Builders of Community: Rethinking ecclesiastical ministry
Over the centuries, the crisis in ordained ministry has not been exclusively about the problem of celibacy, even though that is important and discussed here. The crisis is, above all, a crisis of “mission” identity. All ministry, and speciﬁcally the ordained ministry, must revive this missionary spirit in order to avoid a total relapse.
For this reason, J.I. Gonzalez Faus insists in these pages that all ministry, and specifically the ordained ministry, must express this same missionary spirit in order to avoid a relapse into pre-Christian religious beliefs, such as the belief in «sacred mediators» that threaten the exclusivity of Christ's mediation, as it is ascertained in the New Testament. The churches of the Gospels, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles, with their lessons in plurality, creativity, and enthusiasm, as well as their strong desire to be «communities of contrast» due to their evangelical style of exerting authority, have given today's Church the inheritance of an enormous freedom to reconfigure itself.
A careful review of the Church's history, however, shows a structuring of the ordained ministry influenced by a progressive privileging of the clergy within the Church, which, as the author explains, must be overcome today by substituting the binomy of lay-clergymen with the model of community-ministries. The second letter to the Corinthians offers us the gift of a «spirituality of surrender» ideally suited for this task. It is exceedingly possible that the Church might be reaching what has been called «the time of the laity», and yet it is also possible that we might pass through this time in a sterile way, not because of not having known of its arrival, or what it was about, but because of not having understood the specificity of the ordained ministry and that of other ministries within Christian communities.
The reader of this book will find a profound examination and revision of the missionary caritas as the fundamental spark of the ministry's Christology, of the ministry's biblical theology, and of the configuration of that same ministry through the whole of its history. González Faus, a Spanish Jesuit theologian, professor, researcher, and author of numerous books, is uncompromising as he engages us in this timely and necessary discussion of the identity and spirit of Christianity in the 21st century.
José Ignacio González Faus was born in Valencia, Spain, in 1935. He has a PhD in Theology from Innsbruck and is currently Professor of Theology and Director of the Centro de Estudios Cristianismo y Justicia in Barcelona. He is author of more than 40 books, including Where the Spirit Breathes: Prophetic Dissent in the Church.
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