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64 Jurist 35 (2004)
A Notion of Collegiality

handle is hein.journals/juristcu64 and id is 39 raw text is: THE JURIST 64 (2004) 35-38

A NOTION OF COLLEGIALITY
LADISLAS M. ORSY, S.J.*
In the present and the next issue of The Jurist, the authors, members of
the Peter and Paul Seminar, are responding to the questions: What is col-
legiality in the Church? What should its practice be?
No intelligent search, however, is possible unless the searchers have a
notion, an initial intuition, as to what they are looking for; an explo-
ration makes sense only when it has a determined goal-even if it is per-
ceived only in its contours. Paradoxically, it follows that to find colle-
giality one must begin with collegiality.
For this reason, before the authors set out to do their work, they held
extended conversations with the aim of finding a notion of collegiality
on which they could agree, and which is broad enough to allow legiti-
mate diversity and narrow enough to keep the inquiry focused-always
within the parameters of the Christian tradition.
An obvious way to find such a common focus would have been to turn
to the texts on collegiality in Lumen gentium and in the Nota praevia in-
tended to interpret them. Surely, there could not be a better point of de-
parture than the mind of the council !
To invoke the council sounds fair and just in the abstract order, but it
does not make good sense once the history of the council is taken into ac-
count. The proposal assumes that the two thousand and some fathers
have succeeded in agreeing on a precise definition of collegiality which
unfailingly (if not infallibly) reflects our Catholic tradition. No such
meeting of minds has taken place at the council.
The historical truth is that at least two understandings of collegiality
kept colliding during the long debates which, all counted, lasted for over
two years within and without the council aula, One group of bishops, a
minority, led by prominent members of the Roman Curia, tended to un-
derstand collegiality on the basis of Roman law as designating a corpora-
tion where all members are of equal standing-hence a doctrine endan-
gering the dogma of papal primacy. Not surprisingly, they were against
collegiality. Another group, the majority, inspired by theologians from be-
yond the Alps, perceived collegiality as belonging to the very nature of the
* Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC.

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