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YVES CONGARS
THEOLOGY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

A Dissertation

Submitted to the Graduate School


o f the University o f Notre Dame
In Partial Fulfillment o f the Requirements
for the Degree of

Doctor o f Philosophy

by

Elizabeth Teresa Groppe, B.A., M.A.

'I - /

M ary Catherine Hilkert, Director


Catherine Mowry LaCugnat, Director

Department of Theology
Notre Dame, Indiana
April 1999

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UMI Number: 9921358

C o p y r ig h t 1 9 9 9 b y
G r o p p e , E liz a b e t h . T e r e s a
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Copyright by
Elizabeth T. Groppe
1999
All rights reserved

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YVES CONGARS THEOLOGY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT


Abstract
by
Elizabeth Teresa Groppe

This dissertation argues that Dominican Yves Congar (1904-1995) significantly


advanced contemporary pneumatology through his elaboration o f a theology of the Holy
Spirit that is at once a theology of the church and a theological anthropology. The early
twentieth-century Roman Catholic pneumatology that Congar inherited consisted
primarily of a spiritual anthropologya theology o f the Spirits indwelling of the human
person and the consequent bestowal o f divine filiation, the infused virtues, and spiritual
gifts and fruits. At the same time, theologians produced ecclesiological treatises that
either failed to mention the Spirit at all or simply appealed to the Spirit as the guarantor
o f the churchs infallibility and authority. It was commonly presum ed that the indwelling
o f the Spirit in the human person had little or no bearing on ecclesiology. These were
"years of famine," Congar decried, in which "spiritual anthropology now seems to have
been drawn off from ecclesiology: the legal structure is all-sufficient w ith its guaranteed
administrative charisms." Congar believed that this divorce of spiritual anthropology and
ecclesiology betrayed Roman Catholicisms biblical, patristic and Thomistic heritage. His
own theology included both what he termed a "pneumatological anthropology" and also a
"pneumatological ecclesiology." He developed a theology o f the Spirits indwelling in the

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Elizabeth Teresa Groppe

human person that was inseparable from an account o f the Spirit as co-institutor and life
principle o f the church, and his theology o f the Holy Spirit makes an important
contribution to contemporary systematic theology. Congars pneumatology can enrich
various ongoing discussions in this field including reflection as to whether the church
should be a "hierarchy" or a "democracy," consideration o f "persons in communion as a
framework for contemporary theological anthropology and ecclesiology, and
deliberations about the personhood o f the Holy Spirit and the theology of appropriations.

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This dissertation is dedicated to


Catherine Mowry LaCugnat
in gratitude for her life and work,
in sorrow for her suffering and death,
and in the joy of her resurrection.

ii

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABBREVIATIONS.................................................................................................................. v
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.....................................................................................................viii
INTRODUCTION.....................................................................................................................1
CHAPTER ONE

YVES CONGARTHEOLOGIAN OFTHE HOLY SPIRIT.........12


A.
B.
C.
D.
E.

CHAPTER TWO

Life in the SpiritA Biographical Sketch o f Yves Congar..12


Overview o f Congars Theological Method.................................32
Overview o f Congars Theological W orks................................. .43
Important Influences on Congars Theology o f the Holy Spirit.,50
Conclusion o f Chapter One.....................................................84

SPIRIT OF GOD, SPIRIT OF CHRIST: THE TRINITARIAN


FOUNDATIONS OF CONGARS PNEUMATOLOGY..............86
A. The Economy of Salvation........................................................... 88
B. Trinitarian Ontology................................................................... 105
C. The Economic and Eternal Trinity............................................. 121
D. The Relation o f Jesus Christ and the Holy S p irit.....................125
E. The Person o f the Holy S p irit.................................................. 148
F. Conclusion of Chapter Two...................................................... 159

CHAPTER THREE

CONGARS PNEUMATOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY


AND PNEUMATOLOGICAL ECCLESIOLOGY.................... 161
A. Congars Pneumatological Anthropology.................................. 162
B. Congars Pneumatological Ecclesiology............................... 196
C. Conclusion of Chapter Three....................................................222

CHAPTER FOUR

THE COINCIDENCE OF PNEUMATOLOGICAL


ANTHROPOLOGY AND PNEUMATOLOGICAL
ECCLESIOLOGY IN CONGARS THEOLOGY....................... 228
A. The M ystical Body of C hrist.....................................................230
B. The People o f God.......................................................................246
iii

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C. The Temple o f the Holy Spirit._________________________.265


D. Conclusion o f Chapter Four.----------------------------------------- 277
CHAPTER FIVE

THE CONTRIBUTION OF CONGARS THEOLOGY OF


THE HOLY SPIRIT___________________________________.279
A. The Contribution o f Congars Pneumatology to
Discussion as to W hether the Church is a "Hierarchy" or
a "Democracy"...................................................................... .280
B. The Contribution o f Congars Pneumatology to the
Development of "Persons in Communion" as a
Framework for Contemporary Theological Anthropology
and Ecclesiology...................................................................311
C. The Contribution o f Congars Pneumatology to Reflection
on the Personhood o f the Holy Spirit and the Theology of
Appropriations......................................................................... 347
D. Conclusion o f Chapter Five.................................................... 362

CONCLUSION..................................................................................................................... 364
SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY................................................................................................372

iv

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ABBREVIATIONS
ADom

Annee dominicaine

AER

Am erican Ecclesiastical Review

Am iC l

L'Am i du clerge

Ang

Angelicum

AugustinStud Augustinian Studies


CBQ

C atholic B iblical Quarterly

Comm

Commonweal

Cone

Concilium

CT

Ciencia Tomista

CTSAP

Catholic Theological Society o f America Proceedings

DCom

D octor Communis

DTC

D ictionnaire de theologie catholique, (1910-1950) Paris

EphThL

Ephem erides Theologicae Lovanienses

Fran

Franciscanum

Heythrop

H eythrop Journal

IPQ

International Philosophical Q uarterly

Iren

Irenikon

ITQ

Irish Theological Quarterly

JBL

Journal o f B iblical Literature

JEcSt

Journal o f Ecum enical Studies

JR el

Journal o f Religion

JTS

Journal o f Theological Studies

LG

Lumen gentium

Lumen

Lumen vitae

M -D

La M aison-Dieu
v

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M ThZ

M iinchener theologische Zeitschrift

M TS

M iinchener theologische Studien

NatCathRep

N ational Catholic Reporter

NewBlckfrs

New Blackfriars

N RT

Nouvelle revue theologique

OChr

One in Christ

PG

Migne, Patrologia Graeca

PL

Migne, Patrologia Latina

POC

Proche orient chretien

RAM

Revue d'ascetique et de mystique

RB

Revue biblique

REtAug

Revue des etudes Augustiniennes

RevTh

Revue thom iste

RHE

Revue d'histoire ecclesiastique

RHPR

Revue d'histoire et de philosophie religieuses

RRel

Review fo r Religious

RSPhTh

Revue des sciences philosophiques et theologiques

RTL

Revue theologique de Louvain

SCG

Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles

SChr

Sources chretiennes

ScotJTh

Scottish Journal o f Theology

SM

Sacramentum M undi

SR

Studies in Religion

ST

Aquinas, Summa Theologiae

SVS

Supplem ent de la vie spirituelle

SVTQ

St. Vladim ir's Theological Quarterly

TheoDgst

Theology D igest

Thom

The Thomist

ThPh

Theologie und Philosophie

ThQ

Theologische Q uartalschrift
vi

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ThToday

Theology Today

Rahner, Theological Investigations

TS

Theological Studies

Viel

Vie intellectuelle

VigChr

Vigiliae Christianae

VS

Vie spirituelle

vr

Vetus testamentum

ZNW

Z eitch riftfu r Neutestamentliche W issenschaft

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many persons who have enriched
my years o f graduate study at the University o f Notre Damemy student colleagues and
the faculty and staff o f the theology department. I am particularly grateful to my
dissertation directors and dissertation committee. Catherine Mowry LaCugna was the
original director o f this dissertation, and her profound work on the doctrine o f the Trinity
was a great inspiration to me. The grace and courage with which she faced her illness and
endured excruciating suffering are a testimony to the truth o f her words: "The mystery o f
God is revealed in Christ and the Spirit as the mystery o f love, the mystery o f persons in
communion who embrace death, sin, and all forms o f alienation for the sake o f life" {God
fo r Us, p. 1). Mary Catherine Hilkert graciously assumed the direction o f this dissertation
after Catherines death, and she too has been a superb mentor and a personal inspiration. I
have also had an excellent dissertation committee in the persons of Robert Krieg, Richard
McBrien, and Thomas O Meara. This dissertation has benefited greatly in structure, style
and content from the comments and assistance of my entire dissertation board.
I would also like to express my gratitude to the late Dolores Zohrab Liebmann
and to the Liebmann Trustees for the award o f the Dolores Zohrab Liebmann fellowship
which has supported the final years o f my graduate study and the writing o f this
dissertation. I am deeply grateful as well to my most formative teachers, my parents John
viii

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and Rose M arie Groppe who offered u n failin g encouragement during these years at Notre
Dame as well as financial assistance. My husband John has also sustained me with his
own love and support as we pursued our graduate study together.
In the course o f the composition o f this dissertation, portions o f several chapters
were presented at professional theological conferences. I would like to thank the
following persons for helpful comments made, on these occasions: Sarah Coakley,
Bernard Cooke, Dennis Doyle, Bradford Hinze, and M iroslav Volf. Several Mends have
also shared their own insights and helped with editing and proofreading. For this
assistance, I thank M. Patricia Hackett, Nancy Ickler, and Rose Marie Groppe.

ix

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INTRODUCTION

"I would like," mused French Dominican Yves Congar, "to be an Aeolian harp
and let the breath of God make the strings vibrate and sing

let the Spirit make them a

clear and tuneful song o f prayer and life!"1Congars life of dedicated service and
scholarship suggests that he was truly an instrument o f Gods S pirit His song o f prayer
and life echoes still today in the ecumenical m ovem ent in Roman Catholic ecclesiology,
in the legacy of Vatican n, and also in the discipline of pneumatology. Decades before
pneumatology became a lively topic in contemporary systematic theology, Congar was
attentive to the importance of a developed theology o f the Holy S pirit Pneumatological
concerns increasingly characterized his prolific books and articles as his theology
evolved, culminating in the multi-volume I Believe in the Holy Spirit (French edition,
1979-80) and The Word and the Spirit (French edition, 1984.)2
Congar emphasized that it is more important to live in the Spirit than to try to
explain the Spirits mystery.3 He also stressed that our theologies of the Spirit will always
be inadequate. Nonetheless, he believed that we must not underestimate the value of

!Yves Congar, I Believe in the Holy Spirit, 3 vols., trans. David Smith (New York:
Seabury Press, 1983), l:x.
2Yves Congar, The Word and the Spirit, trans. David Smith (San Francisco: Harper and
Row, 1984).
3"The most important aspect is not the manner of explanation, but the reality itself,
namely that we are truly sons in the true Son." / Believe, 2:92.
1

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theological efforts.4 The priority o f what Congar called a "living pneumatology" did not
abrogate his sense o f the need for serious theological reflection but rather demanded close
attention to the presence o f the Spirit in our lives and hearts, in creation and history.
Congar was attentive, perceiving the Spirit rising like the waters o f an underground
stream in the life o f the post-Vatican n church.5 W ith one ear alert to the flowing of the
Spirit through the tumultuous twentieth century and the other honed to the ancient voices
o f the theological tradition, Congar has made a significant contribution to a renewed
theology o f the Holy Spirit.
The magnitude of his accomplishment stands out with particular force when his
theology of the Spirit is read in contrast to late nineteenth and early and mid-twentieth
century Roman Catholic theology. During this period, pneumatology was limited to
reflection on the indwelling of the Spirit in the human soul. In neoscholastic theological
manuals and popular works of spirituality, theologians reflected on the divine indwelling
and the consequent bestowal of spiritual gifts and fruits, while professional theological
journals carried on extensive discussions about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the
theology o f appropriations.6 There was little or no reflection, however, on the
ecclesiological consequences of the indwelling o f the Holy Spirit In the purely juridical

*Word and Spirit, 5.


5Word and Spirit, 82.
^ o r bibliography see Petro F. Chirico, The Divine Indwelling and Distinct Relations to
the Indwelling Persons in Modem Theological Discussion (Rome: Pondficiae Universitatis
Gregoriana, 1960).
2

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ecclesiologies o f this period, Congar observed, "the Holy Spirit is not even mentioned."7
Those De Ecclesia treatises that did include the Spirit did so only in a very limited sense,
appealing to the Spirit in order to affirm the authenticity o f tradition and the infallibility
o f the magisterium.8 "In the domain of the thematized, systematized thought," Congar
commented, "there was not a pneumatological ecclesiology.9 Pneumatology was lim ited
to spiritual anthropology, and this anthropology was divorced from ecclesiology to the
mutual detriment o f both o f these theological disciplines.10
This disjunction o f ecclesiology, theological anthropology and pneumatology is
clearly evident in the neoscholastic theological manuals used in seminary education in the

7Yves Congar, "The Council as an Assembly and the Church as Essentially Conciliar," in
One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. Studies on the Nature and Role o f the Church in the Modem
World, ed. Herbert Vorgrimler (London: Sheed and Ward, 1968), 45. Congar also offered
anecdotal evidence of the eclipse of the Holy Spirit from ecclesiology based on his experience at
the Second Vatican Council. He recalled that a theologian of repute said to one of the periti,
"You speak of the Holy Spirit, but that is for the Protestants. We have the teaching authority.
Congar, "Pneumatology Today," AER 167 (1973): 436.
8This emphasis on the Spirit as the guarantor of the churchs inerrancy has been
dominant in Roman Catholic theology since the Reformation. See Congar, I Believe, 1:151-52.
Congar observed that the magisterium itself claimed the Spirit as its guarantor. See I Believe,
1:153. Congar here references Clement XIV, Breve Dominus ac Redemptor (1773); Pius DC,
Breve Ineffabilis Deus (1854); Leo XII, Divinum illud munus (1897); Pius XII, Constitution
Muniftcerttissimus (1950). On this issue see also P. Nau, "Le magist&re pontifical ordinaire au
premier concile du Vatican," RevTh 62 (1962): 341-97; J. J. King, "The Holy Spirit and the
Magisterium Ecclesiae, AER 148 (1963): 1-26; C. Lamicol, "A la lumi&re de Vatican IL
Infallibility de lT^glise, du corps episcopal, du Pape," AntiCl 76 (1966): 246-55,257-59.
"Pneumatology Today," 439.
10This disjunction of spiritual anthropology and ecclesiology was characteristic of much
of post-Refonnation Roman Catholic theology. Congar considered Robert Bellarmine (d. 1621)
the dominant Catholic ecclesiologist of this era and noted that his theology of the church was not
pneumatologically developed. I Believe, 1:54. Petavius (d. 1652), in contrast, was "famous for
his theology of the personal relationship between the righteous soul and the Holy Spirit, but this
theology lacks an ecclesiological extension." I Believe, 1:54. Johann Adam Mohler (d. 1838) and
M. J. Scheeben (d. 1888) were important exceptions to the general practice of disjoining spiritual
anthropology and ecclesiology.
3

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decades prior to the Second Vatican Council. Here, a juridical ecclesiology that gave
meager reference to the Holy Spirit was often juxtaposed to treatises on grace that
included reflection on the Spirits indwelling o f the human person. The widely used
Brevior synopsis theologiae dogmaticae by Adolpbe Tanquerey, for example, contains
only four references to the Holy Spirit in the treatise "On the Church o f C hrist"11 The
Spirit is mentioned twice in the sub-section "On the Infallibility of the Apostolic College
and the Gathered Episcopacy"; once under the heading "The Infallibility o f Peter and the
Roman Pontiff'; and once in the article "On the Exceptional Holiness and Inexhaustible
Fecundity o f the Catholic Church" in which the Roman Catholic Church's superiority to
the Orthodox and Protestant Churches is asserted.12References to the Spirit are much
more prolific in the treatise De G ratia. There, Tanquerey explained that the Spirit is
poured forth and inheres in the hearts of the justified, regenerates and renovates the soul,
makes us adopted children of God and temples o f the Holy Spirit, and is present to
different degrees in different persons. The Spirit gives the gifts of the Spirit and illumines
the intellect.13Tanquerey made no explicit connections between this theology o f the
indwelling Spirit in his treatise on grace and the previous treatise on the church.
This separation of the ecclesiological and anthropological dimensions o f
pneumatology was characteristic not only o f neoscholastic theological manuals but also

nAd. Tanquerey, Brevior synopsis theologiae dogmaticae, 9th ed. (Paris: Desclde,
1952). The original edition was published in 1931.
I2Tanquerey, 103-4,115, and 123. In "The Constitution of the Catholic Church, the
immediately subsequent treatise, the Spirit is mentioned only twice, described as the vivifying
soul of the mystical body of Christ Tanquerey, 498-506.
I3Tanquerey, 516-17 and 510.
4

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of popular spiritual writings. Britain's Cardinal Henry Edward Manning who was known
for his devotion to the Holy Spirit wrote in the Interned M ission o f the H oly G host (1895):
Now God the Holy Ghost has the office o f our sanctification; and the office o f the
Sanctifier is twofold. There is the work o f the Holy Ghost in every individual soul
from the beginning o f the world; and that work o f sanctification in each individual
soul will continue to the end of the world. There is also the work o f the Holy
Ghost in the mystical Body o f Christ, that is His Church, which office began from
the day o f Pentecost, and will continue to the second advent of the Son o f God.14
hi the Internal M ission o f the Holy Ghost, M annings purpose was not to speak o f the
second or corporate office o f the Spirit but only o f his operation "in the souls o f men, one
by one."15 He hence undertook a lengthy exposition o f the Spirit as source o f grace and of
the virtues o f faith, hope, and charity; of the bequest o f divine sonship; o f the seven gifts
of fear, piety, fortitude, knowledge, counsel, understanding, and wisdom; of the fruits
celebrated by Paul in Gal 5:22; and of the perfection o f the beatitudes. True to his intent
to consider only the work of the Spirit in the "souls o f men, one by one," Manning did not
explicate the ecclesiological implications o f the Spirits graces, gifts and fruits. He
reserved his discussion of the Spirit in the church for The Temporal M ission o f the Holy
Ghost where he described the Spirit primarily as the sanctifier of the churchthe
guarantor that the church can "never err in enunciating or declaring the revealed

14Cardinal Henry Edward Manning, The Internal Mission o f the Holy Ghost (London:
Bums and Oates, 1895), 2-3.
lsManning, Internal Mission, 2.

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knowledge which it possesses."16 M anning did not draw upon his analysis o f the work of
the Spirit in the human soul to elaborate a more complete ecclesiology.
Congar commented that Mannings theology "certainly does not constitute a
pneumatology."17 He believed, however, that M annings approach was highly
representative of Catholic theology in the nineteenth century.18Indeed, the elaboration of
a detailed account of the indwelling of the Spirit in the human soul divorced from a
systematic ecclesiology is found not only in Mannings work but also in other popular
spiritual writings of this period.19Barthelemy Frogets De Vinhabitation du S. E sprit dans
les ames justes (Leithielleux: Paris, 1890) is another case in point This popular work
which drew heavily on Thomas Aquinas went through numerous editions in French and
was also translated into English.20The emphasis throughout Frogets work is the activity

16Cardinai Henry Edward Manning, The Temporal Mission o f the Holy Ghost (London:
Bums and Oates, 1909), 3. Congar noted that Manning desired absolute truth and upon his
conversion to Roman Catholicism he "at once committed himself to the cause of papal
infallibility and wanted the definition of this teaching to be almost excessively extensive. /
Believe, 1:156.
111 Believe, 1:156.
18/ Believe, 1:155-57. See also Congar, "Actuality de la pneumatologie," in Credo in
Spiritum Sanctum, ed. P. Jose Saraiva Martins (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1983),
15.
19One should also mention in this regard Pope Leo XOTs Divinum Illud (1897). Notably,
in this encyclical on the Holy Spirit Pope Leo discussed the activity of the Spirit in both the
church and the human person. However, his reflection on the work of the Spirit in the "Mystical
Christ" as a whole (the church) is limited to a discussion of the infallibility of the churchs
teaching and ministry. In contrast, his discussion of the Spirit's work in "individual members
addressed the new dispensation, sonship, baptism and confirmation, indwelling, divine action in
souls, and the gifts and fruits of the Spirit Of course, this brief encyclical was not intended to be
a comprehensive ecclesiology or theological anthropology.
Bede Janet published a summary of Froget's work as The Abiding Presence o f the Holy
Ghost in the Soul (New York: Cathedral Library Association, 1918). Janets edition was
reprinted in 1957 (Westminster, MD: Newman Press) and Sydney Raemers published a

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o f the Spirit in the individual soul; like Manning, Froget addressed issues o f grace, divine
sonship, the infused virtues, and the gifts and fruits o f the S pirit There are scattered
references to the sacraments and heaven is described as a feast; an ecclesial context is
thus clearly presumed. Nonetheless, as the title of Frogets work suggested, his concern is
the indwelling o f the Spirit in the individual souls o f the just and it is assum ed that this
indwelling has no major implications for the organization and mission o f the church. This
presumption is also characteristic of writings by subsequent authors such as Hugh Francis
Blunt, Life with the H oly Ghost: Thoughts on the G ifts o f the Holy G host (Milwaukee:
Bruce Publishing Company, 1943); James Carroll, God the Holy G host (New York: P.J.
Kenedy & Sons, 1940); G. F. Holden, The Holy G host the Comforter (London:
Longmans, Green and Co., 1907); Edward Leen, The H oly Ghost and H is W ork in Souls
(New York: Sheed and W ard, 1937); and E l Espiritu Santo by Luis M. M artinez (Mexico
City, 1939).21
These were "years o f famine," wrote Congar, in which "spiritual anthropology
now seems to have been drawn off from ecclesiology; the legal structure is all-sufficient
with its guaranteed administrative charisms."22 Such a disjunctive view o f the activity of
the Spirit in the church and in the human person was not characteristic o f biblical
theology. Congar observed, for example, that "in S t Paul's thought there is no opposition,

complete translation in 19S0 as The Indwelling o f the Holy Spirit in the Souls o f the Just
(Baltimore, MD: Carroll Press).
21Tbis appeared in a translation by M. Aquinas as The Sanctifier (Paterson, N J.: S t
Anthony Guild Press, 1957).
22Yves Congar, Tradition and Traditions: An Historical and Theological Essay, trans
Michael Naseby and Thomas Rainborough (London: Bums and Oates, 1966). 397.
7

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no systematic and exclusive priority between the Church and the individual believer.
Each needs the other and in them both the Holy Spirit is the principle of life."23 In like
vein, Congars extensive historical research uncovered no separation o f spiritual
anthropology and ecclesiology in the patristic period. He reflected:
Perhaps the greatest difference between ancient patristic ecclesiology and modem
ecclesiology is that the former included anthropology, while the latter is merely
the theory o f a system, a book o f public law; one may ask if the system requires
men o f a certain quality, or if it considers them interchangeable. The anthropology
o f patristic ecclesiology is that of a human communion, which finds its full
authenticity in and through that communion, because in this way it rediscovers a
resemblance to God. This is the meeting place o f the anthropology and the
ecclesiology, and it is this 'communicating hum anity which is the subject of the
Churchs actions and attributes. A tradition exists on this question that should one
day be restored and infused with new life.24
This synthetic quality of patristic theology was also characteristic o f the work of Thomas
Aquinas. Aquinas, Congar surmised as early in his own career as 1939, had acted
deliberately when he wrote no separate treatise on the church for his ecclesiology is
constituted precisely by his pneumatological anthropology and his christology.25
Aquinas pneumatology is not a theology of the third person p er se but "a certain
dimension o f ecclesiology in so far as this calls for or assumes a certain anthropology."26

23Yves Congar, The Mystery o f the Temple, trans. Reginald Trevett (London: Bums and
Oates, 1962), 153.
^ T h e Council as Assembly and the Church as Essentially Conciliar," 59.
25Yves Congar, T h e Idea of the Church in St. Thomas Aquinas," Thom 1 (1939): 348.
See also 339 and 358.
26Yves Congar, "Le Saint-Esprit dans la thdologie thomiste de 1'agir moral," in Lagire
morale, Atti del Congresso intemazionale: Tommaso dAquino nel suo Settimo Centenario
(Naples: Edizioni Domenicane Italiane, 1974), 5:16.
8

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The Pauline, patristic and Thomistic understanding o f the seamless character of


ecclesiology, theological anthropology and pneumatology that had been neglected by
many Roman Catholic theologians was not forgotten by the Eastern Orthodox. In October
1963 as the schema on the church was being prepared at the Second Vatican Council,
Congar was dining with Nikos Nissiods and Alexander Schmemann. He was very
impressed by a comment these Orthodox theologians made on the Council proceedings.
"If we were to prepare a treatise De E cclesia they said, "we would draft a chapter on the
Holy Spirit, to which we would add a second chapter on Christian anthropology, and that
would be all."27
The unity of spiritual anthropology and ecclesiology that Congar discovered in his
biblical reflection, his historical scholarship and his encounters with the Orthodox
inspired his own contribution to a contemporary Roman Catholic theology in which
spiritual anthropology and ecclesiology would no longer be disjoined. Congar elaborated
both what he termed a "pneumatological anthropology and what he called a
"pneumatological ecclesiology." The thesis o f this dissertation is that Congar transcended
Roman Catholicisms separation o f the ecclesiological and anthropological dimensions of
the theology o f the S pirit He has thus made a critical contribution to contemporary
pneumatology and to a church hungry for an end to its "years of famine. This thesis

17I Believe, 2:66. Congar recounted this story repeatedly. See Yves Congar, "The
Church: The People of God," Cone 1 (1964): 22 n. 13; "Preface to Ignace de la Potterie and S.
Lyonnet, La vie selon I'Esprit (Paris: Cerf, 1965), 11; "Pneumatology Today," 435.
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shapes the structure and content o f the dissertation and distinguishes the dissertation from
the many studies o f Congars theology that have already been done.28

^Dissertations on Congar include: J. Areeplackal, Spirit and Ministries: Perspectives o f


East and West (Bangalore, India: Dharmaram Publications, 1990); R J. Beauchesne, "Laity and
Ministry in Yves M.-J. Congar, OJP.: Evolution, Evaluation and Ecumenical Perspectives
(Ph.D. diss., Boston University, 1975); Susan Mader Brown, "Faith and History: The Perspective
of Yves Congar," (Ph.D. diss.. University of St. Michaels College, 1995); Andrew CameronMowat, "Yves Congar as Liturgical Theologian: The Significance of His Writings for Christian
Liturgy and Church Architecture (Ph.D. diss., Graduate Theological Union, 1998); I. Canavaris,
The Ecclesiology o f Yves M.-J. Congar: An Orthodox Evaluation (Athens, Greece: P. Klissiounis
Society Press, 1968); P. Czyz, H rapporto tra la dimensione cristologica e pneumatolgica
dellecclesiologia nel pensiero di Y. Congar (Diss., Gregorian University, 1986); Richard Kevin
Eckley, "Pneumatology in the Wesleyan Tradition and Yves Congar A Comparative Ecumenical
Study" (PhD. diss., Duquesne University, 1998); Joseph Fameree, L'ecclesiologie d'Yves Congar
avant Vatican II: Histoire et tglise. Analyse et reprise critique (Belgium: Leuven University
Press, 1992); D A Gottemoeller, "The Theory of Development of Dogma in the Ecclesiology of
Yves Congar" (Ph.D. diss., Fordham University, 1976); A. M. Harnett, "The Role of the Holy
Spirit in Revelation and its Transmission. The Interpretation of Yves Congar" (PhD. diss..
Catholic University of America, 1989); Diane Jagdeo, "Holiness and Reform of the Church in
the Writings of Yves Congar, OP," (Ph.D. diss., Catholic University of America, 1987); J.
Kallarangatt, "The Holy Spirit, Bond of Communion of the Churches. A Comparative Study of
the Ecclesiology of Yves Congar and Nikos A. Nissiotis" (Diss., Gregorian University, 1989); K.
Kembe, Conciliarite et unite a la lumiere de lecclesiologie de Yves Congar. tude pour une
ecclesialite de communion (Rome: Pontifical University, 1989); Isaac Kizhakkeparampil, The
Invocation o f the Holy Spirit as Constitutive o f the Sacraments According to Cardinal Yves
Congar (Rome: Gregorian University Press, 1995); Dimas Lara Barbosa, "Apostolicidade da
Igreja e seu Fundamento Teologico segundo Yves Congar, O P. (Th.D. diss., Gregorian
University, 1994); T. Lehning, "The Foundations, Functions and Authority of the Magisterium in
the Theology of Yves Congar" (Ph.D. diss., Washington D.C., 1985); David Louch, "The
Contribution of Yves Congar to a Renewed Understanding of Teaching Authority in the Catholic
Church" (Th.D. diss., University of S t Michaels College, 1979); C. MacDonald, Church and
World in the Plan o f God. Aspects o f History and Eschatology in the Thought o f Yves Congar
(Frankfurt am Main: P. Lang, 1982); T. I. MacDonald, The Ecclesiology o f Yves Congar:
Foundational Themes (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1984); John J. McDonnell,
"Communio, Collegiality, Conciliarity: A Comparative Analysis of These Concepts Drawn from
Certain Catholic and Orthodox Theologians," (Diss., Gregorian University, 1990); Stephen
Patrick McHenry,"Three Significant Moments in the Theological Development of the
Sacramental Character of Orders. Its Origin, Standardization, and New Direction in Augustine,
Aquinas, and Congar (PhJD. diss., Fordham University, 1982-83); Christopher Meakin, "The
Same but Different? The Relationship Between Unity and Diversity in the Theological
Ecumenism of Yves Congar" (PhD. diss., Lunds Universitet, 1995); M. Meini, "Lo Spirito Santo
nellecclesiologia di Yves Congar" (Diss., Gregorian University, 1979); Richard Meredith,
"Themes of Thomistic Eschatology in the Ecumenical Theology of Yves Congar (PhD. diss.,
Catholic University of America, 1993); Maximo Munoz Duran, "Mysteriorum intelligentiam
quaerere e nexu inter se et cum fine hominis ultimo. Estudio sobre el concepto y significado de
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The dissertation proceeds in five chapters. Chapter One provides a biography o f


Congar, an introduction to his theological method and prolific theological writings, and a
discussion o f the major influences on his theology o f the Holy Spirit. Chapter Two
outlines the trinitarian theology that serves as the framework for his pneumatology.
Chapter Three offers an overview o f his pneumatological anthropology and
pneumatological ecclesiology, and Chapter Four discusses the permeation of
pneumatological anthropology and pneumatological ecclesiology in Congars theology of
the M ystical Body of Christ, the People o f God, and the Temple o f the Holy Spirit
Chapter Five concludes the dissertation with a discussion o f the fruitfulness of Congars
theology of the Holy Spirit. This is demonstrated with an exposition o f several ways in
which the pneumatological framework Congar has provided can elucidate several issues
currently under discussion in contemporary systematic theology: the discussion as to
whether the church is a "hierarchy" or a "democracy," the use o f "persons in
communion as a framework for theological anthropology and ecclesiology, and the
personhood o f the Holy Spirit and the theology o f appropriations.

theologia y teologo en Y. M. Congar" (Th.D. diss., Gregorian University, 1993); M. Osner,


"L'action du Saint-Esprit dans la communion eccllsiale. tude sue l'oeuvre d'Yves Congar
(Ph.D. diss., Strassbourg Faculte de Thologie catholique, 1980); David Pietropaoli, "Visible
Ecclesial Communion: Authority and Primacy in the Conciliar Church. Roman Catholic and
Orthodox Theologians in Dialogue (John Meyendorff, John D. Zizioulas, Yves Congar, JeanMarie Roger Tillard)" (Th.D. diss., Gregorian University, 1997); J.H. Stoneburaer, "The
Doctrine of the Church in the Theology of Yves Congar (PhD. diss.. Drew University, 1961);
Kenneth Untener, The Church-World Relationship According to the Writings o f Yves Congar,
O.P. (Rome: Gregorian University, 1976); Comelis Th. M. van Vliet, Communio sacramentalis:
Das Kirchenverstandis von Yves Congar - genetisch und systematisch betrachtet (Mainz:
Matthias-Griinewald, 1995); M. Gibaud Venstermans, "Sacerdocio comun y sacerdocio
ministerial en Yves Congar y en Vatican II" (PhD. diss., Angelicum, 1983).
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CHAPTER ONE
YVES CONGARTHEOLOGIAN OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

"Each one has his vocation," Yves Congar wrote, "and that is the one which is
most beautiful....Yes, each ones is the finest for him....the Holy Spirit leads toward a goal
and brings everything together."1Congar found his own vocation in theological service,
as the biographical sketch that begins this chapter describes. A general overview of
Congars theological method and prolific publications follows. The chapter then continues
with a discussion o f major influences on Congars theology o f the Holy Spirit: Thomas
Aquinas, Johann Adam M ohler, Protestant and Orthodox theology, and the Second
Vatican Council and its aftermath. This discussion of Congars life, theological method,
and theological sources provides background and context for the discussion o f Congars
pneumatology that will comprise subsequent chapters o f the dissertation.

A. Life in the Spirit-A Biographical Sketch of Yves Congar


Yves Congar was bom to parents o f Celtic ancestry in Sedan, France, on May 13,
1904.2 Sedan is nestled in the Ardennes in the northeast region o f France just miles from
'Congar was here commenting on John 3:28-30, a scripture passage that he considered
highly significant See Jean-Pierre Jossua, Yves Congar: Theology in Service o f Gods People
(Chicago: Priory Press, 1968), 44.
2Congar was not much inclined to autobiography. "I am not given," he remarked, "to
self-reflection. I live. Life is its own certainty and justification." Yves Congar, "Reflections on
Being a Theologian," NewBlckfrs, 62 (1981): 405. At the behest of others, however, Congar
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Belgium, and Congar and his three siblings delighted in the picturesque beauty of the
countryside where pristine forests swept the horizon and deer and w ild boar roamed
freely. "We live in a setting like a fish in the water," mused Congar, "but the setting also
penetrates us, its woof is entangled in the web of our lives."3 Congars setting included
not only the natural beauty o f the Ardennes but also the rich history o f French
Catholicism. This land once known as Gaul had been home to Irenaeus, Hilary of
Poitiers, and Martin o f Tours. In 496, the baptism o f the Frankish king Clovis cemented
Frankish rule of the region and began the assimilation o f the Germanic peoples to
Christianity, thus earning France the title the "eldest daughter o f the church." The
centuries to come brought Joan o f Arc, Prosper of Aquitaine, Teresa o f Jdsus, Bernard of
Clairvaux, Francis de Sales, and Vincent de Paul. Monasticism nourished at Cluny,
Citeaux, and Clairvaux and theology prospered at the University o f Paris. Gothic
cathedrals testified to God's beauty at Chartres, Notre Dame, Amiens, and Reims.

prefaced Dialogue Between Christians, trans. Philip Loretz (Westminster, MD: Newman Press,
1966) with a reflection on his lifelong work for ecumenism. An updated edition of this essay was
published as Une passion: Vuniti. Reflexions et souvenirs, 1929-1973, Foi Vivante, no. 156
(Paris: Cerf, 1974). Congar also shared his life story with Jean Puyo in a lengthy interview
published as Une vie pour la verite: Jean Puyo interroge le Pere Congar (Paris: Centurion,
1975). Secondary biographical sources include Luis Lago Alba, "Y. Congar Ecumenista," CT
123 (1996): 149-86; Juan Bosch, "Una aproximacion a la vida y obra del Padre Congar," CT 123
(1996): 7-26 and "El rostro de una theologfa tolerante," CT 123 (1996): 99-114; Andr6 Duval,
"Yves Congar: A Life for the Truth," Thom 48 (1984): 505-11; lltienne Fouilloux, "Frfere Yves,
Cardinal Congar, dominicain. Itinlraire d*un thlologien," RSPhTh 79 (1995): 379-404; JeanPierre Jossua, Yves Congar: Theology in Service o f Gods People and "Yves Congar: La vie et
l'oeuvre dun th6ologien," Cr St 17 (1996): 1-12; Jean-Marie Le Guillou, "Yves Congar, in Bilan
de la theologie du XX* siecle, eds. Robert Vander Gucht and Herbert Vorgrimler (Paris:
Casterman, 1970), 2:791-805; Thomas F. OMeara, "Ecumenist of Our lim e: Yves Congar,"
Mid-Stream 28 (1988): 67-76.
*Yves Congar, Blessed is the Peace o fMy Church (Denville, NJ: Dimension Books,
1973), 99.
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The grandeur o f the cathedrals stood in contrast to the transgressions o f French


Catholicismacts o f ecclesiastical inquisition and violence that contributed to the antichurch hostilities of the 1789 French Revolution. Signs o f these hostilities persisted into
Congars day. In the year o f his birth, the Paris city council was persuaded by the French
Section o f the International Free-Thought Federation to erect a statue o f the Chevalier de
la Barre outside the basilica of Sacr6-Coeur. In 1766, this famous horseman had been
mutilated and burned at the stake by ecclesiastical authorities for the alleged crime of
knocking a cross from the bridge of Abbeville into the river below. He had been
eulogized by both Victor Hugo and Voltaire, and his memory was an indictment o f the
church.4
The young Congar, however, knew only the nurturing church that he would later
refer to as a "maternal hearth."3 This metaphor, he explained, is not an expression o f mere
sentimental attachment but rather of "something beyond formulation in clear ideas,
something pre-reflective and yet charged with truthsomething that began before us, is
beyond us and supports us in all we do."6 Congars experience of the church's maternity
may well have been influenced by his mother who had a strong influence on his religious
upbringing and sensibilities. Congar described her as a saintly presence and a mystic, and
he remembered sitting beside her in the evenings with his two brothers and his sister

4See Robert Gildea, The Past in French History (New Haven: Yale University Press,
1994), 219.
sBlessed is the Peace o f My Church, 99.
6Blessed is the Peace o f My Church, 99. See also p. 9. The maternity of the church was
one of the primary themes of Humbert Cllrissac's Le M ystire de Vtglise (Paris: Cerf, 1917). As
a youth, Congar found this book in his mothers library and was impressed with its poetic
ecclesial vision. See Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 74.
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while she read from The Im ita tio n o f C hrist. On Saturdays, as dusk fell on the village o f
Sedan, she read from the gospel the fam ily would hear once again at church on Sunday
morning. "Childhood," Congar wrote, is an age "that lives entirely from faith."7
The pastor o f Sedans sm all Catholic church also made a deep impression on the
young Congar. A man o f the old French clergy, he wore a black rabbat, and his sermons
were often commentaries on the catechism , the creed, or church history. Jewish and
Protestant friends and neighbors enriched Congars religious upbringing as well. The
princes of Sedan had been Protestant in the sixteenth century but they had respected the
Catholics, and the Catholics in turn accommodated the Protestants when Sedan became
Catholic through annexation to France in 1642.8 Sedan thus had a more ecumenical flavor
than most European cities o f Congars period, a circumstance that would prove to be
important in Congars later ecumenical commitments. "I knew then," Congar stated as he
reminisced about the shared life o f Catholics, Protestants and Jews in Sedan, "an
awakening to the sense o f the Church."9
Congar also had an awakening o f another sorta young introduction to the
brutality and horror of war. He was only ten years old when W orld W ar I began in the
summer of 1914. Sedan was in the direct path of the German offensive and soldiers
besieged the city, razed the Catholic church, deported Congars father to Lithuania, and
forced emaciated prisoners to march through the city streets. Germans occupied Sedan

7Yves Congar, "Les trois ages de la vie spirituelle," VS 92 (1955): 119.


8See Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 14. See also "Ardennes," in Henri Dubief and Jacques
Poujol, La France Protestante (Montpellier M. Chaleil, 1992), 233-38.
9Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 73.
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throughout W orld W ar Ia war, Congar recalled, that "marked me profoundly.10As a


young boy Congar had originally aspired to be a doctor and he requested a microscope as
a first communion g ift Wartime austerity, however, made his request impossible to grant
and by the time the w ar finally ended he had a new vocation. Yves Congar knew that he
wanted to be a p riest He recalled:
At the beginning o f 1918-perhaps already at the end o f 19171 went through a
very difficult period. I was invaded by a sort o f incertitude; a very sad emptiness,
with the feeling o f no longer knowing anything, o f no longer having perspective.
And it was in this darkness that I perceived for the first time in an extremely clear
manner, a call. The call to preach.11
Congar knew nothing at this time of St. Dominic or the Order o f Preachers, but he was
deeply moved by the "spectacle o f misery, o f the immense misery into which we had
been plunged."12 He determined, "I wanted to preach conversion to men. I wanted to
convert France.13
During this period Congar made the fortuitous acquaintance o f Father Daniel
Lallement who would later join the faculty at the Institut Catholique in Paris. Lallement
encouraged Congars aspiration to the priesthood and personally inspired him. "His
exigent, rigorous, even austere vision of Catholicism and spiritual life, of the sacerdotal
vocation, Congar recalled, "marked me profoundly."14 Lallement introduced Congar to
the works o f Aquinas and to Jacques Maritain and M aritains selective circle of friends.

10Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 7.


1!Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 15.
12Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 15.
13Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 16.
14Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 16.
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He also counseled Congar to enter the seminary at Reims, where Congar studied from
1919-1921. Congar continued his seminary training at Cannes from 1921-1924 and
military service followed. Stationed in Germany beside the magnificent Rhine, Congar
recalled that his vocation was confirmed "far from all influence..in the solitude o f my
thoughts."15
In 1925, Congar presented him self to the Order of Preachers. A fter a year of
novitiate he was sent to the Saulchoir, the famous Dominican House o f Studies on Mt. St.
Aubert in Kain-la-Tombe, Belgium.16 Enamored by the fraternal spirit, the intellectual
vitality and the liturgical rhythm o f life at the Saulchoir, Congar completed four years of
theological studies. On July 25, 1930, the feast of S t James, Yves Congar was ordained.
He prepared for his ordination by studying the gospel o f John with the aid of the
commentaries of Aquinas and Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange. He also studied the theology
of the eucharistic sacrifice, particularly Eugene Masures Le sacrifice du Chef.11His
ordination card pictured St. Dominic at the foot of the cross and featured these words,
thought to be from Tennyson: "But none o f the ransomed ever knew/ How deep were the
waters crossed."18

15Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 20.


l6Le Saulchoir, which would play such an important role in Congars life and work, was
originally located in Fiance. The Laws of Separation of 1905 occasioned its transplantation to
Belgium. The Dominican house of studies relocated in Etiolles, France in 1939 and then moved
to Paris in 1971.
17Eugene Masure, Le sacrifice du Chef(Paris: Beauchesne, 1932).
18Yves Congar, Fifty Years o f Catholic Theology: Conversations with Yves Congar, ed.
Bernard Lauret, trans. John Bowden (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988), 20.
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During Easter preparations in the spring preceding his scheduled July ordination,
Congar had been asked to perform the Sermo Domini, a Dominican Holy Thursday
tradition. On this eve o f the commemoration o f the passion o f Jesus Christ, Congar
chanted the verses o f John 13-17: "That they may all be one, as you. Father, are in me and
I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent
m e....l in them and you in me, that they may become completely one...." These words had
profound resonance. "It was while meditating upon the seventeenth chapter o f St. Johns
Gospel," Congar explained, "that I clearly recognized my vocation to work for the unity
o f all who believe in Jesus Christ."19 Congar had realized not only his affinity to the
Dominicans, but also his own particular charism within the Order o f Preachers. He would
devote his life to the service o f the unity o f the church.20
Congar realized immediately that this ecumenical vocation was not simply a
matter of unifying Catholics and Protestants but rather required a fundamental renewal of
the Catholic Church itself. Indeed, he would later speak of his encounter with John 17 as
a double revelation, a disclosure o f a mission inseparably ecumenical and
ecclesiological.21 Following his ordination, Congar traveled to the Dominican house in

19Preface to Dialogue Between Christians, 3. Congar noted elsewhere that although there
were other events in his life that prepared the way for his ecumenism, "it is entirely this study of
John 17 that set my course." "Letter from Father Yves Congar, O.P.," TheoDgst 32 (1985): 213.
"Since then," he wrote elsewhere, "God knows how many times I have read it and even prayed
it." Fifty Years, 79.
20"The Unity of the Church" was the title of Congars lectorate thesis, a Dominican
requirement. This 1931 thesis was never published, hi a note written to Cornells van Vliet
through the mediation of Hervd Legrand, Congar dismissed the thesis as one of the universes
many scholastic treatises on Thomas Aquinas. Van Vliet, Communio sacramentalis, 61 n. 132.
2IPuyo, Une vie pour la verite, 75. Christofer Frey writes accordingly: "His ecumenical
thought is dependent on his ecclesiology. Mysterium der KircheOffhung zur Welt: Zwei
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DQsseldorf, Germany where he penned a prayerful entreaty expressing his distress at the
Roman Catholic Church's attitude o f condemnation and censure. This note, preserved on
yellowing paper in his files, bears quoting at length:
My God, why does your Church always condemn? True, she must above all guard
the 'deposit o f faith; but is there no other means than condemnation, especially
condemning so quickly?...My God, if only your Church were more encouraging,
more comprehensive; all the sam e!..M y God, you know how I love your Church;
but I see clearly that only concerted action has force: I know that your admirable
Church once played an immense and splendid part in civil affairs and in the whole
o f human life and that now she plays hardly any part at all. My God, if only your
Church were more encouraging, more comprehensive: all the same! My God,
your Church is so Latin and so centralized. True the pope is the 'sweet Christian
on earth; and we only live by Christ by rem aining attached to him. But Rome is
not the world and Latin civilization is not the whole of hum anity...M y God,
enlarge our hearts! Grant that men m ay understand us and we may understand
men, all men! My God, I am only a wretched child, but you can dilate and enlarge
my heart in proportion to the immense needs o f the world...Time pressesthere is
much work to be done! My God, make my mind consonant with your Church;
your mother Church is all-embracing and all-wise, rich and discreet, immense and
prudent My God, let there be nothing m ore that is trite and commonplace. There
is no time to waste on such things. My God, there is so much work; give us
leaders, give me the soul of a leader. The union o f the Churches! My God, why
has your Church, which is holy and one, unique, holy and true, why has she so
often such an austere and forbidding face when in reality she is full o f youth and
life?...In reality, we are the Churchs face; it is we who make her visible; my God,
make of us a truly living face for your Church! I long so much to help my brothers
to see her true countenance....My God, so many great things, a task too heavy for
human shoulders; help us. Enlarge, purify, enlighten, organize, inflame, make
wise and stir up our poor hearts!22
These poignant reflections were written on Septem ber 17,1930. Some o f the concerns
expressed in these private remarks are also evident in Congar's "The Reasons for the
Unbelief o f Our Time," an essay originally published in 1935 that identified the church's

Aspekte der Emeuerungfranzdsischer katholischer Theologie (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck &


Ruprecht, 1969), 33.
Preface to Dialogue Between Christians, 5-7.
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shortcomings as one o f the causes o f atheism.23 Congar longed for the conversion o f
humanity and for what he spoke o f at this time as the "return o f the separated Christians"
to Christian unity, but he also had a wrenching awareness o f the Catholic Churchs
failings and a passionate desire to restore its true countenance.
Congar dedicated him self wholly to this ecumenical and reformist mission upon
his return to France. After six more months o f study, his life became a flurry o f research,
writing, teaching at the Saulchoir, preaching, and ecumenical meetings. We can imagine
him as "an energetic figure, striking in his white monastic habit, with a face o f conviction
and intelligence."24 He clearly understood his mission in scholarly terms. Congar,
together with the Saulchoir's Marie-Dominique Chenu and Henri-Marie Fdret, believed
that the revitalization of the church required a study of history that would recover critical
dimensions o f ecclesiology lost during the period o f "baroque theology." Congar, Chenu
and Feret used this term loosely to refer to the defensive theologies of the postReformation period that had limited theology to a deductive logical exercise, reduced
faith to submission to authority, and envisioned the church as a hierarchical pyramid.23
Congar committed him self to long hours o f research, and he was renowned among his
fellow Dominicans for his prodigious note-taking. In the precious Le Saulchoir library, he

23Yves Congar, "The Reasons for the Unbelief of Our Time," Integration (AugustSeptember 1938 and December 1938-Januaiy 1939): 13-21 and 10-26. This is a translation of an
essay Congar had been asked to write as a conclusion to Vie intellectueUe's three year series on
"Causes of Unbelief." See Yves Congar, "Une conclusion thdologique i l'Enquete sur les raisons
actuelles de l'incroyance," Viel 37 (1935): 214-49.
^O'Meara, "Ecumenist of Our Times," 67. O'Meara described Congar thus after meeting
him at Vatican II.
See Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 45-47.
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ardently read Irenaeus, Augustine, Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas and other doctors o f
the church in his determined historical ressourcem ent.
Congars efforts bore fruit in numerous ways, hi 1937, he founded Unam
Sanctam, an ecclesiological series intended to restore forgotten themes o f the Catholic
heritage.26 For years, Congar served as the editor o f this highly significant collection, and
his D ivided Christendom was Unam Sanctams first volume.27 The Unam Sanctam series
26Unam Sanctams first volume included a flyer that introduced the series and described
its goal. This announcement was not signed by Congar but certainly bears his stamp and
expresses his theological vision, as van Vliet observes. Copies of this prospectus are very
difficult to find, and van Vliet has thus reproduced the French text in full in the appendix of
Communio sacramentalis. A translated excerpt follows:
"UNAM SANCTAM. These words of the creed are the title of a collection of studies on
the Church, published by Editions du Cerf. The idea for this collection was bora from a double
concern. On the one hand, when one reflects on the great problems of catholic life and
expansion, on modem unbelief and indifference, and finally on the reunion of separated
Christians, one is led to think that the amelioration of the present state of affairs, in so far as it
depends on us, requires that a large, rich, vibrant, fully biblical and traditional idea of the Church
penetrate Christianity: first the clergy, then the elite Christians, then the entire body. On the other
hand, an incontestable renewal of the idea of the Church is manifest on all sides where, as it is
normal, the impulse of interior and apostolic life precedes theology. Naturally the desire is bora
to respond to the need that one has perceived, to serve a movement that is manifestly sustained
by the Holy Spirit. These two aspects at root call forth the same response: an intellectual effort
directed to a truly broad, living and serious theology of the Church. This is the work that, for its
part, without belittling the merit of other similar publications, Unam Sanctam wishes to pursue.
"This intention shapes the character and breadth of the effort. Unam Sanctam does not
conduct pure history, nor apologetics, nor current analysis, nor missiology, nor liturgy, nor
practical ecumenism; although all this obviously concerns the Church and can not, for this very
fact, be entirely foreign to her. Unam Sanctam rather intends to make known the nature or if you
will the mystery of the Church; historical works can here have their place, and even liturgical
and missiological considerations, and also studies concerning separated Christians and the
problem of their reunion, in so fa r as such research serves a richer and more profound knowledge
of the Church in her intimate nature and in the mystery of her life. In particular as theology,
according to its own law, lives only through an intimate and organic contact with its spiritual
origin (donne), one applies oneself to make a serious study of the sources from which one
derives an authentic knowledge of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church: the Holy
Scripture, the Fathers, the liturgy, the life of ecclesiastical institutions, etc." Introduction to
Unam Sanctam (1937), reprinted in van Vliet, Communio sacramentalis, 285-87.
^Congar had actually hoped to publish a new French translation of Johann Adam
Mdhler's Die Einheit in der Kirche (Tubingen, 1825) as the first volume of Unam Sanctam.
Delays with the translation, however, obliged Congar to find an alternative. His own Divided
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grew over the years to include seventy-seven volumes and became a theological
collection of great import in the life o f the twentieth-century church. "It would be difficult
to exaggerate the role this series has played " commented Jean-Piene Jossua.2* Congar
also wrote prolifically for a wide variety o f theological journals including Vie spirituelle,
Vie intellectuelle, Irenikon, Oecumenica, The Eastern Churches Quarterly, Catholica and
Geistige Arbeit. For 10 years he served as the editor o f the Saulchoirs Revue des
sciences philosophiques et theologiques.
Congars fervent work did not proceed without interruption. HisD ivided
Christendom was hailed by some as a landmark in Roman Catholic ecumenism, but
Rome greeted the book with suspicion. A fter the publication o f the original French
edition in 1937, Congars superior Father Gillet was called to the Vatican and an article
against Congar appeared in L'Observatore Romano. Henceforth Congar had to work for
ecumenism in a more indirect way.29 By 1939, however, there loomed a terrible
impediment to both ecumenism and theological scholarship: Europe returned to war. The
Saulchoir had just relocated from Belgium to tiolles, France, but Congar was there only
eight short days before leaving to serve as a lieutenant in the French army. In the spring
o f 1940 he was taken into captivity, and the next five years o f his life would be spent
behind barbed wire. Congar was labeled a.D eutschfeindlicher and sent to the most
Christendom (London: Centenary Press, 1939) had emerged from a series of lectures at SacrdCoeur that Congar delivered during the Christian unity octave in Paris in January, 1936.
MJossua, Yves Congar, 65. Unam Sanctam published its 77th and last volume in 1967 as
if to suggest, writes van Vliet, that with Vatican II the project initiated in 1937 "had reached the
first fulfillment of its program." Communio sacramentalis, 163.
^See Congar, Preface to Dialogue Between Christians, 22; Puyo, Une vie pour la virite,
100.

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forsaken prison camps o f Colditz and Liibeck. There he lectured on liberty and preached
against Nazism in forthright disobedience to his captors, and he took sustenance from the
courage and resistance o f his fellow prisoners. Congar later referred to these war-time
friendships as one o f the great graces o f his life.30 But he was also gravely disheartened
by the ethos o f terror that was inimical both to the Christian unity he longed to serve and
to his own sp irit "I have become," he wrote, "more closed, more hostile, more defiant"31
He was also distraught by the interruption o f his work. A t the Saulchoir he had labored
daily from 7:00 every m orning until 10:00 each evening, carefully husbanding every
minute o f his time. In captivity, he agonized over the loss o f not just hours and days but
entire years. In the spring o f 1942, he had even further cause for discouragement;
"completely dumbfounded," he learned that Chenu had been removed from Le Saulchoir
and his book Le Saulchoir put on the Index.32
Finally, in 1945, Congar celebrated the war's end. France was decimated, yet
Congar's spirit gladdened as he witnessed ecumenical contacts being reestablished and
Catholics taking new initiatives in the church. Scholarly efforts of ressourcem ent were
proceeding fruitfully, and under their aegis the biblical and liturgical renewal was well

30Tunothy Radcliffe, "Church of God, My Mother, Priests and People 9 (AugustSeptember 1995): 340. For Congar's tribute to his fellow prisoners see Yves Congar, Leur
resistance. Memorial des officiers evades -anciens de Colditz et de Lubeck morts pour la France.
Temoignage dYves Congar (Paris, 1948). See also Congar, Preface to A. Maloire, Colditz. Le
grand refits (Paris, 1982), 10-14. Congar received the following honors for his years of military
service: Chevalier de la Ldgion d'Honeur, Croix de Guerre, and M6daille des vads.
31Unpublished journal manuscript, quoted in Fouilloux, "Frfcre Yves," 389.
32The book in question is Marie-Dominique Chenu, Une ecole de theologie: Le
Saulchoir (Kain-lez-Toumai, Belgium: Le Saulchoir, 1937).
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underway.33 A variety o f youth groups and adult organizations were active in the church,
efforts were made to help war refugees, and "priests in working-class blue joined the
ranks o f the factory laborers.34 Congar remembered 1946-47 as "one o f the finest
moments in the life o f the Church."33 He reflected, "We rediscovered liberty, breathed
again, took initiatives."36 Chenu echoed: Quelle periode passiorm ante!1,37Once more,
Congar committed him self to an intense schedule o f research, writing, teaching, and
speaking. He returned to projects interrupted by the war, seasoned with intensified
concern and sympathy for humanity. "I will never again," he had written in a letter to
him self composed in prison, "be able to work as if men did not suffer and certain forms
o f academic work will be henceforth impossible for me."38 Congar replied to all the
invitations and requests for collaboration that he received. When reproached for working

33For an overview of the biblical and historical "return to the sources that was a
component of the rtouvelle theologie, see Roger Aubert, La theologie catholique au milieu du
XX1siecle (Paris: Casterman, 1954). Leaders of this effort included not only the Saulchoir
Dominicans but also the Jesuits of Lyon-Fourviere such as Henri de Lubac, Henri Bouillard and
Jean Danidlou. Monuments of their labors included the series Sources chretiennes, founded in
1942. For a history of the liturgical movement including a discussion of the Centre de Pastorale
Liturgique established in Paris in 1943, see Bernard Botte, Le mouvement liturgique:
Temoignage et souvenirs (Paris: Desclde, 1973).
^See Oscar L. Amal, Priests in Working-Class Blue: The History o f the Worker-Priests
(1943-1954) (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1986).
35Preface to Dialogue Between Christians, 32.
36"Letter From Father Yves Congar," 214.
M

Jacques Duquesne, Un theologien en liberte. Jacques Duquesne interroge le Pere


Chenu (Paris: Centurion, 1975), 140.
38Le Guillou, "Yves Congar," 797. Le Guillou also noted that in the first year of the wars
aftermath Congar repeated ceaselessly, "It is necessary to write in a manner that can be
understood by the conscience of all men." "By all men, he often added, "who work. Le
Guillou, "Yves Congar," 797.
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too hard, he said simply, 1 cannot refuse them. St. Dominic would not have either."39
Diligently, he set himself to the task o f studying the principles o f the unfolding ecclesial
reform that he perceived as the beginning o f the transformation o f the church. His
reflections were published in 1950 as Vraie etfa usse reforme dans l'glise, which some
consider to be his most important book.40 Notably, Vraie etfausse reform e was carefully
read by the man who served as nuncio to Paris from 1944-1953: Cardinal Angelo
Roncalli. According to a missionary who visited Roncalli and browsed through his hosts
edition o f Vraie etfausse reforme, the Cardinal who would one day become Pope John
XXDI wrote pensively in the margin o f Congars book, "A reform o f the church- is it
possible?"41
Others were not as receptive. Congar had been concerned that Vraie etfausse
reform e could be misinterpreted, especially given the tensions between church authorities
and popular movements that existed in this period. Before publishing the manuscript, he
had asked several friends for advice and rewrote the book according to their
recommendations 42 Nonetheless, the Vatican was increasingly suspicious of the
theologie nouvelle and Congars work was viewed with m istrust The announcement o f an

39Jossua, Yves Congar, 51. Le Guillou notes that Congar considered himself indebted to
the service of others because he had received the opportunity to study. Le Guillou, "Yves
Congar," 795.
40This is the assessment of tienne Fouilloux and Jean-Pierre Joshua. See Fouilloux,
"Frfere Yves," 391; Jossua, Yves Congar, 28.
41See Yves Congar, Preface to the 2d edition of Vraie etfausse riforme dans l'glise,
Unam Sanctam, no. 72 (Paris: Cerf, 1968), 8 n. 2.
Le Guillou thinks Vraie etfausse riforme thus lost its transparency; pastoral concern
led him to redraft a work "more useful for the Church but apparently less satisfying." Le Guillou,
"Yves Congar," 793.
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Italian translation o f Vraie etfa u sse riform e provoked the prohibition o f any translations
or a new edition.43 In 1947, Congar had also been refused permission to publish an article
on Catholic ecumenism, and subsequently he was denied approval for publication o f a
revised edition o f D ivided Christendom . By 1952, he was required to send all o f his
manuscripts to Rome for editing, down to the smallest review. "From the beginning of
1947 to the end of 1956," Congar recalled, "I knew nothing from [Rome] but an
uninterrupted series o f denunciations, warnings, restrictions or discriminatory measures
and mistrustful interventions."44 Congar put together a folder of documents for his
defense and entided the collection "La tarasque." A "tarasque," he explained to Jean
Puyo, is a "very dangerous but imaginary animal-"45 Congar, however, never had the
opportunity to formally defend his work. He grew disheartened by the "incredible
narrowness o f the censorship" and felt surrounded by multiplying denunciations and
rumors.46 Finally, in the 1954 "Raid on the Dominicans," Congar was told to stop
teaching and was forced to leave France.47 He had just been offered a chair at the H autes
43See Congar, Preface to Dialogue Between Christians, 40.
44Preface to Dialogue Between Christians, 34.
45Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 99.
46Preface to Dialogue Between Christians, 40.
47Rome was displeased not only with Congar but with the entire direction of French
Catholicism since 1946. The priest-worker movement was one of the particularly disturbing new
developments, and its flourishing was closely connected with the Dominicans. Congar himself
had some connections with priests involved in this movement and had written an article entitled
"L'avenir des pretres-ouvriers (Temoignage chretien, 25 September 1953) in which he spoke of
the plight of the poor and commented that "you can condemn the solution, if it is false, but you
cant condemn the problem. (Congar had not chosen the title of the article, which was likely an
affront to the Apostolic See which had recently condemned the priest-worker movement.) To
satisfy growing Roman reproach and prevent entire French Dominican seminaries from being
closed, the Spanish superior general Emmanuel Sudrez traveled to France in 1954 to attempt to
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Etudes. Instead he began a nomadic journey that took him first to Jerusalem in 1954, to
Rome from November o f 1954 through February o f 1955, and then to Cambridge in
1956. In these circumstances, his activities were very limited. A t the end o f 1956, Bishop
W eber o f Strasbourg invited Congar to his diocese where he was able to engage in
pastoral activity, offer lectures, and participate in conferences.
A misunderstood and unappreciated scholar, Congar had been unjustifiably
reproached and separated from his friends and homeland. "It is painful, he remarked, "to
be a victim o f stupidity."48 Remarkably, however, Congars love and commitment did not
waver, nor was he embittered. Rather, he intensified his resignation to the cross as he
reflected on suffering, patience, and hope:
Anyone who is acquainted with me knows that I am im patient in little things. I am
incapable o f waiting for a bus! I believe, however, that in big things I am patient
in an active way about which I would like to say a word here. This is something
quite different from merely marking time. It is a quality o f mind, or better of the
heart, which is rooted in the profound, existential conviction firstly that God is in
charge and accomplishes his gracious design through us, and secondly that, in all
great things, delay is necessary for their maturation. One can only escape the
servitude o f time in a time which is not void but in which something is happening,
something the seeds of which have been confided to the earth and are ripening
there. It is the profound patience o f the sower who knows that "something will
spring up" (cf. Zechariah 3:8; 6:12)....If this patience is that o f the sower, it is
necessarily accompanied by a cross. "Those who sow in sorrow, reap in shouts of
joy" (Ps. 126:5), but sometimes they do not reap at all, for "one sows and another
reaps" (John 4:37). The cross is a condition of every holy work. God himself is at
work in what to us seems a cross. Only by its means do our lives acquire a certain

moderate the situation. Congar, Chenu, and Fdret agreed to leave the country temporarily. See
Thomas F. O'Meara, n<Raid on the Dominicans: The Repression of 1954," America 170 (4
February 1994): 8-16. See also Francois Leprieur, Quand Rome condanuie. Dominicains et
pretres-ouvrieres (Paris: Cerf, 1989).
48Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 113.
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genuineness and depth. Nothing is meant wholly seriously unless we are prepared
to pay the price it demands.49
"When the Lord restored the fortunes o f Zion, begins the psalm Congar cited above, "we
were like those who dream" (Ps. 126). In July 1960 when Pope John X X m invited
Congar to serve on the preparatory theological commission o f the Second Vatican
Council, Congar indeed may have felt like a dreaming man. This Council, unimaginable
to him when he was in exile in Jerusalem, would ultimately bring to fruition his long
years of patience and labor.
Initially, Congar responded hesitantly to John XXUFs invitation. He was
concerned that the Council would just reiterate the reigning neoscholastic ecclesiology,
and was uneasy at the prospect of sitting on committees with men who had condemned
his work. Indeed, originally he was hardly consulted. Congar did not become deeply
involved until the world-wide council o f bishops rejected the prepared treatise De
Ecclesia and called for a new theology o f the church. Jean Danidlou initially took up the
task of redrafting the schema and when he turned to Congar for assistance, Congar threw
him self wholeheartedly into the task. As the Council progressed, Congar would make
critical contributions not only to Lumen gentium but also to U nitatis redintegratio, Nostra
aetate, D ei verbum, D ignitatis humanae, A d gentes, Presbyterorum ordinis, and Gaudium
et spes.x According to Fouilloux, Congar was "without any possible doubt...among those
49Preface to Dialogue Between Christians, 44-45. Congar also reflected on "patience" in
"La patience; le respect des ddlais," Vraie etfausse reforme, 2d ed., 277-300.
S0Ih a personal letter to Richard Beauchesne dated October 17,1971, Congar wrote, "At
the Council..J worked in Chapter II of Lumen gentium (numbers 9,13,16, and 17 are mine, and
also parts of number 28 and of Chapter 1); in Presbyterorum ordinis of which I am one of the
principal redactors with Father Ldcuyer; in Ad gentes (Chapter 1 is completely my work), and on
the various texts of the Sectretariat for Unity." Richard Beauchesne, "Heeding the Early Congar
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who have most contributed to the redaction o f the conciliar work...Father Congar
becomes the theologian o f Vatican II par excellence51 Congar him self was simply
delighted at the Councils achievement. "1 was filled to overflowing," he remembered
warmly.32 "One must realize that the fact o f the Council was absolutely fantastic!"53
Once a suspect, mistrusted and exiled theologian, Congar suddenly enjoyed a
different form of distinction. He was respected and graciously received by ecclesiastical
authorities, in high demand at conferences around the world, and even compared to St.
Peter.34 Enthusiastically, he committed himself to working towards the Councils
reception, for he saw Vatican II not as an end in itself but as the beginning of the church
to come.33 In the spirit o f S t Dominic, he preached with new hope and vigor as he

Today, and Two Recent Roman Catholic Issues: Seeking Hope on the Road Back," JEcSt 27
(1990), 536 n. 3. Congar also discussed his work on these documents in Fifty Years, 10 and 14.
For Congars commentary on the Council sessions see Yves Congar, Vatican II: Le Concile au
jourle jour, 4 vols. (Paris: Cerf, 1963-1966).
s,Fouilloux, "Frfere Yves," 398-400. In a similar vein, Richard McBrien writes, "No
modem theologian's spirit was accorded fuller play in the documents of Vatican II than Congars.
Vatican II was a council of the church, and Congar has been a theologian of the church par
excellence." "Church and Ministry: The Achievement of Yves Congar," TheoDgst 32 (1985):
203. Avery Dulles reiterates: "Vatican II could almost be called Congars council." "Yves
Congar In Appreciation," America 173 (15 July 1995): 6. See also Joseph Komonchak, "A Hero
of Vatican II: Yves Congar, Comm 15 (December 1,1995): 15-17. Congar himself remarked,
"If there is a theology of Congar, that [Vatican II] is where it is to be found. "Letter from Father
Yves Congar," 215.
"Reflections on Being a Theologian," 405.
53Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 149.
fo uilloux, "Frfere Yves," 399. Fouilloux contrasts this reception with Congars
treatment in the 1950s, hi these "somber years" Congar wrote in his journal: "I have never been
summoned by my superiors except to receive communications about disagreeable matters."
Journal manuscript, quoted in Fouilloux, "Frfere Yves," 399 n. 55.
33The Council, Congar told Jean Puyo, has done very good work but in numerous regards
it has gone only "half-way" and "it would be absurd to think that things should remain as they
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returned from Rome to his tireless routine o f research, writing, and speaking. He
continued to address a dizzying array o f theological topics and served on the editorial
board o f Concilium from the journals inception, although he did not always agree with
the views o f the contributing writers.36 In November 1994, his lifelong dedication to the
church was formally recognized by his appointment to the College o f Cardinals.57
Meanwhile, however, Congar faced yet another challenge. In 1935 while
preaching in Paris during Januarys unity octave, Congar had experienced the first
symptoms o f a form o f multiple sclerosis. For decades, the disease had been in remission
but in 1960 the illness resurfaced and as the years passed it became increasingly severe.
Congar carried a cane during the Council and subsequently relied upon a wheelchair. By
1984, the sclerosis had progressed to the degree that Congar had to leave his precious
library at the Saulchoir and take up residence at the H opital des Invalides in Paris where
he could receive the appropriate medical attention. He bade farewell to his room at the

were at the end of the Council in December, 1965." Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 131-32. In like
vein, Jossua writes, "Congar in no way remained fixed within the advances or the limits of the
Council. From the very first broad reception of Vatican II there was a lively openness to rapid
changes in ideas and praxis." "Yves Congar," 9. See also Congar, "Reflections on Being a
Theologian," 408.
56He found the journal "too germano-hollandaiseand was concerned that the articles
were often insufficiently theological. He nonetheless agreed to serve as editor because of the
importance of the journals post-conciliar mission and its international breadth. See Puyo, Une
vie pour la verite, 158.
^Fouilloux postulates that Paul VI wanted to give Congar this distinction shortly after
the Council, hi 1969, however. Concilium published a declaration concerning the "freedom of
theologians and of theology in the service of the church." Congar was unhappy with the
statements wording; nonetheless, he agreed to sign the statement because of the importance of
the issue. The title of "Cardinal" went instead to Danidlou, who had refused to sign the
declaration. Fouilloux, "Frdre Yves," 402. On Congars eventual appointment to the College of
Cardinals, see Richard McBrien, "The Long-Overdue Elevation of an Extraordinary
Theologian," NatCathRep 31 (December 9,1994): 2.
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Couvent S t Jacques where shelves, tables, and even beds and chairs creaked beneath the
weight o f books, notes, correspondence and files. According to Thomas OMeara who
visited Congar shortly before he entered the hospital, "the special light was still in his
eyes, a light which mirrors the energy, honesty and courage in his life.58 OMeara
remarked on the tremendous impact of Congars work, but Congar preferred to speak of
how inspired he was by the many activities o f the church in the world, particularly in the
area of social action.59
Infirmity, Congar reflected, separates us from the normal teeming o f daily life but
can be an invitation to pass to another level o f c o m m u n io n with the Mystical Body of
Christ. Through prayer, psalmody, and lectio divina, Congar sought to join himself to all
the prisoners, the poor and the Lazareths o f the world, "so many o f whom enjoy neither
the care nor the aid with which we are provided."60 He reflected:
W ithdrawn from active life, I am united to the mystical body of the Lord Jesus of
which I have often spoken. I am united to it, day and night, by the prayer o f one
who has also known his share o f suffering. I have a keen awareness of the vast
dimensions o f the mystical body. By and in the Holy Spirit I am present to its
members, known (to me) and unknown.61
Sclerosis gradually paralyzed Congars entire right side. Van Vliet observed, however,
that "the rigidity o f his body stood in contrast to the vitality o f his spirit"62

OMeara, "Ecumenist of Our Times," 67.


590 Meara, "Ecumenist of Our Times," 67.
60Yves Congar, "Pour un bon usage de la maladie," VS 117 (1967): 528.
61Fifty Years, 86.
Van V liet Comnumio sacramentalis, 237.
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Congar died on June 22,1995. His funeral was concelebrated by 300 priests, 25
bishops, and 3 cardinals, and representatives from the Orthodox, Protestant and Anglican
Churches were in attendance as well as many veterans o f W orld W ar EE.63 hi "Nunc et in
hora mortis nostrae" published in 1935 when Congar was 31, Congar had contrasted
pagan and Christian views o f death. For the pagan, he explained, death is either the end of
life or a passage to immortality, understood as a prolongation o f life as known on earth.
The Christian, in contrast, lives earthly life in continual tangence with another life, true
life, the life o f God, "life" o f another order. Death is then the passage to full communion
with this life, the realization o f the totality o f our life and Life itself. As we approach this
fulfillment, he wrote, we must be ceaselessly oriented to God like a flower following the
sun through the course of the day; the only time o f "preparation for death" is now, each
instant o f our lives. For, Congar concluded, Christian life has not only an end but a goal:
participation in the eternal life o f G o d ."A lors nous serons fix e s dans la joie, sous son
regard, pour toujours.6*

B. Overview of Congars Theological Method


Congars life of dedicated scholarship was indicative o f his passion for knowledge
and truth. The motto of the Dominican order is "Veritas" and Congar often prefaced his

63The homily, given by Timothy Radcliffe, Master General of the Dominican Order, is
published as "Church of God, My Mother," Priests and People 9 (1995): 340-42.
Commemorative reflections include Avery Dulles, "Yves Congar In Appreciation," America
173 (15 July 1995): 6-7; Keith Egan, "Yves Congar 1904-1995," Christian Spirituality Bulletin
3 (1995): 22-24; William Henn,"Yves Congar, O P. (1904-95)," America (12 August 1995): 2325; Fergus Kerr, "Cardinal Yves Congar OP.," NewBlckfrs 76 (July/August 1995): 314-16;
Card. Willebrands, "Cher ftfcre Yves Congar," CT 123 (1996), 5-6.
64Yves Congar, "Nunc et in hora mortis nostrae, VS 45 (1935): 119.
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hand-written texts with the heading Veritas domina mea.65 "I have loved the truth," he
professed, "as one loves a person."66 For Congar the Friar Preacher, this quest for truth
was o f course a theological pursuit, and Congar described theology as "the form that faith
takes when it is received by an intelligence in scientific activity, in the activity of
research."67 His theological method was formatively influenced by Ambroise Gardeil who
served as Regent of Studies at the Saulchoir from 1894-1911. By the time Congar entered
the Saulchoir, Gardeil had retired from this post but Congar spoke o f Gardeils Le donrte
revele et la theologie (Paris: Cerf, 1909) as the Saulchoirs "breviary."68 Gardeils
methodology reversed the neoscholastic prioritization o f logical deduction and instead

65Fifty Years, 71.


66Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 38-39. See also Andr6 Duval, "Yves Congar: A Life for
the Truth," 505-11. "I have loved the truth as one loves a person" is a profession of Madame
Swetchine that Congar appropriated.
67Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 47. See also Yves Congar, La fo i et la theologie (Toumai:
Desclde 1962), 12S-36. A full account of Congars theological method is not possible here. For
further study see also Congars, A History o f Theology, trans. Hunter Guthrie (Garden City:
Doubleday, 1968); Tradition and Traditions: An Historical and a Theological Essay (London:
Bums and Oates, 1966); Tradition and the Life o f the Church, trans. A. N. Woodrow (London:
Bums and Oates, 1964); Situation et tdches presentes de la theologie (Paris: Cerf, 1967). Congar
remarked in a letter to Thomas Lehning that Tradition and Traditions is more representative of
his thought than La fo i et la theologie. The latter work was intended as a manual for use in
seminaries and this constricted its composition. See "A Letter from Yves Congar," in the
appendix of Lehning, "The Foundations, Functions and Authority of the Magisterium in the
Theology of Yves Congar, OP.," 409-11. Congars letter referred specifically to his discussion of
the magisterium in Tradition and Traditions and Lafo i et la theologie, but presumably his
preference for Tradition and Traditions prevails generally. In addition to Lehnings work,
secondary sources pertinent to Congars theological method include Johannes Bunnenberg,
Lebendige Treue zum Ursprung. Das Traditionverstandnis Yves Congars (Mainz, 1989); Doris
Ann Gottemoeller, "The Theory of Development of Dogma" (PhD. diss., Fordham University,
1976); William Henn, The Hierarchy o f Truths According to Yves Congar, O.P., Analecta
Gregoriana, no. 246 (Rome: Editrice Pontificia University Gregoriana, 1987); Mxim Munoz,
"La concepcidn de la teologfa en Congar, CT 123 (1996): 27-54; Antonio Osuna-FemindezLargo, "La Wiva traditio," CT 123 (1996): 115-48.
See Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 41. See also 34.
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accorded primacy to G od's donni"the biblical and historical testimony o f revelation.


Marie-Dominque Chenu was Gardeils successor as Regent o f Studies at the Saulchoir,
and he continued Gardeils approach.69 O f Chenu, Congar wrote: "What a teacher, what
an extraordinary intellectual inspiration was Father Chenu."70 According to Jean-Pierre
Torrell, however, Chenu learned as much from Congar as Congar did from Chenu.
Torrell comments, "It is thanks to Congar that Chenu abandoned his conception of
theology as a deductive science (science des conclusions) and embraced the truly Thomist
conception o f a theological wisdom entirely centered on the knowledge o f its subject,
God himself."71
Following Gardeil and Chenu, Congar divided theology into positive and
speculative dimensions. The positive theologian's task, Congar believed, is to become as
conscious as possible o f the Christian mysteries through study o f the ensemble of
testimonies of God's revelation and then to rigorously elaborate this "donne" or "auditus
fid e i with the available instruments o f knowledge. This elaboration both nourishes faith
by developing the properly historical intelligibility of revelation and serves systematic

wChenus methodological works include "Les yeux de la foi," Rev. Dominicaine 38


(1932): 653-60; "Position de la theologie," RSPhTh 24 (1935): 232-57; Une ecole de theologie:
Le Saulchoir (Kain-Iez-Toumai, Belgium: Le Saulchoir, 1937); La theologie est-elle une
science? (Paris: 1957); Saint Thomas d'Aquin etla theologie (Paris: 1959).
70Yves Congar, "Le Pfcre M.-D. Chenu," in Bilan de la theologie du XX* siecle, eds.
Robert Vander Gucht and Herbert Vorgrimler (Paris: Casterman, 1970), 2:773.
7IJean-Pierre Torrell, "Yves Congar et I'eccllsiologie de Saint Thomas d'Aquin,"
RSPhTh 82 (1998): 205. Torrell references H. Donneaud, "Histoire dune histoire. M.-D. Chenu
et 'La Theologie comme science au XlLle sifecle," Memoire Dominicaine 4 (1994): 159-60.
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theology by providing the systematician w ith resources and texts.72 Speculative theology
draws upon positive theology and system atically explicates its coherence; additionally, it
can serve as a preamble to reflection on Gods d o n n i through consideration o f the
consonance o f revelation with human nature and reason.73 Congar considered himself a
positive theologian, both because o f his training and also because o f his own natural
predilection for history which he considered a great teacher o f truth.74 Congar
emphasized, however, that the positive theologian is not a historian in the strict sense o f
the word, for the theologian reads history with the eyes o f faith and undertakes historical
scholarship with doctrinal commitments.75
Congar emphasized that both positive and speculative theology must have an
ecclesial locus, and he offered a criteriology o f the sources available to the theologian in
the practice o f the theological craft In La fo i e t la theologie written between 1958-59,
Congar outlined a criteriology of Loci theologici that distinguished two fundamental
kinds of theological sources; "constitutive loci" and "declarative loci. Constitutive loci
preserve the heritage of the apostles, while the declarative loci help us to understand the

72Foi et theologie, 139-40. See also "Situation et taches," in Yves Congar, Situation et
taches presentes de la theologie (Paris: Cerf, 1967), 77.
73Foi et theologie, 169-79.
1ALecclisiologie du haut Moyen Age. De Saint Grigoire le Grand a la disunion entre
Byzance et Rome (Paris: Cerf, 1968), 10.
7SCongar distinguished "positive theology" from "historical theology which is
materially but not formally theological. See Yves Congar, "Thdologie historique," in Initiation a
la pratique de la theologie, eds. Bernard Lanret and Francois Refould (Paris: Cerf, 1982), 1:237.
Congar wrote with respect to his own theological method: 1 am a firm believer in history and I
practice it, but I am a dogmatician, not a historian." Introduction to Yves Congar, Martin Luther.
Safoi, sa riforme. tudes de thiologie historique, Cogitatio Fidei, no. 119 (Paris: Cerf, 1983),
10.
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meaning o f the constitutive tradition. Scripture and the unwritten apostolic traditions o f
the church comprise the constitutive loci, while the declarative loci include, in descending
order o f importance: the teachings o f the magisterium, the liturgy, the writings o f the
fathers and doctors of the church, ecclesial life and church canons, and finally theologians
and the use of reason.76
Congar gave primacy to theologys constitutive loci and described the apostolic
age as a qualitatively unique period in the life o f the church.77 The scriptures that are the
written testament o f this period are the soul o f all theology and the forecourt of the
kingdom o f God.78 Through the Scriptures, God speaks to us and communicates that
which we need to know in order to respond to Gods plan.79 Congar drew heavily on
scriptural sources in his theological writings, and scriptural meditation was also a
foundational component o f his own spiritual life.80 The psalms "mean so much to me," he

16Foi et theologie, 144-68. This scheme is reprinted in Tradition and Traditions, 425-26.
^See for example Tradition and Traditions, 310; I Believe, 2:29-30.
78"La recherche theologique entre 1945-1965," in Yves Congar, Situation ettaches
presentes de la theologie (Paris: Cerf, 1967), 36; I Believe, Inc.
79'/ Believe, l:vii.
His most thoroughly scriptural reflection is The Mystery o f the Temple or the Manner
o f Gods Presence to His Creaturesfrom Genesis to the Apocalypse, trans. Reginald Trevett
(Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1962). This work was written while Congar was in exile in
Jerusalem where he enjoyed the resources of the cole Biblique founded by Dominican MarieJoseph Lagrange. For Cougar's reflections on the significance of Scripture and the use of
Scripture in theology see "Que pouvons-nous trouver dans les critures?" VS 81 (1949): 227-31;
"Holy Writ and Holy Church," NewBlckfrs 41 (1960): 11-19; "Inspiration des Ecritures
canoniques et apostolictd de rglise, RSPhTh 45 (1961): 32-42; The Revelation o f God, trans.
A. Manson and L. C. Sheppard (New York: Herder and Herder, 1968); "Scripture and Tradition
in Relation to Revelation and to the Church," Tradition and Traditions, 376-424; "The Debate on
the Question of the Relationship Between Scripture and Tradition From the Viewpoint of their
Material Content," in A Theology Reader, ed. R. W. Gleason (New York, 1966), 115-29.
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wrote. "They are the daily bread that nurtures my hope, they give voice to my service o f
God and my love o f him. Would that I could penetrate all the wealth they contain as my
lips shape their words."81
The scriptural testaments o f the churchs constitutive era are always in need o f
interpretation, and in the twentieth century Catholic scholars appropriated the nascent
historical-critical methods of scriptural study. Congar welcomed the contribution that
philology, archeology, geographical study, cultural history, and literary analysis could
make to a better appreciation of the biblical heritage. He believed that the fruits of this
research shared in books and articles and in the notes to the new translations o f the Bible
offered a "real feast o f understanding."82 He did warn, however, that new scientific
approaches carried the danger that the human element o f Scripture might eclipse the
divine, and he was concerned about the lack o f consensus among biblical scholars with
respect to the origin and interpretation o f biblical texts.83 He also expressed concern about
the growing separation o f technical biblical scholarship and systematic theology, and he
urged a closer and more mutually enriching relationship between scripture scholars and

8I"The Psalms in My Life," in Yves Congar, Called to Life (New York: Crossroad,
1987), 19.
k "A God Who Has Spoken," in Yves Congar, Called to Life (New York: Crossroads,
1987), 33. Dei verbum, Congar reflected approvingly, responded to attacks against critical
biblical scholarship by "stating clearly that the use of scientific means together with a critically
enlightened reading is a way of pinpointing what the author of a given scriptural passage-and
God through him-intended to convey. It follows that the sound, honest, balanced and
unpretentious use of biblical science is demanded by the object and sheer purpose of exegesis."
"A God Who Has Spoken," 38.
83"A God Who Has Spoken," 38; / Believe, l:ix.
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systematicians.*4 To remedy the fragmentation that can result from a purely critical
analysis of Scripture, Congar recommended a focus on the "very core o f the Christian
mystery" nurtured by study o f the church fathers and immersion in the liturgy.*5 He
insisted that the Christians ultimate goal is a spiritual reading o f Scripture carried out
through the Holy Spirit and leading to conversion.86
Scripture, then, is a constitutive loci o f theology, but its interpretation is
inseparable from use of theologys declarative loci. As mentioned above, Congar
identified the declarative loci in descending order o f importance as follows: the teaching
o f the magisterium, the liturgy, the writings o f the fathers and doctors o f the church,
ecclesial life and church canons, and theologians and the use o f reason. Congar described
the magisterium, both ordinary and extraordinary, as the teaching church.87 He used the
term "magisterium" to encompass both the ecumenical councils held throughout the
churchs history and the teaching office as exercised in the Catholic Church today, and he

M"La recherche thdologique entre 1945 et 1965," 36.


