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The Church as Communion

Communion as the foundation and fruit of the mission of the Church in an Ecumenical Prospective
By CHARLES KELECHI EGBULEFU INTRODUCTION
Ultimately there is only one basic ecclesiology, which certainly can be approached and worked out in different ways, depending on which of the various aspects are stressed or highlighted. Nevertheless, every exposition must always take into account the harmony of the various essential elements of an ecclesiology which intends to be Catholic.1

Ever since the Second Vatican Council doctrine on the Church (Lumen Gentium)2 as Mystery and as People of God and the teaching afterwards in the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops 1985, that communion ecclesiology is the central and fundamental idea of the Councils documents, 3 a strong emphasis has been laid on Communion as the basis upon which the Church of Christ is founded, the optic through which the Church can be understood and the goal towards which the Church should be looking at as fruit of her mission: namely the eschatological union and participation in the divine life. And this communion with God is what we call salvation. Thus any discourse on the term communion should view it not only from the ecclesiological point of view but also from the soteriological point of view. It is the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, dwelling in those who believe and pervading and ruling over the entire Church, who brings about that wonderful communion of the faithful and joins them together so intimately in Christ that he is the principle of the Church's unity.4 Hence the universal Church is seen to be a people bought into unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.5
we must emphasize the ecumenical importance of this initial declaration. The Orthodox East has always insisted on these relations between ecclesiology and Trinitarian theology. Western theology often
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J. RATZINGER, Upon releasing the document issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith: Some Aspects of the Church understood as a Communion in OsservatoreRomano [English edition], 17 June 1992, 1. 2 AAS 57 (1965) 5-71. The English translation of the Second Vatican Council documents is from A. FLANNERY (ed.), Vatican Council II, The Conciliar and Post-Conciliar Documents, St Pauls, Mumbai 2004. For Lumen Gentium see ibid., 320-382. 3 SYNOD OF BISHOPS, Extraordinary Assembly of 1985, Final Report, (December 7, 1985), II, C, 1: Origins 15 (December 19, 1985) 448. 4 UR 2: AAS 57 (1965) 91: Spiritus Sanctus, qui credentes inhabitat totamque replet atque regit Ecclesiam, miram illam communionem fidelium efficit et tam intime omnes in Christo coniungit, ut Ecclesiae unitatis sit Principium. 5 LG 4: AAS 57 (1965) 7: Sic apparet universa Ecclesia sicuti de unitate Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti plebs adunata.

developed, with a somewhat exclusive preference, the Christological character of ecclesiology: the precise bonds between Christ and the institution he founded, the powers he conferred on his Churchall this, while remaining essential, is nonetheless only one aspect of the Churchs mystery. The tradition of the undivided Church, by its insistence on the Ecclesia de Trinitate, integrates this Western view into a vision in which pneumatology has its place and gives to the whole an eschatological dimension reaching out toward the Father.6

Scope: This article is aimed at showing how communion summarizes all that which the Church is in her nature, all that which she is called to in her vocation, and all that which she seeks for in her mission and as fruit of her mission. The article thereby unfolds in six moments with an introduction and a conclusion: a glance at the Trinity as foundation of the Church, a plunge into the various images that constitute communal nature of the Church of Christ, browsing through the conceptions of communion in various epochs starting from the Sacred Scripture up till the Second Vatican Council Period, highlighting the different models of communion as understood by some of the major Christian confessions, underlying the missionary nature of communion in the Church and of the Church, and visualizing in the Eucharist this communion of churches on earth into the one Church of Christ and its tension towards the eschatological union with God together with the purgatorial and triumphant Church in heaven. Hence from communion, in communion, in order to arrive at communion, for all that the Church of Christ is in her nature and mission is summed up in communion, koinonia. It is the Church of Churches.7 Method: This article seeks systematically and logically to arrive at its goal through an analytical diachronic and synchronic approach.

1. THE CHURCH WORK OF THE COMMUNAL LIFE OF THE BLESSED TRINITY As the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is the ultimate mystery of Christian faith, so the nature of the church as mystery is rooted in its relationship with the mystery of the Trinity8. The Church of Christ is a Church of the Trinity whose mystery is rooted in the very life and work of the Triune God. Communion is said therefore to be the basis of such a Church, for as Ecclesia de Trinitate, the Latin word de means both imitation and participation9 and in this context she
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C.C. MOELLER, History of Lumen Gentiums Structure and Ideas, in J. MILLER (ed.), Vatican II an interfaith appraisal, international theological conference, university of Notre Dame: March 20-26, 1966, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame & London 1966, 125-126. 7 J.-M.R. TILLARD, Church of Churches, The Ecclesiology of Communion, Translated by R.C. De Peaux, O. Praem, A Michael Glazier Book, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota 1992, 29. 8 F.A. SULLIVAN, The Church We Believe In: One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, Paulist Press, New York/Mahwah, 1998, 11. 9 C.C. MOELLER, History of Lumen Gentiums Structure and Ideas, 125.

