What is the apostolic authority in Christianity



The apostolic character of the Church and the
apostolic succession




The present study aims to shed light on the concept of apostolic succession, on the one hand because a presentation of Catholic doctrine about it appears to be significant for church life, and on the other hand because ecumenical dialogue requires it. Indeed, ecumenical dialogue is taking place all over the world and has prospects of a fruitful future if Catholics participate in it in faithfulness to their Catholic identity. We would therefore like to present Catholic teaching on apostolic succession with the aim of strengthening our brothers in faith and contributing to the development and maturation of ecumenical dialogue.

Let's name some of the difficulties we often encounter:

- What can be learned scientifically from the New Testament? How can the connection between the New Testament and the tradition of the Church be shown?

- What role does the laying on of hands play in apostolic succession?

- Isn't there a tendency in some circles to reduce apostolic succession to the apostolic character of the Church as a whole, or, conversely, to reduce the apostolicity of the Church to apostolic succession?

- How are the ministries of the other churches and ecclesial communities to be assessed with regard to their relationship to apostolic succession?

Behind all these questions is the problem of the relationship between Scripture, tradition and solemn declarations of the Church. All our reflections are guided by the vision of the Church, which, according to the will of the Father, emerges entirely from the Passover mystery of Christ, animated by the Spirit and organically structured. We would like to place the peculiar role of apostolic succession in the church as a whole, which professes the apostolic faith and bears witness to its Lord.

We rely on the Holy Scriptures, which for us has a double value as a historical and as an inspired document. As a historical document, the New Testament tells the main events of the mission of Jesus and the Church in the first century; as an inspired document, it attests to these fundamental facts, interprets them, and shows their true intrinsic meaning and dynamic coherence. As the expression of God's thoughts in human words, Scripture has groundbreaking value for the thinking of the Church of Christ at all times.

A reading of Scripture, which as an inspired book ascribes a normative character for the Church of all times, is necessarily a reading within the tradition of the Church, which has recognized Scripture as inspired and normative. Recognition of the normative character of script fundamentally implies the recognition of the tradition in whose bosom script matured and was seen and accepted as inspired. Their normative character and their relation to tradition are mutually dependent. It follows from this that every, in the true sense of the word, theological consideration of Scripture is always at the same time a Church consideration.

The entire document thus has the following methodological starting point: every attempt at reconstruction that sought to isolate individual phases from the formation process of the New Testament scriptures and separate them from their living acceptance by the Church is inherently contradictory.

This theological method sees in Scripture an indivisible whole that is connected with the life and thought of the community in which it is known and recognized as Holy Scripture; it in no way implies a neutralization of the historical standpoint by an ecclesiastical one A priorithat would dispense with reading according to the requirements of the historical method. The chosen method makes it possible to perceive the limits of pure historicism; it is aware that the purely historical analysis of a single book, isolated from its history of impact, cannot prove with certainty that the concrete path of faith in history is the only possible one. However, these undoubted limits of historical provability do not destroy the value and weight of historical knowledge. On the contrary, the fact of the acceptance of Scripture as such, which has a constitutive meaning for the early Church, has to be considered over and over again in its meaning: the relationship between the parts in their diversity and the unity of the whole must be considered over and over again. This also means that the Scriptures themselves cannot be broken down into a series of drafts arranged next to one another, each of which contains a life project oriented towards Jesus of Nazareth; it must rather be interpreted as a historical path on which the unity and catholicity of the church appear.

On this journey, which includes three major stages - the pre-Easter, the apostolic and the post-apostolic [1] period - each moment has its own weight and it is significant that the “apostolic men”, of whom the Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum speaks (DV 18), were able to write part of the writings of the New Testament.

This clearly shows the way in which the church of Jesus Christ solved the problem of remaining apostolic even though it had become post-apostolic. There is consequently a specific normative character of the post-apostolic writings of the New Testament for the entire church period after the apostles, which certainly remains based on the apostles, who in turn have Christ as their foundation.