"A God Who Has Spoken," 39.
"We must therefore," Congar explained, "beg the help of the Holy Spirit. Indeed
reading the Scriptures, like any other Christian act, calls for an invocation of the Holy Spirit. As
a result the Word enshrined in the dead letter becomes a spiritual experience and a
communication of life. We have the liberty and the joy which are the fruits of the Spirit." "A God
Who Has Spoken," 39-40.
^Cougars Foi et theologie suggests a subordination of theologians to the magisterium.
In post-Vatican II essays Congar continued to maintain that the title "teaching church" belongs
properly to the magisterium but discussed the relationship between theologians and the
magisterium in more complementary terms. He noted, for example, that men working on the
periphery of the church had prepared the way for the Council. Yves Congar, "Theology in the
Council," AER 155 (1966): 220-21. He also described the tasks of bishops and theologians as
mutually complementary. "Situation et tiches," 58.
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believed that the magisterium was established by God to preserve the church in truth
through the promised Holy S p irit88
The second m ajor declarative theological source is the liturgy. This, too, is the
domain o f the Holy Spirits activity. "Tt is in the liturgy that the Spirit who inspired the
Scriptures still speaks to us; the liturgy is tradition itself, at its highest degree of power
and solemnity."89 Congar believed that liturgical action ritually and symbolically
synthesizes the fullness o f a mystery that can be fragmented in other forms of the
Christian tradition and he considered liturgical immersion absolutely critical to
theological activity. "I owe to the liturgy," he remarked, "to the celebration of the
Christian mysteries half o f what I have learned in theology."90 He emphasized,
furthermore, that the purpose of theological knowledge is praise, doxology and the
celebration of the mysteries o f communion and love.91
Cougar's third locus theologicus was the corpus o f the "fathers and doctors of the
Church." He accorded the church fathers a distinct theological significance because they
contributed decisive elements to the churchs life during a formative period. "One
maintains," he explained, "the feeling of a creative inspirational moment on which

**Foi et theologie, 157-68.


BA

Congar, Tradition and Traditions, 434-35, quoting Dom Prosper Gu6ranger,


Institutions liturgiques, 2d ed. (Paris: Society Gnrale de Librairie Catholique, 1878).
90Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 30. For further reflections on the liturgy see Congar, Foi
et theologie, 146-48; Tradition and Traditions, 427-35; "Liturgical Celebration and Witness," in
Yves Congar, Called to Life (New York: Crossroads, 1987), 130-38.
911 Believe, lot.
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subsequent centuries will always be dependent"92 Congar believed the church fathers
acted under the guidance and inspiration o f the Holy Spirit and he considered them
exemplary models o f Christian existence, for they lived in sinu Ecclesiae and integrated
prayer, asceticism, study and ecclesial service.93
Congars fourth loci included the exemplary lives o f all the Christian centuries:
the events o f birth, death, love and service that shape the ordinary setting of daily
existence and the exercise o f saintliness.94 Because Gods donne is given continually, the
entire church throughout the ages is a lieu theologique. "One could not exaggerate the
novelty and importance of this perspective in 1937," comments Joseph Fameree. "A new
ecclesiology and a new theology are in gestation: not only do the acts and events o f the
church speak o f God, but God speaks and acts through them, God's Spirit animates the
daily life o f the faithful."95 In Congars own life, his ecumenical work as well as his
meetings with the youth o f the J.O.C. (Jeunesse ouvriere chretienne) were important

92Yves Congar, "Les saints Peres, organes privilegi6s de la Tradition," Iren 35 (1962):
489.
n Foi et theologie, 148-53; Tradition and Traditions, 435-50. See also, "Lesprit des
Peres dapres Mohler," SVS 55 (1938): 1-25.
**Foi et theologie, 153-54; Tradition and Traditions, 450-51. Congars own reflections
on the presence of God in ordinary existence and in the lives of the saints include the essays in
Yves Congar, Faith and Spiritual Life, trans. A. Mason and L. C. Sheppard (New York: Herder
and Herder, 1968).
^am erfo , L'ecclesiologie dYves Congar, 79. "A subsequent stage, he added, "will
discern in the events of the world themselves the signs of the times, the signs of God." Famerfe's
comments come in the context of a discussion of Congars 1941 collection of essays Esquisses du
Mystere de Itg lise, Unam Sanctam, no. 8 (Paris: Cerf, 1941), particularly the essay "Vie de
rglise et conscience de la catholicity," originally published in Bulletin des missions 18 (1938):
153-60. An English translation appears as "The Life of the Church and Awareness of its
Catholicity" in The Mystery o f the Church (Baltimore: Helicon Press, 1960), 138-46.
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encounters with church life beyond the lakeside school o f the Saulchoir. Chenu regularly
invited the J.O.C. leadership to the Saulchoir and Congar recalled, "I owe much to these
young men. They revealed to me the sense of insertion o f the gospel in humanity."96
Congar also believed that his contacts with the priest-workers greatly enriched him,97 and
the elder Congar stressed that the very event o f the Second Vatican Council was of
critical significance to the church and the discipline of theology.98 "Pneumatology," he
reflected, "like ecclesiology and theology as a whole, can only develop hilly on the basis
o f what is experienced and realized in the life o f the Church. In this sphere, theory is to a
great extent dependent on praxis."99 As Congars sclerosis progressed, heregretted that
the illness hindered him from more active ecclesial engagem ent100
Congars scheme of declarative loci concludes with "theologians and the use of
reason." Theologians draw from the theological tradition and also employ the available
forms and instruments of knowledge o f their own eras. Philosophy has been a particularly
important theological tool, but Congar considered many forms o f modem philosophy
limited in their theological applicability because they cast doubt over the referential!ty o f
language and sense perception. He did believe, however, that phenomenology and
existentialism offered good resources for thinking about faith in terms of personal

96Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 52.


Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 53.
Yves Congar, "Theology in the Council," AER 155 (1966): 224.
" / Believe, 1:172.
100PartiaIly as a result of his confinement, Congar felt he had difficulty understanding the
questions and concerns of younger generations. See Pnyo, Une vie pour la verite, 41; Congar,
"Reflections on Being a Theologian," 407.
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relationships.101 Congar regretted his own lack o f instruction in modem philosophy,


preparation that he believed would have enabled him to be m ore speculadvely
elaborative.102 "I would not have been a philosopher, he commented, "but I would have
acquired perspectives, manners o f approaching questions and even a language that would
have enriched my theological thought."103
Had Congar schematized the "loci theologici" in his later years, he would likely
have also mentioned the importance o f theological sensitivity to the questions and
difficulties of the world at large. Subsequent to the Second Vatican Council, he devoted
more attention to the social and global responsibility o f theology. "Theologians have
taken consciousness," he noted, "not only o f the real state o f the world from the point of
view of faith, but o f their role with regard to this situation."104This awareness, he
continued, should not simply lead to the insertion of a new paragraph into existing
theological treatises but should generate a new orientation to all o f theology. The new

101Foi et theologie, 178-79. See also "La theologie depuis 1939," in Yves Congar,
Situation et taches presentes de la theologie (Paris: Cerf, 1967), 17-18. Here, Congar reiterated
the rich possibilities of phenomenology and existentialism but warned against attention only to
"existence" to the neglect of foundational ontology.
1(QCongar received a poor formation in contemporary philosophy at the Institut
catholique. And at the Saulchoir, his mentor Chenu "belonged to a Dominican generation closely
linked to the study of St. Thomas which he enlarged with the study of history and with apostolic
experience, but with rather little contact with other philosophical schools of thought" Congar,
"Chenu," 777. Van Vliet observed that contemporary thinkers such as H. Bergson, M. Blondel,
G. Marcel, R. Le Senne, and M. Scheler exercised very little influence on Congar during his
studies at the Saulchoir. Van V liet Communio sacramentalis, SO. Congar told Puyo, "I have later
often regretted that I did not receive a serious philosophical grounding - beyond, of course, that
which S t Thomas offered me...J am honestly obliged to admit this great lack in my studies."
Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 19-20.
103Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 20.
I04"La thdologie depuis 1939," 16-17. See also "La recherche thdologique entre 19451965," 31-33.
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epistemology o f Vatican II departs "not only from the dorm o f revelation and tradition
but from the facts and questions received from the world and from history."105Congar
warned o f a "horizontalism" that focused exclusively on the secular and human to the
exclusion o f the supernatural, but saluted in principle the "transfer o f attention from the
pure in -itself o f supernatural realities to the relationship they have with men, with the
world, with the problems and the affirmations of those who, for us, are the O thers."106

C. Overview of Congars Theological Works


Through Congars labor of positive theology and his engagement with Scripture,
the teachings of the magisterium, the liturgy, the church fathers, church life, other
theologians, and the modem world, he produced a daunting corpus o f publications.
During the Second Vatican Council, one o f the bishops in attendance reportedly said to
Congar upon meeting him for the first tim e, "Ah, you are Congar, the French theologian
who has written so much. I have one question: Have you yourself also read all these
books?"107 A glance at the Congar bibliographies compiled by Pietro Quattrocchi and
Aidan Nichols confirms the perception that Congars corpus is unbelievably vast:
prepared for the years 1924-1987, the bibliographies number 1790 entries.108These

"Situation et taches," 72.


l06"La recherche thdologique entre 1945-1965," 27. For Congars critique of
horizontalism see "Situation et tSches," 63-66. Congar offered Bultmann and some forms of
popular prayer as examples of horizontalism. He also saw Cox and Altizer moving in this
direction.
107A Parisian Dominican colleague o f Congar shared this anecdote with van Vliet See
van Vliet, Communio sacramentalis, 15 n. 17.
108Pietro Quattrocchi, "General Bibliography of Yves Congar," in Jossua, Yves Congar,
189-241; Aidan Nichols, "An Yves Congar Bibliography 1967-1987" Ang 66 (1989): 422-66.
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include 52 full-length books and collections o f essays, multitudinous scholarly articles


and encyclopedia entries, and hundreds of book reviews and popular columns for French
newspapers. In addition to publishing prolifically, Congar also preached actively
throughout his life.109
OMeara remarks that Congars work in the thirty years prior to Vatican II
contains so many creative ideas for the renewal of theology that Congar is arguably the
most important Roman Catholic theologian in the decades that preceded the Council.110
Congars corpus, however, is not only monumental in size and scope but also notoriously
unsystematic. Although Congar originally dreamed of writing a new, synthetic De
Ecclesia treatise, he never had the opportunity to realize this vision.111 Le Guillou thinks
Congars constant self-donation to the concrete service o f the church hindered his De

These bibliographies list not only the French originals but also the translations of Congars
writings into Italian, German, English, Spanish, Dutch, and Portuguese.
109For Congars discussion of the distinction between theological scholarship and
preaching as well as his reflections on kerygmadc theology see his Foi et theologie, 185-88.
110OMeara, "Beyond 'Hierarchology: Johann Adam Mohler and Yves Congar, in The
Legacy o f the Tubingen School: The Relevance o f Nineteenth-Century Theologyfo r the TwentyFirst Century, ed. Donald J. Dietrich and Michael J. Himes (New York: Crossroad, 1997), 173.
Richard McBrien wrote in like vein, "By any reasonable account, Yves Congar is the most
distinguished ecclesiologist of this century and perhaps of the entire post-Tridentine era."
"Church and Ministry," 203.
mLe Guillou considers the consequent unsynthetic character of Congars work and
Congars failure to develop the speculative dimension of his theology in dialogue with current
philosophical trends to be the major weakness of his work. Writing in 1967, he postulated that
the existing crisis in theology could have been prevented had Congar further developed his
speculative thought "Yves Congar," 804-5. Van Vliet agrees that Congars strength was not in
the area of speculative penetration and grand schematization but also argues that before 1959
"the state of ecclesiology was not ripe for a synthesis. Too many questions were still open or in
flux. The process of the return to the sources and the rebirth of forgotten ecclesiological insights
was still in full swing. Ecclesiology of that period required historical-theological work on
particular themes. Communio sacramentalis, 98-99. Van Vliet believes synthesis would have
been premature in the 1960s as well. Communio sacramentalis, 219.
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Ecclesia dream.112Congar himself commented, "I never had a plan. Ive tried to respond
to appeals, requests, circumstances."113 Most o f his monographs are prefaced with
remarks to this effect Congar noted in the introduction to Lay People in the Churchy for
example, that the book offers "only a patchwork."114 And he stated in the Introduction to
the lengthy I Believe in the Holy Spirit, "I have no carefully preconceived and detailed
plan, but rather a project and an intention."113 Other scholars have hence tried to
synthesize Congars lifelong work.116Recently, Joseph Famere and Comelis van Vliet
have provided excellent overviews of Cougar's work in their Leuven and Tfibingen
dissertations.117
Fameree uses Congar's pre-conciliar works as the axis o f his historical and
systematic study, and van Vliet undertakes to analyze Congars lifelong scholarly

1,2Le Guillou, "Yves Congar," 795.


113"Reflections on Being a Theologian," 405.
I14Yves Congar, Lay People in the Church, trans. Donald Attwater (Westminster, MD:
Newman Press, 1965), xxi.
U5I Believe, viii.
116Some of these efforts have been disappointing. Aidan Nichols summarized Congars
theology in Yves Congar (Wilton, CT: Morehouse-Barlow, 1989) but his study is not as incisive
as one might have hoped. Timothy I. Macdonalds The Ecclesiology o f Yves Congar identified
some of the key themes in Congars thought and proposed the dialectic of "structure and "life
as the foundational principle of Congars lifelong ecclesiological work. Van Vliet argues,
however, that this dialectic was simply used by Congar to demonstrate both the necessity and
limits of church reform and denies that it is the foundation of Congars thought Macdonald
himself, he notes, admits that this dialectic does not encompass Congars discussion of the
church as a communion. Van Vliet Communio Sacramentalis, 22.
I1T

jt

Joseph Famer6e, L'ecclesiologie dYves Congar avant Vatican II: Histoire et Eglise.
Analyse et reprise critique (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1992); Comelis van Vliet
Communio sacramentalis: Das Kirchenverstdndnis von Yves Congar-genetisch und systematisch
betrachtet (Mainz: Matthias-Griinewald, 1994).
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writings. Because van Vliets study incorporates Congars entire corpus, his schema w ill
serve as the framework for the following very broad overview o f Congars work, hr van
Vliets analysis, the four m ajor periods o f Congars scholarly life are: 1931-1944,
1944-1959,1959-1968, and 1969-1991. W ithin each period, van Vliet discusses the
development of Congars thought and identifies m ajor themes and guiding concepts as
follows:

1.1931-1944
These early years between Congars first teaching assignment at the Saulchoir and
the Second W orld W ar are the period o f Chretiens desunis: Principes d'un o ecum enism e
catholique (Paris: Cerf, 1937); Esquisses du M ystere de l'glise (Paris: Cerf, 1941);
Congars monumental "Theology essay for the D ictionnaire de theologie catholique,
XV/1 (1946) and numerous journal articles. According to van Vliet, the fundamental
ecclesiological concept underlying Congars work in this period is the Mystical Body o f
Christ.118 Fameree, for his part, finds in Esquisses in particular several indications o f the
importance o f the pneumatological dimension o f the church for Congarthe Holy Spirit
is the soul o f the M ystical Body and the principle o f new life in Christ.119Famerde
believes, however, that Cougar's theological framework as a whole is pneumatologically
inadequate in these early works.120

118Van Vliet, Communio sacramentalis, 33-80.


119Famerde, L'ecclesiologie d'Yves Congar, 83.
120Famerde, L ecclesiologie d Yves Congar, 417-18.
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2.1944-1959
La this period between Congars release from war-time prison camps and John
XXffls announcement o f the Second Vatican Council, Congar published widely despite
the restrictions and lim itations imposed on him by Rome.121 Van Vliet identifies Congars
central concerns during this period as the reform o f the church, the promotion of an active
laity, and reflection on the churchs essence. Congars foundational ecclesiological
concepts at this time included the distinction between the churchs "structure" and "life."
Congar also consistently described the church as "both hierarchy and communion."122 In
these ecclesiological frameworks, van Vliet believes that Congar portrayed the Spirit as
secondary to Jesus Christ, for the Spirit comes only to animate a church already
constituted by Jesus.123

t2tBooks of this period include: Vraie etfausse reforme dans I'ltglise, Unam Sanctam,
no. 20 (Paris: Cerf, 1950); Le Christ, Marie et I'ftglise (Paris: Desclee, 1952); LfLglise
catholique devant la question raciale (Paris: Unesco 1953); Jalons pour une theologie du laicat,
Unam Sanctam, no. 23 (Paris: Cerf, 1953); Neuf Cents ans apres. Notes sur le Schisme oriental
(Paris: Editions de Chevetogne, 1954); La Pentecote-Chartes 1956 (Paris: Cerf, 1956); Le
Mystere du Temple ou I'tconom ie de la Presence de Dieu a sa creature de la Genkse a
VApocalypse, Lectio divina, no. 22 (Paris: Cerf, 1958); Si vous etes mes temoins... Trois
conferences sur Laicat, fcglise et Monde (Paris: Cerf, 1959); Vaste monde, ma paroisse. Verite et
dimensions du salut (Paris: 1959). Congar also wrote scholarly essays, numerous articles for the
weekly French newspaper Temoignage chretien and many entries for the first volume of the
Encyclopedia Catholicisme. Quattrocchis bibliography for 1944-59 includes 450 entries.
Van Vliet, Communio sacramentalis, 91-153. Famere also observes that a duality in
some form (e.g. "structure and life," or "hierarchy and communion") characterized Congars
work from 1937-1959.
123Van Vliet, Communio sacramentalis, 144.

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3.1959-1968
In these ebullient conciliar years, Congar published proliflcally.124Predominant
themes in his work included conciliarity, collegiality and primacy, the relationship
between the church and the world, and the meaning o f tradition. According to van Vliet,
the foundational ecclesiological concepts that structure Congars thought in this period are
the church as the People of God and a sacrament o f salvation.123

I24Books include: La Tradition et les traditions. Essai historique (Paris: Fayard, 1960);
Aspects de Voecumenisme, (Bruxelles: La Pensee Catholique, 1962); Lafo i et la theologie
(Toumai: Descl6e, 1962); Les voies du Dieu Vivant. Theologie et vie spirituelle, Cogitatio Fidei,
no. 3 (Paris: Cerf, 1962); Sacerdoce et laicat devant leurs taches d'evangelisation et de
civilisation, Cogitatio Fidei, no. 4 (Paris: Cerf, 1962); Pour une glise servante et pauvre (Paris:
Cerf, 1963); Sainte glise. ttudes et approches ecclesiologiques, Unam Sanctam, no. 41 (Paris:
Cerf, 1963); La Tradition et la vie de Ifeglise (Paris: Cerf, 1963); La Tradition et les traditions.
Essai theologique (Paris: Fayard, 1963); Vatican II. Le Concile au jour le jour, 4 vols. (Paris:
Cerf, 1963-66); Chretiens en dialogue. Contributions catholiques a I'Oecumenisme, Unam
Sanctam, no. 50 (Paris: Cerf, 1964); Jesus-Christ, notre Mediateur et notre Seigneur, Foi
Vivante, no. 1 (Paris: Cerf, 1965); Le sacerdoce chretien des laics et des pritres (Bruxelles: La
Pensde Catholique, 1967); Situation et taches presentes de la theologie, Cogitatio Fidei, 27
(Paris: Cerf. 1967); Cette glise que j'aim e, Foi Vivante, no. 70 (Paris: Cerf, 1968); A mesfreres,
Foi Vivante, no. 71 (Paris: Cerf, 1968): L'ecclesiologie du haut Moyen-Age. De Saint Gregoire le
Grand a la desunion entre Byzance et Rome (Paris: Cerf, 1968). The Quattrocchis and Nichols
bibliographies for this period include more than 480 entries.
125Van Vliet, Communio sacramentalis, 155-228.
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4.1969-1991
Despite his recurrent illness, the last quarter o f Congars life was very fruitful!26
According to van Vliet, Congar grew increasingly interested in pneumatology through the
inner logic o f his own ecclesiology, Orthodox influence, and the charismatic movement
The best known book o f this period is the three-volume Je crois en V Esprit Saint hi van
Vliets view, the underlying themes o f Congars other 1969-1991 works are also
pneumatological. In this period, Congar describes the church as a communio spiritualis
structurata and a templum Sancti Spiritus. ,27 Famere believes that Congar attained a
theology o f Spirit and an ecclesiology that is qualitatively superior to that o f his earlier
writings. Earlier works were predominantly christocentric, despite discussion of the
Spirit. Now, Congar described the Spirit not simply as the animator o f the church but also

126Books and collections of essays published include: Au milieu des oruges. LEglise
affronte aujourd'hui son avenir (Paris: Cerf, 1969); LEglise. De saint Augustin a I'epoque
modeme (Paris: Cerf, 1970); LEglise une, sainte, catholique et apostolique, Mysterium Salutis,
no. IS (Paris: Cerf, 1970); Ministeres et communion ecclesiale (Paris: Cerf, 1971); Une passion:
Vunite. Reflexions et souvenirs, 1929-1973, Foi Vivante, no. 156 (Paris: Cerf, 1974); Un peuple
messianique. LEglise, sacrament du salut. Salut et liberation, Cogitatio Fidei, no. 85 (Paris:
Cerf, 1975); La crise dans lEglise etM sgr. Lefebvre (Paris: Cerf, 1976); Eglise catholique et
France modeme (Paris: Hachette, 1978): Je Crois en I'Esprit Saint, 3 vols. (Paris: Cerf, 19791980); Diversites et communion. Dossier historique et conclusion theologique, Cogitaito Fidei,
no. 112 (Paris: Cerf, 1982); Droit ancien et structures ecclesiales (London: Variorum Reprints,
1982); Etudes d'ecclesiologie medievale (London: Variorum Reprints, 1983); Martin Luther. Sa
foi, sa reforme. Etudes de theologie historique, Cogitatio Fidei, no. 119 (Paris: Cerf, 1983);
Esprit de Vhomme, Esprit de Dieu, Foi Vivante, no. 206 (Paris: Cerf, 1983); La Parole et le
Souffle (Paris: Descl6e, 1984); Le concile du Vatican II. Son Eglise, Peuple de Dieu et Corps du
Christ, Thdologie historique, no. 71 (Paris: Beauchesne, 1984); Essais oecumeniques. Le
mouvement, les hommes, les problemes (Paris: Centurion, 1984); Thomas dA quin. Sa vision de
theologie et de lEglise (London: Variorum Reprints, 1984); Appeles a la vie (Paris: Cerf, 1985);
Entretiens d'automne. Presentes par B. Lauret (Paris: Cerf, 1987); Eglise etpapaute. Regards
historiques (Paris: Cerf, 1994).
I27Van Vliet, Communio sacramentalis, 229-83.
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as the churchsco-msrifwror.128These developments in Cougar's theology w ill be


discussed in detail in later chapters. Meanwhile, this chapter continues with a discussion
o f some o f the most significant influences on Congars theology of the Holy S p irit

D. Important Influences on Congars Theology of the Holy Spirit


As we have seen, Congars career spans five decades and his prolific work drew
from a wide variety of theological sources. Among those theologians who most
foundationally contributed to Congars theology o f the Holy Spirit several influences
stand out as particularly significant: Thomas Aquinas, Johann Adam Mohler, ecumenical
engagement with Protestant and Orthodox theologians, and the event of the Second
Vatican Council. This final major section o f Chapter One will describe Congars
encounter with Aquinas, Mohler, Protestant and Orthodox theology, and Vatican II.

1. Thomas Aquinas
Congar entered the theological world on the crest o f the revival of the theology of
Thomas Aquinas that had followed a period of theological experimentation. In the
nineteenth century, Catholic scholars throughout Europe such as Joseph de Maistre,
Georg Hermes, Johann Sebastian von Drey, Anton Gunther, Vincenzo Gioberti, and
Antonio Rosmini had turned to Romanticism, Kantian philosophy, and post-Kantian
idealism to develop epistemological and ontological alternatives to rationalist systems of
thought.129 By the end of the century, however, church leadership had grown critical of

128Famer&, "L'ecclesiologie d'Yves Congar," 451-52.


I29See Gerald A. McCool, Catholic Theology in the Nineteenth Century: The Questfo r a
Unitary Method (New York: Seabury, 1977); Thomas F. OMeara, Romantic Idealism and
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the new theological developments and was concerned about incoherence in seminary
curriculums. hi 1879, Leo X ffls A etem i P atris suggested that the m ost cogent response
to m odernity would come not by appropriating post-Cartesian philosophy but by drawing
on the philosophy and theology o f the Angelic Doctor, Thomas Aquinas.130NeoThomism became official and would dominate Catholic thought and seminary education
into the middle o f the twentieth century.131
As a seminary student first at Reims and later at Cannes, Congar studied standard
scholastic fare. But, beyond the seminary walls, neo-Thomism was by no means a
monolithic enterprise. There were different schools of neo-Thomism and different
traditions and emphases within different religious orders. Efforts to bring Aquinas into
dialogue with modem intellectual currents also produced different neo-Thomist strands,

Roman Catholicism: Schelling and the Theologians (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame
Press, 1982); OMeara, Church and Culture: German Catholic Theology, 1860-1914 (Notre
Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1991).
130Joseph Kleutgen, a Jesuit neo-Thomist, is often credited with the authorship of Aetemi
Patris. The First Vatican Councils Apostolic Constitution on Faith was also drafted by Kleutgen,
who was highly critical of Drey and Hermes' Tubingen school and Gioberti and Rosmini's
ontologism.
1310*Meara explains that this was actually the "Third Thomism," historically speaking.
The first was that of Aquinas himself, and the second first took place from 1500-1630 in
reaction to the Reformation. The period under consideration here, 1860-1960, can thus be
designated the Third Thomism. See Thomas O'Meara, Thomas Aquinas: Theologian (Notre
Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1997), 160-73. It should also be noted that "neoThomism" is only a subset of "neo-scholasticism," a broader term encompassing not only the
revival of Thomas but also of Scotus, Bonaventure, and other scholastic theologians. McCool
explains that many did understand "scholasticism" and "Thomism" synonymously until the
historical research of Etienne Gilson highlighted the significant differences among Thomas,
Scotus, and Bonaventure. See Gerald McCool, The Neo-Thomists (Milwaukee: Marquette
University Press, 1994).
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ranging from the post-Kantian transcendental Thomism o f Pierre Rousselot, Joseph


Marchal and Karl Rahner to the aesthetic and political writings o f Jacques Maritain.132
Congar was first introduced to Aquinas by Daniel Lallement who was first a
subdeacon in Sedan and later a professor at the Institut Catholique. In Sedan, Lallement
held meetings for boys destined for the seminary and together they read Aquinas and
Cajetan.133 At the Institut Catholique, Congar took formal courses from Lallement and
other Thomists such as Jacques Maritain. He also became a member o f Maritain's elite
circle o f French intellectuals. Congars decision to join the Dominicans, however, led him
away from M aritain and into the distinct tradition of Dominican Thomismindeed, the
Thomism of the Dominican's Paris Province. As was required o f all Dominican students,
Congar read the original works of Aquinas rather than relying on secondary
commentaries. As a student and later a faculty member at the Saulchoir, Congar was
influenced by the Saulchoirs distinctive Thomist tradition. Both Ambroise Gardeil who
was the Saulchoirs Regent of Studies from 1904-1911 and Gardeil's successor MarieDominique Chenu emphasized an historical approach to the study of Aquinas. At the
Saulchoir, Congar recalled, "the Summa of S t Thomas was our manual. We commented
on it article by article." But, he continued, "S t Thomas was placed in his historical
context We did not consider his word as an oracle."134Congar never became a medieval

132On different schools and traditions of Thomism, see OMeara, Thomas Aquinas, 16795.
Fifty Years, 70.
134Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 38. Congar contrasted this approach with that of
Maritain. He had great respect for Maritain, but did not share Maritains disdain for all that was
not Thomistic. Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 19.
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specialist, but Jean-Pierre Torrell is nonetheless impressed with Congars use o f the
historical resources that were available to him and with his perspicacious reading o f
Aquinas.135
Aquinas was not only Congars theological mentor but also an important spiritual
influence. "Two loves," Congar once said, "that have occupied a large place in my life are
Thomas and the Church."136Congar found in Aquinas a model o f poverty, purity, and
fidelity; he admired his dissociation from worldly power and wealth and also the poverty
o f spirit manifest in his attitude o f self-surrender and petition. Congar was also struck by
the probing character and constancy of Aquinas work and prayer, his great attention to
detail, his all-encompassing breadth of vision, and his respect for truth.137 In the course of
Congars own career he repeatedly returned to the Summa and also studied Aquinas
commentaries on John and Paul as well as the Quaestiones D bputatae.m He wrote
numerous essays on Aquinas and made reference to him in all of his major theological
writings.139
135TonelL, "Yves Congar et I'ecclesiologie de Saint Thomas dAquin," 204 and 202.
136Yves Congar, "Vision de lEglise chez Thomas d'Aquin," RSPhTh 62 (1978): 523.
137Yves Congar, "Saint Thomas serviteur de la verity," VS 50 (1937): 259-79.
l38See Fifty Years, 72.
139Congars essays on Aquinas include: "Pourquoi la philosophie de Saint Thomas estelle la philosophie officielle de lEglise?" Bulletin delInstitut catholique de Paris, 2d ser. (25
March 1924): 91-100; "Praedeterminare et praedeterminatio chez saint Thomas," RSPhTh 23
(1934): 363-71; "Saint Thomas serviteur de la v6rit6," VS 50 (1937): 259-79; "The Idea of the
Church in Saint Thomas Aquinas," Thom 1 (1939): 331-59; "Saint Thomas et les archidiacres,"
RevTh 57 (1957): 657-71; "Le sens de rconomie salutaire dans la 'theologie de Saint Thomas
dAquin {Somme theologique), in Glaube und Geschichte, Festgabe J. Lortz, eds. E. Iserloh and
P. Mann (Baden-Baden: Bruno Grimm, 1957), 2:73-122; "L'apostolicit de lliglise chez S.
Thomas d'Aquin," RSPhTh 44 (1960): 209-24; "Tradition et 'Sacra Doctrina chez Saint Thomas
d'Aquin in tg lise et tradition, eds. J. Betz and H. Pries (Le Puy: Xavier Mappus, 1963), 157-94;
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a. Congars Interpretation o f A quinas Pneumatology


Aquinas influenced all aspects of Congars theological work, including his
theology o f the Holy Spirit. Congars interpretation o f Aquinas pneumatology
emphasized: 1) the pivotal character of the missions o f Christ and the Spirit; 2) the
inseparability of Christ and the Spirit; 3) the procession o f the Spirit from the Father and
the Son; 4) the appropriation o f grace to the Holy Spirit; 5) the Holy Spirit as the "New
Law o f the Gospel; 6) ando f most significance for the focus of this dissertationthe
inseparability of pneumatology, ecclesiology and theological anthropology. Each o f these
points warrants a brief explication.140

Traditio thomistica in materia ecclesiologica," Ang 43 (1966): 405-28; "Le moment


'6conomique' et le moment 'ontologique' dans la Sacra doctrina (Revelation, Theologie, Somme
theologique)," in Melanges offerts a M.-D. Chenu, ed. Andre Duval, Bibliothdque Thomiste, no.
37 (Paris: Librairie Philosophique, 1967), 135-87; "Lliistoricitd de lTiomme selon Thomas
d'Aquin, DCom 22 (1969): 297-304; "Une demarche de ddmythologisation chez Saint Thomas
d'Aquin," in Hommage a Xavier Zubiri (Madrid: 1970), 1: 371-77; "Valeur et porte
oecumdniques de quelques principes hermdneutiques de Saint Thomas d'Aquin, RSPhTh 57
(1973): 611-26; "'Ecclesia' et 'populus (fidelis) dans Iecclesiologie de S. Thomas, in St.
Thomas Aquinas 1274-1974, Commemorative Studies, eds. A. Maurer et al. (Toronto: Pontifical
Institute of Medieval Studies, 1974), 159-73; "Le Saint-Esprit dans la theologie thomiste de l'agir
moral," in L'agire morale, Atd del Congresso intemazionale: Tommaso d'Aquino nel suo
Settimo Centenario, vol. 5, (Naples: Edizioni Domenicane Italiane, 1974), 9-19; "Saint Thomas
Aquinas and the Infallibility of the Papal Magisterium," Thom 38 (1974): 81-105; "St. Thomas
Aquinas and the Spirit of Ecumenism," NewBlckfrs 55 (1974): 196-208; "Le traitd de la force
dans la Somme theologique de S. Thomas d'Aquin," Ang 51 (1974): 331-48; "Orientations de
Bonaventure et surtout de Thomas d'Aquin dans leur vision de rglise et celle de Yfitat," in
1274-Annee chamiere-mutations et continuites, Colloques intemationaux CNRS, no. 558 (Paris:
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1977), 691-711; "Saint Thomas, maitre de vie
spirituelle," Seminarium, n.s., 17 (1977): 994-1005; "Vision de rglise chez Thomas d'Aquin,"
RSPhTh 62 (1978): 523-42. Many of these essays are collected in Congars volume Thomas
d'Aquin. Sa vision de theologie et de Itg lise (London: Variorum Reprints, 1984).
140I intend here only a brief summary of Congars reading of Aquinas theology of the
Spirit For a comprehensive, international bibliography of work on Aquinas pneumatology from
1870-1993, see Amaldo Pedrini, Bibliografia Tomistica sulla Pneumatologie (Vatican City:
Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1994). Important more recent works include the three chapters on the
Holy Spirit in Jean-Pierre Torrell, Saint Thomas dAquin Maitre spiritual. Vestigia no. 19 (Paris,
1996), 203-298; Torrell, Le Saint-Esprit dans Ieconomie du salut selon Saint Thomas d'Aquin,
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1.) The pivotal character and inseparability o f the m issions o f C hrist and the
Spirit. Congar believed that the very structure o f the Summa Theologiae revealed the
critical significance of the missions o f Christ and the Spirit in Aquinas theology. Aquinas
strategically placed ST I* q. 43 on "The Missions o f the Divine Persons" between S 7 T
qq. 1-42 (on God) and ST P qq. 44-119 on the free egressus of creation.141 The divine
missions are thus the linkage between God and creaturely beings; in the sending of the
Son and the Holy Spirit, Congar explained, "God in a certain sense goes out o f himself to
exist within the relative and the historic and lead it back to Him."142This is an
eschatological activity, particularly in its pneumatological dimension.143
2.) The inseparability o f Christ and the Spirit. "Whatever is done by the Holy
Spirit," said Aquinas, "is also done by Christ."144The missions of Christ and the Spirit are
absolutely inseparable. Congar described Aquinas' theology of the church, for example,
as an ecclesiology that is grounded in christology and encompassed ("couronne") by
pneumatology.145 The church is the body o f Christ but the Spirit is the churchs soul. This

Cahiers oecum^niques (Fribourg, 1998).


14ICongar discussed the structure of the Summa in "Vision de lliglise chez Thomas
d'Aquin," 524-25. Congar did observe with puzzlement, however, that it is "a little astonishing
and even deceiving that Aquinas did not explicidy exploit the centrality of the divine missions
described in q. 43 in the remainder of the Summa. "His treatise on grace is not only not
Christological but it is also not linked to the treatise on the Trinity. This is an indisputable
weakness." Yves Congar, "Chronique de pneumatologie," RSPhTh 64 (1980): 447.
l42"Vision de rglise chez Thomas dAquin," 525. See also pp. 529-36.
143"Vision de ITiglise chez Thomas dAquin," 535.
144"Et ideo quidquid fit per Spinturn Sanctum, edam fit per Christum." In Ephes. 2.18,
lect. 5, n 121.
145"Le moment *6conomique," 174.
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description o f the Spirit as the soul o f the Body of Christ, Congar emphasized, was not
ju st a flowery metaphor but "a powerful technical factor in [Aquinas'] theological
thought."146
3.) The procession o f the Spiritfrom the Father and the Son (Filioque) as love.
According to Aquinas, the Spirit proceeds eternally a Patre et F ilio tanquam ab uno
principio. This affirmation o f the Spirits procession from the Father and the Son had
been included in the creeds of Western churches since the Council of Toledo in 579, and
Aquinas grounded his own account o f the Filioque both in scriptural texts and in his
theology of divine personhood, divine relationship, and the emanation of divine intellect
and will or love.147The Word and the Spirit, Aquinas emphasized, proceed eternally as
Gods knowledge (the Word) and love (the Spirit) of Gods own goodness. Congar
observed that Aquinas also accepted the traditional theology o f the Holy Spirit as the
mutual love of the Father and the Son but he did not make this "the principle by which
the mystery o f the holy Triad should be understood theologically or that on which a
theological construction should be erected. The principle that he prefers is that o f the
spirit itself, which includes knowledge and love o f itself."148
4.) The appropriation o f grace to the H oly Spirit. Congar explained that in
Aquinas theology, the Spirit has a crucial role in the economy o f salvation. Aquinas
146"The Idea of the Church in St. Thomas Aquinas," 337.
147"Vision de rglise chez Thomas d'Aquin," 533. See also I Believe, 3:118-121 where
Congar referenced STP q. 36, a. 2; he observed that there Aquinas treated the Filioque in a
"dialectic and highly rationalized way." For a more scriptural account drawing on the fathers he
directed the reader to Contra Gent. IV, 24 and De Pot. q. 10, a. 4.
148/ Believe, 3:117. See also I Believe, 1:88-90 and Yves Congar, "Bulletin de theologie,"
RSPhTh 56 (1972): 307.
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attributed to the Spirit the movement o f creation's return to God,149the communication o f


properly divine life,150the efficacy o f the sacraments,151 and the operations o f love and
gift.152These divine activities carry humanity into a destiny that totally transcends their
creaturely capacities, enabling them to be children of God. At the same time, Congar
qualified, "The Holy Ghost, according to Thomas at any rate, has, in the giving o f grace
and the work o f our likening to Gods image, no kind o f proper and particular causality
but appears as the object only of an appropriation."153 The work o f grace and
sanctification, in other words, is not proper to the Holy Spirit as a person in a technical
trinitarian senseit does not distinguish the Spirit from the Father and the Son. Grace is
the work o f God, but it can be fittingly appropriated to the Spirit

149"Vision de rglise chez Thomas dAquin," 532. Congar made reference here to
Aquinas Compend. theoL I c. 147; Contra Gent. IV, 20; 57*F q. 45, a. 6, ad 2; In Galat. c. 5,
lect. 4.
IS0"Le Saint Esprit dans la thdologie Thomiste de lagir moral, 10. Congar referred here
to Contra Gent. IV, 21 and 22; Compend. theol. I, 147.
151nVision de l'Eglise chez Thomas d'Aquin," 534-535. Congar offered the following
examples from the Summa regarding baptism: EH* q. 66, a. 10, ad 1; a. 11, c. and ad 1; a. 12, c.
and ad 3; q. 69, a. 9, sed c.; q. 73, a. 1, ad 3. See also In I Cor. c. 12, lect 3 (ed. Marietti n. 734).
The following additional references concern the Eucharist: STIIFq. 78, a. 4, ad 1; q. 82, a. 6, ad
3.; q. 80, a. 1 et parall.; In loan. c. 6, lect 7, n. 2.
152"Le Saint Esprit dans la thdologie Thomiste de l'agir moral," 11. See also I Believe,
3:117 where Congar referred the reader to 57I* q. 37 and 38.
153"The Idea of the Church in St. Thomas Aquinas," 346. Twentieth-century theologians
have debated whether Aquinas' account of the activity of the Spirit was stricdy a theology of
appropriation or whether Aquinas also attributed a non-appropriated activity to the Spirit Some
differed from Congar on this point William Hill, for example, believes that "Aquinas, for one,
makes clear that the presence of the Spirit is not a mere appropriation." Hill, The Tkree-Personed
God: The Trinity as Mystery o f Salvation (Washington D.C.: Catholic University of America
Press, 1982), 305.
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5 .) The H oly Spirit is the "New Law" o f the gospel Congar repeatedly made
reference to Thomas striking discussion o f the New Law in STIT-IF* qq. 106-108 which
elaborated a position that was in keeping with Paul and Augustine but undeveloped by
other medieval theologians.154 Countering those who described the New Law as a written
law, Aquinas argued that "the New Law is chiefly the grace o f the Holy Spirit, which is
given through faith in Christ."155 For Congar the ecclesiologist, this was a fundamental
p o in t The Holy Spiritnot ecclesiastical canons nor even the written texts o f the
Scripturesconstitutes the new stage of the divine economy in which we become
ontologically members o f C h rist156This "New Law" cannot be carved in stone; it is
dynamic faith active through love, a living, interior, and personal reality.157The canons of
the church and the biblical texts do, of course, have their place. Although the New Law is
principally the grace of the Holy Spirit, it is secondarily those things that dispose us to
receive the grace of the Spirit or those things that pertain to the use o f this grace.158
Scriptures, sacraments, and precepts ordering human affection and action are thus all part

154E.g., "Vision de rglise chez Thomas dAquin," 533; "Le Saint-Esprit dans la
theologie thomiste de l'agir moral," 13-14; I Believe, 1:128.
155ST U '-IT q. 106, a. 1, c. Aquinas referred here to Rom 8.2 and to Augustine. "What
else are the Divine laws written by God Himself on our hearts," queried Augustine, "but the very
presence of his Holy Spirit?" Augustine, De Spiritu et littera, xxiv and xxi. See also Aquinas, ST
IT-II* q. 106, a. 3, c.
I56"Le sens de rdconomie salutaire dans la theologie de S. Thomas d'Aquin," 86,118.
157"Le Saint-Esprit dans la theologie thomiste de l'agir moral," 13-14. See also "The Idea
of the Church in St. Thomas Aquinas," 336.
158STIPq. 106, a. 1, c.
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o f the new dispensation. They themselves, however, are not the New Law but rather serve
as "dispositiva adgratiam SpiritusSanctL159
6.) Pneumatology is inseparable from ecclesiology and theological anthropology.
Finallyand of great import for the primary focus o f this dissertationCongar believed
that in Aquinas writings the theology o f the Spirit cannot be separated from ecclesiology
and theological anthropology. For Aquinas, Congar explained, pneumatology is not a
theology o f the third person p er se but "a certain dimension o f ecclesiology in so far as
this calls for or assumes a certain anthropology."140Congar believed that this synthetic
approach to pneumatology had been characteristic o f biblical and patristic theology, but it
distinguished Aquinas from some o f his medieval contemporaries. "It is probably true,
Congar commented, "that....[Aquinas] can be said to be more original in his
pneumatologico-moral notion of the Church than in his christological."161 Already in a
very early essay, Congar stressed the importance of this dimension o f Aquinas' theology.
In response to those who argued that there was no treatise on the church in the Summa,
Congar insisted that the church is "the whole economy o f the return towards God, motus
rationalis creaturae in Deum, in short, the Secunda Pars o f his Summa Theologiae."ia

l59"Le sens de rdconomie salutaire dans la theologie de S. Thomas d'Aquin, 90. See
also "Le Saint-Esprit dans la thdologie thomiste de lagir moral," 15.
160"Le Saint-Esprit dans la theologie thomiste de l'agir moral," 16.
I6I"The Idea of the Church in S t Thomas Aquinas," 340.
l62T he Idea of the Church in S t Thomas Aquinas," 339. This passage is an explication
of his previous statement "the entire Second Part of the Summa Theologica is ecclesiology.
"The Idea of the Church in St. Thomas Aquinas, 337. (Congars lack of mention hereof the
Tertia Pars is perplexing.) Later in this same essay Congar continues, "In reality everything in
the thought of St. Thomas has an ecclesiological phase and the author of an essay on his theology
of the Mystical Body has gone so far as to say that this doctrine is the heart of his theology. The
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The Secunda Pars is the locus of Aquinas discussion o f Christian action, the gifts and
fruits o f the Spirit, merit, and the theological virtues o f faith, hope and charity. There,
Aquinas explains that the Holy Spirit elevates our human will, intentions, passions, and
habitsan orientation o f human life to God that occurs within the context of ecclesial
communion in the body o f C hrist The Spirit gathers us in love as the power, agent
principle and dynamism o f our return to God.

b. Congars Appropriation o f Aquinas Pneumatology


In many ways, Congars pneumatology bore the stamp of his great Dominican
predecessor. As Chapter Two will explain in more detail, Congar emphasized the
centrality o f the missions of Christ and the Spirit in the divine economy. He upheld the
validity of the Filioque theology even as he grew in appreciation of the Orthodox
alternative, he appropriated grace and sanctification to the Spirit, and he described the
Spirit as the New Law o f the Gospel. Chapters Three and Four will show that Congar also
followed Aquinas in his development of a theology o f the Spirit that was at once an
ecclesiology and a theological anthropology. Congar thereby recovered an important truth
about Aquinas theology that had been neglected by the neoscholastic theological manuals
that had come into wide use after A etem i Patris.
As Congars own theology developed he did find some limitations in Aquinas
approach. "Although I am a grateful and faithful follower o f Thomas Aquinas," he
reason is that the Church is not a separate reality, something outside the Christian-Trinitarian
mystery, outside the anthropologic, christologic, sacramental thing which is the subject of
theology. So much is this true, that I am forced to ask myself if it be not a deliberate act on St.
Thomas part that he has refused to write a separate treatise De Ecclesia, seeing that the Church
pervaded his theology in all its parts. I am indeed inclined, personally, to think so." "The Idea of
the Church in S t Thomas Aquinas," 358.
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reflected towards the end o f his career, "I have had occasion gradually to extend my
vision."1*3Ecumenism, the study o f history, and contemporary thought led him beyond an
exclusively Thomist or scholastic perspective.164 Aquinas, Congar explained, was in
many ways an incomparable and exemplary teacher, but:
he also has his limits, and perhaps even his dangers. I do not regret that I was
formed in his school: he gave me both an order and an overture. But, having
arrived at the autumn o f my life, after having worked much and learned a bit, I
understand that scholasticism can be a prison o f the spirit and that in my Church it
has diminished the reception o f certain truths. For a long time I have been, and I
am still in part a prisoner o f a systematic ideal due to my scholastic formation.1*5
As Congars horizons broadened, his pneumatology developed in some ways that
distinguished his own theology from that of his medieval mentor. Congar observed, for
example, that Aquinas discussion of ecclesial unity tended towards a centralizing
universalism that did not give adequate expression to the church as a communion o f local
and particular churches and thereby encumbered the realization of catholicity and
collegiality. Orthodox pneumatology, Congar discerned, was more suited to the
expression of an ecclesial communion that was an ensemble of the gifts o f the Spirit, a
communion in diversity.166

l63Word and Spirit, 6. Congar also commented to Bernard Lauret that "beyond question I
developed, and in a way even parted company with Thomism." Fifty Years, 71.
164"The scholastics were too encapsulated in their own certainties," he explained, "and in
a Church which was closed to any doubts about itself. Surely our boundaries have become more
diffuse!" Word and Spirit, 6.
165Introduction to Martin Luther, 9.
I66"Vision de lliglise chez Thomas d'Aquin," 536-38. Torrell believes that Cougar's
critique of Aquinas on this point is rather anachronistic. Torrell does note, however, that it is
indeed regrettable that for such a long time the great weight of Aquinas' authority discouraged
other theologians from differing with him on this issue. Torrell, "Yves Congar et lecclsiologie
de Saint Thomas d'Aquin, 217.
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Nonetheless, Aquinas always remained Congar* s m ost fundamental theological


mentor. Even as Congar learned from other theological sources and Christian traditions,
he continued to find in Aquinas writings a compelling clarity, precision, and rigor of
thought and admired his incessant quest for foundational principles and causes. Congar
believed that the brilliant thirteenth-century Dominican should continue to be an
important source for contemporary theology because of the spiritual structure o f his work,
his genius for order, and his sense o f openness and dialogue.167

2. Johann Adam Mohler


Congar found inspiration not only in the theology o f Aquinas, but also in the work
o f Johann Adam Mohler (1796-1838). Mohler, the son o f an innkeeper in the German
village o f Ingersheim, was ordained a priest in 1819 and became one o f the greatest
theologians o f Germany's famous Tubingen school. A student o f Johann Sebastian Drey,
M ahler's own theology was forged in the ethos o f nineteenth-century German
romanticism and idealism and shaped in conversation with Schelling, Schleiermacher,
and Hegel.168

167Fifty Years, 70.


I68For Mohlers relationship to Schelling, see Thomas OMeara, "Revelation and History:
Schelling, Mohler and Congar," TTQ 55 (1987); 17-35. For an analysis of Mohlers engagement
with Schleiermacher see Dennis M. Doyle, "Mohler, Schleiermacher, and the Roots of
Communion Ecclesiology, TS 57 (1996): 467-80; Michael J. Himes, "'A Great Theologian of
our Time: Mohler on Schleiermacher, Heythrop 37 (1996): 24-46. For a discussion of
Geiselmann's perception of Hegelian influence in Mohlers works and Erb's critique of this
analysis, see Peter C. Erb, "Introduction to M5hler, Unity in the Church, 48-49. See full citation
below. For a complete exposition of Mahlers theology, see Michael J. Himes, Ongoing
Incarnation: Johann Adam MShler and the Beginnings o f Modem Ecclesiology (New York:
Crossroad, 1997).
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When only 29 years o f age, M dhler wrote Unity in the Church or the Principle o f
Catholicism Presented in the Spirit o f the Church F athers o f the First Three C enturies.1*9
This influential book went through several editions and translations, although M dhler
later disavowed much o f what he had written in this youthful volume.170 Seven years
later, Mdhler published Symbolism or Exposition o f the D octrinal Differences Between
Catholics and Protestants as Evidenced by their Sym bolical Writings, another book that
went through multiple editions.171 Notably, these publications exhibit some of the same
concerns that would stir Yves Congar a century la te r an interest in historical scholarship
as a basis for the renewal of the church and distress over a denominationally divided
Christianity. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, Mohlers works were no
longer in circulation.

169Johann Adam Mdhler, Unity in the Church or the Principle of Catholicism Presented
in the Spirit o f the Church Fathers o f the First Three Centuries, trans. Peter C. Erb (Washington,
D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1996). Originally published as Die Einheit in der
Kirche Oder das Prinzip des Katholizismus dargestellt im Geiste der Kirchenvater der ersten
drei Jahrhunderte (Tubingen: Heinrich Laupp, 1825). Erb's critical edition offers a helpful
introductory essay and extensive bibliography.
170Two German editions of Die Einheit were published, and this work was translated into

French in 1835, Italian in 1858 and Flemish in 1947. "I am not really eager to be reminded of
this work, Mohler told Johann Weber in 1837. "It is the work of an enthusiastic youth that
proposes to speak about God, the Church, and the world. Much that is in it I can no longer hold
to; it is not all properly digested or convincingly presented. Johann Adam Mdhler. Bd. 1:
Gesammelte Aktenstucke und Briefe, ed. Stephan Losch (Munich: Josef Kosel & Friedrich Pustet,
1928), 511; trans. Peter Erb, "Introduction" to Unity in the Church, 2.
171Johann Adam Mdhler, Symbolism or Exposition o f the Doctrinal Differences Between
Catholics and Protestants as Evidenced by their Symbolical Writings, trans. James Burton
Robertson (London: Gibbings and Company, 1894). Originally published as Symbolik oder
Darstellung der dogmatischen Gegensatze der Katholiken und Protestanten nach ihren
offentlichen Bekennmisschriften (Mainz, 1832). This work underwent several editions in
Mdhlers lifetime. For the critical German edition see Josef Rupert Geiselmann, Symbolik
(Cologne and Olten: Hegner, 1958).
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When Chenu gave Congar a copy o f Unity in the Church in 1928, Mdhler's
theology came back to life.172M dhler now had a new advocate, and Congar a new source
of inspiration, hi Mdhler, Congar reflected, 1 discovered a source, the source that I
needed."173Congar described Mdhlers thought as "synthetic," "vital," and
"communitarian"; he classified Mdhler with Pascal, Racine and other intellectually
inexhaustible authors.174Indeed, Congar accorded such significance to Mdhler that he
hoped to open the Unam Sanction series in 1937 with the publication o f a new French
edition of Mdhlers Unity in the Church, a work that he thought "represented remarkably
well the character and the spirit o f the sort of material I hoped to supply."173 Difficulties
with the translation delayed the new edition, but Unity in the Church did appear in 1938
as Unam Sanction's second volume. Congar also published a series o f articles on Mdhlers
theology in 1938, the one-hundredth anniversary of the Tiibingen theologian's death.176
These are among Cougars earliest works, but in Sicouly's assessment, Congar remained

172On Congars importance as a conveyer of Mdhlers theology see Thomas O'Meara,


"Beyond 'Hierarchology: Johann Adam Mohler and Yves Congar," 173-91. Other mediators
through whom Mdhler has influenced modem theology include Karl Adam, Pierre Chaillet, and
of course members of the Tubingen School. See Peter Erb, "Introduction" to Unity in the Church,
n.g.; Thomas O'Meara, "A French Resistance Hero," America 176 (May 24,1997): 12-16.
173Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 48.
174Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 48.
l75Preface to Dialogue Between Christians, 24.
176Yves Congar, "Lesprit des Pferes dapres Mdhler, SVS 55 (1938): 1-25; "Note sur
Involution et IinterprStation de la pensde de Mdhler," RSPhTh 27 (1938): 205-12; "La
signification oecumdnique de 1oeuvre de Mdhler," Iren 15 (1938): 113-30. Other essays on
Mdhler by Congar include "L'herdsie, ddchirement de l*unitd," in L 'tglise est une: Hommage a
Mdhler, ed. Pierre Chaillet (Paris: Bloud and Gay, 1939), 255-69; "La pensde de Mdhler et
leccldsiologie orthodoxe," Iren 4 (1935): 321-29.
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in dialogue with Mdhler throughout his entire life.177 Indeed, Congar acknowledged in
1975 that, "Yet today, Mdhler remains a reference.178 Mdhlers inspiration took many
avenues: Unity in the Church and Sym bolism influenced Cougar's methodology, his
ecclesiology, his ecumenical work, his theology o f tradition, and his pneumatology. The
following summary of Mdhlers two most important books prepares the way for a
discussion o f Cougars assessment o f Mdhlers pneumatology.

a. Unity in the Church and Symbolism


hi Congars words, Unity in the Church or the Principle o f C atholicism Presented
in the Spirit o f the Church Fathers o f the F irst Three Centuries was a "masterpiece."179
Mdhler expounded patristic ecclesiology with an emphasis on pneumatology, and he
worked under the influence of German romanticism with its emphasis on the organic,
communitarian and vital. Since Pentecost, Mdhler explained in Part I of U nity in the
Church, the Spirit has been present in the church as the "new life principle" (das neuen
Lebensprinzips), a principle o f unity, totality and wholeness.180from generation to
generation, each new member of the church is begotten o f this same Spirit and the church
is consequently a unitary community (Gemeinheit) that shares a common life

I77Pablo Sicouly, "Yves Congar und Johann Adam Mohler Ein theologisches Gesprach
zwischen den Zeiten," Catholica 45 (1991): 38.
I78Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 48. A reflection on Mdhler from the later part of
Congar's career is "Johann Adam Mdhler 1796-1838," ThQ 150 (1970): 47-51.
179Preface to Dialogue Between Christians, 24.
190Unity in the Church, 2,84.
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(gem einschqftlichen Leberi).1*1This interior mystical unity is a vital force that seeks
outward expression in the form o f Scriptures, doctrines, and liturgical
practicesexteriorizations o f the Spirit that are organically related. Just as a single seed
yields a plant bearing homogeneous fruits, so the Spirit yields consonant concretizadons
and the Christian church has a stable identity throughout successive generations. Part II of
Unity in the Church explained that this organic unity is concretized not only in doctrine
and liturgy but also in the very structure o f the ecclesial body. The bishop o f each diocese
personifies the love o f each community and serves as the communitys center. The
bishops o f nearby dioceses join to form a metropolitan association, and ultimately unity is
manifest in the episcopate and the papal primacy.182
W hereas Unity in the Church drew heavily on Ireneaus, Origen and other patristic
sources, M dhlers Sym bolism o r Exposition o f the D octrinal D ifferences Between
Catholics and Protestants as Evidenced by their Sym bolical W ritings explored the
sixteenth and seventeenth-century conflicts that had persisted into Mdhlers own era. In
Mdhlers analysis, these Reformation controversies concerned the condition of primeval
humanity, the degree o f indemnification wrought by original sin, and the character of
justification and sanctification. Roman Catholic theology held that Adam's sin had
disorderednot destroyedhumanity's spiritual nature. Humanity was thus capable o f
responding freely and collaboratively with the gracious redemption offered through Jesus
C hrist "By the mutual interworking o f the Holy S p irit M dhler explained, "and o f the

181Unity in the Church, 3,85. "Community" is Erb's translation of "Gemeinheit.


li2Unity in the Church, 52,217-18.
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creature freely co-operating justification really commences."183Luther, Calvin, and


Zwingli, in contrast, believed that Adams sin had completely ravaged the pre-lapsarian
means of divine communionthe human faculty o f will and the created capacity for
knowledge o f God.184Justification and sanctification are consequently an entirely divine
work, human participation is impossible, and "the Holy Spirit is exclusively active.183
MOhler did discuss and acknowledge the m erits o f these Protestant views but his overall
assessment was that this Protestant theology was inconsistent, illogical, individualistic,
and divisive.186He described Protestant and Catholic disagreements as "exclusively
anthropological but clearly they also concerned the theology o f the S pirit187
Symbolism did complement Unity in the Church with its insistence on the
Catholic theology of the theandric (gottm enschliches) activity o f the Holy Spirit and the
human person. As a whole, however, Symbolism had a different pneumatological
orientation than Mdhlers earlier book. In Symbolism, M dhler placed less emphasis on the
Spirit as the dynamic interior principle o f ecclesial unity and much more importance on

183Symbolism, X, 85.
184There are actually a number of important nuances in Mdhlers exposition of Luther,
Calvin and Zwingli that distinguish the theologies of these three Reformation theologians from
one another. For the sake of brevity, however, I am treating them in a very summary,
undifferentiated fashion.
183Symbolism, 10, 86.
1860 n the merits of Protestant views see Symbolism, XVn-XVTH. For Mdhlers
critique, see for example his statement that Luther "frequently fell into a strange and most
pernicious confusion of ideas." Mdhler thought Luthers insistence on avoiding abstract
expressions and scholastic distinctions contributed greatly to this confusion. Symbolism, 11,32.
187Symbolism, 2.
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Jesus Christ and his established legacy.1" Mdhler identified Jesus Christ as the divine
founder o f the church and described the church as a "permanent incarnation.189ha
contrast to U nity in the Church, Congar explained, "the visible institution, the body o f the
Church is no longer only a means o f expressing the interior Spirit; it is a means o f its
production...a divinely instituted means of transmission, realization, and developm ent"190

b. Cougars Assessm ent o f M dhlers Pneumatology


For Congar, the "astonishingly rich and vibrant thought" o f the young nineteenthcentury Tubingen theologian was highly significant his theology "of great profundity and
beauty."191 U nity in the Church recovered a theology of the church; Mdhler demonstrated
that the church is not simply a societas inaequalis but a people enlivened by the Holy
Spirit who is the principle o f the church's life and interior mystery. "This restored,"
Congar wrote, "a radical primacy of supernatural ontology above the church's
structures."192 He believed Mdhler had recovered the pneumatological dimension of the
188One of many indications of this change of emphasis is Mdhler's exegesis of John 17, a
passage that was so significant to Congar. In Unity in the Church, Mdhler cites Origen, who
interpreted John 17.21 pneumatologically: "That they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in
me, and I in you, that they also may be in us (John 17:21), namely, through the fullness of love
that is given through the Holy Spirit" Unity in the Church, 1,83. In Symbolism, in contrast, the
interpretation of this passage is christological. "The Lord putteth up a prayer for the gift of
unity," he writes, "and the union of all who shall believe; and for a unity too, which finds its
model only in the relation existing between the Father and the Son of Man. 'In us shall they be
one....1" Symbolism, XXXVI, 273.
^Sym bolism , fXXXVm, 281 and XXXVL 260.
190nSur Involution et linterpr&ation de la pensle de Mdhler," 211. Congar attributed this
change in Mdhler's thought to his critical engagement with Protestant ecclesiology.
191"La pens6e de Mdhler et I'eccl&iologie orthodoxe," 324 and 328.
192"Johann Adam Mdhler," 47. See also Yves Congar, "'Lumen Gentium,* No. 7," in
Yves Congar, Le Concile de Vatican II. Son glise. People de Dieu et Corps du Christ,

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M ystical Body theology and an anthropology o f communion.193This inspired Congars


ecclesiological efforts and was also foundational to Congars work on the theology of
tradition. In the period immediately prior to Congar, many Roman Catholic theologians
assumed that tradition was timeless, static, exhaustively codifiable in texts, and the
exclusive prerogative of the papal magisterium. Congar drew upon Mdhler to speak
instead o f a "living tradition"194 and an "interior tradition"a "vital, spiritual force, which
we inherit from our fathers and which is perpetuated in the Church."195 Tradition in this
vital sense is not something simply written in m agisterial documents but rather the
organic life o f the Spirit in the entire ecclesial body, a spiritual event in the consciousness
o f each believer.196For M dhler and the Tubingen school, Congar explained, "the whole
ecclesial community is the organ of Tradition."197
Congar held Mdhler in great esteem and learned much from the Tiibingen
theologian, but he also found limitations in his approach. In Cougars assessment, "the

Theologie historique, no. 71 (Paris: Beauchesne, 1984), 148f. Elsewhere Congar wrote: "The
importance of Mdhler and of the school of Tiibingen (which includes others) is to have opened or
re-opened the consideration of a truly theological and supernatural view of the church. L'ftglise.
De saint Augustin, 423.
l93"*Lumen Gentium, No. 7," 149.
194Congar noted that the term "living tradition" originated in the discussion provoked by
the condemnation of Jansenism. The idea passed from FSnelon to Sailer and Drey and then to
Mohler. Tradition and Traditions, 190-91.
195Mohler, Die Einheit, 3. Cited by Congar in Tradition and Traditions, 194.
196There is affinity between this position and Aquinas' aforementioned description of the
Spirit as the New Law.
197Tradition and Traditions, 324. Congar added that sometimes the Tiibingen school held
to this idea "not without a certain exchisivism to the detriment of the hierarchical magisterium."
For further discussion of Congar, Mdhler and tradition, see Thomas O'Meara, "Beyond
'Hierarchology: Johann Adam Mdhler and Yves Congar, 179-80.
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pneumatological construction o f Unity in the Church was unsatisfactory.19* Congar


believed that M dhler him self had recognized this deficiency, for Sym bolism took a
corrective, christological view and emphasized that the structures o f the church emerged
not solely from an organic spiritual development but from the divine institution o f Jesus
C hrist This christological dimension was not entirely lacking in U nity in the Church, but
in Cougars assessment it was secondary and underdeveloped.199 Congar critiqued the
christological inadequacy o f Mdhler's Unity in the Church repeatedly and upheld
Mdhlers theological evolution as an example o f the need to balance pneumatology and
christology.2C0In a 1970 reflection, Congar also noted other lim itations in Mdhler's
theology o f the Spirit: M dhler had remained on a functional level o f analysis and scarcely
reflected on the person o f the Holy Spirit; he was a prisoner of the idea of the Volksgeist,
his organic-vitalist pneumatology was subject to hierarchical appropriations that were
incongruent with his intentions; he hardly reflected on the broad context of the economy
of salvation; he offered little discussion of the charisms o f the Spirit.201 Mdhler's
theology, Congar concluded, is not a paradigm for contemporary pneumatology. Together
with the entire Tiibingen school, however, he does offer an overture and an ethos. He is

I98"Johann Adam Mdhler," 50.


199nSome are disappointed in the thought of Mdhler," Congar explained. "They believed
that the visible church was for him less an institution coming from Christ than a spontaneous
product of the Spirit of love, and they made Mdhler into a father of modernism in the style of
Tyrrell. This is an enormous error. If Mdhler has at times too little marked the role and divine
origins of the institutional element, that can be conceded. But Unity does not deny that element
but underlines that it is secondary " Yves Congar, "Bulletin de thdologie," RSPhTh 27 (1938):
656-57. See also "Sur Involution et I'interprStation de la pensde de Mdhler."
^ S e e for example Word and Spirit, 115.
201"Johann Adam Mdhler," 50.
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"an awakener," Congar said with deep appreciation and respect. "That is what he was for
me more than forty years ago."202

3. Ecumenical Influences on Congar*s Pneumatology


W hile Johann Adam Mdhler had been deeply troubled by Christianity's
denominational fragmentation, he did not believe that ecclesial reunion was possible in
the 1800s. By the 1920s, ecumenical initiatives had germinated amidst Protestants and
the Orthodox, but Roman Catholics remained leery o f the burgeoning ecumenical
movement.203 W hen Congar was granted permission to take courses with a Protestant
faculty of theology in Paris, a fellow Dominican exclaimed to the provincial superior,
"You have thrown him into the arms o f apostasy!"204 Even Chenu, who had spoken to his
students at the Saulchoir about the 1927 ecumenical conference in Lausanne, expressed
bewilderment when Congar confided his desire to pursue an ecumenical vocation.205
Congar was undeterred, and his resolute ecumenical efforts ultimately transformed
Roman Catholic attitudes about ecumenism. Indeed, his work was so significant that
some spoke o f Catholic ecumenism "before and "after" the publication of Cougar's
Divided Christendom, a book based on a series o f lectures Congar had delivered during

^"Johann Adam Mohler," 50-51.


203For a general history of ecumenism during this period in France see Etienne
Fouilloux, Les catholiques et Iunite chretienne du XIX*au XX* siecle. Itineraires europeens
d'expression frangaise (Paris: Centurion, 1982); Au coeur du XX* siecle religieux (Paris: Cerf,
1993).
204Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 76.
^jossua, Yves Congar, 58.

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the Christian unity octave in Paris in 1936.206 Appreciative readers told Congar that
D ivided Christendom had awakened them to the cause o f ecumenism, or given them a
broader sense o f the church.207
Congar not only changed Roman Catholic attitudes about the ecumenical
movement but he also amended Protestant perceptions of Roman Catholics. Orthodox
theologian Lon Zander of the Institut Saint-Serge in Paris described Congar as a living
icon o f St. Dominic in whom "we come nearer to Catholicism, we see the spiritual riches
that it has and that it can reveal in its faithful...we have many things to learn, to imitate, to
discover which completely change our attitude toward this Church...."208 Oscar Cullmann
has stated that Congar played a major role in bridging relations between Catholics and
Protestants, and Reformed Pastor J. J. von Allmen attests, "What we Protestant
theologians owe to [Congar] is that, like no one else, he has destroyed the equivalence
which (since the national synod at Gap in 1603) we have been accustomed to establish
between Roman Catholicism and the adversary of the Gospel...."209
Congar him self was personally affected by these ecumenical encounters. "Every
experience o f this kind," he reminisced about his ecumenical engagements, "leaves one to
some extent a new person. Things appear in a different light and one can never think or

206Yves Congar, Divided Christendom: A Catholic Study in the Problem o f Reunion,


trans. M. A. Bousfield (London: Centenary Press, 1939).
^ S e e Joseph Famerfie, "Chretiens desunis du P. Congar 50 ans aprfes," N R T110 (1988):
666- 86.

^Jossua, Yves Congar, 51.


^Jossua, Yves Congar, 47 and 85.
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speak again in exactly the same way as one did before."210Ecumenism touched Congars
heartand his theology of the Holy Spirit. He reflected:
Ecumenism has certainly been, and rem ains, a favourable terrain and, better still, a
fertile soil for the development o f pneumatology. Is it not itself quickened by the
Holy Spirit? Do not our Orthodox and Protestant brethren constantly stimulate
and practically provoke us to emulate them in the domain o f pneumatology?211
The following sections will describe Congars encounters with Protestants and the
Orthodox and briefly discuss some of their contributions to Congars theology o f the
S p irit212 Congar was convinced that ecumenical engagement fostered "greater fervor, a
deeper understanding o f Christianity and...peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom
14:17).213

210Preface to Dialogue Between Christians, 15.


2UYves Congar, Renewed Actuality of the Holy Spirit Lumen 28 (1973): 23.
For broader discussions of Congars contributions to ecumenical theology see Joseph
Areeplackal, Spirit and Ministries: Perspectives o f East and West (Bangalore, India: Dharmaram
Publications, 1990); Richard Beauchesne, "Laity and Ministry in Yves M.-J. Congar, OP.:
Evolution, Evaluation and Ecumenical Perspectives" (Ph.D. diss., Boston University, 1975);
Iakovas Canavaris, The Ecclesiology o f Yves M.-J. Congar: An Orthodox Evaluation (Athens,
Greece: P. Klissiounis Society Press, 1968); A. Galeano, "La Reforma protestante y el
ecumenismo segun Yves Congar," Fran 24 (1982): 149-84; Pier Giorgio Gianazza, La teologia
dello Spirito Santo in prospectiva ecumenica. Studio comparativo sulla pneumatologia di Paid
Evdokimov (ortodosso) e Yves Congar, O.P. (Bogota, 1981); Jean Pierre Jossua, "Loeuvre
oecumdnique du Pfcre Congar, tudes 357 (1982): 543-55; Joseph Kallarangatt "The Holy
Spirit Bond of Communion of the Churches. A Comparative Study of the Ecclesiology of Yves
Congar and Nikos A. Nissiotis (Ph.D. diss., Gregorian University, 1989); Maria-Monika Wolff,
Gott und Mensch. Ein Beitrag Yves Congars zum okumenischen Dialog (Frankfurt: Joseph
Knecht 1990).
213Yves Congar, "The Call to Ecumenism and the Work of the Holy Spirit" in Congar,
Dialogue Between Christians (Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1966), 101.
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a. Protestant Encounters and Contributions


The seeds o f Congars commitment to ecumenism had been sown in his childhood
village of Sedan where Protestants and Catholics lived together respectfully. Inter
denominational cooperation was particularly pronounced during World W ar I. When the
Germans burned Sedans Catholic church in 1914, the Calvinist pastor graciously offered
the Catholics use o f his own building where the Catholic congregation worshiped until
1920. "I cannot believe my vocation to ecumenism has no connection with these
circumstances," Congar reflected. "I was often fired with a desire to make some return to
the Protestants for all I had received from them."214 Indeed, Congar originally understood
his ecumenical vocation as a mission to seek reunion specifically between Protestants and
Roman Catholics.
Martin Luther quickly became a key figure in this pursuit Following Congars
ordination, he traveled to the Dominican house in Dusseldorf, Germany where he
discovered the Lutheran journal Die Hochkirche in the Dominican library. "Its pages," he
recalled, "...opened my eyes to a new world...JFrom that time on I realized that there were
depths in Luther which demanded investigation and understanding."215 Fascinated,
Congar returned to Germany the following summer and visited Luther's birthplace and
browsed through Lutheran archives in Wartburg, Erfurt and W ittenberg. Upon returning
to France in 1932, he took courses with Auguste Lecerf and Andrd Jundt of the Protestant

2I4Preface to Dialogue Between Christians, 4. Congar told Puyo that he was "absolutely
convinced" that this act of Calvinist generosity was the beginning of his ecumenical vocation.
Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 14.
2l5Preface to Dialogue Between Christians, 5-6.
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Faculty o f Theology in Paris. He also read Kierkegaard and studied Barth.216When Barth
came to Paris in 1934 for a series o f lectures, Congar invited him to Juvisy for a
symposium with Etienne Gilson, Jacques M aritain, Gabriel Marcel and other scholars.217
Through these encounters, Congar quickly realized that Catholics had been
laboring under some misconceptions about the Reformation traditions. In 1935 he
undertook the regular publication o f "Cahiers pour le protestantisme in Vie intellectuelle,
a series designed to allay misunderstandings and introduce Catholics to the Protestant
sensibility.218The series continued until interrupted by World W ar H. Meanwhile, Congar
him self continued to read Protestant theology regularly. Luther in particular was a
perennial resource. Congar called Luther "one o f the greatest religious geniuses in all of
history and placed him on the same level with Augustine, Aquinas and Pascal.219 "There
is scarcely a moment," Congar commented, "in which I do not have occasion to have
recourse to his writings."220 Luther's avid opposition to scholastic methodologies made
this Protestant reformer an unlikely source o f inspiration for a Dominican schooled in
Thomism, and indeed methodological differences did hinder Congar*s interpretation of
2l6For Congars thoughts on Kieikegaard see Yves Congar, "Actuality de Kierkegaard,"
Viel 32 (1934): 9-36.
217Preface to Dialogue Between Christians, 12.
218In retrospect, Congar "realized that my project may have been somewhat irritating to
Protestants. I would have liked Protestants themselves to explain their position more frequently."
Preface to Dialogue Between Christians, 13. According to Fouilloux, these xCahiers' played a
decisive role in the ecumenical career of Father Congar, they either brought him creditor
rendered him suspectin different places; their appearance multiplied the demands for his
collaboration." Les catholiques et Iunite cfuretienne, 226.
219Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 59-60.
220Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 59. See also Congar, Introduction to Congar, Martin
Luther (Paris: Cerf, 1983), 8.
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Luthers writings.221 Over the years Congar grew in his understanding o f Luthers
theology and softened and nuanced some of his earlier critiques. In the "Preface to the
second edition of Vraie etfausse reforme (1968), for example, Congar noted that the
long, critical exposition o f the Protestant Reformation in Part Three o f the 1950 original
edition of this book was incomplete and failed to convey the richness o f the Protestant
tradition.222 In a 1982 reflection entitled "Nouveaux regards sur le christologie de
Luther," Congar modified the position he had taken with respect to Luthers christology in
a 1954 publication.223
Martin Luther as well as other Protestant theologians surely exerted a positive
influence on Congars theology of the Holy Spirit through their strong emphasis on the
primacy of grace and the sovereign initiative of God. "Luther," Congar observed, "gives
an absolute primacy to the point of view o f God, to Gods initiative.'824 Congar was
appreciative of this decisive /Geological and hence implicitly pneumatological dimension

^ Congar notes this difficulty in his Introduction to Congar, Martin Luther, 9; "Luther
reformateur. Retour sur une dtude ancienne," in Congar, Martin Luther (Paris: Cerf, 1983), 42;
"Nouveaux regards sur la christologie de Luther," in Congar, Martin Luther (Paris: Cerf, 1983),
129-30.
222Vra/e etfausse, 2d ed., 13. See also Introduction to Martin Luther, 15.
^ S ee Yves Congar, "Considerations and Reflections on the Christology of Luther," in
Congar, Dialogue Between Christians (Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1966), 372-406. This
essay was originally written in 1950 and published as "Regards et inflexions sur la christologie
de Luther," in Das Konzil von Chalkedon. Geschichte und Gegenwart, eds. G. Grillmeier and H.
Bacht (Wurzburg, 1954), 3:457-86. It is to be contrasted with Congars "Nouveaux regards sur la
christologie de Luther," 105-34.
^"Luther rdformateur," 34. For Barth too, Congar noted, "all is the action of God. All is
o f God. God is the active subject of all that is done." Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 49.
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o f Protestant theology.223 On the other hand, Luthers theocentrism was accompanied by


such a radical account o f the difference between God and all that is human, sinful and
cieaturely that Luther denied the vocation and capacity o f the human person to actively
cooperate with the indwelling Spirit a sign o f a faulty theology of nature and grace.226
Congar was critical of this dimension o f Luthers theological anthropology and also of the
pneumatological deficit o f Luthers ecclesiology-or rather o f Luthers lack o fany proper
ecclesiology. Congar believed that Luthers resounding emphasis on justification "pro
m e" and his characterization o f the church as an entirely human institution betrayed
theologys [and hence pneumatologys] properly ecclesial dimension.227 For Luther,
Congar explained, the church is simply the congregation o f those individuals who have
accepted Gods promises, not a divine institution imbued with the theandric power of the
Incarnation and the gift o f the Spirit.228 "Protestantism," Congar commented in 1937 with
reference to Luther, Calvin, and Barth, "has stopped short with John the Baptist and still

^C ongar notes Luthers {geological emphasis in "Luther reformateur," 22,41, and 44.
44.
226On Luther see Vraie etfausse, 2d ed., 362. Congar also questioned Barth's tendency to
"consider exclusively the sovereign causality of God in God himself without realizing that this
causality injects something real into us and ultimately confers on us the capacity for concausality with God!" Preface to Dialogue Between Christians, 12. For Congars critique of
Luthers theology of nature and grace see Vraie etfausse, 2d ed., 347,354-55, 363; "Luther
rdformateur," 75.
^C ongar noted Luthers emphasis on the "pro me in Vraie etfausse, 2d ed., 357;
"Luther reformateur," 26,29,71; "Theologie de l'eucharsitie," 93,102. He critiqued Luthers lack
of attention to the "properly ecclesial in Vraie etfausse reforme, 2d ed., 367,373, and 377;
"Thdologie de l'eucharistie," in Congar, Martin Luther. Safoi, sa reforme, 102. He is also
repeatedly critical of Luthers dissociation of the interior act of the Spirit from the exterior means
of grace. See for example "Luther reformateur," 62. Congar likewise found a lack of ecclesial
sense in Barth. See Vraie etfausse, 2d ed., 381.
^ S ee for example Vraie etfausse, 2d ed., 373-74.
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awaits the fulfilm ent of the baptism o f w ater and o f the S p irit...1,229Years later, Congar
did note the importance o f pneumatology in L uther's theology, for the Spirit brings
people to faith when the Gospel is preached and causes them to cling to the Word.230
Congar was concerned, nonetheless, that Luthers theology so emphasizes Christ the
Word that it may not be fully pneumatological.231

b. Orthodox Encounters and Contributions


Although Congars ecumenical m ission was originally oriented to Protestants, he
grew increasingly interested in relationships between Roman Catholics and the Eastern
Orthodox, officially separated since 1054. He grew enamored o f the Orthodox ethosthe
ambiance o f mysticism, symbolism, and sacramentalityand Orthodoxys great
appreciation for liturgy. "I admit to love Orthodoxy very much," he told Puyo in 1975,
"and to feel vividly its attraction."232 Congar had many opportunities for fruitful contact
with Eastern worship and theology as a young Dominican at the Saulchoir, for S t Basils
Russian Seminary had been established nearby in Lille (France) at the injunction of Pius
XI who had hoped to support the development o f the Russian Uniate Church. S t Basils
eventually evolved into the Centre Isdna under the administration of Dominican

229Divided Christendom, 91.


230In fact in Vraie etfausse (1950), Congars critique is that Luther shows no recognition
of the proper reality of the ecclesial means of grace and writes only of the entirely transcendent
action of the Holy Spirit Vraie etfausse, 2d ed., 379 with reference to Luthers Great Catechism.
For Congars description of the Spirit as important in Luthers theology of the reception of the
Word see I Believe, 1:138-40.
m l Believe, 1:148 n. 8.
^Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 51. See also Yves Congar, "Jaime lOthodoxie," in 2000
ans des christianisme (Paris: Socidtd d'histoire chr&ienne, 1975), 2:97-99.
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Christophe Dumont, and Congar remained in close contact with Dumont throughout his
life and collaborated in the Centres work. Congar also made contact with Russians who
had emigrated to France after the 1907 Revolution during the Parisian period of his
Protestant coursework in 1932. In the French-Russian Circle, Congar grew acquainted
with Nicholas Berdyaev, Fr. Serge Bulgakov and Fr. Lev Gillet, the latter a Roman
Catholic priest converted to Orthodoxy. A t Paris Institut Catholique, Congar befriended
Fr. Albert Gratieux who taught courses on Aleksei Stephanovich Khomiakov and the
Slavophile movement. Khomiakov was an Orthodox lay theologian who had developed
the theology o f sobom ost in the nineteenth century, and Congar believed that
Khomiakovlike Mdhlerhad constructed an ecclesiology "out of precisely the elements
which the Counter-Reformation left in the shadows: the pneumatological element and the
anthropological element: interior action o f the Holy Spirit and the active part of the body
o f the faithful."233 Gratieux became Congar's first Russian teacher, and Congar later
invited him to contribute to the ecclesiological series Unam Sanctam.23* During the
summer of 1932, Congar also traveled from Paris to Belgium to visit Dom Lambert
Beauduin, founder o f the monastery o f Amay where worship proceeded simultaneously in
both the Latin and Russian Byzantine rites in order to spiritually anticipate the union of
East and W est. Over the years, Congar remained in close contact with the monastery
(which moved to Chevetogne in 1939) and contributed to its journal Irenikon.
^^Yves Congar, "Chronique: Annies 1939-1946," in Congar, Sainte tglise (Paris: Cerf,
1963), 564. Some have postulated that the common influence of Greek patristic theology
accounts for the affinity of Khomiakovs work and that of M5hler.
^ S ee Albert Gratieux, A. S. Khomiakov et le mouvement Slavophile, Unam Sanctam,
nos. 5 and 6 (Paris: Cerf, 1939); Georges Samarine, Priface aux oeuvres theologiques de A. S.
Khomiakov, Unam Sanctam, no. 7 (Paris: Cerf, 1939).
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Famere believes that of all Congars ecumenical contacts, T h e Orthodox


especially had a strong influence on him, much more perhaps than he has indicated in his
writings."235 Famerde traces Congars conception o f collegiality to Khomiakovs
sobom ost theology; he believes that Divided Christendom's discussion o f the church as a
theandric reality comes from Soloviev even though Soloviev is not explicitly mentioned
in this text; and he finds signs of Florovskys ecclesiology in Congar's Christ, Our Lady
and the Church (1957; French ed., 1952).236 Famerde finds further evidence o f Orthodox
influence in Congar's theology o f ecumenism and Congars rediscovery o f the episcopate
and the local church.237
Certainly the Orthodox influenced Congars pneumatology. The Eastern tradition
is renowned for their emphasis on the Holy Spirit, and Congar spoke of the Holy Spirit as
the "great unresolved issue between Eastern Orthodoxy and us."238 He defended the W est
against the Eastern critique of W estern christomonism, but he did acknowledge the East's
challenge to a Western christocen/rom.239 As Chapter Two will describe, Congars own

^ S e e Joseph Fameree, "Orthodox Influence on the Roman Catholic Theologian Yves


Congar, OJ>.: A Sketch," SVTQ 39 (1995): 409.
236Fameree, "Orthodox Influence, 410,412,414.
^Famerge, "Orthodox Influence," 412-13,415-16.
^ "Letter from Father Yves Congar," 215.
V ves Congar, "La pneumatologie dans la thdologie catholique," RSPhTh 51 (1967):
251; "Pneumatologie ou christomonisme dans la tradition latine?" in Ecclesia a Spiritu Sancto
edocta. Milanges theologiques. Hommage a Mgr. Gerard Philips (Gembloux: Duculot, 1970),
41-63; "Renewed Actuality of the Holy Spirit," 20. However, Congar also wrote in seeming
contradiction that T o return to the question of the decisive and universal impact of the Filioque,
I would agree that the criticism of Christomonism in Western Catholicism is to some extent
right, but I have, I think, shown that this is being corrected." Word and Spirit, 117. Perhaps here
he did not strictly distinguish "christomonism" and "christocentrism."
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theology m oved away from this christocentrism to a m ore fully trinitarian approach, and
surely the Orthodox contributed to this development in Congars thought. O f most
significance for this dissertation, the Orthodox also inspired Congars efforts to develop a
pneumatology that would overcome Roman Catholicism s separation o f spiritual
anthropology and ecclesiology. As mentioned in the dissertations Introduction, Nikos
Nissiotis and Alexander Schmemann mentioned to Congar during the course of the
Second Vatican Council that if they were to prepare a De Ecclesia treatise they would
draft only two chapters: one on the Holy Spirit and a second on Christian anthropology.240
Congar was very impressed with this comment and recounted this story repeatedly.241

4. The Second Vatican Council


Congars provocative luncheon conversation w ith Nissiotis and Schmemann was
only one encounter in the course of his intense engagement with the Second Vatican
Council. Congar was so influential in Rome from 1963-1965 that according to Avery
Dulles, "Vatican II could almost be called Congars council.'242 Just as Congar influenced
the Council, so too the Council influenced Congar. Congar believed that ecclesial events
can be sources o f theological reflection, and the Vatican Council was a lieu theologique
par excellence, a religious event of singular importance in the twentieth century. The

Believe, 2:66.
^ See Yves Congar, "The Church: The People of God," Cone 1 (1964): 22 n. 13;
"Preface" to Ignace de la Potterie and S. Lyonnet, La vie selon IEsprit, 11; "Pneumatology
Today," 435.
242Avery Dulles, "Yves Congar," 6.
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Council convoked more than 2,600 bishops from all over the world and invited observers
from Protestant and Orthodox denominations. At Vatican II, Congar reflected:
The facts preceded and set ideas in motionOne might wonder how the idea of
collegiality, so absent from peoples minds before 1962, was able to win favor so
rapidly. The reason is that in St. Peters the college was assembled. It was not
necessary to prove its existence. It was there.243
The influence of the Council on Congars pneumatology is more difficult to delineate than
the influence o f theologians such as Aquinas and M dhler who leave their marks on
Congar's books and articles in the form o f footnotes and citations. But it is surely no
coincidence that Fameree finds a qualitative change in Congar's pneumatology in the
post-conciliar period.244
After the Council, Congar was free from censorship and enjoyed renewed
opportunities to write, speak, and publish. His growing interest in the theology of the
Holy Spirit during this period was influenced by his own experience o f life in the postconciliar church. The liturgical reforms initiated by Sacrosanctum concilium, for
example, included the addition to the sacramentary o f three Eucharistic prayers that did
include an explicit epiclesis o f the Spirit (unlike the Roman Canon) and this undoubtedly
influenced Congar's theology.245 Congar was also clearly affected by the dramatic
increase of lay participation in both liturgical worship and myriad forms o f ministries. As

^T heology in the Council," 224.


