Great Grace Conference - Receiving Vatican II Today

Last edited 12th June 2013

Great Grace Conference - Receiving Vatican II Today

Workshop - Power, authority and service in a post-Conciliar era - Archbishop Costelloe


The two concepts of “power” and “authority” are often presented as being in contrast with the notion of “service”. In the Christian tradition however those who exercise power or authority in the Christian community are understood to be servants of the community rather than masters or overlords. This understanding of the relationship between power and service comes from the teaching and the example of Jesus “who came not to be served but to serve”. In the post-Conciliar Church this fundamental Christian approach is seen to be grounded in a number of threads of theology which coalesce in the concepts of the Church as the Pilgrim People of God, the universal call to holiness and the relationship between the universal priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial priesthood of ordained priests and bishops.

In this workshop the nature of power, authority and service in the Christian community will be considered by looking at the fundamental identity of the Church as expressed in the documents of Vatican 11 and the way in which the structural elements of the Church serve this fundamental identity. Particular attention will be given to the concept of the Church as the “priestly people”, a theological description which was given some prominence in the documents of Vatican 11. The implications of this for a genuinely Christian exercise of authority and service will be explored, particularly through an examination of the one and unique priesthood of Christ, in which the Church, as a priestly people, participates.

- Archbishop Timothy John Costelloe SDB is the Archbishop of Perth



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