In the post-apostolic texts, the tradition is clearly attested by Scripture itself, and the teaching office is already beginning to manifest itself in the appeal to the teaching of the apostles (Acts 2,42; 2 Petr 1,20; Eph 3.5). This Magisterium will develop fully in the second century, when the concept of apostolic succession will be fully clarified.

Scripture and tradition together, meditated and authentically interpreted by the Magisterium, faithfully hand down the teaching of Christ, our God and Savior, and regulate the teaching that the Church has to proclaim to all peoples and apply anew for every new generation until the end of time.

From this strictly theological point of view and in accordance with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, we have written the following statements about the apostolic succession and about the evaluation of the ecclesiastical ministries, which are not yet fully integrated with the Catholic Church Communion standing churches and ecclesial communities exist.


I. The Apostolic Character of the Church and the Common Priesthood

1. The creed states that the church is apostolic. This means not only that she continues to profess the apostolic faith, but that she is determined to live under the norm of the early church, which is guided by the first witnesses of Christ and founded by the Holy Spirit, whom the Lord gave her after his resurrection . The Acts of the Apostles and Acts of the Apostles show us the effective presence of this Spirit in the whole Church, not only in terms of its dissemination, but even more so in terms of the transformation of hearts: it makes them conform to the inmost disposition of Christ. The martyr Stephen repeats the words of the forgiveness of the dying Lord; when Peter and John are scourged, they rejoice that they have been found worthy to suffer for him; Paul carries the stigmata (Gal 6:17), he would like to be conformed to the death of Christ (Phil 3:10), he does not want to know anything other than the crucified oneCor 1.23; 2.2) and understands its existence as an approximation to the atoning sacrifice on the cross (Phil 2,13; Col 1,24).

2. This alignment with the attitude of Christ and especially with his sacrificial death for the world represents the ultimate meaning of every life that wants to be Christian, spiritual, apostolic.

The early Church therefore adapts the priestly vocabulary of the Old Testament to Christ, the Easter Lamb of the New Covenant (1Cor 5,7), as well as - in relation to him - the Christians, whose life is determined by the relationship to the Paschal mystery. They who have been converted by the preaching of the gospel are convinced that they live a “holy and royal priesthood,” the pneumatic translation of that of the ancient peoplePetr 2,5.9; see. Ex 19,6; Isa 61.6). This has been made possible by the beginning of the offering of the sacrifice of the one who brings together all the old sacrifices and opens the way to the all-embracing, eschatological sacrifice of the Church. [2]

As living stones of the new building, the church founded on Christ, Christians really offer God a cult in the novelty of the spirit, a cult that is personal at the same time - after all, it is about life "as living, holy, pleasing to God To offer sacrifices "(Rom 12.1f .; see 1Petr 2.5) - and collectively, because all together the “pneumatic building”, the “holy” and “royal priesthood” (1Petr 2,9), the aim of which is to offer “pneumatic sacrifices that are pleasing to God through Jesus Christ” (1Petr 2,5).

This priesthood has several dimensions: one ethicalfor it is to be practiced daily and through all acts of ordinary life; a eschatologicalbecause for eternity to come, Christ made us "a kingdom of priests to God his Father" (Rev. 1.6); and one actually culticbecause the Eucharist from which they live is compared by Paul with the sacrifices of the Old Law, even - in contrast - with those of the Gentiles (1Cor 10,16–21).

3. Now, however, Christ has established a ministry to establish, revive and maintain this Christian priesthood, through whose signs and tools he communicates the fruits of his life, his death and his resurrection to his people in the course of history. The first foundations of this ministry were laid with the calling of the Twelve, who at the same time represented the new Israel in its entirety and, after Easter, were the privileged witnesses sent out to preach the gospel of salvation, the heads of the New People, the “collaborators of God will be at the erection of his house "(1Cor 3.9). The role of this ministry is essential for every Christian generation. Therefore it must be handed down from the apostles in an uninterrupted succession.

