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Lay Offices

(605 words)

Author(s): Neuner, Peter
[German Version] In Catholic theology the term “office” is reserved primarily for the office of the ordained, that is, the office of the bishop, the priest, and the deacon (Office VI, 3). In addition, there are traditional ecclesiastical duties, especially in the realms of administration and diakonia, that are performed voluntarily on a full or part-time basis, and that are understood in the broader sense of the word “office.” Officially they are called “services” or “ministries” as distinct from offices. Although biblically the term “laity” refers to all believers in Chris…

Secular Priest

(93 words)

Author(s): Neuner, Peter
[German Version] ( sacerdos saecularis), the opposite of a religious priest, who is a member of a religious order, order being understood in the broad sense as a generic term for religious institutes (orders [Orders, Catholic] ¶ in the strict sense and congregations), secular institutes, and societies of apostolic life. A secular priest is therefore any priest who does not belong to one of these groups, regardless of whether he is incardinated into it (Incardination). Peter Neuner Bibliography KanR 2,131997, 60–69 H. Schwendenwein, “Die Zugehörigkeit zu einem geistlichen Hei…


(28,993 words)

Author(s): Stolz, Fritz | Markschies, Christoph | Koschorke, Klaus | Neuner, Peter | Felmy, Karl Christian | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Church History – III. Survey of the Christian Confessions – IV. Systematic Theology I. Religious Studies For an overview of Christianity at the end of the second millennium of its development, it is reasonable to give a comparative presentation against the background of the world of religion. It must be remembered, however, that “religion” is not an immutable, ahistorical quantity: it is variable and controversial. The modern concept of religion is …

Teaching Office of the Church

(4,631 words)

Author(s): Pahud de Mortanges, Elke | Germann, Michael | Köhler, Wiebke | Herms, Eilert | Neuner, Peter
[German Version] I. Law 1. Catholicism. Within the total structure of the church, the teaching office is the court of final authority for preserving, transmitting and interpreting the faith. The teaching office stands under the Word of God (Vatican II, DV 10: magisterium non supra verbum Dei, sed eidem ministrat), and perceives its task as constantly involved in interaction with the other ecclesiastical witnesses ( loci theologici) to the Word of God. Consonance with all other courts and organs of the church is shown in the church’s reception (II) of decisions…

Clergy and Laity

(3,439 words)

Author(s): Neuner, Peter | Schneider, Johann | Winkler, Eberhard | Guder, Darrell | Denis, Philippe | Et al.
[German Version] I. European Christian Churches – II. Churches Worldwide – III. Islam I. European Christian Churches 1. Catholic Church A division of the church into clergy and laity does not coincide with New Testament evidence. The designation “laity” derives from laikós, the adjective form of λαός/ laós, “people.” In the Septuagint (LXX), this term describes the people of Israel in contrast to the (pagan) nations. In all important passages in the NT, it describes the people of God consisting of believers and dis…

Apostolic Succession

(2,883 words)

Author(s): Markschies, Christoph | Wohlmuth, Josef | Felmy, Karl C. | Campenhausen, Axel Frhr. von | Neuner, Peter
[German Version] I. Terminology Ecumenical discussion (Ecumenicalism), in particular, assumes that the term “apostolic succession” refers to an original and clearly defined characteristic of the church office. However, the notion that the notae ecclesiae indicate an unbroken chain, going back to the apostles, of officeholders who have each come into office through the laying-on of hands by another legitimate officeholder, appeared only relatively late and is not the original meaning of the underlying Greek and Latin semantic field. The Greek and Latin terms διαδοχή/ diadochḗ/…


(3,471 words)

Author(s): Pollmann, Karla | D'Costa, Gavin | Vroom, Hendrik M. | Lange, Dietz | Neuner, Peter | Et al.
[German Version] I. History of Literature (Early Church) – II. Philosophy of Religion – III. Fundamental Theology – IV. Dogmatics – V. Ethics – VI. Ecumenism – VII. Dialogue and Mission I. History of Literature (Early Church) Dialogue, as a philosophical disputation with the objective of vanquishing the opponent at all costs, originated with the Sophists (Sophistic School); as a literary form, Plato's …

Ecumenical Theology

(381 words)

Author(s): Neuner, Peter
[German Version] In essence, any theology is ecumenical in that the Christian truth is addressed to all. Ecumenical theology in a narrower sense deals with the division of Christianity into exclusive confessions (denominations) and reflects possibilities for overcoming the various divisions with the objective of one fellowship among the Christian churches. Ecumenical theology developed out of the controversial theology that defended the claim to be the church of Jesus Christ against competing claims, refuting them (polemi…

Malta Report

(255 words)

Author(s): Neuner, Peter
[German Version] Contacts established during Vatican II led to the establishment of the 14-member Joint Lutheran/Roman Catholic Study Commission by the Secretariat for Christian Unity and the executive committee of the Lutheran World Federation. It met in five sessions: 1967 in Zürich, 1968 in Bastad (Sweden), 1969 in Nemi (Italy), 1970 in Cartigny (Geneva), and 1971 in San Anton (Malta). At the final session, a comprehensive final report was written, published in 1972 under the title The Gospel and the Church (often called the Malta Report). The report formulates a “differ…


