50 years after the Second Vatican Council, the call for a synthetic interpretation of the council is increasing. Such a synthetic interpretation requires an idea of what determines the council’s unity and coherence. This contribution presents four mutually complementary approaches to the council as a whole and asks in particular what is the position and contribution of Lumen gentium. A first approach takes the formal status of the conciliar documents as its point of departure. Lumen gentium belongs to the four most highly qualified documents. This approach, however, calls into question the relation between the four constitutions, both relating to their content and to their qualification as “dogmatic” or “pastoral”. A second approach, introduced by Peter Hünermann, focuses on the genre of the council’s texts as “constitutional texts”. They depict the Church’s self-understanding on the base of the self-reflection by its representatives, i.e. the bishops gathered at the council, as a fundamental source for structuring Church life. Lumen gentium appears to be a clear example of this genre. Text and content, however, need to be connected with the council as event. This is valued in a third approach, presented by Gilles Routhier, which focuses on process and method. Deliberately asking what the question at stake is and which keywords open the door to a fruitful discussion were important methodical steps of the council. They also made a reframing of the mind-set possible which distanced itself from a Neo-Scholastic method. A fourth approach focuses on the style of Vatican II. It is introduced by John W. O’Malley and elaborated further by Christoph Theobald. O’Malley characterizes the style of Vatican II as epideictic and akin to the style of the Church Fathers. According to Theobald, the invitation to learn exercising teaching authority in a pastoral way, a commission, given to the council fathers by Pope John XXIII in his opening address, determines the unity and coherence of the council’s style. In this respect, Lumen gentium is only a step in this learning process.
|Number of pages||21|
|Journal||Collationes: Vlaams Tijdschrift voor Theologie en Pastoraal|
|Publication status||Published - 2014|
- Vatican II - hermeneutics