can be described as one People of God, Body of Christ, and Family of God, rooted and participating in the very family life of love of the three divine Persons in the one Godhead. To show the very presence of the Trinitarian origin and foundation of the Church of Christ in the Dogmatic constitution on the Church of the Second Vatican Council Lumen Gentium, Francis Sullivan notes that, the Church is truly a mystery, by reason of its unique relationship with each of these Divine Persons10. Therefore, love in essence is the core of the communion which is the foundation of the Church of Christ, called to communion here on earth and in heaven where she is journeying towards. For, the mystery of communion, called to manifest itself on earth in agape (1Cor 13; 1 Jn 3, 16-4, 21), constitutes the most profound reality of the Church, and is realized both inside each local Church, and in relationship with other Churches.11 Given the nature of God as One and Triune, true ecclesial communion recognizes and embracesdiversityof rites, races, cultures, tribes and languagesThis will go a long way towards promoting ecumenical and inter-religious understanding and building the much-needed communion for mission and mission for communion (Ecclesia in Asia 25).12 The dialogues generally take the Trinitarian foundations of Christian faith as a given, but nonetheless offer a consistent witness to the richness of that shared Trinitarian faith.13 Gerard Philips speaking on the profound link of the Trinity and the Church says,
May Catholics, if only at the reminder of their baptism included in the least sign of the cross, never lose sight of this profound symbiosis: Trinity-Church! The Roman Creed underlines this association by an ingenious comparison of terms: Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, sanctam ecclesiam. The words Sanctum-sanctam suggest eloquently the Church one and Catholic, sanctified by the Spirit who is holy.14

2. THE CHURCH AS PEOPLE OF GOD, BODY OF CHRIST, TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND FAMILY OF GOD The ecclesiological images of People of God, Body of Christ, Temple of the Holy Spirit, Family of God, illustrates what communion ecclesiology is all about: it is not our initiative to
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F.A. SULLIVAN, The Church We Believe In , 11-12. G. CERETI, Comunione, in G. BARBAGLIO G. BOF S. DIANICH (eds.), Teologia, Cinisello Balsamo 2002, 257, my translation. 12 E. MONTEIRO, Church and Culture, communion in Pluralism, ISPCK, Delhi 2004, 199. 13 W. KASPER, Harvesting the fruits, aspects of Christian Faith in Ecumenical Dialogue, Continuum, London &New York 2009, 16. 14 G. PHILIPS, The Church: Mystery and Sacrament, in J. MILLER (ed.), Vatican II an interfaith appraisal, international theological conference, university of Notre Dame: March 20-26, 1966, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame and London 1966, 193.

gather, but rather of God, who convoked us together as a people of God, formed as the Body of Christ, constituted as Temple of the Holy Spirit, and generated as a Family of God. God takes always the initiative in calling us into communion and we human beings that form the Ecclesia are to respond to this initiative by entering and remaining always in this communion.
Vatican Council II has invited us to contemplate the mystery of the Church through biblical images which bring to light the reality of the Church as a communion with its inseparable dimensions: the communion of each Christian with Christ and the communion of all Christians with one another Above all, there is the image of the Body as set forth by the Apostle Paul. Its doctrine finds a pleasing expression once again in various passages of the Council's documents. In its turn, the Council has looked again at the entire history of salvation and has reproposed the image of the Church as the People of God15

Therefore the Second Vatican Council in its dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium,16 registers most especially in the imagery of Temple of the Holy Spirit, Body of Christ, and People of God her very idea of the Church as a Mystery and Sacrament of Communion. The concept People of God most central to the Councils teaching on the nature of the Church as communion, says two things: on the one hand, speaks of a whole people in communion; on the other hand, People of God though being a communion, is a People that walks in history. Protestant theologians could only rejoice at the insertion of this new chapter, for in their eyes the Church as body of Christ has to be completed by the People of God aspect, which brings out the face-to-face encounter between the Church and Christ, as well as the historical dimension of salvation history17 From the Councils ecclesiology of communion, the Church came to see herself afterwards as a family: the Family of God,18 founded on the communal life of the Trinitarian family, since the church was initiated by the love of the eternal Father, was founded in history by Christ the redeemer and was made one by the holy Spirit composed of people who are members of the earthly city and are summoned to constitute, even now in human history, the family of Gods children which must ever increase until the Lords coming.19