(4,467 words)

Author(s): Brennecke, Hanns Christof | Schneider, Hans | Schneider, Bernd Christian | Puza, Richard | Neuner, Peter
[German Version] I. Church History – II. Church Law – III. Dogmatics I. Church History 1. Early Church Council (Lat. concilium, Gk σύνοδος [Lat. synodum]; the two terms were first differentiated in modern usage; see also synod) are meetings of bishops from various communities for binding clarification of disciplinary, organizational, or doctrinal questions, whose decisions, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, are not in principle revisable and claim validity for the whole church r…

Möhler, Johann Adam

(588 words)

Author(s): Neuner, Peter
[German Version] (May 6, 1796, Igersheim – Apr 12, 1838, Munich), Catholic church historian and systematic theologian. With Johann Sebastian von Drey (1777–1853), J.E. v. Kuhn, and F.A. Staudenmaier, Möhler was a major representative of the Catholic Tübingen School (Tübingen: I). He was appointed professor of church history at Tübingen in 1826. For short periods he was also responsible for canon law and apologetics. In 1835 he accepted an appointment in Munich, but illness prevented active work. M…


(19,399 words)

Author(s): Wenz, Gunther | Davis, Derek | Grünschloß, Andreas | Grappe, Christian | Schäfer, Rolf | Et al.
[German Version] I. Concept – II. Religious Studies – III. Early Christianity – IV. Early Church to the Reformation – V. Modern Era – VI. Orthodox Churches – VII. Asia, Africa, Latin America – VIII. Systematic Theology – IX. Ethics – X. Practical Theology – XI. Ecumenical Discussion – XII. Law I. Concept 1. Theology The loan-word, church, which in common parlance can mean both the Christian worship service and the building dedicated to its performance as well as the constituted social configuration of Christian faith in t…

Söhngen, Gottlieb

(179 words)

Author(s): Neuner, Peter
[German Version] (May 21, 1892, Cologne – Nov 14, 1971, Munich), Catholic fundamental theologian and philosopher of religion. He headed the Albertus Magnus Academy in Cologne from 1924 to 1930. In 1937 he was appointed professor at Braunsberg. From 1947 to 1958 he held the chair of fundamental theology and philosophical propaedeutics at the University of Munich. Within the context of Neoscholasticism, he sought to break through a purely restorative Thomism and open theology to the sweep of salvati…

Succession, Apostolic

(3,002 words)

Author(s): Markschies, Christoph | Wohlmuth, Josef | Felmy, Karl Christian | Campenhausen, Axel Frhr. v. | Neuner, Peter
[German Version] I. Terminology Especially in ecumenical discussion (Ecumene), there is a widespread assumption that the expression apostolic succession denotes a primitive and clearly defined attribute of ecclesiastical office. However, the notion that the marks of the church (Notae ecclesiae) include an unbroken chain of office holders going back to the apostles and that each of these office holders was placed in office through the laying-on of hands of another legitimate office holder appeared on the scene rel…


(365 words)

Author(s): Neuner, Peter
[German Version] It was Cyprian of Carthage who first used the term collegium for the collective episcopate ( Ep. 68, c. 254/255). The expression recalls the college of the Twelve in the New Testament and establishes communion among the bishops as leaders of their particular churches, thus guaranteeing the unity of the universal church (Church unity). Bishops were to be consecrated (Bishop, Consecration of) by at least three bishops as representatives of the collegium. With the development of papal primacy, the notion of collegiality receded into the backgroun…


(9,171 words)

Author(s): Kehrer, Günter | Rüterswörden, Udo | Burtchaell, James Tunstead | Lips, Hermann von | Hauschild, Wolf-Dieter | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Old Testament – III. Early Judaism – IV. New Testament – V. Church History – VI. Systematic Theology – VII. Practical Theology – VIII. Law – IX. Missiology I. Religious Studies Over the course of history, the word office has been used for a wide variety of functions. In every case, however, what is peculiar to the term is that it refers to an activity independent of the unique personal characteristics of the officeholder. In the context of religious studies, what first comes to mind is the office…

Catholic Action

(1,062 words)

Author(s): Neuner, Peter | Rambo, Arthur B.
[German Version] I. General – II. Latin America I. General Catholic Action is a general term denoting the corporate involvement of Catholic laity in the church and the world. In the context of 19th-century liberation movements, there emerged various Catholic associations, largely independent of the hierarchical structure of the church, that made the voice of Catholics heard on social and political questions – for example Americanism in the USA, the Sillon in France, th…

Fries, Heinrich

(173 words)

Author(s): Neuner, Peter
[German Version] (Dec 31, 1911, Mannheim – Nov 19, 1998, Munich), Catholic fundamental theologian and ecumenicist. He became professor of fundamental the-¶ ology at Tübingen in 1950, and professor of fundamental theology and ecumenics at Munich in 1958. Shaped by the Catholic Tübingen School and by his Newman research, Fries endeavored to ground the faith in the context of contemporary philosophical inquiry. His Fundamentaltheologie (1985; ET: Fundamental Theology, 1996) offers a summary of his life's work. Fries was publicly known for his engagement in ecumenics. The theses, Eini…