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Durham e-Theses
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The catholic priesthood: From trent to Vatican II and beyond

Atherton, Richard (1996) The catholic priesthood: From trent to Vatican II and beyond. Masters thesis, Durham University.



This thesis compares the vision and underlying theology of ministerial priesthood presented by the Councils of Trent (1545-1563) and Vatican II (1962-1965). An historical/theological preview in chapter one observes that while ordained ministry has always been an essential element of Church life, it has taken different forms and evoked different understandings at different times. In the 16th century, 'ministry' became a divisive issue between Protestant and Catholic. At Trent the Catholic Church reacted by emphasising the sacramentality of Order, its cultic and sacrificial powers and the clergy/laity dichotomy, while virtually ignoring the priesthood of all believers - a truth staunchly upheld by the Reformers. A theological stand-still, reinforced where priestly training was concerned by the French School of Spirituality, preserved the tridentine vision virtually unchanged for the next four centuries. In the 20th century, 'ministry' has become an area of growing consensus among Christians. Vatican II, without jettisoning Trent's basic theological stance, presented priesthood in a new christological/ecclesiological perspective, emphasizing its shepherding and preaching role and seeing service of the People of God as its raison d'être. In concern for the laity, it is unmatched by any other General Council: it helped to scale down the clergy/laity distinction by recognising the faithful's call to active priestly participation in the worship and mission of the Church, and by encouraging 'lay ministries' and 'collaborative ministry'. The 'essential difference’ it sees between ordained and baptismal priesthood arises from the fact that Order confers a unique sharing in the Priestly, Prophetic and Kingly mission of Christ, and a vital representational role both in persona Christi and in persona Ecclesiae. In comparing the theological situation of the 16th century with that of the 20th, the thesis throws light on the factors that brought about the transition and also indicates possible implications for the future.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1996
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:24 Oct 2012 15:06

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