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JOHN PAUL II, Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Christifideles Laici (30 December 1988), nn. 19-20. See LG, nn. 6-7. 9. 17 C.C. MOELLER, History of Lumen Gentiums Structure and Ideas, 129. 18 See JOHN PAUL II, The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Ecclesia in Africa (14 September 1995), after the first synod of the African Bishops on The Church in Africa and her evangelising mission towards the Year 2000: You shall be my witnesses (Acts 1:8) 1994. 19 GS 40: AAS 58 (1966) 1058: Procedens ex amore Patris aeterni, in tempore fundata a Christo Redemptore, coadunata in Spiritu Sancto, Ecclesia finem salutarem et eschatologicum habet, qui nonnisi in futuro saeculo plene attingi potest. Ipsa autem iam hic in terris adest, ex hominibus collecta, terrestris nempe civitatis membris quae ad hoc vocantur ut iam in generis humani historia familiam filiorum Dei, usque ad adventum Domini semper augendam, efforment.

3. A PANORAMIC VIEW OF THE ECCLESIAL CONCEPT OF COMMUNIO (KOINONIA) The communion comes from the Latin term Communio, that is, composed of com and munus, which means literarily sharing in common. In Greek the term used is Koinonia, which has to do with followership under one head and thus denoting communion. Koinonia has coined not just the foundation of the Church of Christ, but also the entire history of the Church which comes to greater light with the advent of the Second Vatican Council and the period that comes after the Council. However, various are the opinions as regards how this communion should and ought to be in the Church and of the Church: in the Church, in the sense of the internal unity of the Church, and of the Church, in the sense of the unity of the churches with one another.
Naturally this same concept has need of a clarification to avoid the risk of the generalization and of confusion. In fact, every theological imprecision has effect not only on the intelligibility of the mystery of the Church and of Christ, but also on the same believers reflection on the mystery of Christ and of God and on the same understanding of salvation and of Christian anthropology. For this motive, the use of the category of communion demands an attentive biblical-patristic research and an adequate speculative-theological reflection. Only in this way, an application of the category of communion in theology and in ecclesiology is possible20

In the Old Testament, though the expression communion with God is not used, however, the worship of Israel manifests the need to enter into union with God. This necessity is expressed especially in the peace offerings, in which part of the victim is returned to the one making the offering Many translations have called these simply communion sacrifices (cf Lv 39)21 But also the covenant was an important event as regards the communion of the People with God. For the need for communion would remain an empty dream if God had not given His people a structure for real exchange and a community of life The Law is the charter of the covenant and is meant to teach Israel Gods way of response (Dt 24, 18; Lv 19, 2) Communion of hearts among the people is the result of the covenant.22 In the New Testament, communion becomes a reality in Jesus Christ the God man, through whom we have real communion with God (cf. 2 Pt 14) and in whom we are united with one another in His Spirit. Christ therefore is the central point of communion in it double dimension: vertical and horizontal. Saint Paul, speaks of communion when the believer attached to Christ by faith and baptism shares in His mysteries (cf. verbs with
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G. CALABRESE, Comunione, in G. CALABRESE P. GOYRET O.F. PIAZZA (eds.), Dizionario di Ecclesiologia, Citt Nuova, Roma 2010, 269, (translation is ours). 21 D. SESBO J. GUILLET, Communion, in X. LON-DUFOUR (ed.), Dictionary of Biblical Theology , translated by W. Jared Wicks, The Word among Us, Maryland 1973, 85. 22 Ibid., 85-86.

the prefix sun-, with, in) The sharing in the Eucharistic body of Christ (1 Co 10,16) brings about at one and the same time the communion with the Son (1,9) and the union of the members of the Body (10,17).23 This communion is sealed then by the Holy Spirit (2 Co 13,13; Ph 2,1). The Johannine tradition speaks of communion in Trinitarian-ecclesial-missionary terms, which at the ecclesial level is a communion that has at its base just like the Church itself, the apostles: an apostolic foundation. This apostolic communion which nourished by the Eucharist (Jn 5,56) is the
means by which one has access to the communion with the Son and with the Father, while the Spirit

