spiritual heritage, are, nevertheless, each as much as the others, entrusted to the pastoral government of the Roman Pontiff, the divinely appointed successor of St. Peter in primacy over the universal Church." (Orientalium Ecclesiarum 3)

"Among [the Twelve] He selected Peter, and after his confession of faith determined that on him He would build His Church. Also to Peter He promised the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and after His profession of love, entrusted all His sheep to him to be confirmed in faith and shepherded in perfect unity. Christ Jesus Himself was forever to remain the chief cornerstone and shepherd of our souls." (Unitatis Redintegratio 2)

"Jesus Christ, then, willed that the apostles and their successors — the bishops with Peter's successor at their headshould preach the Gospel faithfully, administer the sacraments, and rule the Church in love." (Unitatis Redintegratio 2)

"We believe that Our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, in order to establish the one Body of Christ on earth to which all should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the people of God." (Unitatis Redintegratio 3)

"In this Church of Christ the Roman pontiff, as the successor of Peter, to whom Christ entrusted the feeding of His sheep and lambs, enjoys supreme, full, immediate, and universal authority over the care of souls by divine institution." (Christus Dominus 2)

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