Collegiality for the twenty-first century

Paul Hypher

This article explores the history and theology of Collegiality and its relevance to the Catholic Church today. Paul Hypher is a retired priest of the diocese of East Anglia.

Vatican II states:
Together with its head, the Roman Pontiff, and never without this head, the episcopal order exists as the subject of supreme, plenary power over the universal Church.1 This is known as ?Collegiality?.

?Collegiality? is not another term for collaboration, consultation, working together, or even for co-responsibility. For Vatican II the term is theologically deeply significant. Karl Rahner thought Collegiality de essentia ecclesiae.2

The Council based its teaching on Scripture ? the Church is entrusted by Christ to Peter with the Apostles and to the Apostles with Peter ? on the teaching of the early Church Fathers and on the practice of the Church during its first centuries.

The historian Alberto Melloni3 referring to Collegiality, writes ?The Council acquired a new ?word? with which to express a fundamental dimension of the Church?s experience,

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