Profound conflicts mark the theology and practice of ministry in the Roman Catholic Church today. The affirmation of lay ministry rooted in baptism has left many priests and potential priests questioning their identity in the Church. Some lay ministers resent what they see as prerogatives and privileges accorded to the ordained. While some members of the Church are attempting to reclaim an identity for the ordained based on hierarchical and juridical powers, others are rejecting the very notion of the distinctive ministry of the ordained. Both lines of thinking betray the vision of Vatican II and the formative traditions of the Church.
Ordering the Baptismal Priesthood affirms lay and ordained ministry today and proposes seven convergence points as principles to shape a theology of ordered ministries. Ordered ministry grounded in baptism constitutes a repositioning of the minister in the Church and provides a way forward in articulating a contemporary theology of ministry. Such a theology respects the role of the laity in both the spiritual and temporal orders. It offers a way to account for more stable ministry on the part of the laity who have prepared themselves formationally and professionally for service to the Church. It officially positions their contributions among recognized ministries in the name of the Church. Finally, it heals the divide that too often separates the lay and the ordained by allowing for a diversity of ordered ministries within the official ministry of the Church.
Chapters and contributors are "Ministerial Identity: A Question of Common Foundations," by Michael Downey; “The Ecclesiological Foundations of Ministry within an Ordered Communion,” by Richard R. Gaillardetz; “Ministry and Ministries,” by Thomas P. Rausch, SJ; “Canon Law and Emerging Understandings of Ministry,” by Elissa Rinere, CP; “Priesthood Revisited: Mission and Ministries in the Royal Priesthood,” by David N. Power, OMI; “Laity, Ministry, and Secular Character,” by Zeni Fox; “The Secular Character of the Vocation and Mission of the Laity: Towards a Theology of Ecclesial Lay Ministry,” by Aurelie A. Hagstrom; “Presbyteral Identity within Parish Identity,” by Susan K. Wood, SCL; “Envisioning a Theology of Ordained and Lay Ministry: Lay/Ordained Ministry—Current Issues of Ambiguity,” by Kenan B. Osborne, OFM; “Institutes of Consecrated Life: Identity, Integrity, and Ministry,” by R. Kevin Seasoltz, OSB; and “Conclusion: Convergence Points Toward a Theology of Ordered Ministries,” by Susan K. Wood, SCL
Susan K. Wood, SCL, PhD, is chair of the department of theology at Marquette University,and a member of the U.S.
Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue. She is the author of Sacramental Orders (2000) and and One Baptism: Ecumenical Dimensions of the Doctrine of Baptism (2009) both published by Liturgical Press.