Juridical Manifestations of the Presbyterium


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Chapter 1: The Presbyterium

Scriptural Foundations

Our Lord Jesus called and appointed men whom He would send to preach the Kingdom of God. He chose and sent twelve apostles "so that as sharers in His power they might make all peoples His disciples, and sanctify and govern them, and thus spread His Church, and by ministering to it under the guidance of the Lord, direct it all days even to the consummation of the world."1 Thus our Lord would continue his mission to bring salvation to the people of every time and place.

To continue their mission the apostles appointed other men as successors to replace them after they should die. Thus, in these successors, the order of the episcopate, the apostolic ministry and tradition are preserved. By divine institution, Bishops succeed the Apostles as pastors in the Church, they are teachers of doctrine, priests of worship and ministers of governance.2

Yet, Christ chooses not only the twelve to spread the Gospel, as he had other disciples and helpers.3 The apostles too choose to appoint helpers in their ministry.4 Indeed, there was a large variety of ministries exercised in the early Church.5 The tradition of the Church tells us that from these developed two stable groups that would help the episcopate as sharers in its authority: the presbyterate and the diaconate.

There is some obscurity of the exact origins of the presbyterate in the New Testament, although it is clear that the word presbyter (presbyteros) means elder. "The earliest ministers seem to have been the presbyteroi, a term which originally meant one who was superior by reason of age, an elder. The "elder" was older, hence by implication, presumably wiser. The council of elders (presbyterion) fulfilled an important role in the community."6 This college of presbyter-elders was present in many apostolic communities, yet their function isn't always clear, for though they shared in teaching and governing, it seems this group did not exercise supreme power, as they would be subject to the Apostles.7

As Paul and Barnabas set up new communities among the Gentiles, they also established bodies of presbyters.8 Yet there is greater confusion: in our modern terminology, are these priests or bishops? The presbyter-elders (presbyteros), as called in the Jewish communities, are synonymous with the word for a bishop-overseer (episcopos) in the churches of pagan origin.9

The presbyters are clearly described as having the role of a pastor and teacher: "So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder... Tend the flock of God that is your charge, not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock."10 Moreover, the presbyter's ministry is linked to the laying on of hands: "Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given... when the council of elders laid their hands upon you."11

Seeing that no solution can be determined from the New Testament, D'Ercole proposes a possibility, that "there were two types of presbyteral colleges: one type composed of bishops and presbyters and another composed of presbyters alone."12 Van Hove disagrees that there would have been any colleges of presbyters without an episcopal head, even if it is not mentioned in the historical texts.

There was a college of presbyters or of bishops which administered several churches, but which had a president who was no other than the monarchic bishop. Although power of the latter had existed from the beginning it became gradually more conspicuous. The part played by the presbyterium, or body of priests, was a very important one in the earlier days of the Christian Church; nevertheless it did not exclude the existence of a monarchic episcopate.13
Others would agree with this position. The presbytery, as some authors calls this body, is "The governing council of the Church in the early days of the Church. Of this group the bishop (episcopos) was a special presbyter, that is, one presiding."14 Contemporary Scripture scholars seems to point to the fact while there was great diversity in the ordering of the different churches, there is also "more continuity of ecclesiastical structures and church order between the New Testament churches and later ecclesial groups" than has been previously thought.15

In the Early Fathers of the Church

"St. Ignatius of Antioch is assuredly the Father of the Church who has contributed more to transmit and illustrate the reality of the presbyterium."16 Written at the start of the second century, the Letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch provide a clear idea of the threefold ministry we know today. "A monarchial episcopate reigns over the communities. We all but see the bishop surrounded by his priests and deacons. The bishop presides as God's representative, the priests form the apostolic senate and the deacons perform the services of Christ."17

I exhort you to strive to do all things in harmony with God: the bishop is to preside in the place of God, while the presbyters are to function as the council of the Apostles, and the deacons, who are most dear to me, are entrusted with the ministry of Jesus Christ.18
St. Ignatius speaks often of the presbyters, but normally refers to them as a council; in Greek: presbyterion, in Latin: presbyterium. The primary idea of St. Ignatius of Antioch concerning the presbyterium is that priests remain in close union with one another and have a strong bond with their bishop. Thus his oft-quoted statement: "nihil sine episcopo et eius presbyterio",19 and his famous analogy: "your presbytery, which is a credit to its name, is a credit to God; for it harmonizes with the bishop as completely as the strings with a harp."20

His letters frequently indicate that the presbyterium acted as a collective body: a band, college, council, or senate. For Ignatius, this collegiality is always characteristic of the presbyterium: "Let all respect the deacons as representing Jesus Christ, the bishop as a type of the Father, and the presbyters as God's high council and as the Apostolic college."21 Through these, "The entire ekklesia is gathered in unity with the bishop around and through the Eucharist."22

"It is significant that when presbyters are mentioned in the first three centuries, they are always spoken of in the plural and never in the singular: they always constitute a college."23 "In the tradition exists the knowledge that the priests united to the Bishop form a unique sacerdotal body. The abstract word presbyteratus is rare in the patristic epoch and one speaks habitually of the order of the presbyterium, ordo presbyterii."24

Notice that the relationship Ignatius describes between the bishop and presbyters is not one of equality: the presbyterium is subject to the bishop who presides over them as Christ over the apostles. On the other hand, "they share in the bishop's authority so that the community owes the same obedience to both. The college of presbyters is the bishop's senate and shares with him the responsibility for the well-being of the ecclesial community."25

While we do not know exactly how the presbyterium functioned on a daily basis, its role is clear. "The letters of St. Ignatius do not say in what mode the presbyterium would develop its work, but show in a non ambiguous way that it offers to the bishop an effective help in the pursuit of solutions that, in the pastoral work, would serve the common good."26

Thus, Ignatius "describes the presbyterium like a senatus, a local collegial structure intimately and dynamically linked to the bishop. Its work is not exhausted, moreover, in a collaboration which may be a mere execution, but foresees an active participation in the decisions."27 It is this rich vision of Ignatius which the Council Fathers would look to when they were looking to revitalize the presbyterium during the Second Vatican Council.

