Lucian Paulet: Yves Congar’s Vision of the Role of the Holy Spirit Regarding the Unity of the Church: 1953-1971
This article is a follow-up of a previous study: “The Holy Spirit as the Principle of Ecclesial Unity in Yves Congar’s Early Writings,” which concluded that “Congar never understood unity as uniformity, but after 1946-1947, he became increasingly attentive to diversity and even defined the visible unity of the Church as communion”. It was only natural to continue the research on the same topic with the subsequent writings of Congar. Therefore, this article presents how Congar’s vision on the role of the Holy Spirit regarding the unity of the Church developed between 1952 and 1971. Which are some of his discoveries on the topic? Which are the factors that contributed to the development of his thinking during this period of time? Did his overall vision of the Church change?—these are some of the main questions that this article will try to answer.
“Le Saint-Esprit et le Corps apostolique, réalisateurs de l’oeuvre du Christ” (1952) opened a period when Congar emphasized a certain freedom of the Spirit with regard to the institutions of the Church (not with regard to the mission of Christ). This period included for Congar a discovery of diversity in the Church, the charisms of the Spirit, the status and role of the faithful, of the relation of the Church to the world, the rediscovery of the eastern tradition, the beginnings of a rediscovery of the Reform, a wide awareness of the modern ‘secular’ world. In Congar’s words, this was for him a period of “a mass sortie from the ghetto, which could also be called an emergence from the era of Constantine or of the Counter-Reformation with its largely polemical outlook.”