Cardinal Ouellet: Let Us Rejoice at Fruitfulness of Vatican II

Theological Symposium Opens at Maynooth

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MAYNOOTH, Ireland, JUNE 7, 2012 ( Leading up to the Eucharistic Congress to be held in Dublin, Ireland, a theological symposium at Maynooth opened Wednesday.

One of the speakers was Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and papal legate to the 50thInternational Eucharistic Congress. His lecture was titled, “The Ecclesiology of Communion, 50 Years after the Opening of Vatican Council II.”

He started by noting that Blessed John XXIII set two main goals for the Council: to bring the presentation of the Church’s doctrine up to date and to promote the unity of Christians.

“In order to attain these objectives, the Council Fathers undertook a fundamental reflection on ecclesiology, in the hopes of better defining the Church’s profound nature, her essential structure, and the meaning of her mission in a world increasingly emancipated from her influence and tradition,” Cardinal Ouellet explained.

An initial reflection on the theme of the ecclesiology of communion starts at the sociological level, relating to the structures of participation based on the common priesthood of the faithful and on the charisms the Holy Spirit, he commented.

Vatican II also dealt with the sacramental dimension of communion, particularly the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist, which incorporate us into Christ, Cardinal Ouellet added.

Along with this he referred to the “ecclesia domestica,” the family founded on the sacrament of marriage. The family, according to one of the documents of Vatican II has the “mission to be the first and vital cell of society.”


Cardinal Ouellet highlighted John Paul II’s 2003 encyclical on the Eucharist, “Ecclesia de Eucharistia,” as “an important step in the development of the ecclesiology of communion.”

“John Paul II’s encyclical filled a lacuna left by the Council, which had exalted the preeminence of the Eucharist in the Church’s life but had not systematically defined its relation to the Church,” he said.

“The Eucharist… appears as both the source and the summit of all evangelization, since its goal is the communion of mankind with Christ and in him with the Father and the Holy Spirit,” the encyclical stated (EE 22).

Another theme in Cardinal Ouellet’s address was the Trinitarian nature of communion. In relation to this he said that “we need a deeper reflection on the theology of Christian initiation, and on the relationship of the three sacraments that constitute this initiation.”

In particular he referred to the sacrament of confirmation, asking “whether confirmation is a sacrament of initiation that completes the configuration of a member with a view to his participation in the Eucharistic assembly; or whether confirmation is the sacrament of Christian commitment in the power of the Spirit, which would require a certain maturity and thus justify a higher age.”

Turning to the practice of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament Cardinal Ouellet stated that it “must not be belittled as a pious but now outdated custom.” It is, instead, “a development of the living tradition, which felt the need to express faith in Christ’s real presence in the sacrament in this way.”

“The Church is confirmed and strengthened in her identity as the Body and Bride of Christ through the Eucharist,” he continued.

Communion is also linked to Mary’s role. The Church, he explained: “participates as the Bride of the Lamb in the offering entrusted to the hands of her ordained ministers; but this offering was first placed by the Spirit of the Redeemer in the heart and the hands of Mary at the foot of the cross.


On the subject of the ecclesiology of communion and charisms Cardinal Ouellet noted that according to the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium, “These charisms, whether they be the more outstanding or the more simple and widely diffused, are to be received with thanksgiving and consolation for they are perfectly suited to and useful for the needs of the Church” (LG 12).

“I remain profoundly convinced that the Council greatly contributed to the appearance of a multitude of charisms, which now have full rights of citizenship in the Church,” he said.

“Old and new communities of consecrated life, ecclesial movements, the lay apostolate, and everything St. Paul describes in his non-exhaustive list of charisms—all of this belongs to the Church of Christ, which the Holy Spirit abundantly enriches to make of her a beautiful and resplendent Bride, according to the divine will,” he continued.

In concluding he stated that “Fifty years after the opening of the Second Vatican Council, we have seen that its chief inspiration was the ecclesiology of communion, which a right interpretation of the Council gradually identified and emphasized.”

The ecclesiology of communion has revitalized the Church, he affirmed, and also enhanced its capacity for ecumenism and missionary work.

“Let us rejoice at this fruitfulness of the Council, which is far greater than the phenomena of regression or ideological reception,” he urged.

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