Ignatius is not the only one to write on the presbyterium; however, others add little new information except to testify to its existence. "It is spoken of as existing in a similar way at Carthage by Cyprian, at Rome by Pope Cornelius and at Antioch by Epiphanius. Likewise, St. Jerome and Origen make note of it."28 "Among the Fathers who speak of presbyters are Papias, Hermas, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Tertullian. For purposes of discussion about the presbyteral colleges, the texts from these Fathers have no special prominence."29

Two Fathers should be mentioned for their description of the presbyters as constituting a council and as being counselors of the bishop. St. Clement of Rome (d. 97-101) at the end of the first century testifies to the stable office of a college of presbyters in Corinth. This is important as one of our earliest sources outside the New Testament. The letters of St. Cyprian of Carthage (d. 258) tell us about his relation with his own presbyteral college, which he informs about all things. Moreover, he writes to the presbyteral college in Rome when there is some doubt concerning his brother Cornelius' election to its vacant episcopal see. In this exceptional circumstance, the Roman presbyters have an important role of watching over the discipline and communion of the Church.30

Bishop Clark summarizes well the view of the ancient church, that a priest is always part of a collegial body, the presbyterium of the local church:

Judging by the witness of the New Testament and other early Christian documents, the ancient church never thought in terms of a solitary priest but only of a presbyterium, united with the local bishop. The presbyterium was not simply a collection of parish priests residing in places where there was no bishop. It was a college that surrounded the bishop, helping him to do the work of the church.31

The Loss of the Concept of Presbyterium

So what happened to the presbyterium and this idea of the collaboration of the presbyters? As the Church expanded in the third and fourth centuries after the legalization of Christianity, it became a practical necessity for priests to be stationed outside the episcopal city in order to administer the sacraments in rural districts.

The presbyterium, originally gathered around the bishop as an advisory body which concelebrated the one liturgy under his presidency, was gradually pulverized when its members assumed liturgical function in the numerous communities... the presbyters lost the character of a college32
As many of the clergy had to live at a distance from the city where the presbyterium would meet, they could not participate in it. "The physical separation between the bishop and his presbyters led to the fatal decline of this communion and collegiality."33 Isolated from the episcopal city and the presbyterium, the spread of the Church saw a breakdown of the early collegiality, "the trend toward an individual ministry, as distinct from a collegiate ministry, had begun."34
Initially the presbyters were counselors of the bishop and assisted him in the governance of the community. In later centuries, as the gospel spread into rural areas, they began to exercise more of a liturgical function and became the bishops representatives in places distant from the episcopal see.35
Thus a decline occurred of the presbyters' role as counselors who assisted the bishop in administration. In its place, other juridical institutions developed which continued some of the presbyterium's advisory and governing functions: the Cathedral Chapter and the Diocesan Synod, which we will see in Chapter 2.
The disintegration of the presbyterium, which happened by the multiplication of urban and rural parishes, with presbyters at the head like little 'subsidiary bishops', originated the degradation of the collegial awareness of the presbyters, took to an individualistic and personalist conception and practice of the ministry.36
Another historical factor that encouraged individualism was development of the benefice system, by which priests were ordained for a particular benefice, a ministry to a particular church or benefactor who guaranteed his economic sustenance.
Because of the disorder and confusion in the tenth century, the system of benefices was initiated to insure the financial support and needs of the clergy... With the appearance of the benefice system and the multiple divisions of ecclesiastical property among the clerics the practice of common life suffered a serious setback.37
Such a system would further undermine the collaboration among priests, as they would feel less of a bond to the bishop than to their benefactor.38

Besides these historical reasons, the individualism of the presbyter would also increase from the developing theology on the priesthood that would culminate in the council of Trent.

[A] limited view of the nature of the priestly function together with the conviction that every priest represented Christ and distributed his grace in virtue of his sacerdotal character encouraged a far-reaching individualism, not infrequently combined with a certain mutual competitiveness in pastoral work.39
Such a position, which one author calls a "classicist theology" of the priesthood, emphasizes the special dignity of the ordained priesthood and his personal power to celebrate the Eucharist. Obviously, nothing is wrong with such a position, which is still found in Vatican II and the Catechism. At times, however, an overemphasis on this "served to separate the priest from the community, while emphasizing his sacramental power and cultic functions."40 An example of this was the proliferation of priests ordained without a concrete community, i.e. ordained solely to celebrate the Mass, usually privately, such as in monasteries.