If the universal Church can be said to be built on the foundation of the apostles (Eph 2,20; Rev. 21:14), it must also be affirmed at the same time and inseparably from this that this apostolicity, which is common to the whole Church, is tied to the apostolic succession of the ministry, which is an indispensable ecclesiastical structure in the service of all Christians.


II. The originality of the apostolic foundation of the Church

The apostolic foundation of the church is characterized by the fact that it is both historical and pneumatic.

It is historical insofar as it was established by a historical act of Jesus during his earthly life: by the calling of the twelve right at the beginning of his public ministry, their institution to represent the new Israel and to be associated ever more closely with Jesus' Passover path who is completed in the cross and resurrection (Mk 1,17; 3,14; Lk 22,28; Joh 15.16). The resurrection does not change the pre-Easter apostolic structure, but rather confirms it. Christ makes the twelve witnesses of his resurrection in a special way according to the same order that he established before his death: the oldest confession of the resurrected one includes Peter and the twelve as privileged witnesses of the resurrection (Gen.Cor 15.5). Those who have joined Jesus from the beginning of his ministry to the threshold of his suffering can publicly testify that it was that same Jesus is who is risen (Joh 15.27). After Judas' apostasy, before Pentecost, the first concern of the eleven was to share in their apostolic ministry with one of the disciples who had accompanied Jesus from the time of his baptism so that he could witness his resurrection with them (Acts 1.17.22f.). Paul, too, who is called by the risen Christ himself to serve as an apostle and thus incorporated into the foundation of the church, is aware of the need for fellowship with the twelve.

This foundation is not only historical but also pneumatic. The Passover of Christ, anticipated in the Lord's Supper, establishes the people of the new covenant and therefore encompasses all of human history. The mission of evangelization, leadership, reconciliation and sanctification entrusted to the first witnesses cannot be restricted to their lifetime. As far as the Eucharist is concerned, the tradition, the basic lines of which were already apparent in the first century (cf. Lk and Joh) that the apostles were given authority to preside over the celebration of the Eucharist because of their participation in the Lord's Supper.

The apostolic ministry is thus an eschatological institution. Its pneumatic origin shines in the Holy Spirit-inspired prayer of Christ, in which, as at all great turning points of his life, he recognizes the will of the Father (Lk 6,12–16; Joh 17.19). The pneumatic participation of the apostles in the mystery of Christ is fulfilled with the full gift of the Holy Spirit after Easter (Joh 20,22; Lk 24,44-49). The Spirit reminds them of everything Jesus said (Joh 14:26) and introduces them to a deeper understanding of its mystery (Joh 16: 13-15). Likewise, if the kerygma is to be understood in itself, it must neither be separated from nor abstract from the faith to which the Twelve and Paul came in their conversion to the Lord Jesus, nor from the testimony which they hold have given up on this belief with their entire lives.


III. The Apostles and Apostolic Succession in History

The documents of the New Testament show in the early days of the Church, while the apostles were still alive, a difference in the organization of the congregations, but at the same time also a tendency of the teaching and leadership ministry to assert and strengthen itself in the following period.

The men who led the churches during the apostles' lifetime and after their death have different names in the New Testament texts: presbyteroi-episkopoi, they are called poimenes, hegoumenoi, proistamenoi, cybernetic ice described. What this presbyteroi-episkopoi Characterized in relation to the rest of the Church is its apostolic ministry of teaching and direction. However chosen, by or depending on the authority of the Twelve or Paul, they partake of the authority of the apostles instituted by Christ, who forever retain their unique character.

In the course of time this ministry experienced a development out of internal consequence and necessity, favored by external factors, above all the defense against errors and a lack of unity in the congregations. But when the congregations were deprived of the apostles 'presence, but still wanted to refer to their authority, the apostles' tasks in these congregations and towards them had to be appropriately maintained and carried on.

Already in the New Testament writings, which reflect the transition from the apostolic to the post-apostolic age, a development can be seen that will lead to a stabilization and general recognition of the ministry of the bishop in the second century. The stages of this development are given in the last writings of Corpus Paulinum and recognizable in other texts that tie in with the authority of the apostles. What the apostles meant for the congregations of the founding time was recognized as essential for the structure of the church as well as for the individual congregations through the reflection of the post-apostolic period on their origins. The principle of the apostolicity of the Church gained in this reflection has led to the recognition of the ministry of instruction and leadership as an institution of Christ through the apostles and their mediation.

