However, it is a mistake to think that the Ecumenical Councils exhaust the concept of conciliarity. In particular the quarrel between of France and over the right to tax the clergy in France was especially heated. Although the central role of the Council in the Tradition can not be disputed, it bears some review here. It is clear that each of these ecclesiological thrusts — universal and eucharistic — contains a certain view of the catholicity of the church, of where the fullness of the church is located. Contradicting the idea of , Marsilius claimed that only the universal church is infallible, not the pope.
The revival of eucharistic ecclesiology has especially emphasized the fact that unity and catholicity are attributes of the eucharistic community. Already before the end of the and century local synods were held in Asia Minor to deal with Montanism, and in the 3rd century provincial synods became common, and by the council of Nicaea canon 5 it was decreed that they should be held twice every year in every province. The early 15th century saw a serious attempt to put earlier conciliar theories into practice, that is to assert for the general council a dominant role in the government of the Church. The cardinals acted on behalf of the whole Christian people in electing a pope and, just as consent of the Church was effective in establishing a pope, so too the withdrawal of consent could have the effect of deposing him if he had proved an unjust steward. We go back to the original assumption — that Christ, an invisible head, is not directly relevant to governance — and try to answer the question differently. It is a charism of the community, lifted up in one person in a representative way. Marsilius focused on the idea that the inequality of the priesthood has no divine basis and that Jesus, not the pope, is the only head of the Catholic Church.
But the more moderate view that pope and bishops together constitute the highest authority in the Church would be accepted by many modern theologians. Les lettres doivent être adjacentes et les mots les plus longs sont les meilleurs. The bishop embodies the church, so that concord of bishops constitutes unity of the church. But there is order within the Trinity. If they are elected solely by the other bishops, as is common today, there is a tendency for the bishops to see themselves as a class apart from the church, with special rights and privileges. They wanted to unify, defend and reform the institution under clerical control, not advance a Franciscan or a lay agenda. In eucharistic ecclesiology, churches recognize each other, rather than bishops.
Opposition to Conciliarism Many members of the Church however, continued to believe that the pope, as the successor of , retained the sole governing authority in the Church. . Human life in the image of God is life in relationship: relationship with the world, other people, and God. In his voluminous Dialogus he presented every conceivable argument against papal power and, although Ockham did not explicitly endorse all the ideas that he publicized, his subtle and skeptical mind exploited with corrosive effect the widely accepted opinion that the pope could err in faith and that only the whole Church was indefectible. Whether the bread remains bread or becomes the literal body of Christ is not specified uniformly in the gospels. But we can repent of our self-centeredness and separation.
The conciliar communion between these communities guarantees the catholic identity of each and the unity of the entire body of Christ. It won its place through services rendered, and not prestige. There are various explanations of what went wrong. The validity of a council is not ultimately based on any external criteria, but rather on the presence of God. The circumstances in which a pope's pronouncements could be regarded as infallible had been neither defined nor much discussed. Wainwright also reminds us of the eschatological gaze of the church.
Even in the case of a universal Orthodox Council, true unity must rise organically from the lived experience of the people of God. It would have become a monad, in isolation, a non-relational church, which is no church at all. Peter, was the divinely willed head of the Church. We must take the Holy Spirit much more seriously, leaving him free to be active now and for the future. He now does much of what was originally the work of the bishop, and he does not function as the presbyter of old.
Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1979, p. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 39 no 1, 1995, p. Beginning in the early 1960s, the Orthodox churches began the process of preparations for a universal council of the Orthodox Church. The most complete statement of early Lollard teaching appeared in the Twelve Conclusions, drawn up to be presented to the Parliament of 1395. They wanted to unify, defend and reform the institution under clerical control, not advance a Franciscan or a lay agenda. Among the theorists of this more clerical conciliarism were , and. The Church abides in Truth through the continuing and ever-present gift of divine participation, an eternal now.
Conciliar theory has its roots and foundations in both history and theology. We can experience what we were made for: participation in the divine life. Vladimir's Seminary Press: 1990 , p. To the extent that the bishop embodies the unity of the church in time and in space, through apostolic succession and through conciliarity, he does so as a representative of his community. This plurality is transformed into unity by the special charism of the bishop.
Councils do not have automatic infallibility. Conciliarity is rooted in the relationships between the orders of the church. The conciliarists did indeed borrow many arguments from these two formidable predecessors but did not typically adopt their more extreme positions, e. The Twelve Conclusions reveal certain basic Lollard ideas. The corpus of the bishops in concord preserves the unity of the local churches. I wonder, rather, if we have failed to overcome our limited human imagination, and are unable to conceive of true, sublime, equality and mutuality. He denied the doctrine of transubstantiation and stressed the importance of preaching and the primacy of Scripture as the source of Christian doctrine.