For the western Church, from the middle ages until modern times, "the presbyterium was a institution of the remote past, which the medieval presbyters ignored completely... In the diocesan life there were few occasions which could recall for them the collegial roots of their ministry."41

In the Second Vatican Council

The conception of presbyteral community, as well as knowledge of the meaning of the word presbyterium itself, had been slowly lost in the history of the Church. "After centuries of neglect, the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) revived an appreciation of the sacramental bond between priests and bishop."42

The Second Vatican Council wanted to restore the element of communion and collegiality which existed in the Early Church between the bishop and his priest in order to strengthen the bond between them and to enhance the spiritual welfare of the people of God.43
Without doubt, one of most the central themes of the Second Vatican Council was the Church as communion, the Council's vision of the mystery of the Church. As the 1985 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops explained:
The ecclesiology of communion is a central and fundamental concept in the conciliar documents. Koinonia-communion, finding its source in Sacred Scripture, was a concept held in great honor in the early Church and in the Oriental Churches, and this teaching endures to the present day. Much was done by the Second Vatican Council to bring about a clearer understanding of the Church as communion and its concrete application to life. What, then, does this complex word 'communion' mean? Its fundamental meaning speaks of the union with God brought about by Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit.44
"This conception of the Church as communion resounds in all that the Council and the post-conciliar Magisterium teach on the priesthood and on the ministry of priests."45 Thus, John Paul II says the priesthood cannot be defined except in the communion of the Church: "the ecclesiology of communion becomes decisive for understanding the identity of the priest, his essential dignity, and his vocation and mission among the People of God and in the world." (PDV 14)46

This can be particularly seen in the very structure of Presbyterium Ordinis, where the ontological, sacramental definition is given in article 2. "Through that sacrament priests... are signed with a special character and so are configured to Christ the priest in such a way that they are able to act in the person of Christ the head."47 Yet how this ontological reality is actually, concretely lived is shown by the section entitled "Priests' Relation With Others",48 where articles 7-9 discuss his relation towards the bishop, his fellow priests, and all (the laity) he serves. "The relation to the presbytery provides the framework of official activity (cooperatio) and both relationships are directed towards the ministry".49

The priesthood, as the council saw it, can no longer be viewed in an individualistic way. It must be recognized as clearly communitarian and ecclesial, important dimensions that were part of priestly ministry in the early centuries of the church. The priest is Christ, who lives and carries out a variety of ministries, all united around the bishop. The principal agent of pastoral work is no longer an individual but a community: it is the diocesan priesthood which through its unity makes the bishop present.50
A second theological development of the Council, also important for the priesthood, was the deepening of the reality of the particular Church. The diocese is not complete if seen only as the bishop and the people. "It is evident that the presbyterium, as a constitutive elements of the particular Church, must be situated and explained in such context."51
A diocese is a section of the People of God entrusted to a bishop to be guided by him with the assistance of his clergy [presbyterium] so that, loyal to its pastor and formed by him into one community in the Holy Spirit through the Gospel and the Eucharist, it constitutes one particular church in which the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ is truly present and active. (CD 11)52
"The presbytery or priestly body is closely and necessarily associated with the bishop. It is said to be composed of all priests who together with the bishop shepherd or feed the people of God in a diocese."53 Indeed, the priestly office is properly seen only in relation to the bishop: "Because it is joined with the episcopal order the office of priests shares in the authority by which Christ himself builds up and sanctifies and rules his Body." (PO 2)54 "How the priest stands to the bishop is explained in more detail by such terms as collaborator, helper, organ and agent for various tasks, indicating partnership as well as subordination."55

Notice, however, that importance is always given to the bishop's role within the presbyterium. The presbyterium is not envisioned without its head, any less than a bishop could be imagined without his clergy.

When these circumscriptions are headed by a bishop, the clergy present in them is ontologically constituted as part of a presbyterium, of which the bishop is head. The reason for the existence of the clergy is in fact not only functional - that of aiding the bishop in the carrying out of his office - but is also of an ecclesiological order. According to Vatican II (PO 7,1), presbyters (and perhaps also deacons) are not simply useful collaborators of the bishop, but necessary collaborators.56
The spiritual bond of communio binding the two grades of orders together can be seen in the terms used to describe the closeness of the bishop and his priests. "In addition to the concept amici, which appears in both decrees, in the Constitution on the Church and in Christus Dominus we find the concept filii, while in the Decree on Priests we find that of fratres."57 The sacrament of holy orders links bishops and priests together, yet the Council developed something more. "All priests, who are constituted in order of priesthood by the sacrament of Order, are bound together by an intimate sacramental brotherhood; but in a special way they form one priestly body in the diocese to which they are attached under their own bishop." (PO 8)58

Thus, through the history leading up to and the discussions during the Council, the Church became "ever more aware that the community of priests constitutes an indispensable value for the perfect accomplishment of the priestly mission."59 There was a realization that both bishop and priests need to work together, making a common effort for the salvation of souls in the diocese. "This dedication for the service of the same diocese requires that priests be joined together, among themselves and with their bishop, in a united effort to fulfill the common mission of the priesthood."60 At the specific level of the diocese the sacrament of the priesthood creates a special unity, for which the council used the term presbyterium.

It was during the drafting of Lumen Gentium 28 that "the idea took life of re-proposing the presbyterium as a reality of communion and cooperation which unites priests and bishop in the local Church together with the need of deepening the theme of the presbyterate coupled to the fuller discourse on the mystery and the mission of the Church."61 Thus the Council, based on St. Ignatius of Antioch's notion of the close union existing among presbyters and their bishop, used the term presbyterium ten times to describe the relationship between them.62

The document on the liturgy was actually the first to use the term, referring to how the Church is manifested when "the bishop presides, surrounded by his college of priests [presbyterium] and by his ministers." (SC 41)63 Lumen Gentium developed the notion within the hierarchical structure of the Church, stressing the bond of unity as "the priests... constitute, together with their bishop, a unique sacerdotal college (presbyterium)" (LG 28).64 The document on bishops stressed the importance of the presbyterium for the bishop, "the diocesan clergy... form one priestly body [presbyterium] and one family of which the bishop is the father" (CD 28), and it is an essential element in the local Church, as cited above. Finally, the document on priests speaks of the presbyterium in the context of the fraternal bond and cooperation that exists among them. "In a special way they [priests] form one priestly body [presbyterium] in the diocese to which they are attached under their own bishop" (PO 8).65

Note that in the Council's view, the presbyterium does not exist simply for the practical reason of creating a more effective ministry (which is certainly can); rather, it is an intrinsic part of priests being in hierarchical communion with their bishop.