brings about its permanence and perfection(cf. 1 Jn 1,3; 2,24; Jn 14,20-21; 15,4.7; 17,20-23;). The primitive Church after the paschal experience of the risen Lord in the midst of joys and persecutions, found it necessary to conserve this communion both in its vertical dimension of union with God and in its horizontal dimension of unity among men from every nation and tribe. Irenaeus of Lyons describes the ecclesial communion in salvific terms of progressive introduction into the communion with God.24 This communion with the triune God is made possible by the Holy Spirit, manifested in the fraternal love of the sons of God and in the communion of churches. 25 Cyprian of Carthage talking about communion describes the Church of Christ as sacrament of unity 26 (cf. the Unity of the Church 4.7). Many fathers of the Church spoke of communion as gift of God to us, most especially in the Eucharist, the highest gift which Christ in His Spirit left for the Church on earth, as the visibility of communion in its vertical and horizontal dimensions. In the medieval ages, the idea of communio sanctorum became the central focal point. Gradually, the communion came to be seen under the sacramental and hierarchical dimension in the medieval and modern period (Trent and post tridentine period). The Second Vatican Council in our contemporary era constitutes what may be called the hallmark of the ecclesiology of communion, very attentive to ecumenism, most especially in the documents Lumen Gentium and Unitatis Redintegratio as complement of the former document. The Decree on ecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio on its first chapter lays down the Catholic principles of ecumenism: it exposes the mystery of the Churchs unity as that of a dynamic communion in faith and sacramental life, at once visible and invisible,

23 24

Ibid., 86. IRENAEUS OF LYONS, Against the heresies IV, 14,2, in Alexander Roberts J. Donaldson (eds.), The Ante-Nicene Fathers: translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to A.D 325, Vol. I, WM. B. Eerdmans publishing company, Michigan 1979, 479. 25 See D. SESBO J. GUILLET, Communion, 277. 26 CYPRIAN OF CARTHAGE, The Unity of the Church, in R.J. DEFERRARI (ed.), Saint Cyprian Treatises, The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. 1958, IV.VII., 99,101.

and it affirms that this communion is realised, according to the will of Christ, in the Catholic Church governed by the Pope and the bishops in communion with him.27 The Magisterium of the Catholic Church have also after the Second Vatican Council reiterated the double dimension of communion as a gift of God carried out in the paschal mystery and a duty and call for mission and ecumenical endeavour.28 Communion thus is the fruit of the Paschal mystery from which also the Church is born. Communion ecclesiology therefore represents an
attempt to move beyond the merely juridical and institutional understandings by emphasizing the mystical, sacramental, and historical dimensions of the Church Its promoters claim it holds great potential for innerChurch renewal and for ecumenical progress.29 Therefore, the Catholic Church knows that she is

joined in many ways to the baptized who are honoured by the name of Christian, but who do not however profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter.30 Thus communio is not only a key concept to describe the nature of the Church as modelled on the image of the Trinitarian communio, but also a key concept for the life of the Church as communion between ordained ministry and lay people, men and women, and their exchange of gifts; for the process of consensus- and reception-building; and not least for ecumenical communication among the churches and church communities and their exchange of gifts. This will assist in overcoming contradictory positions by achieving unity within diversity of complementary positions.31

4. THE DIFFERENT MODELS OF COMMUNION BY THE DIFFERENT CHRISTIAN CONFESSIONS Although Communion remains the foundation of the Church, it has experienced some tensions and divisions in her history, in her journey towards communion 32 that is, towards unity of Christians and towards salvation starting from the first schism with the East in 1054, and secondly, Luthers protestant reformation in the sixteenth century (1517), which remain the two most fundamental lethal blows to the communion reigning in the Church for years. Therefore, it is no mere hypothesis but a fact of history that the tensions within unity can reach a crisis point
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J. NEUNER J. DUPUIS, The Christian Faith, The doctrinal documents of the Catholic Church, J. DUPUIS (ed.), St. Pauls/Alba House, New York 2001, 379. 28 CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF FAITH, Communionis notio, nn. 3,5. 29 D. M. DOYLE, Communion Ecclesiology: Vision and Versions, (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2000), 12-13. 30 LG 15: AAS 57 (1965) 19: Cum illis qui, baptizati, christiano nomine decorantur, integram autem fidem non profitentur vel unitatem communionis sub Successore Petri non servant, Ecclesia semetipsam novit plures ob rationes coniunctam. 31 W. KASPER, Harvesting the fruits, 78. 32 See G. CALABRESE, Comunione, 285.