^ S ee Fameree, L'ecclesiologie d'Yves Congar, 437-57.
^C ongar commented on the importance of the addition to the sacramentary of
Eucharistic prayers that include an explicit epiclesis in "Renewed Actuality of the Holy Spirit,"
29.
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he witnessed lay people taking initiatives in the church and striving to live out their faith
convictions, he reflected that Catholic theology must:
consider the Church less as an "Establishment" than as a community o f believers
and thus reintroduce anthropology into ecclesiology. This mean[s] the
reintroduction o f pneumatology, for it is the Spirit who makes Christ dwell within
men, prompts consciences, and suggests initiatives.246
The rapid growth of the charismatic movement in the 1970s also contributed to Congars
increasing interest in pneumatology.
The Second Vatican Council transformed not only the liturgical and pastoral
practice o f the church but also the theological climate. Congar contrasted the postconciliar period with the years subsequent to the Second World W ar (1947-50) when
Catholic theological and pastoral research had proceeded within a well-established
framework. Congar described 1947-50 as a period o f "adaptation" in which theologians
and pastoral leaders strove to enrich and renew existing theological systems and
ecclesiological structures. In the post-concilar era, in contrast, theologians had to rethink
and reformulate the very foundations of Christian faith in response to the intellectual,
cultural, and social currents o f a world to whom the church had opened its doors and
committed its evangelical service. Pope John X X m had reached out to all people o f
goodwill and dismantled the fortress mentality that had separated the Catholic Church
from the modem world. In this spirit of openness, the theology of the post-conciliar
period was no longer simply a theology of adaptation but rather a theology of
foundational reformulation.247 "It is astonishing," Congar noted in a letter to Thomas

^"Pneumatology Today," 440.


^ S e e Vraie etfausse, 2d ed., 7-12.
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OMeara, "how the post-conciliar period has so little to do with the Council...The postconciliar questions are new and radical

n24STheologians like Rahner, Schillebeeckx and

Guttidrez responded to these questions through sustained dialogue with modem


philosophy, hermeneutics and critical theory, and political and social analysis. Congars
training had not equipped him for these forms o f engagement, but he had his own form o f
response to the new theological clim ate. It is notable that Congars best-known book of
1947-50 is Vraie etfausse reforme, a study o f the principles o f ecclesial reform in the
service o f ecclesiological adaptation. In the post-conciliar period, in contrast, Congars
best-known book addresses the very foundations of Christian faith. This book, according
to van Vliet, is the three volume I Believe in the Holy Spirit (1979-80).249

E. Conclusion of Chapter One


This Chapter has provided important background and context for the discussion o f
Congars theology o f the Holy Spirit that will ensue in the remainder o f the dissertation.
The Chapter has introduced Congar as a Dominican scholar passionate about his twofold
vocation: Christian ecumenism and the renewal of the Roman Catholic Church. So strong
was Congars commitment that he refused to be deterred by war-time imprisonment,
Vatican rebuke, exile from France, o r the illness that eventually paralyzed part of his
body. He practiced a theological method o f ressourcement together with his colleagues at
the Saulchoir, and he considered him self a positive as opposed to a speculative

248Letter to Thomas O'Meara, cited in OMeara, "Beyond Hierarchology," 182.


^V an Vliet describes I Believe in the Holy Spirit as Congars best-known post-conciliar
work in Communio sacramentalis, 235.
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theologian. He believed it was his task to survey the rich testimonies o f revelation as
evident in Scripture and the unwritten testimonies o f the Apostolic era, the teachings of
the magisterium, the liturgy, the writings o f the fathers and doctors of the church, the
ongoing life o f the entire ecclesia and ongoing theological reflection. He strove to
combine a scholarly love o f truth with a commitment to study Christian history through
the eyes o f faith, and over the course o f his long career he produced an astonishing corpus
o f 1790 publications including books, scholarly essays, reviews, and articles for
encyclopedias and popular periodicals. His work was influential in both the decision to
convoke the Second Vatican Council and in the formulation o f the Councils theology. In
the period subsequent to the Council, Congars writings focused increasingly on
pneumatology. His interest in the theology of the Spirit had been sparked decades earlier
by his exposure to Johann Adam Mohler, his study o f Thomas Aquinas, and his contacts
with Protestants and the Eastern Orthodox. Vatican II intensified this interest. Chapter
Two will explicate Congar's trinitarian theology, the framework in which discussion of
his theology o f the Holy Spirit must proceed.

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CHAPTER TWO
SPIRIT OF GOD, SPIRIT OF CHRIST: THE TRINITARIAN
FOUNDATIONS OF CONGARS PNEUMATOLOGY

Trinitarian theology is the distinctively Christian way o f speaking about God and
the cornerstone of systematic theology. In recent decades, there has been a resurgence of
interest in the doctrine o f the Trinity and a growing concern that Christian theology has
all too often neglected its trinitarian foundations. "From all sides, in recent times,"
Congar commented, "people have denounced the inadequacy o f a notion of God that is in
reality pre-trinitarian...."1Neglect of theologys properly trinitarian character was evident
not only in the way some theologians spoke of God but also in the disjunction of the
doctrine o f the Trinity from other dimensions o f systematic theology ecclesiology,
sacramental theology and theological anthropology2and in the pervasiveness of various
forms of christocentrism. Congar believed, however, that since the 1940s there had

'"Renewed Actuality of the Holy Spirit," 21. See also Word and Spirit, xi. Congar linked
pre-Trinitarian monotheism/christomonism with the predominance of patriarchal and masculine
theologies in Christianity in / Believe, 3:160 and "Le troisi&me article du symbole. L'impact de la
pneumatologie dans la vie de ITiglise," in Dieu, glise, Societe, ed. J. Dor, (Paris: Cerf, 1985),
292. For Congar's critique of Vatican I as not explicitly trinitarian, see I Believe, 1:168; Fifty
Years, 59.
2Congar noted that this had repercussions at the pastoral level. He cited a survey of
Belgium's Catholic schools which reported that 65% of the school's youth believed that the
doctrine of the Trinity had no consequences for daily life. Yves Congar, "La tri-unit de Dieu et
rfiglise," VS 128 (1974): 687.
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beenat least in Francea renewal o f Christian spirituality that was soundly trinitarian.3
Congar attributed this renewal to a growing recognition o f the foundational character o f
the doctrine o f the Trinity, the influence o f patristic ressourcement, and ecumenical
dialogue (particularly with the Orthodox). He believed that this trinitarian revival had
paved the way for the Second Vatican Councils trinitarian concept of God? Congar also
thought it formed the basis for the renewal o f pneumatology.5
Congar himself consistently worked with a trinitarian intention. His early Divided
Christendom (1937) spoke of the "Ecclesia de Trinitate and his mature I Believe in the
Holy Spirit (1979-80) included a tour de force o f trinitarian theologys historical
developm ent6 "I am more concerned with pneumatology," Congar wrote in 1980, "but
this is, of course, inseparable from the mystery o f the Tri-unity of God himself."7 This

3Word and Spirit, 2. Congar cited the following as evidence of trinitarian renewal:
Elizabeth of the Trinity, Souvenirs (1909, with several subsequent editions; sel. trans. in Spiritual
Writings, London, 1962); V. Bemadot, From Holy Communion to the Blessed Trinity (London
and Edinburgh, 1926); H.-M. F6ret La Sainte Trinite, Dieu du Chretien, Et. relig., no. 448
(1938); J. Viollet, La Sainte Trinite et notre vie quotidienne (1938); F. Klein, The Doctrine o f the
Trinity (New York: P. J. Kennedy & Sons, 1940); R. M. Grant The Early Christian Doctrine o f
God (Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1962); G. P. Widmer, Gloire au Pere et
au Fils etau Saint-Esprit (Neuchatel and Paris: Delachaux et Niest, 1963); H. Barr, Trinite
que j'adore. Perspectives theologiques (1965): G. Lafont Peut-on connaitre Dieu en JesusChrist? (Paris: Cerf, 1969); H. Bourgeois, Mais ily a le Dieu de Jesus-Christ (1970); J. C.
Barrean, Qui est Dieu? (1971); A. Manaranche, Dieu vivant et vrai (1972); P. Aubin, Dieu: Pere,
Fils, Esprit. Pourquoi les chretiensparlent de Trinite (1975); C. Duquoc, Dieu tEfferent (1977);
H. de Lubac, Christian Faith: The Structure o f the Apostles' Creed (San Francisco: Ignatius
Press, 1986). Word and Spirit, 7 n. 2.
*Word and Spirit, 2. Congar noted however that "I know of no satisfactory general
exposition of the trinitarian inspiration of Vatican IPs documents." 'Renewed Actuality of the
Holy Spirit" 21 n. 21.
3Word and Spirit, 2.
*For discussion of the Ecclesia de Trinitate see Divided Christendom, 48-59.
71 Believe, 3:xv.
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chapter thus explores key components o f Cougars trinitarian theology. It will discuss
Congars account o f A) the economy of salvation; B) trinitarian ontology; Q the
distinction o f the economic and eternal Trinity; D) the relation between Jesus Christ and
the Holy Spirit; E) the Holy Spirits personhood. This will provide the necessary
foundation for the presentation o f Congars pneumatological anthropology and
pneumatological ecclesiology that will follow in Chapters Three and Four.

A. The Economy of Salvation


God, S t Paul wrote to the Ephesians, has "made known to us the mystery o f his
will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in C h rist as a plan (oikonomia) for
the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him..." (Eph 1: 9-10).8The account of Gods
oikonomia or "economy" recorded by Paul and the other biblical writers and then handed
down from generation to generation throughout the Christian centuries was the basis for
Congars trinitarian theology. As Chapter One described, Congar shared Gardiels
conviction that theology should be primarily a reflection on Gods donne, Gods self
manifestation in the events of creation and redemption. "All o f the revelation of the Holy
Trinity," Congar wrote, "is...economic; the divine persons are revealed in their relation
with redeemed humanity and the work of the redemptor Christ."9
a

Congar upheld this passage from Ephesians in its full context (Eph 1:3-14) as well as
Rom 8:18-30 as exemplary summaries of salvation history. See Yves Congar, "Pneumatologie et
theologie de ITiistoire," in La theologie de Ihistoire. Hermeneutique et eschatologie, ed. Enrico
Castelli (Rome: Aubier, 1971), 68.
^Yves Congar, "Le Christ dans l'6conomie salutaire et dans nos traits dogmatiques," in
Congar, Situation et taches presentes de la theologie (Paris: Cerf, 1967), 94. "...[W]e shall reach
the eternal Trinity," Congar later wrote, "only by way of the economic Trinity." Word and Spirit,
4. An earlier comment stands as a point of contrast: "The revelation of the mystery of the Trinity
has been made as much through the economy itself as through theoretical statements." Mystery
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G od's revelation, Congar believed, culminated in the life, death, and resurrection
o f Jesus Christ and the apostolic era o f the Christian churchthe constitutive period o f
Christianity.10But Congar also affirmed the existence o f lesser forms o f revelation in the
pre-Christian era and the post-apostolic period, and he maintained that the divine
economy is coextensive with the entire history o f the world.11 "The history o f salvation,"
he insisted, "is coterminous with the history of mankind as such."12Congar carefully
qualified this assertion to avoid a cosmogonic identification o f God with the created
order. He distinguished what he termed "temporal history"i.e. creation operating
through its own proper energiesfrom the gratuitous interventions o f God that constitute

o f the Temple, 286.


10Congar spoke of the "le temps constitute da peuple de Dieu in "Pneumatologie
dogmadque, in Initiation a la pratique de la theologie, eds. Bernard Lauret and Francois
Refould (Paris: Cerf, 1982), 2:485.
11Mystery o f the Temple, ix. On the other hand, Congar sometimes described the postapostolic period as non-revelatory. He opposed, for example, the dogmatic definition of the
bodily assumption of Mary "since historically the ancient evidence is very sparse and we can no
longer accept that the present faith of the church has a revelatory value, even if one can draw
certain consequences from divine motherhood." Fifty Years, 62. If the present faith of the church
is not technically revelatory (i.e. for Congar, the revelation of something previously not known)
it is nonetheless a continuation of the divine economy. "The economy of salvation," Congar
wrote, "continues after the constitutive period. All epochs have their leaders and their
prophetsours just as all the others." "Pneumatologie dogmadque," 485.
12/ Believe, l:ix ."Sacred history, he had written earlier, "is also a human history."
Tradition and Traditions, 261. Here Congar anticipates Rahner's essay "History of the World and
Salvation History, 77 (Baltimore: Helicon Press, 1966), 5:97-114. Rahners essay was originally
published in German in 1962.
Elsewhere Congar noted that there is a difference between a theology that is pure
biblicism and a truly historical account of the plan of God and its stages of development. From
the later perspective, aspects of the historical life of the church are providentially guided. See
"Luther rformateur, 76.
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the history o f salvation.13 He also differentiated two dimensions o f salvation history: 1)


the secret action o f God that begins with creation, and 2) the public and visible economy
that begins with the revelation to Abraham and culminates in the Incarnation and the
church. The former is the "general history o f salvation/revelation" and the latter the
"special history o f salvation/revelation."14
Temporal history and both general and special salvation history can be easily
distinguished in broad terms, but they are much harder to differentiate amidst the
ambiguities o f our actual existence. Congar compared our human vantage point to that of
the weaver o f a Gobelins tapestry who works from the back-side o f a loom such that the
shape and design o f her tapestry are not immediately visible and the weaver sees only a
mass o f colorful threads. Likewise, Congar explained, we cannot see the full shape and
design of Gods economy on this side of the eschaton, and yet we "must build as best we
can, interweaving the threads known to God."15We are guided in this endeavor by the
proleptic vision o f Gods design that we do have by virtue o f the public revelation made
originally to Abraham and consummated in the Incarnation o f the Word of God and the
gift o f the S pirit Although we cannot see the entire pattern o f salvation history, we do
know that God intends to be in communion with human creatures in an "ever more

13The world of itself, Congar emphasized, is "a natural, non-sacred world. But the
transcendent and living God intervenes in a sovereign and free manner....Thus are combined
Gods utter transcendence and his utter immanence." Mystery o f the Temple, 51-52. He also noted
that if God were ever to offer a total disclosure of himself, this would "put a stop to history."
Tradition and Trcuiitions, 238.
14Congar used these distinctions in "Pneumatologie et thdologie de rhistoire, 61-62.
15Notes from a sermon preached at S t Severin in Paris on Dec. 7,1952, published as
Yves Congar, "The Christian Idea of History, in Congar, Priest and Layman (London: Darton,
Longman & Todd, 1967), 280.
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generous, ever deeper Presence," and this is no insignificant insight.16 Indeed, Congar
mused, the mystery o f God's presence "is the golden string that runs through all God's
purposes....17Communion with God intensifies at each stage o f the economy o f
salvation: creation, the Covenant with Israel, the Christian dispensation, and the eschaton.
These stages are discussed below with particular attention to their importance in Congars
theology of the Holy S pirit

1. Creation
God, Congar believed, is a God of effusive love who desires to live not in eternal
aseity but rather in communion with creation:
No Absolute exists which is not also Love, no mighty God who is not the loving
God, God turned towards us, God for us. There is no "I am," no Erts a se, no
Aseity, that does not contain within itself, not only the possibility, but also the
positive desire to be "I will be (for your sake, moving towards you, acting with
you.)"18
God the Father creates by love.19God's Word is eternally uttered in love and Gods Spirit
proceeds inseparably as the term of the substantial communication within God. With
supreme liberality, the Spirit then continues this movement of love outside o f God such
that creation commences. The Spirit is (by appropriation) the "principle of generosity

l6Mystery o f the Temple, ix.


11Mystery o f the Temple, 53.
18Yves Congar, "Dum Visibiliter Deum Cognoscimus: A Theological Meditation," in
Congar, The Revelation o f God, trans. A. Manson and L. C. Sheppard (New York: Herder and
Herder, 1968), 89-90. This is a reflection Congar wrote on the feast of Christmas.
19Yves Congar, "The Church and Pentecost," in Congar, The Mystery o f the Church,
trans. A. V. Littledale (Baltimore: Helicon, 1960), 12.
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through which God extends his family to his creatures."20This extension o f generosity
occurs "outside o f God not in the sense o f spatial separation, for strictly speaking God
has no outside whatsoever. Rather, this terminology expresses that creatures are distinct
from God and have a creaturely being which is not the same as the being o f God.21
Like Aquinas and so many others, Congar distinguished Gods eternal and
necessary generation o f the W ord from the temporal and voluntary creation o f the
cosmos.22 At the same time, Congar believed that the Word is eternally generated by the
Father precisely with creation in view, for in God the necessary and the free are
unopposed.23 "In God," Congar reflected, "his freedom and his essence are really
identical."24 Congar thus objected to theologies that distinguished the pre-existent Word
from the incarnate Son. "Let us remember," he insisted, "that the Logos is, in the eternal
present o f God, conceived incamandus, primogenitus in multis fratribus, crucifigendus,...
primogenitus omnis creaturae, glorificandus..''to be incarnate, the firstborn o f many
brethren, to be crucified...the firstborn o f all creation, to be glorified.25 Creation itself, in

"La pneumatologie dans la theologie catholique," 255. See also / Believe, 3:149.
Congar's theology of appropriations will be further discussed in part E of this chapter.
2lYves Congar, The Wide World My Parish, trans. Donald Attwater (Baltimore: Helicon,
1961), 58. See also I Believe, 2:83.
^See for example, Word and Spirit, 95; I Believe 3:149; I Believe 3:171.
"What is necessary and what is free in God should, it is true, not be confused, but, on
the other hand, both are identified in him." I Believe, 2:68.
M/ Believe, 3:71. hi the French original reellement is italicized. Pondering the meaning
of the identity of liberty and essence in God, Congar continued, "We affirm that identity in our
own inability to represent it and to understand it. We can only revere that mystery and make it
the object of our praise." I Believe, 3:71.
25Word and Spirit, 11. See also / Believe, 2:68.
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like vein, was brought into existence to receive the Incarnation and to be redeemed. Gods
initial creation is "more a kind o f sketch, a very precarious sketch in expectation o f
something else, which is redemption or...salvation.n26

2. The Covenant with Israel


Gods incamational intention is prepared and prefigured in the Covenant with
Israel, which Congar typically referred to as the "old dispensation."27 God established a
people and covenanted with them, and Sarah and Abraham and their descendants knew
and worshiped the one God. Revelation became public and palpable in the ark of the
Covenant, the stories of exodus and liberation, and the splendor of the Temple of
Solomon. The Hebrew people professed that they had been created through the ruach
(Spirit, breath) o f God (Gen 1:2) apart from which all life would cease (Job 34:15). They
testified that the ruach of Moses had been passed to Joshua and the seventy elders (Num
11:29 and 27:18), and that God's ruach had stirred Othniel and Gideon and the other
judges who provided leadership in the land of Canaan (Judg 3:10,6:34, 11:29, 13:25,
14:6, 14:19). They believed that when Samuel anointed David king o f Israel, the ruach of
God had come mightily upon him (1 Sam 16:13), and they knew that when Israel was in
exile God had promised the prophet Ezekiel that God's ruach would be poured out on the
house o f Israel to bring life to their dry, dying bones (Ezek 36 and 37). They remembered
26Fifty Years, 30.
^See for example Mystery o f the Temple, 262-99; / Believe, 1:7 and 2:76. This language
is regrettable. Congars reflections on the Covenant with Israel and the relationship of Judaism to
Christianity could have been enhanced by work that has been done in recent decades to
reconceive Christianitys relationship to Judaism in a non-supercessionist way. See for example
the essays collected in Jews and Christians: Rivals or Partnersfo r the Kingdom o f God? ed.
Didier Pollefeyt (Louvain: Peeters Press, 1997).
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that Isaiah, too, had prophesied that God pledged to "pour my ruach upon your
descendants (Is 63:11-14) and that this commitment was reiterated by Haggai,
Zechariah, and Nahum (Hag 2:5; Zech 4:6,12:10; Neh 9:20). The sages of Israel spoke of
Gods Wisdom as \heruach that held the entire cosmos together (Wis 1:6,7), a ruach that
is "intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear, unpolluted, distinct,
invulnerable, loving the good, keen, irresistible, beneficent, humane, steadfast, sure, free
from anxiety, all-powerful, overseeing all and penetrating..."(W is 7:22-25).28 In sum,
Congar concluded after surveying the meaning of ruach in the Old Testament, the Spirit
does whatever is necessary to guarantee that Gods plan for Israel and for all creation will
be carried forward.29 In the old dispensation, the Spirit is a force that accomplishes the
work o f God.30
Congar nonetheless believed that the presence o f Gods ruach in old dispensation
was qualified and limited. God periodically intervened in the history of the chosen people
but did not dwell permanently, intimately, and personally among them. Congar
acknowledged that the majority of theologians in the W estern tradition have in fact
affirmed a personal and substantial indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the souls o f the

251

Congar discussed the meaning of ruach in the Old Testamentwhere the term occurs
378 times with a variety of connotationsin I Believe, 1:3-14.
^See for example I Believe, 1:4 and 1:5.
30Mystery o f the Temple, 4. He elaborated: "It remains true that in the Old Testament and
in Judaism, at least before certain rather late developments in Jewish piety, the Holy Spirit
(literally: the spirit of holiness), (i) is not considered a divine person; (ii) is above all the power
through which God provides for the carrying out of the Covenant." Mystery o f the Temple, 271.
It is not clear from these passages if Congar meant to affirm that the Spirit was simply not
perceived as a person by the Hebrew people or whether he thought the Spirit actually related to
Israel as an impersonal force.
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righteous men and women o f the Old Testament by virtue o f their implicit faith in the
Christ who was to come.31 The Greek tradition, in contrast, has made a
distinctionindeed, Congar noted, almost an oppositionbetween the old and new
dispensations and hence denied that the Spirit was personally given to the Hebrew people.
Congar considered this Greek approach closer to biblical testimony than the Western
tradition and more in keeping with the historical character o f the economy of salvation.32
When he presented his ideas on this matter to his fellow Dominicans in 1954 he was
subjected to strong criticism, but he nonetheless continued to uphold this approach.33
Accordingly, Congar described the presence o f the Spirit in the Old Testament
period as consecratory rather than sanctificatory. The Spirit protectively guided the
Hebrew people but did not indwell the souls of persons so as to communicate an inner
moral sanctity, holiness, or perfection.34 Congar explained:
There was never any question of the Holy Spirit or o f God taking up his dwelling
in souls as persons who are his temple. His presence is a collective one and is
conferred on his people as such. It is not so much an indwelling in souls as a
presence which guides men and strengthens them so that they may implement a
plan which is Gods....This is the root o f the matter. God does not dwell fully and
perfectly among his people because he is not yet fully given or communicated to
them.35

3'This, Congar observed, was the position of Augustine, Leo the Great, Thomas Aquinas
and Thomists such as Frazelin, Pesch and Galtier. It was also the position taken in Pope Leo
XDIs Divinum illud munus and Pius XUS Mystici Corporis. I Believe, 2:75 and 2:78 n. 6.
321 Believe, 2:73-77.
33See for example Mystery o f the Temple, 262-99; / Believe, 2:76. Congar thought that
theologians such as Mgr. Waffelaert and Gdrard Philips were moving in this same direction.
MSee for example Mystery o f the Temple, 16 and 271; / Believe, 1:4; Word and Spirit,
44.
35Mystery o f the Temple, 16 and 18.
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There were, however, signs and promises in the Hebrew tradition o f the fuller presence o f
the Spirit yet to come. Congar noted that the awaited Messiah was described precisely as
the one to be anointed by the Spirit. "There shall come forth a shoot from the stump o f
Jesse," Isaiah prophesied, "and a branch shall grow out o f his roots. And the Spirit o f the
Lord shall come upon him..." (Is 1 l:lff). Centuries later (in about 350-340 BCE), the
prophet Joel foretold an eschatological outpouring o f the Spirit upon all flesh (Joel 3:1-2).
On the day o f Pentecost, Congar noted, Peter was to proclaim that this outpouring had
occurred.36

3. The C h ristian D ispensation


Congar was convinced that the Incarnation o f the Word of God, the paschal events
o f Jesus Christs death and resurrection, and the sending o f the Holy Spirit wrought
something radically new in the economy o f salvation and deepened Gods communion
with humanity in a profound way.37 Since the dawn of creation, God had been present to
humankind as the causal principle o f created existence, and in the Covenant with the
people o f Israel God had become the object o f humanitys knowledge and love. Now, in
the hypostatic union of the W ord o f God with the human nature of Jesus Christ, God
overcame the separation and duality between God and creature "in so far as this is
possible without meaningless confusion o f beings or pantheism.38 The divine

x l Believe, 1:9.
^See for example Mystery o f the Temple, 262.
38Mystery o f the Temple, 232.
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immanence in creation is now "total, ontological,"39 and the divine/human communion


consummate in Jesus Christ is extended to all humanity through the gift o f the Holy
Spirit. Accordingly it is now appropriate to speak not simply o f Gods presence but also
o f "an indwelling o f God in the faithful."40
Congar emphasizedparticularly in his later writingsthat the mission of the
Spirit in the new Dispensation is just as important as that of the Word.41 The Spirit
conceived Jesus in M arys womb (Luke 1:35) and from this moment the W ord of God
was hypostatically and ontologically united with the humanity o f Jesus o f Nazareth. The
subsequent life o f Jesus, Congar emphasized, was not simply a m anifestation o f this
mystery of hypostatic union as Aquinas christology impliedrather, through the
historical events of Jesus Christs life, death and resurrection, Jesus Christ was
constituted the messianic Son of God fo r us*2 "Not from the point o f view of his

39Mystery o f the Temple, 240.


40Mystery o f the Temple, 237. Alternately, Congar sometimes contrasted different
degrees of presence rather than "presence" and "indwelling per se. The economy, he wrote, has
progressed "from things to persons, from fleeting moments of Gods Presence to a Presence that
is lasting, from the simple presence of his action to a vital gift, inward communication and the
joy and peace of communion." Mystery o f the Temple, xi.
41Other contemporary theologians who make this same point include Nikos Nissiotis,
"Pneumatological Christology as a Presupposition for Ecclesiology, Oecumenica 1967, ed.
Friedrich W. Katzenbach and Vilmos Vajta (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1967), 239; Kilian
McDonnell, "Pneumatology Overview," CTSAP 51 (1996): 188-91. McDonnell believes that the
theological tradition has often failed to appreciate the equal importance of the mission of the
Spirit with that of the Son.
*2Word and Spirit, 87. Emphasis is Congars. See also/ Believe 3:166. Congar believed
that Aquinas should have given more emphasis to the humanity of Jesus Christ and the growth in
knowledge and love that occurred throughout his life, and he found Aquinas' presentation of
Jesus life in ST in 1 qq. 1-60 historically unsatisfactory. He also commented that "The question
in the Summa devoted to Jesus baptism goes back to a theology that is both analytical and
typological, not to say metaphorical, and certainly disappointing." I Believe, 1:22. At the same
time, Congar had great respect for Aquinas theology of hypostatic union as set forth in 57 HI*
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hypostatic quality or from that o f the ontology as the incarnate Word," Congar explained,
"but from that o f Gods offer o f grace and the successive moments in the history of
salvation."43 In the waters o f the Jordan, the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus and he was
hence the anointed oneho xristosthe Christ (e.g. Acts 10.38).44 Jesus baptism, Congar
explained, was a new communication of the Spirit beyond that o f his conception and
constituted Jesus Christ as Messiah and Servant45 Immediately afterwards, the Spirit led
Jesus into the desert to confront the temptations o f power and evil, and Jesus rebuked
Satan and was empowered to manifest the Kingdom o f Godhe healed the sick, cast out
demons, and declared in the words o f the prophet Isaiah "The Spirit o f the Lord is upon
me, because he has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted..." (Luke 4:21).46
Throughout his life, Jesus Christ grew in understanding and increased in wisdom and
favor with God (Luke 2:52).47 He manifested Gods mercy and salvation, and finally
offered himselfthrough the eternal Spirit (Heb 9:14)even unto death. The Christ

qq. 7-8. See for example Word and Spirit, 85.


43Word and Spirit, 92. See also I Believe, 1:16,3:169-71. This point is expressed more
tentatively in I Believe, 1:106.
^Congar credited Heribert MQhlen with raising awareness that "Christ" is not simply a
proper name as the scholastic theologians presupposed but rather biblically it means the
"anointed one" or in Hebrew the "Messiah." I Believe, 1:23.
45On the constitutive importance of Jesus' baptism see I Believe, 1:16, 1:18,3:166,3:169.
On the designation of Jesus as Servant and the relation of his baptism to his sacrifice and death,
se e l Believe, 1:19.
^Congar commented on these events in I Believe, 1:18.
47Congar discussed Jesus' growth in knowledge and ponders the question of his
consciousness of his identity in I Believe, 1:17-18; 3:166-68.
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became the Crucified. He took the sins o f humanity upon himself and offered him self as
our ransom (goel.)*
Through the Holy Spirit of God, Jesus Christ was then raised and exalted
"designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit o f holiness by his resurrection
from the dead" (Rom l:3-4).49 His victory over the temptor in the desert was completed
by this definitive triumph over evil, and Congar noted that the resurrected Christ is so
completely penetrated by the Spirit that according to Paul the "the Lord is the Spirit" (2
Cor 3 :17).50 The Spirit who wrought the kertasis of Incarnation, baptism, and death is also
the Spirit of glorification. Fittingly, this is a glorification not o f domination but rather of
communion. Jesus Christ exercises his divine Sonship precisely by giving the Spirit to
others such that they, too, may become sons and daughters of God.51 "Receive the Holy
Spirit," Jesus Christ said when he appeared to the disciples locked away in fear after the
crucifixion (John 20:22).

^See Fifty Years, 20-21.


49The Holy Spirit, Congar stated, "raised Jesus from the dead (Rom 1:4; 8:11)." /
Believe, 1:105. See also / Believe, 3:144. Elsewhere Congar spoke of the Spirit as the agent of
resurrection. I Believe, 1:95.
^See / Believe, 3:169,1:104. On the need for evil to be overcome before the kingdom of
God can be achieved see, for example. Fifty Years, 20-21.
S1"lt is the Spirit," Congar commented, "who places the life of Christ in us, who makes
us sons in the divine Son and who dedicates us to resurrection after him." / Believe, 3:169.
Reference is to Rom 8:9-11 and 14-17; Gal 4:6; 1 Cor 12:13.
n

It should be noted that in Congars interpretation of this passage he makes a distinction


between this gift of the Spirit and the gift of the Paraclete that was promised in John 14 and 16
and given after Jesus full glorification and ascension. In John 20 "the Spirit is not given
personally (there is no article preceding pneuma hagion) but as a force that corresponds to the
mission that is communicated." I Believe, 1:53. Elsewhere he wrote that "Jesus exaltation (Acts
2:33) resulted in the gift of the Spirit and thus initiated the eschatological era. I Believe, 3:144.
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The gift o f the Spirit culm inated on the day o f Pentecost, a Jewish harvest festival
observed fifty days after Passover. According to the book of Acts, the apostles had
gathered in Jerusalem for the feast immediately after the ascension o f Jesus Christ, and
tongues like fire descended upon them and "all o f them were filled with the Holy Spirit"
(Acts 2:4). They discovered that they could speak and understand all languagesa
reversal o f the division o f tongues and the scattering o f peoples that occurred at
Babeland they were empowered to proclaim the gospel, heal the sick, establish
communities, welcome the gentiles into the nascent church, and baptize.33 These activities
o f the apostolic church, Congar explained, were a continuation o f the activity o f Jesus
Christ in his glorified state. Just as the Spirit conceived Jesus in M arys womb at the
beginning o f the gospel o f Luke, so too the Spirit o f Jesus Christ brought the church into
the world at the beginning of the book o f Acts.54 "The Spirit does not invent or introduce
a new and different economy," Congar reiterated. "He gives life to the flesh and words o f
Jesus (John 6:63). He recalls those words to mind and penetrates the whole truth."55 The
gift o f the Spirit is not a replacement o f Jesus Christ, but a communication and
transmission o f Christs ongoing presence and powerthe power to remake humanity in
the image o f the Son such that all may be reborn from above (anothen) as sons and

53I Believe, 2:44. The church Fathers, Congar noted, understood Pentecost as a reversal
of Babel and Luke likely had consciously made this connection as well. See also "Pneumatologie
dogmatique," 499 and 499 n. 36.
54I Believe, 1:44. Elsewhere, Congar draws a parallel between Jesus baptism and
Pentecosts significance for the church. JBelieve, 1:19.
55/ Believe, 1:57. In the Gospel of John, Congar noted, the activity of the Paraclete is
entirely parallel to that of Jesus Christ. J Believe, 1:55-56. Reference is to F. Porsch, Pneuma und
Wort (Frankfurt, 1974).
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daughters of God.56 T h e Spirit is therefore the Spirit of Christ in the econom y o f grace
through which the Unigenitus becomes primogenitus in multis fratribus."57
Congar considered the apostolic period foundational to the life o f the church and
the Christian tradition, and he made a qualitative distinction between the apostolic era
and the subsequent centuries o f Christian history. The first century is o f paramount
importance because in this period Jesus Christ acted in the Spirit to institute the means of
salvation: the faith, the sacraments, and the apostolic ministry o f the church.58
Nonetheless, Congar strongly affirmed the ongoing presence of the Spirit throughout the
entire Christian dispensation.59 The Spirit guided the work and writing o f the church
fathers, inspired conciliar decisions and the formulation o f Christian doctrine, assisted the
magisterium, acted in the sacraments, preserved the church in holiness, and wrought
conversions in the lives of saints such as Augustine, Francis Xavier, Thdr&se Martin, and
Blaise Pascal.60 The Spirit also brought about renewal in the church's life, kindling the
proliferation of new religious orders that occurred in the twelfth century and the

S6Congar reads the books of Acts as a testimony of the communication rather than
replacement of Jesus Christ in I Believe, 1:45. He speaks of the Spirit of Christ as the power of
new birth from above in Word and Spirit, 92 and 103.
51Word and Spirit, 102.
Congar distinguished the constitutive period of the church from the subsequent
centuries in "Pneumatologie dogmatique," 485. He also spoke of a "classical period in church
history which he identified as the time between Nicaea (325) and the death of St. Gregory the
Great (604) and St. Isidore (636). I Believe, 1:104.
59See for example "Pneumatologie dogmatique, 485.
0

On the activity of the Spirit in church councils and elections and the provision of
church teachers see I Believe, 1:151. On tradition and the magisterium see I Believe, 1:168.
On the Spirit in the lives of the saints see for example Tradition, 263.

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ecumenical movement that flourished in the twentieth.61 Indeed, Congar believed that the
Holy Spirit is active in all o f human historyin the Incarnation, God had become hum an,
and embraced all the joy and pain o f human life.62 At the same time, however, Congar
was reluctant to designate any non-biblical event as a definitive component o f salvation
history. Was the fall o f Rome, for example, or the Reformation, or the death o f Innocent
IV an intended part o f Gods plan? Congar believed one would need a prophetic charism
to answer this question, a charism that no theologian or historian is assured.63 We can
attest to the ultimate triumph of Gods salvific love as manifest in the resurrection of
Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit, but we still stand on the back side of a

611 Believe, 1:115. "The Holy Spirit is active in history and causes new and sometimes
very confusing things to take place in it" he commented in reference to this proliferation. On the
Holy Spirit and the emergence of new religious orders see also I Believe, 1:129. On the
ecumenical movement as a work of the Spirit see "The Church and Pentecost," 28. Congar also
described the many revivals that have punctuated the life of the Protestant church as an activity
of the Spirit in I Believe, 1:146.
^See for example the reflection "The Spirit secretly guides Gods work in the world, in
I Believe, 2:220-21.
''Pneumatologie et theologie de lliistoire, 70. On the other hand, Congar readily
affirmedas mentioned abovethat the Spirit guided the church's councils, preserved the church
in holiness, and inspired renewal movements throughout ecclesia! history. He also explicitly
identified some apparently secular historical events as components of God's plan. He was
convinced, for example, by B. Duhm's argument that the growth of great empires in the ninth
century BCE challenged tribal and nationalistic theologies and provided the framework for the
Hebrew prophet's proclamation of God's universal sovereignty. Mystery o f the Temple, 62.
Reference is to B. Duhm, Israels Propheten (Tubingen, 1916), 1-3. In like vein, Congar
described the destruction of both the Temple and the throne in 587 as a condition for a higher
stage of development in the Hebrew people's relationship with God. Mystery o f the Temple, 44.
He also believed that the diaspora contributed to Israel's movement to a higher form of
spirituality. Mystery o f the Temple, 89. And he noted that F. J. A. Hort held that Paul's
experience in Rome had given him a better understanding of the universal unity of the empire
and thus a keener appreciation for the universality of the church. Mystery o f the Temple, 62 n. 6.
Reference is to Hort, The Christian Ecclesia (London, 1908), 143 ff.
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Gobelins tapestry in a jum ble o f tangled threads and raw edges, and God alone knows
how the full pattern o f salvation history will appear on the other side o f the veil.

4. The Eschaton
Our current experience o f the Spirit is only the arrha (pledge) o f the hill, eternal
communion with God to which creation is destined (Eph 1:14). We live, as S t Paul
suggested, like a woman in labor, groaning in pain.64 The S p irit Congar assured, is in
labor with uswith Christian believers and all peoplesbringing the new creation to
birth.65 This new birth has already begun, for the Spirit is given and through this gift we
live in "the messianic era, which is the last epoch o f time and will not be followed by
anything substantially better or new."66 Yet at the same timeas Congar knew so well
through his own personal experience of war, exile, and illnesswe are still a people on
pilgrimage, following Jesus Christ who is the forerunner o f a procession en route to what
Congar called the "true country."67
In this eschatological journey, the Spirit o f Christ sustains us and inspires within
us an ardent desire for the fullness o f life to come.68 The ongoing gift o f the Holy Spirit is
our assurance that we will someday reach the new Jerusalem, the city o f pure gold that
"has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory o f God is its light..." (Rev 2:18

64Word and Spirit, 125. Reference is to Rom 8:22-23.


a Word and Spirit, 125.
66Mystery o f the Temple, 149.
67Mystery o f the Temple, 174. Reference is to Heb 11:13-16.
See for example, Word and Spirit, 19.
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and 23). A ll o f creation will ultimately participate in this redemptive mystery, Congar
explained, noting that the Lenten lectionary begins with the first chapter o f Genesisa
story that is also recounted at the beginning o f the Easter vigilso as to suggest the
participation o f all creatures in C hrist's redem ption" The new creation is brought forth
from the old, and the Spirit embraces all as the one who completes all things, carrying
creation forward towards that full communion in which God will be all in all (1 Cor
15:2s).70 Even now, we participate incipiently in this reality, although it eludes attempts
at description. Congar reflected:
I often think of eternal life. I think that one has it now. That is spelt out in S t
John, but I think of it in an existential, real way. Like everyone else, I know that
this eternal life now must emerge, after death, in some kind o f exaltation towards
God, in whose presence it will be completely revealed. But one cannot imagine it,
any more than one can imagine how a chrysalis will become a butterfly, or cherry
blossom, so beautiful in April, will become fru it I often think about i t but each
time I end up with a mystery which I cannot see clearly.71
We cannot clearly envision the end of the economy, but Congar was confident that the
promised eternal life must be nothing less than the deification o f the creature and the
eternal praise and adoration of God.72

5. Summation of Section A The Divine Economy


The economy of salvation manifests that God is a God o f love who has created
and redeemed us through Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit. God desires not to live in

^Fifty Years, 18-19. "The Catholic idea of salvation takes in all creation." See also /
Believe, 3:144 and T h e Holy Spirit in the Cosmos," in Word and Spirit, 122-29.
^On the Spirit as the one who completes all things see I Believe, 3:144.
1XFifty Years, 61-62.
^On the end of the economy as deification, see for example I Believe, 1:95.
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eternal aseity but rather brings into existence a created order that has its own distinct
being. God gives to the created order its own proper temporal causality and history, and
at the same time God enters into communion with creation so as to bring about the
history o f salvation. The public stage o f salvation history began with Gods promise to
Abraham and culminated in the Incarnation, death and resurrection o f Jesus Christ in
whom all evil is vanquished and all humanity is invited to be reborn as sons and
daughters of God. The exaltation o f the glorified Christ inaugurates the eschatological
era, a period in which Gods communion with all creatures will ultim ately be so intense
that "God will be all in all (1 Cor 15:28). All this occurs through the Spirit of Jesus
Christ who "ceaselessly carries forward towards its fulfillm ent..the total plan o f salvation
in the world and in history."73

B. Trinitarian Ontology
Congars conviction that theology must be rooted in the scriptural accounts of
Gods economy did not preclude him from embracing the ontological terms and
categories that theologians appropriated as they elaborated trinitarian doctrine over the
course o f Christian history. Unlike Martin Luther who considered it sufficient to know
God incarnate in Jesus Christ and prescinded from theological reflection on God "in
natura et maiestate sua," Congar believed it is necessary to progress from the scriptural
narrative of the economy to trinitarian ontology.74 "Economy," Congar explained, is the
73"Pneumatology Today, 447. "The Holy Spirit," Congar wrote elsewhere, "is the
transcendent Agent of all that is which is pour Dieu within history." "Pneumatologie et thtologie
de rhistoire," 62.
74Congar contrasted his own position on this matter with Luthers in "Luther
rdformateur," 22. "II y a un en soi de Dieu," Congar insisted, "on dirait, si l'on osait, une
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"historical account o f what God has done for our salvation, the historical realization o f his
plan o f grace."73 This account is functional in character. Ontology, in contrast, concerns
knowledge o f a reality (in this case, God) in itself. When theology moves from economy
to ontology, it "applies itself to contemplate and to define, from a basis in Revelation, the
in-itself {Ven soi) of God and o f Christ, that is to say that which they are in themselves (ce
qu'ils sont en eux-memes)."16
It is generally acknowledged, Congar noted, that the Hebrew Scriptures are not
preoccupied with ontological questions.77 Indeed, according to Dupuy and Chenu, the
entire Bible is concerned with the destinynot the essenceo f creation and God.78
Congar believed, nonetheless, that the Greek idea of truth as what things are "in
themselves"an idea that shaped patristic and medieval theologywas not foreign to the
biblical world view.79 Rather, Scripture "ignores or surpasses the opposition between the
for-us and the in-itself, and certain o f its functional statements spill over into the
ontological."80 On the basis of what God has done in the economy, Congar explained, we

ontologie de Dieu: cela, cest pour lui."


75"Christ dans I'Sconomie," 87 n. 1.
76"Christ dans lecononiie," 87. For Congars further discussion of the difference between
"ontology," "ontological," "ontic," "economy," "economic" and "functional," see "Le moment
economique et le moment ontologique dans la Sacra doctrina," 135-36.
^"Christ dans l'6conomie," 87.
76Word and Spirit, 43. Reference is to B. D. Dupuy, Vatican II. La Revelation divine,
Unam Sanctam, no. 70b (Paris: Cerf, 1968), 563-66; M.-D. Chenu, "V6rit6 evangelique et
m6taphysique wolffienne Vatican n," RSPhTh 57 (1975): 632-40.
Word and Spirit, 43.
"Christ dans l'lconomie," 99.
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do truly know something of that which God is." Congar also maintained that it is the very
law of our God-given intellectual spirit to inquire into the "ce que sont" o f realities,82 and
he insisted that the theological problems o f the second and third century are an historical
illustration o f the need for an adequately elaborated theological ontology.83 In the patristic
period, for example, it became evident that a purely functional approach to trinitarian
theology ran the risk of modalism.84 "History has shown," Congar commented, "and
Barth has admitted that the true and full meaning o f the economy can only be preserved if
we also include the theology."83 The theology o f God en soi must be unequivocally
grounded in the economy of salvation, but fidelity to this very economy requires
ontological exposition.
Congar began his work in trinitarian theology in the aftermath o f conversations
generated by Theodore de Regnon's Etudes de theologie positive sur la Sainte Trinite
(1892-1898.)86 De Regnon's book gave new impetus to the study o f trinitarian doctrine
and drew sustained attention to foundational differences between Eastern and Western
approaches. In both East and West, trinitarian theology has been shaped by what G. L.
Prestige terms the "Cappadocian settlement," the formulation that God exists as the
""Christ dans l'6conomie," 105.
""Christ dans l'dconomie," 100-101. In this article, Congar also noted that contemporary
philosophy's disfavor for ontological terminology poses problems for theology. "Christ dans
I'dconomie," 97.
""Christ dans I'dconomie," 100-101.
""Christ dans l'dconomie, 102.
65Word and Spirit, 95.
"Theodore de Rdgnon, Etudes de theologie positive sur la Sainte Trinite, 3 vols. (Paris:
Retaux, 1892-1898).
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persons (hypostases) o f Father, Son and Holy Spirit who share a common divine nature
(ousia).*1But in the W est, de Rdgnon argued, Augustine and his successors elaborated a
dogmatic structure which emphasized the divine essence over the triune persons and unity
over trinity. Conversely, the East emphasized the triune persons over the divine essence
and trinity over unity. De Rdgnon's fctudes were widely cited and his characterization o f
the differences between East and W est became commonplace. Congar observed that
Orthodox theologians in particular have appropriated his clear-cut formulas as they
stand.88 Congar him self believed de Regnon had demonstrated that East and W est share
the same faith and yet approach the trinitarian mystery with different theological
constructions,89 and he agreed that terms such as "person" and "essence" do have different
nuances in East and West.90 At the same time, however, Congar maintained that de

^G. L. Prestige, God in Patristic Thought (London: SPCK, 1952), 233.


881 Believe, 3:xvi.
i9I Believe, 3:xvii. Congar thought De Regnon's position on the difference of East and
West was confirmed by J. N. D. Kelly's Early Christian Doctrines, 5th ed. (London, 1977).
90In Congars view, the East affirmed the co-equal divinity of the Son and the Spirit on
the basis of their common origin in God the Father. Greek theologians than differentiated the
Son and the Spirit according to their distinct "modes of coming to be," i.e. "begetting" in the case
of the Son and "procession" in the case of the Spirit. As John Damascene explained classically,
all three divine hypostases have everything in common except for the hypostatic properties
agennetos, gennetos, and ekporeuomenon. Greek theologians rely on Scripture to make these
distinctions, particularly John 15:26. They do not seek to analyze this further, for the modes of
coming to be of the divine persons are inexpressible. I Believe, 3:34.
In contrast, Congar explained, the West has postulated that the begetting of Son and the
spiradon of the Spirit produce four relations of origin (Father-*- Son, Son-*Father, Father &
Son-*Spirit, Spirit~*Father & Son) that differentiate the three divine persons who in all other
respects hold everything in common. This approach is foreign to the Greek view, for in the East
"the relationships are not what define the personsthey follow and are constituted by the
persons, like inseparable properties." I Believe, 3:73. For the Orthodox, Vladimir Lossky
explains, "the relations only serve to express the hypostatic diversity of the Three; they are not
the basis of it." Lossky, In the Image and Likeness o f God, 79; cited in Congar, I Believe, 3:74.
Congar noted furthermore that "the Orthodox point of departure is a difference between
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Regnon's characterization o f Eastern and W estern theology was oversimplifiecf1and even


a misleading caricature.92
Congars own trinitarian reflections illustrate the limitations o f de Rdgnon's
analysis, for Congar gave equal emphasis to both the divine persons and the divine
essence. Congars trinitarian theology has several inextricable dimensions. These include
his discussion of: 1) the monarchy o f God the Father, 2) a divine ontology o f charity; 3)
the circumincession and "being-towards-another" o f the divine persons; 4) the identity of
God's substance {essentia) and God's "to-be (esse); 5) the doxological character o f
theology.

1. The Monarchy of God the Father


"The first insight into the mystery o f the Trinity," Congar wrote, "is that
concerning its origin in the monarchy o f the Father.93 God the Father is the unoriginate

the essence or substance and the hypostases of a kind that enables them to speak in two different
ways about the divine Persons, according to whether they are regarded as hypostases or are seen
in their relationship to the divine essence. In Latin dogmatic theology, on the other hand, the
hypostases are really identical with the divine essence.... I Believe, 3:72. The Greeks seem to
think of hypostatic being as "an autonomous and absolute value"( / Believe, 3:200) and Congar
expressed appreciation for their "lively sense of the originality of the person" that enabled them
to speak of hypostasis without speaking of substance. Word and Spirit, 105.
911 Believe, 3:xvi and 3:72. Catherine Mowry LaCugna makes this critique as well. See
Godfo r Us: The Trinity and Christian Life (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1991), 11.
^Congar observed, for example, in his discussion of Richard of S t Victors speculative
triadology that "it would be futile to ask whether he affirms the one [person] or the other
[essence] first." I Believe, 3:105. And in Congars reflections on Aquinas, he commented that any
attempt to present the Dominican master as an "essentialist" would "betray the balance of his
theology." I Believe, 3:116. Congar also believed that the Orthodox are unfair to Augustine when
they claim that he gave priority to the divine essence over the divine persons. Fifty Years, 60.
See also I Believe, 1:78.
/ Believe, 3:133.
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and invisible source (arche) of all that is.9* The Son is begotten by the Father, the Spirit
proceeds from the Father and the Son, and the cosmos is created by the Father through
the Son in the S p irit "Everything comes from God," Congar emphasized, "that is, from
the Father."95 hi a 1980 reflection, Congar recounted the efforts of theologians in both the
East and the W est to speak of the mystery of the Fathers monarchy: the Father is pege
tes theotetos, pegaia theotes, tes theotetos arche, anarchos, agennetos, plenitudo fontalis,
ingenitum, auctor, auctoritas processionis, esse principium, fo n s et origo divinitatis.96
Congar observed that there are some important differences in the Greek and Latin
languages that have shaped efforts to express the Fathers monarchy, and these differences
have influenced the way in which theologians speak o f the procession of the Holy Spirit
in East and West. The Greek terms "ekporeuomai," "aitia" and "archethat are central to
reflection on the Fathers monarchy were translated into Latin as "procedere," "causa"
and "principium." The Latin terms lack the subtlety o f the Greek, as the Orthodox have

**Word and Spirit, 10. Congar consistently used "Father" and masculine pronouns in
reference to God in accordance with common practice. Anne Harnett believes that Congars work
must be supplemented by feminist theology. See Anne Harnett, "The Role of the Holy Spirit in
Constitutive and Ongoing Revelation According to Yves Congar, 340. For Congars discussion
of "The Motherhood in God and the Femininity of the Holy Spirit," see I Believe, 3:155-64.
95Word and Spirit, 18.
^See "The Father, the Absolute Source of Divinity," in I Believe, 3:133-43. Congars
sources are as follows: Origen, Comm, in loan, II, H, 20 (SChr 120, p. 1210): Pseudo-Dionysius,
De div. nom., II, 7 (PG 3 ,645B); Gregory Nazianzen, Orat. 2,38 (JPG 35,445) and 20,6 (PG 35,
1072Q; Greogry Nazianzen, Orat. 25, In laudem Heronis Philos. 15 (PG 35,1220); Basil, Ep.
125,3 (PG 32,549); Bonaventuie, In I Sent. d. 29, dub. 1 (Quaracchi ed., L p. 517);
Bonaventure, Breviloquium, p. 1, c. 3 (Quaracchi ed., V, p. 212); Alan of Lille, Reg. theol. 3 (PL
210,625) and 53-54 (PL 210,647) and Thomas Aquinas, In I Sent. d. 29, q. 1, a. 1 sol. end;
Albert the Great, In I Sent. d. 12, a. 5 (ed. A Borgnet, XXV, p. 359); Bonaventure, In I Sent. d.
27, p. 1, q. 2, ad. 3 (Quaracchi ed., pp. 470-71); Philippe de Gamaches, Summa theologica (Paris,
1634), I p. 270.
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often remarked.97 In Greek the term "ekporeuomaT used in Jn 15:26 with reference to the
Spirit"the Spirit o f truth who comes from (ekporeuomai) the Fatherconnotes
procession from an original source and hence can only be used with respect to God the
Father. In theological Latin, however, procedere has the m ore general sense of
"coming from another. This "other" need not be the originating source and thus the term
"procedere is used by the West to describe not only the S pirit's procession from the
Father but also the Spirits relation to the Son. Similarly, the G reek "aitia and "arch.8'
express first origin (i.e. origin from God the Father) while the L atin causa and
"principium" have a more general meaning.98 The Western theology of the Spirits
spiration from both the Father and the Son (Filioque) drew support from these linguistic
differences and further contributed to an attenuated emphasis on the monarchy of the
Father in the Western tradition.99
This attenuation o f the Fathers monarchy contributed to de Rdgnon's impression
that the W est prioritized the divine essence above the divine persons. Congar hence
reiterated Rahners reminder that the term "theos" in the New Testam ent refers in all but

Believe, 3:88.
* / Believe, 3:120 and 3:202.
"Aquinas and others who used the Filioque theology were always careful to affirm that
while the Son was a principle of the Spirits spiration, the Spirit cameprincipaliter from God the
Father. T he Latins were therefore careful to preserve the full troth o f the monarchy of the
Father," Congar observed. But "they did not make it the axis of their theological constructions, as
the Greeks did in their triadology." / Believe, 3:121. Indeed, Congar believed that some Western
theologianssuch as Anselmhad indeed failed to uphold the Fathers monarchy. / Believe, 3:99.
And Congar also expressed concern about neglect of the Fathers monarchy in contemporary
theology, "...if the Holy Spirit has sometimes been overlooked in the past," he wrote, "today the
Father risks being equally overlooked; an exclusive centering on Christ, though justifiable and
fortunate in itself, may result in what PA . Manaranche calls 'jesuisnt.'" "Renewed Actuality of
the Holy Spirit, 22.
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six instances not to the T rin ity " genericaUy or to the divine essence but to God who is
Pater) We must, Congar urged, eradicate our false image o f a divine nature that is
anterior to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.101 The divine essence does not act or
exist prior to or independent o f the Father or any o f the divine Persons:
The nature, essence or being may be common to the Three, but not in the sense of
being a common stock that is somehow prioreven logically priorto the
Persons. Their common essence or existence is situated only in the mutual
communication o f the processions and being o f the Persons (their circumincession
or circuminsession).102
This mutual communication begins with God the Father, the unbegotten source of
everything that is. God is God because God is Father, Congar clarified, but "he is
certainly God by being Father, and not according to something anterior to this quality."103

2. A Divine Ontology of Love


God the Father is 'love flowing like a source, love initiating being and life."104
God is the unoriginate origin (arche) of all that isnot as the first link in a mechanistic
chain o f cause and effectbut rather as Love itself. Congar believed that the Incarnation
revealed:

100/ Believe, 2:90 and 3:140; Word and Spirit, 15. Reference is to Rahners "Theos in the
New Testament," 77 (Baltimore: Helicon, 1961), 1:79-148.
m Mystery o f the Temple, 287.
102/ Believe, 2:89. In this passage Congar is summarizing the position of Greek patristic
theology but in an affirmative manner that suggests his accord. Elsewhere he himself reiterates
that God is not first a divine essence that is subsequently differentiated into divine persons. See
Fifty Years, 59.
iaiFifty Years, 60.
m I Believe, 3:140.
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that the Absolute does not exist only in and for itself but that it is self-giving
Love, that is, A gapi. "God is Love" (John 4:8 and 16)....No Absolute exists which
is not also Love, no mighty God who is not the loving God, God turned towards
us, God for us. There is no "I am", no Ens a se, no Aseity, that does not contain
within itself, not only the possibility, but also the positive desire to be "I will be
(for your sake, moving towards you, acting with you) 105
We can presume to speak o f Gods "being" or "essence," Congar explained, only because
of Gods act of revelation, and this act reveals God to us precisely as Love, hi the
Incarnation and the gift o f the Spirit, God is made known as Agape, and this must be the
foundation for all reflection on trinitarian ontology. Furthermore, Congar believed, divine
charity not only grounds our trinitarian theology but should also transform our efforts to
think in ontological term s about the created order. "For if the Being a se is Caritas, this
must have repercussions in the ontology of his whole creation and especially in that o f
those created beings whom he made in his own image."106In the revelation of the
supreme Being, something is revealed about all being.

3. The Circumincession and ''Being-Towards-Another'' of the Divine Persons


The revelation o f God as Love challenges us to think o f God the Father in such a
way that the Father is never conceived of aloneeven in his quality as the unoriginate
origin (arche) o f the Son, the Spirit, and creation. This, Congar explained, is difficult for
the Cartesian intellect to grasp:

105Dum Visibiliter Deum Cognoscimus, 89-90.


mDum Visibiliter Deum Cognoscimus," 90. Congar added that what he termed a
"general ontology of charity must be qualified by Blondels recovery of the Augustinian esse
vere esse and the distinction of degrees of being. Created being might "be" at one level and ye
still lack the full truth of being if "right relationship with the Supreme Being" has not yet been
reached. In Word and Spirit, Congar also spoke of two levels of existence: the biological and the
level of "vere esse Word and Spirit, 46.
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A Cartesian or geometric spirit tends to conceive of the Person o f the Father as


totally constituted before the actual generation o f the Son, and in like manner the
person o f the Son before the spiration o f the Spirit, but there is a simultaneity in
the same existence; the Persons don't exist without each other but one with
another, they mutually condition each other in the womb o f the processions from
the Father.107
The divine persons exist in circumincessionin a being-towards (etre-a) one another, in
mutual exchange and reciprocity.108The Father unoriginately begets the Son and as such
is eternally Father. The Son is ceaselessly begotten and as such is eternally Son.
Together, the Father and the Son eternally spirate the Holy Spirit and as such exist in a
communion o f love that has no beginning and no end.
The eternal divine relations of begetting and spiration define Father, Son and
Spirit as persons. Congar used the term "person" in his trinitarian theology without
hesitation, despite this terms post-Enlightenment connotations of individual selfconsciousness. These connotations had prompted Rahner and Barth to speak o f Father,
Son and Spirit as "Subsistenzweisen" or "Seinsweisen" rather than divine "persons," but
Congar was disinclined to dispense with traditional trinitarian terminology.109 Instead, he
appropriated Aquinas understanding o f a divine person as a "subsistent relation410 and
distinguished the persons of Father, Son and Spirit from one another on the basis o f the

107Esprit de Ihomme, 86.


108La tri-unite de Dieu, 692.
109Rahner, The Trinity, trans. Joseph Donceel (New York: Herder and Herder, 1970; New
York: Crossroad, 1997), 103-15; Barth, Church Dogmatics 1/1,2d ed. (Edinburgh: T & T Clark,
1975), 355.
ll0S7P q. 29, a. 4. In a review of Bouyers Le Consolateur which critiqued Aquinas on
this point, Congar maintained that the expression "subsistent relation" has a precise and profound
meaning. "Chronique de pneumatologie," 446.
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relationis oppositio ("opposition o f relations") that result from the acts o f generation and
spiration: Father Son (begetting), Son Father (being begotten), Father & Son *
Spirit (spirating), and Spirit *Son & Father (being spirated).111 "The Persons," Congar
explained, "...consist in a relation to another person...112 Father, Son and Spirit are not
three self-conscious individuals. Rather they are one God, consubstantial and alike in all
things with the exception of the relationis oppositio that demarcates them as subsistent
persons. As Anselm implied in his De processione Spiritus Sancti: "in Deo omnia sunt
unum ubi non obviat relationis oppositio112The Orthodox, Congar noted, do not speak

luThis theology was implicit in Anselms work in the eleventh century and the
expression "relationis oppositio" was later used axiomatically by the Council of Florence in
1441. See I Believe, 3:102 n. 9; Word and Spirit, 119 n. 20. Congar considered this expression
parallel in meaning to Aquinas "relation of origin." See Word and Spirit, 108; I Believe, 2:89.
Congar rendered "relationis oppositio" in French as "opposition de relationwhich David Smith
translated into English as "opposition of relationship." See for example Je crois, 3:140 as
compared to / Believe, 3:98. Smiths translation is not precise, since in fact the technical
trinitarian term is "relation" rather than "relationship." Furthermore, the English word
"opposition is misleading since it has connotations of contrariness whereas it is intended to
suggest mutuality. Throughout this chapter I thus use the Latin expression since it is least prone
to misunderstanding.
It is also less prone to inversion. Congar noted that some Othodox theologians believe
that the West postulates "relationships of opposition" but Congar insisted that "to speak of 'a
relationship of opposition instead of an 'opposition of relationship (as in the case of
FatherSon or SonFather) could mean that, for the Latins, the persons are pure relations in
essence, but this would point to a lack of understanding, both of the idea of subsistent
relationships and of the way in which the Latins think of the diversity of the persons in the unity
and simplicity of the divine Absolute." I Believe, 3:78 n. 11.
ll2"La tri-unite de Dieu, 693. See also: "All is common to the Three Divine Persons
except that by which the first Person is the Father, the second is the Son, and the third is the Holy
Spirit, and hence all the order in which the Three divine Persons exist, since this order derives
from the relations which make them what they are as Persons." Mystery o f the Temple, 286.
ll3This axiom is not found verbatim in Anselm, Congar explained, but is implicit in
Anselm's argument in De proc. spir. sanct. 1 (Schmitt, E, p. 180,1.27; 181,1.2-4; 183,13). I
Believe, 3:98 and 3:102 n. 9. Aquinas incorporated this position into his own theology and this
principle was also promulgated by the Council of Florence (1442). Congar described it as "not
strictly speaking a dogma in the West but "nonetheless more than a theologoumenon. I Believe,
3:98. See also Word and Spirit, 108.
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in these terms and frequently misinterpret this aspect o f Western theology. Paul
Evdokimov, for example, understood the language o f "opposition o f relation to indicate
a separation o f the divine persons which he contrasted with the Orthodox emphasis on
trinitarian mutuality, reciprocity and communion.114 Congar insisted that Evdokimovs
portrayal o f W estern theology was a misrepresentation, for the oppositio relationis is
mutual.115

4. The Identity of Gods Substance {essentia) and Gods "To-Be" (esse)


"Relationis oppositio was a key term in Congars trinitarian theology, for he
believed that relation is one o f only two categories that could be applied to God without
detriment to the divine sim plicity.116The second category is "substance, and Congar thus
grounded the circumincession o f Father, Son and Spirit in the "unity and identity of
substance between the three [persons]."117For Congar, the common essence of God is the
basis for trinitarian communion. At first glance, it may appear that this position is
inconsistent with Congars aforementioned insistence that Gods essence is not in any way
prior to Father, Son and Spirit.118 Rather, Congar had insisted, the divine essence itself

114Paul Evdokimov, L Esprit Saint dans la tradition orthodoxe (Paris: 1969), 41.
1151 Believe, 3:78 n .ll.
116"La tri-unitd de Dieu," 693.
117Congar believed that was also the teaching of the Greek Fathers. / Believe, 3:37.
Elsewhere, Congar grounded circumincession in divine personhood rather than in the divine
substance. / Believe, 3:114. As will be explained above, this is not a contradiction. In the
simplicity of God, the divine substance, esse, and personhood are one.
118See above. Chapter Two Sections B.l and B.3.

116

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exists through the trinitarian circumincession of the divine persons.119In fact, however,
Congars various statements about person, essence and cicumincession are quite coherent
within the Thomistic context that shaped Congars trinitarian reflection. For Aquinas,
Gods essence (essentia) is identical with Godserce (Gods "to be") and Gods esse is an
eternal, dynamic act o f knowledge and lovean act o f Father, Son and S p irit120
"Everything active in God," Congar explained, "was, for Thomas, done by Persons
(actiones sunt suppositorum)."121 The essence of God is thus not anterior to the divine
persons in a reified sense. Rather, the divine essentia is identical with the divine esse, the
eternal love and knowledge o f God the Father, Son, and Holy S pirit Congar could thus
write without contradiction that the divine substance "is love" and that love is an attribute
o f God the Father.122 In the unspeakable divine simplicity, Gods essence, Gods esse
("to-be") and Gods personhood are ultimately one. Congars discussion of Gods presence
in the economy o f salvation accordingly emphasized that the grace of God is both
personal and essential. God is fully present to creation, Congar explained, only when God

U9I Believe, 2:89.


120On the identity of esse and essentia in God see for example STP q. 3, a. 3 and a. 4.
1211 Believe, 1:89. Indeed, in Western theology at large, Congar stated elsewhere, "There
is no activity of the nature or essence of the divinity that exists prior to or independent of the
Persons." / Believe, 2:85.
122Congar described the divine substance as love in Esprit de Vhomme, 86. And he wrote
of God the Father "Agapfflove flowing like a source, love in itia tin g being and lifeis
attributed to God as a hypostatic mark, that is, as a personal characteristic (see 2 Cor 13:13; 1
Cor 13:11). The Father is the subject of this agape (see 1 John 2:15; Jn 3:14; Eph 2:4)." I
Believe, 3:140. See also / Believe 2:86 where this point is discussed in light of the work of A.
Nygren. Elsewhere Congar wrote that the Word and the Spirit do "whatever the Father, who is
Love wishes to do. Word and Spirit, 25.
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is present personally,173but Congar was equally emphatic that grace is a gift o f Gods
substance.m The Christian dispensation is the "personal and substantial" coming of
God.125It is a coming of God as love.

5. The Doxological Character of Theology


Even as Congar stressed the importance of moving from the scriptural narrative of
salvation history to ontological reflection on God en soi, he cautioned that God
transcends all o f our limited human expressions.126Theology aims, Congar explained,
not to circumscribe God in our finite conceptual systems but rather to serve the creatures
movement towards the destined end o f divine union. Congar cited with approbation

123After Pentecost God has "come in person instead of sending only his gifts." Mystery o f
the Temple, 240. In the Incarnation God is united to humanity "personally and in his own being."
Mystery o f the Temple, 240. The old dispensation in contrast was limited because God did not yet
communicate himself "personnellement.'' Mystery o f the Temple, 18; French edition, 34.
I24In grace, he wrote for example, we touch not something like God "but his own living
Substance." Mystery o f the Temple, 239. This should not be understood as if grace was a
"substance" in the sense of a "thing. See I Believe, 2:83.
125Mystery o f the Temple, 112. Congar did state that God can be present to creation
substantially without being present personally. See for example his statement that: "God, who is
already present through his activity as creator and is therefore also substantially presentsince
his action is himselfbut only as the cause of being and working, gives himself and becomes
substantially present as the object of our love and knowledge, as the end of our return to him as
our Father. His presence is also personal. He is not only in us, but also with us, and we are with
him." / Believe, 2:83-84. Evidently Congar here has distinguished two kinds of "substantial"
divine presence: a) causal presence b) presence as the object of knowledge and love. It is not,
then, the case that God is substantially present to creatures by the very act of creation and then
subsequently personally present through grace. Rather, there are different kinds of substantial
presence proper to the realms of creation and grace. Thus Congar wrote that grace is the
"substantial indwelling of the divine persons and divinization." I Believe, 2:75. In the Christian
dispensation, the Holy Spirit is not simply revealed to humankind but now "dwells
substantially." Mystery o f the Temple, 264.
I26See for example Fifty Years, 60.

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Aquinas definition of an article of faith: Perceptio divinae veritatis tenderts in ipsanum


We tend towards Gods truth, Congar commented, although we cannot grasp it
conceptually.128 "Person," "essence" and all o f our theological concepts always fall short
of the supremely gracious and ineffable God. W hen we express belief in God we thus do
not define God but rather "express a movement or thrust of faith by which we are taken
up."129
Theological truth is ultimately expressed by lives taken up into the glory, lives
lived in service of others and in praise o f God. Congar observed that the trinitarian
theology o f many o f the ante-Nicene Fathers was by current standards imprecise, but
Justin, Ignatius and others nonetheless gave their lives for their faith. Revelation is not a
"reified truth, Congar insisted citing Claude Geffre, "but a dynamic truth, a truth that
happens, a practical truth in S t John's sense."130We express this truth through acts o f
love and the praise of God.131 "I still consider the highest mode of theology to be
doxology," Congar wrote, "...it is content to refer, in praise and adoration, to the Reality

127Word and Spirit, 5. Reference is to In III Sent. d. 5, q. 1, q* 1, obj. 4 and ST II* IP, q.
1, a. 6. Congar noted that Albert the Great and Bonaventure also described articles of faith in this
manner.
m Word and Spirit, 5.
m Word and Spirit, 5.
l30Word and Spirit, 6. This citation is from Claude Geffr6, Initiation a la pratique de la
theologie (Paris: 1982), 1:124. On this point see also Congars "The Spirit and Troth: The Spirit
is Troth," Chapter Four of Word and Spirit, 42-47.
131Word and Spirit, 6.
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who is light beyond all light. It anticipates the eschatological communion in which there
will be only praise."132

6. Summation o f Section BTrinitarian Ontology


Congar believed that the very dynamic o f the economy o f salvation impels
theologians not only to recount God's saving deeds in history but also to reflect
ontologically on God en soi in light of God's revelation. Congar described God as
loveAgape o r Charityand stressed that God the Father is the Unoriginate Origin
(arche) of all that is. God the Father exists in eternal circumincession with the Son and
the Spirit w ith whom the Father shares all in common other than the relationis oppositio
of begetting, being begotten, spiration, and being spirated. God's essence grounds the
unity o f the trinitarian persons, but the divine essence must not be understood in a reified
sense for it is identical with God's esse, the eternal act o f knowledge and love which
originates with God the Father and proceeds through the W ord and the S pirit There is
thus priority o f neither "person" nor "essence" in God. We can never adequately
conceptualize this mystery, Congar believed, but we can respond with lives dedicated to
the service o f others and the praise and adoration o f God.

iyzWord and Spirit, 5. For other important contemporary reflections on the doxological
character of theology see Daniel Hardy and David Ford, Praising and Knowing God
(Philadelphia: Westminster, 1985); Catherine Mowry LaCugna, "Trinity, Theology and
Doxology," in God For Us, 319-76; Wolfhart Pannenberg, "Analogy and Doxology," in Basic
Questions in Theology (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1971) 1:211-38; Geoffrey Wainwright,
Doxology: The Praise o f God in Worship, Doctrine and Life (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1980).

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C. The Economic and Eternal Trinity


Even as Congar emphasized the importance o f reflection on God en soi, the
created order and the economy o f salvation were never far from Congars mind. As he
developed his trinitarian ontology, he moved readily from remarks about the profundity
o f Gods supreme Love to musings about the need to understand all creation through a
general ontology of charity.133 His thought easily progressed from reflection on the
eternal begetting of the Son to speculation that the Son is ceaselessly begotten
incamandas (to become incarnate)134or even begotten eternally as the W ord made
flesh.133 Congar cautioned that "perhaps the greatest misfortune o f modem Catholicism is
to have turned towards the in-itself o f God and religion in theology and catechesis
without ceaselessly joining to this the importance of all this fo r humanity.136 He believed
that theologys exclusive emphasis on God in se had contributed to the spread of atheism;
humanity, he explained, had responded to a theology o f God without the world by
postulating a world without God.137
Not only did Congar emphasize the importance of joining reflection on divine
ontology to soteriology, but he also stressed that the divine grace manifest in the

133Dum Visibiliter Deum Cognoscimus 90. See above p.l 15 .


134Word and Spirit, 11.
13sCongar concurred with Bouyers position that God assumed a human nature at a
definite moment of time, but Congar qualified that "as far as He [God] is concerned. He assumes
it eternally. Then the Father eternally generates his Son, not only as before His incarnation but
also as the Word made flesh." Word and Spirit, 97. Reference is to Louis Bouyer, The Eternal
Son (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 1978), 401.
136nChrist dans l'&onomie," 106.
137"Christ dans r&onomie," 106.
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economy o f salvation must in turn shape our reflection on God in se. By virtue o f Gods
assumption o f human nature in Jesus Christ, Congar explained, human history is taken up
into the eternal life of God and this mystery must inform our reflections on divine
ontology.138The history o f salvation remains distinct from God but it is not extrinsic to
Gods eternal being. This suggests, Congar continued, that within the eternal being of
God there is a desire for communion with creation. He explained:
If there exists such a profound link between "theology" and Economy, if God
reveals the in itself (Ten soi) o f his mystery in the for-us of the covenant o f grace
and Incarnationall that which was and is done for us, including
Incarnationdoesnt this have import for that which God is in himself, despite his
absolute liberty? Is there not in the mystery o f his in itself (en soi) a presence, a
call "for us including humanization?139
Congar distinguished his own theology from philosophies such as that o f Hegel or
Merleau-Ponty which so identified God and history that Gods transcendence over human
history was abrograted.140Congars intention was not to reduce God to historical process
but rather to take seriously the mystery o f Gods incarnation in history even as he
affirmed Gods eternal distinction from creation. "In Jesus Christ in a direct and personal
manner and in us in a mediated manner," Congar wrote, "God is the subject of a history,
of a becom ing.... Not, Congar qualified, "in himself, evidently, because he is the
simultaneous presence of all himself to him self (eternally), but in us and in the world."141

138"...when he [God] is not content to speak from afar off, as it were through a
representative, but when he comes himself to be seen and heard in personPhilip, he who has
seen me has seen the Father (John 14:9)God speaks more than ever in human terms and lives
more than ever a human history, since HE BECOMES MAN." Tradition and Traditions, 238.
139"Christ dans l'&onomie," 107. See also page 89.
140"Le troisi&me article du Symbole," 290.
141Yves Congar, "L'influence de la sociSte et de Ihistoire," NRT96 (1974): 686.
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When Congar speaks o f Gods presence in human history he thus does not mean to imply
that God has become dependent on history or contingent on historical detenninacy.
Rather, Congar affirmed that God participates in human history through Christ and the
Spirit, and creation in turn participates in the supra-historical life o f God.142 God is
manifest within history as what Congar called most commonly the "eternal Trinity."
Congars views on the relationship between salvation history and the eternal
Trinity are evident in his response to Karl Rahners trinitarian Grundaxiom. In 1967,
Rahner offered the following formulation as a corrective to neoscholasticism s disjunction
of trinitarian theology and soteriology: "the economic Trinity," Rahner wrote, is the
immanent Trinity and the immanent Trinity is the economic Trinity.",43 Congar
heartily affirmed the first clause o f Rahners Grundaxiom, for he considered the missions
o f the Word and Spirit an incontrovertible proof that the economic Trinity is in fact the
immanent Trinity.144 But Congar questioned Rahner's concomitant position that the
"immanent Trinity is the economic Trinity."145 Congar had three fundamental
objections to this second clause of Rahner's axiom: 1) This later clause o f the axiom
confused the free mystery o f the economy with the necessary existence o f the triune God.
Even had there been there no Incarnation or Pentecost, Congar affirm ed, the processions

142Congar spoke of the Incarnate Word as supra-historical in Tradition and Traditions,


260 n. 1.
l43Rahner, The Trinity, 22.
m Word and Spirit, 104.
I45Piet Schoonenberg and Walter Kasper are among the other theologians who have also
qualified Rahner1s axiom. See Schoonenberg, "Trinity-the Consummated Covenant. Theses on
the Doctrine of the Trinitarian God," SR 5 (1975-1976): 111-16; Kasper, The God o f Jesus Christ
(New York: Crossroad, 1984), 276.
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o f the W ord and Spirit would nonetheless take place eternally. The immanent Trinity is
thus not necessarily the economic Trinity.146 2) Gods economic self-communication is
incomplete and kenotic, for the missions o f the W ord and the Spirit occur in conditions o f
abasement and suffering that are not connatural to the divine Persons.147The full self
communication o f God will take place only at the end o f time in the beatific vision. The
immanent Trinity is thus not fully revealed in the economic Trinity.148 3) Finally, Congar
feared that Rahners position that the "immanent* Trinity is the 'economic Trinity" did
not adequately account for the unknowability o f God.149Congar insisted that we must
preserve the unspeakable distance between w hat God is in God's self (en lui-meme) and
what is communicated in the economy, and he believed that Rahners axiom could
jeopardize this necessary distinction.130
In sum, both Congars response to Rahners Grundaxiom and Congars own
reflections on the relation between the economy o f salvation and the eternal Trinity
illustrate his concern to preserve two fundam ental truths: 1) God is indeed personally and
substantially present in the economy o f salvation. Indeed, in light o f Gods assumption of
human nature in Jesus Christ, we can even affirm that God has assumed a human
historicity. This mystery should inform our reflection on God in se and is suggestive of
Gods desire for communion with creation. 2) A t the same time, God is ultimately

,46/ Believe, 3:13-14.


147/ Believe, 3:15. See also Word and Spirit, 105.
I48/ Believe, 3:15-16.
l49Word and Spirit, 105.
130Esprit de Vhomme, 29.
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transcendent of human history. God is not dependent upon history, nor is God
exhaustively revealed nor fully knowable within human space and tim e. The eternal
Trinity is in this sense supra-historical.

D. The Relation of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit


The preceding sections o f this chapter have already presented some o f Congars
ideas about the relation of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Section A s discussion of the
economy of salvation described Congars conviction that the missions o f the Word and
the Spirit are inseparable, and Section Bs summary o f Congars trinitarian ontology
mentioned his position that the Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son.
This section will now describe Congars views on the relation o f Jesus Christ and the
Spirit in more detail. Particular attention will be given to changes in Congars portrayal of
the relation of Christ and the Spirit over the course o f his career, changes that are evident
in a comparison of Congars writings from the periods of 1950-1968 and 1969-1991.151
Following this discussion, Congars views on the Filioque debate w ill be presented.

1. Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in Congars 1950-1968 Writings


Congars two volume Tradition and Traditions (published in France in 1960 and
1963) directed readers who were particularly interested in the relation o f Jesus Christ and
the Holy Spirit to two o f Congars previously published essays.152These two
essays"The Holy Spirit and the Apostolic Body: Continuators o f the W ork of Christ"
15These dates are approximate. I have selected 1969 as a turning point because of van
Vliets identification of 1969-1991 as the final stage of Congars career and the period in which
he devoted most attention to pneumatology. See Chapter One, Section C.4.
lS2Tradition and Traditions, 265 n. 1 and 342 n. 1.
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(published in French in 1952-53) and "The Church and Pentecost (published in French
in 1956)can hence be taken as representative o f Congars view o f the relation o f Christ
and the Spirit during the pre-conciliar and conciliar periods.133 In these two essays, four
themes surface repeatedly. Congar emphasized that the Holy Spirit a) comes to us as a
consequence o f Jesus Christs passion and resurrection to continue and complete his
work; b) animates the ecclesial structures established by Christ; c) serves as the
subjective and interior dimension o f Christs objective redemption; d) retains freedom and
autonomy.

a. The Holy Spirit Comes to Us as a Consequence o f Jesus Christs Passion and


Resurrection to Continue and Complete H is Work.
Congars 1952-53 and 1956 essays described the gift of the Spirit as a
consequence o f Jesus Christs passion and glorification. Through death and resurrection,
Congar explained, Jesus Christ has merited the Holy Spirit for us.134The effusion of
water from the pierced side o f the crucified Christ was the moment at which the
outpouring o f the Holy Spirit began,153 an outpouring that continued throughout Easter
and culminated on Pentecost. Pentecost, Congar emphasized, is not a feast day o f the
Holy Spirit but rather a celebration o f the Incarnation o f the Word of God in human flesh

153Congars "The Holy Spirit and the Apostolic Body: Continuators of the Work of
Christ" and "The Church and Pentecost" appeared in English in Congar, The Mystery o f the
Church, trans. A. V. Littledale (Baltimore: Helicon, 1960), 147-86 and 1-57.
I54"Church and Pentecost," 7.
l53"Church and Pentecost," 7.
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and a fulfillm ent o f the paschal mystery.156 Congar explained:


The Spirit relates himself wholly to Christ and comes from him. In fact, Pentecost
is the final mystery of the Christological cycle: there is no cycle proper to the
Holy S pirit It is the completion o f Easter, that is o f the work o f the Incarnate
W ord, but brought about by a new Person sent by the Father and the Son.157
The fiftieth day o f Easter simply brought the acta et passa Christi to their fullness.
Congars emphasis on the Holy Spirit as the completor o f the mission o f Jesus
Christ is evident in the very title o f Congars essay "The Holy Spirit and the Apostolic
Body, Continuators of the Work o f C hrist15* In the body o f this essay, Congar did note
that the Holy Spirit has a properly divine m ission, whereas the apostolic body is entirely
dependent on their commission from Christ. The Spirit:
indeed continues and accomplishes the work of Christ, but as linked with Christs
coming and his life in the flesh in a very different way from the apostles. The
mission o f the Holy Spirit is certainly presented as a continuation o f Christs, but
not precisely as its continuation.159
Yet even as Congar cautioned against subsuming the mission o f the Spirit into the
mission o f Christ, he portrayed the Spirit as an agent of Jesus Christ, sent by Christ to
complete the incorporation of all humanity into his Mystical Body. Congar even
suggested that the Spirit (and the apostles) could be designated as the "vicars" o f Christ,
although he noted that most theologians have avoided this terminology.160 In any case,

l56"Church and Pentecost," 33.


l57"Church and Pentecost," 19.
158My emphasis.
159The Holy Spirit and the Apostolic Body," 149-50.
I60"The Holy Spirit and the Apostolic Body," 154 and 157. Congar mentioned that
Tertullian did in fact refer to the Spirit as Christs vicar, although most theologians have
preferred vaguer expressions. Congar himself thought it important to emphasize that even if both
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Congar wrote, Christ builds up his church "by means o f his apostles and his S p irit161
The Spirit "makes no innovations, he does not create anything that bears no relation to the
work of C hrist"162Thus although the church grows and develops in the period o f time
between the Incarnation and the eschaton, this era is in a fundamental sense
homogeneous, for the eschatological fulfillment "will be found to contain nothing which
is not derived from the initial stage."163

b. The Holy Spirit Anim ates the Ecclesial Structures Established by Christ
Congars strong emphasis on the Holy Spirit as the com pletor and continuator of
the work of Jesus Christ m ay lead one to conclude that the Spirit has no proper mission of
its own. Yet Congar insisted that the Spirit acts as "a Person distinct from Christ and one
sent on a new mission which cannot be equated with that o f the Incarnate Word."164There
is indeed a proper mission o f the Spirit, Congar explained, but it differs from the mission
o f the Word not in content or purpose but rather in manner o f execution. Whereas Jesus
Christ provided the means for human salvation by instituting the essential structures of
the church (the deposit o f faith, the sacraments, and the apostolic m inistry), it is the
the apostles and the Spirit are Christs vicars, the Holy Spirit "is not merely a vicar, he does not
simply exercise a ministry of the Incarnate Word, he is not an instrument." Once the apostles
have discharged the mandate given them by Christ, their soteriological task will be complete, but
the Holy Spirit will always retain a role in our salvation. "The Holy Spirit and the Apostolic
Body," 158.
161"The Holy Spirit and the Apostolic Body, 154. Emphasis original.
i62T h e Holy Spirit and the Apostolic Body, 151. Congar also wrote, "hi short, if, as
regards us, the Spirit is creative (Veni Creator Spiritus), he is simply completing what was
established by Christ" "Church and Pentecost" 14.
163"The Holy Spirit and the Apostolic Body," 161. See also 150 and 158-59.
i64T he Holy Spirit and the Apostolic Body," 150.

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mission o f the Holy Spirit to infuse these structures w ith life. Christ established the form
o f salvation, and the Spirit animates this form with life and power.165 n..[A]s regards the
body o f Christ, Congar wrote, "we can distinguish two moments, so to speak: that o f its
realization and, as it were, its structuration, and that o f its sanctification and
animation."166 He noted that the growth o f Christs body thus follows the general law of
Gods action, for God formed Adam and then filled him with breath (Gen 2:7), and God
fashioned a skeletal structure from Ezekiels dry bones and then gave them new life (Ezek
37). Likewise, "Christ redeemed us and established his mystical body, then he
communicated to it life through his Spirit."167

c. The Holy Spirit is the Subjective and Interior Dimension o f Christs Objective
Redemption
Congars account of the Spirit as the anim ator of the ecclesial forms established by
Jesus Christ shaped his conviction that it is the particular mission of the Spirit not only to
animate the church but also to contribute a subjective dimension to the objective
redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ.168 Jesus Christ definitively redeemed humanity
through his life, death and resurrection, and the Holy Spirit subsequently brings the grace
o f this redemption to fruition within human hearts over the course of Christian history.

l65"Church and Pentecost," 14.


