GDC 217-218: The Particular Church

CHAPTER I of Part Five covers sections 217-232, under the title “The ministry of catechesis in the particular Churches and its agents.”

In considering today “The particular Church” of GDC 217-218, the footnote reminds us of the following definition: In Part Five as in the rest of the document the term particular Church refers to dioceses and there equiparates (CIC Canon 368). The term local Church refers to a group of particular Churches delineated in terms of Region or Nation or group of Nations united by special links. Cf. Part I, chap. III and Part II, chap. I. “The ecclesial nature of the Gospel message.” Let’s read this heavily footnoted section:

217. The proclamation, transmission and lived experience of the Gospel are realized in the particular Church (As mentioned in Lumen Gentium 26a the term Churches in the NT is used to denote lawful groups of the faithful; see the biblical texts with which this part opens) or Diocese. (Cf. Christus Dominus 11) The particular Church is constituted by the community of Christ’s disciples, (The particular Church is described before all else as Populi Dei portio or “a portion of the people of God”) who live incarnated in a definite socio-cultural space. Every particular Church “makes present the universal Church together with all of its essential elements”. (CDF, Lettera Communionis Noito, 7 (AAS 85 -1993), 842) In reality the universal Church, made fruitful by the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost, “brings forth the particular Churches as children and is expressed in them”. (Communionis Notio, 9b) The universal Church, as the Body of Christ, is thus made manifest as “a Body of Churches”. (Lumen Gentium 23b refers to St Hilary of Poitiers In Ps 14:3 (Patrologiae Cursus completus, Seiries Latina 9, 206) and St Gregory the Great Moralia: IV, 7, 12 (Patrologiae Cursus completus, Seiries Latina 75, 643 C))

218. The proclamation of the Gospel and the Eucharist are the two pillars on which is built and around which gathers the particular Church. Like the universal Church she also “exists for evangelization”. (Evangelii Nuntiandi 14) Catechesis is a basic evangelizing activity of every particular Church. By means of it the Diocese gives to all its members, and to all who come with a desire to give themselves to Jesus Christ, a formative process which permits knowledge, celebration, living and proclamation within a particular cultural horizon. In this way the confession of faith—the goal of catechesis—can be proclaimed by the disciples of Christ “in their own tongues”. (Cf. Acts 2:11) As at Pentecost, so also today, the Church of Christ, “present and operative” (Communionis Notio 7) in the particular Churches, “speaks all languages”, (Communionis Notio 9b: l.c., p. 843; cf. Ad Gentes 4) since like a growing tree she extends her roots into all cultures.

The two pillars? In other words, the Mass. And note the quote from Pope Paul VI? Particular Churches, that is, the diocese or some other grouping of the people of God: none of us exist for ourselves, but for the benefit of others, particularly their being netted into the Reign of God. We’ve seen the centrality of evangelization stressed at other places in the GDC. We get it again here.

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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