The reevaluation of the presbyterium [is] not only for a question of practical usefulness or for the conditions due to the difficult circumstances in which one works today. The unity between the bishop and priest in a unique presbyterium is inserted, instead, in a normal and necessary order and expresses a real complementarity that unites them66
Thus we can conclude that, "from the Council emerges a notion of presbyterium understood as the group of priests who, at the disposition of the bishop, with him and under his authority, are fully dedicated to the service of a particular Church."67 "The revival of the idea of the presbytery, which had already been lost to theological thought, is not one of the least fruits of the Council."68

References to collaboration, cooperation, co-responsibility and participation abound in the documents of Vatican II.69 Yet only one concrete manifestation of the presbyterium is mentioned, the presbyteral council in Presbyterorum Ordinis 7, and even its specific task and organization are not discussed. Therefore, the next chapters will examine the juridical organization and manifestation of the presbyterium, especially as seen in the post-Conciliar documents. "If the union of the priests presided over by their diocesan [bishop] is not to remain an empty word the presbytery needs a suitable organization."70

In his Apostolic Letter on the new millennium, the Holy Father also speaks of the pastoral priority of implementing communion within particular Churches.

This is the other important area in which there has to be commitment and planning on the part of the universal Church and the particular Churches: the domain of communion (koinonia), which embodies and reveals the very essence of the mystery of the Church.71

Some Clarifications

The membership in the Presbyterium is born from a juridical bond of a hierarchical and ministerial nature, which concretizes - at the level of the organizational structure of the Hierarchy - the communion and cooperation of the Order of presbyters with the Episcopal order.72
It is not within the scope of this paper to examine the whole debate on the membership of the presbyterium. Only priests can belong to the presbyterium; therefore, deacons,73 seminarians, and laity are excluded. It is debated whether the bishop is a member or not. Most authors, especially from a theological point of view, see the bishop as belonging to the presbyterium, in so far as he is a priest, and especially in his role as the necessary head as mentioned above. Yet a few argue that in a strict juridical sense, based on the Council documents, he is not a member: "the presbyterium is conceived - more or less clearly - as a priestly body that advises and helps the bishop, but which evidently does not include him."74

It is obvious that a priest becomes part of a presbyterium by incardination.75 The primary question is: can non-incardinated and religious priests form part of the presbyterium? While the Council is not completely clear which priests are members, it indicates a middle ground.

On the one hand, membership in the presbyterium is not limited only to the incardinated priests, as the diocesan clergy includes both those "incardinated in or appointed to a particular church" (CD 28).76 Examples of this are the ascription or aggregation of clerics,77 and missionary priests.78 Vatican II affirmed this latter case: missionary priests belong to the presbyterium. "The local priests... join forces with the foreign missionaries who form with them one college of priests [presbyterium], united under the authority of the bishop" (AG 20).79 This became a font for an Eastern canon (with no Latin parallel): "As all the presbyters of whatever condition working in a mission territory form one presbyterate [presbyterium], they are to cooperate zealously in the work of evangelization." (CCEO Can. 593 §1)80

On the other hand, not all priests with a domicile in the diocese are necessarily part of the presbyterium, for some pastoral ministry is also required. For example, to participate in the diocesan presbyteral council, priests must "exercise any office for the benefit of the diocese" (Can. 498 §1, 2°).81 Thus, this right is extended "to whomever legitimately carries out a pastoral work which results in benefit of the portion of the people of God which is the diocese."82

As Vatican II states, "they may be said in a certain sense to belong to the diocesan clergy inasmuch as they share in the care of souls and in the practice of apostolic works under the authority of bishops. (CD 34)".83 This statement refers to religious priests, who belong only "in a certain sense". Hence, some argue for a distinction between diocesan and religious priests, as religious lack the promised bond of obedience and full availability for diocesan pastoral service.84 Pastores Dabo Vobis, however, clearly includes all priests that serve the particular Church as members of the presbyterium, whether diocesan or religious.85

Part of the difficulty in this debate is that the presbyterium is a "mysterium", a theological reality with a sacramental source and origin. "The Sacrament of Holy Orders is conferred upon each of them as individuals, but they are inserted into the communion of the presbyterium united with the Bishop."86 Thus Hervada makes an interesting distinction-definition, when arguing that the presbyterium includes more than just the incardinated priests of the diocese.

In its full mystical-sacramental sense, all the priests who, permanently or temporarily, exercise their ministry in the territory of a diocese - if understood with authorization and hence in communion with the Bishop - act as cooperators in relation with the diocesan Bishop, who is, in this plane, their Bishop.
Presbyterium in the strict juridical-organizational sense can only be the body of the clerics incardinated or dedicated in a stable manner to the carrying out of an office for the good of the diocese.87
It does not seem useful or necessary to make distinctions between the members of the presbyterium, calling the incardinated members natural, original or constitutive members, and the others extraordinary or associated, as if somehow secondary or inferior.88 This is congruent with the "Directory for Priests", which speaks of the presbyterium as including: the incardinated priests, the secular and religious priests who live in the Diocese and "belong by full or a diverse title to the presbyterium", and even the priests serving in approved ecclesial movements. All of these should "aware of being members of the presbyterium of the Diocese in which they carry out their ministry and must sincerely collaborate with it."89

