Tag Archives: Lumen Gentium

Chair of Saint Peter

Chair of St PeterFor many this feast is not that important, and one hears some rather dismissals of the feast by the priest who offers Mass on this day. The theology, in fact, is quite important for us as Catholics, Western and Eastern. The Lord is the Good Shepherd and he will not leave the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church to be consumed by Satan. Here, we don’t honor furniture but the feast signifies the authority of Peter. The clear words of Jesus are recalled: you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.

The feast is certainly rooted in Divine Revelation which indicates:

  • Jesus to Peter: “feed my lambs … tend my sheep … feed my sheep,” (John 21:15ff)
  • “I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:32)
  • Jesus: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bound on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-19)
  • Peter is named first in every listing of the 12 Apostles (Matthew 10:2-4, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:14-16 and Acts 1:13)
  • St. Paul consults with St. Peter specifically to confer with him on disputed points in the faith (Gal 1:18) and testifies that he did it specifically so that he “might not be running, or have run, in vain.” (Gal 2:2).
  • St. Peter recognized by St. Paul as the first witness of the Lord’s Resurrection (1 Cor 15:3-7).

Our belief is that the Lord acts in the person of Peter, and his successors.

Saint Leo the Great taught,

Out of the whole world one man, Peter, is chosen to preside at the calling of all nations, and to be set over all the apostles and all the fathers of the Church. Though there are in God’s people many shepherds, Peter is thus appointed to rule in his own person those whom Christ also rules as the original ruler. Beloved, how great and wonderful is this sharing of his power that God in his goodness has given to this man. Whatever Christ has willed to be shared in common by Peter and the other leaders of the Church, it is only through Peter that he has given to others what he has not refused to bestow on them.

The Second Vatican Council says this about the power entrusted to the Roman Pontiff in Lumen Gentium:

Just as in the Gospel, the Lord so disposing, St. Peter and the other apostles constitute one apostolic college, so in a similar way the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter, and the bishops, the successors of the apostles, are joined together. … But the college or body of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head. The pope’s power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. (Lumen Gentium, 22)

With all this in mind, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (later Benedict XVI) precisely teaches, based on sacred Scripture and sacred Tradition, that ministry of the Pope, known also as Petrine primacy, is a doctrine of mercy. For him, the Lord’s choice of Peter shows that the Church is built on the rock of mercy and forgiveness. Hence, mercy, compassion, forgiveness is based first on weakness:

This seems to me to be a cardinal point. At the inmost core of the new commission which robs the forces of the destruction of their power is the grace of forgiveness. It constitutes the Church. The Church is founded on forgiveness. Peter himself is a personal embodiment of this truth, for he is permitted to be the bearer of the keys after having stumbled, confessed and received the grace of pardon. The Church is by nature the home of forgiveness, and Peter is the perpetual living reminder of this reality: she [the Church] is not a communion of the perfect but a communion of sinners who need and seek forgiveness. Behind the talk of authority, God’s power appears as mercy and thus as the foundation stone of the Church; in the background we hear the word of the Lord: “It is not the healthy who have need of the physician, but those who are ill; I have not come to all the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17) (Called to Communion)

Mary, the Mother of God is united with the Church, St Ambrose teaches


By reason of the gift and role of divine maternity, by which she is united with her Son, the Redeemer, and with His singular graces and functions, the Blessed Virgin is also intimately united with the Church. As St. Ambrose taught, the Mother of God is a type of the Church in the order of faith, charity and perfect union with Christ.  For in the mystery of the Church, which is itself rightly called mother and virgin, the Blessed Virgin stands out in eminent and singular fashion as exemplar both of virgin and mother.  By her belief and obedience, not knowing man but overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, as the new Eve she brought forth on earth the very Son of the Father, showing an undefiled faith, not in the word of the ancient serpent, but in that of God’s messenger. The Son whom she brought forth is He whom God placed as the first-born among many brethren, namely the faithful, in whose birth and education she cooperates with a maternal love.