166"Church and Pentecost," 15.
167,'Church and Pentecost," 15. Emphasis original. See also "The Holy Spirit and the
Apostolic Body," 170.
168Congar noted that this distinction between Christs "objective work and the Spirits
"subjective" activity was not original to him. He commented that "theologians" speak in these
terms although he did not reference any particular authors. "Church and Pentecost," 15.
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Jesus Christ, Congar surmised, acted fo r us and the Holy Spirit acts within us.m The
Spirit penetrates the interior depths o f the human soul such that redemption becomes
wholly interior and personal.170Our divine filiation was secured objectively by the acta et
passa o f Jesus Christ, but it is the Holy Spirit who touches our hearts such that we do
indeed exclaim "Abba!" (Gal 4:6)

d. The Holy Spirit Retains a Freedom and Autonomy


Finally, Congars publications from 1950-1968 emphasized that the Holy Spirit
retains "a sort o f liberty or autonomy."171 Congar never suggested that the Spirit was free
or autonomous with respect to Jesus Christ, nor that the Spirit could institute a
qualitatively new era o f salvation history such as that postulated by Joachim of Fiore.172
But Congar did believe that the Spirit is autonomous with respect to the church that Jesus
Christ established. Jesus Christ had given the Spirit to the church to animate and sanctify
it, yet the Spirit "remains transcendent to the Church he dwells in; he is not just a divine
force giving supernatural efficacy both to the ministry and to the sacraments, but a Person
sovereignly active and free."173The Spirit operates, for example, not only through the
169"Church and Pentecost, 15. Emphasis original.
170"Church and Pentecost," 24. See also "The Holy Spirit and the Apostolic Body," 151
and 165.
171"The Holy Spirit and the Apostolic Body," 148.
172Congar believed that Joachim betrayed the principle that the Spirit simply completes
the work of Christ. See for example, "The Holy Spirit and the Apostolic Body," 152.
173"The Holy Spirit and the Apostolic Body," 178. The church "lives, under the
government of the glorified Christ, by the action of the Holy Spirit. Its life is thus a sphere in
which the transcendence of its Head and the personality, equally transcendent, of the Spirit are
manifested in the sovereign liberty of their gifts and interventions." "Holy Spirit and the
Apostolic Body," 186.
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instituted forms o f ministry and sacraments but also through a variety o f charismata,
direct interventions, or unexpected events.174There is, Congar concluded, a "kind o f free
sector" o f the Spirits activity.175The m inistry and sacraments o f the church are always
animated by the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit is not exclusively bound to the
institutions o f the church.

2. Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in Congars 1969-1991 Writings


Congars 1960-63 Tradition and Traditions directed readers who were
particularly interested in the relation o f Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to the two essays
discussed above"The Holy Spirit and the Apostolic Body" (1952-53) and "The Church
and Pentecost" (1956)essays which explained in detail ideas that Congar had presumed
as he wrote Tradition and Traditions. In his 1979-801 Believe in the Holy Spirit,
however, Congar looked backed critically at Tradition and Traditions and commented
that in this publication "the pneumatological aspect, although it is very important, has
been rather overshadowed by the Christological aspect"176 Indeed, Congars writings
from 1969-1991 evidence some important changes in his understanding o f the relation of

1740n the duality in the Spirits work of both "Institution and "Event" see for example
"Holy Spirit and the Apostolic Body," 177.
175"Holy Spirit and the Apostolic Body," 180. Congar thought his position was
comparable to that of Walter Kasper as presented in KaspersDogme et Evangile (Casterman,
1967). Kasper believed the Spirit was active in the church firstly as the "Spirit of Christ" but also
"in the freedom which is peculiar to him." See Kasper, Dogme et Evangile, 88-90 and Congar, /
Believe, 2:14 n. 32. Congars discussion of the "free sector" of the Spirit was critiqued by P.
Bonnard, "LEsprit et rglise selon Ie Nouveau Testament," RHPR 37 (1957): 81-90; M.-A.
Chevallier, Esprit de Dieu et paroles d homme (Neuchitel and Paris, 1966), 212 n. 3; F.
Malmberg, Ein LeibEin Geist. Vom Mysterium der Kirche (Freiburg, 1960), 192ff.
176/ Believe, 2:23 n. 16. Congar referred here particularly to pp. 257-70 of Tradition and
Traditions.

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Christ and the Spirit. Famerde comments that there is no dramatic "Copemican turn" in
Congars theology, but nonetheless a definitive movement away from the
"Christocentrism" or "incamatiormisme" o f his pre-conciliar works and the development
o f a more thoroughly pneumatological approach.177 Congars books and essays published
between 1969-1991 described the relation o f Christ and the Spirit as follows: a) The
Word and the Spirit together do the W ork o f God; b) the Holy Spirit constitutes Jesus
Christ as M essiah; c) the church is co-instituted by Christ and the Spirit; d) Jesus Christ
and the Holy Spirit exist in inseparable communion.

a. The Word and the Spirit Together do the Work o f God


Congar's publications in the 1950s and early 1960s emphasized, as we have seen,
that the Holy Spirit continues and com pletes the work o f the Incarnate Word. Congars
essay "The Holy Spirit and the Apostolic Body, Continuators of the Work of Christ was
aptly titled, for this essay portrayed the Spirit as a vicar o f Jesus C hrist178 In contrast
Congars 1984 The Word and the Spirit bears a chapter entitled, "The Word and the
Spirit Do G ods W ork Together."179Famerde draws attention to this important titular shift

177Famerde notes that there is no Copemican turn in Congars theology in


L'ecclessiologie dYves Congar, 429. He speaks of Congars "Christocentrism" or
"incamationnisme in L'ecclesiologie dYves Congar, 408 and 418. Isaac Kizhakkeparampil is
of the opinion that Christocentrism remains dominant in Congars thought, and he argues that
Congars work would have been enhanced if he had more thoroughly integrated Spirit
Christology into his approach. Kizhakkeparampil, The Invocation o f the Holy Spirit as
Constitutive o f the Sacraments According to Cardinal Yves Congar, 147.
178My emphasis. The French is "Le Saint-Esprit et le corps apostolique, rdalisateurs de
loeuvre du Christ," RSPhTh 36 (1952): 613.
ll9Word and Spirit, 21. Emphasis is Famerde's. The French is "La Parole et rEsprit
op&ient conjointement l'oeuvre de Dieu." La Parole et le Souffle, 43. One could also note that the
first paragraph of Congar's 1982 essay "Pneumatologie dogmatique includes the statement,
132

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which he believes is indicative of a qualitative change in Congars theology.180Congars


thought is now oriented more emphatically towards God the Father and less characterized
by what Fameree termed "christocentrism." As Congar wrote in 1979-80, "Christ is the
centre and indeed the culmination of our life as Christians, but he is not the end....He is
everything ad Patrem, pros ton Pateratowards the Father and for him."181 The origin of
creation ad Patrem and the return of all pros ton Patera is by no means a new theme in
Congars work but it appears now with a new emphasis and recasts Congar's discussion of
the relation o f Christ and the Spirit.182He continues to portray the mission of the Spirit as
the continuation and completion of the work of Jesus Christ, but he also emphasizes that
Jesus Christ does his work in the Spirit and that both Christ and the Spirit together do the
work of God.1*3 [I]n the economy," Congar wrote in 1985, "the Son-Jesus Christ and the

"L"Esprit inspire la poursuite de Ioeuvre de Dieu" "Pneumatologie dogmatique," 485. Congar


italicized this line.
l80Famer6e, L'ecclesiologie dYves Congar," 450.
m I Believe, 2:104.
182In "The Holy Spirit and the Apostolic Body," for example, Congar mentioned that the
time will come when Christ will hand all things over to the Father so that God may be all in all.
"The Holy Spirit and the Apostolic Body," 158.
I83Statements that the Spirit completes and continues the work Christ can be found in I
Believe, 2:12,3:162; "Pneumatologie dogmatique," 508,509. Jesus Christ is presented as
actualizing his own mission in the Spirit in I Believe, 3:165-73. hi several publications, Congar
presents tables of biblical references in parallel columns headed "The Paraclete" and "Jesus that
demonstrate that the Spirit and Jesus Christ are described in the Scriptures in parallel terms and
that both act inseparably to carry forward the plan of God. See I Believe, 1:55-56;
"Pneumatologie dogmatique, 506-507. "There are two missions," Congar explained, "two who
are sent, but one common work." "Pneumatologie dogmatique," 506.
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Spirit are inseparable. They are the two means and manners o f the self-revelation and
self-communication of God."184

b. The Holy Spirit Constitutes Jesus Christ as Messiah


Between 1950-1968, Congar portrayed the Spirit as the fruit o f Christs passion
and glorification, poured forth from his crucified side. From 1969-1991, in contrast,
Congar highlighted not only Christs bestowal of the Spirit but also the important role of
the Holy Spirit in the very mission o f Jesus Christ himself. The glorified Christ does send
the Spirit, but it was originally the Spirit who conceived Jesus in M arys womb, the Spirit
who anointed Jesus in the Jordan and thus constituted him as Messiah, the Spirit who
guided Jesus Christ throughout his ministry, and the Spirit who raised him from the
dead.183 If we take salvation history seriously, Congar insisted, we must affirm that Jesus
Christ is not simply revealed to be the Messiah but becomes savior for us through the
events of his life, death and resurrection. Jesus is the Christ through the power of the
Holy Spirit.186Christology must account for this crucial role o f the Spirit in the messianic
life and glorification of Jesus Christ and must thus be a pneumatological christology.187

184"Le troisifcme article du Symbole," 291.


185See above Chapter Two, Section A.3.
186See "Towards a Pneumatological Christology, in I Believe, 3:165-73; "The Place of
the Holy Spirit in Christology, in Word and Spirit, 85-100.
187Congar described a pneumatological christology as "the perception of the role of the
Spirit in the messianic life of Jesus, in his resurrection, and in the glorification that have made
him Lord and caused the humanity hypostatically united to the eternal Son to pass from the
forma servi to the forma Dei. His humanity is totally penetrated by the Spirit, a humanity
pneumatisee, a humanity capable of communicating the Spirit and of acting as Spirit. (Acts
10:38; Rom 1:4; 1 Cor 15:45; 2 Cor 3:17)." "Pneumatologie dogmatique," 495-96.
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c. The Church is Co-instituted by Christ and the Spirit


Congar originally portrayed the Spirit as the animator o f the ecclesial forms
established by Jesus Christ and the agent o f our subjective appropriation o f Jesus Christs
acts of objective redemption. In this view, the Spirits ecclesial mission succeeds that of
Jesus Christfirst Jesus Christ institutes the church, and then the Spirit fills the church
with life. Between 1969-1991, in contrast, Congars affirmation of a pneumatological
christology recasts his discussion o f the Spirits ecclesial mission. The Spirit who
constitutes Jesus Christ as our messiah does not simply animate but also constitutes
Christ's church. Chapter One o f Volume Two o f I Believe in the Holy Spirit is entitled
"The Church is Made by the Spirit,"188 and in a 1982 article Congar remarked that he now
understands the Spirits role in the institution o f the church in an even ampler sense than
that suggested in his three volume pneumatology.189 "The Holy Spirit," Congar wrote in
1984 "or Christ pneumatized and in glory is here and now co-institutor of the church of
the incarnate W ord."190

d. Jesus Christ and the Spirit Exist in Inseparable Communion


Congar's portrayal o f the Holy Spirit as the church's co-institutor led him to
reconsider his earlier discussion o f the Spirits liberty and autonomy. Between 1950-

1881 Believe, 2:5-14. See additionally Famer6e, L'ecclesiologie dYves Congar, 451.
189"Pneumatologie dogmatique," 496.
190My emphasis. Word and Spirit, 51. The English actually reads "co-existent here and
now with the church of the incarnate Word" but the French is "co-instituant actuel de lliglise du
Verbe incam6." La Parole et le Souffle, 99. See also an Appendix to Word and Spirit entided
"The Spirit as co-instituting the Church" (pp. 78-84) and "L'Esprit est co-instituant de rfiglise,"
in "Le troisi&ne article du Symbole," 292-94.
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1968, Congar had emphasized the autonomy o f the Spirits activity in the church in order
to account for the gift o f charismata and other interventions that go beyond an animation
o f the structures established by Jesus C hrist W hen Congar identified both Christ and the
Spirit as co-institutors of the church, however, there was no longer a need to distinguish
the Spirits autonomous acts from those more directly tied to the dominical institution.
Indeed, such a distinction was now misleading. Congar wrote in 1984:
It is a mistake to think, as I did in 1953 that a kind of "free sector" reserved for the
Holy Spirit exists alongside the operation o f the instituted structures and means of
grace. The whole of Christian history bears witness to the fact that this freedom
really exists, but it is the freedom o f the living and glorified Lord Jesus together
w ith his Spirit.191
Congar now emphasized that Jesus Christ and the Spirit conjointly, continuously and
freely constitute the church, sustaining its foundational structures and inspiring new
initiatives. These new initiatives are not simply a manifestation of the liberty o f the Spirit,
but rather a m anifestation of the free activity of the Spirit of Jesus Christthe work of
Christ who lives in the Spirit. Congar intensified his understanding o f the communion of
Christ and the Spirit and accordingly broadened his account of the ecclesial activity of
Jesus Christ:
There is no separation of the activity o f the Spirit from the work of Christ in a full
pneumatology. Everything that I have said so far points to the impossibility of
making such a division. A pneumatology o f this kind, however, goes beyond
simply making present the structures set up by Christ; it is the actuality o f all that

m Word and Spirit, 61. Four years earlier Congar had written "I still think that what I
called, perhaps rather awkwardly, a free sector is something that really exists." I Believe, 2:11.
But he went on to explainas the passage cited above emphasizedthat this is a freedom of both
the Spirit and Jesus Christ with respect to the instituted church. In other words, the Spirit is not
free with respect to the ecclesial forms instituted by Jesus Christ, but both Christ and the Spirit
are together free to continuously shape the life of the church throughout ecclesial history.
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the glorified Lord and his Spirit do in the life o f the Church, in all the variety o f
forms that this activity has assumed in time and space." 192
The ongoing activity o f the Holy Spirit is the ongoing activity o f Jesus Christ, and the
ongoing activity o f the glorified Christ is the work o f the Spirit.
Indeed for S t Paul, Congar observed, the glorified Lord has become a "life-giving
Spirit" (1 Cor 15:45) and the Spirit is the Spirit o f the glorified Lord.193The Word is
entirely permeated by the Spirit, and at the same time the Spirit is entirely permeated by
the W ord.194 Both are inseparable, Congar emphasized, and both proceed from the Father.
Congar regretted that his desire to give proper attention to the Spirit had precluded his
full appreciation o f the communion of Christ and the Spirit in his earlier writings. "My
mistake," he reflected in I Believe in the Holy Spirit (1979-80):
was that I followed Acts more closely than the Pauline epistles and I wanted to
give the Holy Spirit his full worth. As a result, I was not sufficiently conscious of
the unity that exists between the activity of the Spirit and that o f the glorified
Christy since "the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit o f the Lord is, there is
freedom" (2 Cor 3:17). According to Paul, the glorified Lord and the Spirit may
be different in God, but they are functionally so united that we experience them
together and are able to accept the one for the other; "Christ in us, "the Spirit in

t92/ Believe, 2:157. See also: "The activity of the Lord with and through his Spirit cannot
be reduced to a mere making present of the structures of the covenant proposed by Christ while
he was on earth, that is, before he ceased to be visibly and tangibly present. It is the source of a
new element in history." / Believe, 2:12. See also Word and Spirit, 53.
193"He sees them as in the same sphere of existence and function or of action." Word and
Spirit, 25.
194"The Word may be permeated with the Spirit, but the Spirit is also permeated with the
Word. The two are inseparable. They both proceed from the Father. Word and Spirit, 71-72.
Hence although "...an irreducible personal factor enters into the instituted framework [of the
church]...this does not mean that it is not Christological. It could be called an element of
Christological pneumatology or pneumatological Christology." Word and Spirit, 53. At the same
time, "The Spirit is totally relative to Jesus." Word and Spirit, 44.
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our hearts," "(we) in Christ," "in the Spirit"all o f these are interchangeable. The
Lord became a "life-giving spirit" (1 Cor 15:45).195
Congar here expresses a new appreciation for the non-duality of the glorified Lord and
the Spirit He no longer portrays the Spirit as a discrete agent o f Jesus C hrist sent afield
like a commissioned apostle. Rather, in Congars writings from 1969-1991, the
inseparability and communion o f Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is much more
pronounced, and christology and pneumatology are indissociably bound together.
Christology must be conducted as a pneumatological christology, Congar emphasized,
and pneumatology in turn must never be divorced from Jesus C h rist196 "If I were to draw
but one conclusion from the whole of my work on the Holy S pirit" Congar reflected in
1984, "I would express it in these words: no Christology without pneumatology and no
pneumatology without Christology."197

3. Congars Position on the Filioque Dispute


As Congars discussion o f the relation of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit
developed new nuances and emphases, so did his approach to the Filioque dispute.
Western theologians have traditionally professed that the Spirit proceeds from the Father
and the Son (Filioque).199 Meanwhile the East has insisted that the Spirit proceeds from

m l Believe, 2:12.
l96"The soundness of any pneumatology is its reference to Christ." I Believe, 2:35.
Congar warns against"pneumatocentrisme" in "Pneumatologie dogmatique," 502 and 510.
197Word and Spirit, xi. See also Word and Spirit, 62; "Chronique de pneumatologie,"
448.
198

According to Congar, rudiments of a Filioque theology can be found in some form in


Tertullian, Hilary of Potiers, Marius Victorinus, and Ambrose of Milan. It was Augustine,
however, who was the major influence in the development of the Filioque theology in the West
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the Father alone (ek monou tou patros)}99 In the sixth century, the churches o f Gaul and
Spain added a Filioque clause to the Nicene-Constandnopolitan creed in an effort to
guard against Arianism, and the East protested vigorously. This conflict intensified in the
ninth century when Patriarch Photius clashed with Carolingian theologians over the
Filioque issue, and in 1054 the Filioque dispute contributed to the official separation of
the Eastern and W estern churches.200Today the Filioque theology continues to spark
discussion as East and W est strive for reconciliation. Orthodox theologian Vladimir
Lossky has argued that the Filioque is the origin o f all the differences between the Greek
Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, an insurmountable obstacle to communion, and
the root cause of Roman Catholic juridicism .201 Congar told Lossky repeatedly that he
disagreed with his adamant stance.202 Congar nonetheless considered the procession o f the
Holy Spirit to be the most serious dogmatic difference between Eastern and Western

"He did not initiate the idea," Congar noted, but he "continued to be the major source in the
question of the Filioque." I Believe, 3:134. Augustines point of departure was the scriptural
witness that the Spirit is of both the Father (Mt 10:28) and the Son (Gal 4:6; Jn 14:26; Lk 6:19,
Rom 8:15). I Believe, 3:86. Reference is to De Trin 14,7; 5, 8; 8,18. Augustine himself, of
course, lived during a period when the Filioque as such was not a contested issue, but other
theologians had recourse to his writings when the Filioque was in fact under discussion.
'"This is the phrase of Photius. On the Mystagogy o f the Holy Spirit (PG 102,280).
^Congar believed that political and sociological divisions also contributed to the breach
of East and West. See Divided Christendom, 3-14.
20tLossky made strong statements about the detrimental juridical repercussions of the
Filioque in Western ecclesiology in The Mystical Theology o f the Eastern Church (Crestwood,
NY: St. Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1976), 56f. Years earlier, O. Clement had made a similar
critique in L'tglise orthodoxe (Paris, 1961), 50.
m I Believe, 3:xv. Congar noted that Lossky did become "less obstinate on this point as
he got older although in the meantime Lossky had won over a large number of followers.
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theology.203 And although Congar disputed Losskys position that the Filioque was
responsible for Roman juridicism ,204Congar pointed out to Lossky that Aquinas had
linked the F ilioque with papal primacy in Contra Errores Graecoruni205 and Congar
admitted "a certain influence or at least a coherence" between the F ilioque and Western
ecclesiology.206
As a student o f Aquinas, Congar was trained in the Filioque tradition and he never
altered his view that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. But Congars
study o f the Orthodox tradition as well as the aforementioned developments in his own
theology o f the relation o f Jesus Christ and the Spirit helped him to appreciate the validity
o f the Eastern approach. Congars 1969-1991 writings discuss: a) the complementarity of
the Eastern and W estern theologies of the procession o f the Holy Spirit; b) the recension
o f the F ilioque clause from the Nicene-Constantinopolitan creed; c) the ontological
significance o f the Filioque and the procession of the W ord ex Patre Spirituque.

203Diversity and Communion, trans John Bowden (London: SCM Press, 1984), 98.
^C ongar noted that Reformation theologians vociferously contested Roman Catholic
ecclesiology and yet defended the Filioque. Congar also called attention to the work of Sergei
Bulgakov, an Orthodox theologian who was "particularly allergic to juridicism" but believed that
the Filioque theology had no ecclesiological repercussions. I Believe, 3:211.
2051 Believe, 3:208. The Aquinas reference is Contra Err. Graec. H, 32 (Leonine ed., p.
87).
^ "L e troisifeme article du Symbole, 301. Congar also believed, however, that "the
quarrel about the ecclesiological consequences of the Filioque is of doubtful value. I Believe,
3:211.
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a. The Complementarity o f the Eastern and Western Theologies o f the Procession o f the
H oly Spirit
Greek theologians have consistently eschewed the theology o f the procession of
the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son CFilioque). Epiphanius, however, a fourthcentury bishop of Salamis, did maintain that the Paraclete proceeds from the Father and
receives from the Son.207 And Cyril o f Alexandria believed that the Spirit is proper (idion)
to the Son, comes from (ek) the Son, and even proceeds (proienai or procheitai) from the
Son or from the two (ex amphointhat is, Father and Son) or from the Father through the
Son.208 In a 1957 essay, Congar highlighted this Orthodox tradition and suggested that it
was fundamentally equivalent to the Latin Filioque theology.209 Between 1969-1991, in
contrast, Congar emphasized the complex differences that separate Eastern and Western
trinitarian theology. He critiqued Anselm and the Council o f Florence for their
presumption that the Eastern "through the Son" was equivalent to the Latin Filioque, for
he now believed that such an attempt to assimilate Eastern and Western theology failed to
recognize the different shades of meaning expressed by different theological traditions.210

m Anc. 6 (PG 43, 25Q, 7(PG 43, 28A), 11 (PG 43,36Q, 67 (PG 43, 137B), 73 (PG 43,
153A), 120 (PG 43, 236B); Ponarion, Haer. LXH (PG 41,1056). Cited in I Believe, 3:27.
Epiphanius, Congar explained, based this position on John 16:14,15: "he will take (receive)
from me."
^C yril of Alexandria, Comm, in loel. XXXV (PG 71,377D); De recta fid e ad Theod.
XXXVH (PG 76,1189A); De SS. Trin. Dial. VH (PG 75, 1093A); Comm, in loan. H (PG 71,
212B; 74,301,444,608; 75,600,608,1120; 75,585A, 608B, 612B-C; 7 6 ,1408B, 308D); Adv.
Nest. IV, 1 (PG 76, 173A-b); De recta fide ad Reg. Or. alt LI (PG 7 6 ,1408B); De ador. I (PG
6 8 ,148A), PG 74,585; 76,1408; De ador. I (PG 6 8 ,148A): Adv. Nest IV, 3 (PG 7 6 ,184D).
Cited in I Believe, 3:35.
^"Church and Pentecost," 19.
m I Believe, 3:187.
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Congars survey o f the historical development o f trinitarian theology in the East


and in the W est led him to the conclusion that the Eastern and Western traditions each
proceed within a distinct theological framework. Consequently, a theological formulation
o f the procession o f the Holy Spirit that is coherent in one tradition is not necessarily
transferable to the other. Western theologians, for example, who use the intradivine
relationis oppositio (Father *Son, Son * Father, Father & Son * S p irit, and Spirit
Son & Father) to distinguish the consubstantial Father, Son and Holy Spirit as divine
persons m ust affirm that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. In this
framework, the Spirit cannot proceed from God strictly as Father for the Spirit would
then be another Son or the same as the Son, for there would be no relationis oppositio to
distinguish the Spirits person.211 Meanwhile, however, the Orthodoxwho do not use the
relationis oppositio theologyinsist to the contrary that if the Spirit indeed comes from
both the Father and the Son {Filioque), the Spirit must proceed either from the divine
essence or from two originating principles.212 They consider either o f these possibilities
absurd.213 Congar believed that the Orthodox interpretation of the W estern Filioque is
perfectly "justified within the perspective of Eastern triadology" although the West has

211Aquinas, for example, wrote that "we must hold that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the
Son; if he did not, he could in no way be a person distinct from the Son. STF q. 36, r. 2.
Furthermore, within this tradition the Filioque is necessary to affirm the Sons consubstantiality,
which requires that the Son have everything in common with the Father except for "fatherhood,"
the pole of the Sons relationis oppositio. The Son thus shares in the Fathers spiradon of the
Spirit, for the Spirit does not proceed from God "as Father" (i.e. in a relationis oppositio to the
Father) but rather the Spirit proceeds from God "who is Father (because of the Fathers relation
to the Son).
2l2I Believe, 3:120.
m I Believe, 3:120.
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often perceived it as pure obstinancy 214 For centuries, East and W est have thus talked
past each other. Each have read the others theology in terms o f their own traditions
presuppositions and thus have misunderstood the others approach. Congar hence urged
East and W est to recognize that they rely on "two theological constructions o f the same
mystery, each o f which has an inner consistency, but with a different point o f
departure.215 Eastern and W estern theologies of the procession of the Holy Spirit, Congar
concluded, are complementary.216 Each is coherent in its own terms, and neither is
erroneous, but the two approaches cannot be superimposed.217 Both traditions must thus
be accepted, for the mystery o f God surpasses any given theological construction and
therefore several different trinitarian theologies can exist, even several different dogmatic
formulae.218

Ml Believe, 3:120.
213/ Believe, 3:87.
Congar noted that the idea of "complementarity" was introduced by physicist Niels
Bohr in 1927 to express wave/particle duality. Bohr himself generalized this phenomenon into an
epistemological principle, although Congar expressed concern about the concepts vagueness.
Diversity end Communion, 75. Congar himself used the term "complementary in a variety of
ways. Sometimes be spoke of the Eastern and Western formulations of the Spirits procession as
"complementary" in the sense of "equivalent." I Believe, 3:2-4. Elsewhere he stressed that
Eastern and Western formulations express different aspects of the mystery of God but yet are
complementary in the sense that they did not challenge the fundamental unity of the faith.
Diversity and Communion, 76. See also "Pneumatologie ou 'christomonisme," 62; "Chronique
de pneumatologie," 446.
217Chronique de pneumatologie," 448.
2I8/ Believe, 3:8.
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b. The Recension o f the Filioque Clause from the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed


Congars appreciation for the different theological frameworks that have shaped
Eastern and W estern pneumatology led him to reconsider the W ests inclusion o f the
Filioque clause in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan creed. Reversing an earlier position,
Congar urged the recension o f the Filioque clause as a gesture o f Roman humility and
brotherhood.219 The Orthodox, Congar noted, had insisted at Ferrara-Florence in 1428-29
that the Filioque must be rescinded from the creed and "the question is still with us, and
its importance should not be underestimated."220 Even as Congar called for removal o f the
offending clause, however, he emphasized that the recension of the Filioque need not be a
repudiation o f Latin pneumatology itself. The Filioque is an undeniable part of the
Roman Catholic expression o f faith and cogent within its own context and in its own
terms.221 Congar recalled that when Pope Leo m received the envoys sent by
Charlemagne to campaign for the universal inclusion of the Filioque in the creed, the
Pope made a distinction between the teaching itself (which he affirmed) and its inclusion
in a formula or creed (which he refused to require).222 Following this precedent, Congar
believed that the removal of the Filioque from the creed should be accompanied with the
avowal that it is a non-heretical formula and complementary to the Eastern formulation of
the procession o f the Holy Spirit from the Father through the Son.223

2I9Congar noted his change of position on this issue in I Believe, 3:204.


VBelieve, 3:54.
221/ Believe, 3:130.
m I Believe, 3:49.
2231 Believe, 3:206.
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c. The O ntological Significance o f the Filioque and the Procession o f the W ord ex Patre
Spirituque
Congar affirmed the validity o f the Filioque clause even as he called for its
removal from the creed because he believed it communicated an important truth. The
Filioque, Congar explained, highlighted rightfully that the Son has a role not only in the
economic sending o f the Spirit but also in the Spirits eternal existence. Augustine and
Aquinas concluded from scriptural passages such as Rom 8:29, Jn 15:26, Jn 16:14-15,
and Jn 20:22which state that the Son gives us the Spiritthat the Spirit must proceed
eternally from the Son.224The West has insisted, Congar explained, on the ontological
continuity between the economy of salvation and the eternal life of God. In patristic
literature Congar found indications that the Greek fathers too believed that the Son played
a part in the eternal being of the Spirit, although this dependence was not o f a causal
kind.225

^ O n Augustine see I Believe, 1:79. Reference is to Augustines De Trin. XV, 17,29 and
26,45-47. On Aquinas see Word and Spirit, 107. Reference is to Aquinas Contra Gent. IV, 24.
2251 Believe, 3:51. Congar considered Epiphanius and Cyril of Alexandria the most
important Eastern theologians in this regard. He also found evidence for this position in Gregory
of Nyssa and John Damascene. I Believe, 3:32 and 3:39. He thought Photius ignored such texts in
his determination to starkly oppose Eastern and Western theologies. I Believe, 3:58. The Greek
patristic texts Congar referenced speak of a) procession of the Spirit from the Father through the
Son {dia tou Huiou) b) procession of the Spirit from the Father receiving from the Son c)
procession of the Spirit from the Father resting on the Son. Contemporary Orthodox theologians
interpret such formulas with reference not to the Sons origin but rather his "manifestation."
Congar wondered, however, whether the patristic texts might in fact call rather for an affirmation
of the Son's part in the Spirit's hypostatic existence. "I am not alone to think that they [do],
although it is difficult to say exactly to what extent and in what sense. Probably not in the sense
of a Patre Filioque tanquam ab uno principio " / Believe, 3:76.
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Congar believed that in the Orthodox approach "a distinction is made between the
economy, in which Christ gives the Spirit causally, and theology."226 The Orthodox might
respond that it is the W estern tradition that has in fact breached economy and theology by
their failure to consider the ontological implications o f the constitutive role of the Spirit
in the life of Jesus Christ, hi the economy, Christ surely sends the Spirit, but the Spirit
conceives, anoints, guides, resurrects and glorifies the Sonas Congar himself
emphasized in his 1969-1991 writings. Orthodox theologian Paul Evdokimov thus
suggested that the Son is eternally begotten ex Patre Spirituque.221 And Congar agreed
that insofar as the Son is eternally begotten incamandum:
the Word proceeds a Patre Spirituque, from the Father and the Spirit, since the
latter intervenes in all the acts or moments in the history of the Word incarnate. If
all the acta et passa of the divine economy are traced back to the eternal begetting
of the Word, then the Spirit has to be situated at that p oint228
If the economy of salvation is the basis for the affirmation o f the procession of the Spirit
from the Father and the Son (Filioque), then a corresponding affirmation must be made of
the procession of the Word from the Father and the Spirit (a Patre Spirituque).

226Word and Spirit, 107.


^Evdokimov, L Esprit Saint, 46.
228Word and Spirit, 93. This is a much more affirmative response to Evdokimov than that
found in Congars earlier/ Believe in the Holy Spirit. There, he wrote: "If it were simply a
question of the birth of the Word made flesh in time, there would be no problem, but we have a
discussion of eternal being. The formula (Evdokimovs ex Patre Spirituque] can therefore be
disputed, because it does not respect the order of the Persons in their eternal being and the fact
that, as Basil the Great pointed out, the Spirit is numbered together with the others, but third.
Athanasius can also be quoted in this context Nonetheless, we should welcome this idea of the
in-existence of the hypostases one within the other, the idea, in other words, of exchange and
reciprocity." / Believe, 3:75.
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4. Summation of Section D The Relation of the Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit
The evolution o f Congars discussion o f the relation o f Jesus Christ and the Holy
Spirit is very instructive. Congars writings from 1950-1968 portrayed the Spirit as an
agent o f Jesus Christ, sent in consequence o f Christs passion and resurrection to continue
and complete Christs work. The mission o f the Spirit was to animate the ecclesial
structures that Jesus Christ had established and to effect the personal, interior
appropriation of the redemption that Jesus Christ had w rought At the same time, the
Spirit retained liberty and autonomy and thus effected unexpected interventions in
ecclesial life. In contrast Congars 1969-1991 writings offer a qualitatively different
christology, pneumatology, and ecclesiology less characterized by what Famere called
"christomonism" and less shaped by what Congar referred to as the "duality" of his earlier
portrayals o f the relation of Jesus Christ and the S pirit In this period Congar emphasized
not simply that the Spirit does the work o f C hrist but also that Jesus Christ accomplishes
his own mission through the power o f the Holy Spirit. Congar advocated a
pneumatological christology, described Christ and the Spirit as co-institutors of the
church, and spoke no longer o f the autonomy o f the Spirit but rather o f the communion
between the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ. Congar stressed that Jesus Christ has become a
"life-giving Spirit" (1 Cor 15:45), and the Spirit is the Spirit of the glorified Lord.
T ogether,Christ and the Spirit draw creation back to God the Father. Congars 1969-1991
writings offered not only a rich pneumatological christology but also proposed a
resolution o f the Filioque dispute that has contributed to the division o f East and W est.
Congar argued that Eastern and W estern theologies of the procession o f the Holy Spirit
are not transferable from one tradition to the other but are nonetheless complementary,

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and Congar urged the recension o f the Filioque clause from the NiceneConstantinopolitan creed accompanied by a recognition of the truth inherent in the
Filioque theology.

E. The Person of the Holy Spirit


Congar wrote at great length about the historical development o f the theology of
the Holy Spirit in East and West, the Filioque dispute, the relationship o f christology and
pneumatology, and the work of the Spirit in the church. He published the major three
volume work I Believe in the Holy Spirit (1979-80) as well as The W ord and the Spirit
(1984) and 18 articles specifically devoted to pneumatology. Like all theologians,
however, Congar found that the person o f the Holy Spirit eludes definition. "[Rjevelation
and knowledge o f the Spirit," Congar cautioned, "are affected by a certain lack o f
conceptual mediation."229 In contrast to the Father and the Son, whose very names reveal
their mutual relation and the unique character of their persons, the terms "holy and
"spirit" do not belong strictly to the person o f the Spirit, for the Father and Son also are
holy, and both are spirit Furthermore, Congar explained, the words "Father" and "Son"
connote the common human experience of relation between parent and offspring, whereas
the terms "holy" and "spirit" do not have such readily apparent human associations.230
Congar therefore surmised:
it has been suggested that the Holy Spirit empties himself, in a kind o f kenosis, of
his own personality in order to be in a relationship, on the one hand, with 'God
and Christ and, on the other, with men, who are called to realize the image o f God

239I Believe, lrvii.


730I Believe, l:vii.
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and his Son. In order to reveal himself, he did not, like Yahweh in the Old
Testament and Jesus in the New, use the personal pronoun 1 / The Holy Spirit is
revealed to us and known to us not in himself, or at least not directly in himself,
but through what he brings about in us.231
Yet even our knowledge o f what the Spirit brings about in us is limited. Invisible and
ineffable, the Spirit moves through history in a way that is impossible to retrace, and the
theologian can only identify "certain particularly meaningful aspects o f the knowledge
that has been gained and expressed of the S pirit"232 Congar struggled to find ways to
write o f the Holy Spirit in a manner respectful o f this divine ineffability. He described the
Spirit as: 1) the Love of God and the principle and term o f divine communion; 2) the
divine person to whom grace is appropriated; 3) Gods ecstatic G ift

1. The Spirit is the Love of God and the Principle and Term of Divine Communion
Congar described the Holy Spirit as the Breath of God who proceeds ineffably
from the Father as He speaks His eternal W ord. "The Holy Spirit is, as his name
indicates, a going out, an impulse, an ecstasy."233 Just as our human locutions are
inseparably accompanied by an expellation o f breath, so too the Breath of God proceeds

231I Believe, l:vii-viii. The "I-lessness" of the Spirit is a reference to H. Miihlen's essay
in Mysterium Salutis (Paris: 1972) 2:182. Congar also wrote of the "kenosis" of the Spirit in "Le
troisifeme article du Symbole," 289. In like vein, Congar quoted von Balthasars description of
the Spirit as "The Unknown One Beyond the Word" and described this as "one of the most
profound reflections made on the Holy Spirit The expression comes from the tide of von
Balthasars "Der Unbekannte jenseits des Wortes," in Helmut Kuhn, ed.. Interpretation der Welt;
Festschrift R. Guardini (Wurzburg: Echter, 1965), 638-45. Cited by Congar in "Pneumatology
Today," 448.
232I Believe, l:xvii.
/ Believe, 3:149.
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indivisibly with the divine Word.234The terms "Breath" and "Spirit," Congar noted,
appropriately suggest divine motion and power. This virtus Spiritus Sancti is the ecstasy
of divine Generosity and Love.235
In the West, there are two primary forms of theological reflection on the Spirit as
Love. In the first version o f this theology, the Word and the Spirit proceed eternally as
Gods knowledge (the Word) and Gods love (the Spirit) o f Gods own goodness. This is
the theology emphasized by Aquinas when he identified Love as a personal name o f the
Spirit in ST I \ q. 37. "When anyone understands and loves himse lf he is in himself,"
Aquinas explained, "not only by real identity, but also as the object understood is in the
one who understands and the thing loved is in the lover."236 In the case o f God, the object
understood is the Word who proceeds by way of the divine intellect and the thing loved is
the Spirit who is "love proceeding" (as differentiated from Gods essential love) by way
of the divine will. A second trajectory in the Western tradition portrays the Spirit as the
mutual love of the Father and the Son. Augustine, for example, spoke o f the Spirit as the
sweetness of the Begetter and the Begotten and the enjoyment (perfruitione), charity and
joy o f their inexpressible embrace (<complexusJ.237The theme of the Spirit as the mutual
love of the Father and Son also appears in the writings o f Anselm, William o f Saint-

234"Pneumatologie dogmatique," S08.


^"T he Spirit is in God Generosity, being the Love who proceeds from the Father and
the Son..." Esprit de Ihomme, 80.
^Aquinas, STI*, q. 37, c.
237I Believe, 3:146. Reference is to Augustine, De Trin. VI, 10,11.
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Thierry, Richard of S t Victor, Alexander o f Hales, Bonaventure and other theologians.238


Congar himself reflected:
The Father and the Son are for each other, they are relative to each other. The
Spirit is the one in whom they are united, in whom they receive each other, in
whom they communicate with one another, and in whom they re s t239
At the same time, Congar highlighted Dodaines caution that a theology o f the Spirit as
mutual love risks an anthropomorphic trinitarianism for it can suggest that Father and Son
are two friends or two beloved persons in the human sense of these terms.240 Congar
shared Dodaines concern and found evidence o f anthropomorphism in Yves Raguins use
of the mutual love tradition.241 Aquinas, Congar believed, had rightly prioritized a
theology of the Word and Spirit as the Knowledge and Love that proceed eternally from
Gods self-knowledge and will, and only once this foundation was established did
Aquinas also incorporate into his theology the tradition of the Spirit as mutual love.242
The theology of the Spirit as the mutual love of Father and Son is rare in the
East.243 Instead, Orthodox pneumatology is shaped by the doxological formula Greek

^ S ee "The Theme of the Holy Spirit as the Mutual Love of the Father and the Son," in /
Believe, 1:85-92 and "Speculative Triadology Constructed in Faith and Under the Sign of Love,"
in / Believe, 3:103-15.
239/ Believe, 3:148.
240H. F. Dondaine, S. Thomas d A quin, Somme Theologique. La Trinite (Paris, 1946),
2:397-401. Cited in I Believe, 1:90.
241/ Believe, 1:92 n. 5. Reference is to Yves Raguin, La prqfondeur de Dieu (1973) and
L'Esprit sur le Monde (1975). Congar reiterated the problem of anthropomorphism created by the
mutual love theology in I Believe, 3:122.
^ S e e I Believe, 3:117 and 1:88-90; Yves Congar, "Bulletin de theologie," RSPhTh 56
(1972): 307.
^Congar noted the rarity of the theology of the Spirit as mutual love in the Eastern
tradition in I Believe, 1:85.
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patristic theologians appropriated from scriptural and liturgical sources: "from the Father,
through the Son, in the Spirit"ek Patros, d i Huiou, en Pneumati?44 Congar believed
that this trinitarian formulationlike the Western theology o f the Spirit as Love
proceedingexpresses well the dynamism o f the divine life. He also considered the Greek
formulation akin to the W estern theology o f the Spirit as mutual love since it portrays the
Spirit as the one in whom the divine communion is perfected and completed, the one in
whom Father and Son are sealed.245

2. The Spirit is the Divine Person to whom Grace is Appropriated


The Spirit is uniquely Gods love proceeding. At the same tim e, the attributes we
commonly predicate of the Spiritholiness, goodness, power, wisdom, and even love (in
the essential sense)are attributes not only o f the Spirit but also o f the Father and the
Son. The W estern tradition has thus typically qualified statements such as "the Spirit is
Holy with the proviso "by appropriation." The theology o f appropriations developed in
the W est in order to reconcile the consubstantiality o f the triune God w ith scriptural and
liturgical language which speaks o f Father, Son and Spirit in distinct term s"the Father is
omnipotent" or "the Son is wisdom" or "the Spirit is holy." Technically, the only qualities
that can be exclusively predicated o f one o f the divine persons are what Aquinas termed
the "personal notions": paternity, which is proper to the Father, filiation, which is proper

244He discussed the doxological roots of the Greek trinitarian formula ek Patros, dV
Huiou, en Pneumati in I Believe, 3:147. He also noted that this is of course not an exclusively
Greek formula but that this doxological formula is also an important part of the Western
liturgical and theological tradition.
245I Believe, 3:147-48.
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to the Son, and spiration, which is proper to the Spirit246 All divine attributes, in contrast
are common to Father, Son and Spirit and are only appropriated to a divine person by
virtue o f a resemblance o f this attribute to a personal notion.247Moreover, the theology of
appropriations has been used not only with reference to the divine attributes, but also with
respect to divine activity in the economy o f salvation. "In the West at least," Congar
explained, "the fact that every action performed by God is common to all three Persons of
the Trinity has given rise to the idea that an activity in creatures can only be appropriated
to one Person, but is not peculiar to him, or his own."248
In recent decades the theology o f appropriations has been subject to critique.
Heribert Miihlen, for example, considers it contrary to Scripture, while Karl Rahner
feared that it precludes a theological affirmation o f the economic communication o f each
of the divine persons in their own uniqueness and particularity.249 The Incarnation,
Rahner indeed maintained, is a dogmatically clear instance of an economic relation that is
proper (i.e. not appropriated) to a divine person for it is the Logosnot the Father or the
Spiritwho enters into hypostatic union.250 Congar himself acknowledged that the
246S T P q.32,a.3,c.
247Aquinas defined appropriation as a "manifestation of the divine persons by the use of
the essential attributes." STP, q. 39, aa. 7-8. Congar remarked that "There is really something in
that Person to justify the appropriation, but we cannot clarify it or say with certainty that there is
an attribute peculiar to that one Person that would exclude the other Persons from what is
appropriated to the one." I Believe, 2:85. Indeed "the fact that attributes are constantly changing
their position points to the non-exclusive nature of appropriations." / Believe, 2:86.
I Believe, 2:85. Emphasis is Congars.
249Heribert Miihlen, "Person und Appropriation," MThZ 16 (1965): 37-57; Karl Rahner,
"Some Implications of the Scholastic Concept of Uncreated Grace," 77 (Baltimore: Helicon,
1961), 1:345-46.
250Rahner, The Trinity, 24-27.
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theology of appropriation has limitations, and leaves some dissatisfied.251 "Our theology,
he stated, "is strictly a theology of appropriation and does not see enough that the mission
of the Spirit is proper and original."252
At the same time, Congar was reluctant to dispense with the theology of
appropriations and continued to employ this approach even as he noted its limitations.253
He believed that the doctrine of appropriations has a strong basis in scripture, liturgy and
tradition.254 And although he concurred with Rahners position that the Incarnation was
"proper (not simply "appropriated") to the Son, Congar did not believe a sim ilar
judgment could be made about the mission o f the S pirit255The Sonnot the
Spiritentered into a hypostatic union with a human nature, and thus the person of the
Son has a proper (non-appropriated) activity and causality in the economy in a way that

"Pneumatologie ou 'christomonisme," 61. Appropriation is "suggestive" and "fosters


prayer" but "is not entirely satisfactory in the rational sense." I Believe, 2:85. See also 2:86-87.
Elsewhere Congar wrote that the language of appropriation "does not...succeed in understanding
or in making understood the reality contained in this conceptualization, nor in indicating that this
same conceptualization corresponds to the directions of Holy Scripture." "Pneumatology Today,"
444.
^"L a pneumatologie dans la theologie catholique," 251.
the same article cited above in which Congar stated that "our theology does not see
enough that the mission of the Spirit is proper and original and is strictly a theology of
appropriation, Congar wrote that in the Latin tradition the "indwelling of God in the souls of the
just (John 14:24) is appropriated to the Holy Spirit" and that the Spirit is by appropriation "the
principle of generosity through which God extends his family to his creatures." "La
pneumatologie dans la thdologie catholique, 253 and 255. Congar also remarked that Louis
Bouyers critique of appropriation in his Le Consolateur (Paris: Cerf, 1980) had not done justice
to the theology of appropriation's positive character. "Chronique du pneumatologie," 446.
V Believe, 2:85-6. He believed, for example, that St. Paul had appropriated koindnia (2
Cor 13:13) to the Holy Spirit and agape to the Father." Mystery o f the Temple, 287. See also /
Believe, 2:86.
^Congar too thought that in the incarnation the person of the Word is the "principle of a
proper causality." "Pneumatologie ou 'christomonisme," 59. See also I Believe, 2:85.
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the Spirit does n o t236 Congars writings in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s thus used the
theology of appropriations frequently with respect to the Holy Spirit. Congar
appropriated to the Spirit the efficacy o f the sacraments and solemn definitions o f faith,
our union with God and our sanctification.237 Congar spoke explicitly o f appropriation
less frequently in I Believe in the H oly Spirit, The W ord and the Spirit, and other
publications of the late 1970s and 1980s. But he never entirely abandoned this approach.
"By appropriation," he wrote in I Believe in the H oly Spirit (1978-90), "...the Holy Spirit
is the subject who brings about everything that depends on grace..."238
Even as Congar maintained his position that the Holy Spirit does not have a
personally proper (non-appropriated) activity in the economy o f salvation, Congar
nonetheless affirmed that the uniqueness of the Spirits person is communicated in
salvation history. In the Greek tradition, Congar noted, the taxis o f the immanent
trinitarian processions (from the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit) is identical with
the taxis o f the missions in the economy (from the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit).
Hence, the eternally unique properties o f Father, Son and Spirit manifest in the immanent

256There is a mission but not an incarnation of the Holy Spirit. So he is not personally
manifest. "Pneumatologie ou 'christomonisme," 42.
^"Pneumatologie ou christomonisme," 59; Mystery o f the Temple, 289. See also:
'It is clear therefore, that our union with God himself, through which the supernatural gifts of
sonship, the title to eternal life, indwelling and 'divinization receive their efficacity, is more
properly appropriated to the Holy Spirit" Mystery o f the Temple, 288. After Easter and
Pentecost, "God himself was given to the Church as her proper principle of existence and action.
This is true by appropriation of the Holy Spirit" Mystery o f the Temple, 292. ha virtue of the
union of the Spirit and the Church, "the major (institutional) operations of the apostolic
bodythe celebration of the sacraments, solemn definitions of the faithare effected by the
power of God himself (by appropriation, the Holy Spirit)." Mystery o f the Temple, 288.
V Believe, 2:20.
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processions are communicated to creatures through the divine missions. God the Father
creates the cosmos through the Son and in the Spirit such that the hypostatic marks o f the
Son and the Spirit are manifest in creation, even though creation is an act of efficient
causality. God also redeems and divinizes the cosmos through the Son and in the Spirit,
an act o f quasi-formal causality in which the uniqueness o f each o f the divine persons is
present to humanity in an even more profound manner.239 "...[T]here are two missions,"
Congar affirmed, "and each o f these, in a way that we cannot describe in words, bears the
hypostatic mark of the Person sent."260

3. The Spirit is Gods Ecstatic Gift


The hypostatic mark o f the person o f the Spirit as manifest in the economy cannot
be described in words. Scripture and tradition have nonetheless used many different
images to try to speak o f the Spirits mystery: the Spirit is called wind (Gen 1:2), living
water (Is 44:3-4; Jn 4:10; 7:3-39), dove (Mk 1:9-11), chrism (Is 61:1, Luke 4:18), fire
(Acts 2:3; Is 6:6), and peace (Jn 20:19,21).261 O f all the terms used of the Spirit, Congar
believed that the word that most aptly expresses the Spirits unique hypostatic mark both
in the economy of salvation and in Gods eternity is "G ift'262 As Hilary of Poitiers wrote
in the third century, "He (the Christ) commanded (his disciples) to baptize in the name o f

239/ Believe 2:89-90.


^"Renewed Actuality of the Holy Spirit, 21. See also "Pneumatologie dogmadque,"
508.
^ F o r additional references see I Believe, 3:4-5.
262The Son too is given, Congar noted, but only the Spirit is called "Gift" I Believe,
3:144.

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the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, that is, by confessing the Author, the only Son
and the Gift (Don/)."263 Augustine, too, identified the personal name o f the Spirit as
Donum or Munus.26* Peter Lombard continued this pneumatological tradition, and
Aquinas identified "Gift as one o f the Spirits two personal names (the other is
"Love.)265The name "Gift," Congar explained, is appropriate to the person o f the Spirit,
for like the names "Father and "Son" it expresses a relationis oppositiothe "Gift" is
relative to the Giver, namely the Father and Son.266 Although the theology o f the Spirit as
Gift is uncommon in the East, it is not entirely unknown267 and Congar believed that the
dynamic trinitarian pattern ek Patros, di'H uiou, en Pneumatithat is common in Greek
theology is suggestive of the Spirits donation.268
Congar maintained that the person of the Spirit can be appropriately designated as
the divine Gift apart from the created order in which the Spirit is actually given, for the

263Hilary of Poitiers, De Trinitate, H, 1 (PL 10,50); cf. H, 29 (PL 10,70A). Cited by


Congar in I Believe, 3:146.
^Augustine, De vera religione, . and in Ench he wrote "ipse (Spiritus) proprie sic est
Deus ut dicatur etiam Dei donum." Ench. 40 (PL 40,252).
26SPeter Lombard, I Sent., d. 18; Aquinas, ST la, q. 38. Cited by Congar in I Believe,
3:147.
266I Believe, 3:146.
^ S t. Basil, for example, spoke of the Spirit as "Gift," although the Pneumatomachi
concluded from this that only God (the Giver), not the Spirit, was divine. De spir. sanct. XXV,
58 (PG 32, 173A-B; SChr 17, p. 218). Cited in Congar, / Believe, 146. In the Greek tradition, the
Spirit is also called dorea at the beginning of the anaphora of the liturgy of St. James. Liturgy of
S t James, ed. B. C. Mercier, Pair. Or. XXVT/2 (Paris, 1946), pp. 198-99. Cited in Congar, I
Believe, 3:146.
/ Believe, 3:145 and 147. Congar thought, however, that Palamas distinction of divine
"energies" and "persons failed to account for the Spirit as "Gift" in person. "Chronique de
pneumatologie," 447.
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Spirit proceeds eternally as "grveable."269 Yet God does in fact desire to continue the
divine ecstasis outside o f God, and thus the Spirit is not only the eternal G ift o f the Father
and the Son but also Gods Gift to creationdivine Love, Generosity and Grace.270 In
Scripture, Congar noted, the Spirit is accordingly called dorea which means "formal
donation."271 On Pentecost Peter promised that all who repented and were baptized would
"receive the gift {dorea) o f the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38) And Luke recounted that in
Caesarea "the gift {dorea) of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the gentiles." (Acts
10:4s)272 Furthermore, Congar observed, scriptural references to the Spirit frequently
occur as the complement o f various forms o f the verbs didani (to give) and lam bano (to
receive). Paul wrote to the Corinthians, for example, that God "has given {diddmi) us his
Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee."273 Indeed, Congar believed that in Scripture the Holy
Spirit is the gift of God par excellencethe gift o f the fulfillment and renewal o f creation,
salvation and eternal life. The Spirit is the fulfillm ent of the promises o f Godthe
eschatological arrha and agent o f the achievement of Gods purpose.274 The Spirit "is

269I Believe, 1:80.


I Believe, 3:149.
27lThis, Congar explained, is as opposed to doron which is "present" or "cultic
offering I Believe, 3:144.
^ F o r additional scriptural references to the Spirit as "gift" see I Believe, 3:144-45.
^ 2 Cor 1:22. See also Acts 5:32; Acts 8:18; Acts 15:8; Luke 11:13; Rom 5:5; 2 Cor 5:5;
Eph 1:17; 1 Thess 4:8; 2 Tim 1:7; Jn 3:34; John 4:14; Rev: 21:16; Rev 14;16; 1 John 3:24; 1
John 4:13. For references to the Spirit using lambano constructions see Acts 1:8; Acts 2:33; Acts
2:38; Acts 8:15; Acts 8:18; Acts 8:19; Acts 10:47; Acts 19:2; 1 Cor 2:12; 2 Cor 11:4; Gal 3:2;
Gal 3:14; John 7:39; John 14:17; John 20:22. Cited by Congar in I Believe, 3:152 n. 6.
1 Believe, 3:144. See also 2:69.
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implored as riches and as G ift, in the name o f what is wretched and lacking. W e ask him
to come to us in the sequence Veni, Sancte Spiritus."275

F. Conclusion of Chapter Two


The twentieth-century renewal of trinitarian theology has been enhanced by the
contributions o f Yves Congar. Congar grounded his trinitarian theology in reflection on
Gods donrte and offered a rich account o f the economy o f salvationan economy in
which God creates the cosmos out o f love and enters into ever-deeper communion with
creation. This economy culminates in the Incarnation o f the W ord o f God and the gift o f
the Spirit, for in the hypostatic union Gods communion with that which is creaturely is
complete and this communion is extended to all humanity through the Holy Spirit.
Congar supplemented his account of the divine economy with a trinitarian ontology that
emphasized the monarchy of God the Father, the circumincession o f the divine persons,
and the Being o f God as Love. Congar also stressed that ontological reflection on God in
se must not be divorced from the revelation o f Gods love for us, and Congar highlighted
the doxological character of theological reflection. He gave considerable attention to the
question of the relation between Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit and moved from what
Famerde called the "Christomonism" or "incam ationism e of his writings in the 1950s to
the affirmation o f the inseparability and communion o f Christ and the Spirit that is found
in his 1969-1991 publications. Finally, Congar also contemplated the Holy Spirits
personhood. He affirm ed both the Western tradition that describes the Spirit as Love and
the Eastern taxis ex Patros, d iHuiou, en Pneum ati-^which portrays the Spirit as the

2751 Believe, 3:149.


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term and seal o f the divine communion. Congar appropriated divine grace to the Holy
Spirit, and he believed that the name that best expresses the uniqueness o f the Spirits
hypostatic mark is "G ift" The Holy Spirit proceeds eternally as G ift from the Father and
the Son (who together are the Giver) and in the economy the Spirit is Gods
eschatologicai gift beyond com parethe Gift o f Gods very presence through which
creation is renewed and transformed. The dissertation hence turns to Congars account of
the gift o f the indwelling o f the Spirit in the human person and the church.

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CHAPTER THREE
CONGARS PNEUMATOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY AND
PNEUMATOLOGICAL ECCLESIOLOGY

"Come, true light! Come, eternal life! Come, hidden mystery!"1W ith these
words, Simeon the New Theologian entreated God to send the Holy Spirit amongst us.
Congar considered Simeon to be one o f the greatest o f the Byzantine mystics2 and like
Simeon, Congar believed that theology culm in ates in the praise o f God and the exercise
o f the spiritual life. The theology o f the Holy Spirit, Congar emphasized, is not simply an
account of the third person of the Trinity.3 It also concerns the mystery o f Gods
transformation of human lifethe mystery o f our deification in Christ and our
communion with God and one another. A theology of the Holy Spirit requires what
Congar termed in the 1970s and 1980s a "pneumatological anthropology" and a
"pneumatological ecclesiology."4

'Simeon the New Theologian, Hymns 1-15, SChr no. 156 (Paris: Cerf, 1969), 151. Cited
in Congar, I Believe, 2:112.
2I Believe, 2:70.
3See "Renewed Actuality of the Holy Spirit," 20; I Believe, 1:156; "Le troisi&me ardcule
du Symbole," 292.
^The phrase "pneumatological anthropology" appears in Word and Spirit, 122. The
French is "une anthropologie pneumatologiqueLa Parole et le Souffle, 191. Congar noted that
this phrase is also used by Nikos Nissiotis. The expression "pneumatological ecclesiology
appears in the article Actualit6 d'une pneumatologie, POC23 (1973): 124. The French is "une
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Congars emphasis on the importance o f both a pneumatological anthropology and


a pneumatological ecclesiology was a significant contribution to contemporary Roman
Catholic theology. As the Introduction to this dissertation described, Roman Catholic
theology in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries discussed at length the
indwelling o f the Spirit in the human soul but gave very little attention to the
pneumatological foundations of ecclesiology. Some neoscholastic De Ecclesia treatises,
indeed, did not even mention the Holy Spirit at all.3 Congar overcame this divorce of
spiritual anthropology and ecclesiology by closely wedding an account o f the indwelling
of the Holy Spirit in the hum an person w ith a discussion o f the Holy Spirit as the coinstitutor and life principle of the church. Congars pneumatological anthropology and
pneumatological ecclesiology are presented below, and by the chapters conclusion it will
be evident that these two dimensions of his theology are inseparable from one another.
Chapter Four is closely related to Chapter Three and will examine explicitly the
permeation of pneumatology, anthropology, and ecclesiology in Congars work through a
discussion of his theology of the M ystical Body of Christ, the People of God and the
Temple of the Holy Spirit.

A. Cougars Pneumatological Anthropology


Congar is known primarily for his ecclesiological contributions rather than his
theological anthropology. Unlike his German contemporary Karl Rahner who undertook
a systematic reconceptualization o f Roman Catholic theological anthropology in light of
ecclesiologie pneumatologiqueCongar also used the expression "une pneumatologie
ecclesiologique." See "Pneumatologie dogmadque, 493.
5"The Council as an Assembly and the Church as Essentially Conciliar," 45.
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the modem "turn to the subject," Cougars primary area o f research, teaching and
publication was ecclesiology. Nonetheless, the importance of theological anthropology
was never far from Congars mind. As he read, studied and prayed the scriptures, he was
struck by the fact that in the biblical literature God and humanity are inseparable. "The
Bible," he observed, does not talk about God without talking about man, and vice versa.
It is indivisibly theology for man and anthropology for God."6 Congar believed that for
centuries Christian theology had neglected this biblical truth.7 He regretted system atic
theology's separation o f the doctrine o f God from theological anthropology, and he feared
that this disjunction had contributed inadvertently to modem atheism.8 Congar called for
a contemporary theology that would emphasize that humankind is inseparable from God
to such a degree that no anthropology or humanism can provide an adequate account of

^Yves Congar, "Poverty as an Act of Faith, Cone 194 (1977): 100. See also Congars
"Religious Belief and the Life of the World, in Congar, Faith and Spiritual Life, trans. A
Manson and L. C. Sheppard, (New York: Herder and Herder, 1968), 169. Congars discussion of
the inseparability of God and humanity frequently referenced Abraham Heschels God in Search
o f Man (New York: Harper and Row, 1955). Congar expressed his great esteem for Heschel in
Fifty Years, 37.
7For a long time," Congar wrote, "perhaps for near enough three hundred yearsthe
most tragic and pernicious thing about Christianitys situation in the modem world has doubtless
been this rift between the first and the second great commandment, between theology and
anthropologyit is clean contrary to the Gospel and to the whole Bible." Wide World, My
Parish, 37. Elsewhere Congars comments implied that this divorce of theology and
anthropology is not simply a modem difficulty but a problem that has patristic roots. He noted
that while the pagan philosophers were wrongly concerned with "pure humanism," the Fathers
and monastic writings set forth an ideal of pure "divinism" that paid no heed to the "greatness o f
man him selfLay People in the Church, 412. On the other hand, Congar did draw on Patristic
sources to reassert the inseparability of theology and anthropology. He quoted Irenaeus: "It is
Gods glory that man lives. Wide World, My Parish, 38.
"Most forms of atheism arise from an affirmation of man and are a denial of God only
as a consequence. In Scripture, on the contrary, the affirmation of God and of man goes side by
side." Interview with Yves Congar in The Crucial Questions on Problems Facing the Church
Today, ed. Frank Fehmers (New York: Newman Press, 1969), 9.
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human existence unless it proceeds with a theological orientation. T h e m ost important


work today, he stated emphatically, "is to show the unity between theology and
anthropology..,.[Y]ou cannot separate God and man."9 Congar distinguished his advocacy
o f a unified theology and anthropology from anthropocentrism, which he cautioned
against.10His intention was not to reduce theology to anthropology, but rather to do
justice to the mystery that humankind is made in the image o f God and destined to share
in Gods eternity. Congars theological anthropology is presented below under the
following headings: 1) the creation o f human persons in the image o f God; 2) the fracture
o f the divine image occasioned by human sin; 3) the healing and deification of humanity
through Jesus Christ in the Holy S pirit

1. The Creation of Human Persons in the Image of God


On the sixth day o f creation, according to the book of Genesis, God declared, "Let
us make humankind (Mam) in our image, according to our likeness" (Gen 1:26). This
Genesis passage became the foundation o f a long tradition of imago D ei anthropology in
the Christian tradition and over the centuries it has been subject to a variety of
interpretations. In the West, theologians have often used Augustines discussion o f the
sim ilarity and difference between the triune God and the tri-partite dynamics of the
human soul (e.g. memory, understanding, will) to develop a so-called "psychological"

"Interview with Yves Congar," America 155 (6 May 1967): 677. See also Congars
"Perspectives chr&iennes sur la vie personnelle et la vie collective," in Socialisation et personne
humaine, Semaine sociale de Grenoble 1960 (Lyons, 1960), 195-96.
I0Interview with Yves Congar in The Crucial Questions, 9.
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doctrine o f the Trinity and a corresponding theological anthropology-11 la recent decades,


others such as W illiam Hasker and Jurgen Moltmann have advocated a "social
trinitarianism that locates the imago D ei in human social relationships.12Congars own
theological anthropology affirmed that the image of God can indeed be found in the
human soul yet at the same time Congar did not think the imago D ei can be limited to the
psychic structure o f the individual human person. "The human being [Thomme]," Congar
affirmed, "is made in the image of the tri-unity o f God, not only in psychological
structure but also in the reality of existing in society and communion."13
Congar carefully qualified his affirmation that the divine image can be found in
human social relations, for although human society m anifests the image o f God it is not
an appropriate image o f God. God is triune, but God is not a plurality o f persons in the
manner of a human community. Thus both Augustine and Aquinas opposed the
suggestion that the image of God is to be found in the primordial human family of Adam,
Eve and Seth,14and in 1215 the Lateran Council rejected Joachim o f Fiore's attempt to
use human society as a basis for a conception of the Trinity.15We cannot, Congar

"See Augustines De Trinitate, VH 10,14; IX , 2,2; IX, 3,3; X, 11,7; XI, 2,2; XI, 3,
6-9; XU, 15,25; XHI, 20,26; XIV, 12,15. For an important critique of the longstanding
assumption that Augustine's De Trinitate intended to set forth a series of "psychological
analogies" for the Trinity see John Cavadini, "The Structure and Intention of Augustine's De
Trinitate," AugustinStud 23 (1992): 103-23.
I2William Hasker, "Tri-Unity," JRel 50 (1970): 1-32; Jurgen Moltmann, The Trinity and
the Kingdom (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1981), 199.
13"La tri-unitd de Dieu," 693.
14Augustine, De Trinitate, XII; Aquinas, STP, q. 36, a. 3, ad 1.
15"La tri-unitd de Dieu," 688-90.

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emphasized, project forms o f human sociality upon God. Nonetheless, a converse


theological movement can be made: the mystery o f God can illumine the mystery of
human social relationships. We "can clarify the human condition in light o f who God is: a
communion o f persons.n>6 Accordingly, Congars account o f the imago D ei emphasized

that human persons a) are gifted with knowledge and love so as to exist in relation with
God and one another; b) exist as active, free historical subjects; c) share a common
human nature which each person instantiates in a unique way; d) serve as a cosmic
microcosm.

a. Human Persons are G ifted with Knowledge and Love


Congar believed, as Aquinas and many others maintained, that the image of the
triune God can be found in the procession o f the word in the human intellect and the
procession of love in the human w ill.17This anthropology stands in the trajectory o f
Augustines so-called "psychological trinitarian theology which critics fault for its
individualism, but Congars Thomistic anthropology was by no means individualistic.18
The human intellect and will through which we image God lead us precisely beyond the
self towards knowledge and love of another. We are created with the capacity to speak to

16"La tri-unit de Dieu," 688.


l7S7T, q. 93, a. 6 and a. 7. Congar concurred: our nature "carries a reflection of the
nature of God in its properties of intelligence and will. "Perspectives chretiennes sur la vie
personnelle," 205.
lsFor a critique of the individualism of the Augustinian "psychological" approach to the
doctrine of the Trinity and the imago Dei tradition, see Colin Gunton, "Augustine, the Trinity
and the Theological Crisis of the West," ScotJTh 43 (1990): 53-54; Gunton, "Trinity, Ontology
and Anthropology: Towards a Renewal of the Doctrine of the Imago D ei in Persons, Divine
and Human, eds. Christoph Schwdbel and Colin Gunton (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1991), 47-64.
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another, to strive to know another, to love one another, and to receive one another in love.
There is within us "an overture to other persons and [the human being] only realizes
him self [or herself] in communion with them. The human being is made to live in
relations of exchange with others, in a situation and an exercise o f co-humanity."19
Above all, Congar emphasized, our vocation to knowledge and love is indicative o f our
capacity to be called by God.20 W e are created in the divine image for the purpose of
receiving God's call and responding to God with trust, fidelity, and love.
Even as we respond in love to God and others, human relationality is a pale
reflection o f the communion o f the triune God in whose image humanity is made. The
divine persons are subsistent relations whereas each created person is an autonomous
substance.21 Yet despite this fundamental difference between divine and human persons,
relation to others is inscribed at the very heart o f the human vocation. We find our truth,
Congar insisted, in being with, through, and for (avec, par, et pour) one another in
trinitarian cicum incessio.22 He reflected:
...this giving and sharing...are o f the order of being itself, and they suffer at the
touch of any individual, self-interested holding back. It is the order o f friendship;
an order o f intimacy because the persons themselves share together and so do not
remain wholly external one to another....the persons are part o f the relations, o f

l9"La tri-unit de Dieu, 689.


See Yves Congar, "LTiomme est capable d'etre appel, VS 120 (1969): 377-84.
Aquinas, in like vein, had written that the imago Dei is manifest in humanity's "natural aptitude
for understanding and loving God; and this aptitude consists in the very nature of the mind,
which is common to all men." S7T, q. 93, a. 4, c.
21"La tri-unite de Dieu, 693. On the divine persons as subsistent relations, see Chapter
Two, Section B.3.
"La tri-unit de Dieu," 693. Emphasis original.

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the mutual exchange, o f that which is put in common; and the putting in common
means not to lose but to find oneself and to achieve ones best.23
To live in the imago D ei is to live in relation to others.24
Congar contrasted his emphasis on the human vocation to love and relationship
with the individualism of some strands of Christian theology as well as secular
manifestations of the individualist spirit. He critiqued forms o f Christian spirituality such
as that o f Peter Nicole (d. 1695) who professed: "A man is created to live alone with God
for ever.23 Congar also faulted Protestantism26 and classic Roman Catholic theological
ethics for individualistic tendencies.27 He opposed the existentialism o f Jean-Paul Sartre
and Albert Camus, for in his view their philosophy o f human autonomy and individual
liberty failed to account for humanitys creaturely dependence and transcendent openness
towards God.28 Congar likewise contested the "m ystique o f sincerity" o f Rousseau and
Gide as well as Descartes reduction of the person to self-consciousness?9 These

23Lay People in the Church, 444. When someone loves another, Congar wrote elsewhere,
"He fulfills a need of human nature, deep below the superficial calls of selfishness, the need for
fellowship with other people, and even with all living creatures Our true personality...is the one
that loves and gives." Wide World, My Parish, 56.
24Blessed is the Peace o f My Church, 64.
*Wide World, My Parish, 6.
26Blessed is the Peace o f My Church, 62
^Interview with Yves Congar in The Crucial Questions, 10.
"L/homme est capable d'etre appel, 391.
^ t should be noted that although Congar was critical of a superficial "mystique of
sincerity," he believed that the contemporary quest for sincerity also had a profound d im en sion .
See Vraie etfausse riforme, 2d ed., 47.
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philosophies, Congar explained, are fraudulent mysticisms that destroy what is noblest in
the human person: responsibility, obligation and relation to others.30

b. Human Persons are A ctive and Free H istorical Subjects


Aquinas discussion o f the imago D ei emphasized not only the procession of
knowledge and love from the human intellect and will but also the profoundly active
character o f human creatures made in the image o f a God who is pure act31 The human
person, Aquinas wrote " ..is said to be made to Gods image, in so far as the image
implies an intelligent being endowed with free-will and self-movement....man...is the
principle of his actions."32 Congar him self expressed Aquinas insight with the frequent
affirmation that human beings are personal subjects ("sujets personnels. ")33 Congars
choice o f the modem term "subject to describe the active character of the human person
does have connotations that differ from those o f Aquinas anthropology. As Congar
noted, the modem emphasis on the human subject is in some sense in continuity with the
theology of Aquinas and Augustine but in another sense "il s'a g it d autre chose encore*
wWide World, My Parish, 14041.
31God "...is pure act and is also the first cause of being for all things....Therefore, if He
has communicated His likeness, as far as actual being is concerned, to other things, by virtue of
the fact that He has brought things into being, it follows that He has communicated to them his
likeness, as far as acting is concerned, so that created things may also have their own actions."
SCC, m.69.14. T h e dignity of causality is imparted even to creatures." STV, q. 22, a. 3, c. This
is true in a special way of humankind.
32ST II*-IFe, Prologue. Aquinas here references the work of John Damascene.
33Esprit de Ihomme, 55. See also: The person is "a spiritual subject having as such, at its
own level, an absolute value." "L'influence de la soci6te et de rhistoire," 691. In social life "what
is done should be the activity of a person, that a person, with his own personal conviction, should
be really the subject of that activity." Word and Spirit, 55. Such references could be multiplied.
*Vraie etfausse reforme, 2d ed., 48.
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Congar believed that modem philosophers such as Descartes and Locke exalted
individual subjectivity and self-consciousness in a manner inconsistent with the Christian
tradition, but he him self described human persons as "subjects" not in order to endorse
modem subjectivism but rather to affirm that relation with other persons and with God
requires the recognition o f humanitys capacity for active initiative. The secret of true
relationship is respect for others as "subjects, persons, centers o f emotion and projects."35
Congar thus opposed all anthropologies that reduced the human person to an object of
determinism, M arxist collectivism, or the social forces o f modem technological and
industrial society.36 He acknowledged that human persons are indeed shaped by societal
structures, but he noted that persons also create and transform these structures through
their work and their cultural and social life.37
As human subjects, we are free. This freedom, Congar explained, is manifest in
our capacity for active judgem ent and choice.38The many lim itations to the exercise of

35Esprit de Ihomme, 38. "Today people no longer want to be objects but subjects. Fifty
Years, 67. Elsewhere, however, Congar did suggest that people are both subjects and "objects"
objects of the benevolence of the church. He wrote: "Lay people are not only objects in the
Church, objects though they are of her goodness and care; they are also religious subjects, and
therefore active persons." Yves Congar, "Holy Spirit and Spirit of Freedom," Address presented
during the Fourth Franco-German Week at Freiburg in Breisgau in 19S8, reprinted in Congar,
Laity, Church, World, trans. Donald Attwater (Baltimore: Helicon, 1960), 22.
"L'influence de la socidtd et de l*histoire," 680. See also Congars "Perspectives
chrStiennes sur la vie personnelle et la vie collective," 195-221.
^Thus there is a "dialectic of structures and of the person." "L'influence de la socidtd et
de l'histoire," 680. See also "Perspectives chr6tiennes sur la vie personnelle et la vie collective,"
195-221.
^On the importance of human choice and judgement see for example Congars
statement: "For freedom is the mode of action that befits a spiritual being and a person who
exists in his own being, with choice and judgement of his own activity." Lay People in the
Church, 425.
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choice often force us to submit to circumstances, but nonetheless "our freedom is real if
choice be considered as the total meaning we give to the whole fact o f our existence."39
Even God respects this freedom of choice and tailors revelation accordingly, veiling the
fullness o f the divine goodness and beauty such that Gods grandeur does not overwhelm
our human faculties and we truly can say "No" to God.40 Yet at the same tim e, Congar
affirmed, human autonomy and choice do not exhaust the meaning o f freedom and do not
have an absolute value. "The truth is that man could never be more free than were he, by
some blessed impossibility, to reach the state o f being unable to sin....The highest degree
of freedom is not to govern oneself, but to be wholly governed by God."41 Freedom is
ultimately not a mere autonomy of choice but rather freedom for relationships of
mutuality and communion grounded in communion with God. It is found in the exercise
of our capacity to know and to love others and to receive love from them in mutual call
and invitation that "flows from one liberty and addresses itself to another liberty."42
The capacity o f human subjects to exercise true freedom is expressed in our
human historicity. Historicity is "the becoming o f civilization...all the efforts made by

39Wide World, My Parish, 100. See also 84-92.


40"God does not of necessity present himself for our free choice with face unveiled. He
even cannot do so, for it would be to constrain our freedom of choice, so glorious would be his
beauty, so overwhelming the evidence that here is absolute Good, that it would not be possible to
refuse him. That freedom of choice of ours requires that God should be as it were disguised..."
Wide World, My Parish, 85. "The biblical message and Christian dogma presuppose the reality
of this freedom, otherwise they would be absurd. I can say No to God. I can literally stand up to
him." Wide World, My Parish, 73.
4I"Holy Spirit and Spirit of Freedom," 14.
42"L'homme est capable d'Stre appeld," 377.
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man in society to make the world a dignified habitation."43 Modem thought has given
new emphasis to this dimension o f human existence, and there has been a new
appreciation for the human capacity to transform human society and culture over the
course o f time to such a degree that some now talk o f human "becoming" rather than
human "being."44 Congar affirmed this modem awareness, but he also believed that this
contemporary consciousness must be grounded in its ancient, biblical roots. Scripture
affirms that the truth o f things is found not simply in their becoming but in their destiny,
for the meaning o f Genesis is only complete in the book o f Revelation.45 Only in the
eschatological era, as Tennyson reminds us, will we truly be able to proclaim '"It is
finish'd. Man is m ade.46 Human historicity must thus be viewed in the context of God's
intention and purpose for creation, and Congar critiqued Camus' insistence that one must
invent one's own path and create one's own future.47 Congar believed that the

43"L'influence de la socit et de 1histoire," 674.


^Congar did believe that there were overtures towards historicity in the work of
Aquinas. "L'influence de la socit et de rhistoire," 688. See also "Uhistoricitd de ITiomme selon
Thomas d'Aquin," DCom 22 (1969): 297-304. But in the modem era, "historicity has become a
category of thought, an existential of the human condition." "L'influence de la societe et de
1'histoire," 678.
4SYves Congar, The Catholic Church and the Race Question (Paris: Unesco, 1961), 1415; "L'influence de la societe et de 1'histoire," 686.
^Congar, The Catholic Church and the Race Question, 15. Reference is to Tennyson,
"The Making of Man. Elsewhere Congar offered a more extensive citation: "Man as yet is being
made, and ere the crowning Age of ages/ Shall not aeon after aeon pass and touch him into
shape?/ All about him shadow still, but, while the races flower and fade/ Prophet-eyes may catch
a glory slowly gaining on the shade/ Till the peoples all are one, and all their voices blend in/
choric Hallelujah to the Maker, Tt is finish'd. Man is made." "Linfluence de la societe et de
1histoire," 686.
47"This is simply to recognize the reality of the human condition which is not purely
constituting and situating but radically constituted and situated." "Lliomme est capable detre
appett," 382.
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homogeneity o f spiritual experience through the ages confirms the existence of an


objective religious reality that can guide human becoming towards its intended end and
prevent historicity from sliding into relativity.48 Humanity exists not simply in an
existential state o f "becoming" but also in the state o f vocation.4,9

c. Humanity Shares a Common Human Nature that Each Person Instantiates in a Unique
Way
The divine image that is manifest in our existence as free, historical subjects
capable o f knowledge and love defines our common human nature.50 In Gregory of
Nyssas exegesis o f Genesis, the passage "God created humankind (adam) in his image"
(Gen 1:27) refers not to Gods primordial creation of a single human person but rather to
Gods creation of a universal human nature that is shared by all human beings and binds
us to one another.51 Congar him self believed that the "ontological unity of the genus
humanum is the common basis for the quest of unity which men propose and for the most

^"L'influence de la societe et de 1'histoire," 67S and 680.


49"Lhonnne est capable detre appeld," 381.
^Congar defined human nature as "that structuring principle that permits one to identify
as 'human' all those individuals thus designated: a principle received through generation at
birth." "Linfluence de la socit et de 1'histoire," 687. He did not elaborate further as to how
human nature might be described. Presumably it would include the things discussed abovethe
human capacity for knowledge and love and free historical action.
51Gregory of Nyssa, De hominis opificio, 16.16-18. This tradition was popularized in our
century by Henri de Lubacs Catholicism: A Study o f Dogma in Relation to the Corporate
Destiny o f Mankind, trans. Lancelot Sheppard (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1950). De Lubac
referenced not only Gregory of Nyssa but also Irenaeus, Origen, Gregory Nazianzus, Cyril of
Alexandria, Maximus, Hilary and others. In de Lubac's interpretation, we are all in some sense
"one man" by virtue of our common human nature.
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fundamental dogmas o f Christianity.52 In the words o f Pascal: T h e whole succession o f


men should be seen as one and the same man, continuing always to exist and to leam."53
Congar believed not only that humanity has a common nature and a common
destiny, but also that every person "has a destiny o f his own, that he cannot relinquish to
anybody else."54 The imago D ei is not a mold that casts human persons identically from a
single prototype. Rather, every human person bears the divine image in a unique and
incommunicable way, for God loves each person in themselves and calls each by his or
her own name.55 Human corporeality, furthermore, instantiates each human person as a
particular man or woman at a particular time or place.56 We are each unique persons who
share a common nature, and as such we manifest the image of the triune God.57 In both
humankind and in God, Congar explained, there is a "person-nature dialectic" in which
nature is a principle o f commonality and person is a principle o f uniqueness and
distinction.58 This dialectic manifests itself differently in the triune God and amongst

52"The Church, Seed of Unity," 29. See also Congars The Catholic Church and the Race
Question, 13-15. Here Congar linked monotheism with the affirmation of the unity of human
nature.
53See for example the citation in Wide World, My Parish, 17. No reference is given.
^"Holy Spirit and Spirit of Freedom," 22. Congars emphasis on personal uniqueness
was influenced in part by personalist philosophy. See Wide World, My Parish, 17.
55 "Each [person]," Congar reflected, "is a being in itself (un etre en sot) unique and
incommunicable. Each is loved for himself, called by his name." "La tri-unitd de Dieu," 690.
Like the incommunicable divine persons, the human person is "something unique, a thing in
itself and for itself..." Wide World, My Parish, 40.
^"Religious Belief and the Life of the World," 185-86.
^"Perspectives chr&iennes sur la vie personnelle," 205-6.
"Perspectives chrtiennes sur la vie personnelle," 205.
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human creatures, for "Father, Son and Spirit are one sole substance, numerically one"
whereas corporeal human persons such as Peter and Paul are individuated in m atter as
"two men, not one man."59 Our common humanity is thus the basis only o f a collective
unity rather than a substantial unity such as that o f the triune God.60 Nonetheless, the
corporeality that individuates us should not separate us from one another but rather
should serve as an important mode o f our relationality. Indeed, Congar emphasized, it is
through our bodiliness that we encounter and relate to one another.61

d. Human Persons Serve as a Cosmic M icrocosm


Our bodiliness also relates us to the entire created order. God creates us, Congar
believed, with historical, cosmic and social dependence and therefore "God creates us
through [these cosmic and social relations]."62 The cosmos provides the matter through
which humans are formed, and humans in turn use their gifts o f self-consciousness,
speech, and knowledge to bring the speechless universe to spiritual expression. In the
words o f patristic and medieval theology, humanity is the microcosm o f the universe. We
are:
...the epitome that sums up and completes the vast world with which we have
community o f material substance and o f general destiny... J t is on this very ground
and in this way that we, immortal souls animating a body taken from the dust of
the earth, are the first-fruits o f the world. My destiny is not that o f an isolated

59"La tri-unit de Dieu," 691.


60"La tri-unit de Dieu," 691.
6l"Holy Spirit and Spirit of Freedom," 8.
"L'influence de la soci&g et de 1'histoire," 690.
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soul; taken integrally, it is that o f the world o f which I am part, which acts on me
and on which I a c t63
The universe, Congar concluded, is fundamentally one, and it is the human vocation to
give expression to this cosmic unity.64

2. Homan Sinfulness: The Divine Image Fractured


God, Congar believed, had a clear purpose and intention for creation. In supreme
generosity, God created the cosmos through the W ord and the Spirit and gave to human
creatures the special responsibility o f bearing the divine imagethe image of knowledge
and love. Human beings were intended to use this gift to receive and respond to the call
of God and other persons. We were created to use our active freedom to love God in
liberty, to live in harmony with one another, and to construct societies that would lead
history to its intended destiny. Our common Human nature was designed to unify us, and
human consciousness and speech were intended to enable us to give spiritual expression
to the entire cosmos.
In Adam, however, humanity repudiated God. The root of sin, Congar believed, is
our rejection of the God in whose very image we are made. Sin is "to hinder God being
God in us, for us and, through us.,,6S The divine image is never entirely lost to humanity,
for God continues to love us even as we turn away. But the imago D ei necessarily fades
as a consequence of human infidelity, for we have removed ourselves from the divine

a Wide World, My Parish, 41.


Wide World, My Parish, 41.
a Wide World, My Parish, 42. In like vein, Congar described hell as existence outside of
God, leading life only for myself. Wide World, My Parish, 76.