Finally, there is no real distinction between the presbyterium of a diocese and that of other circumscriptions (particular churches) which are equivalent to a diocese90 or eparchy,91 including the personal prelature92 and military ordinariate.93 Recalling again the difference between the universal presbyterate and the presbyterium:

The Presbyterium represents... the same theological reality of the order of the presbyterate, but concretized and lived at the level of a particular Church or jurisdictional structures juridically equivalent to it in some way (military ordinariate, personal prelature), under the direct headship of the respective diocesan Bishop or proper Ordinary.94

1 Vatican II. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. Lumen Gentium, 19. "ut suae participes potestatis, omnes populos discipulos Ipsius facerent, eosque sauctificarent et gubernarent sicque Ecclesiam propagarent, eamque sub ductu Domini ministrando pascerent, omnibus diebus usque ad consummationem saeculi." Cf. Mt. 28:16-20; Mk. 16:15; Lk. 24:45-48; Jn. 20:21-23.

2 Cf. Codex Iuridici Canonici. January 25, 1983, Can. 375. Translations taken from Caparros, E., et al., eds. Code of Canon Law Annotated. Montreal: Wilson & Lafleur Itée, 1993; hereafter cited simply as "Can."

3 Lk 10:1. "After this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come."

4 Acts 6:2-7. "Therefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty." Acts 14:23. "And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they believed."

5 1 Cor 12:28. "And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues."

6 Cunningham, Agnes. S.S.C.M. "Power and Authority in the Church" in The Ministry of Governance. ed. James K Mallett. Washington D.C.: CLSA, 1986, 85.

7 For example, in the 'Council' of Jerusalem, "The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter." (Acts 15:6) Later on, when Paul visits Jerusalem, he finds "James, and all the elders were present." (Acts 21:18)

8 "The evidence leads to the conclusion that the presbyters are subject to the Apostles, installed by them to lead the life of the local churches on their behalf in matters concerning doctrine, worship and administration." Voulgaris, Christos Sp. "The Sacrament Of Priesthood In Holy Scripture: Theological Presuppositions." University of Athens, 1996,15.

9 Cf. Cattaneo, 13. Also compare Acts 20:17 (presbyteros) with 20:28 (epsicopos): "[Paul] sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church." "Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God..."

10 1 Pet 5:1-3. This passage is also important for establishing the principle of apostolic succession: "we find expression of the identity of the apostolic and presbyteral ministry. This is of great importance; the apostle calls himself a fellow elder (conpresbyterum) and in this way connects theologically the ministry of apostles and presbyters. ...in this way a genuine theology of the New Testament about the priesthood is born." (Ratzinger, Joseph. "Biblical Foundations of Priesthood" in Communio: International Catholic Review 17 (1990) 624.)

11 1 Tim 4:14. It is from this passage one can deduce that the presbyters play a role in the transmission of the apostolic mission. This is also the one place the Vulgate uses the collegial term presbyterium: "cum inpositione manuum presbyterii".

12 D'Ercole, Giuseppe. "The Presbyteral Colleges in the Early Church." Concilium 7 (1966) 14.

13 Van Hove, A. "Bishop" in The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. St. Ignatius was martyred sometime between 98-117 A.D.

14 Broderick, Robert C. "Presbytery" in The Catholic Enclyclopedia. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 1975, 489. Cf. Acts 20:28; 1 Tim 3:4-5.

15 Cunningham, 87.

16 Cattaneo, 5, fn. 8. "S. Ignazio di Antiochia è sicuramente il Padre della Chiesa che più ha contributo a trasmettere ed illustrare la realtà del presbiterio."

17 Quasten, Johannes. Patrology. vol 1. Utrecht-Antwerp: Spectrum Publishers, 1966, 66.

18 Ignatius, Magnesians 6:1. All translations of Ignatius are by Kleist, James A. Ancient Christian Writers vol 1. eds. Quasten, J and Plume, J. C. Westminster (MD): The Newman Bookshop, 1946. Note that "presbytery" is used to translate "presbyterion".

19 Cf. Ignatius, Magnesians 7:1. "neither must you undertake anything without the bishop and the presbyters".

20 Ignatius, Ephesians 4:1.

21 Ignatius, Trallians 3:1. Cf. Magnesians 6:1 quoted above. Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, Catechismus Catholicae Ecclesiae. revised Latin typical edition. August 15, 1997. Paragraphs 1554 and 1593 cite these passages of St. Ignatius, in speaking on the three degrees of Holy Orders, which are "irreplaceable for the organic structure of the Church" (1593).

22 Cunningham, 88.

23 Pepe, Enrico. "Priestly Formation in the History of the Church" in Priests of the Future: Formation and Communion ed. Michael Mulvey. New York: New City Press, 1991, 9.

24 Ramos, Francisco J., O.P. Le chiese particolari e i loro raggruppamenti. Rome: Millennium Romae, 2000, 81. "Nella tradizione esiste la coscienza che i sacerdoti uniti al Vescovo formino un unico corpo sacerdotale. La parola astratta presbyteratus è rara nell'epoca patristica e si parla abitualmente dell'ordine del presbyterium, ordo presbyterii."

25 Haarsma, Frans. "The Presbyterium: Theory or Program for Action?" Concilium 3 (1969), 32.

26 Cattaneo, 15-16. "Le lettere di S. Ignazio non dicono in quale modo il presbiterio svolgesse i suoi compiti, ma mostano in modo non ambiguo che esso offriva al vescovo un aiuto efficace nella ricerca di soluzioni che nel lavoro pastorale, servissero al bene commune."

