52 Jurist 455 (1992)
Catholicity as a Property of the Church

handle is hein.journals/juristcu52 and id is 461 raw text is: THE JuRisT 52 (1992) 455-483

CATHOLICITY AS A PROPERTY OF THE CHURCH
WOLFGANG BEINERT*
What can be said about catholicity as a property of the Church of
Jesus Christ can be summarized in the well-known formulation of Karl
Barth in 1953: It is really impossible to renounce the point. The
Church is catholic or it is not the Church.' The following reflections
are only an effort to develop this point in our time and place. The time
is the present situation of church and society. This also defines the
place somewhat: first, central Europe; but also of necessity the whole
inhabited earth in light of the universal interrelationship of the pertinent
realities. The Greeks used to speak of the Oikumene.
Our reflections will be developed around four questions from a sys-
tematic theological perspective, questions which are as broad as pos-
sible within the context of this colloquium. (a) What does the attribute
catholic mean within the Church's profession of faith? (b) What is
the place of catholicity within the community of the Church in history
and at present? (c) From a theological perspective what is the basis for
the catholicity of the Church? (d) In light of the response to these
questions, what are the implications for the realization of catholicity in
the present situation of the church and society?
A. Catholicity as a Property of the Church in the Creed
Since we propose to treat our theme systematically we can forego
repeating the history of the use of the attribute catholic in our pro-
fessions of faith.2 We can ask simply what it means. Catholicity in
* Professor of Theology, University of Regensburg, Germany.
Karl Barth, Kirchliche Dogmnatik, 4/2 (Ziirch-Zollikon: Theologischer Verlag
und Buchhandlungen, 1953) 784.
2 See Wolfgang Beinert, Um das dritte Kirchenattribut (Essen: Ludgerus, 1964)
1: 36-77; J.N.D. Kelly, 'Catholic' and 'Apostolic' in the Early Centuries, One in
Christ 6 (1970) 274-287; Vladimir Lossky, In the Image and Likeness of God (Crest-
wood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1974) 169-181; Peter Steinacker, Die
Kennzeichen der Kirche. Eine Studie zu ihrer Einheit, Heiligkeit, Katholizitat und

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