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exem plar and the created order is hence fundamentally disordered. The common human
nature that was to be a basis o f our unity has become instead the vehicle o f original sin,
and our relations with others are breached by conflict, contradiction, and separation.66
Men are divided from women, Germans from French and each person from one another
such that "other people are hell."67 We abuse our capacities for active initiative and
freedom such that history becomes a succession o f wars and injustices where the power
o f evil holds sway. Satan finds modem allies in "Money, Power, Public Opinion and its
instruments, the Party, the Race, the Nation, and in Progress, Comfort, Production, and so
on and so on."68 Our misdeeds are concretized in collective structures that thwart true
liberty and deny our personal uniqueness, and our corporeality becomes a means of
separation from one another. Our lives are clouded and opaque, and things are divorced
from their true meaning.69 This tragedy, Congar emphasized, is now. "When we look at
Jesus on his cross, we become conscious of how really sin banishes God from the
world."70

^Congar identified human nature as the vehicle of transmission of original sin in


Divided Christendom, 68; Blessed is the Peace o f My Church, 62.
61Wide World, My Parish, 46-48. Presumably this is a reference to Sartres "Lenfer
cest les autres."
a Wide World, My Parish, 134. See also "Are S t Paul's Powers Mythological?" in Wide
World, My Parish, 128-130; Esprit de Ihomme, 50-51; "Perspectives chr6dennes sur la vie
personnelle et la vie collective, 215.
69Wide World, My Parish, 48.
10Wide World, My Parish, 91.
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3. The Grace of God: The Divine Image Healed and Deified


The cross is a symbol of hum anity's banishment o f God, but it is also a sign o f
G od's embrace o f sinful humanity. On the cross, Congar believed, God has responded to
our infidelity with the offer of atonement and reconciliation. The incarnate W ord o f God
has taken upon himself the sins o f humankind and given his life as a ransom for the many
(M ark 10:45).71 This theology of atonement was not the focus o f Congars christology;
rather, Congar emphasized that the Incarnation o f the W ord occurred as a fulfillm ent of
the plan of God and an expression o f Gods desire to lead creation to its intended end of
divine communion. Even had humanity never sinned, Congar suggested, God would have
sent the W ord and the Spirit to us.72 In the context o f a disordered cosmos, however, the
mission o f the Word and Spirit includes the atonement of our sin and the vanquishing of
the power o f evil in the world, a power so great that it cannot be overcome without an act
o f divine redemption.73 Congars ordination card pictured S t Dominic at the foot o f the

71Fifty Years, 20. Here, Congar referenced also Mt 26:28; Made 14:24; and 1 Cor 6:20.
72This is implied by Congars position that the Word was eternally begotten
incamandusKo become incarnate. Word and Spirit, 93. It is also suggested by Congars position
that humanity was created in the image of God for the purpose of incorporation into the Word
who is the Image of God. In a reflection on A. Feuillets Le Christ Sagesse de Dieu, Congar
commented that "the plan of God with respect to creatures has two stages [creation and
redemption] but one intention: from the beginning, it is a question of leading us to the condition
of the glorious liberty of the children of God, for we are predestined to reproduce the image of
his Son, and the cosmos accompanies us in this destiny." Preface to Le Christ, Sagesse de Dieu,
9.
n Fifty Years, 20.

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cross and bore these lines Congar thought to be from Tennyson:


But none o f the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed.74
These words were still fresh in Congars mind towards the end of his life, and he
continued to ponder their meaning even as he cautioned that the atonement is a mystery
that cannot be explained. 1 am aware that I am stammering, he told Bernard Lauret in a
1987 interview in which this topic arose, "and stammering very badly; theology is too
profound a mystery."73 In response to death and sinfulness, God has offered life,
reconciliation, and communion.76
Indeed, God not only redeems us from sin but God also invites us through Christ
and the Spirit to partake o f a divine life that exceeds all the capacities of human nature
even in its most pristine form. In Jesus of Nazareth, the eternal Word who is the Image of
God has become incarnate, and through incorporation into his Body we too may become
Gods very sons and daughters. This invitation to divine filiation is not foreign to our
created nature, for we are made in the divine image and consequently there is within us a
longing for divine communion.77 But this longing cannot be satisfied solely by virtue of
our created capacities for knowledge and love, and hence grace "sweeps on to [human
natures] perfection, a perfection beyond its intrinsic possibilities but not beyond its

74In fact, these verses were probably penned by another poet There is no reference to
these lines in Arthur Bakers A Concordance to the Poetical and Dramatic Works o f Alfred, Lord
Tennyson (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Triibner and Co., 1914).
75Fifty Years, 21.
76The Christian Idea of History," 283.
^On the concord of our creation in God's image and our natural desire for God see I
Believe, 3:150.
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inefficacious desire."78 Grace elevates human knowledge and love to a new level o f
communion with God.
Congars theology o f nature and grace challenged post-Tridentine scholastic
theologies that distinguished the natural and supernatural orders in an extrinsic fashion
and hence denied a natural desire for union with God. Congar attributed this extrinsicism
to a poor interpretation o f Aquinas under the influence o f Cajetan and Suarez79and he
joined Henri de Lubac, Karl Rahner and others who offered an alternative to this
approach.80Divine grace, Congar believed, is a gift that was envisioned from the very
moment of our creation in Gods imagd11 for the human person is structured to be open,
receptive and responsive to a divine call.82 We are created with a divine destiny and can

78nThe Church, Seed of Unity," 30. There is, Congar continued, an "impotence of nature
to realize itself in line with its deep longing, even within the limits of nature, without a new and
altogether gracious visitation of God." "The Church, Seed of Unity," 31.
^Yves Congar, "Le role de ITiglise dans le monde de ce temps," in Ltg lise dans le
monde de ce temps, Unam Sanctam, no. 65b., eds. Yves Congar and M. Peuchmaurd (Paris: Cerf,
1967), 2:315.
80For Congars critique of extrinsicism and his affirmation that nature is dynamically
oriented towards the supernatural, see Congars Preface to A. Feuillet, Le Christ Sagesse de Dieu,
11-12. See also Henri de Lubac, Sumaturel: tudes Historiques (Paris: Aubier, 1946) and Karl
Rahner, "Concerning the Relationship Between Nature and Grace," 77 (Baltimore: Helicon,
1961), 1:297-317.
81On the continuity of the orders of creation and redemption in Congars theology see
Congars Preface to A. Feuillet, Le Christ Sagesse de Dieu, 7-15; Yves Congar, Jesus Christ,
trans. Luke ONeill (New York: Herder and Herder, 1966), 176 and 197; "Human Social Groups
and the Laity of the Church," in Priest and Layman, trans. P. J. Hepbume-Scott (London: Darton,
Longman and Todd, Ltd, 1967), 286; Lay People in the Church, 431.
82"L'homme est capable d'Stre appel6," 377-78. Congar referenced in this regard Maurice
Blondel's L Action (Paris: F. Alcan, 1936-7) and Karl Rahners Hearers o f the Word (New York:
Herder and Herder, 1969).
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only find definitive fulfillment in God.83 Congars account o f the fulfillment o f our
destiny through the gift of the Spirit included a discussion of: a) conversion and
forgiveness; b) the indwelling o f the Holy Spirit; c) human cooperation with grace; d) the
mystery o f deification; e) life in the Spirit; f) the Spirit as eschatological arrha.

a. Conversion and Forgiveness


T oday as ever," Congar reflected, "and more than in many other epochs, lives
are changed by the action o f the S pirit"84This transformation begins with a recognition
of our sinfulness. Before human nature can be elevated in grace it must first be healed,
and the Spirit of Truth invisibly confronts us and makes us conscious of our selfishness
and fa u lt85The promised Paraclete, Congar noted, "will prove the world wrong about
sin (John 16:8).86 Simultaneously, the Spirit envelops us with forgiveness and dissolves
our mechanisms of self-justification, for the Paraclete is not only our prosecutor but also
our pardoner (John 20:21-23, Acts 2:3$ ) Our transformation in grace begins with
repentance, conversion, and forgiveness.

83Esprit de Ihomme, 22 with reference to P. R. Rggamey.


UEsprit de Ihomme, 11.
95I Believe, 2:123.
Cited in I Believe, 1:54.
87'/ Believe, 2:122-24.
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b. The Indw elling o f the H oly Spirit


When we repent o f our sin, the Holy Spirit dwells (oikei, katoikesai1 Cor 3:16;
Eph 3:17) or remains and abides (meneiin 14:16-17) within us.88 We in turn live, St.
Paul wrote, in Christ and in the Spirit (e.g. 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 3:28; Eph 2:13; Eph 2:18).
These biblical accounts o f indwelling, Congar explained, are not intended in a spatial
sense. Rather, Paul used the language o f "dwelling and "abiding as an expression o f our
elevation to a new level o f communion in the life o f God. Subsequent to the Incarnation
and the gift o f the Spirit, "it is no longer a presence that is involved, but an indwelling o f
God in the faithful.89 Paul's discussion o f our life in Christ and the Spirit use "in" not as
a preposition of place but rather as a referent to the christic and pneumatic principles of
life and action that shape Christian existence in the state o f grace.90
Congars reflection on the indwelling Spirit as a transformative principle of human
life was informed by the theology o f Aquinas. Aquinas had described the entire cosmos
as ordered in divine wisdom such that all creatures are endowed with active principles
proportionate to the ends they are created to achieve. The proper principles o f human

^Passages cited by Congar include: "Do you not know that you are Gods temple (naos)
and that Gods Spirit dwells in you (pikei en humin)T (1 Cor 3:16); "You are not in the flesh but
in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God really dwells in you (oikei en humin)" (Rom 8:9); "...that Christ
may dwell (katoikesai) in your hearts through faith..." (Eph 3:17); "And I will ask the Father and
he will give you another Paraclete to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth... you know
him, for he dwells with you and will be in you (par humin menei kai en humin estai)" (Jn 14:1617); "If we love one another, God abides in us (en hemin estin) and his love is perfected in us. By
this we know that we abide in him (en auto menomen) and he in us (kai autos en hemin) because
he has given us his Spirit" (1 Jn 4:12-13; see also 1 Jn 4:16). I Believe, 2:80.
89Mystery o f the Temple, 237.
*7 Believe, 2:100-101. See also p. 109 n. 5: "The causal rather than the local meaning of
en and its relative equivalence to dia are so widely recognized that it would be pointless to
provide references."
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nature, for example, are knowledge and will, and these principles serve the properly
human end o f knowing and loving God.91 The indwelling o f the Holy Spirit, in contrast,

is a supra-natural gift that transcends the created ordera divine principle proportionate
to a supra-human end. hi assenting to matters o f faith, the human person is raised above
nature and "this must needs accrue to him from some supernatural principle moving him
inwardly; and this is G od"92 God "draws the rational creature above the condition of its
nature to a participation o f the Divine good" Aquinas continued for God desires for us
"the eternal g oo d which is Himself."93 In Christ and the Spirit, we live not only through
the proper capacities o f our created human nature but we share a divine principle of life
and action that is commensurate with our new divine destiny; we know and love with the
very knowledge (the Word) and love (the Spirit) o f G o d In the state o f grace, we thus
know and love God actually and habitually, and in the state of glory we know and love
God perfectly.94 Congars discussion of the indwelling Spirit presumed this Thomistic
theology. Through the indwelling o f the Spirit, Congar believed our lives are elevated by
a divine principle o f life and action, hi prayer, "the Holy Spirit is the desire o f God in
God himse lf and also the desire o f God in us."95 In the Spirit, we love God with G ods

9,s r n r \ q. 93, a. 3, c.
"ST ir-ir6, q. 6, a. 1, c. M5hler, another major emphasis on Congar, had also described
the Spirit as a "new principle of life." Einheit, 10.
s r r - ir .q . 110, a. i.e .
94S7T-n*e,q . 110,a. I.e .
951 Believe, 2:116. This is a citation from J.-C. Sagne, "L'Esprit-Saint on le ddsir de
Dieu," Cone (French edition only) 99 (1974): 94. My emphasis. See also "Pneumatologie
dogmatique," 494.
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own love. Congar quoted John o f the Cross:


The soul loves God not through itself, but through God himself, because it loves
in this way through the Holy Spirit, as the Father and the Son love each other and
according to what the Son him self says in the gospel of John: "that the love with
which thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them" (Jn 17:26).96
This love of God is inseparable from love o f Gods creatures with whom we are united in
charity.97 All of this is possible not by virtue o f any human prowess, but rather because
God has sent the Holy Spirit and "he dwells with you and he will be in you" (Jn 14:17).

c. Human Cooperation with Grace


In the Spirit o f Christ, we participate in the very holiness, desire, and love o f God.
A t the same time, the indwelling Spirit does not eclipse the activity o f our own human
faculties. Because we are created in the imago D ei, grace coincides with our deepest
human desires and elevates but does not obscure our human knowledge, love, and
freedom. "When we cry, Abba! Father, St. Paul wrote, "it is the Spirit o f God bearing

%/ Believe, 2:59. Reference is to St. Johns "The Living Flame of Love," 3. Congar noted
that other mystics express a similar experience including William of Saint-Thierry, S t Theresa
of the Infant Jesus, and Maximus Confessor. "Pneumatologie dogmatique," 486 and 486 n. 2.
See also Yves Congar. "Aimer Dieu et les hommes par lamour dont Dieu aime?" REtAug 28
(1982): 86-99.
^On the unity of love of God and neighbor see for example Congars "Gods Call," in
God's People on Mans Journey, Proceedings of the Third World Congress for the Lay
Apostolate, (Rome: Permanent Committee for International Congresses of the Lay Apostolate,
1961), 1:118.
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witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Rom 8:15)but, Congar
commented, "it is we who cry."98 W ith the exception o f the absolutely miraculous:
the action of God passes totally and entirely through our mental, psychological
and corporeal resources. It is even necessary to avoid imagining that our part is
just about 75% and that where this stops, divine intervention takes over. All is of
us, all is of God. God is and acts within us; he remains transcendent in this very
immanence.99
The Spirit is given in our hearts with such subtlety, intimacy and inferiority that
the action o f the Spirit is almost indistinguishable from our own.100 Certainly our sinful
deeds are not the work of the Holy Spirit, but if our actions are truly rooted in goodness
and love they are acts of both our hum an faculties and the indwelling Spirit o f God.101
The East has traditionally spoken o f this human cooperation with grace as "synergy," a
principle according to which "we m ake ourselves through our actions, and it is the work
of God (see Gal 4:7).",<KThe Orthodox combine a strong sense o f Gods initiative with an
equally strong emphasis on human freedom, and Congar was convinced that Western

98Esprit de Ihomme, 20. Elsewhere Congar wrote "It is indeed difficult to say whether it
is he or us [who cries 'Abba.] He is so deeply within us, because he has been sent 'into our
hearts' and, as the Holy Spirit, he is so pure, subtle and penetrating (Wis 7:22) that he is able to
be in all of us and in each one of us without doing violence to the person, indiscernible in his
spontaneous movement" I Believe, 2:114.
99Esprit de Ihomme, 21.
"Pneumatologie dogmatique, 498.
10ICongar believed Peter Lombard had eclipsed the operation of human faculties in the
act of love when Lombard ascribed acts o f charity to the Holy Spirit Congar preferred Aquinas'
position that a created habitus or principle of action always accompanies the uncreated charity
that is the Spirit of God. Congar, "Aimer Dieu et les hommes par 1'amour dont Dieu aime? 8699.
m I Believe, 2:121.
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Catholic theology was really not very different from the East in this regard despite
century-spanning W estern debates on the relationship between grace and free will.103
Human cooperation with grace does not mean that God and creature operate on
the same level or that we earn our own salvation. Congar heartily agreed with Aquinas
that human beings can "merit" salvation only insofar as the Holy Spirit is operative in us,
for "merit only exists because o f grace and assumes that the Spirit is sent."104 Our
human facultieseven when exercised rightlyare incommensurate with our destiny to
share in the eternal life o f God. Thus "the Holy Spirit as uncreated grace takes the
initiative and provides the dynamism until the ultimate victory is reached in which God is
merely crowning his own gifts when he awards us a crown for our m erits.105 We can
never earn salvation o f our own accord.
We can, however, impede our salvation and grieve the Holy Spirit by our refusal
to cooperate with grace.106 Congar thus emphasized the importance of spiritual practices
that cultivate an openness to God. "The real aim of our Christian life is that we should be
overcome by the divine Spirit," Congar wrote, and this requires prayer, fasting.

1031 Believe, 2:70. See also Yves Congar, "The Human Person and Human Liberty in
Oriental Anthropology," in Dialogue Between Christians, trans. Philip Loretz (Westminster,
MD: Newman Press, 1966), 232-45. Protestant theology has traditionally had a different
approach to these issues. For a comparison of Congars reflections on divine-human synergy with
the theology of Martin Luther, see Monika-Maria Wolff, Gott und Mensch: Ein Beitrag Yves
Congars zum okumenischen Dialog (Frankfurt: Josepf Knecht, 1990).
104/ Believe, 2:108. For a detailed study of this issue see Joseph P. Wawrykow, God's
Grace & Human Action: M erit in the Theology o f Thomas Aquinas (Notre Dame, IN:
University of Notre Dame Press, 1995).
m I Believe, 2:108.
I06/ Believe, 2:57 with reference to Eph 4:30; I Believe, 2:70.
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almsgiving, charity and other good works undertaken in the name o f Christ.107 "If you
search for liberty, Bonhoeffer advised "leam first discipline."108Congar recommended a
nondualistic asceticism that affirmed the goodness o f the human body but that also
recognized that it is impossible to have a serious spiritual life if one cedes to the body's
every desire.109 He highlighted the need for constant prayer and the elimination o f noise
and distraction.110He stressed the importance of a spiritual reading o f scripture and an
active sacramental life,111 and he counseled his readers to seek ardently for the will of
God:
...[A]ny programme for holy living in the world presupposes an attempt on our
part to leam what God wants: for the world in general, for us in particular....W e
can thus come to know exactly what work and calling has been assigned to us
individually, what responsibility to the Father has been entrusted to us, after we
have died to worldliness.112

imI Believe 2:69.


IfW

Esprit de Ihomme, 5. Reference is to the Preface of Bonhoeffers Ethics (London:


SCM Press, 1955). On this point see also Congars "Pneumatologie dogmatique," 491.
109Esprit de Ihomme, 18. See also "The Spirit and the Straggle Against the Flesh, The
Spirit and Freedom, in I Believe, 2:119-33.
110Prayer, Congar reflected, actualizes "the profound dimension of our being." Esprit de
Ihomme, 40. On prayer see also "The Holy Spirit and Our Prayer," / Believe, 2:112-18; "The
Psalms in My Life," in Congar, Called to Life (Crossroad: New York, 1987), 11-17. On the need
for elimination of distraction see / Believe, 2:115 and "Uhomme est capable d'etre appeld, 383.
In this later essay Congar alludes to Pascal's classic reflections on distraction.
inOn the importance of the spiritual reading of Scripture see, for example, / Believe,
3:270.
U2"Life in the World and Life in the Lord," in Congar, Faith and Spiritual Life, trans. A.
Manson and L. C. Sheppard (New York: Herder and Herder, 1968), 140-41. See also Yves
Congar, "St. Francis of Assisi: or the Gospel as an absolute in Christendom," in Congar, Faith
and Spiritual Life, 33-34; Lay People in the Church, 422-41.

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Congar urged commitment to virtuous practices and an active engagement w ith the world
carried forth with simultaneous dedication and detachment so as to live "in the world, but
not o f i t ntl3 As Seraphim o f Sarov advised, constant effort is necessary in order to attain
the measure o f Christ.114

<L The M ystery o f D eification


The Christian life requires constant effort, but Congar also believedas S t
Seraphim him self had testifiedthat the labors of the Spirit fill our soul with sweetness,
happiness, joy, and inexpressible delights.113In the waters o f baptism we are deified, an
originally Eastern expression used to describe the depths o f Gods grace.116The Orthodox,
Congar noted, deny that Western theology expresses a true deification, but Congar
believed that the W ests theology of the divine missions communicates the sam e profound
mystery of human transformation that the Eastern tradition professes. Congar did wonder,

I13"Life in the World and Life in the Lord," 135-42.


114Reference is to Seraphims dialogue with Motovilov as translated by Vladimir Lossky
in Essai sur la theologie mystique de I'fcglise d'Orient (Paris: Aubier, 1944), 225ff. Cited in /
Believe, 2:71. Congar also cited Simeon the New Theologian: "No one will leave the darkness of
the soul and contemplate the light of the most Holy Spirit without trials, efforts, sweat, violence
and tribulation. Orat. XX, 12 (PG 3 5 ,1080B). Cited in Congar, I Believe, 2:70. Elsewhere
Congar quoted Marie de 1Incamation: "ordinarily God gives the Spirit after much toil in his
service and fidelity to his grace. Cited in "Pneumatologie dogmatique," 491. No reference is
given.
115/ Believe, 2:71. Reference is to the French translation of Seraphims dialogue with
Motovilov in Vladimir Lossky, Essai sur la theologie mystique de l'glise d'Orient (Paris:
Aubier, 1944), pp. 225ff.
116For Congars account of deification in the Eastern tradition see Yves Congar,
"Deification in the Spiritual Tradition of the East (In Light of a Recent Study)," in Congar,
Dialogue Between Christians, trans. Philip Loretz (Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1966),
217-31.
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however, if
our theological talk about the divine missions and created grace suffice to do
justice to the terms in which the mystics and the spiritual writers have spoken
about the transforming unioniron which becomes fire in contact with a source o f
intense heat, air which glows when the sun penetrates it, and so on.117
In Congars own writings, he tried to do justice to the mystics experience o f intense
communion with God through his theology o f divine filiation and his emphasis on
uncreated grace.
Through the Incarnation o f the Son o f God and our incorporation into his Mystical
Body, we become adoptive sons and daughters of God. This divine filiation "is not
simply a legal status," Congar emphasized, but "a real state."118 Congar affirmed the
abiding difference between the eternal Word who is Son o f God by nature and we who
are children of God by grace,119yet he also believed that we "form with the Son one
single being as sons."120 As Paul exclaimed continually, Christ is in us and we are in
Christ (Rom 8:1; Rom 8:2; Rom 8:39; Rom 16:7; 2 Cor 5:17; 2 Cor 13:5; Eph 2:13). We
rejoice in Christ (Phil 3:3), hope in Christ (1 Cor 15:19), speak the truth in Christ (Rom
9:1), and triumph in Christ (2 Cor 2:14).121 Paul coined numerous verbs with the prefix
sun- to express our intimate association and co-action with Christ, for we are crucified

1111 Believe, 3:151.


Believe, 2:125.
l19/ Believe, 2:217.
120/ Believe, 2:217.
m l Believe, 2:100.
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with Christ (Col 2:20), die w ith Christ (Col 2:20), and rise w ith C hrist (Col 3 :l).m
Throughout the centuries, Congar noted, great mystics like John o f the Cross, JeanJacques Olier, Teresa o f Avila, M arie de 1Incamation, and Elizabeth o f the Trinity have
home witness to this mystery w ith their testimony that 1 no longer live" but it is "Christ
who lives in me" (Gal 2:20).123 Like Paul, they speak o f a sovereign power o f God that
comes to take possession o f the soul "in order to become one w ith it."124
The mission of Christ is inseparable from the m ission o f the Spirit in whom we
are united to Christ and through Christ to God. The indwelling Holy Spirit, Congar
emphasized, is the uncreated grace o f God. "Catholic theologians speak o f 'grace,'" he
wrote. "In so doing, they run the risk o f objectifying it and separating it from the activity
o f the Spirit, who is uncreated grace and from whom it cannot be separated."125 Congar
was particularly concerned that Catholic theologys emphasis on created grace had
eclipsed the mystery o f our participation through Christ and the Spirit in the uncreated
life of God.126Rahner reasserted the primacy of uncreated grace by describing the

m I Believe, 2:100. Reference is to L. Cerfaux, The Christian in the Theology o f St. Paul
(London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1967).
m l Believe, 2:81.
124/ Believe, 2:84.
12S/ Believe, 2:68-69. "It is regrettable," Congar commented elsewhere, "that our classic
treatises on (created) grace did not make explicit the relationship between grace and the Trinity
and the Spirit" "Pneumatologie dogmatique," 494.
126In the post-Reformation period, Congar noted, Roman Catholic ecclesiology replaced
the Spirit with a theology of created grace and the gratia capitis. "Pneumatologie dogmatique,
495-96.
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indwelling o f the Spirit in terms o f quasi-formal causality,127 and Congar believed this
theology had roots in Basil, Cyril o f Alexandria, Bonaventure and Aquinas and was also
implicit in the Patristic references to the Holy Spirit as a "seal."128Just as a seal leaves its
mark on molten wax, so too the Spirit o f God impresses a divine form upon our soul.

e. Life in the Spirit


The Spirit o f Christ sealed upon our soul acts in synergy with our natural human
capacities for knowledge, love, and freedom to transform human lives. This new life is
manifest in a multitude of ways. In the Spirit, for example, we are enabled to exercise the
theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. According to Aquinas, God creates in the
soul a habitual availability or habitus to enable us to practice the virtues supra modem
humanum by means of an impulse received ab altiori principio.m Our exercise of the
virtues is not only enabled by habitual grace but also enhanced by the gifts o f the
Spiritwisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge and fear o f the Lord (Is 11:12>which perfect the practice o f the virtues.130 Spiritual fruits flower from this practice
and we experience love, joy, peace, patience, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and

127This means, Congar explained, that the uncreated Spirit really does transform the
human personbut without abrogating Gods transcendence or actually making us God I
Believe, 2:89. Heribett Muhlen coined the term "personal causality" as an alternative way to talk
about the action of the Spirit in our lives, but Congar was dubious about this approach. I Believe,
2:95 n. 30. Reference is to Heribert Muhlen, Der heilige Geist als Person: Beitrag zum Frage
nach der dem heiligen Geiste eigentumlichen Funktion in der Trinitat, bei der Inhumation und
im Gnadenbund (Munster: Aschendorff, 1963).
m I Believe, 2:96-97 n. 40.
l29/ Believe, 2:135. Reference is to ST IMF*, q. 68, a. 2 and Aquinas' Commentary on the
Sentences.
130/ Believe, 2:136.
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self-control (Gal 5:22). We are gifted with goodness, righteousness, godliness,


steadfastness, gentleness, purity, forbearance, and kindness.131 We become, Congar
reflected, men and women given up to God and others"free, truthful, demanding,
merciful, recollected and open to all."132
Congars account of our transformation in the Spirit also emphasized that the
Spirit makes us truly free. "Now the Lord," wrote S t Paul, "is the S pirit and where the
Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Cor 3:17; cf. Gal 5:13, 18; Rom 8:2,14). The
Spirit heals our dispersion and superficiality such that our lives truly have a center ("un
dedans")}33 The resulting perfect liberty is neither license nor mere conformity to an
external law but what Congar termed "interiority"the total coincidence o f our own
desire and will with that of God. The new law of the Gospel is, as Aquinas had explained,
the very Holy Spirit of God who "is so much the weight or inclination of our love that he
is our spontaneity intimately related to what is good.134 In this perfect liberty, even the
most difficult and burdensome tasks become exigencies o f love.133We become capable of

l3ISee Eph 5:9 (goodness, righteousness and truth); 1 Tim 6:11 (righteousness, godliness,
faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness); Rom 14:17 and 15:13 (righteousness and peace and joy in
the Holy Spirit); and 2 Cor 6:6-7 (purity, knowledge, forbearance, kindness, the Holy Spirit,
genuine love, truthful speech and the power of God.) Cited in I Believe, 2:138.
m I Believe, 2:138.
133Esprit de Ihomme, 39.
m I Believe, 2:125.
13S"Pneumatologie dogmatique, 492.
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true apostolic freedom: openness, availability, and confidence (parresia) even to the point
o f martyrdom.136
Interior freedom is manifest in a life o f Christian communion. "The Holy Spirit,"
Congar wrote, "is that active presence o f the Absolute in us who, at the same time,
deepens our interior life by rendering it alive and passionate and brings us into relation
and communion with others."137 It is natural for human creatures made in Gods image to
exist in relation to others, but in the Spirit o f Christ our love for each other is elevated to
a supra-human level. We love one another w ith the very love o f God and we are bound to
one another in the Body o f Christ. We are "members o f one another."138This communion
is not a fusion of existences, for the Spirit deepens our own unique personhood at the
same time as the Spirit unites us in charity to one another in a manner both sublime and
concrete.139This communion is evident in the time and space-defying mystery o f the
communion o f saints but also in the charitable execution o f the very ordinary
requirements of common daily life. In the Spirit, we must live together w ith a love that is
patient and kinda love that is not jealous nor boastful, arrogant, rude, irritable or
resentful (1 Cor 13:4-5).140

m I Believe, 2:129-30.
137Esprit de Ihomme, 38-39.
l38"Pneumatologie dogmatique," 498. Reference is to Eph 4:25.
l39Congar described communion in the Spirit as simultaneously sublime and concrete in
I Believe, 2:22.
l40l Believe, 2:21-22.
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Our transformation in the Spirit o f Christ culminates in the adoration o f God. In


response to Gods gift o f the Spirit, Congar believed, we must glorify God with our entire
lives, offering our very existence to God as a spiritual sacrifice in the manner o f Jesus
Christ (Jn 4:24), Paul (Rome 12:1) and Peter (1 Pet 2:5).141 We are also impelled to voice
our thanksgiving and adoration in hymns o f grateful praise. Even this very gratitude
comes from the Holy Spirit. "Beyond all that we know consciously and all thoughts that
we can form or formulate, the Spirit who dw ells in our hearts is there himself as prayer,
supplication and praise."142We who are the microcosm o f the cosmos express the
doxology of the entire universe in liturgical adulation.143

f The Spirit as Eschatological arrha


The Incarnation o f the W ord and the gift o f the Spirit that we celebrate with
liturgical praise are the culmination of Gods salvific economy. Yet Congar was acutely
aware that we live in the tension o f the "already" and "not yet, a period in which all
creation is still groaning (Rom 8:22). In this age, the Spirit strengthens us in our
tribulations and consoles us in the sufferings we share with Jesus Christ, the crucified
One.144 In the midst o f our distress, Paul assures us that there is often "a true spiritual joy
(Rom 11:17; Gal 5:22)."145This joy is a foretaste o f the promised kingdom o f God for

141/ Believe, 2:115.


l42l Believe, 2:17. Emphasis original.
143/ Believe, 2:222-24.
144/ Believe, 2:121.
1451 Believe, 2:122. Emphasis original.
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which we have a passionate longing.146When the bonds o f sin and death are finally
wholly overcome, there will be a new communication o f the Spirit and "the supreme
realization o f Gods indwelling.'447 The gift o f the Spirit that is already given will bear its
ultimate and definitive fruit.14* Congar believed that in this eschatological era we will
enjoy "spiritual glory in our vision o f God and bodily glory through the resurrection."149
In the interim, the Spirit is our pledge (arrha) and promise that creation will be set free
from bondage and decay. The Spirit is our hope that God w ill be "all in all" (1 Cor 15:28)
and "we will be like him, for we will see him as he is" (I John 3:2).150

4. Summation of Section ACongars Pneumatological Anthropology


Congars theological anthropology affirmed that God has created humanity in the
divine image and destined us for divine communion. The imago D ei is manifest in our
capacity for knowledge and love, our active freedom, our existence as unique persons
who share a common nature, and our vocation to bring the entire cosmos to spiritual
expression. In Adam, however, humanity turned away from God and fractured the divine
image we had been intended to bear, and our lives are ridden with conflict and disorder.
Through the Incarnation o f the W ord and the gift o f the Spirit, God both heals us of our

146I Believe, 2:107.


147/ Believe, 2:76.
mI Believe, 2:76.
l49l Believe, 2:11.
te n

Congar consistently placed his discussion of deification in an eschatological context.


For some of Congars reflections on eschatology see I Believe, 2:106-7. Many of his essays on
heaven, hell and purgatory have been translated and collected in Wide World, My Parish.

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sin and elevates humanity to a new level o f participation in the divine life. B y virtue of
the indwelling of the uncreated Spirit o f God and our filiation in Christ, we exercise
knowledge and love not only through our natural human capacities but also through the
knowledge and love of God. We live not only in relations of human sociality, but also in
the communion of the Mystical Body o f C hrist We enjoy the perfect freedom of
complete conformity of our will to the will o f God, we voice our adoration in hymns of
praise, and we await with joyful longing the eschatological consummation o f G od's
salvific plan.

B. Congars Pneumatological Ecclesiology


The eschatological mystery of deification is inseparable from the mystery of the
church.131 Ecclesial life is both an expression of our new life in the Spirit and a means
towards our transfiguration, for our fulfillment as creatures made in the divine image can
l5lOn the meaning of the term "church" in Congars theology see Yves Congar, "Peut-on
Definir LTiglise? Destin et valeur de quatre notions qui soffrent a le faire," in Congar, Saint
tglise (Paris: Cerf, 1963), 21-44. Congar agreed with theologians such as E. Commer and K.
Adam that the church is a supernatural mystery that cannot be defined but only described with a
plurality of complementary metaphorical images. He also lamented that for many the term
"church" connoted simply the "institution" or the "hierarchy." See for example "The Church,
People of God," 22. Such use of the word "church, he noted, "was completely unknown to the
Fathers and the liturgy." Yves Congar, Power and Poverty in the Church, trans. Jennifer
Nicholson (Baltimore: Helicon, 1964), 64. Congar recommended instead that the church be
conceived as "the People of God," "the Mystical Body of Christ," a " Congregatiofidelium or a
"communion in the form of a society."
Consideration of what Congar means by "church" must also address the problems posed
by denominational divisions. In Congars early Divided Christendom (1937), the church was the
Roman Catholic Church. Congar spoke o f members of other denominations as "separated
brethren" and when he referred to their ecclesial bodies he placed the word "church" in quotation
marks. The "various dissident Christian bodies," he explained, have at m ost" elements of the
Church." Divided Christendom, 242. In a post-Vatican II essay Congar queried in open-ended
fashion whether the Catholic Church will go so far in ecumenism as to "concede that the Church
transcends all ecclesiastical institutions and exists to some degree or other in all Christian
communions." Yves Congar, "The Future of the Church," in Congar, Ecumenism and the Future
o f the Church (Chicago: Priory Press, 1967), 171.
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be found only in communion with God and with others. Congar noted that in both the
Gospel o f John and the epistles o f Paul, the Spirit is promised and given to the church. 132
"The Father will give you [plural] the Spirit" (John 14 and 16), Jesus promised, while
Paul proclaimed that "the love o f God is poured forth in our hearts through the Holy
Spirit who is given to us" (Rom 5:1-11).153 For Congar, a pneumatological anthropology
was inconceivable apart from a pneumatological ecclesiologyan account o f the action of
the Spirit in the ecclesial communion.
As the Introduction to this dissertation described, however, there was scant
development of pneumatological ecclesiology in nineteenth and early twentieth-century
Roman Catholic theology. Theological treatises and papal encyclicals such as Leo XHTs
Divinum illud munus did offer reflections on the gifts o f the Spirit, the charity o f the
Spirit, and the indwelling o f the Spirit in the souls of the righteous. Yet "when the Spirit
in the Church was discussed," Congar noted, "he was mainly presented as the firm
guarantee given to the institution and to its magisterium."154 Indeed, some purely juridical
ecclesiologies failed to even mention the Holy Spirit at all.125 In sum:
The spiritual and personal aspects o f the Holy Spirit were treated o f in
Spirituality, in an atmosphere o f what would now be called privatization. The
indwelling o f the Holy Spirit as systematized by Saint Thomas was thoroughly
and lengthily discussed. But this had little influence in ecclesiology because the

152"Pneumatologie dogmatique," 496.


153"Pneumatologie dogmatique," 496-97. Emphasis is Congars.
I54"Renewed Actuality of the Holy Spirit," 15.
155Congar, "The Council as an Assembly and the Church as Essentially Conciliar," 45.
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anthropology o f the Christian sprang from the latter, and this was often
excessively juridical.156
Catholicisms juridical ecclesiology precluded the elaboration o f a fully communitarian
pneumatological anthropology, and in so doing barred the development o f a
pneumatological ecclesiology. Congar believed, however, that an adequate theology o f
the Holy Spirit demanded these lacking dimensions. He insisted:
By pneumatology I mean something other than a simple dogmatic theology o f the
third Person. I also mean something more than, and in this sense different from, a
profound analysis o f the indwelling o f the Holy Spirit in individual souls and his
sanctifying activity there. Pneumatology should, I believe, describe the impact, in
the context of a vision of the Church, o f the fact that the Spirit distributes his gifts
as he wills and in this way builds up the Church. A study of this kind involves not
simply a consideration o f those gifts or charisms, but a theology of the Church.157
Congar devoted him self to writing this pneumatological ecclesiology.
His research revealed that in the biblical and patristic era, pneumatology and
ecclesiology had in fact been closely wedded. For St. Paul, the church was a "temple of
the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16; Rom 8:9; Ep 2:19-22). Ireneaus
proclaimed that "where the Church is, there is also the Spirit of God and where the Spirit
o f God is, there are also the Church and all grace."158 Augustine always linked the church
and the Holy Spirit, and so did creeds and confessions of faith.159 Congar was particularly
struck by the fact that the First Council o f Constantinople (381) embellished Nicaeas
"We believe in the Holy Spirit" with the addition o f a clause enumerating what would

156"PneumatoIogy Today," 439.


157/ Believe, 1:156.
158Irenaeus, Adv. haer. HI, 11,9 (PG 7,890; SC 34,203ff)- Referenced by Congar in I
Believe, 2:68.
1590n Augustine see I Believe, 2:5.
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become known as the four ecclesial marks (notae) o f the church: "We believe in the Holy
Spirit, the Lord, the giver o f life...W e believe in one holy, catholic, and apostolic church."
Congar commented that "there is no real opposition or even break between the two: faith
in the Holy Spirit who makes the Church one, holy, catholic and apostolic is in fact faith
in the fulfillment o f Gods promise in the C h u r c h Congar discovered, furthermore,
that pneumatology and ecclesiology were closely related in the theology of Thomas
Aquinas, the work o f Johann Adam Mohler, and the Eastern Orthodox tradition. Congar
drew from these resources to elaborate a contemporary "pneumatological ecclesiology," a
term he first used in 1973. This ecclesiology affirms that the Spirit 1) co-institutes the
church; 2) empowers the sacraments and inspires the praise o f God; 3) structures the
church with charisms; 4) effects ecclesial communion; 5) makes the church holy; 6)
makes the church catholic; 7) preserves the church in apostolicity; and 8) kindles the
churchs eschatological mission.

1. The Holy Spirit Co-Institutes the Church


Congar's pneumatological ecclesiology was grounded in the affirmation that the
church is made by the two inseparable divine missions o f the W ord and the Spirit. As
Chapter Two described, Congar gradually moved from his 1950s portrayal o f the Spirit as
the animator of the ecclesial structures established by Jesus Christ to his 1980s position
that the Spirit is not simply the animator but also the co-institutor o f the church. Congars
conviction that the church is made by the Spirit was a consequence o f his growing

160

/ Believe, 2:6-7. Emphasis original.


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emphasis on the non-duality o f Jesus Christ and the Spirit and a component o f his
pneumatological christology. He stressed that:
A pneumatological ecclesiology presupposes a pneumatological Christology, that
is to say an appreciation of the role o f the Spirit in the messianic life o f Jesus, in
the resurrection and glorification that have made him Lord and have caused the
humanity hypostatically united to the eternal Son to pass from the form a servi to
the form a D ei...161
In the Spirit, Jesus Christ laid the foundations of the church both during his earthly life
and in his glorified state. Christ and the Spirit act inseparably to establish what Congar
typically called the ecclesial "means of grace"the W ord, the sacraments, and the
apostolic ministry. The institution of these essential ecclesial elements occurred gradually
throughout the apostolic era. "Together with many other contemporary theologians,"
Congar wrote in 1982, "I recognize that Jesus put in place the foundations but that the frill
institution of the Church was the work of the apostles after Pentecost."162 Jesus Christ
gave a sacramental signification to certain eventsbaptism in the Jordan, the sharing of
bread on Passoverbut the sacramental rites o f baptism and Eucharist developed
throughout ecclesial history.163 Likewise, Christ choose twelve apostles and thereby
instituted the apostolic body, but the practice of apostolic succession in the form of an
ecclesial episcopacy occurred after Pentecost.164Jesus Christ is thus not simply the

161"Pneumatologie dogmatique," 495-96.


16Z"Pneumatologie dogmatique," 496.
,63/ Believe, 2:9.
1<*I Believe, 2:10.
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"founder" o f the church, but more broadly the churchs foundation.165 Upon this
foundation, the church is edified over the course o f Christian history through the
inspiration and assistance o f the Spirit o f the glorified Lord and the cooperation o f the
Christian faithful.166 A pneumatological christology implies that "there is not only Christ
the historical founder o f the church but also the Christ who is the churchs
foundation....there is the glorified Christ acting without cease as Spirit to form his Body,
and sending his S p irit167
Congars affirm ation that the church is made by the Spirit was intended to counter
not only exclusively christological accounts o f ecclesial institution but also those
ecclesiologies that portrayed the ecclesial institution in humanly self-sufficient terms. In
Congars estimation, the conception of the church as a well-oiled machine that operated
smoothly of its own accord without Gods active intervention was all too common in
Roman Catholicism .168 Too often it was presumed that once Jesus Christ had instituted
the hierarchy and the sacraments, divine initiative in the church was no longer necessary.
Congar recalled that during the course o f the Second Vatican Council, a theologian of
repute said to one o f the periti, "You speak o f the Holy Spirit, but that is for the

16Sht speaking of Christ, Congar commented. Saint Paul does not so much refer to him
as founder (founder, in the past, of a completed society, societas perfecta), but as an ever
present foundation (cf. Cor 3:11 f.)" "Pneumatology Today," 442.
166Thus he distinguishes the original "inspiration" of the Spirit and the Spirit's ongoing
"assistance. See for example "Pneumatologie dogmatique," 496.
I67"Pneumatologie dogmatique," 496.
168"Renewed Actuality of the Holy Spirit, 18.
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Protestants. We have the teaching authority."169Congar countered such presumptions with


his repeated reminder that it is God who established, sustains, and builds up the church
through Jesus Christ and the Spirit. "It is God who calls us (Rm 1:6. People o f God,
Church o f God'. 1 Cor 1:1; 2 Cor 1:1); it is God who distributes the gifts o f service (1 Cor
12:4-11); it is God who makes things grow (1 Cor 3:6)...."170This divine activity is not a
one-time event. The church is not a pre-fabricated ready-made institution but rather a
living organism "always in the process o f being built, or rather being built by God."171

2. T he C hurch Lives By the Sacram ental Epiclesis of the S p irit an d th e Praise


and G lorification of G od172
The ongoing divine activity that builds up the church is preeminently evident in
the churchs sacramental and liturgical life, hi the liturgy, Jesus Christs redemptive
actions become not simply historical deeds but presently efficacious events.173 In the
sacraments, mortal human persons and earthly material elements are transformed by the
deifying power o f God and taken up into Gods eternal life. This is possible, Congar
insisted, not by virtue o f earthly means nor by the power o f the ecclesial institution but by

^"Pneumatology Today," 436.


170"Renewed Actuality of the Holy Spirit," 18. See also "Pneumatology Today," 441-42.
171"Pneumatology Today," 443. See also Congars statement, "The Church was not
simply founded in the beginningGod continues without ceasing to build it up, which of course
is the basic idea contained in 1 Cor 12. Word and Spirit, 80.
172The last chapter of Congars I Believe in the Holy Spirit is entitled "The Life of the
Church as One Long Epiclesis.
173See for example / Believe, 3:271.
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the epiclesis and intervention o f the Holy Spirit:


W hat we have here is an absolutely supernatural work that is both divine and
deifying. The Church can be sure that God works in it, but, because it is God and
not the Church that is the principle o f this holy activity, the Church has to pray
earnestly for his intervention as a grace...[T]he Church does not in itself have any
assurance that it is doing work that will well up to eternal life*; it has to pray for
the grace of the one who is uncreated Grace, that is, the absolute Gift, the Breath
o f the Father and the W ord....I believe the holy Church is conditioned by the
absolute T believe in the Holy Spirit. This dogma means that the life and activity
o f the Church can be seen totally as an epiclesis.174
The epicletic character of ecclesial life is evident in all the church's sacraments. Baptism
is given in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit by immersion or sprinkling
with water that the Spirit has sanctified, and through the power o f the Spirit we die to sin
and are reborn as members o f Christ's Body.175 Confirmation completes and fulfills
baptism through an anointing of the Spirit that seals our Christian commitment.176The
sacrament of penance and the power o f the keys are "entirely under the sign of the Holy
Spirit," Congar wrote, noting that the Spirit is mentioned more than twenty times in the
Praenotanda of the new penitential rite of 1973.177 And in the sacrament o f ordination,
the Spirit is communicated through the laying-on o f hands and an epicletic prayer that
calls upon the Spirit to strengthen and renew the candidates for the deaconate,
presbyterate, and episcopacy.178 Congar also believed that there is an epicletic character to

m l Believe, 3:271.
I75On baptism see I Believe, 2:189-201,3:217-27.
176On confirmation see I Believe, 3:217-27.
177I Believe, 3:269. The formula of absolution declares, "God, the Father of mercies,
through the death and resurrection of his Son, has reconciled the world to himself and sent the
Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins."
m I Believe, 3:268-69.
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the sacrament o f marriage, although this is more pronounced in the Orthodox rite than in
the Latin Catholic W est179Finally, the sacrament o f the Eucharist which culminates the
Christian life is entirely dependent on the activity o f the Holy S pirit Congar believed that
the Eucharistic mystery is contiguous with the mystery o f the Incarnationjust as the
W ord became flesh through the Spirit o f God, so too the conversion of bread and wine
into the body and blood of Christ takes place through the power of the Holy S pirit180The
consecration of the elements, Congar stressed, requires not only the properly-intentioned
recitation of the words o f institution but also the prayer o f epiclesis.181 The Spirit
furthermore, must touch the hearts o f those who receive the Eucharist if the sacrament is
to bear fruit in our lives if the sacrament is to be taken not simply sacramentaliter but
also spiritualiter.,82
The church implores the Spirit of Christ with earnest hearts in the prayer of
epiclesis, and in gratitude the church also voices its praise and thanksgiving. Ecclesial life
is not only entirely dependent upon the Spirit but also entirely orientated to the
glorification and adoration of God. This praise is offered to God, through Jesus Christ, in

179In the East, the crowning of the married couple is followed by a prayer that
corresponds to the Eucharistic epiclesis. I Believe, 3:269.
l80/ Believe, 3:229.
181

Congar considered it futile to try to isolate a specific moment of consecration of the


Eucharistic elements since the entire Eucharistic anaphora is consecratory and must be
considered as a whole. Within this prayer, however, the words of institution and the epiclesis are
equally important See I Believe, 3:228-49. Although the Roman Canon (now Eucharistic Prayer
I) did not have an explicit epiclesis, Congar thought that the "Supplices te rogamus" served in
this capacity. I Believe, 3:238 and 3:250. He also noted that the Latin West has always affirmed
the consecratory activity of the Spirit even in the absence of a more explicit epiclesis. See /
Believe, 3:250-57. Reference is to S. Salaville's "Epicl&se eucharistique," DTC, V, cols. 194-300.
182See "The Holy Spirit in Our Communion," in I Believe, 3:258-66.
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the Holy Spirit. All the Eucharistic prayers in todays Roman Rite, Congar noted, end
with the doxology "Through him, w ith him, in him, in the unity o f the H oly Spirit, all
glory and honour is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever."1*3 Congar commented that
he him self prayed these words daily with great intensity and understood them to indicate
that:
The Holy Spirit, who fills the universe and who holds all things in unity, knows
everything that is said and gathers together everything that, in this world, is for
and tending towards God (pros ton Patera). He ties the sheaf together in a hymn
o f cosmic praise through, with and in Christ, in whom everything is firmly
established (Col l:15-20).184
In the Spirit who is Gods ecstatic G ift to us, we return to God our grateful praise.

3. The Charisms of the Spirit are a Structuring Principle of the Church


The living organism of the church grows and thrives through the charisms o f the
Spirit given to the members o f the ecclesial body. Charisms, Congar explained, are gifts
o f nature and o f grace given for the fulfillment of the mission o f the church.185The Spirit
awakens natural human talentsgifts for teaching, healing, advocacy, reconciliation,
music, and so forth.and elevates them to a new level of orientation towards God in the
love and service of others. Charisms are given to all the members o f the church and take
many different forms. "The Church receives the fullness of the Spirit only in the totality

I83/ Believe, 2:224. Emphasis is Congars.


m l Believe, 2:224.
185/ Believe, 2:26. Congar was critical of the use of the term "charism" within the
charismatic movement where its meaning was limited to extraordinary gifts. See I Believe,
2:612-63.
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o f the gifts made by all Her members," Congar wrote. "She is not a pyramid whose
passive base receives everything from the apex.186
Prior to Vatican H, charisms had played little or no role in Roman Catholic
ecclesiology.187 If theologians mentioned them at all, Congar noted, they were considered
only in term s o f their contribution to personal spirituality and were attributed no
ecclesiological importance or value.188Pius XU did discuss the charisms in his 1943
encyclical M ystici Corporis but only in a limited sense.189 Charisms, Congar emphasized,
should not be treated simply as gifts for personal spiritual enrichment nor ornamental
additions to a self-sufficient ecclesial institution but rather as a contribution to the
churchs very constitution. As Gotthold Hasenhuttl's explained, the charisms are the
Ordungsprinzip o f the churchthe principle o f ecclesial order and construction190 a
position Congar accepted with the qualification that Hasenhuttls theology must be placed

186"Pneumatology Today," 443. See also: "All have received the Spirit or can receive
him....the total Church only enjoys the fullness of the Spirits gifts by welcoming and integrating
the contributions brought from all sides...." "Renewed Actuality of the Holy Spirit," 17-18.
187On the Second Vatican Councils treatment of charisms, see "Renewed Actuality of
the Holy Spirit," 16. Reference is to LG 12; 13, 2 and 3 and end of 32; Apostolicam
actuositatem 3 4; 30 6; Ad gentes 4 1; 28 1; Presbyterorum ordnirtis 5 2; Unitatis
redintegratio 14.
188"Pneumatology Today," 439.
189On the charisms in Mystici Corporis see "Renewed Actuality of the Holy Spirit," 16;
Word and Spirit, 79-80.
190G. Hasenhiittl, Charisma, Ordungsprinzip der Kirche (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1970).
Summarized in the French study "Les charismes dans la vie de lliglise," in Vatican II:
I'Apostolat des laics, Unam Sanctam, no. 75 (Paris, 1970), 203-14. Cited by Congar in
"Pneumatology Today," 445; "Renewed Actuality of the Holy Spirit," 19; Word and Spirit, 7884.
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in the proper context o f the sacrament o f orders and given christological balance.191 The
ordained m inistries must not be reduced to one charism among others, for they have a
foundational role in the life o f the church. Nonetheless, Congar affirmed, charisms do
contribute to the very constitution of the church and consequently they do not, as is often
presumed, stand in opposition to the ecclesial institution.192 Inevitably, there will be some
tension between charisms and institution.193 But many charisms can be rightfully
designated as actual ministries, and the institutionalized or ordained m inistries, in turn,
have a charismatic dimension.194 "Although not everyone possessing the gifts of the Spirit
is instituted as a minister, those who are instituted do in fact possess such gifts."193
The charisms manifest themselves not only in their contribution to a plurality of
ministries but also in the diversity o f local and particular churches. The local church is the
church in a certain place (e.g. Paris, Santiago, Philadelphia) and the particular church is a
church in which the members share a common characteristic such as language or
ethnicity.196The distinctive features of local and particular churches are charisms insofar

,9,"Renewed Actuality of the Holy Spirit," 19; "Pneumatology Today," 445. On the need
to balance the christological (institutional) and pneumatological (charismatic) dimensions of the
church see I Believe, 2:11.
(^Theologically, if the false opposition is accepted and a sharp division is made
between charism and institution, the unity of the Church as the Body of Christ is destroyed... I
Believe, 2:11.
l93See for example Word and Spirit, 78.
194"Pneumatology Today," 445. Charisms, it should be noted, are only a dimension of
ordained ministry. The sacrament of ordination adds something above and beyond the
charismatic gift
195I Believe, 2:10.
l96/ Believe, 2:26-27.
207

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as they are orientated to the mission o f the church universal, and the church universal
must call these charisms forth. "The Church is only Catholic," Congar maintained,
"when, by the communion of the local or particular churches she applies to herself the
gifts distributed to all. No man can say to another, T do not need you (cf. 1 Cor 12,21;
Rev 3:17)."197

4. The Holy Spirit is the Principle of Ecclesial Communion


The Holy Spirit not only inspires a rich diversity o f charisms but also brings all
persons and all local and particular churches into communion with one another. A
pneumatological ecclesiology that embraces manifold gifts and ministries does not result
in anarchy or fragmentation, for the same Spirit who enlivens a diversity of charisms is
also (by appropriation) the principle o f ecclesial communion.198The church is graced with
the "koindnia tou hagiou Pneumatos" (2 Cor 13:13). This Pauline passage, Congar noted,
uses the objective genitive rather than the genitive of author, for ecclesial communion is
not simply something produced by the Spirit but a participation in the Holy Spirit of
God.199 One and the same Holy Spirit dwells within all the members of the church as their

l97"Pneumatology Today," 444. See also "La tri-unit de Dieu," 695.


198

Congar had been devoted to the service of ecclesial unity ever since he championed
the cause of ecumenism very early in his career, but Famerge observes that in the later stages of
Congars life he spoke less frequently of ecclesial unity and more often of ecclesial communion.
"Communion," Fameree notes, is a more pneumatological term. See Fameree, L'ecclesiologie
dYves Congar, 454.
199"Pneumatologie dogmatique," 498. On the term "koinonoia" see Mystery o f the
Temple, 230 and 287; L'tglise une, 56-57; Pneumatologie dogmatique," 497. On the church as a
"communion," see Ltglise une, 49-62; "Peut-on dgfiner rglise?" 37-40; I Believe, 2:15-23;
"Pneumatologie dogmatique," 495-502. Congar identifies Ludvig Herding, Mohler and others as
sources of a theology of communion in L t g lise une, 49 n. 87.
208

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principle of unity, "for by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body (1 Cor 12:13).200
The faith, the sacraments, and common life and action are also principles o f ecclesial
unity, Congar explained, but the Spirit is the personal and living principle o f the
communion of the church.201 "That which makes us one, Congar explains, "is that each
o f us has a personal relation with the unique, living God, thanks to the Holy Spirit who is
given to us."202
In the Spirit o f God, persons o f every time, place, race, and culture are
incorporated into the Body o f C hrist Communion o f such profound extent is possible
only through the One who is "unique and present everywhere, transcendent and inside all
things, subtle and sovereign..."203 From Abel to the last o f the chosen people, from earth
to heaven, from the churchs head to every member, the same Holy Spirit is in all?04 No
human person, Congar emphasized, could ever unify people in the boundless manner of
the Spirit of God.205 No human institution or human law could secure this unlimited
communion.206 No human being could make o f many persons one Body without

200In the Spirit, Congar noted, all members of the church have the same principle of
supernatural operation. "La tri-unite de Dieu," 691.
m L'glise une, 60.
^"Unitfi, diversitds, et divisions," in Saint tglise (Paris: Cerf, 1963), 110. See also I
Believe, 2:15.
2031 Believe, 2:17.
**1 Believe, 2:18-19.
^ "L a tri-unit de Dieu," 692.
^L 'tg lise une, 15.
209

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annihilating their unique individuality and personhood.207 Ecclesial communion is a

mysterious act o f grace that comes from abovefrom God the Father through Jesus Christ
in the Holy Spirit.
Human persons contribute to this communion through their cooperation with
grace. Congar believed that the church is built up by the graced initiatives o f all who are
members o f the church universal, for the church does not exist as an unchanging
institutional form that absorbs new members who are homogenized to a common mold.
Rather, the church is a living communion that grows dynamically as each person and
each local community contribute their gifts to the service o f others. Inspired by the great
evangelical commitment of so many Catholics evident in post-W ar France and in the
post-Vatican II church, Congar wrote:
Henceforth, we may confidently speak o f an ecclesiology of communion:
communion between persons who are seen as so many individual subjects o f gifts
which they communicate to others, in accordance with the apostolic exhortation of
1 Pet 4.10, which Vatican II repeats, applying it equally to the particular
communities or local Churches. A communion, in fact, of Churches that each
have their own gifts and cannot be reduced to the condition o f merely quantitative
parts o f one integrally homogeneous whole, which has all too often been a
dominant tendency in Latin Catholicism over the past ten centuries. This supposes
that we take account, both in general and in the de Ecclesia theology, o f the
interiorization of the fullness of Christ in individual subjects, which is the specific
work o f the Holy Spirit.2

207"La tri-unit de Dieu," 692.


"Renewed Actuality of the Holy Spirit," 19-20. See also "De la communion des
glises &une ecctesiologie de lliglise universelle, in L'Episcopat et I'tglise universelle, Unam
Sanctam no. 39, eds. Yves Congar and B.-D. Dupuy (Paris: Cerf, 1962), 227-60. On the
importance of Congars experience of the active initiative of the Catholic faithful (particularly
the laity) in the formation of his pneumatological ecclesiology see "Pneumatology Today, 43940.
210

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Congar thus emphasized the centrality o f initiative and renewal in a church in which the
Spirit and the human person act together in liberty.209 He stressed the importance of
conciliar life and collegiality, and he described the reception o f church teaching as an
active process o f church members who are not passive objects but persons in communion
through the Holy Spirit of God.210
As a communion o f unique persons, the church is richly diverse. The Spirit takes
living roots in every person in a strictly original and personal way,211 bringing persons to
communion "by respecting and even stimulating their diversity."212The church is
consequendy not a homogeneous uniformity but rather a uniplurality of unique
persons.213 "Communion is precisely unity without uniformity, the harmony or symphony
of diverse voices. There is nothing more sublime, nothing more concrete."214Ultimately

^S ee for example "La tri-unitd de Dieu, 695 and 698-99. And in Vraie etfausse
reforme, Congar described the church as a result of the synergy between the grace of God and
the free activity of humanity. Vraie etfausse reforme, 2d ed., 97.
210On the pneumatological basis of conciliarity and collegiality see "Pneumatologie
dogmatique," 500-501; on reception as an active process see "La tri-unit de Dieu," 698. See also
Congars "Quod omnes tangit ab omnibus tractari et approbari debet," Rev. histor. de Droit
frangais et etranger 1958,210-59; "Reception as an Ecclesiological Reality, in Election and
Consensus in the Church, eds. Giuseppe Alberigo and Anton Weiler (New York: Herder and
Herder, 1972), 43-68.
211"Unite, diversites, et divisions," 113 and I Believe, 2:17.
212/ Believe, 2:17. My emphasis.
Congar explained that there are actually two reasons for the uniplurality of the church.
One, as described above, is the unique personhood of everyone who receives the Spirit of God.
The second is God's transcendenceGod is infinite, incomprehensible and inexhaustible. There
will thus never be one hymn that exhausts God's glory, one prayer that captures God's mystery,
or one theology that explains God's economy. See L'fcglise une, 47; Diversity and Communion,
40.
2i*Esprit de Vhomme, 54. FamerSe, following Jean-Piene Jossua, observes that Congars
accentuation of the importance of ecclesial diversity represents a qualitative shift in his thought.
211

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diversity and communion are not opposed because both have their source in the Spirit of
God.215 This diversity must never degenerate into division, and Congar regarded it as the
responsibility o f the pastoral hierarchy to guard against this possibility.216 Yet he
cautioned that the Spirit "does not bring about unity by using pressure or by reducing the
whole of the Churchs life to a uniform pattern. He does it by the more delicate way of
communion."217

5. The Spirit is the Principle of the Churchs Holiness


Our koindnia in the Spirit is a communion with the God who is absolutely holy, as
the seraphs extolled in awe when God appeared to Isaiah in the Temple (Is 6:1-3). Jesus
Christthe Son of God and the anointed o f the Spiritwas holy and sinless and
established the church as a holy nation, a holy priesthood, and a holy temple (1 Pet 9; 2:5

In Divided Christendom (published in French in 1937), Congar stressed unity and treated
diversity as a provisional and secondary reality. In contrast, Congars Diversity and Communion
(published in French in 1982) treated diversity as a necessary and positive correlative of
communion. See Jossua, "L'oeuvre oecumnique du Pfcre Congar," txudes 357 (1982): 552ff;
Fameree, L'ecclesiologie d'Yves Congar, 453-54; Fameree, "Chretiens desunis du P. Congar 50
ans apres," N R T110 (1988): 666-86.
215Tbe Spirit is "guarantee both of that communion and of the diversity of the
gifts." Word and Spirit, 116. See also: T h e Holy Spirit who was source of variety through the
diversity of charisms is also the principle of communion and of unity." Le troisi&me article du
Symbole," 296.
216See Unit, diversity et divisions, 111-12. Congar noted that the external means of
unity (the hierarchy) and the reality of communion should ideally be congruent. But spiritual
unity can exist even where the external means of unity are absent, or one may partake of external
means without being truly open to the Spirit. L'tglise une, 118.
I Believe, 2:17. Congar expressed concern that "excessive emphasis has been given in
the Catholic Church to the role of authority and there has been a juridical tendency to reduce
order to an observance of imposed rules, and unity to uniformity." I Believe, 2:16. External
ecclesial authority, Congar stressed, exists only to serve the spiritual finality of personal union
with God and should always be subordinate to this end. Unit, diversity et divisions," 112.
212

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and Eph 2:21). In the Spirit, Jesus Christ instituted the "ecclesia congregans" (the
"gathering church)the apostolic institution with its m agisterial and sacramental
functionswhich by virtue o f Gods promise to Peter (M t 16:18-19) enjoys what Congar
termed a perpetual and objective holiness.218 All the acts o f the apostolic institution are
not de facto holy, but holiness is assured of all the "decisive structures and operations of
the ecclesial institution."219 This holiness is due not to any human virtue but is grounded
in the institution o f the ecclesia congregans by the Incarnate W ord and sustained by
Gods fidelity to G ods own promises!20 "Only God is holy," Congar insisted, "and only
he can make us holy, in and through his incarnate Son and in and through his Spirit"221
The Spirit of God is (by appropriation) the principle o f this promised holiness.
In the S p irit holiness is extended from the ecclesia congregans to the ecclesia
congregata (the assem bled church). Human persons are washed clean o f their sins in the
waters of baptism and begin a new life of total orientation to God.222 Our conversion from
sin is an ongoing process; all members of the church are in continual need o f purification

218

Congar differentiated the "ecclesia congregans" and the "ecclesia congregata," a


distinction he appropriated from Henri de Lubacs Meditation sur l'glise (Paris: Aubier, 19S3),
78-85. See Congar, L'glise une, 130 n. 42. Congar also used this distinction in 1 Believe, 2:54.
Congar spoke of the objective holiness of the church in L'tglise une, 132-34.
2l9L'glise une, 133-34.
220In this respect, Congar referenced not only Mt 16:18-19 but also Mt 28:19-20 and Jn
14:16. See I Believe, 2:54-55. Congar believed that Protestants misunderstand this aspect of
Catholic theology. See L'glise une, 129.
2211 Believe, 2:68-69.
^Something is holy, Congar explained, insofar as it is oriented to God, comes from
God, belongs to God, and is totally referred to God. L'tgUse une, 125.
213

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and straggle forwards as the "holy Church o f sinners."223 Nonetheless, holiness is the true
vocation of the baptized. The entire church is to be an icon o f holiness, a sign o f
communion with God that reveals the "reality and the presence o f another world."224This
holiness is evident in worship, beauty, and acts o f charity; the grandeur o f Chartres
Cathedral, the harmonious dulcidity of Gregorian chant, and the lives o f men and women
such as Seraphim o f Sarov, Charles de Foucauld and Mother Teresa who have given
themselves totally and unconditionally to God.225 "It is the Holy Spirit," Congar wrote,
"who causes this radiation of holiness."226 Holiness is not an individual but an ecclesial
reality. There is an intercommunication of spiritual energy that is the basis of the prayers
for the departed, the baptism of infants, and the communion o f saints.227

6. The Holy Spirit is the Principle of the Church's Catholicity


The churchs many expressions of holiness are one dimension of its catholicity.
Catholicity is an embrace o f the universal truth that is manifest in the uniqueness of every

2231Believe, 2:57; L'tglise une, 135. Congar also discussed the churchs ongoing struggle
to live out its vocation in Vraie etfausse reforme dans l'glise; "Comment rglise sainte doit se
renouveler sans cesse," Iren 34 (1961): 322-45; Power and Poverty in the Church, trans. Jennifer
Nicholson (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1965); "Lapplication k lllglise comme telle des
exigences 6vangeliques concemant la pauvret6," in glise et Pauvrete, Unam Sanctam, no. 57
(Paris: Cerf, 1965), 135-55; and "P6che et mis&res dans l^glise," in Lfcglise une, 136-44. In this
reflection Congar noted that the Virgin Mary is the one member of the church who did not sin
and who fully realized in her person the holiness of the church.
V Believe, 2:58.
^O n worship, beauty and charity as works of the Spirit see I Believe, 2:52-61.
/ Believe, 2:58.
m I Believe, 2:59-61. This passage contains both Congars reflections and his
interpretation of Aquinas views on this issue. On the importance of the activity of the Holy
Spirit in the baptism of infants, see also / Believe, 3:267-68.
214

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creature. Congar believed that catholicity has its ultimate source in God the Father who is
simultaneously unique and universal and who creates a cosmos in which every creature is
both unique and destined to universal communion.22* Creations destiny to universal
communion is fulfilled in Jesus Christ who is the "concrete universal"; in the mystery of
the hypostatic union, the concrete and particular human nature o f Jesus of Nazareth is
united fully to God and through God to all that is.229 Paul, Congar noted, described
Christs mission as the reconciliation o f all beings <$apanta) with God (Col 1:19-20)230;
in and through the cosmic Christ o f the plerdma, the Spirit o f Christ unites what Congar
called the sources of catholicity from below (human nature and the cosmos) with the
source from above (God).231 All creatures in their own uniqueness are incorporated into
the universal body of Christ, for the Spirit fosters "that mutual interiority of the whole in
each which constitutes the catholic sense: kathholous, being o f a piece with the
whole."232 A truly catholic ecclesiology, Congar stressed, "requires a pneumatology.1,233
22*The term "catholic" makes its first known appearance in ancient Greek philosophical
texts. (The word does not appear at all in the Christian scriptures.) In Aristodes works, Congar
noted, kath olou meant "according to the whole, in general" and for Philo "katholokis" connoted
the "general in opposition to the "particular. L'tglise une, ISO. But the God of Jesus Christ,
Congar emphasized, is not "general but rather unique. "It is because God is unique, because he
is the unique sovereign reason behind all that is, that his Plan is universal." Ltglise une, 161.
Therefore [i]f God makes something according to his image, he makes it at the same time one
and universal. L'tglise une, 161.
229For Congars description of Christ as the "concrete universal," see / Believe, 2:34.
Congar cautioned that the reality of Christ goes far beyond the philosophical connotations of this
phrase.
^L 'tg lise une, 162-63.
^L 'tg lise une, 165.
m I Believe, 2:18.
^ L tglise une, 173.
215

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The catholicity o f the church is evident in its universal geographic extension. The
Spirit of Christ carried the church throughout the Mediterranean and then across the
globe, and Congar spoke o f this geographic breadth as quantitative catholicity.234 As the
church incorporated the unique peoples o f East and W est, Asia and Africa, and North and
South America it developed a diversity o f rites, prayers, languages, and theologies that
Congar described as qualitative catholicity.235 Congar celebrated this diversity and lauded
the emphasis o f the Second Vatican Council on local and particular churches.236 He
regarded missionary work as an effort driven by the Spirit to bring all into the plerdma o f
Jesus Christ.237 And he believed that catholicity requires attentiveness to the presence o f
the Spirit beyond the borders o f the institutional churches, openness to the "signs o f the
tim es, receptivity to the new, and vigilance for the future.238

234As the church expanded, the church fathers explicitly identified this geographic
extension as a sign of the churchs catholicity. L'tglise une, 154-55. Reference is to Optat of
Mileve, Augustine, Cyril of Jerusalem and others.
235He believed that quantitative and qualitative catholicity are indissociable. Ltglise
une, 171. He also acknowledged that cultural diversity has not always been respected. Rome has
been paternalist, but this is not the authentic catholicity of the tradition. L'tglise une, 172.
Indeed, Congar himself grew in appreciation for ecclesial diversity as described above in note
214. Fameree comments that "the catholicity of Congar in 1982 has taken a different meaning
than that of 1937." Famerde, L'ecclesiologie dYves Congar, 453. In fact, already in 1961 Congar
stressed that catholicity is not simply a quantitative expansion of an identical form of unity. He
also acknowledged that to the extent that Divided Christendom (1937) suggested a purely
quantitative catholicity, Vladimir Lossky had been right to criticize the book. "Unitd, diversitds
et divisions," 115.
**1 Believe, 2:26-27. Elsewhere, Congar cited Herv6 Legrand: "Because the Church is
catholic, it should be particular." "La tri-unit^ de Dieu," 695. Reference is to Hervd Legrand,
Cahiers Saint-Dominique 127 (April 1972): 346-54.
^ O n mission see I Believe, 2:24-27.
2391 Believe, 2:31-33. On the Spirit in the world see also L'tglise une, 176.
216

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7. H ie Holy Spirit Keeps the Church Apostolic


Catholicity is a dimension o f the church's apostolic fidelity. This apostolicity,
Congar explained, is based above all in the faithfulness o f God.239 G od's steadfast love for
creation is manifest in the Incarnation of the W ord, the ongoing presence o f the glorified
Christ, and the continuation o f Christs mission by the apostles and those who unfailingly
take up the apostolic task in each successive generation.240 G od's faithfulness requires in
response our own fidelity, and this is enabled by the Spirit who "is given to the Church as
its transcendent principle o f faithfulness."241 The indwelling Spirit generates an ecclesial
apostolicity manifest in the service, witness, suffering and struggle o f all the faithful.242
We profess, Congar emphasized, that the Holy Spirit makes the church apostolic.243
"[A]postolicity does not consist in a pure external structure, that is in the identity o f forms
o f doctrine and of institutions, but rather the interior principle of apostolicity in the unity
o f the church is the Holy Spirit."244

239I Believe, 2:39.


^C ongar addressed each of these points in I Believe, 2:40.
241/ Believe, 2:43.
Believe, 2:45.
I Believe, 2:44.
244L'tglise une, 187. Congar however sometimes did discuss apostolicity without explicit
reference to the Spirit He wrote for example: "The apostolicity of the Church is a communion
with the apostles, and with and through them a communion with the Father and his Son Jesus
Christ (1 Jn 1:3,7)." I Believe, 2:44-45. See also "One has communion with God through Jesus
Christ, and with Jesus Christ through the apostles (1 Jn 1:1-3)." L'tglise une, 218.

217

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Only within this communion o f the whole church can apostolic succession in the
strict sense o f the termi.e. the succession o f the bishopstake place.245 Jesus Christ
commissioned Peter, James, Andrew and the other apostles to govern the church and this
mission and its requisite charism of truth is passed from the apostles to the bishops. This
succession, however, is not simply a vertical bestowal o f charism from Christ to the
episcopacy but a gift o f fidelity that permeates the entire church through the power of the
Spirit.246 New bishops are thus consecrated by several bishops in the midst o f the people
who bear witness to the faith o f the bishop elect.247 Consecrated bishops exercise the
apostolicity made manifest in them through general pastoral governance, the convocation
of ecumenical councils and the exercise of the magisterium.248 Congar noted that the
Spirits inspiration o f the episcopacy was described in an autom atic and juridical fashion
in the Counter-Reformation period, but he stressed that "in principle, no automatic,

I Believe, 2:45.
^"Pneumatologie dogmadque," 500-501.
M7/ Believe, 2:45. Even the communion of saints in heaven is involved in this ordinadon.
2491 Believe, 2:44. On ecumenical councils see Tradition, 346-47. On the magisterium,
see I Believe, 2:46; Yves Congar, "Pour une histoire slmandque du terme 'magisterium,"
RSPhTk 60 (1976): 85-97; "Bref historique des formes du 'magist&re et de ses relations avec les
Docteurs," RSPhTh 60 (1976): 99-112, English summary in TheoDgst 25 (Spring 1977), 15-20.
Congar considered "infallible" a "disturbingly heavy term." I Believe, 2:46. He acknowledged
that the church's pastoral magisterium can fall short of its task and is limited by the historical
nature of knowledge. He stressed that "the Holy Spirit helps the church ne finaliter erretso that
error will not ultimately prevail (see Mt 16:18)." He thus suggested "indefectibility" as the best
concept to "express the whole of the Church's attempt throughout history to profess the saving
troth." I Believe, 2:46. With respect to the Protestant position that the primary subject of
indefectibility is the Holy Spirit rather than the Church itself, Congar commented that "we can
gladly accept even this insistence, provided we can also say that grace is given" I Believe, 2:46.
On the issue of infallibility see also Congars "Infaillibilit6 et indfectibilit," RSPhTh 54 (1970):
601-18; "Apr&s Infailliblel de Hans Kung: bilans et perspectives," RSPhTh 58 (1974): 243-52.
218

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juridical formalism" is involved "since this hierarchical* function exists within the
communion o f the ecclesia.n249
Apostolicity is often described as conformity to the churchs first-century origins,
but Congar emphasized that this conformity has a forward-looking sense and thrust.250
The apostolicity of the church is not simply an act of memory but also a dynamic and
forward-looking affirmation of the ongoing presence and power of God. Apostolicity is
conformity to Christ who is Alpha and eschatological Omega. The Spirit brings the
M ystical Body to its fullness amidst the novelty o f history and the variety o f culture
through which will come the "Christ that is to be."251 Precisely as the Spirit of Christ,
Congar wrote, the Spirit is "'God-before-us. ",252 For "what Christ has given has still to
come to pass; in a manner not yet realized. History is the realization of what has not yet
taken place."253

8. The Holy Spirit Kindles the Eschatological Mission of the Church


The eschatological activity o f the Spirit extends beyond the visible community of
the baptized for the Spirit acts secretly in places where the institutional church does not

249/ Believe, 2:44 and 2:45. Thus, he continued, it is almost universally affirmed that a
heretical Pope would cease to be Pope since he would no longer be part of the communion of
faith.
Believe, 2:39.
251Word and Spirit, 71. Congar is here citing Tennyson.
252"Pneumatology Today," 448.
253"Pneumatology Today," 446-47. Elsewhere Congar spoke of the "pendulum swing"
between the creativity of the Spirit and reference to Christ. See "Renewed Actuality of the Holy
Spirit," 24. The latter formulation suggests more of a duality between Christ and the Spirit than
the passage cited above.
219

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reach.254 Congar believed that the formula "Extra Ecclesiam, nulla salus" was not a
limitation o f the activity of the Spirit to the institutional church but rather an affirmation
of the authenticity o f the church and its place in Gods plan.255 The church does have a
soteriological role. Nonetheless, as Ambrose o f M ilan wrote, "all truth, no matter where it
comes from, is from the Holy Spirit"256 The activity o f the Spirit extends beyond the
church. But even when manifestations o f the Spirit appear beyond the walls o f chapels
and cathedrals, they are not foreign to the churchs life. The mission of the church is to
gather together all truths scattered and dispersed and to offer all to God in a hymn of
cosmic praise, voicing the doxology of those persons who do not have explicit knowledge
of God and the praise o f all speechless creatures. W e offer all, Congar wrote, in "that
sheaf that has been bound together invisibly by the Holy Spirit."257
The church also reaches out to share the knowledge o f God such that Gods glory
may be increased. Through missionary activity, the church seeks to gather the whole
human race into one people of God, one Body of Christ, one Temple of the Holy S pirit
The church, Congar reflected in 197S, is "totally and entirely praise for God and totally
and entirely mission, in the service of humanity."258 God's plan will ultimately be fulfilled
when all human persons created in the divine image live in harmony and peace and when

^ S e e for example. Word and Spirit, 127.


255Divided Christendom, 222 and Wide World My Parish, 93-154. Nonetheless, he
thought the formula required so much interpretation that it was not practically very useable.
156I Believe, 2:219.
V Believe, 2:223.
258Puyo, Une vie pour la verite, 218.
220

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all are regenerated through Christ in the Holy Spirit so as to behold together the glory of
God.259

9. Summation of Section BCongars Pneumatological Ecclesiology


Congar insisted that a theology o f the Holy Spirit must include not only an
account of the indwelling o f the Spirit in the human soul but also a theology o f the
church. Congar drew from the resources o f the Christian tradition as well as his own
pneumatological christology to develop a pneumatological ecclesiologyan account of
the Spirit as the co-institutor and life principle o f the ecclesial communion. Jesus Christ
acted in the Spirit to lay the foundations o f the church during his earthly life, and
throughout the centuries the church is carried towards its eschatological destiny by the
Spirit of the glorified Christ who preserves the church in apostolicity. Through the
sacraments of the church, the Spirit sanctifies us and incorporates us into the Body o f
Christ, uniting persons in communion and calling forth their unique gifts such that the
church is built up with a rich diversity o f charisms and expresses a true catholicity. The
activity of the Spirit extends beyond the boundaries o f the visible church, and the mission
o f the church is likewise to reach out beyond its own borders in service to humanity. The
church is called to gather the scattered voices o f humanity and the silence o f all
speechless creatures into a hymn o f cosmic praise. Congar emphasized that every
authentic ecclesial actevery act that truly wells up towards eternal lifeis entirely

259I Believe, 2:223. Reference is to Ad gentes divinitus, 7,3.


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dependent on the activity o f the Holy Spirit whom the church must continually implore.
The life o f the church, Congar concluded, is "one long epiclesis."260

C. Conclusion of Chapter Three


Congar overcame Roman Catholicisms disjunction o f spiritual anthropology and
ecclesiology through his development of both a pneumatological anthropology and a
pneumatological ecclesiology. Human persons, Congar explained, are made in the image
o f God and destined to deification through the Spirit o f Christ, a mystery that is mediated
and expressed in ecclesial communion. The invocation "Come, Holy Spirit"
simultaneously calls the Spirit into human souls and into the church. Congars
transcendence of Catholicisms divorce of spiritual anthropology and ecclesiology is a
major contribution to contemporary theology. Congar enriched ecclesiology by
incorporating into a theology of the church the anthropological and pneumatological
dimensions that had been missing in so much o f the post-Reformation period.
Simultaneously, Congar enhanced contemporary theological anthropology by
highlighting the communitarian character o f our creation in the imago Dei and the
ecclesial character o f our destiny to deification in C hrist
The inseparability o f Congar's pneumatological anthropology and
pneumatological ecclesiology was implicitly evident throughout this chapter. Many of the
themes discussed under the rubric o f Congars anthropology arose again in the exposition
of Congar's ecclesiology: communion, incorporation in C hrist holiness, human/divine
synergy, eschatology, and the praise and glorification o f God. This chapter concludes

Believe, 3:267.
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with an explicit consideration o f some o f the important points o f integration that unite
Congars pneumatological anthropology and pneumatological ecclesiology. These include
Congars theology o f nature and grace; his communitarian anthropology; his emphasis
on the active initiative o f human subject and human cooperation with grace; his
pneumatological christology; and his emphasis on the Spirits work o f communion.
Congars theology o f nature and grace Standing in the footsteps o f de Lubac,
Blondel and Rahner, Congar challenged the extrinsicism of neoscholastic theologies of
nature and grace. Congar affirm ed that by nature we have an inefficacious desire for the
grace of God and that from the moment o f our creation in the divine image God has
destined us for divine communion. Congars emphasis on the close relationship between
the orders of creation and redemption was critical to his integration o f anthropology and
ecclesiology. The order o f redemption is not incongruous with who we are as human
creatures. Thus, humanity is naturally oriented to ecclesial life, and ecclesial life
transforms but does not eclipse our created personhood.
Congars affirmation o f the continuity of creation and redemption, it should be
noted, not only drew upon the work of de Lubac, Blondel and Rahner but also contributed
an important pneumatological and ecclesiological dimension to contemporary reflection
on the relationship between nature and grace. Whereas de Lubac gave little attention to
pneumatology, Congar emphasized that grace is the Holy Spirit of God.261 And whereas
Rahners primary emphasis was theological anthropology, Congar reminds us that

^Susan Wood notes de Lubacs weak pneumatology in "The Church as the Social
Embodiment of Grace in the Ecclesiology of Henri De Lubac" (Ann Arbor: University
Microfilms, 1986), 251.
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Christian anthropology cannot be divorced from an ecclesiological framework and


context.242
Congars communitarian anthropology. Congars communitarian anthropology
was also key to his synthesis o f pneumatological anthropology and pneumatological
ecclesiology. Congar emphasized that human persons manifest the imago Dei through
knowledge and love; we are created to live in relation w ith God and other persons in a
perpetual "being towards (etre-a)" one another. The elevation o f the human person by the
indwelling o f the Holy Spirit is therefore a perfection o f our relation with God and with
others, and deification is necessarily an ecclesial m ystery, celebrated in the koinonia of
the church that is one Body o f Christ. The communitarian life o f the church is thus not a
negation o f our humanity nor a threat to human authenticity but rather the place in which
all the dimensions o f our human personhood can at last be fully realized. In our fallen
world, Congar remarked, human institutions either abrogate our communion with others
or our personal uniqueness and freedom. But "Christianity brings together two things that
are often in opposition to one another: inwardness o r personal life, and the communal
principle or unity."263

262The underdevelopment of Rahners ecclesiology is mentioned in Michael E. Fahey,


"On Being ChristianTogether," in A World o f Grace: An Introduction to the Themes and
Foundations o f Karl Rahners Theology, ed. Leo J. ODonovan (New York: Crossroad, 1987),
122.

^"H oly Spirit and Spirit of Freedom," 19-20. "From its beginnings," Congar wrote
elsewhere, "Christianity has succeeded in unifying collective and personal existence." Mystery o f
the Temple, 153. hi the letters of Peter and Paul "the personal and collective aspects are closely
knit. Mystery o f the Temple, 178. On this point see also Wide World My Parish, 56-57; "The
Christian Idea of History," 282-83; "Linfluence de la socidtd et de rhistoire," 674; / Believe,
2:16.
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Congars emphasis on the active initiative ofhum an subjects and human


cooperation with grace. Congar stressed that oar creation in the imago Dei means that we
are free and active human subjects, called to cooperate with grace. The life o f the church
is entirely dependent on the action o f the Spirit, but the Spirit does not destroy human
freedom, volition, and gifts and talents. The human capabilities described in Congars
anthropology are thus not abrogated by Congars ecclesiology but rather perfected and
elevated by the Spirit in the service o f God. The church is not a uniformity but a
uniplurality of unique persons; indeed, our personal uniqueness and capacity for free
action finds ultimate fulfillm ent only in the catholicity o f the church. "Christian
existence," Congar wrote, "of which the Holy Spirit is in us the principle, realizes in a
radical fashion our quest to be frilly [human]."264
Congars pneumatological christology. Another key to Congars integration of
pneumatological anthropology and pneumatological ecclesiology was his
pneumatological christology. In the 1970s and 1980s, Congar emphasized that Jesus
Christ is constituted to be M essiah for us through the action o f the Spirit in the events of
his life, death, and resurrection. It is through the Holy Spirit that the humanity
hypostatically united to the eternal Word passes from the form a servi to the form a Dei,
and it is in the Spirit that Jesus Christ serves as the foundation o f the church and sustains
the church throughout the centuries. This christology was fundamental to Congars
affirmation that the Spirit is the co-institutor and life principle o f the church. "A
pneumatological ecclesiology," Congar wrote, "presupposes a pneumatological

^E sprit de Vhomme, 37-38.


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Christology."265 A pneumatological anthropology requires the same presupposition.266


The Spirits transformative activity in the life o f Jesus Christ is the foundation and
context for the Spirits deification of humanity within the mystery o f the church.
Congars em phasis on the Spirit o f communion. Finally, Congars emphasis on the
Spirit as Spirit o f communion was critical to his synthesis o f pneumatology, ecclesiology,
and anthropology. The importance of this dimension o f Congars pneumatology is
particularly pronounced when Congars work is contrasted with the late nineteenth and
early twentieth-century approaches to pneumatology discussed in the Introduction o f this
dissertation. Neoscholastic De Ecclesia treatises and popular authors such as Henry
Edward Manning discussed the activity o f the Spirit in the church in terms o f "unity,"
"infallibility" and "perpetuity.267 But communion unlike "infallibility" or
"perpetuityis a simultaneously anthropological and ecclesiological mystery. And as
Famerde highlights, "communion is a more pneumatological term than "unity."268 The
rich biblical, liturgical and theological connotations o f the term "koindnia"
simultaneously span pneumatology, ecclesiology and theological anthropology. The
triune God of communion has created and redeemed us as persons in communion, a holy
mystery that is fulfilled through the ecclesial body in the koindnia o f the Holy S pirit

265"Pneumatologie dogmatique," 495-96.