27 Incitti, Giacomo. "Il presbiterio diocesano e i presbiteri religiosi: I. Il Concilio Vaticano II." Quaderni di diritto ecclesiale 12 (1999) 415. "descrive il presbiterio come un senatus, una struttura collegiale locale intimamente e dinamicamente legata al vescovo. Il suo compito non si esaurisce, pertanto, in una collaborazione che sia mere esecuzione, ma prevede una partecipazione attiva alle decisioni."

28 Miller, Walter D. The Juridical Configuration of the Diocesan Consultors with Particular Reference to the Church of the United States of America. Roma: Lateranense, 1975, 22.

29 D'Ercole, 15.

30 Cf. ibid.

31 Clark, Matthew H. "The Relationship Of Bishop & Priest In Ministry" in The Spiritual Renewal of the American Priesthood. Colloquia. National Federation of Priests' Councils, ed. Chicago: NFPC, 2000, n. B, 2 [12-22-03] http://www.nfpc.org/COLLOQUIA/OCTOBER-2000/clark.html.

32 Prusak, Bernard. The canonical concept of particular church before and after Vatican II. Rome: Lateranese, 1967, 7.

33 Alaguselvan, Antoniswamy. Priests' Council: A Representative Body of the Presbyterium in the Goverance of the Diocese. Rome: Urbaniana, 1998, 11.

34 Purcell, Joseph W. "The Institute of the Senate of Priests." The Jurist 38 (1978) 135.

35 Pepe, in Mulvey, 8.

36 Oñatibia, Ignatio. "Evolución historica" in Espiritualidad del Presbitero Diocesano Secular. Simposio. Conferencia Episcopal Española, ed. Madrid: EDICE, 1986, 40. "La disgregación del presbiterio, que sobrevino por la multiplicación de parroquias urbanas y rurales, con presbiteros a la cabeza como pequeños 'obispos de sucursal', originó la degradación de la conciencia colegial de los presbíterius, llevó a una concepción y práctica individualista y personalista del ministerio".

37 Borgman, Mason W. The Common Life among Clerics in the Writings of St. Augustine of Hippo and Ecclesiastical Legislation. Washington: The Catholic University of America, 1968, 88.

38 Cf. Corecco, Eugenio. Canon Law and Communio: Writings on the Constitutional Law of the Church. eds. Graziano Borgonovo and Arturo Cattaneo. Vaticano, 1999, 186. "the fact of removing the clergy from under the regime of benefices as a kind of external or private source of economic support... will have the consequence of helping priests to have a greater awareness of the total solidarity which ties them to one another and with the bishop."

39 Haarsma, 33.

40 Bacik, James J. "Theologies of Priesthood: Improving Dialogue and Collaboration among Priests" in The Spiritual Renewal of the American Priesthood. Colloquia. National Federation of Priests' Councils, ed. Chicago: NFPC, 2000 [11-29-03] http://www.nfpc.org/COLLOQUIA/OCTOBER-2000/bacik.html.

41 Oñatibia, 46. "el presbiterio era una institución del pasado remoto, que los presbíteros medievales ignoraban por completo. ... En la vida diocesana había pocas ocasiones que pudieran recordarles las raíces colegiales de su ministerio."

42 McBrien, 1046.

43 Alaguselvan, 19.

44 Synod of Bishops,1985. Relatio Finalis, II, C. 1. Quoted in John Paul II. "On the Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World." Christifideles Laici. December 30, 1988, 19. "Ecclesiologia communionis idea centralis ac fundamentalis in documentis concilii est. Koinonia-communio, in sacra Scriptura fundata, in ecclesia antiqua et in ecclesiis orientalibus usque ad nostros dies magno honore habetur. Inde a concillio Vaticano II multum factum est ut ecclesia tamquam communio clarius intellegeretur ac magis concrete traduceretur in vitam. Quid vero vox compexa 'communio' significat? Fundamendaliter agitur de communione cum Deo per Iesus Christum in Spiritu sancto."

45 Herranz Casado, Julián. "The Image Of The Priest In The Decree Presbyterorum Ordinis: Continuity And Projection Toward The Third Millennium." [5-11-03] http://www.vatican.va/ roman_curia/congregations/cclergy/documents/rc_con_cclergy_doc_23101995_imp_en.html.

46 John Paul II. "On the Formation of Priests in the Circumstances of the Present Day." Pastores Dabo Vobis. March 25, 1992, 14. "Hoc contextu «ecclesiologia communionis» fit decretoria ad intellegendam presbyteri identitatem eiusque primigeniam dignitatem, eius vocationem et missionem in Populo Dei et in universo mundo."

47 Vatican II. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 2. "illo Sacramento confertur, quo Presbyteri... speciali charactere signantur et sic Christo Sacerdoti configurantur, ita ut in persona Christi Capitis agere valeant."

48 Title given before Presbyterorum Ordinis, 7: "Presbyterorum habitudo ad alios".

49 Wulf, Fredrich, Paul-J. Cordes and Michael Schmaus. "Declaration on the ministry and life of priests" in Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II. vol 4. ed. Herbert Vorgrimler. New York: Herder and Herder, 1967, 237.

50 Pepe, in Mulvey, 19.

51 Cattaneo, 2. "è evidente che il presbiterio, in quanto elemento costitutivo della Chiesa particolare, dev'essere situato e spiegato in tale contesto."

52 Vatican II. "Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church." Christus Dominus, 11. "Dioecesis est Populi Dei portio, quae Episcopo cum cooperatione presbyterii pascenda concreditur, ita ut, pastori suo adhaerens ab eoque per Evangelium et Eucharistiam in Spiritu Sancto congregata, Ecclesiam particularem constituat, in qua vere inest et operatur Una Sancta Catholica et Apostolica Christi Ecclesia."