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and compromise the equilibrium of the Church.33 Hence, the ecumenical movement, be it before the Second Vatican Council or in the Post-conciliar period with the participation of the Catholic Church itself , has generated a virtuous way not only for the research of the unity, but also for the collaboration among all Christians. This collaboration, notwithstanding the differences, makes communion in the missionary action truly tangible.34 Though not yet, in full communion, Churches do consider themselves because of their ecumenical commitment already as Church-inrelation, as Church-in-dialogue.35 However, they have not reflected on the implications of the Church in relation or dialogue, because for them, the Spirit works beyond the confines of any given community36 and as such, every one of them has her own vision of what communion should be. Thus, Conditioned by different ecclesiological and cultural visions and convictions, we have different models of communion by the different Christian confessions. First, as regards the ecclesiological vision of communion, in the Orthodox Church, there is the strong accent on the return to the faith of the ancient Church: communion seen above all from the Eucharistic-Episcopal perspective. In fact,
Orthodoxy stresses the necessity of a return to the common faith of the ancient and undivided Church of the first seven ecumenical Councils Unity is seen as a harmonious symphony of autocephalous national Churches which have kept or recovered the Orthodox faith and the total Episcopal structure of the Church (See Declaration of the Orthodox delegates, in Vischer 1963: 141-143, also Patelos 1978: 94-96)37

Second, as regards the ecclesiological vision of communion, in the Anglican Church, there is strong emphasis on the acceptance of the four elements required for unity which was expressed by them in the sixth Lambeth conference: The Sacred Scripture, The Nicene and Apostles Creed, The Sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist (Holy Communion), and finally the Episcopate as means for providing for the ministry and as commissioned by Christ and His whole body. 38 Anglicanism thinks of a visible, corporate, comprehensive and organic unity in which the sources of the original heritage of faith and the fundamental church order are fully kept, not-withstanding a great diversity of cultural expressions. The Anglican Communion thinks of itself as a provisional model of such a universal Communion.39

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R. LATOURELLE, The Church, in ID. and R. FISICHELLA (eds.), Dictionary of fundamental theology, Crossroad, New York 1994, 158. 34 G. CALABRESE, Comunione, 285, (translation is ours). 35 J. E. VERCRUYSSE, Ecumenism, in Dictionary of fundamental theology, 262. 36 See J. E. VERCRUYSSE, Ecumenism, in Dictionary of fundamental theology, 262. 37 Ibid., 263. 38 See SIXTH LAMBETH CONFERENCE 1920, An Appeal to all Christian Peoples, Resolution 9, Reunion of Christendom, VI, Anglican Communion Office, 2005. 39 J. E. VERCRUYSSE, Ecumenism, 263.

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Third, as regards the ecclesiological vision of communion, in the Lutheran Church and Protestant communities, there is strong emphasis on the unity of the essentials of the faith: the Word and the Sacraments of Baptism and of the Eucharist; without however, falling into uniformity. Fourth and finally, as regards the Roman Catholic Church, communion is sacramentally and hierarchically structured. For, she considers herself and is aware like no other, of being instituted on the foundation of communion which is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic; of being a communion of local churches with the universal Church, of being a communion of one faith, one worship and one ministry under the successor of Peter, the Pope and the Bishops in communion with him. This unity, we believe, subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time.40 For all that, Catholics never lose confidence in the Church Therefore, when Catholics use the words Churches, other Churches, other Churches and ecclesial Communities etc., to refer to those who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church, this firm conviction and confession of faith must always be kept in mind.41 Before the Second Vatican Council, the catholic church considered the restoration of unity as expressed in the encyclical Mortalium Animos (1928) of Pope Pius XI as a return to the one true church of Christ, to the Apostolic See, set up in the City which Peter and Paul consecrated by their blood.42 In the Second Vatican Council, the idea of communion remains central in her ecclesiology, that in the decree on Ecumenism, she says that for men who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are brought to a certain, though imperfect, Communion with the Catholic Church.43 However, the Catholic Church regards full communion as being restored when Christians,
possessing the Spirit of Christ, accept her entire system and all the means of salvation given to her, and through union with her visible structure are joined to Christ, who rules her through the supreme Pontiff and the bishops. This joining is effected by the bonds of professed faith, of the sacraments, of ecclesiastical government, and of communion.44

5. COMMUNION AS MISSION AND FRUIT

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UR 4: AAS 57 (1965) 95: quamque inamissibilem in Ecclesia catholica subsistere credimus et usque ad consummationem saeculi in dies crescere speramus. 41 PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE UNITY OF CHRISTIANS, Directory for the application of principles and norms on ecumenism (23 March 1993), n. 17: 42 Ibid., 43 UR 3: AAS 57 (1965) 93: Hi enim qui in Christum credunt et baptismum rite receperunt, in quadam cum Ecclesia catholica communione, etsi non perfecta, constituuntur. 44 LG 14: AAS 57 (1965) 18-19: Illi plene Ecclesiae societati incorporantur, qui Spiritum Christi habentes, integram eius ordinationem omniaque media salutis in ea instituta accipiunt, et in eiusdem compage visibili cum Christo, eam per Summum Pontificem atque Episcopos regente, iunguntur, vinculis [19] nempe professionis fidei, sacramentorum et ecclesiastici regiminis ac communionis.