Word and Spirit, 122.
^ S ee for example Cardinal Henry Edward Manning, The Internal Mission o f the Holy
Ghost (London: Bums and Oates, 1895). For Congars critique of Manning see Congar, / Believe,
1:155-157; "Actualitd de la pneumatologie, in Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, ed. P. Jos6 Saraiva
Martins (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1983): 15. Congar in fact believed Manning's
work did not even "constitute a pneumatology. I Believe, 1:156.
268Famer6e, L'ecclesiologie d'Yves Congar, 454.
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Congars theology o f nature and grace, his communitarian anthropology, his


emphasis on the freedom and active initiative o f human persons created in the imago Dei,
his pneumatological christology, and his emphasis on the Spirit of communion all
contribute to Congars integration of spiritual anthropology and ecclesiology. Chapter
Four will further explore Congars synthesis o f theological anthropology and
ecclesiology through an examination of the coincidence o f pneumatology, anthropology,
and ecclesiology in Congars use of three biblical paradigms: the Mystical Body of
Christ, the People o f God, and the Temple of the Holy S p irit

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CHAPTER FOUR
THE COINCIDENCE OF PNEUMATOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY AND
PNEUMATOLOGICAL ECCLESIOLOGY IN CONGARS THEOLOGY

Chapter Three presented Congars pneumatological anthropology and


pneumatological ecclesiology under two distinct headings, hi reality, however, these two
dimensions o f Congars theology cannot be categorically separated. Hervd Legrand, a
Dominican confrere of Congar who is himself now a prominent French ecclesiologist,
cautions that it would be wrong to imagine that Congar first developed an anthropology
and then set forth an ecclesiology and then finally attempted to synthesize these
components of his theology.1Rather, theological anthropology and ecclesiology coincide
in Congars thought and evolved concomitantly as his theology developed. Chapter Four
will address this coincidence of anthropology and ecclesiology in Congars theological
reflections.
The Chapter proceeds through consideration o f three them es with strong biblical
roots that Congar employed extensively throughout the course o f his careen the Mystical
Body o f Christ, the People of God, and the Temple o f the Holy Spirit.2 Each of these
Conversation with Professor Herv6 Legrand, OP. on the occasion of his visit to the
University of Notre Dame, September 11,1997. Legrand is Professor of Theology at the Institute
catholique in Paris.
2I speak loosely of these biblical formulations as theological "themes" or "paradigms"
because Congar himself never explicidy reflected on the precise linguistic or theological status
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biblical paradigms has an anthropological, ecclesiological and pneumatological


dimension and can thereby serve as a lens through which to view the coincidence o f these

components o f Congars theology. Discussion proceeds in the order o f each paradigms


chronological importance in Congars theology. According to van Vliet, the theology of
the Mystical Body was dominant in Congars work between 1939-1944, the theology of
the People of God between 1959-1968, and the theology o f the Temple o f the Holy Spirit
between 1969-1991.3 At issue here is the matter o f predominance rather than an exclusive
identification o f these themes with particular tim e periods, for all three themes permeate
Congars entire corpus o f writings and van Vliet did not intend his schematization to be
taken in an absolute sense. Nonetheless, it is useful to proceed chronologically. Congar
only spoke explicitly o f a "pneumatological anthropology" and a "pneumatological
ecclesiology" in the 1970s and 1980s, and this must be bome in mind when considering
publications from earlier periods. This Chapter contextualizes Congars theology of the
Mystical Body o f Christ, the People of God, and the Temple o f the Holy Spirit; explicates
each paradigms anthropological, ecclesiological and pneumatological dimensions; and
comments critically on the paradigms contribution to Congars construction of a theology

of this terminology. He referred to the "la notion" or le theme" of the People of God and spoke
of the mystical Body of Christ as "ce concept" or "idea." See for example Yves Congar,
"Richesse et vdritd d'une vision de lllglise comine 'peuple de Dieu," in Congar, Le Concile de
Vatican II (Paris: Beauchesne, 1984), 120; "D'une rEccl6sioIogie en gestation &Lumen Gentium
chap. I et H," in Le Concile de Vatican II, 127; "My Path-Findings in the Theology of Laity and
Ministries," The Jurist 32 (1972): 170. Congar did not develop precise distinctions between
ecclesial "images," "models" and "paradigms" in the manner of Avery Dulles in Models o f the
Church, rev. ed. (New York: Doubleday, 1987), 15-33.
3See van Vliet, Communio sacramentalis, 83-87,200-208,244-46.
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o f the Holy Spirit that is at once a pneumatological anthropology and a pneumatological


ecclesiology.

A. The Mystical Body of Christ


In the post-Reformation period, the ancient theological tradition o f the Mystical
Body o f Christ was eclipsed in Roman Catholicism by the "societas perfecta"
ecclesiology. When Clement Schrader attempted to reincorporate the theology o f the
Mystical Body into the ecclesiological deliberations of the First Vatican Council (186970), his efforts found favor with some bishops but were ultimately rejected by the
conciliar gathering. Msgr. Ramadie insisted that the Mystical Body tradition was a matter
of spirituality rather than dogmatic theology, while others argued that it suggested a
Protestant or Jansenist ecclesiology and was thus inappropriate to the current needs of the
Catholic Church.4 Between 1920 and 1925, however, interest in the theology o f the
Mystical Body burgeoned in Catholic circles. In this five year period, there appeared as
many articles on the Mystical Body o f Christ as had been published in the twenty years
preceding. Between 1930 and 1935, the number o f publications quintupled.3 During this

4See Congar, "Lumen gentium no 7, L'tglise, Corps mystique du Christ, vu au terme


de huit siecles dhistoire de la theologie du Corps mystique," in Congar, Le Concile de Vatican II
(Paris: Beauchesne, 1984), 150-51. Congar referenced Stanley L. Jdki, Les tendances nouvelles
de Tecclesiologie (Rome: Herder, 1957); A. Kerkvoorde, "La theologie du 'Corps mystique au
xix* si&cle" NRT67 (1945): 417-30; Heribert Schauf, De Corpore Christi Mystico sive de
Ecclesia Christi Theses. Die Ekklesiologie des Konzilstheologen Clemens Schrader, S. J.
(Freiburg: Herder, 1959).
5Congar, "My Path-Findings in the Theology of Laity and Ministries," The Jurist 32
(1972): 171. Reference is to J. Bluett, "The Mystical Body, A Bibliography, 1890-1940," TS 3
(1942): 260-89. From 1930 onwards, Congar regularly published reviews of the mushrooming
number of publications on the theology of the Mystical Body of Christ These are included in the
collection of Congars reviews in Sainte fcglise, 449-696.
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period, Congar noted, one could always draw a large audience if the Mystical Body was
the topic of discussion.6 There was much enthusiasm for the theology o f the Mystical
Body among participants in Catholic Action, and the liturgical movement also fueled
interest in this theological tradition.7
Some o f the most important publications o f this theological renewal included the
two monumental works of the Belgian Jesuit Emile Mersch: Le Corps mystique du
Christ: Etudes de theologie historique (Louvain: Museum Lessianum, 1933) and La
theologie du corps mystique (Paris-Bruxelles: Desclee, 1944). Mersch, according to
Herve Legrand, was an important influence on Congar's own thinking on the Mystical
Body tradition.8 Congar also referenced Swiss theologian Charles Joumet's L tg lise du
Verbe incom e, 3 vols. (Paris: Desclee de Brouwer, 1941,1951, 1969).9 Another
theological landmark was Pius XII's 1943 M ystici Corporis, the first publication o f the
church's teaching office devoted expressly to the topic of the Mystical Body.10 One year
6"My Path-Findings," 171. See also L'Eglise de saint Augustin, 464.
7On Catholic Action see Lay People, 55.
Conversation with Professor Hervd Legrand, OP. on the occasion of his visit to the
University of Notie Dame, September 11,1997.
Congar generally referenced Joumet favorably, although he disagreed with him on
issues such as the role of the laity in the church and the church's capacity for sin. Congar
described Joumet as "profound but "medieval" in L 'tglise de saint Augustin, 464. For a
comparison of Congar and Joumet see Dennis M. Doyle, "Joumet, Congar, and the Roots of
Communion Ecclesiology, TS 58 (1997): 461- 79.
Mystici Corporis was written under the influence of Sebastian Tromp, author of
Corpus Christi quod est Ecclesia I (Rome: Pontificia Universitas Gregoriana, 1937). Tromp later
published De Christo Capite mystici Corporis EE(Rome: Pontificia Universitas Gregoriana,
1960); De Spiritu Christi anima HI (Rome: Pontificia Universitas Gregoriana, 1960); and De
Virgin dei para Maria code mystic Corporis IV (Rome: Pontificia Universitas Gregoriana,
1960). Congar described Pius XIIs encyclical as a "very ample and very well constructed
synthesis of the Mystical Body tradition. "Peut-on definer lTsglise?" 30. Congar noted that the
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later, Henri de Lubacs Corpus M ysticum: L'Eucharistie e t L tg lis e au Mayen Age (Paris,
1944) stimulated further discussion on the Mystical Body tradition.11 New Testament
scholars also contributed to the renewal o f this tradition, although Congar noted that
exegetes and theologians often seemed to talk past each other on this issue and he
regretted the lack o f a more fruitful working relationship between biblical and theological
specialists.12
Congar had his own contribution to make to the renewal o f the theology of the
M ystical Body. According to van Vliet, the Mystical Body o f Christ was the predominant
ecclesiological paradigm in the writings of the first period o f Congars career (19311944).13In 1937, indeed, Congar described the M ystical Body of Christ as "the true
definition o f the Church."14 Congars appropriation of this biblical and theological

encyclicals theology was distinct from medieval approaches to the Mystical Body and also
differed from twentieth-century biblical exegesis. "Peut-on definer ltglise?" 27. Congar also
commented on Mystici Corporis in "L'Eucharistie et L'tglise de la Nouvelle Alliance," VS 82
(1950): 347-72; Sainte tg lise, 654; Lay People, 57.
"Congar commented on de Lubacs contribution in Fifty Years, 42-43.
l2"Peut-on definer rfjglise?" 29-30. Congar included the following in a partial list of
exegedcal contributions: P. Benoit RB (1956): 5-44; Lucien Cerfaux, La Theologie de Ltglise
suivant saint Paul, Unam Sanctam no. 10 (Paris: Cerf, 1942 - 2d ed 1948); E. Kasemann, Leib
and Leib Christi (Tubingen, 1933); E. Percy, DerLeib Christi (Lund et Leipzig, 1942); John A.
T. Robinson, The Body: A Study o f Pauline Theology (London: SCM Press, 1952); Heinrich
Schlier, Der B riefan die Epheser (Diisseldorf: Patmos, 2d ed, 1958), 90-96.
13Van Vliet, Communio sacramentalis, 73-89.
l*Divided Christendom, 266. Congars other early publications in which the theology of
the Mystical Body is prominent include "Une fidlit dominicaine. La doctrine de rglise. Corps
mystique de Jesus-Christ," ADom 69 (1933): 239-45; "The Mystical Body of Christ," in Congar,
The Mystery o f the Church (Baltimore: Helicon, 1960), 118-27; "The Church and its Unity," in
The Mystery o f the Church, 58-96; "L'tglise Corps mystique du Christ," VS 64 (1941): 242-54.
Van Vliet considers the article "The Church and its Unity that Congar wrote in 1937 as the
unofficial Catholic contribution to the Second World Conference for Practical Christianity as one
of the most important of Congars early writings. Van Vliet, Communio sacramentalis, 76.
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paradigm enhanced his responsiveness to the laity, contributed to his ecumenical efforts,
and served his insistence that the church is a theological and not simply juridical reality.15
The theology o f the M ystical Body also fostered the coincidence of pneumatological
anthropology and pneumatological ecclesiology in Congar's theology. As Congar
reflected on the mystery of the Corpus m ysticum , he moved seamlessly from discussion
o f each human persons filiation in Christ to reflection on the structure and sacraments of
the church.

1. The Anthropology of the Mystical Body Theology


Congars discussion o f the M ystical Body tradition presumed the imago D ei
anthropology and the theology o f divine filiation described in Chapter Three. God not
only created humankind in the divine image with the capacities for knowledge, love, and
freedom, but God also destined humanity to communion in the divine life. We were
created to become sons and daughters o f God, a divine plan that is fulfilled through the
Incarnation of the W ord and the gift o f the Spirit. In Christ and the Spirit, humanity is
incorporated into the M ystical Body of the One who is the Image o f God. This deification
elevates humanity to a new level o f participation in the life o f God, yet it does not eclipse
our human faculties or subsume our human personhood.
The incorporation o f human persons into the Mystical Body of Christ, is
fundamentally different from the hypostatic union o f the divine Word with the human
nature of Jesus C hrist The hypostatic union was a union o f being {dans Vetre, p a r esse.

15On these points, see van V liet Communio sacramentalis, 74-89.


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secundum esse) of the Word o f God and the one human nature assumed,16whereas
humanity is united to Christ in a mystical communion.11The Mystical Body is not
ontologically the Body o f Christ but precisely the M ystical Body of Christ.18 In
philosophical terms, Congar explained, we should thus speak o f the Mystical Body not
with the language of "being" but rather with the category o f relation.19 In theological
terms, however, it is more precise to use the language of espousement or covenant20 This
language emphasizes that the life o f the Mystical Body is a life o f communion among
free persons. ..[T]he Body o f C hrist" Congar wrote with reference to Pascal, "is not a

16Congar, "Dogme christologique et eccllsiologie: vlritd et limites d'un parall&le," in


Congar, Sainte tg lise (Paris: Cerf, 1963), 83.
17"...Chrisdan mysticism," Congar emphasized, "is a mysticism of communion, not a
mysticism of union (in the sense of a fusion or a complete unity.)" "Dogme christologique, 87.
Congar appropriated this distinction from A. Deissmann, Paulus. Eine kultur-und
religionsgeschichtliche Skizze (Tubingen, 1925), 118-22. Even within this same article "Dogme
christologique," however, Congar himself did not entirely dispense with "union language;
"...l'union de ltglise a Dieu... he wrote for example, "est une union d'alliance." "Dogme
christologique," 93.
18"Dogme christologique, 84,92.
I9"L'unitd entre lEglise et son hypostase divine ou sa quasi-hypostase divine n'est pas
une unitd substantielle dans l'etre, aboutissant k former une entitg substantielle dans 1'etre,
aboutissant k former une entite physique; cest une union, une unit6 relative qui,
philosophiquement, se rangerait parmi Ies unites accidentelles, non pas meme par composition,
mais selon l'ordre et la relation. "Dogme christologique," 92. English translations of other
passages of Congars writings, however, occasionally use the language of "being in reference to
Congar's Mystical Body theology. See for example: "If we form a single body and, as it were, a
single being who loves in Christ, that is so ultimately, because we are all interiorly animated by
one and the same soul..." "The Mystical Body," 129. My emphasis. The French reads, however,
"Si nous formons un seul corps et comme un seul Aimant dans le Christ..." "Le Corps mystique
du Christ," 105. My emphasis.
^D ogm e christologique," 93.
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reality in the sense o f a physical substance, but a body full o f thinking members."21
These thinking members are human subjects, persons with conscience, freedom and a
self-subsistent existence {existence pour soi or etre a soi).21 Human members o f the
M ystical Body do not share Christs esse23, and "the life o f the mystical Body is not
simply a repetition of that of Christ; it is the content o f the life o f Christ received, no
longer properly by him ...but by free persons...24
This is not to suggest that the Mystical Body is simply an aggregate of human
persons. S t Paul testified that Christians are truly one in Jesus Christ (Gal 3:28j,25
Augustine described the church as the totus C hristi, and Aquinas spoke o f Christ and his
members as una mystica persona.26 In C hrist human persons both retain their own proper
existence and become truly incorporated into one body in a very real sense. This
incorporation and communion is the work of the Holy S pirit "What brings it about"
Congar wrote, "that there is a single body in Christ is that animating this body is a single

21"Dogme christologique," 82. Reference is to Pascal, Pensees, ed. Lon Brunschvicg


(Paris: Cluny ,1934), #473, p. 171.
^"Dogme christologique," 86. Within the Mystical Body, Congar reiterated, Christ's
living reality comes to exist "in new and proper subjects of existence and action, each having
their etre a soi and their freedom. "Dogme christologique," 82.
"...fumon des homines k la divinity, qui se realise dans rglise, n'est pas per esse,
secundum esse', elle est seulement per operationem, in operatione. et c'est pourquoi parfois on la
dit 'mystique." "Dogme christologique," 84.
"Dogme christologique," 82.
Congar reads here a "single person in Christ." "The Church and its Unity," 68.
See Congars "La personne Uglise," RevTh 71 (1971): 613-40. On Aquinas see also
"Dogme christologique, 89-91.
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spirit, the Spirit o f Christ."27The Holy Spirit is idem numeroidentically the samein
both Christ (the head) and the members o f the M ystical Body.28 Human persons truly live
in Christ for they have received Christs Spirit (Rom 8:14; Gal 4.6).29 As Paul exhorted
repeatedly, Christ is in us and we are in C hrist Such expressions, Congar noted, occur in
the Pauline literature not less than 144 tim es.30 We rejoice in Christ (Phil 3:3), hope in
Christ (1 Cor 15:19), speak the truth in Christ (Rom 9:1), and triumph in Christ (2 Cor
2:14). Indeed, the Christian does all o f his or her daily work in C hrist for the Spirit of
Christ is gradually communicated "to all that is material, to the whole range of human
acdons...professional, social, cultural."31 This theology, Congar emphasized, should be
understood with absolute realism: "It is not simply a question o f moral consecration of
our life to Christ and o f a greater or lesser fidelity to his inspiration, but our acts are to be
considered as his own and they must be so in fact"32
In C hrist our human acts of knowledge and love participate in the knowledge and
love o f God. We know as God knows, we see as Christ sees, we gaze w ith the gaze of

27"The Church and its Unity," 69.


Congar used the traditional "idem numero" formulation in I Believe, 2:19 and 2:41. He
noted that this idea is found classically in Aquinas, In III Sent. d. 13, q. 2, a. 1, ad 2; q. 2, a. 2; De
ver. q. 29, a. 4; Comm, in ev. loan. c. 1, lect 9 and 10. It is also used in Mystici Corporis, 54 and
77 ad sensum; Lumen Gentium 7,7. See I Believe, 2:23 n. 19.
79Divided Christendom, 61.
^ T h e Church and its Unity," 69. The particular instance cited above is Eph 2:13-18.
3I"The Church and its Unity," 72.
32"The Mystical Body," 120. "In this regard," he noted elsewhere, "the idea of the
mystical Body sets before us a highly realistic view. It makes us see how Christ wills to continue
his life in men, in a truly theandric way." "The Church and its Unity," 73.
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G od "which is also my gaze, since it is really engrafted and adapted in my own life."33 In
the Spirit o f Christ, we will as G od wills and love as God loves, for "the love o f God is
shed abroad in our hearts by His Spirit which He hath given us" (Rom 5 :5 )* God loves
without limits and so therefore must we. Congar believed that Jesus Christs injunction to
love even our enemies and our persecutors (Mt 5:43-48) must be taken absolutely
literally.33 Such love is not an innate capacity of any created being, and in this sense
C hrist is the profound personality o f the Mystical Body. Our life in Christ is a life in the
"...pneumatological order, in which the faithful exist only in Christ, to realize Christ in
his plentitude, through a participation in a life that is his."36
Nonetheless, Congar reiterated, human members o f the M ystical Body do retain
their existence as proper subjects o f existence and action. Congars theological
anthropology presumed, as Aquinas had explained, that every act o f Gods love for the
creature causes some good to exist within the creaturely being. The love with which God
created the cosmos bestowed on each creature a nature proper to their created
endpowers and principles o f operation fitted to their particular purpose in the created
order. The special love (dilectio specialis) whereby God then draws rational creatures to
participation in a divine life that is beyond the condition o f created nature likewise
bestows powers and operative principles proper to this love.37 M embers o f the Mystical

33"The Mystical Body," 124. See also Divided Christendom, 53-54.


34Divided Christendom, 54-55 and 55 n. 1; "The Mystical Body," 126.
35"The Mystical Body," 128.
36T>ogme christologique, 92.
^ s r r - ir .q . 110, a. i.
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Body thus not only participate in the love and knowledge o f God, but in consequence of
this love God infuses into the human soul a habitual gift whereby rational creatures are
enabled to receive and respond to G od's eternal goodness.38Through the exercise o f this
gift o f created grace, members of Christs Mystical Body "are not instruments but true
subjects o f action existing and acting according to the quasi-nature that is the grace
diffused in them in the Holy Spirit"39 W ithin the M ystical Body of C hrist acts of faith,
hope and charity are works of God and properly human activities, exercises o f the
theological virtues that proceed from the principle o f grace infused in our soul. "If we go
on to inquire what part we are called to contribute to the building up o f the mystical
Body, Congar commented, "we shall have to speak, along with S t Paul, of faith and
charity, and, from th a t o f the whole moral life considered as a vita in Christo."40

2. The Ecclesiology of the Mystical Body Theology


The vita in Christo is the life of the church, a life o f charity that is nourished,
maintained and expressed in ecclesial communion.41 "Union with Christ," Congar
reflected, "which is the interior life of the individual soul, is lived and acquired socially,
in the Church."42 The mystery of the Mystical Body is not only an ineffable participation
o f human persons in the knowledge and love of God but also the visible, concrete and

38s r r - i r e,q. 110,a.2,c.


39"Dogme christologique," 86.
40"The Church and its Unity," 70-71.
4I"The Church and its Unity," 87.
42"The Church and its Unity," 87.

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tangible life o f the ecclesial communion. The Protestant theology o f the invisible church,
Congar insisted, was a misconstrual o f the Mystical Body tradition, hi pre-Constantinian
ecclesiology, there is a "plainness and absence o f distinctions with which the mystical
Body of Christ and the Church in its social being are identified as a single reality."43
Aquinas, too, affirmed this identification o f the Corpus mysticum and the concrete
societas fildelium .u The Mystical Body "is not some spiritual entity unrelated to the
world of human realities and activities but is the visible Church itself.45
The inseparability o f the Mystical Body from its visible and human dimensions is
preeminently manifest in the churchs sacramental life. Congar believed that sacramental
activity and sacramental causality constitute the Mystical Body "at the deepest level of its
being."46 In a 1941 essay, he noted that the constitutional role of the sacraments in the
church had been ignored in the preceding forty years and he credited Protestant
theologians such as Schweitzer and Goguel with bringing this point o f incalculable
importance to the fore.47 It is through the sacramentsparticularly the sacraments of
baptism and Eucharistthat the church is the Mystical Body of C hrist48 The sacramental
43"The Church and its Unity," 85. See also p. 73.
44"The Idea of the Church in S t Thomas Aquinas," 110-13.
45"It can no more be dissociated from this," he continued, "than, say, France considered
in its spiritual reality can be dissociated in fact from the institutions and realities of the visible
France, with its laws, constitution, government and so forth." "The Church and its Unity, 85.
^"The Church and its Unity," 76. "The Church is, of its essence, sacramental." Ibid., 78.
47nThe Church and its Unity," 73 and 73 n. 1. In another essay, he wrote that the
sacraments are "the point where the institutional or visible Church and the mystical Body meet
and fuse in an organic unity. "The Mystical Body," 134.
^On baptism and Eucharist see "The Church and its Unity," 74-76 and "The Mystical
Body," 131-34.
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rites were established by Jesus Christ for the purpose o f our union with him and they
have a special efficacy by which to assimilate persons into his body.49 This efficacy
operates, Congar explained, in the unique mode o f the symbolical/real.30 Sacramental acts
are symbolic in the sense that they are not strictly speaking new events; the Eucharist, for
example, does not repeat Christs sacrifice on the cross. But sacraments arenot simply
nostalgic enactments o f old memories, for Christ is really present at the Eucharistic
synaxis and his power is truly operative in the waters o f the baptismal fo n t Baptism is the
sacrament o f our incorporation into the M ystical Body, and the Eucharist is the sacrament
o f unity, a mystery that results in an increase o f grace and a substantial unity of life with
Jesus C hrist51
Through the sacraments of baptism and E ucharist Congar believed, the unity that
exists between Jesus Christ and his Mystical Body is real and profound. "The Church is,
in the first place, the Body of Christ; it forms, with him, a single reality."52
Congar did not mean to imply an absolute ontological identification of the church and
Jesus C hrist for he maintained that Jesus Christ and the church are analogously
relatednot identical.53 Whereas the human nature o f Jesus Christ is hypostically united
to the divine Logos in being (par esse, secundum esse), the church is united to Jesus

49"The Mystical Body," 129.


^Congar used this terminology in "Unity of the Church," 74 and 76 and "The Mystical
Body," 130.
SI"The Mystical Body," 133.
'The Church and its Unity, 68. This translation actually reads "a single entity" but the
French is une settle realise. "LTiglise et son unit," 23.
53"Dogme christologique," 78.
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Christ only operationally (p er operationem, in operatione.)5* Divinity and humanity are


thus united in the church without confusion but not without divirion, and the
christological communication o f idioms does not apply to the church.33
Congars caution concerning the ontological difference between Jesus Christ and
the Mystical Body is a point o f convergence between the anthropological and
ecclesiological dimensions o f Congars Mystical Body theology. The human persons who
are members of the M ystical Body do not partake o f the esse of Jesus Christ but retain
their own proper itre a soi, and the church in like vein is not strictly speaking divine.
Nonetheless, Congar did believe that the church is a means o f grace, and here his
anthropology and ecclesiology diverge. The church, unlike the human person, plays a
causal role in the communication of grace even though the chinch is not technically
speaking divine. Congar ascribed prophetic, sacramental, and governing powers to the
hierarchical apostolic body which he described in Aristotelian terms as the churchs
"formal cause."36 For Congar, Fameree comments, "the church thus has a proper

R .T union des hommes k la divinite, que se realise dans l^glise, nest pas par esse,
secundum esse', elle est settlement per operationem, in operatione, et cest pourquoi parfois on la
dit mystique." "Dogme christologique," 84.
33"Dogme christologique," 78.
References to the investment of the apostolic body with "spiritual powers" can be
found, for example, in "The Church and its Unity," 79. For a discussion of Congars use of this
language of "powers" (pouvoirs) see Fameree, L'ecclesiologie dYves Congar, 410-21. Famerfie
notes that this terminology is characteristic primarily of Congars pre-Vatican II works. In 1978,
Congar himself criticized the use of the term "spiritualis potestas to describe the priestly office.
See Congar, Preface to B.-D. Mariiangeas, Cles pour une theologie du ministere (Paris:
Beauchesne, 1978), 5-14.
For a discussion of the hierarchical apostolic body as the formal cause of the church, see
"The Holy Spirit and the Apostolic Body," 180-82. Congars use of this Aristotelian terminology
was influenced by Charles Joumet and by Ambrose Gardiel but Congar later critiqued the
ecclesiological use of this Aristotelian framework. See "My Path-Findings," 175.
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causality o f salvation and takes rank o f cause with God or cooperates directly for the
constitution of the Kingdom through her own pow ers* This exercise o f power is
strictly ecclesiologicali.e. not anthropologicalfor members o f Christs Body can never
cause grace. When the ministers o f the church act in their sacramental capacities they "do
not, Congar wrote, "operate as persons, i.e. etres pour soi w ith a vital immanence o f
operation but as causes of something outside o f themselves."38 Ordained ministers are
purely the vehicle o f the sacramental, governing and prophetic powers bestowed upon the
apostolic body by C hrist The ordained exercise these powers not through a created
habitus that is their own proper principle o f operation but rather serve simply as
instruments of Christs divine power.39 This is a significant difference between the
anthropology and ecclesiology o f the Mystical Body theology.

^Famerfe, L'ecclesiologie dYves Congar, 414-15. Emphasis is Fameree's. See also his
statement: "Thus one can affirm that the Church as such has proper and decisive causes for the
renewal of the Kingdom (royal, priestly and prophetic power of Christ and his Spirit) or that she
cooperates in direct fashion in the constitution of the Kingdom of God through the exercise of
powers that are properly hers." Fameree, L'ecclesiologie dYves Congar, 413.
58"Dogme christologique," 87.
390n the governing, sacramental and prophetical powers that the hierarchy carries out as
Christs "vicar see for example "The Church and its Unity," 88-90. Congar did make some
distinctions between the manner in which the hierarchy exercised these various powers: "...when
St. Paul or the hierarchy celebrate the mysteries or announce the word of God, they act in a much
closer dependence on Christ [than when they exercise jurisdictional powers]; they no longer act
by a power that truly resides in them, and they are by no means free, at least as regards the
essential, to do one thing or another as they please. Here, as the scholastics say, they are
instrumental causes, acting under complete dependence on him who uses them." "The Church
and its Unity," 90. "So far from being an inducement for Christians to rely on and trust to human
agency," Congar comments elsewhere, "[the sacraments] are but the affirmation and effective
realization of the unique mediation of Christ "The Mystical Body," 130.
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. The Pneumatology of the Mystical Body Theology


The Holy Spirit, Congar affirmed following strong patristic and medieval
precedent, is the soul of the Mystical Body o f Christ.60The soul is the actualizing and
unifying principle of any living being, and in the Mystical Body this role belongs (by
appropriation) to the Holy Spirit61 This must be understood in a qualified sense, for the
Holy Spirit is not the soul of the Mystical Body in precisely the same sense in which the
human soul is the unifying principle o f the human body; if this were the case, the church
would be ontologically divine. The Spirit is the uncreated soul of the church but only as a
soul indwellingnot composingthe Mystical Body. The indwelling and composing
formal cause of the church is rather the hierarchical apostolic body.62 Ultimately, it is the
Holy Spirit (by appropriation) who unifies the Mystical Body, but penultimately this
unity is wrought by the formal efficacy of the apostolic body which is a unique
instrument o f Christs governing, sacramental, and prophetic power, a divinely instituted
"means o f grace."
Fameree is critical of this aspect of Congar's pre-Conciliar Mystical Body
theology. This approach, Famerge explains, has the unfortunate consequence of
undulying autonomizing (autonomiser) the church and "tends necessarily to hide the pure
and permanent dependence of the Church with respect to the Spirit o f the resurrected

6ftThis was also the position taken by Pius XII in Mystici Corporis. Mersch, in contrast,
identified the soul of the Mystical Body as sanctifying grace.
61Divided Christendom, 52. Elsewhere, however, Congar did describe the church as
animated by Christ as by a soul: "For, as the body is animated by the soul, which it makes visible
and expresses in all actions, so the Church is animated by Christ, makes him visible and
expresses him in its various activities." "The Church and its Unity," 70.
"The Holy Spirit and the Apostolic Body," 181.
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C hrist"63 The apostolic means o f grace appear less as instruments o f the Spirit then
sensible and collective means o f salvation w ith their own proper efficacy64 and they thus
become a second autonomous cause o f grace.65 Famerde believes, furthermore, that
Congars discussion o f the Spirit as the uncreated soul of the Mystical Body does not
resolve this problem o f autonomization but rather creates further theological difficulties.
Whereas Congars construal of the apostolic powers unduly autonomizes the church,
Congars description o f the Spirit as the church's uncreated soul generates the opposite
problem and binds the Spirit to the church in quasi-hylomorphic fashion.66 The Spirit as
uncreated and transcendent soul o f the Mystical Body is substantially attached to the
church in a manner that engenders an ecclesial monophysitism which eclipses the human
and sociological dimension of ecclesial life. Furthermore, this theology reduces the
freedom o f the Spirit who seems assigned to reside in a church that monopolizes the
Spirit's presence.67
According to Famerde, the fundamental source o f these pneumatological tensions
in Congars Mystical Body theology is the underlying christocentrism and
"incamatiormisme" o f this approach.68 If the church is truly Christ's Body, Famerde
explains, it must have a certain salvific causality and cooperate directly in the constitution

63Famerde, Lecclesiologie dYves Congar, 414-15.


^Famerde, Lecclesiologie dYves Congar, 416.
fam erd e, L'ecclesiologie dYves Congar, 415.
Famerde, Lecclesiologie d.Yves Congar, 417.
67Famerde, L ecclesiologie dYves Congar, 417-18.
Famerde, L'ecclesiologie dYves Congar, 418.
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o f Gods Kingdom just as the humanity o f Christ was a free instrument of Christs
divinity.69 Congar, however, explicitly denied an absolute parallel between Jesus Christs
humanity and the Mystical Body.70 And in response to Famerde's other critiques, it should
be noted that Congar always qualified his discussion o f the Spirit as the Mystical Body's
uncreated soul precisely to avoid the suggestion that the church is substantially divine. He
also explicitly critiqued ecclesial monophysitism and repeatedly emphasized that a truly
incarnational ecclesiology requires emphasis on the human and social character of the
church.71 The "autonomization" o f the church that Fameree righdy identifies in Congars
M ystical Body theology comes not from incam ationnism e per se but rather from the
incomplete convergence of the anthropological and ecclesiological dimensions of
Congars approach. Congar portrayed the hierarchical apostolic body as a formal cause of
the M ystical Body that exists above and apart from the human persons who are its
members, exercising spiritual power over them. The apostolic body is identical neither
with Jesus Christ nor the Holy Spirit, for the church itself is not divine. Nor, however, is
the apostolic hierarchy identifiable with the human members o f the Mystical Body, for
unlike human persons the hierarchy is a cause and means o f grace. The church thus

^Famerge, L'ecclesiologie dYves Congar, 418.


^am erge himself notes that Congar never explicitly argued that the church as Christ's
body must have a certain salvific causality, just as the humanity of Christ He believes, however,
that this is implied by a passage in Le Christ, Marie, et L'glise, 63. See Famerge,
L'ecclesiologie dYves Congar, 418 n. 1520.
71For Congars caution against "ecclesial monophysitism" see, for example, "Dogme
christologique," 80. On the twofold character of the church as both divine and human see for
example Divided Christendom, 75-89.
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appears as an autonomous entityit is not Jesus Christ, nor the Holy Spirit, nor strictly
speaking the human persons who compose i t
Congars appropriation o f the Mystical Body tradition did contribute to his
construction of a theology o f the Holy Spirit that is at once a pneumatological
anthropology and a pneumatological ecclesiology. The Holy Spirit incorporates human
persons into Christs Mystical Body in and through the communion o f the church. In
Congars Mystical Body theology, however, anthropology and ecclesiology do not
entirely coincide. In Famerees terms, Congar has "autonomized" the church. He
portrayed the ecclesial hierarchy as a formal cause o f grace that exercises spiritual powers
over the human persons who are members of Christ's Body. This critique, however,
should not eclipse the importance of Congars contribution to a recovery o f the Mystical
Body tradition. At Vatican I, Msgr. Ramadie discounted the ecclesiological value o f the
Mystical Body paradigm, but Congar has demonstrated that the Mystical Body tradition
can in fact contribute to a constructive sacramental ecclesiology. And precisely because
Congars appropriation o f the Mystical Body tradition included not only an ecclesiology
but also a pneumatological anthropology, Congar use o f this tradition contributed to a
vital Christian spirituality.

B. The People of God


On the heels o f the renewal of the Mystical Body tradition came the rediscovery
o f the theology o f the People of God, a biblical idea that spread in popularity in the
Roman Catholic Church between 1937 and 1942.72 Participants in Catholic Action and

^See Congars T he Church: The People of God," 14-18.


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the liturgical movement were living witnesses that the church is the people who work for
the rights of laborers, live together as Christian families, and worship with one another.
Scholars reflected theologically on the People of God them e, building on biblical research
that had begun decades earlier.73 For some, the theology o f the People of God was a
refreshing change from ecclesiastical juridicism, and for others it was an alternative to the
ecclesiology of the Mystical Body. In 1940, M. D. Koster critiqued the Mystical Body
tradition as pre-scientific mysticism and offered as an alternative a theology o f the People
of God which he believed would provide ecclesiology with a firm foundation and a tme
definition of the church.74 In 1942, Lucien Cerfaux published a philological and
exegetical study o f Pauline theology that reinforced Kosters argument73 For Paul,
Cerfaux explained, the fundamental and defining concept of the church is not the

^See, for example, Harold F. Hamilton, The People o f God, 2 vols. (London: Oxford
University Press, 1912). Exegetical contributions to this discussion included Nils A. Dahl, Das
Volk Gottes, Eine Untersuchung zum Kirchenbewusstsein des Urchristentums (Oslo: I
Kommisjon Hos Jacob Dybwod, 1941); Ernst Kasemann, Das wandemde Gottesvolk. Eine
Untersuchung zum Hebraerbrief(Gottingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht 1938); H. Strathmann,
"Laos, in Theologische Worterbuch zum N.T. of Kittel, Vol IV, 29-57 (Fasc. appeared in 1938);
A Vonier, The People o f God (London, 1937). Congar himself described the church as the People
of God as early as a 1937 essay. The idea of the People of God, he commented at that time, is
"the simple fruit of the little effort made everywhere to relate the Church to its biblical bases and
to the Plan of God begun with Abraham." See, "The Church: People of God," 14 n. 2.
74M. D. Koster, Ekklesiologie im Werden (Paderbom: Bonifazius 1940). Other works
reiterated and developed his essential theses. See Koster, Die Firmung im Glaubenssinn der
Kirche (Regensburg-Miinster, 1948); Volk Gottes im Wachstum des Glaubens (Heidelberg,
1950); "Zum Leitbild von der Kirche auf dem II. Vatikanischen Konzil," ThQ 145 (1965): 13-41.
Congar noted that World War II originally limited the circulation and discussion of Kosters
writings to the German-speaking world. D'une 'Ecctesiologie en gestation," 123.
7SLucien Cerfaux, La Theologie de I'tglise suivant saint Paul, Unam Sanctam, no. 10
(Paris: Cerf, 1942). Congar was in fact the inspiration for this book. He suggested to Cerfaux, a
Louvain professor, that he pursue a philological study of Paul. A. Oepke reiterated Cerfauxs
conclusions in Das neue Gottesvolk in Schrifttum, Schauspiel, bildender Kunst and
Weltgestaltung (Gutersloh, 1950); "Leib Christi oder Volk Gott bei Paulus," Theologische
Literaturzeitung 79 (1954): col. 363-8.
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Mystical Body o f Christ but rather the People o f God; the language o f the Mystical Body
is only as an explicative attribute o f the more foundational People o f God paradigm. The
work o f Koster and Cerfaux received both appreciation and critique.76 Congar him self
believed that the People o f God paradigm was not the foundation o f Pauline or patristic
ecclesiology although Augustine and others did occasionally define the church in these
terms.77
Reflection on the church as the People o f God continued in the 1950s and 1960s.
Congar considered the work o f German scholars such as M. Schmaus and I. Backes
particularly important in the ecclesiological development o f the People o f God
paradigm.78 This continuing interest culminated in the decision o f the Coordinating
Commission o f the Second Vatican Council to add a chapter entitled "De Populo D ei in
genere to what would become Lumen gentium .19 Council commentators repeatedly note
the importance not only o f this addition to the Pastoral Constitution on the Church but
76Karl Adam was one of the critics and expressed strong disagreement with Koster. See
ThQ 122 (1941): 145-66; Volk Gottes im Wachsttum des Glaubens (Heidelberg, 1950); "Von den
Grundlagen der Kirchengliedschaft," Die Neue Ordnung 4 (1950): 206f. For bibliographic
references to other critical reviews see Congar, "Dune rccI6sioIogie en gestation," 123 n. 2.
^"Peut-on definer l^glise?" 23.
78M. Schmaus, Katholische Dogmatik (Munich: Max Hueber, 1958), 3:204-39; I.
Backes, "Die Kirche ist das Volk Gottes im Neuen Bund," parts 1 and 2, Trierer Theologische
Zeitschrifi 69 (1960): 111-17; 70 (1961): 80-93; "Das Volk Gottes im Neuen Bunde," in Kirche,
Volk Gottes, ed. H. Asmussen (Stuttgart, 1961), 97-129.
79The history of the evolution of Lumen gentium, Congar noted in 1971, has not been
written in its entirety. Nor can it be written in full detail, he continued, because the documents
that would be required for such a comprehensive study are inaccessible. "D'une rcclesioIogie en
gestation," 128. In this article, Congar did offer a partial reconstruction of the genesis of Lumen
gentium, and in an addendum added in 1983 he noted the importance of Cardinal Suenens work
in the introduction of the chapter on the "People of God." "D'une llccl&iologie en gestation,"
128-33 and 136. For one effort to trace the history of Lumen gentium, see F. Geremia, Iprim i
due capitoli della "Lumen gentium." Genesis ed elaborazione del testo conciliare (Rome, 1974).
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also the significance of the placement o f the chapter on the "People o f God between
Lumen gentium 's first chapter on the mystery o f the church and the third chapter on the
ecclesial hierarchy.80 This placement affirms that the church is foundationally composed
of a ll the baptized prior to any distinction between members o f the hierarchy and laity.81
Congar believed that the Councils addition o f this chapter on the People o f God to
Lumen gentium was one o f the most important decisions made at Vatican II, a decision
that "has the greatest promise for the theological, pastoral and ecumenical future of
ecclesiology."82
Indeed, subsequent to the Council, the People o f God ecclesiology was
enthusiastically received in both the Roman Catholic Church and in ecumenical
discussion.83 An ongoing stream o f publications on this topic indicates that the People of
Of)

Congar himself wrote in 1964 that "only time can tell what consequences will follow
from the option made when the chapter De Populo Dei was placed in the sequence we have
indicated. It is our conviction that these consequences will be considerable. A wholly new
balance will be introduced in the treatise on the Church..." "The Church: The People of God," 13.
On the importance of the structure of Lumen gentium see also Richard McBrien, Catholicism,
rev. ed. (San Francisco: HarpetCollins, 1994), 670.
si

One of the original reasons given for the placement of De Populo Dei prior to the
chapter on the hierarchy was simply the methodological concern that the "generic should
precede the "specific." See Yves Congar, "The People of God," in Vatican 11:An Interfaith
Appraisal, ed. John Miller (Notre Dame, IN, 1966), 198. Quickly, however, it was recognized
that there was greater significance to the new order of the documentan implicit recognition of
the "primacy of the ontology of grace" above organizational structures. "The People of God,"
198. The structure of Lumen gentium as it now stands does not simply show what is common to
all Christians prior to what distinguishes them from one another but demonstrates the priority
and primacy of Christian existence {"Ietre chretien") above ecclesial organization. Congar,
"Richesse et v6rit, 10S. Congar also observed that reference to the church as the People of God
is not limited to Lumen gentium, where the phrase occurs 39 times; it is also mentioned in 10 of
the other Conciliar documents. "Dune *ccldsiologie en gestation," 134.
"The People of God," 197.
83

Congar noted that the People of God ecclesiology appealed to Protestants because it
connotes election and call and implies an historical and eschatological framework. Protestants
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God has continued to be an important ecclesiological paradigm.84 In Congars own


theology, according to the analysis o f van Vliet, the People o f God became a dominant
theme between 19S9-1968. Van Vliet notes that Congars original reviews o f Koster,
Cerfaux and Vonier appeared to scarcely notice the importance of their work, but by 19S9
the "People o f God" had become an important Congar theme.85 "The expression People of
God, Congar wrote in 1964, "in itself has such depth o f meaning and such dynamism
that it is impossible to use it in reference to the reality that is the Church, without

consider this approach an alternative to Roman Catholic institutionalism, substantialism, and


romanticism. See "The Church: The People of God," 28-29; "Richesse et verity," 121.
MSee for example Frank Norris, Gods Own People, (Baltimore: Helicon, 1962); Canon
Law Society of America, We, the People o f God: A Study o f Constitutional Governmentfo r the
Church (Huntington, IN, 1967); John Murray Todd, The Laity: The People o f God (New York:
Paulist, 1967); John S. Nelson, The Church: The People o f God, 3 vols. (New York: Holt,
Rinehart and Winston, 1967); J. Ratzinger, Das neue Volk Gottes. Entwurfe zur Ekklesiologie
(Diisseldorf: Patmos, 1969); M. Keller, Volk Gottes als Kirchenbegriff. Eine Untersuchung zum
neueren Kirchenverstandnis (Zurich, 1970); Anton Houtepen, People o f God: A Plea fo r the
Church (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1984); Andreas Aarflot, Let the Church Be the Church: The
Voice and Mission o f the People o f God (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1988); Joseph Shaw, The
Pilgrim People o f God: Recovering a Biblical M otif (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1990); Robert M.
Schwartz, Servant Leaders o f the People o f God: An Ecclesial Spirituality fo r American Priests
(New York: Paulist Press, 1989); Ernst Leuninger, W irsind das Volk Gottes! Demokratisierung
der Kirche (Frankfurt: Josef Knecht, 1992); Desmond Tutu, The Rainbow People o f God: The
Malang c f a Peaceful Revolution (New York: Doubleday, 1994); Howard Clark Kee, Who Are
the People o f God? Early Christian Models o f Community (New Haven: Yale University Press,
1995); Gordon D. Fee, Paul, the Spirit, and the People o f God (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson,
1996).
85Van Vliet, Communio sacramentalis, 202 n. 253. Congars writings on this theme from
the period 1959-1968 include "The Church: The People of God"; "The People of God"; "L^glise
peuple de Dieu," in Bulletin de IUnion des religieuses enseignantes. Special Number (19661967): 85-99. Further reflections on the "People of God" theme from later years include
"Richesse et verit d'une vision de lliglise comme Teuple de Dieu," in Congar, Le Concile de
Vatican II (Paris: Beauchesne, 1984), 109-122; "D'une *Eccl6siologie en gestation a Lumen
Gentium chap. I" in Congar, Le Concile de Vatican II (Paris: Beauchesne, 1984) 123-136. For
secondary commentary on this theme in Congars writings, see van Vliet, Communio
sacramentalis, 200-208 and 219-28; Macdonald, The Ecclesiology cfYves Congar, 234-39.
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orienting our thoughts in certain perspectives."86 This orientation is simultaneously


anthropological, ecclesiological, and pneumatological.

1. The Anthropology of the People of God Theology


In a 1964 essay, Congar observed that one of the merits of the People of God
paradigm is its anthropological value.87 He lamented that ecclesiological writings and
ecclesiastical publications often contrasted or opposed "the Church" and "men," and he
was confident that a People of God theology would challenge this opposition and renew
the anthropological dimension of ecclesiology.88 The very language of the "People of
God" implies that the church is composed of the faithful men, women and children who
have dedicated their lives to God.
The People of God paradigm contributes a notably corporate theological
anthropology to ecclesiological discussion. The theology of the People of God is
grounded in the Hebrew Scriptures and the life o f the people of Israel who had a strong
sense o f their communal identity. British theologian H. Wheeler Robinson suggests that
an anthropology of "corporate personality" is necessary to a proper interpretation of the

The Church: The People of God," 12. See also "Richesse et verity," 110.
87"The Church: The People of God," 21. Congar did not think, however, that Lumen
gentium had developed the People of God idea "to the point of the formulation of a Christian
anthropology, an image of the Christian man." "The Church: The People of God," 12. Elsewhere
he noted that there were elements of a theological anthropology in other Council documents,
particularly in Gaudium et spes. Here, "the Council studied the question more closely, without,
however, taking up all the aspects of modem man or using all the resources of biblical tradition.
Its vision remained too static." "The People of God," 198. He regretted that Gaudium et spes did
not return more unreservedly to the categories People of God* and messianic people." "The
People of God," 206.
"The Church: People of God," 22 and 22 n. 19. Congar offered the Austrian catechism
of 1894 as an illustration of this common opposition of "the Church" and "men.
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Hebrew Scriptures, for the Hebrew people understood their common existence with a
corporate realism that easily escapes modem persons who read the Scriptures with
contemporary presumptions about individual existence.89 In the biblical period, Robinson
explained, the people Israel was conceived as a real entity. Hebrew law presumed a
communal responsibility for transgression, Hebrew families extended into the past and
into the future so as to include in a very real sense both ancestors and the unborn, and
Hebrew prophets moved with fluid reference from the "one" to the "many" and the
"many" to the "one" as they communicated the messages entrusted to them. In the psalms,
the "I" of the psalmist easily passed into the "I" of the community, and in the Servant
songs o f Deutero-Isaiah (Isa 42:1-4; 49:1-6; 50:4-9; 52:13-53:12) the Servant is Israel.90
"The view we have presented," Robinson commented, "is neither allegory nor
personification, but a primitive category o f thought which is very different from our own
antithesis of the collective and the individual."91

89Robinson first presented these ideas at a professional conference in Germany in 1935.


His paper was published in Werden und Wesen des Alten Testaments: Vortrage gehalten aufder
Intemationalen Tagung Alttestamentlicher Forscher zu Gottingen vom 4.-10. September 1935,
eds. P. Volz, F. Stummer, and J. Hempel (Berlin, 1936). Robinsons presentation was published
in English in 1964 and then reprinted in 1980 as Corporate Personality in Ancient Israel
(Philadephia: Fortress). Prior to 1935, Robinson had broached his theory in The Christian
Doctrine o f Man (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 2d ed. 1913), 8; "Hebrew Psychology," The People
and the Book, ed. A. S. Peake (Oxford: Clarendon, 1925), 376; The Cross o f the Servant
(London: SCM, 1926), 32-37.
90Robinson, Corporate Personality, 41.
91Robinson, Corporate Personality, 38.
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Robinsons interpretation o f Hebrew anthropology have received both


commendation and critique.92 Congar himself believed that Robinsons work contributed
to an appreciation o f the mutual interdependence that characterizes the life o f the People
o f God.93 Amongst the Hebrew and Christian peoples, there is indeed a "sort of
interpenetration of the personal and the collective."94 In Daniel 7, Congar noted for
example, the messianic Son o f M an is inseparable from the people who will receive the
kingdom:
here we already have, in a highly significant way, one o f the features which will
be dominant, even decisive, in the Christian idea o f the Kingdom and o f the
Churchthe real identity o f an individual and a collectivity, all being in a single
one, all belonging to a single one, and yet all being realized in a collectivity, all
belonging to a people....The religious consciousness of Israel and the call of each
person are bound up with the destiny of the group....95

^Appreciative commentary can be found in E. Best, One Body in Christ (London:


Epworth, 1958), 3-41; R. P. Shedd, Mem in Community 4,10,26,37,41,87,103; C. H. Dodd,
Epistle o f Paul to the Romans (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1932); A. Nygren, Commentary on
Romans (London: SCM, 1952), 213; H. Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline o f His Theology (Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), 38, and 61-62 [although Ridderbos prefers the term "all-in-one" to the
term "corporate personality"]; Th. C. Vriezen, An Outline o f Old Testament Theology, 2d ed.
(Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1970), 327 n. 1 and 382-87. J. de Frames entire work Adam et son
lignage, Museum Lessi&num. Sect. Bibl. (Paris, 1959) is devoted to the issue of corporate
personality. Critics include G. E. Mendenhall who refers to Robinson's ideas as clich and
mythological in "The Relation of the Individual to Political Society in Ancient Israel," in Biblical
Studies in Memory ofC. C. Allemann, eds. J. M. Myers et al. (Locust Valley, NY: Augustin,
1960), 91. J. R. Porter has been particularly critical of Robinson's use of the idea of corporate
personality in his explications of Hebrew legal practice. T h e Legal Aspects of the Concept of
'Corporate Personality in the Old Testament," Vetus Testamentum 15 (1965): 361-80. J. W.
Rogerson challenges Robinsons entire argument in "The Hebrew Conception of Corporate
Personality: A Re-examination," JTS 21 (1970): 1-16 and Anthropology and the Old Testament
(Oxford: Blackwell, 1978), 55-59. William Klein defends Robinson in The Chosen People: A
Corporate View c f Election (Grand Rapids, MI: Academie Books, 1990), 41-42.
^Congar, "Perspectives chrdtiennes sur la vie personnelle et la vie collective," 201.
94

Congar, "Perspectives chrdtiennes sur la vie personnelle et la vie collective," 201.

"'T h e Church and Its Unity," 60-61.


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Each member o f the people o f Israel and o f the church is what Old Testament scholar
W ilhelm Vischer described as a "pars pro toto" o r what Oscar Cullman referred to as
"one for many"one who is not simply a discrete or detachable part of a whole but one
who carries in him self or herself the destiny o f a whole people.96 The People of God
paradigm emphasizes the corporate character o f human existence and our inseparability
from one another.

2. The Ecclesiology of the People of God Theology


Congars People o f God ecclesiology reflected the corporate realism of Hebrew
anthropology. Drawing on Vischers discussion o f xb&pars pro toto and Cullmans
theology of the "one for many," Congar explained that the life of the church is advanced
by a divine summons given to one person on behalf o f an entire people.97The People of
God was formed originally through the call o f Abraham (Gen 12:1-2) and then through
the person of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29-30).98 Through their fidelity, Abraham and Jesus
Christ carried forward Gods plan for the salvation o f the whole people of Israel and the
entire human race. Each person, indeed, who responds to their vocation furthers Gods
plan and advances the destiny of all. Narratives o f the lives o f the faithful are
consequently not simply inspiring spiritual stories but are properly ecclesiological

See Wilhelm Vischer, The Witness o f the Old Testament to Christ I (London:
Lutterworth Press, 1949), 121,122,155, 188,191. "The whole Bible," Congar concurred, "is
permeated with the idea of Pars pro toto "The Church: The People of God," 19. With respect to
Cullman, Congar stated "I am a firm believer in the biblical idea of one for many, an idea
which Cullmann has developed in his numerous biblical studies." Fifty Years, 18.
^"Perspectives chretiennes sur la vie personnelle et la vie collective," 201.
"Richesseet v&it," 111.

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testimonies. The church fathers, Congar noted, "so often described their vision o f the
Church in terms o f typical biblical personages (Abraham, Rahab, M ary Magdalene, etc.),
or o f some Gospel parable. The Church indeed is composed o f men who open themselves
to Gods call

Every member o f the church contributes to its common destiny. In like

vein, the ecclesial body as a whole is the pars pro toto o f all humankind. Strictly
speaking, Congar believed, the People of God includes only Jews and baptized
Christians, but nonetheless the church realizes proleptically the communion with God
that is the destiny of the entire human race.100The People o f God paradigm is
appropriately suggestive o f the inextricable connection between the church and the entire
human family.101
A People o f God ecclesiology emphasizes not only the churchs common destiny,
but also the churchs corporate identity and action. The church, Congar noted with

""The Church: The People of God," 22.


I00"The People of God," 201. Unlike Rahner, Congar did not think we can extend the
term "People of God" to include in some general sense all of the human community. "By the fact
that the Word of God became man," Rahner wrote, "humanity has already in advance become
ontologically the real sanctification of individual men by grace and also die people of the
children of God. Nowhere that men exist, are they in the concrete simply mere men in the
abstract sense of the Aristotelian-scholastic concept of the essence of man. In as far as mankind,
thus consecrated, is a real unity from the start, there already exists a 'people ofGocT which
extends as far as humanity itself, even before any social and juridical organization of mankind as
a supernatural unity in a Church." "Membership of the Church According to the Teaching of Pius
XITs Encyclical Mystic Corporis Christi," 77 (Baltimore: Helicon, 1963), 2:82-83. Congar
thought that "scriptural usage as well as liturgical and patristic tradition do not justify this way of
speaking..." "The People of God," 204-5. The Vatican Council, he noted, accordingly did not
construe the term "People of God" in this sense.
101"...this People of God is de iure coextensive with humanity." "The People of God,"
199. See also LG, 13.
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reference to early Christian professions o f faith, is the "we o f Christians.102


The church is we who preach the Gospel, we who heal the sick, we who teach the
unlettered, we who reconcile the divided, and we who gather for worship. Indeed, the
corporate identity o f the church implies that the entire liturgical assembly is a celebrant o f
the churchs sacraments and even a consecrator o f the Eucharistic gifts.103 This ecclesial
"we," Congar emphasized, does not jeopardize the uniqueness o f every person and every
local church. To the contrary, an ecclesiology o f the People o f God enhances appreciation
for the particularity o f each person and each local ecclesial gathering. In patristic and
liturgical texts "populus" often denotes the local Eucharistic assembly, an assembly to
which each person brings their unique personal histories.104The People o f God are the
athletes and the crippled, the poets and parents, the field laborers and teachers and
assembly line workersthe people who are "to be found in the midst o f every population
unitmy village, my city, my apartment building, the train on which I am traveling, the
hospital in which I am sick."105 A People of God ecclesiology contributes to a greater
appreciation o f this catholicity precisely because it reaffirms the anthropological
102/ Believe, 2:52. Reference is to K. Delahaye, Ecclesia Mater chez les Peres des trois
premiers siecles, Unam Sanctam, no. 46 (Paris: Cerf, 1964). "The Church is an institution,"
Congar reflected elsewhere, "but it is also and even primarily the *we of Christians." I Believe,
2:130. See also 2:66.
103"Richesse et v6rit," 113. This is not to suggest, Congar explained, that the entire
congregation should recite the words of consecration for this would be "an ecclesiological error
and even a liturgical heresy. See also Congars "L*'ecclesia* ou communaute chretienne, sujet
integral de Taction liturgique," in La liturgie apres Vatican II, eds. J.-P. Jossua and Y. Congar,
Unam Sanctam, no. 66 (Paris: Cerf, 1967), 241-82.
104On the populus as the local assembly see "The Church: The People of God," 26.
Reference is to Ratzinger, Volk und Haus Gottes in Augustins Lehre von der Kirche (Munich,
1954), 159f.
10S"The Church, People of God," 26-27.
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dimension o f ecclesiology.106The church "is itself composed o f diverse historical


peoples, each o f which brings its own resources: Volkerkirche."107The corporate "we" of
the Volkerkirche, Congar noted, does not exist independently o f institutional form. The
People o f God is not a loose association but rather a structured people with its
assemblies, its hierarchy, its rites and customs, for "God is a God not of disorder but of
peace" (1 Cor 14.33).108
The People o f God paradigm also contributes to ecclesiology an emphasis on the
historical and eschatological mission o f the church.109Congar observed that references to
the "Populus D ei" in liturgical prayers typically recount the history of the People of God
from creation, the call of Abraham, the crossing o f the Red Sea and onwards.110The
"People o f God terminology thus connotes historical human relativities and events at the
same time as it suggests a movement and progression towards the eschatological end of
the Kingdom o f God (Rom 8:19-25,1 Cor 15:24-28). The theology of the People of God
unites the human and historical with the eschatological so as to impel the church to
eschatological hope within the density o f temporal life; it calls us to service and to

106"The People of God," 202. He here observed that the "People of God" paradigm
reinforces catholicity because it reaffirms the anthropological dimension of ecclesiology. Congar
believed as explained in Chapter Two that catholicity has both an anthropological and trinitarian
source, roots from both "below" and "above."
107"The People of God," 203.
I08"Richesse et v6rit6," 113.
I09"The People of God," 200-203.
II0"The Church: People of God," 23.
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mission.111The "idea o f the People o f God," Congar commented, "lends itself to an


extremely realistic catechesis and it communicates an understanding o f the Church that is
both concrete and dynamic."112
Finally, a People of God ecclesiology contributes to our awareness of the churchs
sinfulness and failings. Insofar as the church is a divinely established institution, it is pure
and sinless, but insofar as the church is composed o f people it is marred by pride, egoism,
and human weakness. Years before the People o f God became a dominant theme in
Congars ecclesiology, he had already raised Catholic consciousness about the sinfulness
of the church precisely by emphasizing that the church is composed o f fallible human
persons; the church is both the "ecclesia de Trinitate" and the "ecclesia ex hom inibus."113
The former is infallible and holy and the latter is marred by sin. The anthropological
connotations of the People of God theology enabled Congar to reiterate this point. Indeed,
he noted, the very terminology o f the "People o f God" resonates with the penitential
prayers in which the community implores Gods mercy for "Populus m as."114 "As Dom
Anscar Vonier saw so well," Congar commented, "this [the People o f God] is the locus in
the Church where there are failures and sins, the struggle for a more perfect fidelity, the

lu"Richesse et v6rit6," 114-17.


ll2"The Church: People of God," 27.
113See for example Vraie etfausse reforme, 2d ed., 102-8.
I14"The Church: People of God," 23. Congar offered the example of the Lenten collects
as collected by Michael Schmaus, Ausdruckformer der lateinischen Liturgiesprache bis Elften
Jahrhundert (Mainz: Beuron, 1941), 205f and as found in the footnotes of A. Schaut, "Die
Kirche als Volk Gottes. Selbstaussagen d. Kirche im rominischen Messbuch," in Benediktinische
Monatschrift 25 (1949): 187-96.
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permanent need for reform and for the effort this involves."115Moreso than the
ecclesiology o f the Mystical Body of Christ, Congar believed that an ecclesiology o f the
People o f God expresses our need for conversion and our entreaty for help and mercy.
We are an "assembly o f sinners."116

3. The Pneumatology of the People of God Theology


The theology o f the People of God clearly contributed to the coincidence of
anthropology and ecclesiology in Congars thought This biblical paradigm includes a
corporate anthropology that readily becomes an ecclesiology, and an ecclesiology that
emphasizes the churchs anthropological dimension. But does the theology o f the People
of God include a pneum atological anthropology and a pneum atological ecclesiology?
Congar believed that the Holy Spirit was responsible for the very development of a
contemporary theology o f the People of God. "The People o f God," he wrote, is a
"beautiful notion" with which "the Holy Spirit must secretly have inspired
everyone...sometime between 1937 and 1943."117 Yet in the essays in which Congar

115'The Church: People of God," 23-24. See also "The People of God," 202. Congar
observed that after Vonier published The Spirit and the Bride (London, 1935)a book that
emphasized the holiness of the churchhe felt a need to write The People o f God (London, 1937)
in which he emphasized the churchs human and historical character. Elsewhere however Congar
commented that Vonier overly contrasted the holy church and the human church: "...it is the
People of God who are the Church, and the Church is the People of God. In this dual unity, one
can privilege one of the two aspects. The monastic and liturgical vision of Vonier is a little too
glorious. We will see that, even from the point of view of cult, there is more to be said."
"Richesse et verity," 116.

lI6"The People of God," 120.


117Congar, Preface to Frank B. Norris, Gods Own People: An Introductory Study o f the
Church (Baltimore: Helicon, 1962), v.

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discussed the church as the People o f God, there is surprisingly scant reference to
pneumatology.118
The relative infrequency with which Congar referenced the Holy Spirit in his
essays on the People of God does not necessarily mean that there is no operative
pneumatology underlying these reflections. The Spirit is the Spirit o f God and the People
of God are thus the People o f the Spirit of God, whether this is explicitly stated or n o t
Congar in fact underscored the /Geological (and hence pneumatological) character of the
People o f God paradigm, cautioning that the term "People" as used herein must be
interpreted in a theological rather than general or ordinary sense.119 We are the People of
God, Congar emphasized.120Furthermore, Congars People o f God theology highlighted
dimensions of ecclesial life that clearly have a pneumatological foundation: the corporate
destiny and communion o f the ecclesial body, the catholicity o f the church, the churchs
eschatological mission, and the importance of ecclesial penitence and conversion. It is the
Holy Spirit, Congar will affirm in 1979-80, who is the principle o f the churchs
communion and catholicity, the bearer o f the churchs eschatological mission, and the

118Congars "The Church: The People of God, for example, does not mention the Holy
Spirit at all in the first twenty pages of the essay. When Congar finally does speak of the Spirit in
the final pages of the article, it is with reference not to the theology of the People of God but
rather with respect to the ecclesiology of the Mystical Body of Christ. See "The Church: The
People of God," 31-35. Congars essay "The People of God" mentions the Spirit five times, but in
each instance the reference is not direcdy to Congars own People of God theology but rather a
citation from the documents of the Second Vatican Council (p. 199,202,203,204) or a reference
to Dom Anscar Vomers 77^ Spirit and the Bride (p. 199).
,I9"Richesse et v6rit6," 110.
120See for example. T h e Church: The People of God," 27. Emphasis is Congars.
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kindler o f conversion.121 "People o f God," Congar wrote, "connotes Plan o f God and
therefore sacred history,"122and this sacred history is shaped by the two divine missions
o f the Word and the Spirit.
There is, however, an important obstacle to any argument for the existence o f an
implicit pneumatology in Congars People o f God theology. Congar believed that the
People o f God paradigm linked the church particularly to the phase of the plan o f God
recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures, and he maintained that in this period the Spirit was
present only in a lim ited manner. The Spirit intervened as necessary to assure the
realization of Gods plan, but in the manner o f a transitory collective presence rather than
a permanent personal indwelling.123 Further development o f the pneumatological
dimension o f the People o f God paradigm would require some reformulation of this
position. Certainly, from a Christian perspective, a distinction must be made between
Gods Covenant with Israel and the Christian dispensation, but Congars position that
there is only a collective rather than a personal presence o f the Spirit amongst the Hebrew
people was critiqued by his own fellow Dominicans, and it is not consistent with the

121On the Spirit as the principle of communion and catholicity, see I Believe, 2:15-38; on
the Spirit and eschatology, see, for example, / Believe, 2:69-71, 2:106-108,3:144. On the Spirit
and conversion and penitence, see I Believe, 2:122-24.
I22nPeople of God," 19. Indeed, he explained, the recovery of a People of God theology
occurred through the efforts of Koster, Cerfaux, Vatican II and others to place the Church in the
perspective of salvation history. "People of God," 14. Robinson, Congar believed, had
unfortunately neglected this decisive element in his discussion of the Hebrew corporate
personality; there is such a thing as corporate personality, Congar affirmed, only because there is
a plan of God, a plan that proceeds typologically such that the end of Gods design is present in
germ in those who serve as Gods original representatives. "Perspectives chr6tiennes sur la vie
personnelle et la vie collective," 201.
123See Chapter Two, Section A.2. See also "The Church: The People of God," 31-33.
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anthropology o f corporate personality that Congar him self appropriated from Robinson.
If there is indeed no antithesis between the individual and the collective within a Hebrew
worldviewas Robinson affirmed and Congar concurred124the collective presence of
the Spirit amongst the Hebrew people must be ineluctably also personal. In conjunction
with an account of a corporate Hebraic anthropology, one should thus be able to construct
a pneum atological Hebrew anthropology that would in turn enhance the pneumatological
dimension o f a People o f God theology.
A reformulation o f Congars account o f the activity o f the Spirit amongst the
people of Israel could build upon Congars observation that the plan o f God in the Old
Testament period emphasized election and call, covenant, consecration to God, and the
promise of eschatological fulfillm ent Congar mentions all o f these dimensions of
Hebrew life in his essays on the People o f God, but he does not place these ideas in an
explicitly pneumatological framework.125 Clearly, however, the mysteries o f election,
covenant consecration, and eschatological promise must ultimately have a
pneumatological foundation. Congar noted in his essays on the People o f God that
election and call presuppose the grace o f God, and in I Believe in the H oly Spirit he stated
that uncreated grace is the Holy S p irit126 Consecration to God requires a life o f service,

124Congar himself stated that among the Jewish and Christian peoples there is a "sort of
interpenetration of the personal and the collective. "Perspectives chrtiennes sur la vie
personnelle et la vie collective," 201.
i2S"The Church: The People of God," 19-20.
126Congar noted that election and call presuppose grace in "The Church: The People of
God," 19; "The People of God," 200. He emphasized that the Holy Spirit is uncreated grace in /
Believe, 2:17-8; 2:68-9.
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praise, and worshipall o f which are gifts o f the S p irit127 And the eschatological
character o f the life of the People o f God m ust likewise have a pneumatological ground,
for the Spirit is the promised one and bearer o f the eschaton.128
The pneumatological dimension o f a People of God theology could also be
strengthened by emphasizing the continuity and pneumatological character of the Old and
New Covenants. If both covenants are an act o f grace, both are in some sense a bond
between God and Gods people through the Holy Spirit129 Congar believed that an
ecclesiology of the People o f God has the m erit o f highlighting the kinship between
Christians and the people of Israel,130 and he advocated the inclusion o f Vatican Els
declaration on the Jews within Lumen gentium s chapter on the People o f God in order to
accentuate this relationship.131 Yet Congars denial o f a personal indwelling of the Spirit
amongst the Hebrew people generated a strong emphasis in his writings on the
discontinuity between Israel and the church. Indeed, Congar believed that insofar as the
church is truly the church o f Jesus Christ, it cannot be adequately described with the
theology o f the People of God (inherited from Israel) for this theology "cannot express a
127On the service, worship and praise o f God as gifts of the Spirit see for example I
Believe, 112-18 and "Pneumatologie dogmadque," 494-95.
128On the Spirit as the "Promised One" see I Believe, 2:69.
129Heribert Miihlen discusses the pneumatological significance of God's Covenant with
Israel in DerHeilige Geist, 245-49.
130"The idea of the People of God, in the first place, enables us to express the continuity
of the Church with Israel...Placing the Church in the context of the history of salvation, the idea
of the People of God makes it possible to examine the difficult but important question of Israel,
that is, of die Jewish people according to the flesh who actually did stumble (Rom 11:11) but
who continue to be the people chosen and loved by God." "The Church: the People of God," 19,
21.

I31nRichesse et v6rite," 120. "D'une ,ccl6siologie en gestation," 133.


263

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properly Christian ecclesiology."132Insofar as the church is church it transcends the


designation People o f God and receives a new title: the M ystical Body o f C hrist133
Congars pronounced contrast of the People o f God and the Mystical Body o f Christ
weakens his affirmation o f the kinship between Israel and the church.134 Had he given
more emphasis to the pneum atological dimension o f a theology o f the People of God, he
could have expressed more emphatically the continuity and complementarity o f the
People of God and M ystical Body theologies. Indeed, Congar believed that it is the Holy
Spirit who is the bond between the ancient promise made to Abraham and its fulfilment
in Jesus Christ, for the Spirit is called the "Promise."135 Had Congar elaborated this
insight more fully and developed more explicitly the pneumatology of the People of God
theology, this paradigm which has become so important in the post-Vatican II era would
have been enhanced.

132"Richesse et vdrite," 120.


133"Under the new Dispensation, that of the promises realized through the incarnation of
the Son and the gift of the Spirit (the "Promised One"), the People of God was given a status that
can be expressed only in the categories and in the theology of the Body of Christ" "The Church:
The People of God," 35. This, Congar noted, is not only his own view but also the position of
exegetes such as N. A. Dahl and R. Schnackenburg as well as Catholic and Orthodox theologians
such as M. Schmaus, I. Backes, J. Ratzinger, C. Algermissen, L. Bouyer, and G. Florovsky. For
references see "The Church: The People of God," 35-36.
134Congar believed that Kosterwhose work had been such a stimulus to the
development of a contemporary theology of the People of Godhad erred in opposing the People
of God theology to the ecclesiology of the Mystical Body which Koster disdained, yet in a
different manner Congar himself has opposed these two paradigms. "The Church: The People of
God," 36.
I35,rRichesse et v6rit," 121.
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C. The Temple o f the Holy Spirit


The M ystical Body o f Christ was not the only ecclesiological model that Congar
thought could transcend the People o f God paradigm and thus express the newness and
fullness o f the Christian dispensation. This purpose, he believed, is also served by the
theology o f the Temple of the Holy S p irit The biblical theme of the Temple o f the Holy
Spirit has not been the subject of intense theological and exegetical attention in
contemporary Roman Catholic theology to the same degree as the theology o f the
Mystical Body or that o f the People of God.136 But this Pauline theme (1 C or 3:16-17; 1
Cor 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16; Rom 8:9; Eph 2:19-22) did play an increasingly important role in
Congars own work. As Congar was writing Lay People in the Church (French edition,
19S3), he reflected, "[I] continually came upon the idea that the essential point of Gods
plan and the place of the faithful within it could be well formulated in term s o f a temple
built of living stones."137 While in exile in Jerusalem in 1954, Congar thus devoted
himself to writing The M ystery o f the Temple, a biblical and theological survey o f the
significance of the Temple throughout the economy of salvation.138 And between 19691991, the "Temple of the Holy Spirit" became a prominent theme in Congars theology as

I36Works published on this topic that did influence Congar include W. H. Dumphy, The
Living Temple (Milwaukee, 1933); E. C. Dewick, The Indwelling God (London, 1938); A. Cole,
The New Temple (London, 1950); Th. Hannay, "The Temple," ScotJTh 3 (1950): 278-87; J.
Danillou, Le Signe du Temple oude la Presence de Dieu, Coll. catholique (Paris, Gallimard,
1942); H.-M. FSret, "Le temple du Dieu vivant" in Pretre etApdtre (Paris: Bonne Press, 1947),
103-5,135-37, 166-69,181-84; M. Fraeyman, "La spiritualisation de l'idde du temple Hans les
epitres pauliniennes," EphThL 33 (1947): 378-412.
171The Mystery o f the Temple, ix. See also Lay People, 54,57,61,96,102-3,113,11920,121,154 n. 78,198,405.
138 The Mystery o f the Temple, trans. Reginald Trevett (Westminster, MD: Newman
Press, 1962). Originally published as Le Mystere du Temple (Paris: Cerf, 1958).
265

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he focused increasingly on pneumatology.139This theme recurs throughout the second


volume o f I Believe in the H oly Spirit (1979-80)140 and the "Temple o f the Holy Spirit" is
the subtitle o f the first m ajor subdivision o f the chapter entitled "A pneumatological
ecclesiology" in Congars 1982 article "Pneumatologie dogmatique.'441 hi this 1969-91
period that van Vliet characterizes as the fourth and final phase of Congars scholarly life,
Congar speaks explicitly of a "pneumatological ecclesiology and a "pneumatological
anthropology" for the first time in his career and the Pauline paradigm o f the Temple of
the Holy Spirit contributed to Congars ability to develop these dimensions o f his
theology in a synthetic way. In Pauls letters, Congar observed, "we find simultaneously a
twofold application of the idea of the temple, to the body of the individual Christian and
to the Church considered as a whole."142This multivalent resonance is found in Congars
own use o f the Temple of the Holy Spirit tradition. This will be explored below through a
consideration o f the anthropological, ecclesiological, and pneumatological dimensions of
Congars Temple of the Holy Spirit theology.

I39Van Vliet, Communio sacramentalis, 244-46. According to van Vliet, the other
predominant ecclesiological theme of this period is a theology of the church as a "structured
spiritual communion." See Communio sacramentalis, 240-44.
l40See especially I Believe, 2:53-55.
I41This chapter is his contribution to Initiation a la pratique de la theologie, eds. Bernard
Lauret and Frangois Refould (Paris: Cerf, 1982), 2:481-516. Congars discussion of the church as
"Temple of the Holy Spirit" is found on pp. 493-95.
l4ZMystery o f the Temple, 153.
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1. The Anthropology of the Temple of the Holy Spirit Theology


"Do you not understand, exhorted Paul, "that you are Gods temple (poos), and
that Gods Spirit has his dwelling in you?" (1 Cor 3:16) God no longer dwells only in the
Ark o f the covenant, or in the Temple in the Holy City of Jerusalem, but God has taken
flesh in Jesus Christ and dwells henceforth in all those who are members o f Christs
Body. The human person has become the sanctuary o f the Lord. Pauls talk o f Gods
"dwelling" (from the Greek verb oikein), Congar noted, connotes a stable presence and
the idea of habitation and ownership.143This divine inhabitation is the basis o f human
sanctification and holiness.
The Spirit abides in our soul or "heart" which forms a substantial unity with our
bodies.144The anthropology implicit in the Temple o f the Holy Spirit theology thus gives
striking importance to human corporeality. Although Congar cautioned that Pauls
language of the "indwelling o f the Spirit should not be understood in a spatial sense,145
the communion with God that Pauls language does connote is a communion that includes
our human corporeality. "The place of this indwelling [of the Spirit]," Congar wrote,
"with all the consequences it involves, is our body."146 Pauls theology does not denigrate
the body in the manner of Greek philosophy nor spiritualize the soul in the manner o f the

w Mystery o f the Temple, 155.


144I Believe, 2:82.
,45/ Believe, 2:100-101. See also 2:109 n. 5.
l46Mystery o f the Temple, 155. Emphasis is Congars.
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Jewish philosopher Philo.147Rather, Paul operated from the Hebrew presumption that the
body is the whole living person, the outward m anifestation o f personal activity.148Paul
was also influenced by the event o f Easter from which he drew the firm conviction that
our bodiestogether with that o f Jesus Christwill rise again: "And if the Spirit o f him
who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised up Jesus Christ from the
dead will give life to your perishable bodies too, for the sake o f his Spirit who dwells in
you (Rom 8:11).149 Congar thus urged his readers to "take very seriously those
statements which claim that our bodies can be transfigured and are able, in their own
way, to reflect Gods glory and the peace and joy o f the Holy S p irit430 He recounted the
ancient story o f Leonidas who came one evening to bid goodnight to his young son
Origen and tenderly kissed his ch est convinced that his small body was truly a temple of
the Holy S p irit131 Congar also highlighted the accounts o f bodily transfiguration found in
the mystical traditionthe testimonies of people like S t Gertrude, S t Teresa o f Avila, or

14,1The Mystery o f the Temple, 155. Elsewhere, Craig Koester observes that Philo was the
first in the Jewish tradition to identify Gods tabernacle with the human soul, an interesting
parallel with the Christian affirmation that the human person is the 'Temple of the Holy Spirit"
See Koester, The Dwelling o f Cod: The Tabernacle in the Old Testament, Intertestamental
Jewish Literature, and the New Testament, CBQ Monograph Series, no. 22 (Washington, DC:
Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1989), 65-66. The "spiritualization" of Philo, however,
does contrast with the corporeal emphasis of Paul.
148The Jerusalem Bible thus appropriately translates "our bodies" in Rom 12:1 as "our
persons." Mystery o f the Temple, 156. Congar referenced R. Grobel, "Soma als 'Self, Person in
the Septuagint", in NeutestL Studien f R. Bultmann (Berlin, 1954), 52-9. See also Lay People,
186 ff.
149Referenced in Congar, Mystery o f the Temple, 157.
l50I Believe, 2:82.
131/ Believe, 2:81. This story of Leonides and Origen is first told in approximately 196 by
Eusebius in Ecclesiastical History (VI, 2,11).
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Seraphim o f Sarov whose face became radiant as he spoke about the Holy Spirit with his
friend Motovilov in a field on a wintery Russian day.132
Because the Holy Spirit truly indwells our persons we must lead lives o f purity
and holiness. "God," Paul exhorts, "has not called us for uncleanness, but in
holiness....God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you." (1 Thess 4:7-8)133The same purity
required o f those who entered the Temple gates is now required o f us in every moment o f
our daily lives. Congar thus advocated the formation o f Christian persons through
constant prayer, a prayer that is simultaneously our own entreaty and the work of the
Spirit who cries "Abba!in our hearts (Gal 4:6, Rom 8:1S).154Congar also exhorted his
readers to offer themselves in union with Jesus Christ as a spiritual sacrifice to God each
dayindeed, every instant o f our lives.155 In the mystery that the very Spirit of God has
tabernacled in our soul and body, Congar found the foundation for a rich spirituality, an
exigent Christian ethics, and the ontological dignity of the Christian.156

2. The Ecclesiology o f th e Tem ple o f the Holy S p irit Theology


The indwelling o f the Holy Spirit in the human person is inseparable from the
activity o f the Spirit in the church. As the church Fathers had written, '"Each soul is the

l52I Believe, 2:70-71, 2:82, 2:82 n. 94.


153Congar commented on this passage in I Believe, 2:107.
154See / Believe, 2:114. See also "Pneumatologie dogmatique," 494. "Beyond all that we
know consciously and all thoughts that we can form or formulate," Congar adds elsewhere, "the
Spirit who dwells in our hearts is there himself as prayer, supplication and praise." I Believe,
2:117.
l55"Richesse et v6rit," 119-20.
136Mystery o f the Temple, 157.
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Church."157Congar cautioned that this patristic maxim does not mean that the indwelling
o f the Spirit in the human soul is causally prior to the action o f the Spirit in the church.158
Nor, however, is the activity o f the Spirit in the church causally prior to the Spirit's
indwelling o f the human person.159Rather, as St. Paul affirmed, "there is no opposition,
no systematic and exclusive priority as between the Church and the individual believer.
Each needs the other and in them both the Holy Spirit is the principle of life."160
The Holy Spirit is the principle o f the church's life, and the church is the Spirits
temple. Like the Temple of Solomon, the church is a temple in the very concrete sense of
a building consecrated to God. Congar did not discount this simple meaning of the
Temple of the Holy Spirit theology. He believed that the church building itself has a
sacramental character; it fosters the union of Christians in one body and is a sign o f God's
love even when its pews are unpeopled.161 Congar reveled in the beauty of church

157Mystery o f the Temple, 154. Congar notes that this phrase appears in the patristic
literature again and again although he does not give any specific citations. He himself repeats
this formula in his essay "Pneumatologie dogmatique," 493; I Believe, 2:54.
158

Mystery o f the Temple, 154. In other instances he simply cites the phrase without
qualification.
^Although "we might be tempted to conclude," he writes, that.the question of the
Church comes first and, like a principle in relation to its consequences, is the determining factor
in the idea of the individual believer as a temple of the Holy Spirit" The Mystery o f the Temple,
153.
ltoMystery o f the Temple, 153.
x6lThe Mystery o f the Temple, 247; I Believe, 2:55. See also "Reflections on the Spiritual
Aspect of Church Buildings" in Priest and Layman, trans. P. J. Hepbume-Scott (London: Darton,
Longman and Todd, 1967), 229-37.
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architecture and artistry, confident that the glory o f Chartes and Le Thoronet was surely
the work of the Spirit of God.162
The foundation stone o f the church, however, is ultimately not a hewn piece of
marble but Jesus the Christ (Eph 2:20).163 Upon this foundation, the church is built with
the living stones who are the churchs members (1 Pet 2:5).164Just as each stone laid upon
a Temple wall contributes to its construction and its beauty, so every member of the
church contributes their own unique gifts and charisms to the Temple o f the S pirit
Congar believed that the importance of charisms as ecclesial realities had been
undervalued,165and he made an important contribution to the reintroduction o f a theology
of charisms in Catholic ecclesiology, as Chapter Three described.166 Charisms are "talents
o f which the Holy Spirit makes us pros to sumpheron, for the common good, so that the
community of the Church will be built up."167 Charisms of preaching, teaching, healing,

l6ZI Believe, 2:58.


l63Congar discusses Jesus Christ as foundation stone of the church in Mystery o f the
Temple, 163-66.
,640n the "living stones o f the church see The Mystery o f the Temple, 166-72.
t6SCongar believed that theologians have not always called charisms by their true name,
or recognized their full ecclesiological significance. "Mon cheminement, 17. In the turn-ofcentury pneumatology described in this dissertations Introduction, "even charisms were seen as
an individuals personal vocation and not as something that contributed to the organism of the
living Church." Congar, "The Spirit in Action," in Congar, Called to Life (New York: Crossroad,
1987), 63. Even subsequent to the Second Vatican Council, Congar noted with concern, "we are
still a long way from opening the life of the Church, its parishes and its organizations to the free
contribution of the charisms." I Believe, 2:128.
166See Chapter Three, Section B 3.
l67/ Believe, 2:26.
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reconciling, and so forth are a contribution to the construction o f the church rather than
gifts that are either peripheral or threatening to the ecclesial institution. Congar wrote:
Theologically, if the false opposition is accepted and a sharp division is made
between charism and institution, the unity of the Church as the Body o f Christ is
destroyed....The essential element o f pneumatology would also be elim inated
from ecclesiology, and it is precisely this element that I am attempting at least to
suggest in this work.168
Full appreciation o f the charisms, Congar continued, requires a proper understanding of
the inseparability o f Jesus Christ and the Holy S pirit The entire life o f Jesus Christ was
guided by the Spirit, and hence the institutions established by Christ necessarily have a
charismatic dimension. Ordination to an ecclesial office, for example, is accompanied by
the gift o f the charisms required to carry out this instituted m inistry.169 At the same time,
the Spirit who inspires new forms o f ministry is the Spirit o f the glorified Christ, and
hence new charisms are not opposed to the ancient dominical institutions.170 In 1984, the
French church was in a state o f crisis as the number of priests dropped precipitously and
the diocesan organization failed to provide a vital structural framework for ecclesial life.
"Yet," Congar reflected:
although we are living in what might be described as a comfortable desert, a
Church is being constantly refashioned as the Gospel makes fresh springs rise
again in the lives of men and women. ...The Gospel and the Spirit are constantly
rising again in hundreds, even thousands o f springs from an underground source
o f water below the contemporary desert of France. These springs are giving new
life, stimulating fresh initiatives and reshaping the attitudes o f many members of
the People o f God and the Church. They are an expression o f the charisms or the
talents which the Spirit is giving to so many people for the building up of the

m I Believe, 2:10-11. See also I Believe, 2:152.


169nAlthough not everyone possessing the gifts of the Spirit is instituted as a minister,
those who are instituted do in fact possess such gifts. I Believe, 2:10.
I70See I Believe, 2:10-12 and Word and Spirit, 78-83.
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Body o f Christ and which can be seen as the 'principle o f order* o f a Church that
is being reborn from its foundations.171
Through the ongoing gift o f charisms, the temple o f the Holy Spirit is a cathedral ever
under construction.172
The Tem ple o f the Holy Spirit ecclesiology is not only charismatic and dynamic
but also cosm ic. The people of Israel as well as adherents of other ancient religions
conceived their temples as places where heaven and earth were mysteriously united; the
temple was the sacred center of the universe, the place from which the waters o f life
poured forth.173 Congar believed that the Christian church must also have a cosmic
character, for the redemption wrought by Jesus Christ is cosmic in scope.174 Jesus Christ
is the Temple o f the new creation, the foundation stone from which the springs o f lifegiving water flow to those who are thirsty (John 7:37-8; cf. 4 :14).175 His life, death and
resurrection are the source of the restoration o f the fallen created order. The human
persons who are living stones of the Temple are a microcosm of the cosmos for they are
made of both spirit and matter, and the holiness o f the saints is proleptic o f the
redemption o f the entire universe.176Indeed, the church building itself is a sign of the

171Word and Spirit, 82.