The Church lives in the certainty that before Jesus left this world, Jesus sent the eleven on a universal mission, sent out with the promise to remain with them every day until the end of the world (Mt 28: 18-20). The time of the Church as the time of this universal mission is thus included even in this presence of Christ, which is the same in the apostolic as in the post-apostolic time and takes the form of a single apostolic ministry.

Tensions between the congregation and the holders of a ministry with authority cannot be completely avoided, as the New Testament scriptures show. On the one hand, Paul tried to understand the Gospel with and in the community and to find norms for the Christian life; on the other hand, he faced it when it came to the truth of the Gospel (cf. Gal) or indispensable principles of Christian life (cf. 1 Cor 7 etc.), with his apostolic authority.Likewise, the ministry of leadership must never separate itself from the community and rise above it, rather it has to perform its service in and for it. However, by accepting apostolic leadership - whether it be through the apostles themselves or through servants who follow them - the New Testament church submits to the leadership of the ministry, which through its bearers refers back to the authority of the Lord.

The sparse nature of the documents does not allow us to define the transitions as clearly as we would like. The end of the first century reveals a situation in which the Apostles, their immediate collaborators, and ultimately their successors, local quorums of presbyteroi and episkopoi call into the void. At the beginning of the second century, the image of the only bishop as the head of the community emerges powerfully in the letters of St. Ignatius, who also claims that this institution is established “to the extreme limits of the earth” [3]. In the course of the second century, in the wake of Clement's letter, this institution was expressly recognized as the bearer of the apostolic succession. Ordination by the laying on of hands, as attested in the pastoral letters, appears within the clarification process as an important step towards maintaining the apostolic tradition and guaranteeing the following in the ministry. Third century documents ("Traditio“Hippolyts) show that this ordination with the laying on of hands was considered a secure property and a necessary facility.

Clement of Rome and Irenaeus of Lyons develop a doctrine of pastoral leadership and of the word which, from the unity between word, mission and service, gives rise to the idea of ​​apostolic succession; this has become the permanent basis for the self-image of the Catholic Church.


IV. The pneumatic aspect of apostolic succession

If, after this historical perspective, we turn to the pneumatic aspect of apostolic succession, we must first underline that the ordained ministry, which represents the Gospel with authority and basically presents itself as a ministry to the entire Church (Ex Cor 4: 5), required of the official servant to make present the humiliated and crucified Christ (2 Cor 6.4ff .; Gal 2.19ff .; 6.14; 1 Cor 4,9ff.).

The Church that he serves is, in its entirety and in each of its members, animated and moved by the Spirit, since every baptized person is “taught by the Spirit” (Gen. Thes 4.9; see. Hebrew 8,11ff .; Jer 31,33ff .: 1 Joh 2,20; Joh 6.45). The priestly service can therefore only call to mind with authority what was initially included in his baptismal faith, but whose fullness he can never exhaust here below. Accordingly, the believer must nourish his own faith and his own Christian life through the sacramental mediation of the divine life. The norm of belief - which we call in its formal character regula fidei denote - is to him through the work of the Spirit immanent and still remains in relation to humans transcendent, because it can never be purely individual, but is essentially ecclesiastical and catholic.

In the rule of faith, the immediacy of the divine Pneuma to every person is necessarily connected with the communal form of this faith. Paul's statement: "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord'" except in the Holy Spirit "(Gen. Cor 12.3), always remains valid; Without the conversion, which the Spirit alone grants the hearts, no one can recognize Jesus in his quality as the Son of God, and only he who recognizes him as the Son will truly recognize him whom he calls "Father" (Jn 14: 7; 8, 19 etc.). Because the Spirit communicates to us the knowledge of the Father through Jesus, the Christian faith is Trinitarian: its pneumatic shape closes this content necessary in itself, which is sacramentally expressed and realized in trinitarian baptism.

