Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: The Church as Communion

Some Aspects of the Church Understood As Communion

Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
May 28, 1992


1. The concept of 'communion' ('koinonia'), which appears with a certain prominence in the texts of the Second Vatican Council, is very suitable for expressing the core of the mystery of the Church and can certainly be a key for the renewal of Catholic ecclesiology. A deeper appreciation of the fact that the Church is a communion is, indeed, a task of special importance, which provides ample latitude for theological reflection on the mystery of the Church, "whose nature is such that it always admits new and deeper exploring." However, some approaches to ecclesiology suffer from a clearly inadequate awareness of the Church as 'a mystery of communion', especially insofar as they have not sufficiently integrated the concept of 'communion' with the concepts of 'People of God' and 'Body of Christ', and have not given due importance to the relationship between the Church as communion and the Church as 'sacrament'.

2. Bearing in mind the doctrinal, pastoral and ecumenical importance of the different aspects regarding the Church understood as communion, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has considered it opportune, by means of this 'Letter', to recall briefly and clarify, where necessary, some of the fundamental elements that are to be considered already settled also by those who undertake the hoped-for theological investigation.

I. The Church, a Mystery of Communion

3. The concept of communion lies "at the heart of the Church's self-understanding," insofar as it is the mystery of the personal union of each human being with the divine Trinity and with the rest of mankind, initiated with the faith, and, having begun as a reality in the Church on earth, is directed toward its eschatological fulfillment in the heavenly Church.

Some Aspects of the Church Understood As Communion, 1-3.

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