172Congar noted the dynamism of the Temple of the Holy Spirit ecclesiology in
"Pneumatologie dogmatique," 493.
173On the cosmic significance of the Temple of YHWH in the Old Testament and
parallels with other ancient religions, see Congar, Mystery o f die Temple, 94-100.
174See Mystery o f the Temple, 120,199-201.
175For further commentary see Mystery o f the Temple, 198-99.
m Mystery o f the Temple, 244,202, and 203.
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incipient transformation o f the fallen cosmic order for it is constituted by both the
material elements and the labour o f human persons.177
Finally, the ecclesiology o f the Temple o f the Holy Spirit is an ecclesiology of
effusive praise and worship. Just as the human person becomes a Temple o f the Spirit
through constant prayer, so too the church is a temple whose walls echo with the sound of
jubilant voices united in praise o f God. The Spirit animates the celebration of the
Christian mysteries and the churchs liturgical praise, a ceaseless chorus that follows the
rising sun as it steadily circles the earth:
The Church is the holy temple in which, through the strength o f the living water
that is the Holy Spirit, faith is celebrated in baptisms and love or agape is
celebrated in the E ucharist How beautiful the Churchs liturgy is, filling time and
space with praise of God the creator and saviourto the Father, through the Son,
in the S pirit When our praise ceases here it begins a little further to the w est as
the sun rises. It goes around the world without interruption, uniting all things in
him, the C h rist..178
This praise spills over into the streets as those gathered for liturgy are commissioned to
go forth and serve the Lord.

3. The Pneumatology of the Theology of the Temple of the Holy Spirit


The Temple o f the Holy Spirit paradigm fully incorporates both a
pneum atological anthropology and a pneum atological ecclesiology. This pneumatology
affirms that God is truly given and truly present, that God is truly in communion with us
to such a degree that our very bodies are a temple o f the Lord. Although the Spirit does
not yet abide with eschatological fullness, the Spirit is substanially present within us to

177Mystery o f the Temple, 247 and 199.


m I Believe, 2:54.
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such an extent that the distance between God and creature is overcome.179 In the Spirit,
God has given the gift o f Gods own Love, and the principle o f our movement towards
salvation is now o f its very substance heavenly and divine.180As Chapter Two explained,
Congar believed that this divine indwelling is appropriated to the Spirit rather than
personally proper to the Spirit in a technical trinitarian sense.181 But he did affirm that the
divine indwellinglike all o f Gods actionsoriginates with God the Father and takes
place through the Son in the Holy Spirit. In this trinitarian taxis, the hypostatic property
o f the Spirit is manifest to us.182
The trinitarian taxis is also a reminder that the Temple of the Holy Spirit theology
must be understood in its properly christological context. Jesus Christ himse lf is the
Temple o f the Spirit; in the course of his life, death, and resurrection it becomes clear that
"the true dwelling-place of God among men is none other than the person o f Jesus
himself."183Through Jesus Christ, members of his body also become the dwelling-place
o f God:
During his life on earth, Jesus was the temple of the Holy Spirit, containing all
men with the intention and the power to accept them as children o f God. After the
Lords glorification, the Holy Spirit has that temple in us and in the Church and he

179On substantial indwelling see / Believe, 2:24; Mystery o f the Temple, 264. On Cyril of
Alexandrias theology of substantial indwelling see / Believe, 2:84 and on Aquinas see Mystery
o f the Temple, 239-40 and I Believe, 2:54. On the abrogation of a certain distance between God
and creature see Mystery o f the Temple, 281.
m Mystery o f the Temple, 281.
181See Chapter Two, Section E.2.
182"Pneumatologie dogmadque," 493-94.
m The Mystery o f the Temple, 118.
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is active in the same way in us, enabling us to be bom andthen (from above and
anew: see Jn 3:3) and to live as a member o f the Body o f C hrist184
The theology of the Temple o f the Holy Spirit is thus closely related to the theology o f
the Mystical Body o f C h rist There are nonetheless some important nuances that
distinguish the two approaches. W ithin the Temple o f the Holy Spirit paradigm, Congar
achieved a closer integration o f theological anthropology and ecclesiology than was the
case in his theology o f the M ystical Body. As Section A o f this chapter described,
Congars theology o f the M ystical Body made qualitative distinctions between Jesus
Christ (who is divine), the church (which is not itself divine but which is an instrumental
cause of grace and possesses spiritual powers), and the human persons who are members
o f the Mystical Body (who do not cause grace nor possess spiritual powers.) This resulted
in a certain disjuncture o f anthropology and ecclesiology and what Famere described as
an "autonomization" o f the church. In Congars theology o f the Temple of the Holy Spirit,
in contrast, such qualitative distinctions are not necessary. Through Jesus Christ, both the
church and the human person are truly a dwelling-place of the Spirit and everything that
can be said about the church as Temple o f the Spirit can also be said o f the human person:
the Spirit indwells, transfigures the corporeal, bestows charisms, fosters holiness, and
evokes praise in the human persons who are the living stones o f the church. W ithin the
Temple of the Spirit paradigm, pneumatological anthropology and pneumatological
ecclesiology are almost entirely coincident.

m I Believe, 2:67.
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D. Conclusion of Chapter Four


This Chapter has examined the coincidence o f pneumatological ecclesiology and
pneumatological anthropology in Congars theology through consideration o f three
biblical themes that deeply shaped Congars work: the M ystical Body o f Christ, the
People o f God, and the Temple o f the Holy S p irit Following van V liet these themes
were identified respectively with the first second and fourth phase o f Congars career; the
M ystical Body theology predominated in writings from 1931-1944, the People o f God
from 1959-1968, and the Temple of the Spirit from 1969-1991. Clearly, however, this
schema is not absolute and all o f these biblical themes can be found throughout Congars
entire corpus of writings. Nonetheless, this chronology has been instructive. This chapter
has demonstrated that there was already a pneumatological dimension to Congars
anthropology and ecclesiology in his essays on the Mystical Body in the 1930s and
1940s. At the same time, this chapter has also demonstrated that there was indeed
progression and development in Congars thought and an increasing convergence of
pneumatological anthropology and pneumatological ecclesiology. Congars early
theology o f the Mystical Body (1931-1944) maintained that the church has a causal role
in the communication of grace in a way that the human persons who are members of the
M ystical Body do not, and this divergence o f ecclesiology and anthropology resulted in
what Fameree termed an "autonomization" o f the church in Cougar's retrieval o f the
M ystical Body tradition. Congars theology o f the People o f God (1959-1968) included a
corporate anthropology that flowed naturally into an ecclesiology, but the
pneumatological dimension of this theology was not well developed because Congar
considered the "People of God" an Old Testament paradigm. Finally, in the 1970s and
277

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1980s, Congar spoke explicitly o f a "pneumatological ecclesiology" and


"pneumatological anthropology. His reflections on the Temple o f the Holy Spirit during
this period offer an approach that is thoroughly pneumatological and in which
anthropology and ecclesiology are almost entirely coincident

278

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CHAPTER FIVE
THE CONTRIBUTION OF CONGARS THEOLOGY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
This dissertation has argued that Yves Congar advanced contemporary
pneumatology through his elaboration o f a theology of the Holy Spirit that is a t once a
theological anthropology and a theology o f the church. The early twentieth-century
Roman Catholic pneumatology that Congar inherited consisted primarily o f a spiritual
anthropologyan account of the Spirits indwelling of the human person and the
consequent bestowal o f divine filiation, the infused virtues, and spiritual gifts and fruits.
It was presumed, however, that this divine indwelling had little or no bearing on
ecclesiology. Theologians produced ecclesiological treatises that either failed to mention
the Spirit at all or simply appealed to the Spirit as the guarantor o f the churchs
infallibility and authority. These were "years of famine," Congar decried, in which
"spiritual anthropology now seems to have been drawn off from ecclesiology: the legal
structure is all-sufficient with its guaranteed administrative charisms."1 Congars
historical ressourcem ent and ecumenical engagements revealed that this approach was
inconsistent with the biblical and patristic tradition, the theology o f Thomas Aquinas, the
work o f Johann Adam Mohler, and Eastern Orthodoxy. Congar drew upon these sources
as well as his experience o f the Second Vatican Council to elaborate both what he termed

1Tradition and Traditions, 397.


279

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a pneumatological anthropology and what he called a pneumatological ecclesiology. The


many demands on Congars tim e precluded a comprehensive systematic explication o f his
pneumatology, but the framework he has provided can nonetheless m ake an important
contribution to a contemporary theology o f the Holy Spirit and help to clarify some o f the
theological and pastoral problems facing the contemporary church. This final chapter o f
the dissertation illustrates the fruitfulness o f Congars theology o f the Holy Spirit by
demonstrating how his pneumatological ecclesiology and pneumatological anthropology
can elucidate three theological issues: A) the discussion as to whether the church is a
"hierarchy" or a "democracy"; B) the use of "persons in communion" as a framework for
contemporary theological anthropology and ecclesiology; Q the proprium o f the Holy
Spirit and the theology o f appropriations.

A. The Contribution of Congars Pneumatology to Discussion as to whether the


Church is a "Hierarchy" or a "Democracy"
In 1947, Congar lamented that much o f Roman Catholic ecclesiology from the
seventeenth century onwards was little more than "hierarchology."2 Catholic theology
emphasized precisely what Protestant Reformers, Enlightenment thinkers, Gallicanism,
Conciliarism, and Modernism had challenged: the divinely established authority o f a
pyramidal structure o f clergy (the episcopate, presbyterate, and deaconate) to govern and

Congar first used the term in "Bulletin d'eccldsiologie (1939-1946)," RSPhTh 31 (1947):
77-96. It recurs repeatedly throughout his work. See for example Lay People, 51; Vraie etfausse,
2d ed., 9; "My Path-Findings," 170; "Pneumatology Today," 43; "Moving Towards a Pilgrim
Church," in Vatican II Revisited by Those Who Were There, ed. Alberic Stacpoole (Minneapolis,
MN: Winston Press, 1986), 133. Congar explained: "The de Ecclesia [treatise] was principally,
sometimes almost exclusively, a defense and affirmation of the reality of the Church as a
machinery of hierarchical mediation, of the powers and primacy of the Roman see, in a word, a
hierarchology.'" Lay People, 45.
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sanctify the lives o f their immediate subordinates and the body o f the faithful as a whole.
Catholicisms emphasis on hierarchical authority and power grew in response to the
critique to which the hierarchy was subjected, and the laity increasingly appeared to be a
dispensable appendage to a self-sufficient ecclesiastical institution.3 As Mohler noted in
his critical review o f Theodor Katerkamps study o f church history, it appeared that "God
has created the hierarchy and so has shown more than enough care for the church until the
end o f the world."4 From the post-Reformation period onward, the dominant
ecclesiological model in Roman Catholicism was that o f the church as a societas perfecta
or societas hierarchical Even into the twentieth century, many Catholics assumed that
the word "church" meant simply the "hierarchy."6
"Hierarchology" lost its allure long before the Second Vatican Council, but the
promulgation of the Council's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen gentium) did
mark a fundamental turning-point in Roman Catholic ecclesiology. According to Lumen
gentiuma document which the Council bishops approved with near unanimitythe
church is first and foremost a mysterious sacrament o f God's love {LG 1) and exists as the
entire People o f God {LG 2). Only having established this does Lumen gentium then

3On the dispensability of the laity see for example Congars Lay People, SI.
Mdhler, Review of Theodor Katerkamp's Des ersten Zeitalters der Kirchengeschichte
erst Abtheilung: Die Zeitder Verfolgungen (Miinster, 1823), ThQ 5 (1823): 497. Congar cites
this passage from Mohler repeatedly. See for example "My Path-Findings," 175 n. 14; "R. Sohm
nous interroge," 275.
5 See, for example, Vellico, De Ecclesia Christi: Tractatus apologetico-dogmaticus
(Rome, 1940), 104f; L. Billot, Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi (1898); C. Pesch, Praelectiones
dogmaticae De Ecclesia (1894ff), M. dUerbigny, Theologica de Ecclesia (1920-25); J. V.
Bainvel, De Ecclesia Christi (Paris, 1925).
^Congar makes this observation in "The Church: The People of God," 22.
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proceed to discuss in detail the churchs hierarchical structure %Xj 3). Congar, McBrien,
and others have repeatedly noted the importance o f the Councils deliberate decision to
place Lumen gentium s chapter on the People o f God before the chapter on the hierarchy,
a reversal o f the original schema o f the document and a sign o f the Councils intention to
emphasize that the church is first and foremost the populum Dei?
Subsequent to the Council, theologians and pastoral leaders have continued to
discuss foundational ecclesiological issues as the church has implemented Lumen
gentium and the other conciliar teachings, hi this context, discussion has ensued as to
whether the church should be democratically or hierarchically governed. Joseph
Ratzinger believes that some have taken Lumen gentium 's theology of the People of God
too far and he is critical o f programs of reform that "in place of all hierarchical tutelage
will at long last introduce democratic self-determination into the Church."8 Hans Urs Von
Balthasar also critiques the idea that the church is a democracy, and W alter Kasper
stresses that if the church is to be a trinitarian communio it must be hierarchically
structured.9 Other theologians, in contrast, hold that a full aggiom am ento of the church
does in fact require the implementation o f precisely non-hierarchical forms of
governance. Elisabeth Schiissler Fiorenza is very critical of ecclesial hierarchy and

7See, for example, Congar, "The Church: The People of God," 13; "The People of God,"
97; "Richesse et vrit6," 105. See also McBrien, Catholicism, 670.
sJoseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Called to Communion: Understanding the Church Today,
trans. Adrian Walker (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996), 139.
Von Balthasar, "Christology and Ecclesial Obedience," in Explorations in Theology IV:
Spirit and Institution, trans. Edward Oakes (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1995), 162; Kasper,
"The Church As Sacrament of Unity, Communio 14 (1987): 10-11.
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advocates instead a church structured as a "discipleship o f equals."10Edward


Schillebeeckx recommends a democratic church government, although he is not opposed
to the use o f the term "hierarchy to designate those persons who democratically exercise
ecclesial authority and leadership.11 David Schindler, for his part, believes that the church
must be both a hierarchy and a democracy.12
In the context o f the ongoing discussion as to whether the church is a democracy
or a hierarchy, there is a need to determine precisely what is meant when a theologian
uses these terms and how the apparent conflict o f views might be reconciled. Both the
language o f ecclesial "democracy and that o f ecclesial "hierarchy" have limitations and
can be subject to misinterpretation. Congars theology o f the Holy Spirit can contribute to
a clarification of this terminology, bringing a pneumatological perspective to bear on the
discussion. In light of Congars theology, it can be argued that the church is neither a
"democracy" if this term means "the rule o f the people" nor a "hierarchy" if this term
means the "rule of clergy over laity." A pneum atological ecclesiology precludes speaking
of the church as a democracy in the secular sense o f "popular rule, while the
convergence of ecclesiology and pneumatological anthropology is incompatible with an
ecclesiology in which a hierarchy rules over laity. Ultimately, the church falls under the

10Elisabeth Schtissler Fiorenza, Discipleship o f Equals: A Critical Feminist Ekklesia-logy


o f Liberation (New York: Crossroad, 1994).
"Edward Schillebeeckx, "Towards Democratic Rule of the Church as a Community of
God," Chapter Four of Church: The Human Story o f God (New York: Crossroad, 1990), 187228. See especially 216,217,220.
David Schindler, Heart o f the World, Center o f the Church: Communio Ecclesiology,
Liberalism, and Liberation (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1996), 6-7 and 30. Schindler speaks
of the Church as a "communio," an idea which he believes incorporates both the "hierarchical
principle" and the "democratic principle.
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rule o f neither the people nor the clergy, but rather the church lives by the rule of God
whose Holy Spirit indwells the faithful, hi this sense the church does have a "hier"
(sacred or divine)"arche" (rule/origin), but it is not a "hierarchy" in the sense o f a social
body in which some persons are subordinated to others. This argument can be developed
in three steps: 1) An examination o f Congars writings from 1931-1968 demonstrates that
in this period Congar did use the term "hierarchy" to indicate, among other things, the
subordination of laity to clergy. 2) An examination of Congars work from 1969-1991
demonstrates that the new emphasis on pneumatology characteristic o f this period o f
Congars career recasts his ecclesiology and his use o f hierarchical language. 3) Finally,
an effort is made to reflect on the hierarchy/democracy discussion in light o f Congars
theology o f the Holy Spirit.

1. The Meaning and Function of the Term "Hierarchy" in Congars Theology from
1931-1968
From as early as 1947, Congar was sharply critical o f what he termed the
"hierarchology" o f the dominant De Ecclesia treatises. He faulted Catholic ecclesiology
for attending solely to "the hierarchical principle" and neglecting what he termed the
churchs "principle o f collective life.'43 But Congars critique o f hierarchology was by no
means a critique o f the hierarchy p erse. To the contrary, from 1931 through roughly
1968, the ecclesial hierarchythe deaconate, presbyterate, and episcopacyhas a primary
soteriological role in Congars ecclesiology. Congar described the hierarchy as a "means
o f grace, a divinely-established institution that mediates the authority and salvific power

13Lay People, 35. See also Lay People, 38.

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o f Jesus C hrist The relationship between clergy and laity is therefore necessarily a
relationship of inequality and subordination, and the hierarchy has an ontological and
temporal precedence over the baptized which assures that the church is not simply a
congregation of human beings but rather a divine institution from above ("<fe en haut.")
As such, the hierarchy is absolutely essential to the existence o f the church. These
features o f Congars discussion o f the hierarchy warrant further explication.

a. The Hierarchy is a D ivinely E stablished Institution that M ediates the Authority and
Salvific Power o f Jesus Christ
Congars writings from this 1931-1968 period emphasized that Jesus Christ
founded the church and endowed it with three means of grace necessary for its salvific
mission: faith, sacraments, and the ecclesial hierarchy. Congar based his account of the
institution of the church hierarchy on scriptural accounts such as the promise to Peter of
the keys o f the Kingdom (Mt 16:18-20), the gathering o f the twelve apostles at the last
supper whereupon Jesus instructed them to "do this in memory o f me" (Mark 14:22-25;
Mt 26:26-29; Luke 22:14-23; 1 Cor 11:23-26), and the baptismal commission the
apostles received after the resurrection (Mk 16:14-18; Lk 24:36-49; Jn 20:19-23; Acts
1:6-8). Congar acknowledged that the New Testament makes no reference to a Christian
priesthood or ecclesial hierarchy in the New Testamentwith the exception o f the letter
to the Hebrews which describes Jesus Christ as high priestbut he nonetheless believed
that the establishment o f a church hierarchy had been Jesus intention, an intention that
was gradually recognized by Christian congregations as they grew in numbers and spread
throughout the Mediterranean region. Congar noted, for example, that there is evidence of

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concern for the apostolic succession o f the episcopacy as early as the letters of Clement of
Rome.14
Congar maintained that Jesus Christs establishment of a hierarchical ecclesial
institution was not an act o f arbitrary fia t, but rather a providential legacy wholly in
keeping with the character of the Incarnation. In the Incarnation the Son o f God assumed
human flesh, and it was thus fitting that Christs Mystical Body (the church) should have
visible human forms of hierarchical organization, regulation, government and sociality.15
Congar emphasized that the M ystical Body does not exist in hypostatic union with the
Word o f God and he therefore disavowed Mahlers description o f the church as an
"ongoing Incarnation." Nonetheless, Congar believed, the hierarchical offices of the
church mediate the substantial and personal presence of Christ through an unbroken chain
o f apostolic succession. In response to the Protestant objection that this theology of
hierarchical mediation usurps the unique mediatory role of Jesus Christ, Congar
emphasized that "so far from obscuring the unique mediation of the man Jesus Christ,
sacramental and hierarchical mediation realizes it" 16Without the ecclesial hierarchy, our
access to Jesus Christ and hence our salvation is obstructed. "..[Slaving incorporation
with Christ, Congar reflected, "and salvation in Him are only possible through
membership o f a group without which the faith would not be preached or the sacraments
given; the Church is essentially apostolic or hierarchic ("hierarchique.")17

HVraie etfausse, 2d ed., 74.


15See, for example, Divided Christendom, 73.
l6Lay People, 113-14.
11Divided Christendom, 70; French edition, 88.
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b. A s the M ediator o f Christ, the Hierarchy Shares Jesus C hrist's A uthority and Power
and Consequently the Relationship Between Clergy and Laity is N ecessarily a
Relationship o f Inequality and Subordination
Congar presumed that all hierarchical forms o f social organization operate
through institutionalized levels o f power and authority that result in relationships of
inequality among the members o f a social body.18In the church, however, hierarchical
inequality is not simply sociological but also Geological and soteriological. The
hierarchy mediates the very power and authority of Jesus Christ who is the Son of God,
and the laity o f the church are thus necessarily subordinate to the persons who hold
hierarchical office.19The clergy themselves are distinguished by varying hierarchical
ranks and there is a clear inequality of position between clergy and laity. "Hierarchical
persons," as Congar termed the holders of ecclesial office, are equal to the laity insofar as
the clergy themselves are also baptized members o f the one Body o f Christ, but insofar as
clergy exercise hierarchical powers they are superior to those who do not.20 In 1951,
Congar stated in his Introduction to Lay People in the Church (a book affirmative of the
importance o f the laity) that "lay people will always be a subordinate order in the
Church."21 During the course o f the Second Vatican Council, Congar lauded the renewed

lsSee, for example, Vraie etfausse, 2d ed., 64.


I9The divinely instituted structures of the church, Congar explained, are intended to
"represent visibly and humanly the divine Monarchy and authority of Jesus Christ, head of the
Church." "De la communion des glises," 257.
"...hierarchical persons," Congar explained, "are firstly and always remain, simply as
persons, among the faithful. The two simultaneous troths, a clear inequality on account of
function and a radical equality as members of the one body, living the same Christian life, are
thus brought together and reconciled." Lay People, 115.
2lLay People, xi.
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recognition o f baptismal dignity and the emphasis on "what may be called Christian
ontology, or the values o f Christian existence, its primacy over organizational structures
and hierarchical ministries."22 A t the same tim e, however, he was concerned that the
growing tendency to consider the hierarchy simply as a facilitator o f church activity did
not clearly attribute "an authority to the hierarchy, that is, the right to decide something in
the life o f other men who may be in the position of subordinates."23
It must be noted that even as Congar affirmed the hierarchys pow er and
superiority, he emphasized that the hierarchy is imbued with the authority o f Jesus Christ
solely for the purpose of the service and salvation o f humanity. Accordingly, he warned
that we must not let the church be "ruined by the spirit o f domination"24 nor mired by the
weight of glory, power and prestige.25 At the Last Supper, Jesus performed what Congar
considered the first priestly ordination by the humble act o f washing the apostles feet,
and during Jesus lifetime he silenced James and Johns demand to sit at his right and left
hands with the admonishment that "whoever wishes to become great among you must be
your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave o f all" (Mark
10:42-5; Matt 20:25-8). In the charity o f Christ we must discover "not only the ideal,
but the idea, o f the episcopate, pursuing this line of thought until we arrive at the notion

nLay People, 26.


23Lay People, 26. [A 1964 addition to the original 1951 text]
"The Hierarchy as Service, in Congar, Power and Poverty in the Church, trans.
Jennifer Nicholson (Baltimore: Helicon, 1964), 95.
23Vraie etfausse, 2d ed., 56. See also "Titles and Honours in the Church," in Congar,
Power and Poverty in the Church (Baltimore: Helicon, 1964), 111-31.
T h e Hierarchy as Service," 24-26.
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o f the hierarchy as service."27 It is not enough, Congar continued, to exercise ecclesial


authority "as in the line o f juridical power, secundum sub e t supra* and to add "as a
kind o f appendix, a moral obligation to exercise it in a spirit o f service."28 Service is not a
mere appendage to the hierarchys juridical power, a decorative codicil that is merely
ornamental, but rather the hierarchy is essentially an institution o f service at its very core.
Jesus Christ did institute real posts o f authority and jurisdictional power n[b]ut this power
exists only within the structure of the fundamental religious relationship of the
Gospel....So there is never simply a relationship o f subordination or superiority, as in
secular society, but always a loving obedience to Christ...29

c. The H ierarchy Assures that the Church is not Sim ply a Congregation o f Human Beings
but Rather a D ivine Institution that Comes "From Above" it has an O ntological and
Temporal Precedence to the Christian Community
Congar occasionally used the Latin phrase "secundum sub e t supra to describe
the church's hierarchical relationships o f superiority and subordination, and more
frequently he spoke in French about the church "de en bas ("from below") and the
church "de en haut ("from above.")30 These spatial metaphors were intended to convey a
metaphysical significance. Insofar as the church is hierarchical ("supra or de en haut"),
it is not simply a congregation o f human beings but a theandric institution that comes
ultimately from God through Jesus Christ. Congar explained:

"The Hierarchy as Service," 93.


28"The Hierarchy as Service," 95-6.
"The Hierarchy as Service," 98.
See for example Vraie etfausse, 2d ed., 48.
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Theologically, the apostolic institutional mediation manifests and actualizes that


grace and truth come to man from outside and on high, from Jesus who was bom,
who lived and who died....The ministerial or hierarchical priesthood does not
come from below, from the community, but from above, from Christ as the
Churchs Lord who has authority over her.31
Because o f the hierarchys institution by Christ, it has an ontological and temporal
precedence to the Christian community as a whole.32The hierarchy begets the churchs
members and thus exists above and apart from them. "Structurally," Congar explained,
"[the Church] is not made up of parishes (local communities), which themselves are made
up of individual faithful. The Church exists antecedently to the faithful to constitute them,
and precisely as their mother."33

d. The H ierarchy is E ssential to the Existence o f the Church and has a C ritical
Soteriological Significance
As evident in the above discussion, the ecclesial hierarchy has a critical
soteriological significance in Congars theology from 1931-1968. The hierarchy mediates
the salvific power and authority o f Jesus Christ, assures that the church has a divine

nLay People, 171. Emphasis is Congars. See also: "The Churchs powers come to it
from Christ as those of Christ come to him from God. Consequently, through the whole range of
its activities, there is always observed what might be called the law of hierarchical procession.
Everything therein comes from above (d en haut), from the bosom of the Father, through Christ
and the apostles. The whole external order, therefore, of its constitution and life is an application,
as well as a sensible representation, of the law according to which all it has comes from above
(d en haut). That is the inner meaning of the whole ordering of the consecrations, the sacraments,
the liturgy, teaching and even of jurisdiction, where it is always a matter of communication from
above to beneath, hierarchically {de haut en bas, hierarchiquement)." The Church and Its Unity,"
90. (French edition, 51).
3zThe hierarchy "represents a mystery given to her [the Church] from above and
ontologically anterior to the existence of a community." Lay People, 172. See also Vraie et
fausse, 2d ed., 92-94.
nLay People, 30.
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origin, and exists antecedently to the baptized. Congar hence emphasized that the church
is necessarily hierarchical,34 although he was equally emphatic that the church must not
be reduced to its hierarchical dimension. Nonetheless, he did believe that Protestants who
dispensed with the ecclesial hierarchy denied something essential to the church, whereas
the reductive Catholic "hierarchology" was only a failure to account for the fu lln ess o f the
churchs lifean ecclesiological transgression o f lesser seriousness.33 In Aristotelian
terms, Congar explained, the hierarchy is the formal cause o f the church whereas the
members of the church are simply the material cause. The formal cause can exist without
the material cause, but not vice versa. "If the Church were to be considered solely from
the point of view of institution, of her formal hierarchical cause, Congar postulated, "she
would in fact exist, without laity; a faithful people would be required only as m ateria
circa quam, materia cui, object and beneficiary of her hierarchical actions."36The
foundational importance of the hierarchy in Congars 1931-1968 ecclesiology is evident
not only in such Aristotelian analysis but also in Congars frequent use o f hierarchical
language (e.g. "structure hierarchique," "sacerdoce hierarchique," "constitution

34 "It is one of the principles of our ecclesiology that the hierarchy is an element of the
Churchs being and structure....[the Church] has an essentially hierarchical structure." Lay
People, 51.
xLay People, 50. On Protestant ecclesiology as contrasted with Roman Catholic, see also
Lay People, 41 and 45.
*Lay People, 52. Congar also speaks of hierarchy and laity in terms of the "formal" and
"material" in Lay People, 47; Vraie etfizusse, 2d ed., 95.
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hierarchique," "fonctions hierarchiques)37 and his capitalization o f the nominal form


{"la H ierarchic) to communicate the theological significance o f this term.3*

2. The Meaning and Function of the Term "Hierarchy" in Congars Theology from
1969-1991
In the post-conciliar period, Congars appreciation for the remarkable growth of
lay initiatives in the church and his growing emphasis on the theology of the Holy Spirit
provided the foundation for an ecclesiology that differed in some important respects from
that o f his earlier works.39 Congars advocacy o f a pneumatological anthropology and a
pneumatological ecclesiology as well as developments in his theology of the relationship
between Christ and the Spirit (discussed in Chapter Two) served as theological grounds
for ecclesiological reformulations. The changes in C ongar's theology are gradual, and
some o f the ideas most characteristic o f Congars 1969-1991 period are present in germ in
earlier works, while important components o f his earlier ecclesiology perdure in his later
writings. Nonetheless, there are definitely changes o f emphasis in Congars ecclesiology.
In 1971 when Congar was 67 years old, he professed, "I now see many things differendy
and, I hope, better in comparison with forty years ago....I have gradually corrected my
vision which at first was principally and spontaneously clerical."40

^See, for example, Vraie etfausse, 2d ed., 52,63,57 n. 50,96.


MFor instances of capitalization, see, for example, Vraie etfausse, 2d ed., 38,45.
^For Congars appreciative comments concerning the growth of myriad forms of new
initiatives in the post-conciliar church, see, for example, "Pneumatology Today, 440; "Le
troisi&me article du Symbole," 295.
40My Path-Findings, 169 and 181.
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These developments in Congars theology are not always accorded foil


recognition in the secondary literature, but they are crucial to an appreciation o f Congars
post-conciliar ecclesiology.41 Between approximately 1969-1991, Congar developed a
more folly pneumatological/trinitarian theological framework such that communion in
Christ and the Spirit became the starting point and the foundation o f his ecclesiological
reflection.42 His trinitarian theology of communion recontextualized his discussion o f the
ecclesial hierarchy. "In the end," Congar reflected, the church is certainly a hierarchical
institutional society "but that is not what one should begin with. The first thing is the
spiritual communion."43 Congar stressed that the church is co-instituted by Christ and the
Spirit who is poured forth upon the entire people o f God. He minimized foe language of
hierarchical "power," seldom spoke of hierarchy and laity as superiors and subordinates,
and emphasized that foe hierarchy exists not above but rather within foe community of

4lGerald Finnegans article on Congars theology of ministerial priesthood, for example,


does begin with the observation that the linear model of the church found in Congars 1953 Lay
People in the Church [Jesus Christ-* hierarchy-laity] is later replaced with what Finnegan terms
a "circular model" of the church as the People of God. Oddly, however, in the exposition of
Congars theology of priesthood that follows in the remainder of the article, Finnegan cites Lay
People repeatedly as if this book represents Congars final and definitive thoughts on the
priesthood. See Gerald Finnegan, Ministerial Priesthood in Yves Congar," RRel 46 (1987): 52332.
4ZOn the importance of doing ecclesiology in a theological framework that is fully
trinitarian (as opposed to generically monotheistic or simply christological) see "Pneumatologie
dogmatique," 500; "Moving Towards a Pilgrim Church," 142.
43Fifty Years o f Catholic Theology, 43. Elsewhere Congar reiterated, "A concept other
than that of society is preferable to enter into the theology of the Church: that of
communion....The Second Vatican Council, without developing the concept of
communionexcept for a little in ecumenism, really made this the fundamental idea and the
key of entry by prioritizing above all that the Church is suspended from the trinitarian mystery
and treating the Church itself as mystery. Her social nature and hierarchical structure come
afterwards." See also "Pneumatologie dogmatique," 496. On this point see also "My PathFindings," 177.
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the church. Indeed, he suggested that the church is structured by "m inistries and modes of
community service" rather than "hierarchy and laity." These developments in Congars
ecclesiology deserve further explication.

a. The Church is C o-Instituted by C hrist and the Spirit who is Poured Forth Upon the
Entire Ecclesia
The origins o f the church, Congar emphasized from 1969-1991, cannot be
adequately explained with reference only to the acts of the historical Jesus. Rather, in
light of a pneumatological christology, we must recognize the Holy Spirit as the church's
co-institutor and develop a pneumatological ecclesiology.44 The Spirit guided Jesus'
earthly acts, raised him from the dead, and fostered the growth o f the church after
Pentecost through the inspiration and assistance given to the apostles. Throughout the
centuries, the Spirit continues to build up the church in a process that is ultimately
eschatological in scope.45 "The Church," Congar wrote in 1973, "is not ready-made....She
is not prefabricated and placed in a frame which has already been prepared."46The Spirit
o f the glorified Christ is given to the entire ecclesial communion to foster the church's on
going organic growth. God the Father, Jesus had said, will give you the Spirit, will send
the Spirit to you; the Spirit will teach you, lead you, reveal to you...(John 14 and 16). hi
Congars interpretation o f these Johannine passages, he noted that the "you" may refer to
each particular believer or to the ecclesial body as a wholebut he never suggested that it
44"Pneumatologie dogmatique," 496. See also I Believe, 2:5-14. In the former article
Congar noted that he has come to understand the Spirit as "co-institutor" in an even broader
sense than he expressed in I Believe.
^See for example "Pneumatology Today," 447.
46"Pneumatology Today," 443.
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could refer to the hierarchy as distinct from the laity.47 T h e Church, he stated
emphatically, "receives the fullness o f the Spirit only in the totality o f the gifts made by
all Her members. She is not a pyramid whose passive base receives everything from the
apex."48 The very same Spirit who is in Christ is given to all the churchs members
numero in Christo e t in omnibus.49

b. H ierarchical M inistries do not E xist above o r outside o f the F aithful but w ithin the
Ecclesial Communion
Congars emphasis on the gift o f the Spirit and his rejection o f a pyramidal
ecclesiological schema led to a reformulation o f his theology o f ordained ministry, hi a
1971 article entitled "My Path-Findings in the Theology of Laity and M inistries," Congar
explicitly critiqued his earlier affirmations o f the hierarchy's ontological and temporal
precedence above the body o f the faithful as a whole. "The risk I ran," he explained, "was
to define the ministerial priesthood purely in itself, along a line of thought which
extended the Scholasticism of the twelfth and thirteenth-centuries."50 This, he continued:
translates into a linear scheme o f this type: Christ makes the hierarchy and the
hierarchy makes the Church as community o f faithful. Such a scheme, even if it
contains a part o f the truth, presents inconveniences. At least in temporal priority
it places the ministerial priest before and outside the community. Put into
actuality, it would in fact reduce the building o f the community to the action of
the hierarchical ministry. Pastoral reality as well as the New Testament presses on

^"Pneumatologie dogmatique," 496-97. Emphasis is Congars. See also I Believe, 2:16.


^"Pneuinatology Today," 443.
^See I Believe, 2:19 and "Pneumatologie dogmatique," 498 n. 31 with reference to
Aquinas, III Sent. d. 13 q. 2 a. 1 ad 2; De verit. q. 29 a. 4; In loan. c. 1 lect 9 et 10; S. Theol. IP
II q. 183 a. 3 ad 3; Pius XII, M ystici Corporis, n. 54 and 77; Vatican n, LG, n. 7 7.
"My Path-Findings," 174.
295

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us a much richer view. It is God, it is Christ who by his Holy Spirit does not cease
building up his Church.51
Congar now emphasized that the hierarchical ministries do not exist "apart from" or
"before" or "above" the members o f the Church but within the ecclesial communion. He
schematized his earlier ecclesiology as follows:

Jesus Christ
I

Hierarchy
i

Church as Community of Faithful

In contrast, he offered two alternative ecclesiological models that were developed in


ecumenical councils:52

H o ly S p ir it (C h r is t t h e L o r d )

C h r is t ( h is H o ly S p ir it )

p e o p le o f G o d ^ ^ m in is te r s

51"My Path-Findings," 175.


a "My Path-Findings, 178. See also "Ministries et structuration de lEglise," in Congar,
Ministeres et communion ecclesiale (Paris: Cerf, 1971), 38. Congar here referenced G. Gavalda,
Le mouvement oecumenique (Paris, 1959), 62-63; E. Bethge, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Vie. Pensie.
Temoignage (Geneva and Paris, 1969), 393-94.
296

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Notably, these latter diagrams include the Holy Spirit, whereas the Spirit was not even
mentioned in Congars linear ecclesiological model. In these new schema, it is rather the
term "hierarchy" which does not appear at all. "As to terminology," Congar himself said
o f the new approach, "it is worth noticing that the decisive coupling is not
priesthood/laity, as I used it in Jalons, but rather ministries/modes o f community
service."33 He emphasized that the term "ministries" takes the plural form, for the church
is built up by a multitude o f ministries, some ordained and some lay.54 "There is not a
purely vertical descent," Congar commented elsewhere, "as would be the case within a
purely christological logic o f the valid succession of the apostles: there is rather the
operation o f the entire body in which the Spirit dwells and acts."55 Congar did caution
that the ecumenical ecclesiological schema diagramed above must be carefully
interpreted to incorporate the Roman Catholic emphasis that ministries are not given by
Christ and the Spirit in a vague or general sense.56 Rather, there are various forms of
ministry, the most important being the public, ordained ministries that derive from the

"My Path-Findings," 176. See also Congars statement: "I once (writing in Jalons,
19S3) found the expression priesthood -laity satisfactory. Today one would perhaps prefer
community-ministry. One is not altogether happy with the process that would express itself in
terms of from Christ to the priest, to the faithful. One would prefer from Christ to the Church
with its ordained ministers." "The Liturgical Assembly," 1IS.
54My Path-Findings," 176. On the importance of the plural ministries see also "The
Liturgical Assembly," 116; "Pneumatologie dogmatique," SOI.
"Pneumatologie dogmatique," SOI. Elsewhere Congar explained that a trinitarian
model of the church implies that "the hierarchy is not enclosed within itself, that the movement
of the Spirit is not like that of a one-way street. The Spirit is not monopolized by the hierarchy
as though this were a kind of reservoir dispensing gifts from above. The Spirit dwells within the
faithful, and ordained pastors must themselves be, in the first place, faithful. "Pneumatology
Today," 446.
"Ministries et structuration," 38-39.
297

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Incarnation and share in the power and authority o f Jesus Christ.57 Secondly, there are
non-ordained ministries that directly serve the perpetual needs o f the church and thus
have a permanent and stable characterministries such as that o f the catechist, liturgist,
choral director, missionary, or participant in Caritas or Catholic Action.58 Finally, there
are also occasional and impermanent ministriesthe visitation o f someone who is sick,
for example, or the provision of catechesis in the home for children who do not have
access to other religious instruction.59 Catholic ecclesiology distinguishes these different
forms of ministry, but Catholics can nonetheless concur with Protestants that all
ministries are sustained by God (through Christ and the Spirit) and exist within (not
above) the ecclesial community.60 In 1953, Congar wrote that the hierarchical apostolate
exists antecedently to the faithful and brings them into being as would a mother, but in
1969 he incorporated the entire ecclesial community into this ecclesial maternity: "The
spiritual contributions brought by individuals play an active role in the spiritual maternity
of the Church especially in so far as they become an integral part of the community which
they help to form but which transcends them, taking them into itself."61

^"Minist&res et structuration," 45-46 and 39-40.


"Ministries et structuration," 44-45.
"MinistTres et structuration," 43-44.
"MinistTres et structuration," 39. Emphasis is Congars. "The ordained ministries
themselves," Congar reiterated elsewhere, "do not exist above (au-dessus) but rather within the
community. "Pneumatologie dogmatique," 501.
61"The Church as Communion of Faith, 94. This statement can be contrasted with
Congars 1957 position as expressed in Lay People, 30.
298

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c. The Ordained M inister A cts not only in persona Christi but also in persona Ecclesiae
Congars emphasis that ordained ministries exist within the ecclesial communion
was accompanied by a recovery o f a theology of ordination that emphasized not only the
capacity of the ordained minister to act in persona C hristi but also the m inisters activity
in persona Ecclesiae. Congar believed that the inseparability o f the "in persona Christi"
and "in persona E cclesiae" had been eclipsed by the twelfth-century sacramental
theology of Peter Lombard (and its descendants) which described ordination primarily as
the conferral of an inalienable power (potestas conficiendi) and character assumed in
persona Christi. "Thus," Congar explained, "the ordained priesthood was defined and the
priest characterized by a purely vertical reference to Christ without reference to the
community."62 In antiquity, in contrast, the words "ordinare," "ordinari," and "ordinatio"
had a strong communal referencethey signified precisely the designation o f someone to
assume a certain communal function or ordo.a "Does not all that," Congar commented,
"hang together with a vision o f things whose point o f entry is community rather than the
hierarchical priesthood defined at the outset for itself and seen as efficient cause?"64
Indeed, a theology o f ordination that emphasizes the inseparability o f the in persona
Christi and in persona ecclesiae coheres not only with a communitarian ecclesiology, but
also with a pneumatological ecclesiology. A purely christological approach prioritizes the

"Le troisi&me article du Symbole," 293. See also "The Liturgical Assembly," 115; "My
Path-Findings," 180.
"My Path-Findings," 180.
"My Path-Findings," 180.
299

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"in persona C h risti but:


[i]f, on the other hand, the pneumatological aspect is emphasized, as the Eastern
tradition loves to do, the in persona C hristi is more easily seen as situated within
the in persona E cclesiae. There is no denial here of the fact that the priest has
received, through his ordination, the power to celebrate the Eucharist and
therefore to consecrate the bread and wine...but this does not mean that he can do
it alone, that is, when he remains alone. He does not, in other words, consecrate
the elements by virtue o f a power that is inherent in him and which he has, in this
sense, within his control. It is rather by virtue o f the grace for which he asks God
and which is operative, and even ensured, through him in the Church
In this passage, Congars discussion o f the power o f the ordained m inister has nuances
that distinguish this sacram ental theology from that of his earlier
ecclesiologysacramental pow er is dependent on the epiclesis o f the Spirit ("the grace o f
God for which he asks) and the communion o f the ordained m inister with the gathered
assembly.
Congars increasing emphasis on the pneumatological and communitarian
character of ordination led him not only to nuance his discussion o f ministerial "power"
but also to question his portrayal o f the relationship o f hierarchy and laity as a relation of
superiority and subordination. "I now wonder," he pondered in 1971, "whether this is a
happy mode o f procedure."66 Congar was reluctant to abandon entirely the terminology o f
superiority and subordination, for it seemed to him that the Catholic and Orthodox
doctrine of Christ as the Head o f the church who stands superiorly over against the

/ Believe, 3:236.
"My Path-Findings," 174. This citation is best read in context: "In Jalons I put a
reasoned construction on the data by distributing two titles of participation or two fashions of
participating in the priesthood, kingship, and prophetic office of Christ: one title referring to the
dignity or quality of existence common to all Christians, the other to the authority, and thus
superiority, that characterizes instituted ministers. I now wonder whether this is a happy mode of
procedure."
300

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community did have bearing on the way in which ordained ministers partake o f C hrist's
priesthood.67 Nonetheless, Congar used this language with decreasing frequency. In a
1972 reflection on "Pneumatological Ecclesiology" and another on this same topic
written in 1982, the terms "superior and "subordinate" do not appear at all.68 Elsewhere
Congar explicitly stated that "community and ministerial structure came into being
together and neither has priority over the other," a position that would seem to preclude
the subordination o f the ecclesial community to the ordained ministry.69 The terminology
o f superiority and subordination is nonetheless not entirely absent from Congars 19691991 writings, but even when employed it has a different tone.70 Congar critiqued
pretrinitarian or purely christological ecclesiologies that attributed authority only to
clergy and advocated instead a pneumatological/trinitarian ecclesiology in which human
persons and particular communities are subjects who must take an active role in the
determination o f the rules that will govern their life.71

67"My Path-Findings," 174.


68The terminology of superiority and subordination is absent in the sub-section entitled
"Pneumatological Ecclesiology" in the article "Pneumatology Today," 442-49 and the section
"Une pneumatologie eccl6siologique" in the article "Pneumatologie dogmatique, 493-502.
"The Liturgical Assembly," 115.
^The language of superiority and subordination is used in Congars 1985 article "Le
troisfcme article du Symbole," 298.
71Pneumatologie dogmatique," 500. His emphasis. See also I Believe, 2:16.
301

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<L H ierarchical M inistries are E ssentialfo r Ecclesial Existence but D ependent on the
E piclesis o f the Spirit o f Christ
Congars 1931-1968 writings emphasized that the ecclesial hierarchy is essential
to the ability o f the church to mediate grace. Between 1969-1991, Congar continued to
affirm the indispensable role of the deaconate, presbyterate, and episcopacy in the
mediation o f grace but he became much more emphatic about the dependence of the
ordained ministers on the epiclesis of the Spirit.72 hi some of Congars earlier writings,
the hierarchy appeared to exist as an autonomous means o f grace, established by Christ
with its own proper prophetic, sacramental, and governing powers.73 In Congars theology
from 1969-1991, in contrast, the ecclesial hierarchy does not have the same autonomy,
for it is absolutely dependent not only on Jesus Christs original acts of institution but
also on the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit74 "Every action performed by the
ministry," Congar wrote, calls for an epiclesis. Orthodox Christians are right when they

C ongar critiqued, for example, so-called "Eucharistic" celebrations carried out without
an ordained priest "The Liturgical Assembly," 122.
^References to the investment of the apostolic body with spiritual powers can be found,
for example, in "The Church and Its Unity," 79. For a discussion of Congars use of the
language of "powers." See Famer6e, L ecclesiologie dYves Congar, 410-21. Famere explains
that this terminology is primarily characteristic of Congars pre-Vatican II works. On the
autonomy of the hierarchy in Congars works of this period, see Fameree, L ecclesiologie d Yves
Congar, 414-15.
It should be noted that Congar does not entirely dispense with the language of "powers."
He writes in 1981, for example, that "the magisterium is exercised in the Church by pastors who
also have the power of government" Priests, he continues, are given a mission together with the
means to fulfill it: "in this case, authority (power) and the assistance of the Spirit (charism)."
"Magisterium, Theologians, the Faithful and the Faith," 549 and 557.
74"Both poles are necessary. Without the coming of the Spirit, there is only a rite, but the
necessity for the act by the ordained minister points to the need for the institution by Christ. In
this way, the two missions of the Word and the Breath, the Unknown One beyond the Word*
or the free Gift according to grace are united and complement one another. / Believe, 2:45.
302

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say that the life o f the Church is entirely epicletic."75 Increasingly, Congar expressed the
church's role in the mediation o f grace in sacramental and pneumatological terms rather
than hierarchical ecclesial language. This is evident not simply in Congars pronounced

new emphasis on the epiclesis o f the Spirit, but also in his decreasing use of the term
"hierarchy" itself. Congar found it instructive to compare the frequency with which key
theological terms appeared in the documents o f Vatican II as contrasted to the documents
o f Vatican I, and a similar lexicographical analysis can be made of Congars own
writings.76 In the first 64 pages of Congars 1957 book Lay People in the Church
(primarily consisting o f a chapter entitled "Position o f a Theology of the Laity") the word
"hierarchy" appeared no less than 36 tim es.77 In contrast, the most explicitly
ecclesiological portion of I Believe in the H oly Spirita. 64 page section o f Volume II
entitled "The Spirit Animates the Churchemploys the term "hierarchy" only once and
the adjective "hierarchical" only twice, a 92% reduction of usage in sections of text of
comparable length.78 It is also noteworthy that when Congar used the term "hierarchical"
751 Believe, 2:46. On the importance of the epiclesis see also "Le troisi&me article du
Symbole," 300: 1 Believe, 2:228-49 and 2:267-74.
76On differences in terminology in the documents of Vatican I and Vatican II see
"Moving Towards a Pilgrim Church," 137.
71Lay People, 11,15,15,25,26, 26, 27,27, 31,34, 34, 35, 35, 35, 38, 38,40,42,42,42,
44,45,45,45,45,45,46,46,47,47,48,51,51,52,59. The 6 references to "hierarchy" that
occur in pages 25-37 are part of a 1964 addition to the original edition.
7The references are: "The Spirit supports the pastoral hierarchy of the Church and
through it guides the Christian communities, but he does much more than this." I Believe, 2:17.
"There is therefore, in principle, no automatic, juridical formalism in this question, since the
hierarchical* function exists within the communion of the ecclesia." I Believe, 2:45. "hi
concrete, this means that the Spirit must actively intervene in the case of any activity that is
related to the sacramental or hierarchical institution, whether it has to do with the Word, the
pastoral government of the Church or the sacraments in the widest sense of the word." / Believe,
2:45.
303

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in this section o f I B elieve in the H oly Spirit, he placed this word in quotation marks, and
he also declined to capitalize the nominative form nhierarchyn in contrast to his practice
in 1950. Congar spoke now primarily o f "ministries" rather than "hierarchy or "laity,"
and when he discussed the churchs capacity to mediate salvation he wrote o f the
communion o f the Holy Spirit o f C hrist

3. The Contribution of Congars Theology of the Holy Spirit to the


Hierarchy/Democracy Discussion
The above exposition has demonstrated that there were significant changes o f
emphasis in Congars discussion o f the ecclesial hierarchy in his publications from 19311968 and 1969-1991. Between 1931 and approximately 1968, Congars ecclesiology
emphasized that the church hierarchy was instituted by Jesus Christ to mediate his
salvific power and authority. Congar described the hierarchy as a means o f grace that
exists ontologically and temporally apart from the body of the faithful as a whole, and he
subordinated the laity to their hierarchical superiors. As Congar became increasingly
concerned with pneumatology between 1969-1991, his discussion o f the hierarchy
changed.79 He now emphasized that the Holy Spirit co-institutes the church and is poured
forth on all the faithful such that hierarchical ministries exist within the ecclesial
community o f the faithful rather than apart from or above the church as a whole. He
emphasized ecclesial communion more than hierarchical power, and he stressed the
dependence o f the ordained m inistries on the epiclesis o f the S pirit

^It is notable that these changes take place after the Second Vatican Council. Congar
was a major architect of the conciliar documents, and these changes in his ecclesiology should
thus be taken into account in the interpretation of the Second Vatican Councils ecclesiology.
304

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Because Congar never wrote a single comprehensive systematic ecclesiology it


can be difficult to determine the full scope o f his theology in its final form. Did he always
maintain, for example, that the hierarchical character of the church necessarily implies
that clergy and laity must relate to one another as superiors and subordinates? hi 1971, as
aforementioned, Congar expressed doubts that an ecclesiology based on relationships of
superiority and subordination was a "happy mode o f procedure," but he nonetheless
affirmed that it did cohere with Catholic and Orthodox doctrine concerning the ordained
ministrys representation o f the headship of Christ80 At this time, Congar did not consider
the possibility that there might be alternative ways to express Christs headship.
Nonetheless, his growing insistence that communion in the Spirit is a more foundational
ecclesiological concept than "hierarchy"coupled with his emphasis that the life of Jesus
Christ was a life of kenotic service and his advocacy in the 1980s of a pneumatological
christologysuggests that such alternatives can in fact be developed. If Jesus Christ is
inseparable from the Holy Spirit (as Congars pneumatological christology emphasized)
and if the Spirit is poured forth on all those anointed in baptism (as Congars
pneumatological anthropology emphasized) then the headship o f Jesus Christ is not a
matter of the superiority o f some over others but rather an expression o f the communion
of all in and with one another. In 198S, Congar does in fact state with respect to papal

See "My Path-Findings," 174. In like vein, Congar wrote in a 1970 article that one of
the roles of the hierarchical ministers is to represent within the community Christs relationship
of "vis-a-vis" and authority. "For the New Testament shows that Christ has a double relation
with the Church, his Body: a relation of interiority that goes so far as mystical identitywe are
all his members, we are Christ: cf. 1 Cor 12:2; Act 9:4and a relation of superiority and
authority as expressed in texts such as 1 Cor 11:3 and 7....In so far as ministers represent Christ
the head they have a superiority over the Body, for he is their vis-a-vis and authority and he is
represented, in the midst of the community, by the hierarchical ministers." "Ministries et
structuration de lglise, 40-41.
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headship that a purely juridical view of papal function which admits of no reciprocity
between head and body is both a biological and ecclesiological error.'1
W hatever Congars own position may ultimately be, his theology o f the Holy
Spirit does provide the basis for the development o f an ecclesiology in which there is no
theological need to structure the church with relationships o f superiority and
subordination. An ecclesiology that is firmly grounded in pneumatology can affirm that
the ordained m inistries (deaconate, episcopate, and presbyterate) are essential to the
existence of the church and mediatory o f grace without elevating ordained ministries
above the non-ordained in an ontological or causal sense.82 A pneumatological
ecclesiology emphasizes that ordained ministries exist w ithin the body of the church
where the Spirit o f the glorified Christ dwells and it expresses the churchs divine origin
and authority with the language of prayer and epiclesis rather than the assertion of
autonomous hierarchical powers.
If, then, a pneumatological ecclesiology and pneumatological anthropology
preclude the establishment of ecclesial relationships o f superiority and subordination,
what becomes of the language of "hierarchy"? Congar presumed that the word
"hierarchy connoted precisely the relationship o f inequality secundum sub et supra that

81"Le troisieme article du Symbole," 298. Congar also noted that Henri Legrand had
commented with respect to the documents of Vatican II that "The predominance, in certain texts,
of the scheme body/head to determine the concept of conummio hierarchica is indicative of
excessive christological adherences." "Le troisi&me article du Symbole," 294. Reference is to
Legrand, "Le ddveloppement d'glises-sujets k la suite de Vatican n. Fondements thdologiques
et reflexions institutionnellse," in Les glises apres Vatican II. Dynamisme et Prospective, ed. G.
Alberigo (Paris: Beachesne, 1981), 149-84.
Congar himself noted, for example, that statements such as "sacerdos alter Christus"
should be understood "in their true sense, which is spiritual and functional, not ontological or
juridical." I Believe, 3:236.
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proves to be pneumatologically problematic.83 The word "hierarchy, however, can have


other connotations. The term comes from the Greek prefix "hier" which means "sacred"
and from the Greek noun "archff meaning "origin," "principle" or "rule."84 In this
etymological sense, the church is most certainly a hier-arche, for sacred origin and sacred
rule are ecclesiological sine qua non. Hierarchical language, however, has so
overwhelmingly connoted "inequality" and "subordination" for so many centuries that it
is very difficult to purge this terminology of these connotations.83 The development of

"Hierarchy" and "inequality" are nearly synonymous in the dominant pre-conciliar


theology that described the church as a "societas inaequalis, hierarchica." R. Sohm nous
inteiroge," 281; "Pneumatologie dogmatique, 495. Congar challenged this ecclesiology in many
ways, but he did seem to accept the presumption th at"hierarchica" means "inaequalis." He
wrote, for example, of the truth of a trinitarian/pneumatological model of the church "vue
comme communion de tout ce que Dieu donne &ses membres, et pas seulement comme soci&e
ingale ou hierarchique." "Le troisi&me article du Symbole, 298. Elsewhere Congar noted that
if every local church was equal to every other local church, there would exist among them no
hierarchy. R. Sohm nous interroge," 267. It should be noted, however, that elsewhere Congar
seemed to use the term "hierarchy" as a synonym for "structure" without specifying that this is
necessarily a structure of inequality. "The Church, he wrote, "is a community; she has a certain
structure. This is what gives reality to the expression hierarchical communion." "Pneumatology
Today," 443.
84Among Christians, the term arche became theologically important in part because of
the LXX translation of Gen 1:1: "en arche ho theos ton ouranon kai ten gen...Origen had used
an allegorical method to interpret arch&' in Gen 1:1 as a reference to the Logos in light of John
1 (h arche en ho logos...") According to Basil of Caesereas influential commentary on
Genesis, "archS' in Gen 1:1 means "beginning in the sense of a "beginning of movement";
beginning as "first foundation"; beginning as "principle" or "form"; and beginning in the sense of
"goal." In Hexaem, 1.6. See I.C M . van Winden, "Friihchristliche Bibelexegese. Der Anfang,
in ed. J. Den Boeft and D. T. Runia, ARCHE: A Collection o f Patristic Studies by J.CM . van
Winden (Leiden: BrilL 1997), 3-36; "In the Beginning: Some Observations on the Patristic
Interpretations of Genesis 1:1, VChr 17 (1963), 105-21; "In the Beginning: Early Christian
Exegesis of the Term arche in Genesis 1:1, in ed. Den Boeft and Runia, ARCHE, 78-93. For a
contemporary discussion of the significance of the term archS' in trinitarian theology, see
LaCugna, Godfo r Us, 388-400.
In both secular and theological literature, "hierarchy typically connotes gradations of
rank and value and/or the dominance of some persons over others. Gerald W. Creed and Barbara
Ching note, for example, that anthropologists studying rural populations "have paid almost no
attention to cultural hierarchies...they have generally failed to recognize the systematic
307

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alternative forms o f expression o f the churchs sacred origin is thus imperative to a


contemporary ecclesiology, and Congar himse lf has marie an im portant contribution in
this regard, hi 1953 in Lay People in the Church, Congar emphasized that the church is
not just an association of people in the manner of a pagan collegium but rather an
institution with a divine origin "she was and is an institution form ed from on high,
hierarchically built."86 By 1979 in I Believe in the Holy Spirit, Congar has found another
way to express that the church is formed from on high: "The life o f the Church," he
wrote, "is one long epiclesis."87 Congars emphasis on the epiclesis o f the Holy Spirit was
not intended to exclude the role o f ordained ministers in linking the church to Jesus Christ
through the chain of apostolic succession, for the churchs divine origin is assured both
through fidelity to its institution by Christ and its invocation o f the S p irit88 Nonetheless,
it is notable that Congars pneumatological ecclesiology express the sacred origin and

devaluation of the rustic as a source of identity." Knowing Your Place: Rural Identity and
Cultural Hierarchy eds. Ching and Creed (New York: Routledge, 1997), vii. Emphasis original.
Sociologist James Schubert contrasts the dynamics of small groups that demonstrate democratic
qualities with those of groups that function as a "dominance hierarchy. James N. Schubert,
"Hierarchy, Democracy and Decision Making in Small Groups" in Hierarchy and Democracy,
eds. Albert Somit and Rudolf Wildenmann (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press,
1991), 79-101. Michael Richards notes that clergymen once hoped to climb to the top of a
pyramid for "the Church...was a hierarchy. There were ranks and grades." "Hierarchy and
Priesthood," Priests & People 7 (1993): 228.
uLay People, 34.
"Notably, this is title of the last chapter of Congars three volume / Believe in the Holy
Spirit. See "The Life of the Church as One Long Epiclesis, I Believe, 2:267-74.
"Congar wrote, for example, that "the ministerial structure is the social expression,
within the community, of that initiative and gift from Christ and is the sign that this comes from
above and that the community is convoked by the Lord and does not just happen along together.
One of the roles of the ordained priest is to guarantee the link with the explicit and tangible
institution which goes back all the way to the Apostles and which, beginning in Jerusalem, has
spread through the entire world." "The Liturgical Assembly," 115-16.
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sacred rule o f the church not primarily with hierarchical language but rather with an
accentuation on christology, sacramental theology, and the epiclesis of the Holy Spirit.19
The changes of emphasis and nuance in Congar's ecclesiology over the course of
his career can be most instructive in the contemporary discussion as to whether the
church is a "hierarchy" or a "democracy." Congars early ecclesiology described the
ecclesial hierarchy as a means o f grace that exists above and apart from the churchs
members; ultimately he reconsidered this approach, but his early ecclesiology does
convey the indispensable truth that the church has a divine origin and a divine rule (hier
archy). Contemporary theologians who wish to dispense entirely with the language of
hierarchy (e.g. Schiissler Fiorenza) must find other means to preserve this troth.
Democratic discourse is not of itself adequate to this task, for historically "democracy"
has meant that "people are the origin o f all just power" (Hume) or that "power is inherent
in the people" (Jefferson.)90 The language of democracy does not of itself express the
divine origin and divine rule of the church.91
"With regard to the sacred rule of the church, Congar wrote: "...following St. Thomas, I
prefer to conclude that only God, the first Truth and his eternal Law, has the absolute quality of a
rule. Unde humana cognitio non fit regula fidei, sed veritas divina. Consequently human
knowledge cannot be the rule of faith but only divine Truth. The hierarchical authority of the
magisterium depends on the Object, the quo depends on the quod. No created authority has an
unconditional value. I have already quoted statements of S t Irenaeus, St. Augustine, S t Anelm
and S t Thomas Aquinas and others which declare that a prelate who teaches what is false must
not by obeyed.""Magisterium, Theologians, the Faithful and the Faith," SS5.
"See Thomas Jeffersons letter to W. J. Cartwright in Thomas Jefferson on Democracy,
ed. Paul K. Padover (New York: New American Library, 1939), 33. The Hume citation also
comes from this letter of Jeffersons.
91Congar himself stated that the language of "democracy" works "so badly when applied
to the Church or in the context of the Church...[T]he Church has its own order of things, and its
essential naturegoes back more than seventeen centuries before the time of the French
Revolution and nineteen centuries before the Russian Revolution. Challenge to the Church: The
Case o f Archbishop Lefebvre, trans. Paul Inwood (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 1976),
309

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Notably, however, Congars development o f a pneumatological ecclesiology


challenges the presumption that the church must express its divine origin and divine rule
through the edification o f a structure o f superiority, subordination, and inequality.
Advocates o f ecclesial democracy thus rightly reject the subordination o f laity to clergy,
while the proponents of ecclesial hierarchy must use hierarchical language with extreme
care in order to avoid any such subordinating associations.92 If these connotations cannot
be avoided, alternative means to express the sacred origin of the church must be found.
Indeed, as we witness in Congars later works, pneumatology can enable us to express the
sacred origin (hier-arche) o f the church through a strong sacramental theology and an
accentuation of the epiclesis o f the Holy Spirit. The church is ultimately not a
Jeffersonian democracy nor a hierarchy in the sense o f an organization structured by
relationships of inequality but rather a communion of persons in whom and through
whom the Spirit o f the glorified Christ dwells. This communion is structured and
mediated by a diversity of ministries and roles, among which the ordained ministries have
a foundational importance. Ultimately, however, it is not the ordained minister but the
Spirit o f Christ who gives the church a sacred origin and sacred rule.

39.
92Nichols, for example, advocates a hierarchy "based on participation, inclusion,
integration, and subsidiarity as opposed to what he terms a "command hierarchy." Terence
Nichols, That A ll May Be One: Hierarchy and Participation in the Church (Collegeville, MN:
Liturgical Press, 1997), 8-9. Michael Richards believes that the common assumption that
"hierarchy" means a distinction of persons by ranks and degrees mut be set aside in order to
properly interpret Vatican Els theology of ministry. Richards, "Hierarchy and Priesthood," 22930.
310

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B. The Contribution of Congars Pneumatology


to the Development of "Persons in Communion as a Framework for
Contemporary Theological Anthropology and Ecdesiology
Congars theology o f the Holy Spirit contributes not only to current discussions
about the hierarchical character o f the church, but also to the construction of a broad
theological framework in which reflection on theological anthropology and ecdesiology
can proceed. Congar used pneumatology to bridge these two domains o f systematic
theology, domains that had been separated by neoscholastic treatises that divorced De
Ecclesia schemas from the reflection on the personal indwelling o f the Holy Spirit found
in treatises on grace. Todaythanks in part to Congarpneumatology, ecdesiology and
theological anthropology are no longer completely disjoined. Numerous books, articles,
and ecumenical conferences have developed the pneumatological dimension of
ecdesiology, while reflection on the Spirits indwelling of the human person has
continued in other veins. Theological anthropology and ecdesiology are commonly
united by theological paradigms such as "the individual and the community,"93 "the
individual in the church,"94 or "persons in communion."95 In light o f Congars
pneumatological anthropology and pneumatological ecdesiology, this section of the

See, for example, Brian Gaybbas The Spirit o f Love (London: Geoffrey Chapman,
1987). Chapter 10 is entitled "The Spirit Creates the Community that is the Church" and Chapter
14 is entitled "The Spirit Enables Individuals to Share in what the Church has."
MSee for example Michael Green, I Believe in the Holy Spirit (Great Britain: Hodder and
Stoughton, 1975). Chapter 6 is entitled "The Spirit in the Individual and Chapter 7 "The Spirit
in the Church."
^Catherine LaCugna, Godfo r Us; Alan Torrance, Persons in Communion: An Essay on
Trinitarian Description and Human Participation (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1996); John
Zizioulas, Being as Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church (Crestwood, NY: S t
Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1985).
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dissertation argues that "persons in communion" is preferable to "individuals and


community" as a structure for contemporary theological reflection. The paradigm o f
persons in communion serves the pneumatological dimension of theological anthropology
and ecdesiology more adequately than the individuals and community framework.
Below, the difference between the person and the individual and the distinction
between communion and community are discussed. An argument is then made for the
serviceablity o f persons in communion as a paradigm for contemporary theology.
Congars advocacy of a simultaneous pneumatological anthropology and pneumatological
ecdesiology is the theological vision that serves as the overarching context for this
discussion. The reflection below, however, will draw not only from the writings of
Congar but also from those of other theologians whose work contributes to the question
at hand.96

1. The Difference Between the "Person" and the "Individual"


In contemporary discourse, it is often presumed that "person" and "individual" are
synonymous or interchangeable terms. Philosopher Catherine McCall, for example,
describes the concept of person as one of three different modes o f understanding the
individual (the other two being self and human).97 Edward Henderson uses the terms
"person" and "individual" interchangeably in his article "Knowing Persons and Knowing

96Catherine LaCugna has been particularly influential on the following reflections both
through her publications and through her courses at the University of Notre Dame.
97McCall, Concepts o f Person (Aldershot, England: Avebury, 1990), 178.
312

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God.98 And the English translators of Congars writings often used the term "individual
in places where Congar himself had written simply "persorme."99
The roots o f the presumption that "person" means "individual" reach back at least
as far as Boethius sixth century treatise Contra Eutyches and Nestorius which provided
the Western tradition with the first formal definition o f the term "persona
"Person," Boethius determined after considering how this word was employed in
common speech, is an "individual substance o f a rational nature."100This definition

Edward Henderson, "Knowing Persons and Knowing God," Thom 46 (1982): 394-422.
One example: he writes that "affirming Gods existence should be judged by comparing it with
affirming the existence o fpersons we judge the believers affirmation of Gods existence by the
best knowledge we have of the existence o f individuals... "Knowing Persons," 396, my
emphasis.
"The Holy Spirit," the English edition of / Believe reads, "is given to the community
and individual persons. I Believe, 2:15. The French is: Le Saint-Esprit est donne h la
communaute et il est donne aux personnes." Je crois, 2:27. Here is another example:
"Individual persons, however, want to be subjects of their actions." I Believe, 2:16. The French
is: "Mais les personnes veulent etre les sujets de leur acts. Je crois, 2:27. Congar wrote of
"quelque chose en faveur des personnes, des petits groups" (Entretiens, 25), and his remarks
were translated as "some comments here in favour of individuals, of small groups" ( Fifty Years,
17). His reflections on "faction sur les personnes et Faction par les micro-realisations"
(Entretiens, 26) became "the effect of small-scale activity on the individual and the small group"
(Fifty Years, 17). Cougar's translators use "individual" not only as a translation for Congars
"personne," but also as a translation for "chacun." The "I" of the psalms, Congar wrote is
"representatif du peuple de Dieu que chacun realise dune certaine facon." Entretiens, 80. In
English this reads, "each individual represents the people of God in a particular way. Fifty
Years, 61. And whereas Congar spoke of charisms as "dons de chacuninstitutionnels ou
nonau benefice de tous" (Entretiens, 86) the translation reads, "individual gifts for the benefit
of all" (Fifty Years, 66). There are however some occasions in which the English term
"individual" does translate the French "individu." See for example "si cest une vote unanime
chaque individu est impliqu" (Entretiens, 21) as compared with "each individual is involved"
(Fifty Years, 13).d
looLiber de persona et duabus naturis 3 (PL 64,1343). This definition appears in the
context of Boethius attempt to defend the Council of Chalecedons affirmation of the one person
and two natures of Jesus Christ, contra Eutyches and Nestorius. Boethius realizes that he must
first clarify what the term "personameans, and thus he examines how the term is used in
ordinary speech. "Person" he concludes. Furthermore refers to a substance rather than to
accidents and to the particular rather than the universal., he noted, the term is used only with
313

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proved to be enormously influential in the Western theological tradition.101 It was adopted


with some modifications by Thomas Aquinas and thereby exerted particular influence in
Roman Catholic theology. In the twentieth-century, however, Boethius approach has
been widely criticized. Bemd Hilberath identifies a number of German scholars who
consider Boethius definition o f the person to be overly determined by philosophy,
insufficiently theological, inappropriate for use in trinitarian theology, and even
inadequate to the very christological problem it was originally intended to resolve.102
Hilberath himself is sympathetic to this critique.103Meanwhile, contemporary
philosophers and theologians have sought other ways to elucidate the meaning of the
affirmation that the human being is a "person."104 In this process, some have

respect to living, rational, sensate beings. Hence, the above definition.


I01Comblin writes that "in the West, classical theology adopted Boethius definition,
repeated it, and endlessly commented on it. It went no further." Jos6 Comblin, Retrieving the
Human: A Christian Anthropology (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1990), SO. This overstates the case,
but even the editors of the Loeb library edition of Boethius philosophical works made a point of
footnoting Boethius' definition of person and remarking, "Boethius' definition of persona was
adopted by St. Thomas, was regarded as classical by the Schoolmen, and has the approval of
modem theologians." Liber de persona et duabus naturis, 84 n. a. This, too, is an
oversimplification. On the difference of Aquinas and Boethius use of the term "person see
Bemd Hilberath, Der Personbegriffder Trinitatstheologie in Ruckfrage von Karl Rahner zu
Tertullians "Adversus Praxean" (Innsbruck-Wien, 1986), 121-27.
102See Elsasser, Das Personverstandnis der Boethius (Phil, Diss. Munster, 1973), 19f;
Nedoncelle, "Les variations de Bo&ce sur la personne," RevSR 29 (19S5): 226f; V. Schurr, Die
Trinitatstheologie des Boethius im Lichte der Skythischen Kontroversen' (FChLDG 18,1),
Paderbom, 1935,61; J. Tixeront, "Des concepts de nature et de'personne' dans les pdres et les
6crivains eccldsiastiques de Ve et VF si&cles," RHLR 8 (1903): 589.
' Hilberath, Der Personbegriff, 104-15.
104See for example F.-X. Bantle, "Person und Personbegriff in der Trinitatslehre Karl
Rahners," MThZ 30 (1979): 11-24; John Chirban, ed., PersonhoodOrthodox Christianity and
the Connection Between Body, Mind and Soul (Westport, CT: Bergin and Garvey, 1996); W.
Norris Clarke, Person and Being (Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 1993); Bemd
Hilberath, Der Personbegriffder Trinitatstheologie in R&ckfrage von Karl Rahner zu Tertullians
314

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systematically distinguished the meaning o f the term "person" from that o f "individual."
This distinction can be found in varying form s in a) personalist schools of thought; b)
some contemporary appropriations of Aquinas theology; c) the spiritual writings o f
Thomas Merton; d) the work of Greek Orthodox theologian John Zizioulas. These
approaches cannot be presented here in their fullness, but the manner in which these
schools of thought or particular authors distinguish the "person from the "individual" can
be briefly described.105

a. Personalist Schools o f Thought


The term "personalism" was first used in 1903 by Charles Renouvier to describe
his approach to philosophy.106 Over the course o f this century, personalism developed as a
school of thought that emphasized the human persons irreducible uniqueness, freedom,

"Adversus Praxean" (Innsbruck-Wien, 1986); Catherine LaCugna, Godfo r Us: The Trinity and
Christian Life (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1991); Alistair McFadyen, The Call to
Personhood (Cambridge: University Press, 1990); Wolfhart Pannenberg, "Person und Subject,"
in Grundfragen (Gottingen, 1980), 2:80-95; Regina Radlbeck, Der Personbegriffin der
Trintatstheologie der Gegenwart-unterscuht am Beispiel der Entwurfe Jurgen Moltmanns und
Walter Kaspers (Regensburg: Friedrich Pustet, 1989); Karl Rahner, "Zum Personverstandnis in
der Theologie," in Dogma und Verkundingung (Munchen, 1977), 201-19; Christos Yannaras,
Person und Eros: Eine Gegenuberstellung der Ontologie der griechischen Kirchenvater und der
Existenzpfulosophie des Westens (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1982).
105Other authors could be included here as well. Von Balthasar, for example, believes
that one must distinguish between the "individual" and the "person" for the sake of clarity, for "a
special dignity is ascribed to the person, which the individual as such does not possess." Von
Balthasar also believes that the term "person" carries connotations of uniqueness and
incomparability. See von Balthasar, "On the Concept of Person," Communio 13 (1986): 18. See
also Theodramatik, 2/2 (Johannesverlag: Einsiedeln, 1978), 136-259. Denis de Rougemont
distinguishes "person" and "individual" as follows: "the individuum is the natural man; the
person is the new creature, as Paul understands it" Letter of de Rougemont quoted in Roger
Benjamin, Notion de Personne et Personnalisme chretien (Paris and the Hague: Mouton, 1971),
111.

ia6Emmanuel Mounier, Personalism (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press,
1952), xv. No reference to Renouvier is given.
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responsibility and relationality contra determinism, materialism "mass society," and


individualism. W riters associated with personalism include Max Scheler, Nikolai
Berdiaev, Ferdinand Ebner, Franz Rosenzweig, Paul Landsberg, Paul Ricoeur, Maurice
N6doncelle, Jean Lacroix, Martin Buber, John Macmurray, Gabriel Marcel, and Karl
Jaspers, some o f whom wrote from a strictly philosophical perspective while others took
a theological approach. Among Christian personalists, Emmanuel Mounier is one o f the
most significant figures. He is founder of the personalist journal Esprit (1930) and author
o f numerous personalist articles and monographs, and his work can serve as a good
example o f personalist thought107
Mounier declined to define the meaning of the term "person" as a matter of
principle. He believed that we can only define observable objects, and although human
persons do have observable characteristics (e.g. a body) and can also be classified in
terms of their social functions and roles (e.g. a Frenchman, a bourgeois, a catholic, a
socialist), none o f these identifications captures the uniqueness o f a given personal
existence. We may describe Bernard Chartier as a Frenchman and a bourgeois and a
Catholic, for example, but Bernard is nonetheless "not a Bernard Chartier, he is Bernard
Chartier.108The essence of the person is indefinable, and the meaning o f personal
existence can thus only be expressed by a) an actual encounter with someone who
realizes a fully personal life and thereby awakens others to their own personal potential;
^O euvres de Mounier, 4 vols. (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1961-1963). Works available in
English translation include Personalism (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Press, 1952); A
Personalist Manifesto (New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1938); "Catholic Personalism
Faces Our Times," in Race: Nation: Person, ed. Joseph T. Delos et al. (New York: Bames and
Noble, 1944).
' Mounier, Personalism, xvi-xcvi.
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or b) a philosophical description o f the person which does proceed from reflection on the
objective universe but in so doing hints obliquely at a reality that is not primarily
objective and can be only imperfectly conveyed.109 M ounier attempted the later approach,
and in so doing he deliberately distinguished the person from the individual. He did
affirm that individual self-reflection is a component o f human development. Yet the first
condition o f personalism, Mounier continued, is a Jecentering o f the individual. The
person, he explained,
is only growing in so far as he is continually purifying himself from the individual
within him. He cannot do this by force o f self-attention, but on the contrary by
making him self available (Gabriel Marcel) and thereby more transparent both to
himself and to others. Things then happen as though the person, no longer
occupied with him self or full o f him self, were becoming abtethen and thus
onlyto be someone else and to enter into grace.110
In Mouniers thought, to be a person is to live wholly within a communion o f love. "I
love," he writes, "therefore I am."111

b. Contemporary Appropriations o f the Theology o f Thomas Aquinas


Personalist philosophy and theology influenced the work of a number of
twentieth-century Catholic theologians trained in the theology of Thomas Aquinas.
Aquinas theology was shaped by his encounter with Aristotle, a biologist turned
philosopher whose philosophical concepts and categories was equally well suited to
speculation on plants, animals and artifacts as well as human persons like Socrates. When
personalist thinkers highlighted the difference between the human person and the purely
l09Mounier, Personalism, xviii-xix.
u0Mounier, Personalism, 19.
11'Mounier, Personalism, 23.
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material world, a number o f Catholic theologians called for a Thomism that would take
this difference into account. Congar commented, "...there is a danger in Thomism,
although I do not think that Thomas himself succumbed to it...a danger o f homogeneity
almost at any price, to the degree that the human beings are themselves conceived of in
the manner of natural things."112 Congar feared that this homogenization had become
widespread in Catholic metaphysical reflection, and he warned that "there is an ontology
o f the person that cannot be reduced to a pure ontology o f nature."113 In like vein,
Dominican Edward Schillebeeckx critiqued Roman Catholic sacramental theology for its
predominant use of categories taken from the physical realm, categories that resulted in
an impersonal and mechanical theology.114 Schillebeeckx him self elaborated an
alternative sacramental theology based on categories o f personal encounter and
communion. Neo-Thomist Norris Clarke, meanwhile, developed a theological
anthropology that emphasized the interpersonal and intersubjective dimensions of the
person, aspects that he thought had not been clearly or explicitly developed by Aquinas or
his ancient predecessors.115

mFifty Years, 71-72.


mFifty Years, 72.
114Edward Schillebeeckx, Christ the Sacrament o f the Encounter with God (New York:
Sheed and Ward, 1963), 3.
115W. Norris Clarke, "Fifty Years of Metaphysical Reflection: The Universe as Journey,"
in The Universe as Journey: Conversations with W. Norris Clarke, S.J., ed. Gerald McCool
(New York: Fordham University Press, 1988), 81. Here Clarke remarks on the influence of the
existentialist personalists (Marcel, Brunner, Mounier, Buber, Nddoncele) and other Christian
personalists (Macmurray) on his thought. He was also influenced by the work of process
philosophers and theologians.
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The twentieth-century Thomist most associated with personalism is Jacques


Maritain. Notably, his anthropology made a clear distinction between the person and the
individual. It is "extremely important to distinguish the person from the individual,"
M aritian affirmed, "and it is also extremely important to grasp the exact significance o f
this distinction."116 Human beings, Maritian explained, are both individuals and persons.
We are individuals insofar as we are made o f matter which is the metaphysical principle
o f the individuation o f all created beings. But we are also persons, for we are not simply
individuated material beings but also spiritual beings endowed with a soul that gives us
the capacity for freedom, knowledge and love. "I am wholly an individual," Maritian
reflected, "by reason of what I receive from m atter, and I am wholly a person, by reason
of what I receive from spirit."117 Maritain believed that this basic truth has generated a
perennial tension in human lifethe individual pole o f our existence pulls us towards
fleshly passions and threatens to disperse us in an amorphous sea o f m ateria prim a. All
too often, M aritain feared, the person is eclipsed by the individual and bourgeois
individualism, communist anti-individualism, and dictatorial totalitarianism resultforms
o f social existence that ignore the human person and consider only the material individual
alone.118 Discipline, asceticism, and education are thus necessary such that the person can
elevate the individual through freedom, knowledge and love. The aim, Maritain
explained, is not to extinguish the individualthis would be metaphysically

ll6Jacques Maritain, Scholasticism and Politics (Glasgow: University Press, 1940), 48.
On Maritains distinction of the "person and the "individual" see especially Chapter HI of
Scholasticism and Politics, entitled "The Human Person and Society, 45-70.
ll7Maritain, Scholasticism, 52.
usMaritain, Scholasticism, 63. On this point see also 47,53,62-70.
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impossiblebut rather to achieve a balance between what he termed "individuality" and


"personality.119

c. The Spirituality o f Thomas M erton


Maritains formulation o f the distinction between "person" and "individual"
influenced Thomas Merton, one o f the m ost popular spiritual writers o f the twentieth
century. Merton studied Maritain in graduate school, and years later he appropriated
Maritains differentiation of the individual and the person as a metaphysical analogue for
his own distinction between the "false se lf' and the "true self." The false self or the
individual, Merton explained, is the egoistic, illusory, and sinful self as contrasted to the
true self, our true identity in Christ.120M erton decried the confusion and absurdity of the
false worldly self and exhorted that "the person must be rescued from the individual.121
He called his readers to die to divisive self-exaltation for "the man who lives in division
is not a person but only an 'individual.'122 This death to self-exaltation is a birth to

ll9On "individuality" as distinct from "personality" see Maritain, The Person and the
Common Good (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1947), 31-46.
120Merton himself does not reference Maritain in the text of New Seeds, and the book has
no footnotes since it is not intended for academic reference. Carr is confident, however, that
Maritain is the source of Mertons distinction of the "individual and the person. See Anne Carr,
A Searchfo r Wisdom and Spirit: Thomas M ertons Theology o f the Self(Notre Dame, IN:
University of Notre Dame Press, 1988), 27-30. On the "true" and "false" self, see also James
Finley, Mertons Palace o f Nowhere: A Search fo r God through Awareness o f the True Self
(Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1978).
Merton, New Seeds o f Contemplation (New York: New Directions, 1961), 38.
Merton, New Seeds o f Contemplation, 48.
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eternal life:
There just arent individuals after death. There are persons, but not individuals. I
think this is a very important point because we as Christians do not believe in the
afterlife o f the individual. W e believe in the afterlife o f the person, who is free,
who is in God already, who is one with God from the beginning. The person
returns to God and finds the self in God on a much deeper level than an individual
ever could, because an individual has to know the self as an isolated little entity
from which everything else is shut off. As long as were individuals, we can never
be with one another.123
Notably, Mertons usage of the term "individual" has a more negative cast than Maritains.
In Maritains Thomism, our existence as individuals is metaphysically necessary and only
becomes problematic insofar as the individual eclipses the "person"; in MertonsAfew
Seeds, in contrast, the term "individual" carries connotations of sinfulness insofar as it is
analogous with the false self. The false self is not something to be balanced with the hue
self but something to be entirely overcome. Merton also differs from Maritain in that he
does not conjoin the terms "individual" and "individuality" and thus affirms individuality
even as he exhorts the person to transcend a purely individual existence. Merton,
however, was not entirely consistent in his contrast of the "person" and the "individual.
After stating that as individuals we can never truly be with one another, he writes "but, of
course, its as individuals that we work the thing o u t'424 His reflections on the
"individual" as the "false self' nonetheless do contribute to the discussion at hand and
have been influential in contemporary spirituality.

