Chapter

The Concept of Catholicity: Yesterday and Today

Avery Dulles

in The Catholicity of the Church

Published in print October 1987 | ISBN: 9780198266952
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600555 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198266952.003.0002
The Concept of Catholicity: Yesterday and Today

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In the creeds and for the Church Fathers, the catholicity of the Church generally meant completeness and authenticity. In the Reformation period, Roman Catholics picked up especially on the idea of geographical extension. Subsequently, liberal Protestants identified Catholicism with ritualism and legalism. In the era of Romanticism, Catholics began to depict catholicity as a synonym for incarnational and sacramental religion. In the mid‐twentieth century, attention became focused on the problems of seeking unity and reconciliation in the secular world. Offsetting the accusation that religion was divisive, Vatican II presented catholicity as a progressively achieved reconciliation of diverse elements. The World Council of Churches at Uppsala (1968) depicted the Church as ‘the sign of the coming unity of mankind,’ overcoming all forms of alienation and oppression.

Keywords: Apostles’ Creed; Aquinas; Augustine; Cyril of Jerusalem; Möhler; Newman; Nicene–Constantinopolitan Creed; Vatican Council II; World Council of Churches

Chapter.  6299 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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