Religious Studies Faculty Publications


Communion Ecclesiology

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Book Chapter

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Pathways for Ecclesial Dialogue in the Twenty-First Century: Revisiting Ecumenical Method


I s communion ecclesiology an ideology or a path to dialogue? In the year 2000 I wrote a book that addressed this topic. I concluded that although communion ecclesiology can be co·opted and put to the use of narrow ends, when it is understood as a broad, inclusive category that coalesces many of the key themes of Vatican II, it can operate as a framework that embraces a significant degree of pluralism, as it helps Church leaders and theologians to move forward. I still agree with that position. One of my main themes was that theologians cannot just let what I identified as the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) version stand alone as the only valid version of communion ecclesiology; we must develop it along the lines of a conversation that values the contributions of diverse participants.

In a presentation in April 2012, Bradford Hinze offered a provocative analysis of what might be called the official Vatican version of communion ecclesiology but failed to distinguish between this and communion ecclesiology as a more general concept. Although I would have preferred that he had made some key distinctions, I understand because in some important Catholic circles this has been happening for many years. Hinze offered the critique that communion ecclesiology focuses on a set of concerns so narrow as to obscure or ignore important issues such as structural justice. It is a theological approach that suppresses the global mission of the church by eclipsing its prophetic character.

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Citation information: Doyle, Dennis M. "Communion Ecclesiology." In Pathways for Ecclesial Dialogue in the Twenty-First Century: Revisiting Ecumenical Method, Mark D. Chapman and Miriam Haar, eds. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.


Palgrave Macmillan