I23Merton, The Springs o f Contemplation (Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1992), 93.
124Merton, The Springs o f Contemplation, 94.
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<L The work o f Orthodox Theologian John Zizioulas


W hereas Merton drew from M aritain, Greek Orthodox theologian John Zizioulas
approaches theology from a starting point that is intentionally different from all forms o f
Thomism and Scholasticism.125 Zizioulasdescribed by Congar as "one o f the most
original and profound theologians of our epoch"126grounds his work in Greek patristic
theology, particularly that of the Cappadocians whom Zizioulas credits with a new
approach to ontology that is radically different from both Platonic and Aristotelian
thought In Platonic ontology as well as the Aristotelian alternative, Zizioulas believes
that the question "Who am /?" can never receive an authentic answer. Classic Greek
philosophy can give no definitive foundation to the true uniqueness o f the "I" for it
derives the particular human being from a general human ousiathe Platonic ousia
hyperkeimene or the Aristotelian ousia hypokeimeneo i which the human being is simply
an instantiation.127In the Biblical view, in contrast, Zizioulas believes that humanity is
derivative not from an ideal Man (as in Plato) or a generic human nature (as in Aristotle)
but rather from Adam, a particular human being.128God, Zizioulas explains, likewise
exists not because o f a generic divine substance but because of the person o f God the
Father. The Cappadocians developed this insight and thus gave ontological ultimacy to

I2SZizioulas is critical of Latin scholasticism for its heavy dependence on Greek


philosophy. See for example "Human Capacity and Incapacity," ScotJTh 28 (1975): 403-404.
126Congar, "Bulletin d'eccldsiologie, " RSPhTh 66 (1982): 88.
127Zizioulas, "On Being a Person. Towards an Ontology of Personhood," in Persons,
Divine and Human, eds. Christoph Schwdbel and Colin Gunton (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1991),
34-38.
12*Zizioulas here draws on patristic exegesis, particularly that of the Cappadocians.
322

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particularity for the first time in the history o f philosophy. They emphasized, furthermore,
that the particular person of God the Father exists in eternal relationship with the Son and
the Spirit such that not only particularity but also relationality is ontologically ultimate.
Thus, Zizioulas states, "in trying to identify a particular thing we have to make it part o f a
relationship and not isolate it as an individual, as the tode ti of Aristotle. 129Greek
patristic thought affirm s, Zizioulas concludes, that "there is no true being without
communion. Nothing exists as an individual/ conceivable in itself. Communion is an
ontological category."130
Despite Zizioulas use of the story of Adam in the formulation o f his theological
ontology, it should be noted that his ontology o f the person plays itself out quite
differently at the divine and human levels. For Zizioulas, God is in no sense an
individual, but the human being is an individual in consequence of the conditions o f our
created existence. Creation had a beginning, exists in a spatio-temporal realm, and lives
in a "being-unto-death" (Heidegger); the result is a separation (chorismos) of creatures
from one another and hence a fallen state in which humans do in fact exist as
individuals.131 ...[T]he conditions that we have set out for [an] ontology o f personhood,"
Zizioulas acknowledges, "exist only in God."132 The human being generated by sexual

129Zizioulas, "On Being a Person," 41. He thus critiques Augustine, Boethius and the
subsequent Western tradition for equating "person" and "individual." See "The Doctrine of the
Holy Trinity: The Significance of the Cappadocian Contribution," in Trinitarian Theology
Today: Essays on Divine Being and Act, ed. Christoph Schwdwel (Edinburgh: T & T Clark,
1995), 58-59.
1 Zizioulas, Being as Communion, 18.
I31Zizioulas, "Human Capacity and Human Incapacity," 416-18.
I32Zizioulas, "On Being a Person," 42.
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procreation in exile from Eden is not a true person but only a "biological hypostasis," a
body that "tends towards the person but leads finally to the individual."133Zizioulas does
believe, however, that this tragic human condition can be overcome through the grace of
God. The Holy Spirit "de-individualizes" the baptized such that they are incorporated into
the hypostasis o f Jesus Christan hypostasis that is eternal, unlimited by space and time,
and unconstricted by "being-unto-death. Through participation in the hypostasis of Jesus
Christ, the human being too may finally become a person rather than an individual.134 In
Christ, our "biological hypostasis becomes what Zizioulas terms an "ecclesial
hypostasis," a true person.135 "The individual dies as such and rises as the person."136
The above summary has not been able to do full justice to the thought o f Mounier,
M aritain, Merton, or Zizioulas. It should at least be evident, however, that there is reason
to question the presumption that "person and "individual" are synonymous or
interchangeable terms. The work of the philosophers and theologians described above
demonstrates that there is a basis for carefully distinguishing the person and the
individual, a distinction that can take different forms in different contexts. Maritain,
working out o f a Thomist perspective, affirm s that we are both individuals and persons,
whereas Zizioulas constructs an ontology o f communion in which we must wholly
transcend our existence as fallen human individuals in order to finally become true

133Zizioulas, Being as Communion, 51.


134On "de-individualization" in the Spirit see Zizioulas, "Human Capacity and Human
Incapacity," 441. On the participation of the baptized in the hypostasis of Jesus Christ, see 43738.
13SOn the "ecclesial hypostasis," see Being as Communion, 53-65.
136Zizioulas, "Human Capacity and Incapacity," 442.
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persons. W hatever ones approach, some form o f distinction o f the person and the
individual is well suited to a pneumatological anthropology such as that advocated by
Congar. For all o f the theologians mentioned above, the word "person" has connotations
o f freedom, grace, uniqueness, mystery, relationality and communion that are critical to
pneumatological anthropology and pneumatological ecdesiology. Indeed, William Hill
believes that the Holy Spirits transformation o f the person is "something real within
believers, "but it is real within them not as individuals but as persons."177The suitability
o f the term "person" for use within pneumatology will be further discussed below,
following a consideration of the distinction between community and communion.

2. The Distinction between 'Community*' and "C om m union "


In contemporary parlance, discourse about the "individual" or the "person" seldom
stands alone. Typically it is only one side o f a couplet in which its partner is either the
"community" or the "society." One readily finds books with titles such as Kegleys
Genuine Individuals and Genuine Communities or McLean and Meynells Person and
Society.13* Computer data bases catalog countless articles with similar titlesGonzilezFaus "Anthropology: The Person and the Community," for example, or Frances Moore

137Hill, The Three-Personed Cod, 306.


13SJacquelyn Ann K. Kegley, Genuine Individuals and Genuine Communities: A Roycean
Public Philosophy (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1997); George F. McLean and Hugo
Meynell, eds., Person and Society (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1988). See also
Robert Roth, ed.. Person and Community: A Philosophical Exploration (New York: Fordham
University Press, 1975); John H. Walgrave, Person and Society: A Christian View (Pittsburgh,
PA: Duquesne University Press, 1965).
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Lapp's and J. Baird Callicotts "Individual and Community in Society and Nature."139 In
like vein, theological discussions often counterpose the "individual and the community"

or the "individual and the church." Ann OH ara Graff writes, for example, that "in the
study o f the church today, no term is more important than community. W e are not merely
individuals before God, but a people."140Notably, however, Congars pneumatological
ecdesiology was centered around the idea o f communion. Communion, he believed, is
the concept by which one should enter into the theology of the church.141 "Communion"
and "community" can have important different nuances o f meaning. Justice cannot be
done to the literature on the meaning o f these terms in the context o f this dissertation,142

I39Jos6 Ignacio Gonzilez Faus, "Anthropology: The Person and the Community," in
Mysterium Liberationis: Fundamental Concepts o f Liberation Theology, eds. Ignacio Elllacurfa
and Jon Sobrino ((Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1993), 497-521; Frances Moore Lapp6 and J.
Baird Callicott, "Individual and Community in Society and Nature," in Religion and Economic
Justice (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991), 245-52.

,40"The Straggle to Name Womens Experience," in In the Embrace o f God; Feminist


Approaches to Theological Anthropology, ed. Anne O'Hara Graff (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1995),
82. See also Lenn Goodman, "The Individual and the Community in the Normative Traditions of
Judaism, in Autonomy and Judaism, ed. Daniel Frank (Albany: State University of New York
Press, 1992), 69-119; Michael Novak, "Priority of Community, Priority of Person," in
Catholicism and Secularization in America, ed. David L. Schindler (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday
Visitor Publishing Division, 1990), 136-50; Bryan Schwartz, "Individuals and Community,"
Journal o f Law and Religion 7 (1989): 131-72. These citations could be further multiplied.
14ICongar contrasted "communion and "society in response to the long dominance of
the societas perfecta ecdesiology in Roman Catholicism. "A concept other than that of
society," he reflected, "is preferable in order to enter into the theology of the Church: that of
communion." "Pneumatologie dogmatique," 496. The French is "communion."
,420n "community" see for example Eberhard Arnold, Why We Live in Community
(Farmington, PA: Plough Publishing House, 1995); F. Perrous et R. Prieu, Communaute et
Societe (Paris, 1942); A. Rademacher, Die Kirche als Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft (Augsburg,
1931); Leroy Rouner, ed., On Community (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press,
1991); Mary Rousseau, Community: The Tie That Binds (Lanham, MD: University Press of
America, 1991); Josiah Royce, The Problem o f Christianity (Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1968); John P. Schanz, A Theology o f Community (Washington, D.C.: University Press of
America, 1977).
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but a comparison of James Gustafsons Treasure in Earthen Vessels: The Church as a


Human Community and Congars use o f the word "communion" can at least indicate some
o f the issues involved.

a. "Community" in James G ustafsons Treasure in Earthen Vessels: The Church as a


Human Community
Gustafsons book Treasure in Earthen Vessels has been selected for exposition
because it offers a systematic account o f the meaning o f "community" in contemporary
discourse. Gustafson is a Protestant theologian well-versed in sociology, and his book
Treasure in Earthen Vessels: The Church as a Human Community was hailed by H.
Richard Niebuhr as "the first real sociology o f the church."143 Gustafson acknowledges
that the church transcends sociological analysis and he does not consider his book a
comprehensive ecdesiology. He is concerned, however, that theologians all too often
slight the churchs human dimension, eclipsing the human character of the church with
doctrinal claims or ambiguous mystical statem ents.144 Gustafsons intention in Treasure
in Earthen Vessels is thus to demonstrate the manifold ways in which the church perdures
through the same sociological processes as all other human communities. "Community"

On "communion" see for example Jerome Hamer, The Church is a Communion (London:
Geoffrey Chapman, 1964); Peter Byeng-Hun Lim, Leben cuts der Communio mit Gott und
untereinander, Studien zur Theologie und Praxis der Seelsorge, no. S (Wurzburg: Seelsorge,
1991); Ulrich Kuhnke, Koinonia: Zur theologischen Rekonstruktion der Identitat christlicher
Gemeinde (Diisseldorf: Patmos, 1992); Jean Rigal, L'ecclesiologie de communion: Son evolution
historique et sesfondements (Paris: Cerf, 1997); J.-M. R. Tillard, Church o f Churches: The
Ecdesiology o f Communion (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1992).
l43Comment on book jacket. No reference is given.
>44James Gustafson, Treasure in Earthen Vessels: The Church as a Human Community
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961), 1-8.
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is the central term o f his analysis, and he uses this term in a loose sense to refer "to a
body of persons who share some measure o f common life, and a common loyalty."145
Such bodies include not only the church but also families, business corporations, trade
and labor unions, clubs and voluntary associations, political parties and entire nations.
Gustafson explains that the church differs from other forms of community in that
it has a distinctive center o f common loyalty. The loyalty o f the church is centered on
Jesus Christ, whereas a trade union is loyal to the principles o f the labor movement and a
state to the principles o f its constitution and national history.146 Different communities
have different fidelities, but Gustafson insists that there is a singular process by which all
communities are formed despite variance in the purpose or intention of community
organization.147 In Treasure in Earthen Vessels, Gustafson elaborates upon the various
aspects o f this process o f community formation as event in the life o f the church. The
church, he explains, is organized in such a way that it serves natural human
needsphysical, psychological and emotional.148This process o f organization is
inherendy political, for the church perdures through the institutionalization of patterns of
relationship, authority and power.149The church also maintains itself through time as a
continuous community by virtue o f a common language (Scripture and creed) that is

145Gustafson, Treasure in Earthen Vessels, 1 n. 1.


146On Jesus Christ as the center of the churchs loyalty see, for example, Gustafson,
Treasure in Earthen Vessels, 45,76, 89.
I47Gustafson, Treasure in Earthen Vessels, 8-9.
l4*Gustafson, Treasure in Earthen Vessels, 14-28.
149Gustafson, Treasure in Earthen Vessels, 29-42.
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internalized by the church's members and establishes boundaries between those who
belong to the church and those who stand outside o f the community lines.130This
common language is passed on from generation to generation in a process of
interpretation that both preserves the co m m u n it y 's past and adapts the past to present
circumstances such that the church is a community o f both memory and understanding.131
Finally, Gustafson explains, the church is a community of belief and action, a moral
community that professes a faith that it puts into practice.132
Gustafson emphasizes throughout Treasure in Earthen Vessels that everything he
has said about the church can also be said about other human communities. A ll
communities serve natural human needs, have some form of political organization, share
a common language, and preserve continuity over time through processes o f memory and
interpretation. Many communities other than the church are also moral communities of
belief, action and even faith.133 A theologian, Gustafson notes, would argue that the
church is nonetheless distinctive because its own community-formation process proceeds
through the divine action o f Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. But "perhaps,' Gustafson
reflects, "God acts through the very processes o f Church life that can be interpreted from
the point of view of social theory."134

130Gustafson, Treasure in Earthen Vessels, 42-56.


131Gustafson, Treasure in Earthen Vessels, 56-85.
152Gustafson, Treasure in Earthen Vessels, 86-99.
1S3"Nations and ideological communities," he writes for example, "are also communities
of faith." Gustafson, Treasure in Earthen Vessels, 90.
IS4Gustafson, Treasure in Earthen Vessels, 13.
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b. "Communion" in Congars Pneum atological Ecclesiology


Congar would certainly not deny that God works through human social processes
or that ecclesiogists can fruitfully employ the sociological discipline. In fact, he believed
that contemporary sociology can enrich Roman Catholic ecclesiology, which for so long
defined the church as "societas" within a purely philosophical delineation o f this term .153
Congar did not believe, however, that sociology can be the foundation o f ecclesiology.
Rather, the ecclesiologist must take a /Geological approach to the mystery o f the
churchand in this context there can then also be a place for sociological analysis. "In the
end," wrote Congar, "the Church is certainly a society, but that is not what one should
begin with. The first thing is the spiritual communion, a communion on the basis of the
Word of God received in faith and grace."156
Neoscholastic treatises on the church typically defined societas as a "moral and
stable unity of many people to a certain end, from which common action should follow"
and Congar considered this a useful definition.157 Notably, this usage of the term
"society" is very similar to Gustafsons definition o f the word "community"i.e. "a body
of persons who share some measure of common life, and a common loyalty."158 Despite
F. Tonnies influential distinction o f "Gemeinschaft" (community) and "G esellschaft"

155"Peut-on ctefmir l^glise?" 34-35.


lS6Fifty Years, 43.
I57The Latin is "unio moralis et stabilis plurium hominum ad aliquem finem, communi
actione consequendum." "Peut-on ddfinir lTtglise?" 34.
15*James Gustafson, Treasure in Earthen Vessels, 1 n. 1.
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(society), there can be considerable continuity in the usage o f these two terms.159
Ecclesiologically speaking, indeed, a more important distinction is not the differentiation
o f community and society but rather the distinction o f both community or society from
communion. These concepts should not be starkly contrasted or opposed, for the church is
surely a form o f communal and social existence. The differentiation o f "communion"
from both "society" and "community" is nonetheless necessary in order to preserve the
distinctively theocentric and trinitarian character o f ecclesial life. As Congar explained,
the church cannot be understood by simply determining the general characteristics o f all
human societies and then applying this definition o f society to the church with the

modification "Christian" appended.160For the church, Congar insisted, is not simply a


human society but a participation in the mystery of God. The church is different from
other human communities not simply because it has its own particular center of
community loyalty (as Gustafson held) but because it is not only a community but also a
communion.
Dictionary definitions cannot capture the rich range o f meaning and signification
that the term "communion" has carried throughout the biblical, liturgical, and theological
tradition o f the church.161 This English term is a translation of the Greek word "koinonia"
which occurs 19 times in the New Testament, primarily in the Pauline epistles. It is used

139F. Tonnies, Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft: Grundbegriffe der reinen Soziologie


(Berlin: K Curtis, 1887).
160"Peut-on ddfinir fglise? 42. The church, Congar explained, is not the species
supernatural within the genre of societies. Because the church participates by grace in the
mystery of God, it thereby transcends definition.
161Jerome Hamer comments on the limitations of definitions of "communion" as found in
standard reference works in The Church is a Communion, 159.
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there with reference to the sharing of goods with those in need (2 Cor 9:13, Rom 15:26);
the fellowship o f Christians with one another (Gal 2:9-10); the sharing o f the Eucharistic
assembly in the body and blood o f Jesus Christ (1 Cor 10:16); the sharing o f Christians in
the suffering o f Christ (Phil 3:10); and the gift o f the Holy Spirit (Phil 2 :1 ,2 Cor 13;13).
These important theological connotations o f the word "communion" have been preserved
in the handing on o f the Christian tradition, and "communion" thus bears christological
and pneumatological resonances that the term "community" does not necessarily convey.
"Communion," Congar explained, means participation (m etoche) in the goods that come
from God or in Gods own very life.162In standard sociological usage, "community refers
to the relationships o f human persons with one another, whereas the concept of
"communion clearly places these human relationships in the context o f our relationship
to God through Jesus Christ in the Holy S p irit163 "When we consider the New Testament
use of the word," Hamer insists, "we must beware of reducing koindnia to mere friendly
relationships between man and man. The vertical dimension is the primary one: koindnia
is founded wholly on Christ and on the S pirit"164The relationship to God connoted by
the term "koindnia is by no means exclusive o f human relationships, but within a
theocentic context human relationships take on a fundamentally different cast

I62"Pneumatologie dogmatique," 497.


I63"lt is because all the faithful participate in the gifts of God," Congar explained, "...that
there is communion among them, that they are a communion." "Pneumatologie dogmatique,
498.
>64Hamer, The Church is a Communion, 162.
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Gustafsons discussion o f the church as a community, for example, differs from


Congars portrayal o f the church as a communion in some important respects.165 For
Gustafson, the church is a community because it serves basic human physical,
psychological and emotional needs, whereas for Congar the church is oriented not simply
to hum an need but also to the elevation o f the human person to participation in the supranatural life of God. For Gustafson, the church is a community because it has
institutionalized forms of political organization, but for Congar these political forms are
properly understood only if placed in the context o f christology and pneumatology, for
the foundational institutions o f the church are sacramental rather than political in the
strictly secular sense of this term .166 Gustafson explains that the churchs common
language (Scripture and creed) differentiates those who belong to the church from those
who stand outside ecclesial boundaries, whereas Congar affirmed that communion with
the Christian church can extend to people of goodwill who may never have even heard
the name of Jesus Christ as well as to creatures of the earth who speak no human
language at all.167 And Gustafson held that the church perdures in time as a continuous
community through its use o f ongoing textual interpretation, whereas Congar believed
that the churchs trans-generational unity comes from the Spirit of God who transcends
the limits of space and time such that the church is not simply in continuity with
Christians of ages past but also in an actual ongoing relationship with the entire

I6SOn Congars communion ecclesiology see, for example, "Une glise qui est d'abord
communion" in "Pneumatologie dogmatique," 495-500.
l66See, for example, I Believe, 2:223.
167See, for example, I Believe, 2:222-23.
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communion o f saints. Finally, Gustafson held that the church is a community because it
engages in purposive action, whereas for Congar the church must not simply undertake
common action but rather specific lands o f communal actions: acts o f sharing, fellowship,
love, and the continuous praise and adoration o f God.168
This is not to deny that the church has all the various features that Gustafson
identified: the church does serve human needs, perdure through institutionalized patterns
o f relationship, share a common language, maintain continuity through textual
interpretation, and undertake common action. But the church does all o f these things with
a theological intention that fundamentally reorients and reconfigures these activities in a
manner that is best described with the language of communion. In the last chapter o f
Treasure in Earthen Vessels, Gustafson him self warns against sociological reductionism
and reminds his readers that his book was not intended as a comprehensive ecclesiology.
In this chapter, he too speaks of koindnia:
The common inner life o f the Church is not only the effect of processes o f
internalization of objectified meanings. It is not only the subjective counterpart to
the objective signs and marks o f life given in institutional forms. It is koindnia, a
fellowship given by Jesus Christ and sustained by the activity o f the Holy Spirit o f
God. It is a gift, and not ju st a natural outcome of a social process. God him self is
present among men, and makes him self and his actions known in the common life
o f the Church.169

>68The concept of community as used by Gustafson can apply with equal validity not
only to the Christian church but also to the Nazi party, the Klu Klux Klan, or other such
organizations whose orientation is fundamentally antithetical to the Gospel. The Nazi Party and
the KKK are political organizations with a common language who undertake common
actionsthey meet Gustafsons definition of "community." They do not, however, meet the
criteria of communion.
1 Gustafson, Treasure in Earthen Vessels, 104.
334

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Gustafson translates koindnia as "fellowship." He notes that the word "communion" is


preferable, but he declines to use it to avoid confusion with the sacram ent170 His concern
for confusion, however, is unfounded. The sacramental connotations o f the word
"communion" enhance rather than detract from its ecclesiological usage. Precisely

because o f the liturgical connotations o f the word "communion" as well as the scriptural
and theological connotations of this term, it is uniquely suited to express the mystery o f
Gods presence, the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is not to suggest that ecclesiology and
theological anthropology should use the language o f "communion to the exclusion o f the
language o f "community or "society." Clearly the church is both a communion and a
communityor as Congar said, "a communion in the form o f a society."171
Indeed, Congar readily used the language not only o f "communion but also of
"community" ("communaute), and in the context o f his constructive theology this term
takes on many of the theological connotations o f the New Testament koindnia. 172
"Community" need not have the strictly sociological connotations Gustafson identifies
with this term ,173 but in Congars ecclesiology "community" assumes a deeper meaning
precisely because Congar contextualizes this terminology within a trinitarian theology o f

170Gustafson, Treasure in Earthen Vessels, 100.


l7I"Une communion qui s'organise en soci6t. See "Pneumatologie dogmatique," 500502.
I72"Communion" and "community" are closely related, for example, in Congars
statement: "Le bapteme (et la confirmation) creent la qualit de personne dans l'ordre chrtien de
la nouvelle alliance. II fonde les droits et devoirs d'une personne tant individuellement prise que
prise dans ses rapports de communion dans la communaute des baptises." "R. Sohm nous
interroge," 286. Emphasis original.
173Avery Dulles also gives the word "community a properly theological meaning in his
discussion of the church as a "community of disciples." Dulles, Models o f the Church, 204-26.
335

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communion. In turn, Congars emphasis that the church is both a communion and a
society (or community) preserves Congars theology o f the church from the weaknesses
that Dulles observes in ecclesiologies based strictly on the model o f the church as a
mystical communion. These ecclesiologies, Dulles explains, do not make clear the
importance o f the visible church and may fail to give Christians a clear sense of mission;
they also tend to exalt and unduly divinize the church and can generate a tension between
the church as a fellowship o f interpersonal relations and the church as a mystical
communion of grace.174 Congar avoids these weakness and demonstrates that a theology
o f communiongrounded in strong trinitarian foundations and accompanied by an
account of the church as a human society or communitycan provide a strong foundation
for a pneumatological ecclesiology. The church, Congar wrote, is a "communion of
persons."175

3. The Suitablity o f "P ersons in C om m union" as a Fram ew ork fo r a C ontem porary


Pneum atological A nthropology an d Ecclesiology
One of the contributions o f Congars theology of the Holy Spirit is his use of
pneumatology to bridge theological anthropology and ecclesiology, two distinct
theological sub-disciplines that are nonetheless closely related. The work o f Congar as
well as that of the other theologians discussed above suggests that the most adequate
theological framework for the integration of theological anthropology and ecclesiology is
the paradigm of "persons in communion." This paradigm is theologically more

174See Dulles, Models o f the Church, 59-62.


175"Pneumatologie dogmatique," 502. The French is "communion de personnes."
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foundational than that o f "individuals and society" or "individuals and


communityalthough not necessarily exclusive o f these other approaches. As Mounier,
Maritain, Merton and Zizioulas have demonstrated, the terms "person" and "individual"
have different connotations, and the above discussion o f Gustafson and Congar has also
highlighted some of the different nuances that distinguish "community and
"communion." These differences are particularly important if contemporary theology is to
follow Congar in the elaboration of an explicitly pneumatological anthropology and
ecclesiology. "Persons in communion" is a pneumatologically suitable paradigm for the
following reasons: a) the trinitarian foundations o f Christian theology; b) the analogical
nature o f theological language; c) the apophatic character of theological speech; and d)
the periochoretic quality of the "persons in communion" paradigm.

a. The Trinitarian Foundations o f Christian Theology


Trinitarian theology is the formative context for theological anthropology and
ecclesiology. It is thus notable that trinitarian theology typically speaks o f Father, Son
and Spirit not as "individuals" but rather as "persons. In fact, some theologians trace the
very origins of the term "person" as used in W estern culture to patristic theological
discussions and the consequent elaboration o f trinitarian and christological doctrine.176

176See, for example, Joseph Ratzinger, "Concerning the Notion of Person in Theology,"
Communio 17 (1990): 439; Zizioulas, Being as Communion, 27. The position that the Western
conception of "person" originates with Christianity, however, is questioned by J. C. Vogel, "The
Concept of Personality in Greek and Christian Thought," SPHP 2 (1963): 20,59-60. For further
disscussion see C. Anderson, "Zur Entstehung und Geschichte des trinitarischen Personbegriffs,"
ZNW 52 (1961): 1-39; G. Greshake, "Die theologische Herkunft des Personbegriffs," in
Personate Freiheit und pluraliste Gesellschaft, ed. G. Poltner (Freiburg-Basel-Wein, 1981), 7586; B. Studer, "Der Personbegriff in der fnihen kirchenamtlichen Trinitatslehre," ThPh 57
(1982): 161-77.

337

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Tertullian, Athanathius, the Cappadocians and others adopted the terms "persona,
"prosopon and "hypostasis" from Greco-Roman courtrooms and theaters where these
words had meant simply "role" or "mask," and they gave these terms a theological import
and dignity. The Cappadocians formulation that God exists in the hypostases of Father,
Son and Spirit proved to be particularly influential. According to historian R. P. C.
Hanson, the Cappadocians used the term "hypostasis to communicate that Father, Son
and Spirit each have their own irreducible reality; Hanson is reluctant, however, to define
this term more precisely other than to say that "hypostasis" in the Cappadocian theology
means "not substance."177 In the West, Boethius did define "persona" as an "individual
substance of a rational nature," but he himself rarely used this concept with respect to
God.178 Richard of St. Victor sought an alternative theology o f "person" that prescinded
from use of the term "individual," and Thomas Aquinas noted that "individual" can only

177R. P. C. Hanson, The Searchfo r the Christian Doctrine o f God (Edinburgh: T & T
Clark, 1988), 737.
I78Ghellinck observes that "personaappears ninety times in Boethius christological
writings but only once in his treatise on the Trinity. "L'entrfe d'essentia, substantia, et autres
mots apparentes, dans le Latin mdi6val," ALMA 15/1 (1940): 77-112. The inapplicability of
Boethius' definition of "person" to God has been noted by von Balthasar and Ratzinger. See von
Balthasar, "On the Concept of Person, 22; Ratzinger, "Concerning the Notion of Person in
Theology, 448. Moltmann thinks that Boethius' definition can conceivablely be used with
reference to God the Father but not with respect to the Holy Spirit Jurgen Moltmann, The Spirit
cfLife: A Universal Affirmation (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992), 268 and 289.
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be predicated o f God insofar as it means "indivisible."179 Aquinas him self described the
persons o f Father, Son and Spirit as "subsistent relations."180
The trinitarian tradition has emphasized not only the language o f "person" but
also divine communion rather than divine society or community. Basil o f Ceasarea, for
example, spoke o f the "com m u n io n (koindnian) of the Spirit with the Father and the
Son."181 The Vulgate translation o f "koinonia" as this term appears in the New Testament
and the Greek liturgy is communication and Bonaventure speaks accordingly of the
mystical communication o f Father, Son and Holy S p irit182 It is true that contemporary
theologians such as Joseph Bracken, Jurgen Moltmann and other advocates of a so-called
"social Trinity do in fact use the language of "society and "community" when speaking
o f God.183 Critics o f this approach, however, believe that the "social Trinity" leans too far
in the direction of tritheism. LaCugna, furthermore, writes w ith respect to Moltmann's
recent Spirit o f Life that he "continues here to view the Trinity as a model for human
communities, rather than seeing trinitarian theology as a reflection on a much deeper kind

119ST I \ q. 29, a. 3, ad. 4. Aquinas thus notes that there are some who believe that
Boethius definition of "person does not apply to God. Richard of St. Victor, he continues,
amends this definition "by adding that Person in God is the incommunicable existence o f the
divine nature." Father, Son and Spirit are then not "individuals, although they are nonetheless
distinct by virtue of their different relations of origin. 5 7 1*, q. 28, aa. 2 and 3. A divine "person"
is a "relation as subsisting." 57 F, q. 29, a. 4.
IS0S7F, q. 29, a. 4, c.
Basil, On the Holy Spirit, 16, 38. SChrn. 17, p. 377.
IS2Bonaventure, The Souls Journey into God, 114.
183A. Okechukwu Ogbonnaya, On Communitarian Divinity: An African Interpretation o f
the Trinity (New York: Paragon House, 1994); Joseph Bracken, Society and Spirit (Toronto:
Associated University Press, 1991); Jurgen Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom (San
Francisco: Harper and Row, 1981).
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o f communion than the word 'community can possibly convey."184The profound


communion o f which LaCugna speaks is the work o f the Spirit o f God, and this mystery
o f communion is the proper context not only for trinitarian theology but also for
pneumatological anthropology and pneumatological ecclesiology.

b. The Analogical Nature o f Theological Language


The importance of the terms "person" and "communion" within trinitarian
theology shapes theological anthropology and ecclesiology in part because o f the
analogical character of theological discourse. Over the centuries, theologians have used a
variety of analogical methods and within the Roman Catholic tradition, Aquinas' work on
analogy has been particularly influential. Aquinas held that we cannot predicate qualities
such as "goodness" univocally o f both God and creature because of the profound
difference between God and the created order. Nor, however, are the affirmations "God is
good" and "Mary is good" entirely equivocal, for the created order does participate in the
goodness of God in a limited and creaturely manner. Qualities such as goodness that
pertain to the divine essence can be predicated o f both God and creature, but only in a
manner proportionate to eachthat is, analogically.185 These qualities apply primarily
and pre-eminently to God and secondarily and less-eminently to creatures.186 Or, more
precisely, the perfections that these terms signify {res significata) belong properly to God
and less properly to creatures, whereas the limited human words used to comprehend and

144LaCugna, Review of Moltmanns The Spirit cfU fe, TS 54 (1993): 757.


185S7T ,q. 13, a. 5.
186S7T ,q. 13,a.6,c.
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express these perfections (modus significtio) belong properly to creatures and do not
strictly apply to God at all.187
Aquinas reflected on analogical method in S T V" q. 13 "On the Divine Names."
Later, in ST F , q. 29 "On the Divine Persons" Aquinas considered the question "Whether
the word person should be said of God?" and he determines:
Person" signifies what is most perfect in all naturethat is, a subsistent individual
o f a rational nature. Hence, since everything that is perfect must be attributed to
God, forasmuch as His essence contains every perfection, this name person is
fittingly applied to God; not, however, as it is applied to creatures, but in a more
excellent way; as other names also, which, while giving them to creatures, we
attribute to God; as we showed above when treating of the names o f God (Q. 13,
A .2).188
The perfection signified by the word "person," in other words, belongs properly to God,
and human beings participate in this perfection in a limited manner that is proportionate
to their creaturely status. In the above passage Aquinas defined "person" in Boethius
sense as anindividual of a rational nature," but it is interesting to note that Aquinas
focused on "person" rather than "individual" as the term of his analogy between God and
creature ("this name person is fittingly applied to God.") The theological tradition has
employed different uses of the word "person" and a variety of analogical methods, but in
general "person" has served as an analogical bridge between trinitarian theology and
theological anthropology in a way that the term "individual" has n o t189 Reformed

I87s r r , q . 13, a. 3, c.
I8SS 7 T ,q .2 9 ,a.3 ,c.
IS9For approaches other than that of Aquinas see, for example, Peter Hoffmann,
"Analogie and Person: Zur Trinitatsspekulation Richards von St-Victor," ThPh 59 (1984): 191234; Christof Theilemann, Die Frage nach Analogie, naturlicher Theologie und Personenbegriff
in der Trinitdtslehre (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1995).

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theologian Alan Torrance comments that "the concept o f person is possibly the only
concept that can be predicated properly and without the risk o f anthropomorphism of both
the divine and human realm s."190And contemporary Thomist Norris Clarke considers
"person" the primary analogate between God and the human creature, even as he
attributes to the person an interpersonal and intersubjective character that he does not find
explicit in Aquinas.191

c. The Apophatic Character o f Theological Speech


Analogical speech has a strong apophatic dimension. Even as Aquinas affirms, for
example, that God and creature are both "good," he denies that the human intellect can
conceive of perfect goodness as it exists in God. Aquinas also negates the idea that the
word "good" {modus) properly applies to God even as he affirms that the perfection of
goodness {res) is preeminently divine. "The via eminentiae," David Tracy reflects, "is
possible only on condition o f its constant fidelity to the via negationis."m This via
negationis has a long history in Christian theology and is currently the focus of renewed

l90Toriance, Persons in Communion, 121. Torrance argues that Barths departure from
use of the term "person" within trinitarian theology (in preference for "Seinsweise") led to a gulf
between his trinitarian theology and his theological anthropology. Torrance, Persons in
Communion, 186-87.
19IOn "person as primary analogate see Clarke, "What is Most and Least Relevant in S t
Thomas Metaphyics TodayTIPQ 14 (1974): 425. See also Philip Rolnick, Analogical
Possibilities: How Words Refer to Cod (Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1993).
l92Tracy, Analogical Imagination, 409.
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interest. Tracy, for example, speaks o f "the contemporary rediscovery o f the importance
o f radical apophaticism for all naming o f God."193
Catherine LaCugna believed that an apophatic approach is particularly crucial to
pneumatology, and she highlighted the suitability of the terms "person" and
"communion" to the via negativa.m The via negativa is a path o f knowing through
unknowing, a movement away from our own fantasies, projections, and images and a
movement towards the true living God.195 Words like relation, communion, and person
are particularly suited to this apophatic way since they point us away from ourselves
towards God and hence contribute to the ascetic discipline o f the via negativa. In this
movement of unknowing, the words "relation," "communion" and "person" must
themselves be negated, yet at the same time they orient us towards God such that the way
o f unknowing is simultaneously a way o f knowinga way to enter into the divine
presence. When we use the term "person" o f God, LaCugna explains, we are not defining
God but using a term that points beyond itself to the divine ineffability, and when we
stand in awe of Gods ineffability we are approaching true theological knowledge.196
LaCugna is not alone in noting the apophatic character o f the terms "person" and
"communion." As we have seen, Hanson suggested that the term "hypostasis" as used by

l93Tracy, "Trinitarian Speculation and the Forms of Divine Disclosure," paper presented
in April 1998 at the Trinity Conference at St. Josephs Seminary in Dunwoodie, page 36.
I94The via negativa was to have been central to the book on the Holy Spirit that LaCugna
had hoped to write prior to her death.
I9SLaCugna, "1996 Sheedy Award Address," 1.
l96LaCugna, G odfor Us, 305. On the apophatic character of the terms "person,"
"relation" and "communion" see also 302 and 332.
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the Cappadocians cannot be strictly defined other than to say that it means "not
substance.197 Studer and Hilberath, in like vein, have highlighted the apophatic character
o f Augustines use o f the word "persona in his De Trinitate where the term is used not to
express difference but rather to deny singularity.198 And Christos Yannaras believes the
entire Orthodox tradition practices what he terms an "apophasis o f the person."199
Zizioulas reflects accordingly:
...exactly as the G reek Fathers spoke of the divine persons, we cannot give a
positive qualitative content to a hypostasis or person, for this would result in the
loss of his absolute uniqueness and turn a person into a classifiable entity.....a true
ontology of personhood requires that the uniqueness o f a person escape and
transcend any qualitative kataphasis.1*10
Zizioulas believes that the attempt to conceive of the human being as an "individuum
forces us towards definition, whereas the human person must be "approached as an
indefinable being."201 Personalists like Mounier also stressed the indefinability of the
person, as was discussed above.

,97Hanson, The Search fo r the Christian Doctrine o f God, 737.


198"Quaesivit quid tria diceret et dixit substantias sive personas, quibus nominibus non
diversitatem intelligi volui sed singularitatem noluit." (De Trinitate, 7 ,4 ,9 , CCL SO, 259,11820,131-33.) Hilberath comments that the negative character of the term "person" in Augustine
could not be expressed more pithily. Hilberath, Der Personbegriff, 100. Studer in like vein notes
that in Augustine the negative character of the dogmatic use of the term "person" in early
trinitarian theology is especially evident. Studer, "Der Person-Begriff," 170-77.
199Christos Yannaras, Person und Eros: Erne Gegenuberstellung der Ontologie der
griechischen Kirchenvater und der Existenzphilosophie des Westens (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck &
Ruprecht, 1982), 29-32.
Zizioulas, "On Being a Person," 46.
'Zizioulas, "Human Capacity and Human Incapacity," 402. He continues: "There is
something about the human phenomenon that seems to resist strongly any definition of man from
the point of view of his 'substance' or qualities." "Human Capacity and Human Incapacity," 406.
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d. The Perichoretic Q uality o f the "Persons in Communion" Paradigm


The "persons in communion paradigm is theologically serviceable not only
because it is eminently apophatic, but also because o f the mutual inextricability and
perichoretic quality o f the term s "person and "communion." Contemporary theologians
repeatedly emphasize that to be a "person"divine or humanis to exist in relationship
and communion202; communion, in turn, fosters the realization o f each persons unique
mystery.203 To be a person is to exist in communion with others, and to exist in
communion is to be a person. The paradigms "individual and community" or "individual
and society," in contrast, tend to oppose the individual and the social body. "Individuals"
and "society" often stand in an antagonistic relationship, such that emphasis on the
individual detracts from the needs o f the social body and emphasis on the society
threatens individual fulfillment. According to Schillebeeckx, Cartesian dualism leads
Westerners to perceive the individual and society as two independent entities, separated
by a mysterious wall that cannot be precisely identified.204 Undoubtedly it is not only
Cartesian dualism but also the enduring influence of seventeenth century contract theories
that shape our use o f the individual and society paradigm. Charles Taylor believes that
social contract philosophy is so deeply entrenched in our thinking that we are habitual

^See for example Elizabeth Johnson, She Who Is (New York: Crossroad, 1992), 191245; Walter Kasper, The God o f Jesus Christ (New York: Crossroad, 1984), 289-90; Catherine
LaCugna, Godfo r Us; Jorg Spell, Leben als Mit-Sein: Vom trinitarisch Menschlichen (Frankfurt:
Josef Knecht, 1990); Carver Yu, Being and Relation: A Theological Critique a f Western Dualism
and Individualism (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1987).
^Congar wrote, for example, that the Holy Spirit brings persons to communion "by
respecting and even stimulating their diversity." I Believe, 2:17. "Real love," said Mounier, "is
creative of distinction." Mounier, Personalism, 23.
^^Schillebeeckx, Church, 46-47.
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atomists, convinced that we exist first as individuals and only subsequently (if we so
choose) form social bodies.205 Hence the paradigm "individual and society." Trinitarian
theology, in contrast, speaks o f "persons in communion. The shift from "and to "in is
telling. W e do not first exist as persons and then only subsequently enter into
communion, but rather "person" and "communion" are correlative term s. The paradigm
"persons in communion is thus more serviceable to a pneumatological anthropology and
ecclesiology than the "individual and society" framework.

4. Summation of Section B"Persons in Communion"


Yves Congars theology of the Holy Spirit requires the integration o f theological
anthropology and ecclesiology, two distinct sub-disciplines o f theology that must
nonetheless be much more closely related than was the case in early twentieth-century
Roman Catholic theology. Above it has been argued that the paradigm "persons in
communion" is more foundational to this necessary integration than the paradigm o f
"individuals and community" or "individuals and society." The work of personalist
thinkers such as Mounier, twentieth-century Thomists such as Maritain, spiritual writers
such as M erton, and Orthodox theology as represented by Zizioulas suggests that there is
an important distinction to be made between the "person" and the "individual." The
ecclesiology of Congar as contrasted with Gustafsons sociology has likewise
demonstrated that the terms "communion" and "community" may have different
connotations. In a theological context, "person" connotes love, relationality, freedom,

^Charles Taylor, Sources o f the Self: The Making o f Modem Identity (Cambridge, MA:
Harvard University Press, 1989), 106 and 196.
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uniqueness, and ineffability while "communion1*connotes the grace o f participation in the


life o f God through Christ and the S p irit "Persons in communion as a paradigm for
pneumatological anthropology and ecclesiology serves theologys trinitarian, analogical,
apophatic, and perichoretic character. "The line o f words," Annie Dillard wrote, "is a
miners pick, a wood-carvers gouge, a surgeons probe. You wield i t and it digs a path
you follow. Soon you find yourself deep in new territory. Is it a dead end, or have you
located the real subject?206 The words "person and "com m u n ion" are limited probes just
like all our human language, but they are probes that can take us deep into the mysterious
territory o f the S pirit

C. The Contribution of Congars Pneumatology


to Reflection on the Person of the Holy Spirit
and the Theology of Appropriations
Finally, this chapter concludes with a consideration o f the contribution of
Congars theology o f the Holy Spirit to contemporary discussions about the personhood
o f the Holy Spirit and the theology o f appropriations. The Spirit is the "unknown one
beyond the Word," as von Balthasar has said, and theologians have perennially struggled
to describe who the Spirit is and in w hat sense the Spirit is a "person."207 Moltmann is not
alone in his view that the discernment o f the Holy Spirits personhood is the most difficult
problem in trinitarian theology.208 This problem far exceeds the lim its o f this dissertation,

Annie Dillard, The Writing Life (New York: HarperPerennial, 1989), 3.


2tnThe von Balthasar expression comes from his "Der Unbekannte jenseits des Wortes,"
in Interpretation der Welt: Festschrift R. Guardini, ed. Helmut Kuhn (Wurzburg: Echter, 1965),
638-45.
Moltmann, The Spirit o f Life, 268.
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but below Congars contributions to contemporary discussions about the personhood of


the Holy Spirit can be briefly indicated. His primary contributions to this discussion are
two-fold. First, Congars advocacy o f both a pneumatological anthropology and a
pneumatological ecclesiology transforms the framework in which reflection on the
proprium o f the Holy Spirit and the theology of appropriations proceeded in the first half
of the twentieth century. During this period, reflection centered on the question as to
whether or not the indwelling of the Spirit in the just soul is proper to the Spirit or simply
appropriated, but lack o f attention to the ecclesial context of the indwelling o f the Spirit
hindered the progress o f this debate. Here, Congars pneumatology offers an important
corrective. Secondly, Congars unshaken commitment to the use of a theology of
appropriations can be very instructive to theologians of the latter part of the twentieth
century who have criticized the appropriations methodology and sought other means to
speak about the Holy Spirits personhood. Congar used the appropriations tradition to
highlight the absolute inseparability o f the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son, and
this communion o f Father, Son and Spirit is an important truth that must be preserved
even if the method o f appropriations falls into disuse.

1. Mid-Century Discussions of the Theology of Appropriations and the Indwelling of


the Holy Spirit
"Appropriation" is the practice by which divine attributes, divine names or divine
activities that are absolutely common to the divine persons (and thus to the divine
essence) are predicated o f Father, Son or Holy Spirit. The attribute o f goodness and the
activity of sanctification, for example, are typically appropriated to the Holy Spirit,
although in fact the quality o f goodness and the act of sanctification are not unique to the
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Spirit but rather are shared by the Father and the Son. In contrast, the relations and
activities that distinguish the divine persons from one anotherbegetting, being begotten,
spirating, being spiratedare not appropriated but are uniquely proper (propium) to the
Father (begetting, spirating), the Son (being begotten, spirating) or the Holy Spirit (being
spirated). These relations are constitutive o f the persons o f Father, Son and Spirit in a
way that merely appropriated qualities are n o t Ideally there is to be a fittingness between
the attributes or activities attributed to Father, Son and Spirit and that personsproprium .
According to Aquinas, for example, goodness is common to all the divine persons but
fittingly appropriated to the Spirit, for the spiration of the Spirit is an act o f love, and
goodness is loves nature and object.209 Strictly speaking, however, an appropriated
quality, name or activity does not express the uniqueness of the Spirits person nor tell us
who the Spirit is.
The history of the theology of appropriations is recounted differently by different
theologians. Scholars disagree, for example, on the status o f the theology of
appropriations in Patristic literature. De Regnon does not find a theory o f appropriations
in the Greek theology of the third and fourth centuries,210 while Paul Galtier affirms that
there is an implicit theology of appropriations in Basil o f Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa,
Didymus the Blind, John Chrysostom and Cyril o f Alexandria, although he acknowledges
that the term "appropriation" does not appear in early Greek patristic texts.211 Some

*S T I\ q. 39, a. 8, c.
2I0de Rdgnon, Etudes de theologie positive sur la S. Trinite, 3 vols. (Paris: Retaux, 18921898), xvii and xxv.
21'On Basil, Gregory, Didymus, Chrysostom and Cyril see Paul Galtier, Le Saint Esprit
en nous d apres les Peres Grecs, Analecta Gregoriana 35 (Rome: Gregorian University, 1946),
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reviewers o f Galtiers work, however, believe that his reading o f G reek theology is overly
influenced by his own theological commitments.212 Within the Latin tradition, both
contemporary theologians and medieval authorities such as Aquinas trace the theology of
appropriations to Hilary o f Poitiers and Augustine, although in fact Hilary and Augustine
do not expressly use the term "appropriation."213 Richard o f St. V ictor (d. c. 1173) offers
one of the earliest explicit attestations o f this terminology in his treatise De tribus
appropriate,214 and a century later Aquinas defined appropriation as a "manifestation of
the divine persons by the use o f the essential attributes."215 In 1441, the Council of

150-53,188-91,207-11,200-203,244,245,265-71. On the absence of the word "appropriation"


in the writings of these theologians, see Ibid., 219.
212P. de Letter, "Sanctifying Grace and the Divine Indwelling," TS 14 (1953): 248. See
also G. Philips, "Le Saint Esprit en nous, k propos d'un Iivre recent," EphThL 24 (1948): 127-35.
Gainer's Le Saint Esprit en nous was written in response to Petaus theory of the special role of
the Holy Spirit in the work of our sanctification, a theory that Galtier vigorously disputed.
213Aquinas writes, for example, of the "appropriation mentioned by Hilary" and states
that Augustine "appropriates unity to the Father, equality to the Son, concord or union to the
Holy Ghost." ST, P, q. 39, a. 8, c. He references Augustine's De Doctrina Christiana 1.5 where
the term "appropriation is not explicitly used. In our own day, George Sauvage affirms that the
theory of appropriations is "established by the Latin Fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries,
especially by S t Hilary (De Trinitate, II, n. 1; P. L., t. X, col. 50) and St. Augustine (De
Trinitate, VI, x, P.L., t. XLH, col. 931.) The passages in Hilary and Augustine that Sauvage
references, however, do not explicitly use the term "appropriation. One might argue that the
theology of appropriations is operative even though the word "appropriation" does not appear,
but one could also argue that it is anachronistic to read patristic theology with medieval terms
and presuppositions.
2I4Richard of St. Victor, Opuscules theologiques, ed. J Ribaillier, Textes philosophiques
du moyen age 15 (Paris, 1967), 182-87. On the novelty of this terminology, see Jean Chatillon,
"Unitas, Aequalitas, Concordia vel Connexio: Recherches sur les Origines de la Theorie
Thomiste des Appropriations (Sum. theol., L q. 39, art. 7-8)," in St. Thomas Aquinas, 1274-1974:
Commemorative Studies, ed. Etienne Gilson (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies,
1974), 363 n. 117.
215On Aquinas' synthesis see Jean ChUtillon, "Unitas, Aequalitas, Concordia vel
Connexio," 337-79.
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Florence made another important contribution to the theology o f appropriations with their
promulgation o f the axiom "In Deo omnia sunt unum, ubi non obviat relationis
oppositio." This axiom was intended to counter the tritheism o f the Jacobites, but it also
bolstered the theology o f appropriations, for it suggested that the uniqueness of the divine
persons consists only in the relationis oppositio (i.e. begetting, spirating, being begotten,
being spirated); by implication, all divine activities, names and attributes cannot be
predicated properly o f Father, Son or Spirit but m ust be strictly appropriated.216This
Florentine axiom as well as a modified version o f Aquinas theology of appropriations
was incorporated into the neoscholastic theological manuals that were the basis for
Roman Catholic seminary education from the late nineteenth century until Vatican II.
During this pre-Vatican n period, the theology o f appropriations was an ongoing
topic of conversation. Specifically, theologians debated whether the divine indwelling o f
God in the souls o f the justified entailed a divine presence proper (proprium) to the
person o f the Holy Spirit, or whether we can speak o f the indwelling of the Spirit only in
an appropriated sense.217 Most theologians writing on this issue took the position that the
divine indwelling was technically an indwelling o f G od and therefore only appropriated
to the Holy Spirit.218 A leading argument on their behalf was the Florentine axiom "In

2I6On the promulgation of this axiom by the Council of Florence and its influence on the
theology of appropriations, see Heribert Miihlen, "Person und Appropriation. Um Verstandnis
des Axioms: In Deo omnia sunt unum, ubi non obviat relationis oppositio, MThZ 16 (1965): 38
and 43-44.
2I7For summary of the debate and bibliography see Petro F. Chirico, The Divine
Indwelling and D istinct Relations to the Indwelling Persons in Modem Theological Discussion
(Rome: Gregorian University, 1960).
2lsSee for example Galtier, L habitation en nous des trois Personnes, 2d ed. (Rome,
1950); B. Monsegfi, "Unidad y trinidad, propriedad y appropriacidn en las manifestaciones
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Deo omnia sunt unum, u bi non obviat relationis o p p o sitio from which it was deduced
that the divine activity ad extra was absolutely and indistinguishably common to Father,
Son and Spirit219 Some theologians, however, did take the position that sanctifying grace
entails a non-appropriated indwelling o f the S pirit220Johannes Beumer supported this
position with references to the Pauline texts that speak o f the soul as the Temple o f the
Spirit, not the "Temple o f the Father" or the "Temple of the Son,"221 while Malachi
Donnelly argued that the Florentine axiom applied only to Gods action by means of
efficient causality in the order o f creation, not to Gods quasi-formal causality proper to

trinitarias, segun la doctrina de San Cirilo Alejandrino," Revista espanola de teologta 8 (1948):
1-57,275-328; William R. OConnor, "A New Concept of Grace and the Supernatural," AER 98
(1938): 401-13; Victorino Rodriguez, "Inhabitacidn de la SS. Trinidad en el alma en gracia, CT
86 (1959): 101-2; T. Urdanoz, "Influjo causal de las divinas personas en la inhabitaci6n en las
dnimas justas, Revista espanola de teologta 7 (1948): 141-202.
219According to Malachi Donnelly, this principle of Florence and the arguments deduced
from this axiom are "The main reasons offered in support of appropriation." "The Inhabitation of
the Holy Spirit: A Solution According to de la Taille," TS 8 (1947): 447.
220In the nineteenth century, the most important advocates of this position included
Petau, De Trinitate; de Rdgnon, Etudes; M. J. Scheeben, Die Mysterien des Christentums (1865).
hi post-World War n theology, proponents of a proprium theory in which each of the divine
persons has a special relation to the just soul included F. Taymans dEpyemon, Le mystere
primordial: La trinite dans sa vivante image (Paris, 1941): 109-28; M. J. Donnelly, "The
Indwelling of the Holy Spirit according to M. J. Scheeben," TS 7 (1946): 244-80; Idem, "The
Inhabitation of the Holy Spirit: A Solution According to de la Taille," TS 8 (1947): 445-70;
Idem, T he Inhabitation of the Holy Spirit according to S t Thomas and de la Taille, CTSAP
(1949): 38-77; G. M. Dupont Foundationsfo r a Devotion to the Blessed Trinity (Calcutta,
1947); P. de Letter, "Sanctifying Grace and Our Union With the Holy Trinity," TS 13 (1952): 3358.
221Johannes Beumer, "Die Einwohnung der drei gottlichen Personen in der Seele des
begnadeten Menschen: Versuch einer ErklMrung auf Grand der Schrift," Theologie und Glaube
30 (1938): 510. See also Scheeben, Mysteries, 146.
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the supernatural order of grace.222 Still others, meanwhile, tried to develop a middle
position between the "appopriation" a n d "proprium " theologies.223
Notably, however, even those theologians who endorsed some form o f a non
appropriated indwelling of the Spirit could affirm an indwelling proper to the Spirit only
in a very limited sense. Scheeben, for example, argued for a non-appropriated relation of
the ju st soul to the Holy Spirit but denied that the Holy Spirit has a non-appropriated
activity in the economy of salvation.224 De Letter took a similar position; he affirmed
three "special or distinct relations" of the just soul to the three divine Persons but at the
same time held that the activity of sanctification is absolutely common to Father, Son and
Spirit and can only be appropriated to the Holy Spirit. The result is such a limited sense
o f the indwelling Spirits proprium that de Letter himself wondered if this theology of
"appropriated activity" and "distinct relations was in fact simply a continuation of a pure

Donnelly, "The Inhabitation of the Holy Spirit," 459 and 458.


S. I. Dockx, for example, proposed a middle way between pure appropriation and the
proprium theory in Fils de Dieu par grace (Paris, 1948), 110-13. See also A. Bundervoet, "Wat
behoort tot bet Wezen van Gods heiligende Genade-Inwonin volgens S t Thomas I sent, dist
XlV-XVin en XXXVH?" Bijdragen der Nederlandsiche JezuYeten 9 (1948): 42-58. English
summary in de Letter, "Sanctifying Grace and the Divine Indwelling," 256. Apperibay tries to
combine appropriation and proprium theories in his study of mystical theology, "Influjo causal
de las divinas personas en la experiencia mfstica, Verdad y vida 7 (1949): 74-97.
"This activity [of divine missions]," he wrote, "considered in itself is not a proprium of
the sending or of the sent person, but is only an appropriatum Scheeben, The Mysteries o f
Christianity, trans. Cyril Vollert (S t Louis: Herder, 1946), 176. "So far as the persons sent," he
continued, "are really in us according to their personal characteristics, they have no individual
activity. They are merely the prototype of the effect of the divine activity, as well as the object
and motive of the creature's activity. If without appropriation we call the Holy Spirit alone the
Comforter, the Paraclete, we can do so only so far as He affords us consolation not by any
activity, but by His interior presence in us and His possession of us. The Mysteries o f
Christianity, 177.
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appropriations theology in a different guise:


But it may, and must, be asked: Does this m anner o f conceiving our special
relations to each o f the three divine Persons say or mean anything more than the
appropriation theory? Since the three "do exactly the same thing, as far as doing
means producing a reality, the whole idea o f a special relation to each o f the three
or o f a special role (which is only a relation o f m ere reason in them) o f each o f the
three seems, to put it bluntly, to boil down to a question of mere words. Is there a
difference o f realities?225
There were many dimensions to this theological discussion: the meaning o f the ad intra
and ad extra distinction employed in trinitarian theology, the character o f divine
causality, the meaning o f "created grace," and so forth.226 Much o f this is beyond the
scope of this dissertation. Here, I would simply like to illustrate one way in which
Congars advocacy o f a pneumatological anthropology and a pneumatological
ecclesiology could have enhanced this appropriation debate.
W hen one peruses the literature generated by this discussion in light o f Congars
theology o f the Holy Spirit, it is striking that all parties concernedboth those who
abided by a strictly appropriated account o f the Spirits indwelling and those who
advocated some form o f a proper indwellinglimited their reflection to consideration of
the divine indwelling in the "just soul" abstracted from inter-personal or ecclesial
relationships. They reflected upon a pneumatological anthropology u n in fo rm ed by
pneumatological ecclesiology which constrained their anthropology and also im p eded
their efforts to reflect on the Spirits proprium .

225P. de Letter, "Sanctifying Grace and Our Union," 51.


226A survey of the issues at hand can be found in de Letter, "Sanctifying Grace and the
Divine Indwelling," 242-72.
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Consider, for example, P. de Letters article "Sanctifying Grace and Our Union
with the Holy Trinity." De Letter argued that there is a special [i.e. non-appropriated]
relation between the graced human person and each o f the three divine personsFather,
Son and Holy S p irit In the course of this article, de Letter spoke exclusively of the
relation between the human soul and God the "union of the essence o f the soul with the
essence o f God," the "supernatural relation...from the soul to God," the "supernatural
presence o f God in the just soul and so forth.227 All told, de Letter made 30 references to
the union o f God and the soul, and no explicit references to the union o f Christians with
one another in the life o f the church.228 In the conclusion o f the article de Letter did
address the "practical im port o f special [i.e., non-appropriated] relations [i.e. of the soul
to each o f the divine persons], but here again he says nothing about ecclesiology. He
observes only that the trinitarian pattern o f supernatural relations that he has set forth can
provide a theological foundation for the devotional life of Christians who spontaneously
take different attitudes to Father, Son and S pirit229
Malachi Donnelly shared de Letters commitment to a theology of nonappropriated indwelling, but he responded to de Letters article with a critique of what he
perceived as an insufficient emphasis on created grace and an extrinsic rather than
intimate account of the souls communion with God.230 Donnelly too, however, presumed

227P. de Letter, "Sanctifying Grace and Our Union," 36,37,38.


223The 30 references are found on pages 34,36,37,38,38,38,38,38,39,39,40,41,42,
43,44,44,44,45,45,45,45,46,47,47,47,48,48,48,49, and 50. In several of these passages
de Letter is citing other theologians.
de Letter, "Sanctifying Grace and Our Union," 57-58.
230Donnelly, "Sanctifying Grace and Our Union," 190-91.
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that the relation between God and the soul was an adequate framework for the discussion
o f sanctifying grace. He spoke exclusively o f the "inhabitation o f the Holy Spirit in the
just soul and "Uncreated Grace, the loving guest of every just soul. Like de Letter,
Donnelly made no explicit reference to inter-personal relationships or ecciesial life. This
is also largely true o f Donnellys other articles which are not constrained by his intention
o f responding to de Letters position,231 although in the conclusion o f an article on M. J.
Scheebens theology o f indwelling Donnelly does state:
As brought out in [Scheeben1s] M ysterien, the holiness o f the soul is like the
twofold holiness o f a church. First hallowed by the bishops seal and consecration,
the church receives an additional holiness with the entrance o f the Blessed
Sacram ent Similarly, to the essential and in se perfect holiness which the soul has
through created grace the advent o f uncreated grace adds a super-fullness of
sanctity which can be had only through substantial cohesion with God.232
In this reference to the church as an analogue to the just soul, however, Donnelly
(following Scheeben) apparently means by "church" simply the church building rather
than the communio sanctorum or the populi Deo.
De Letter, Donnelly and other writers of this period surely presum ed an ecciesial
context even though there is very little or no explicit reference to ecciesial com m union in
their reflections on divine indwelling. Congars pneumatology, in contrast, makes this
ecciesial context explicit and as such he can offer a richer, more relational and
sacramental account o f the sanctifying grace o f the Spirit In light o f Congars work, a
theology of indwelling that focuses strictly on "God and the soul" appears
'See Donnellys "The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit According to M. J. Scheeben"; "The
Inhabitation of the Holy Spirit: A Solution according to de la Taille"; and "The Inhabitation of
the Holy Spirit according to S t Thomas and de la Taille."
232Donnelly, "The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit" 278. Reference is to Scheeben, Die
Mysterien, 179.
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anthropologically and ecclesiologically incomplete. Furthermore, Congars


pneumatological anthropology and pneumatological ecclesiology provide a new
framework in which to consider the appropriation debate and suggest new possibilities for
describing the proprium o f the Spirit. Scheeben, de Letter, Donnelly and others could
have made a stronger case for a non-appropiated indwelling o f the Spirit if they had not
limited their reflection on the divine indwelling to the relation between "God and the
soul." Congars more ecciesial pneumatology provides a framework in which one can
affirm not simply a non-appropriated relation o f the soul to God (as did Scheeben and de
Letter) but also a non-appropriated activity of the Holy Spirit in sanctification. For the
activity o f the Spirit in the economy of sanctification is precisely an eminendy ecciesial
activity, a mission to gather all creatures into communion with God and with one
another. Pauls conversion, for example, impelled him to found churches in Corinth,
Ephesus and Rome; the Spirit did not indwell the soul o f Paul in abstraction or isolation
from others, but rather Paul in relation to Peter, Cornelius, Chloe, Crispus, Gaius, and
Stephanas. Indeed, William Hill suggests that an affirmation o f the Spirits proprium
requires "an awareness of the activity of the Holy Spirit as having its locus not in the
individual but within the communal sphere of the ecciesial community."233 It is also
notable that Heribert Miihlen, the contemporary theologian who has made the most
William Hill, The Three-Personed God, 306. Hill is here summarizing what he thinks
is a promising line of thought in Anthony Kellys "The Gifts of the Spirit: Aquinas and the
Modem Context," Thom 38 (1974): 193-231. Kelly did not explicidy discuss the theology of
appropriations in this article, but Hill believes that Kelly righdy suggests that "the doctrine of
the gifts [of the Spirit] can be more richly exploited in an ecciesial context Here, the
consciousness whose horizon is transformed by the Spirit is communal rather than individual.
The Pneuma both transforms natures and unites the persons of such natures to himself. But the
first achievement is only appropriated to the Third Person whereas the second is proper to him,
an immediate effect of his mere presence." Hill, The Three-Personed God, 306.
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detailed and extensive argument for a non-appropriated activity o f the Holy Spirit has
accomplished this precisely by combining pneumatology with ecclesiology and a
phenomenology o f inter-personal relations.234 Miihlen believes that the Spirit's distinct
proprium is to be "one person in many persons"one person in the pericharesis o f the
Father and Son and one person in Christ and in Christians.

2. Contemporary Discussion of the Viability of the Theology of Appropriations


In 1953, de Letter spoke o f a current dissatisfaction with the appropriations theory
"apparently inspired by the thirst for realism and the aversion to n o m in alism which are
characteristic o f our time."233 As contemporary theologians developed alternatives to the
neoscholastic methodologies that predominated until Vatican H, they have expressed
further dissatisfactions with the appropriations approach. Indeed, the fundamental issue o f
discussion is no longer whether divine indwelling is proper to the Holy Spirit or strictly
appropriated, but rather whether the theology o f appropriations is itself viable as a
theological methodology. Heribert Miihlen believes that the method of ascribing the
divine activities ad extra to Father, Son or Spirit only by appropriation is antithetical to
Scripture.236 Karl Rahner suggests that an exclusive use o f the doctrine o f appropriations
to speak o f the divine persons ad extra violates the principle that revelation is the selfcom m unication o f God; if God exists as Father, Son and Spirit, then God thereby

234See Heribert Miihlen, Der Heilige Geist als Person: Beitrag zur Frage nach der dem
Heiligen Geiste eigentumlichen Funktion in der Trinitat, bei der Inkamation und im
Gnadenbund (Munster/Westfalen: AschendorfFsche, 1963).
a3de Letter, "Sanctifying Grace," 244.
236MiihIen, ""Person und Appropriation," 41-43.

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communicates Gods self in the economy in (hepersons o f Father, Son and Spirit in a
sense proper to each.237 Catherine LaCugna believes that the axiom o f the Council o f
Florence has been especially problematic in pneumatology; in conjunction with the
F ilioque, she believes the Florentine axiom has obscured the proprium of the Holy Spirit
in the economy o f salvation.238Even theologians who have no explicit critique o f the
theology o f appropriations have simply dropped this method and terminology from their
works. Several recent books on trinitarian theology/pneumatology make no mention o f
appropriations at all.239
Clearly there is need not only to reevaluate the theology o f appropriations, but
also to determine what contribution this approach has made to trinitarian theology so that
this contribution can be preserved even if the method and language of appropriations falls
into disuse. It is in this latter respect that Congars pneumatology is particularly helpfid.
As Chapter Two o f this dissertation described, Congar consistently defended the theology
o f appropriations, for he believed this theology was consonant with the perennial
affirmation o f both East and West that Father, Son and Spirit are one. Congars defense o f
the theology o f appropriations reminds contemporary theologians that the Holy Spirit is
utterly inseparable from the Father and the Son and exists in absolute communion. Those

237Rahner, The Trinity, 24-38.


LaCugna, Godfo r Us, 298. On appropriation see also 212-13.
239At a recent Symposium on the Holy Spirit sponsored by Marquette University (April
17-19,1998) the theology of appropriations was not discussed in any of the papers distributed for
the conference nor in any of the oral discussions. (The Symposium Proceedings are
forthcoming.) Nor is the theology of appropriations mentioned in Moltmanns The Spirit o f Life
or Welkers God the Spirit, both of which have been hailed as major recent books in
pneumatology.
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who dispense with the theology of appropriations because o f its aforementioned


lim itations must find some other manner to preserve this truth, a truth that is indeed in
need o f reassertion. W ithout the theology of appropriations, there is a danger that
trinitarian theology may portray Father, Son and Spirit as a numerical threesome, or a
community of individuals. LaCugna advises against a tendency in contemporary theology
to "'overhypostasize the Spirit and cautions: "...we must remember that the Spirit never
stands alone. In the enthusiasm to remedy our forgetfulness o f the Spirit, we might find
ourselves singling out the Spirit in an artificial way, as if the Spirit of God, Spirit of
Christ exists by itself."240 Congars adherence to the theology o f appropriations is an
important reminder that the Spirit cannot be "singled out," for the Spirit is the Spirit of
God, and the Spirit o f Jesus Christ. Contemporary reflections on the personhood o f the
Spirit must bear this in mind. In this light, Muhlens discussion of the Holy Spirit as "one
person in many persons" (in God the Father, in Jesus Christ, and in us) appears
particularly valuable, for Miihlen describes the uniqueness o f the Spirit's person not by
hypostasizing the Spirit apart from God, Jesus Christ or human persons but rather by
speaking of the Spirit's activity precisely in terms of the communion of persons with one
another. Kilian McDonnell's formulation that Jesus Christ is the "what" of the Gospel and
the Holy Spirit the "how" also offers a way to affirm the centrality o f the mission o f the
Spirit without separating the activity o f the Spirit from that o f Jesus C hrist241

"LaCugna, "Response to John R. Sachs," 43.


'See Kilian McDonnell, "Pneumatology Overview," CTSAP 51 (1996): 191; "A
Trinitarian Theology of the Holy Spirit?" TS 46 (1985): 215; "The Determinative Doctrine of the
Holy Spirit" ThToday 39 (1982): 153.
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3. Summation of Section CThe Theology of Appropriations


Congars theology o f the Holy Spirit makes an important contribution to
contemporary discussions about the Holy Spirits personhood. If one wishes to pursue this
difficult issue through continuation o f early twentieth-century deliberations about the
theology o f appropriations and the possibility of a non-appropriated indwelling o f the
Holy Spirit, Congar offers a new framework for reflection. His theology o f the Holy
Spirit suggests that we should not reflect on the indwelling o f the Spirit in the human soul
apart from a properly pneumatological ecclesiology, an account of the Spirits mission to
lead persons to com m union not only with God but also with one another. The ecclesial
framework of Congars pneumatology provides a rich context in which to consider the
possibility of a non-appropriated indwelling of the Spirit in a new light. Secondly, if one
declines to employ the theology o f appropriations, Congars own continuing adherence to
this methodology can also be very instinctive. There are indeed limitations with the
appropriations tradition, but to dispense with this methodology too readily without
preserving the truths that it did communicate would be a serious oversight Congars
theology o f the Holy Spirit reminds us that we must always speak of the person o f the
Spirit in such a manner that the absolute communion of the Spirit with God the Father
and Jesus Christ is never eclipsed. A separation of the Spirit from the Father and the Son
is not an affirmation of the Spirits distinct personhood but precisely to the contrary a
dissolution of the Spirits person and mission of com m union.

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D.

Conclusion o f C h apter Five

Yves Congars development o f a theology o f the Holy Spirit that includes both a
pneumatological anthropology and a pneumatological ecclesiology is an important
contribution to contemporary Roman Catholic theology. Congars approach can enhance
a variety of ongoing discussions in the discipline o f systematic theology, and this chapter
has hig h lig h te d three of the issues that could benefit from consideration of Congars
work. The discussion as to whether or not the church is a "hierarchy" or a "democracy"
can profit from consideration o f the changes that occurred in Congars own ecclesiology
as his pneumatological anthropology and pneumatological ecclesiology developed. As
Congars work became increasingly focused on the theology o f the Holy Spirit, he
emphasized that ordained ministries are dependent on the epiclesis o f the Spirit and exist
within the community o f the faithful rather than above or apart from the church as a
whole. In this light, the church is neither a democracy in the sense o f a body governed by
popular rule nor a hierarchy in the sense o f a body structured by relationships of
superiority and subordination. Rather, the church is a communion whose sacred origin
and sacred rule (hier-arche) is given to the church by God through Christ and the Spirit.
Secondly, Congars theology o f the Holy Spirit suggests that there should be a close
relationship between theological anthropology and ecclesiology in contemporary
systematics. This chapter has drawn upon Congars work as well as that o f several other
contemporary theologians to suggest that "persons in co m m u n ion" is a suitable
framework for the reintegration o f these two theological sub-disciplines. "Persons in
communion" is serviceable to a pneumatological theological anthropology and
ecclesiology because o f its trinitarian, analogical, apophatic and perichoretic character.
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Finally, this chapter has noted that Congars pneumatology can contribute to
contemporary discussions about the personhood o f the Holy Spirit and the theology of
appropriations. Congars continuing adherence to the theology o f appropriations reminds
us o f the important truth conveyed by this theology that must be maintained even if
theologians discontinue use of the appropriations methodology: the Spirit exists in
absolute communion with the Father and the Son and should not be "singled out as an
independent hypostasis. Congars development o f both a theology o f the indwelling of
the Spirit in the human soul and a pneumatological ecclesiology provides opportunities to
affirm a proprium of the Holy Spirit even within an appropriations framework.

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CONCLUSION

Western Christianity is often criticized for its lack of attention to pneumatology. It


would be improper, however, to press this sweeping charge indiscriminately. In the late
nineteenth century through the mid-twentieth century, as this dissertation has described,
Roman Catholic neoscholastic theological manuals and popular works o f spirituality did
discuss the indwelling o f the Holy Spirit in the human person and the consequent
bestowal o f divine filiation and spiritual gifts and fruits. Professional theological journals
carried on an ongoing deliberation as to whether this indwelling is simply appropriated to
the Spirit or proper to the Spirit in a technical trinitarian sense. At the same time,
however, it is quite true that during this periodand, indeed, in much o f postReformation Roman Catholic theologythere was little attention given to the
foundational role o f the Holy Spirit in the life, structure, and mission o f the church. As
Congar noted, some neoscholastic De Ecclesia treatises failed to even mention the Spirit.
Others made only brief reference to the Spirit to whom they appealed in order to
guarantee the authenticity of the tradition and the infallibility o f the magisterium. Roman
Catholic theology in the aftermath o f Leo XHTs A etem i Patris offered a spiritual
anthropology, but not a pneumatologically-informed theology o f the church. These were
"years of famine," wrote Congar, in which "spiritual anthropology now seems to have

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been drawn off from ecclesiology: the legal structure is all-sufficient with its guaranteed
administrative charisms."1
Yves Congar transcended this divorce o f spiritual anthropology and ecclesiology.
At a young age, Congar discerned his vocation to a two-fold mission to foster Christian
unity and to renew and reinvigorate Roman Catholic ecclesiology. W ith unfailing
commitment, he pursued his vocation in collaboration with his confreres at the Saulchoir,
utilizing a method of positive theology. Congar surveyed God's self-gift and revelation as
evident in the testimonies o f Scripture, liturgy and tradition, reflecting on what Ambrose
Gardeil termed God's "dorme" Congar also engaged in ongoing dialogue with Protestant
and Orthodox theologians and was actively involved in the life of the Roman Catholic
Church. Through his theological ressourcem ent, ecumenical dialogue, and participation
in ecclesial life, Congar developed a theology o f the Holy Spirit that included both a
spiritual anthropology and a theology o f the church.
As early as 1939, Congar made the important observation that Aquinas
ecclesiology is constituted precisely by his anthropology, his pneumatology, and his
christology. Aquinas, Congar thus surmised, had acted deliberately when he wrote no
separate treatise on the church.2 In the 1940s and 1950s, Congar himself developed a
theology o f the Mystical Body o f Christ that included both a spiritual anthropology and
an ecclesiology. There is, as Famere has noted, a certain "autonomization" o f the church
in Congars early Mystical Body theology insofar as the hierarchical apostolic body

1Tradition and Traditions, 397.


2nThe Idea of the Church in S t Thomas Aquinas," 348,339 and 358.
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possesses autonomous powers and exercises a formal causality upon the church's
members; as the uncreated soul o f the Body of Christ, the ecclesial hierarchy exists above
and apart from the churchs members and this weakens the coincidence o f anthropology
and ecclesiology in Congars work o f this period. Nonetheless, Congars Mystical Body
theology did offer a rich sacramental spirituality that reaffirmed the anthropological and
pneumatological dimensions o f ecclesiology. In the 1960s, the theology o f the People o f
God also became a dominant theme in Congars work. One o f the merits o f this biblical
theology, Congar noted, is precisely the strong anthropological emphasis that this
paradigm brings to ecclesiology. The church consists o f the people o f Godthe faithful
women, men and children who carry out the churchs mission and advance the destiny of
the human race. Congar did not explicitly develop the pneumatological dimension of this
theology, but the People o f God paradigm did bring ecclesiology and theological
anthropology together. In 1968, Congar reflected:
perhaps the greatest difference between ancient patristic ecclesiology and modem
ecclesiology is that the form er included anthropology, while the latter is merely
the theory o f a system, a book o f public law....A tradition exists on this question
that should one day be restored and infused with new life.3
Congar himself was already making strides towards bringing new life to this tradition.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Congars focus turned increasingly to the theology of the
Holy S pirit He published seventeen articles on pneumatology, the three volume I Believe
in the H oly Spirit, and The W ord and the Spirit. His interest in pneumatology was
stimulated by ecumenical dialogue (particularly with the Orthodox), the event o f the
Second Vatican Council, the popularity of the charismatic m ovem ent and the need in the

3nThe Council as Assembly and the Church as Essentially Conciliar, 59.


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post-conciliar era for fundamental theological reformulation. As Congar pursued his


interest in the theology of the Spirit, he advocated not simply the renewal o f the
anthropological dimension of ecclesiology but the construction o f a pneum atological
ecclesiology and a pneum atological anthropology. Congars interest in the
pneumatological dimension o f anthropology and ecclesiology predates his usage o f these
term s, but in the 1970s and 1980s the pneumatological character o f his work became
much more pronounced.
Congar grounded his pneumatology in a trinitarian theology that affirm ed that
God has created the cosmos out o f love and destined creation to share in divine
communion. As Chapter Two o f this dissertation described, Congar believed that God
eternally begets the Word incam andus (to become incarnate) and that the Holy Spirit is
the divine Gift who proceeds from the Father and the Son. Through the missions o f the
W ord and the Spirit, the cosmos is created and human creatures bear the divine image of
knowledge and love. Humanity is invited into a communion with God that intensifies as
the economy o f salvation progresses, culminating in the Incarnation o f the Word and the
G ift of the Holy S pirit In the 1970s and 1980s, Congar emphasized the inseparability and
non-duality o f these divine missions. He advocated a pneumatological christology and
emphasized that Jesus of Nazareth is constituted (not simply proclaimed) to be the
M essiah through the activity o f the Spirit in his baptism, life, death and resurrection. In
the eschatological era that is initiated by the resurrection, the Word and the Spirit act
inseparably to carry creation forward towards that day when "God will be all in all" (1
Cor 15:28). In the words of St. Paul, Congar observed, the glorified Lord has become a
"life-giving Spirit" (1 Cor 14:45) and the Spirit is the Spirit o f the glorified Lord.
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This pneumatological christology provided the foundation for Congars


pneumatological ecclesiology and pneumatological anthropology. Just as the Holy Spirit
transforms the humanity hypostatically united to the eternal Word from the form a servi to
the form a D ei, so too the Spirit transforms human creatures made in the image o f God
into members o f the Body of Christ. In Jesus Christ who is the Image o f God, human
creatures become Gods adoptive sons and daughters for we "form w ith the Son one
single being as sons."4 The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the human person elevates
humanity to a new level of participation in divine life. This divine indwelling does not
eclipse our human capacities for knowledge, love and freedom but rather calls us to
cooperate in synergy with the Spirit who is the principle of our deification. In the Spirit of
Christ, we know and love one another not simply with human knowledge and love but
also with the knowledge and love o f God; we exercise not only human freedom, but also
the true liberty of the conformity of our will with the will of God; and we live not only in
relations o f human sociality but also in communion with God and all creation. The
indwelling o f the Spirit is not foreign or antithetical to our created nature but rather
fulfills our deepest human aspirations in a manner that could never be attained by purely
earthly means. Our deification bears fruit in the theological virtues o f faith, hope, and
charity, in the gifts of the Spirit and the beatitudes, and in the praise and adoration of
God. The G ift of the Spirit is the foretaste o f our eschatological participation in Gods
eternal life.

*1Believe, 2:27.
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This mystery of deification is inseparable from the mystery of the church. The
indwelling Spirit is not only the deifying principle o f the human person, Congar
explained, but also the co-institutor and life principle o f the church. Through the Spirit,
Jesus Christ laid the foundations of the church during his earthly life, and the Spirit of the
glorified Lord carries the church forward throughout human history, preserving it in
apostolicity until it reaches its eschatological destiny. The church is constituted by the
sacraments which are completely dependent on the Spirits activity for their efficacy and
fruitfulness, and the life of the church is therefore entirely epicletic. The Spirit invoked in
liturgical celebration fosters charisms in all the churchs members, elevating natural gifts
in the service of God such that the church is not a homogeneous uniformity but rather a
communion o f unique persons with a rich diversity o f gifts and talents that expresses a
true catholicity. As Congars pneumatology developed, he critiqued his earlier
ecclesiology that portrayed the hierarchy as existing above and apart from the churchs
members, and he emphasized instead that the apostolic ministries exist within the
communion of the faithful and are dependent on the epiclesis o f the Spirit o f God who is
the churchs sacred origin and divine rule (fiier-archS).
Through the labors of Yves Congar and the efforts o f other theologians from
whom Congar learned and those whom he in turn inspired, contemporary Roman
Catholic theology now includes not only a spiritual anthropology but also a
pneumatologically-informed theology o f the church. Congar was bom in an era in which
De Ecclesia treatises could be written that did not even mention the Holy Spirit, and he
died leaving an ecclesiology that described the life o f the church as entirely epicletic.
Congar is one of many contemporary theologians who have returned the Holy Spirit to
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ecclesiology, but he has also done more than this. He has used pneumatology to reunite
theological anthropology and ecclesiology, two closely related theological subdisciplines
that had become disjoined. Congar developed not simply a pneumatological ecclesiology
but rather a pneumatological ecclesiology that was inseparable from a pneumatological
anthropology. He did not develop this theology as comprehensively or as systematically
as he m ight have done, in part because o f the many demands on his time and talents, but
also because o f his theological tem peram ent "Congar was not a systematic theologian,"
commented Herve Legrand. "B ut" Legrand continued, "he was a genius. He was a
sourcier. he could point you towards a well of living water.5
Congars theology o f the Holy Spirit does indeed point his readers towards living
waters. In an age in which there is great interest in personal spirituality but disdain for
institutionalized Christianity, Congar reminds us that personal spirituality is inseparable
from the life o f the ecclesial body. At the same time, Congars theology calls the church
to continuing conversion and reform. Chapter Five of this dissertation has offered several
concrete illustrations o f the fruitfulness o f Congars approach. His theology of the Holy
Spirit sheds light on contemporary discussion as to whether the Catholic Church should
be a "hierarchy" or a "democracy." His work also contributes to the constructrion of
"persons in communion" as a framework for contemporary theological anthropology and
ecclesiology and enhances contemporary discussion concerning the personhood o f the
Holy Spirit and the theology o f appropriations. Congar*s theology o f the Holy Spirit can
also contribute to ecumenism, sacramental theology, and theological ethics although

Conversation with Herv6 Legrand, October 1997.


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space limitations have precluded consideration o f these topics within the context o f this
dissertation.
Yves Congar is remembered as a great ecumenist who awakened the Roman
Catholic Church to the ecumenical movement, impelled by his desire "that they may be
one" (John 17:11). He is remembered as a Celt from the French Ardennes who lived with
courage and determination as a German prisoner during the Second W orld W ar. He is
known as a Dominican priest and scholar, a great ecclesiologist who served his church
with love and steadfastness in spite of persecution, rebuke and exile. He is considered a
premier contributor to the Second Vatican Council, "one of a handful o f scholars who
utterly changed Roman Catholicism."6 And he is remembered as a man who never
waivered in his determination to live in the service o f others despite the onset of paralysis
and the pain that was his constant companion during the last years o f his life. Finally, this
dissertation has argued that Congar should also be remembered as a great theologian of
the Holy Spirit, a man who gave new life to a tradition in which pneumatology,
theological anthropology and ecclesiology were once seamlessly united. W e can learn
much from Congars advocacy o f a pneumatological anthropology that is inseparable
from a pneumatological ecclesiology, and this legacy can bear fruit in the contemporary
renewal of trinitarian theology and in the life o f the church at large.

*Peter Steinfels, New York Times (12 August 1995): 9.


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SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY

A. W orks by Yves C ongar


Cited chronologically in order of the date of the original French publication:
1. M onographs
Divided Christendom. Translated by M. A. Bousfield. London: Centenary Press, 1939.
Originally published as Chretiens desunis. Principes d un oecumenisme catholique
(Paris: Cerf, 1937).
A History o f Theology. Translated by Hunter Guthrie. Garden City: Doubleday, 1968.
Originally published as "Thdologie," in Dictionrtaire de Theologie catholique, edited
by A. Vacant and E. Mangenot, vol. 15/1 (1943): 301-502.
Leur resistance. M emorial des officiers evades -anciens de C olditz et de Lubeck m orts
pour la France. Temoignage dY ves Congar. Paris, 1948.
Vraie etfausse reforme dans I'&glise. Unam Sanctam, no. 20. Paris: Cerf, 1950.
Christ, Our Lady and the Church: A Study in Eirenic Theology. Translated by Henry St.
John. Westminster, MD: Newman Press. Originally published as Le Christ, M arie et
I'tg lise (Paris: Desclde, 1952).
The Catholic Church and the Race Question. Paris: Unesco, 1961. Originally published
as L'fZglise catholique devant la question raciale. Paris: Unesco 1953.
Lay People in the Church. Translated by Donald Attwater. W estminster, MD: Newman
Press, 1965. Originally published as Jalons pour une theologie du laicat, Unam
Sanctam, no. 23 (Paris: Cerf, 1953).
N eufcents ans apres. Notes sur le Schisme O riental 1054-1954. Paris: Editions de
Chevetogne, 1954.
La Pentecdte-Chartes 1956. Paris: Cerf, 1956.

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The M ystery o f the Temple o r the M anner o f G ods Presence to H is C reaturesfrom


Genesis to the Apocalypse. Translated by Reginald F. T revett W estminster, MD:
Newman Press, 1962. Originally published as Le mystere du Temple ou l conom ie de
la Prisence de Dieu a sa creature de la Genese a VApocalypse, Lectio divina, no. 22
(Paris: Cerf, 1958).
Tradition and Traditions: A n H istorical and a Theological Essay. Translated by Michael
Naseby and Thomas Rainborough. London: Bums and Oates, 1966. Originally
published as La Tradition et les traditions. Essai historique (Paris: Fayard, 1960) and
La Tradition et les traditions. E ssai theologique (Paris: Fayard, 1963).
Ecumenism and the Future o f the Church. Chicago: Priory Press, 1967. Translated by
John C. Guinness and Geraldine F. McIntosh. Chapters One through Six originally
published as Aspects de TOecumenisme (Bruxelles: La Pensde Catholique, 1962).
Chapter Seven originally published as "LAvenir de lliglise," in L A vem r (Paris:
Fayard, 1963).
La fo i et la theologie. Toumai: Desclee 1962.
Tradition and the Life o f the Church. Translated by A. N. Woodrow. London: Bums and
Oates, 1964. Originally published as La Tradition et la vie de I'fig Use (Paris: Cerf,
1963).
Vatican 11. Le Concile au jo u r le jo ur. 4 vols. Paris: Cerf, 1963-66.
Jesus Christ. Translated by Luke ONeill. New York: Herder and Herder, 1966.
Originally published as Jesus-C hrist, notre M ediateur etnotre Seigneur. Foi Vivante,
no. 1. Paris: Cerf, 1965.
Le sacerdoce chretien des laics et des pretres. Bruxelles: La Pens6e Catholique, 1967.
A m esfreres. Foi Vivante, no. 71. Paris: Cerf, 1968.
This Church that I Love. Translated by Lucien Delafuente. Denville, NY: Dimension
Books, 1969. Originally published as Cette glise que j'aim e, Foi Vivante, no. 70
(Paris: Cerf, 1968).
Vraie etfausse reforme dans 1'f.glise, Unam Sanctam, no. 72.2d ed. Paris: Cerf, 1968.
Blessed is the Peace o f M y Church. Translated by Salvator Attanasio. Denville, NJ:
Dimension Books, 1