The rule of faith, that is, the form of baptismal catechesis in which the Trinitarian content unfolds, forms, in its unity of form and content, the enduring pivot of the apostolicity and catholicity of the Church. She realizes that Apostolicitybecause it binds the first messengers of faith to the christological-pneumatological rule; they do not speak on their own behalf, but rather testify to what they have heard (Joh 7.18; 16.13 etc.).

Jesus Christ shows himself to be the Son in so far as he proclaims what comes from the Father. The Spirit proves to be the Spirit of the Father and of the Son because it does not draw from what is one's own, but reveals them and calls to mind what comes from the Son (Joh 16,13f.). In the continuing work of the Son and his Spirit, this becomes the distinguishing characteristic of the apostolic succession. The ecclesiastical magisterium differs both from a mere magisterium of doctors and from an authoritarian power. Where the magisterium of belief was passed over to professors, belief would be tied to the intellectual insight of individuals and thus largely at the mercy of the zeitgeist. And where faith depended on the despotic power of certain individual or collective persons who decreed what is normative by themselves, truth would be replaced by an arbitrary power. The true apostolic magisterium, on the other hand, is bound by the word of the Lord and thereby leads all who hear it to freedom.

Nothing in the Church escapes apostolic mediation: neither the shepherds nor their flock, neither the statements of faith nor the precepts of Christian life. The ordained ministry is even related to this mediation in two ways, since on the one hand it is itself subject to the rule of Christian origins, and on the other - according to a word of Augustine - it is required to be instructed by the community of believers who teach it themselves is obliged.


Two conclusions can be drawn from what has been said:

1. No gospel preacher has the right to devise a plan for evangelical preaching according to his own hypotheses. He proclaims the faith of the apostolic church and not his own personality or his own religious experiences.

This means that in addition to the two mentioned elements of the rule of faith - form and content - there is a third: the rule of faith challenges you sent Witness who does not authorize himself, who no individual church can authorize either, by virtue of the transcendence of the divine word. Authority cannot be conferred other than sacramentally by those who are already sent. Certainly, the Spirit, in freedom, constantly awakens various preaching and service charisms in the Church and inspires all Christians to give testimony to their faith; but these activities must be carried out in relation to the three mentioned elements of the rule of faith (cf. LG 12).

2. The broadcastwhich in this way - again according to the Trinitarian principle - belongs to the rule of faith, refers to the catholicity of faithwhich is a consequence of their apostolicity and at the same time the condition of their continuation. Because no individual and no isolated community have the authority to send. Only the connection with the whole (kat’holon) - the catholicity in space and time - guarantees the continuity in the broadcast. Thus catholicity also explains that the believer is a member of the Church in the immediate Participation in the Triune Life through the Mediation is introduced not only to the God-Man, but also to his Church, which is closely connected to him. Because of the Catholic dimension of her truth and her life, this mediation by the Church must take place in a normative way, i.e. through a ministry that is given to her as a constitutive form. This ministry will not only be allowed to refer to a historically past time (which may be represented by a collection of documents), rather it must in be given the power of attorney for this reference, self To represent the origin, the living Christ, through the officially authorized proclamation of the Gospel and through the authorized celebration of sacramental acts, especially the Eucharist.


V. Apostolic succession and its transmission

Just as the divine Word incarnate is itself the proclamation and the communicative principle of the divine life which it reveals to us in itself, so the service of the Word in its fullness is also service to the sacraments of faith, above all the Eucharist; in this the divine word, Christ, does not cease to be an actual salvation event for people. Pastoral authority is the responsibility of the apostolic ministry with regard to the unity of the Church and its development, the source of which is the Word and for which the sacraments are both the proclamation and the fundamental place of realization.

The apostolic succession is therefore that aspect of the nature and life of the church which manifests the actual dependence of the church on Christ through his messengers. The apostolic service is thus the sacrament of the effective presence of Christ and the Spirit among the people of God, without diminishing the direct influence of Christ and the Spirit on every believer.

