Saturday, July 23, 2011

It's the office, stupid

"in Lumen gentium, the church’s self-definition in the Second Vatican Council, introduced in a council document the charismatic church along with the church of office, saying that charisms are carried by religious orders, by charismatic figures like St. Francis of Assisi, prophetic figures. They’re given a moment when they’re necessary for the reform of the church and for the renewal of the mission, but they’re not permanent.
"What’s permanent is the office, but it doesn’t lend itself very easily to charismatic figures. A bishop, a priest, isn’t a guru. He should disappear behind the office because he comes and goes, and someone else comes and goes. The office is what counts. And so from that perspective I am less concerned about personal memoirs than I am about the preservation of the office, as given to us from the Apostles…the faith and the office, because the office is part of the faith. This is a so called institutional church that somehow rides apart from the church as the body of the faithful. So, from that perspective, what I personally may have experienced in the midst of trying to fulfill the office is not all that important.
"John Paul II was very conscious of the office, but he fulfilled it in a very personal way that didn’t detract from the office. The danger is that if you become a guru, you’ll fulfill it in a way that does detract from the office, in which case you’ve failed."

Francis Cardinal George, OMI, in part two of David Gibson's "Setting boundaries:  a conversation with Cardinal George," a Commonweal web exclusive dated 22 July 2011.

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