53 Prusak, 80.

54 Vatican II. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 2. "Officium Presbyterorum, utpote Ordini episcopali coniunctum, participat auctoritatem qua Christus Ipse Corpus suum exstruit, sanctificat et regit."

55 Grillmeier, Aloys. "Constition on the Church" in Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II. vol 1. ed. Herbert Vorgrimler. New York: Herder and Herder, 1967, 223.

56 Corecco, 311.

57 Wulf, et al., in Vorgrimler, 4: 240

58 Vatican II. Presbyterium Ordinis, 8. "Presbyteri, per Ordinationem in Ordine presbyteratus constituti, omnes inter se intima fraternitate sacramentali nectuntur; specialiter autem in dioecesi cuius servitio sub Episcopo proprio addicuntur unum Presbyterium efformant."

59 Barela, Stefan. "Vita Communis: Contacts, Communities and Communitary Forms of Secular Priests." Concilium 3 (1969) 48.

60 Riccardo, Gnieri. Bishop-priest relationship: relations and collaboration between bishop and diocesan clergy in their pastoral ministry according to canon 384. Rome: Urbaniana, 1993, 46.

61 Sarzi Sartori, Giangiacomo. "Il Consiglio presbiterale nelle fonti conciliari della disciplina canonica" in Partecipazione e corresponsabilità nella chiesa: I consigli diocesani e parrocchiali. Mauro Rivella ed. Milano: Ancora, 2000, 43. "prendeva corpo l'idea di riproporre il presbyterium quale realtà di comunione e cooperazione che unisce preti e vescovo nella Chiesa locale insieme all'esigenza di approfondire il tema del presbiterato agganciandolo al discorso più ampio circa il mistero e la missione della Chiesa."

62 Ignatius is cited among the sources for Sacrosanctum Concilium 41, Lumen Gentium 28, and Presbyterorum Ordinis 7.

63 Vatican II. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 41. "praeest Episcopus a suo presbyterio et ministris circumdatus."

64 Vatican II. Lumen Gentium, 28. "Presbyteri... unum presbyterium cum suo Episcopo constituunt"

65 Vatican II. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 8. Presbyteri... specialiter autem in dioecesi cuius servitio sub Episcopo proprio addicuntur unum Presbyterium efformant

66 Sarzi Sartori, 2000, 45. "la rivalorizzazione del presbyterium non soltanto per una questione di utilità pratica o per il condizionamento proveniente dalle difficili circostanze in cui oggi si opera. L'unita tra vescovo e preti in un unico presbyterium si inserisce, invece, in un ordine normale e necessario ed esprime una complementarità reale che li unisce".

67 Incitti, Giacomo. "Il presbiterio diocesano e i presbiteri religiosi: II. Il Codice di diritto canonico." Quaderni di diritto ecclesiale 16 (2003) 307. "...dal Concilio emerge una nozione di presbiterio inteso come il gruppo di sacerdoti i quali, a disposizione del vescovo, con lui e sotto la sua l'autorità, si dedicano pienamente al servizio di una Chiesa particolare."

68 Mörsdorf, Klaus. "Decree on the Bishop's Pastoral Office" in Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II. vol 2. ed. Herbert Vorgrimler. New York: Herder and Herder, 1968, 257.

69 E.g. Riccardo, 45. "The expression 'co-workers' of the episcopal order occurs sixteen times in the documents of the Second Vatican Council."

70 Mörsdorf, in Vorgrimler, 257.

71 John Paul II. "At the Close of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000." Novo Millennio Ineunte. January 6, 2001, 42. "Alius hic est latissimus campus, in quo necesse erit solidum capiatur operum consilium, tam pro universali quam pro particulari quaque Ecclesia: videlicet de communione (koinonia) quae in se concorporat simulque essentiam ipsam Ecclesiae mysterii demonstrat."

72 Herranz, Julián. Studi sulla nuova legislazione della chiesa. Milano: Giuffrè editore, 1990, 281. "L'appartenenza al Presbiterio nasce da un vincolo giuridico di natura gerarchica e ministeriale, che concretezza a livello delle strutture organizzative della Gerarchia la comunione e la cooperazione dell'Ordine dei presbiteri con l'Ordine episcopale".

73 Interestingly, there may be a mutual relationship among deacons analogous to the one among priests, but only on the sacramental level. Cf. Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, 29, and Congregation for Clergy, "Directory for the ministry and life of permanent deacons." Diaconatus Originem. February 22, 1988, 6. "By virtue of their ordination, deacons are united to each other by a sacramental fraternity."

74 Cattaneo, 63. "il presbiterio è concepito - più o meno chiaramente - come un corpo sacerdotale che consiglia e coadiuva il vescovo, ma che evidentemente non lo include."

75 Guanzon, Hernando B. The Development and the Juridical Aspects of Priestly Permanent Formation. Rome: Santa Croce, 1995, 95. "The institutional effect [of incardination] is that it inserts a priest in to a particular structure (presbyterium) that has a role to cooperate with the pastoral function of the episcopal office. The presbyterium is a structure who cooperates with the bishop by actualizing the pastoral activity of the entire diocese through the diverse presbyteral pastoral works that are always referred to them as a body who possesses a particular mission. A priest who is a member of the presbyterium is therefore placed in a juridical relationship which is hierarchal and ministerial in nature."