Second Vatican Council 

Lumen gentium

Pope Francis begins reforming the US religious orders of women

Many, nor all, but many, women religious in the USA have been feeling under pressure to address their lack of unity with Scripture and Tradition (read: Magisterium) over the last few decades. Of course, let me emphasize, not all women religious, but there are enough that have been living lives that are inconsistent with the charism of their orders, and who have taught their own theology especially on moral matters. Some have set up their own teaching authority over and against that of the Holy See. But this is not a matter of who has the right to make decisions, but it is about how all members of the baptized live in communio with the Jesus Christ and His sacrament, the Church. Their justification may very well be explained that women religious believed they are doing what the Council decreed. Will the US sisters now offer spin on what said and done in Rome today? How will they support the shepherding of Pope Francis? Will the US sisters now reassess their place as members of the Mystical Body of Christ? 

Here is the press release of the Holy See:


Today the Superiors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met with the Presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in the United States of America. Most Rev. J. Peter Sartain, Archbishop of Seattle and the Holy See’s Delegate for the Doctrinal Assessment of the LCWR, also participated in the meeting.

As this was his first opportunity to meet with the Presidency of the LCWR, the Prefect of the Congregation, Most Rev. Gerhard Ludwig Müller, expressed his gratitude for the great contribution of women Religious to the Church in the United States as seen particularly in the many schools, hospitals, and institutions of support for the poor which have been founded and staffed by Religious over the years.

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What is a theologian? What purpose does the work of a theologian have? To be “In the Communion of the Church”

The public has been bombarded with the media’s assessment of nuns, church, the sexual abuse crisis, fidelity to the Lord, and the like. In some ways the media looks at the life of the Church and picks out the obvious problems of coherence. No doubt we have matters of concern that we have to work to correct; the adage: “the Church always needs renewal” is very true today. We rely on the Holy Spirit and the good work of Pope Benedict. The other day I found this review of a document written by members of the International Theological Commission (ITC), a group of theologians organized by the Pope to advise him on certain questions of theological questions of importance. Even the Pope needs advice! The ITC group is made up of a diversity of peoples from around the world. The ones I know personally are fine men and women, credible witnesses of the Lord. The review of Theology Today that follows is written by Father Paul McPartlan in which he synthesizes the document giving us the broad view of the work of Catholic theologian. What he highlights sits in contradistinction to what we’ve heard about the recent work of Sr Margaret Farley and other theologians who see themselves in a different light. I prefer to put my money the ITC and not on “envelop pushing, agenda driven” theologians. You?

Following its examination, in Chapter One, of the fundamental nature of theology, as the rational exploration of that faith which is a response to the proclamation of the Word of God, and prior to its extended reflection, in Chapter Three, on significant aspects of the rationality of theology, the new International Theological Commission (ITC) text, Theology Today: Perspectives, Principles and Criteria, carefully considers the ecclesial context of theology in Chapter Two. “The ecclesiality of theology is a constitutive aspect of the theological task, because theology is based on faith, and faith itself is both personal and ecclesial”, it says, emphasising that “it is through the Church that theologians receive the object of their enquiry” (n.20). Theological enquiry is therefore properly conducted within the living and life-giving milieu of the leiturgia, martyria and diakonia of the Church (cf. n.7). In short, as the chapter’s title indicates, it is necessary for theologians to abide in the communion of the Church.

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European Martyrs of the Society of Jesus

God, You patterned the death of [these Jesuits] after the death of Christ, Your Son. Through their intercession, gather into perfect unity all who believe in Him.

By martyrdom a disciple is transformed into an image of his master, who freely accepted death on behalf of the world’s salvation; he perfects that image even to the shedding of blood. The Church, therefore, considers martyrdom as an exceptional gift and as the highest proof of love. (Lumen Gentium, 42)

This common feast commemorates 67 Jesuit martyrs who died in religious conflicts after the Reformation and have been canonized.  Most were French and some were Portuguese. Some of the names are noted here: Jacques Sales, Guillaume Saultemouche, Joseph Imbert, John-Nicholas Cordier, Ignatius de Azevedo, James Julius Bonnaud, William Anthony Delfaud, Francis Balmain, Charles Berauld du Perou, Claude Cayx-Dumas, John Charton de Millou, James Friteyre-Durve, Claude Laporte, Mathurin Le Bous de Villeneuve, Claude Le Gue, Vincent Le Rousseau de Rosancoat, Loup Thomas-Bonnotte and Francis Vareilhe-Duteil.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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