Great Grace Conference - Receiving Vatican II Today

Last edited 12th June 2013

Great Grace Conference - Receiving Vatican II Today

Workshop Ecclesia ad extra: The Church’s mission in the world - Dr Nigel Zimmermann


Where does the Church look to find its mission? It seems such a broad question to ask, and surely the answer is simple; "the world". Yet, the Second Vatican Council offered a profoundly theological answer to the question of mission, and emphasised that the place of the world is not simply a bare surface upon which Christian belief is to be written. Rather, the world is the complex situation into which the Holy Spirit moves and reaches, seeking out what it may claim for Christ. Indeed, the Holy Spirit goes where it wills, and often the Church discovers the Spirit at work in people and places long ahead of the Church's own arrival

In this presentation, the Church's mission in the world is explored in terms of what interpreters of the Council have called the Ecclesia ad extra – the mission outside of the Church. This was not a term utilised so much in the Conciliar documents, but it sums up a concept to which the Council Fathers gave much attention. Gaudium et Spes will be particularly taken up in its description of the world as the place of mission, a world it describes as "both powerful and weak." (GS 9)

Dr Nigel Zimmermann is a Lecturer in Theology at the University of Notre Dame Australia