The Council in Action: Theological Reflections on the Second Vatican Council

By Hans Kung; Cecily Hastings | Go to book overview

15
The Petrine Office and the Apostolic Office

Ecumenical perspectives

THE SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL is to renew the Church and prepare for the reunion of separated Christians. A huge mountain of theological and practical difficulties has piled up in the course of centuries between the different Christian confessions and especially between Catholics and Protestants. Where does the chief theological and practical difficulty lie? Not in the understanding of Christology, not in the understanding of the justification of the sinner, not in the understanding of the sacraments, but in the understanding of the Church. And this difference in the understanding of the Church then has repercussions in differences in the understanding of the sacraments, the justification of the sinner and Christology.

Even in the understanding of the Church we can indeed point to what we have in common, more plainly today than used to be the case. Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants can agree today in acknowledging, in principle, that the Church is the royal, priestly and prophetic people of God, called by him out of the world and sent by him into the world. She is built up on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, and she is led by Christ, acting through all the multiplicity of spiritual gifts and ordered ministries and offices. She has her centre in the liturgical assembly, with the proclamation of the Word of God and the Lord's Supper; we are incorporated into her by baptism. Thus she is the one, holy, catholic and apos-

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