Power and Poverty in the Church: The Renewal and Understanding of Service
Author: Yves Congar, OP
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Neither Cardinals nor Cadillacs were among the marks of the primitive Church, but simplicity, holy poverty, and above all, the service of the ministry. In the course of time, social and political obligations obscured the basic function of the hierarchy, especially after Constantine. Later legalistic and organizational emphases led to further distortions. But the Church is renewing its understanding of itself through the Holy Spirit's enlightening of the Fathers in Vatican II.
John XXIII's emphasis on a Church of service and poverty is explored and presented here by Father Congar. He traces the New Testament concept of the hierarchy as service through its actual historical development, showing how titles, honors, and privileges came to obscure and hamper its true function. He clarifies the Christian concept of authority in teaching in relation to service. A final section has quotes from Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI, and outstanding cardinals and bishops, emphasizing the need for this recovery of a proper emphasis on the true and fundamental function of the hierarchy.
Originally published in 1964, Congar's thought on ministry and the need for simplicity is still timely and worth reading as it foreshadows the teachings of Pope Francis.
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