76 Vatican II. Christus Dominus, 28. "Ecclesiae particulari incardinati vel addicti."

77 Cf. Can. 271 §1. "Except for a grave need of his own particular Church, a Bishop is not to refuse clerics seeking permission to move whom he knows to be prepared and considers suitable to exercise the ministry in regions which suffer from a grave shortage of clergy. He is to ensure, however, that the rights and duties of these clerics are determined by written agreement with the diocesan Bishop of the place to which they wish to move."

78 Cf. Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. "Instruction On The Sending Abroad And Sojourn Of Diocesan Priests From Mission Territories." De vitanda quorundam clericorum vagatione. April 25, 2001, art. 8. "The two Bishops involved should come to some understanding, confirmed in a written agreement, concerning the type and duration of pastoral work required. Such a priest should be introduced into the pastoral activities of the Diocese and participate in the life of the presbyterium."

79 Vatican II. Ad Gentes, 20. "Presbyteri locales... communem operam instituendo cum missionariis exteris, quibuscum unum efforment presbyterium, adunatum sub auctoritate Episcopi"

80 Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium. October 18, 1990, Can. 593 §1. "Omnes presbyteri cuiuscumque condicionis in territoriis missiorum operam praestantes utpote unum presbyterium efformantes ardenter in evangelizatione cooperentur." Translations taken from Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. Washigton D.C.: CLSA, 2001; hereafter cited as "CCEO".

81 Can. 498 §1, 2°. "in eiusdem bonum aliquod officium exercent"

82 Arrieta, Juan Ignacio. "Commentario sui Cann. 497-499" in Codice di diritto canonico: Edizione bilingue commentata. Vol. I. Lombardía and Arrieta, eds. Rome: Edizioni Logos, 1986, 386. "è stato esteso... a coloro che in modo legittimo svolgano un compito pastorale che risulti a beneficio della porzione del Popolo di Dio che è la diocesi." Incitti disagrees with such a wide interpretation which would include any pastoral service or work, and argues that one must be titleholder of an ecclesiastical office (Incitti, 2003, 322). If one looks to the parallel law, however, CCEO 267 §1, 2° speaks of only a "munus" rather than an "officium", allowing a wider interpretation of "some function" in the diocese. Therefore it can be validly argued that "all the presbyters present in a diocese belong to the presbyterium of the same... The criteria of membership of a presbyter to the diocesan presbyterium, consists in the ministry and in the residence" (Erdö and Martin, 439, 440).

83 Vatican II. Christus Dominus, 34. "Ideo vera quadam ratione ad clerum dioecesis pertinere dicendi sunt, quatenus in cura animarum atque apostolatus operibus exercendis partem habent sub sacrorum Praesulum auctoritate."

84 Incitti, 1999, 425. "the type of dedication to service of the particular Church is not equal for the diocesan and religious. These latter do not constitute the presbyterium because they can not realize in their life all the elements which characterize the condition of diocesan priest." "il tipo di dedizione al servizio della Chiesa particolare non è uguale per i diocesani e i religiosi. Questi ultimi non costituiscono il presbiterio perché non possono realizzare nella loro vita tutti gli elementi che qualificano la condizione dei sacerdoti diocesani."

85 Cattaneo, 100-101. He cites John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis, 17, 31, and 74.

86 John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis, 74. "Presbyterium, in sua veritate plena, mysterium est", "Ordo eis ut singulis confertur, sed inserti sunt in communione presbyterii cum episcopo iuncti."

87 Hervada, Javier. "Comentario, c. 294" in Comentario exegético al código de derecho canónico. vol II/1. Marzoa, A., et al., eds. Pamplona: EUNSA, 1997, 406, 407. "En su pleno sentido mistérico-sacramental todo presbítero que, permanente o eventualmente, ejerce su ministerio en el territorio de una diócesis - se entiende con autorización y por lo tanto en comunión con el Obispo - actúa como cooperador en relación con el Obispo diocesano, que es, en ese plano, su Obispo."
"Presbiterio en el estricto sentido jurídico-organizativo puede ser sólo el conjunto de los clérigos incardinados o dedicados de manera estable al desempeño de un oficio en bien de la diócesis".

88 Such division in two classes may be counterproductive to unity, cf. Cattaneo, 162-163.

89 Cf. Congregation for Clergy. "Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests", 26. "pleno aut diverso titulo ad presbuterium pertinere", "conscii sint se membra esse presbyterii Dioecesis in qua suum explicant ministerium, seseque debere ei cooperari." Translation mine.

90 Cf. Can. 368. "Particular Churches... are principally dioceses. Unless the contrary is clear, the following are equivalent to a diocese: a territorial prelature, a territorial abbacy, a vicariate apostolic, a prefecture apostolic and a permanently established apostolic administration."

91 Cf. CCEO Can. 313. "What is said in the law concerning eparchies or eparchial bishops applies also to exarchies or exarchs, unless it is expressly provided otherwise..."

92 Corecco, 185. "the Code has definitely fixed the existence of personal prelatures (Can. 294-297), whose purpose is to group priests on a personal basis, thus permitting the formation of a personal presbyterium whenever the prelate has episcopal dignity".

93 Cf. John Paul II. Spirituali militum curae. April 26, 1986: AAS 78 (1986), 481-486, VI §1. "The presbyterium of the military Ordinariate is formed by those priests, both secular and religious, who... with the consent of their own Ordinary, carry out a service in the military Ordinariate." Translation mine.

94 Herranz, 1990, 278. "Il Presbitero rappresenta... la stessa realtà teologica dell'ordine del presbiterato, ma concretizzata e vissuta a livello di Chiese particolari o di strutture giurisdizionali ad esse in qualche modo giuridicamente equivalenti (ordinariati militari, prelature personali), sotto la diretta capitalità del rispettivo Vescovo diocesano od Ordinario proprio."


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