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Communion therefore is not only the foundation and nature of the Church but also her mission. For, this unity, which the Lord has bestowed on his Church and in which he wishes to embrace all people, is not something added on, but stands at the very heart of Christs mission.45 Therefore, since unity is at the very heart of Christs mission, and the Church is Christs Mystical Body, then unity of Christians must also be at the heart of the Churchs mission: to believe in Christ means to desire unity; to desire unity means to desire the Church; to desire the Church means to desire the communion of grace which corresponds to the Fathers plan from all eternity. Such is the meaning of Christs prayer: Ut unum sint.46 Thus, dialogue among Churches -which is not for reciprocal recognition of Churches is seen as a duty to be and correspond to that which she is in nature, in order to attain the fruits of Gods plan from all eternity: eschatological and definitive communion with Him. Blessed Pope John Paul II would recall to the whole Church, that
Communion with Jesus, which gives rise to the communion of Christians among themselves, is an indispensable condition for bearing fruit: Apart from me you can do nothing (Jn 15:5). And communion with others is the most magnificent fruit that the branches can give: in fact, it is the gift of Christ and His Spirit. At this point communion begets communion: essentially it is likened to a mission on behalf of communion Communion and mission are profoundly connected with each other, they interpenetrate and mutually imply each other, to the point that communion represents both the source and the fruit of mission: communion gives rise to mission and mission is accomplished in communion. It is always the one and the same Spirit who calls together and unifies the Church and sends her to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). On her part, the Church knows that the communion received by her as a gift is destined for all people.47

This very test cited from the Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici of Blessed Pope John Paul II, illustrates the very essence of the title of this article: Communion as the foundation and fruit of the mission of the Church, in an Ecumenical prospective. The Church proceeds from her very nature Communion to arrive at her goal in mission, namely, from communion and in communion in order to arrive at communion. Therefore the Church of Christ, which subsists in the Roman Catholic Church under the Successor of St, Peter, the Pope,48 faithful to Christ her Head, who prayed that they may be one49, is called not only to dialogue with other Christian Churches and ecclesial communities as is currently going on in our ecumenical dialogues,

45 46

JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical letter Ut Unum Sint (25 May 1995), n. 9. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical letter Ut Unum Sint (25 May 1995), n. 9. 47 ID., Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Christifideles Laici (30 December 1988), n. 32. 48 See LG 8. 49 See John 17, 21.

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but also like Christ her head, should pray more than she is currently doing for the gift of the unity of Christians.
In this ecumenical commitment, important priorities are prayer, penance, study, dialogue and collaboration, so that, through a new conversion to the Lord, all may be enabled to recognise the continuity of the Primacy of Peter in his successors, the Bishops of Rome, and to see the Petrine ministry fulfilled, in the manner intended by the Lord, as a worldwide apostolic service, which is present in all the Churches from within, and which, while preserving its substance as a divine institution, can find expression in various ways according to the different circumstances of time

and place, as history has shown.50 Therefore, to the question why the Church must be one? we can respond like this: There must be one Church, because only like this is the nature of Christianity realized.51 However, the awareness that unity is not uniformity, but that, on the on the contrary, a profound unity ought to be able to integrate the legitimate diversities in a truly universal catholicity (Ecclesia Christi circumdata varietate)52 makes this responsibility to search for the full communion of Churches with the Catholic Church in which subsist the true Church of Christ, effectively more tangible by insistent invoking of God in His Spirit who is the protagonist of missions and is the one that guarantees union of the one ministry and diverse charisms. Thanks to the Holy Spirit, in our day we have seen the joining of some Anglicans to the Catholic Church.53 Hence this unity which of its very nature requires full visible communion of all Christians is the ultimate goal of the ecumenical movement. The Council affirms that this unity by no means requires the sacrifice of the rich diversity of spirituality, discipline, liturgical rites and elaborations of revealed truthin the measure that this diversity remains faithful to the apostolic Tradition.54 6. THE EUCHARIST TRUE VISIBILITY OF COMMUNION AS FOUNDATION AND FRUIT OF THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life55 and is also the sacramental visibility of that which the Church is in her nature and that which she seeks in her mission. For in the sacrament of the eucharistic bread, the unity of believers, who form one body in Christ (cf. I
50
51

CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF FAITH, Communionis notio, n.18. E. SCOGNAMIGLIO, Alcune prospettive per il dialogo ecumenico, in dialogo con la relazione di S. EM. Card. Walter Kasper, in Euntes Docete, 63, 2 (2010), Urbaniana University Press, Citt del Vaticano 2010, 168, (translation is ours). 52 C.C. MOELLER, History of Lumen Gentiums Structure and Ideas, 129. 53 See BENEDICT XVI, Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus (November 4, 2009), Providing for personal Ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City 2009. 54 PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN UNITY, Directory for the application of principles and norms on ecumenism (25 March 1993), n. 20. 55 LG 11: AAS 57 (1965) 15: Sacrificium eucharisticum, totius vitae christianae fontem et culmen

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Cor. 10:17), is both expressed and brought about.56 Pope John Paul II in this regard says that in considering the Eucharist as the sacrament of ecclesial communion, there is one subject which, due to its importance, must not be overlooked: I am referring to the relationship of the Eucharist to ecumenical activity.57Communion seen from its ecumenical perspective, is therefore, rooted in the Eucharist since the Church in receiving the eucharistic presence of the Lord, receives the entire gift of salvation and shows, even in its lasting visible particular form, that it is the image and true presence of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.58 Hence, the Church which is a Church of the Eucharist59 is called to correspond to the dynamics of the Eucharist, of communion with God and unity with one another, in her ecumenical dialogue. In such spectrum, ecumenism wont represent an end in itself, but rather a step towards the realization of the mission of the Church of Christ.

CONCLUSION The call to reach communion with God, is the foundation of communion in the Church, with the Church and of the Church in its ecclesiological-ecumenical and salvific connotations. Hence, in a time of globalization of the world, most especially in political, economical and cultural sectors, the Churchs commitment to ecumenism becomes more urgent, whereby always faithful to Christ her Head who prayed that they may be one (cf. Jn 17,21), she should strive and pray more to her Lord and to the Holy Spirit with greater insistence60 for the full incorporation and communion of churches and ecclesial communities into the true Church of Christ which subsists in the Catholic Church governed by the Successor of Peter, the Pope and the Bishops in communion with him.61 Therefore the Church of Christ is not only revealed as Communion and called to the service of Communion,62 but one can say that all her way of being in the past, in the present and in the future, is Communion.63

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LG 3: AAS 57 (1965) 6: Simul sacramento panis eucharistici repraesentatur et efficitur unitas fidelium, qui unum corpus in Christo constituunt (cf. 1 Cor. 10, 17). 57 JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia, (17 April, 2003), n. 43. 58 CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF FAITH, Communionis notio, n. 11. 59 See JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia, (17 April, 2003). 60 See JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente (10 November 1994), n. 34. 61 LG 8: AAS 57 (1965) 12. 62 See J.-M.R. TILLARD, Church of Churches, The Ecclesiology of Communion, Translated by R.C. De PEAUX, O. Praem, A Michael Glazier Book, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota 1992. 63 See J. D. ZIZIOULAS, Being as Communion, Studies in Personhood and the Church, with foreward by J. MEYENDORFF, St Vladimirs Seminary Press, Crestwood, New York 1985.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Conciliar and Synodal Documents THE VATICAN COUNCIL II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium (21 November 1964): AAS 57 (1965) 5-71. , Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes (7 December 1965): AAS 58 (1966) 1025-1115. , Decree on the Unity of Christians, Unitatis Redintegratio (21 November 1964): AAS 57 (1965) 90-112. FLANNERY, A. (ed.), Vatican Council II, The Conciliar and Post-Conciliar Documents, St. Pauls, Mumbai 2004. NEUNER, J. DUPUIS, J., The Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church, DUPUIS, J. (ed.), Seventh Revised and Enlarged Edition, St. Pauls/Alba House, New York 2001. SYNOD OF BISHOPS, Extraordinary Assembly of 1985, Final Report, (December 7, 1985), II, C, 1: Origins 15 (December 19, 1985) 444-50.

2. The Papal Documents BENEDICT XVI, Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus (November 4, 2009), Providing for personal Ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City 2009. JOHN PAUL II, Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Christifideles Laici (30 December 1988): AAS 81 (1989, I) 393-521. English translation in Origins 18 (February 9, 1989) 561-595. , The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Ecclesia in Africa (14 September 1995), after the first synod of the African Bishops on The Church in Africa and her evangelising mission towards the Year 2000: You shall be my witnesses (Acts 1:8) 1994, Paulines Publications Africa, Nairobi, Kenya, 20055. , Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente (10 November 1994): AAS 87 (1995) 5-41.
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, Encyclical letter Ut Unum Sint (25 May 1995): AAS 87 (1995, II) 921-982.

, Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia, (17 or 5 April, 2003): AAS 95 (2003) 433-475. , John Paul II Encyclicals with study tool, in www.vatican.va/holy father/john paul ii/encyclicals [accessed on 2/6/2011].

3. Curial Documents CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF FAITH, Communionis notio (28 May 1992), Letter to the
Bishops of the Catholic Church on some aspects of the Church understood as Communion, signed by JOSEPH CARD. RATZINGER Prefect and ALBERTO BOVONE Tit. Abp. of Caesarea in Numidia and Secretary, 28th May 1992: AAS 85 (1993, II) 838-850. English translation in Origins 22 (June 25,1992) 108-

12. PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN UNITY, Directory for the application of principles and norms on ecumenism (25 March 1993): AAS 85 (1993, II) 1039-1119. English translation in J. DUPUIS (ed.), The Christian Faith, The doctrinal documents of the Catholic Church, St. Pauls/Alba House, New York 2001, 398.

4. Studies on the Council MOELLER, C.C., History of Lumen Gentiums Structure and Ideas, in MILLER, J. (ed.), Vatican II an interfaith appraisal, international theological conference, university of Notre Dame: March 20-26, 1966, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame & London 1966, 123-152. PHILIPS, G., The Church: Mystery and Sacrament, in MILLER, J. (ed.), Vatican II an interfaith appraisal, international theological conference, university of Notre Dame: March 20-26, 1966, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame and London 1966, 187-196.

5. Books CYPRIAN OF CARTHAGE, The Unity of the Church, in DEFERRARI, R. J. (ed.), Saint Cyprian Treatises, The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. 1958, IV.VII., 95-121. D. M. DOYLE, Communion Ecclesiology: Vision and Versions, (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2000).
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IRENAEUS OF LYONS, Adversus haereses IV, 14,2, in ROBERTS, A. DONALDSON, J. (eds.), The Ante-Nicene Fathers: translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to A.D 325, Vol. I, WM. B. Eerdmans publishing company, Michigan 1979, 315-567. KASPER, W., Harvesting the fruits, aspects of Christian Faith in Ecumenical Dialogue, Continuum, London &New York 2009. MONTEIRO, E., Church and Culture, communion in Pluralism, ISPCK, Delhi 2004.

SIXTH LAMBETH CONFERENCE 1920, An Appeal to all Christian Peoples, Resolution 9, Reunion of Christendom, VI, Anglican Communion Office, 2005. SULLIVAN, F.A., The Church We Believe In: One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, Paulist Press, New York/Mahwah, 1998. TILLARD, J.-M.R., Church of Churches, The Ecclesiology of Communion, Translated by R.C. De PEAUX, O. Praem, A Michael Glazier Book, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota 1992. ZIZIOULAS, J. D., Being as Communion, Studies in Personhood and the Church, with foreward by J. MEYENDORFF, St Vladimirs Seminary Press, Crestwood, New York 1985.

6. Articles CALABRESE, G., Comunione, in G. CALABRESE P. GOYRET O.F. PIAZZA (eds.), Dizionario di Ecclesiologia, Citt Nuova, Roma 2010, 268-288. CERETI, G., Comunione, in BARBAGLIO, G. BOF, G. DIANICH, S. (eds.), Teologia, Cinisello Balsamo 2002. LATOURELLE, R.,The Church, in ID. and R. FISICHELLA (eds.), Dictionary of fundamental theology, Crossroad, New York 1994, 143-184. RATZINGER, J., Upon releasing the document issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith: Some Aspects of the Church understood as a Communion in Osservatore Romano, English Edition (June 17, 1992), 1. SCOGNAMIGLIO, E.,Alcune prospettive per il dialogo ecumenico, in dialogo con la relazione di S. EM. Card. Walter Kasper, in Euntes Docete, 63, 2 (2010), Urbaniana University Press, Citt del Vaticano 2010, 157-181. SESBO, D. GUILLET, J., Communion, in X. LON-DUFOUR (ed.), Dictionary of Biblical Theology, translated by W. Jared Wicks, The Word among Us, Maryland 1973, 85. VERCRUYSSE, J. E., Ecumenism, in LATOURELLE, R. and R. FISICHELLA (eds.), Dictionary of fundamental theology, Crossroad, New York 1994, 259-267.
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