The charism of apostolic succession is received in the visible communion of the Church. It presupposes that whoever is to be ordained into the body of ministers must have the faith of the Church. However, that is not enough. The gift of the ministry is communicated in an act that is the sensual and effective sign of the gift of the Spirit, in an act of which one or more bearers of the ministry who are already incorporated into the apostolic succession are instrumental.

The apostolic ministry is passed on through ordination, which includes a rite with a sensual sign and an invocation of God (epiclesis) to give the person to be consecrated the gift of his Holy Spirit and the powers necessary for the fulfillment of his task. Since the New Testament, the sensual sign has been the laying on of hands (cf. LG 21). The ordination rite testifies that what happens in the candidate is not of human origin and that the Church does not dispose of the gift of the Spirit as it pleases.

Aware that her own existence is tied to apostolicity and that the ministry conferred by ordination inserts the consecrated into the apostolic confession of the Truth of the Father, the Church has, in the strictest sense of the word, considered it necessary for apostolic succession that ordination is bestowed and received in the faith that she herself associates with it.

The apostolic succession of the ministry affects the whole church; however, it does not emerge from the church in itself, but passes from Christ to the apostles and from the apostles to all bishops until the end of time.


VI. Elements for the evaluation of the non-Catholic service positions

The foregoing survey of the Catholic understanding of apostolic succession gives us the opportunity to present the main lines of an evaluation of non-Catholic ministries. In this context it is essential to keep an eye on the different origins of these churches and communities, their development and their self-image.

1. Despite different assessments of the ministry of Peter, the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and other churches that have preserved the reality of apostolic succession are united in a common basic view of the sacramentality of the Church, as it has been through the New Testament times common fathers and especially through St. Irenaeus has spread. These churches consider the sacramental incorporation into the ecclesiastical ministry, which takes place by the laying on of hands and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, as the indispensable form for the transmission of apostolic succession, which only the Church in teaching and Communion lets persist. This unanimity regarding the never-broken connection between scripture, tradition and sacrament is the reason why the Communion between these churches and the Catholic Church never completely ceased and can be revived today.

2. Fruitful discussions continue with the Anglican Communions who have preserved the laying on of hands but have changed its interpretation.

It is not possible here to anticipate the future results of this dialogue which seeks to clarify the extent to which the essential elements of unity are included in the rite of the laying on of hands and the associated prayers.

3. The communities that emerged from the Reformation of the sixteenth century are so different from one another that their relationships with the Catholic Church should be described according to the nuances of each individual case. Nevertheless, some common traits can be identified. The common endeavor of the Reformation was to negate the bond between Scripture and tradition of the Church in favor of the normativity of Scripture alone. Even if the tradition is subsequently invoked in different ways, it is not accorded the same dignity as the old church.

Since the Sacrament of Orders is the indispensable sacramental expression of the Communion is in tradition, has the preaching of the sola scriptura resulted in a darkening of the old understanding of the Church and her priesthood. In fact, over the centuries, the laying on of hands has often been dispensed with, be it by those who have already been consecrated or by others. Where it has been practiced, it does not always have the same meaning as in the Church of Tradition. This difference in the way of introducing and interpreting the ministry is nothing but the salient symptom of a different understanding of the terms “church” and “tradition”. Numerous promising approaches [4] have begun to re-establish contact with this tradition, although the break has not yet been effectively overcome. In such circumstances, Eucharistic intercommunion remains impossible for the moment [5] because sacramental continuity in apostolic succession has been an indispensable ecclesiastical element from the very beginning both for the Orthodox and Catholic Churches Communion represents.

This statement in no way means that the ecclesiastical and pneumatic qualities of the Protestant ministries and communities are irrelevant. The ministers built and nourished the churches; through baptism, through the study and preaching of the Word, through common prayer and the celebration of the Lord's Supper, through their zeal, they have led people to believe in the Lord and thus helped them to find the way of salvation. There are therefore elements in these communities which certainly belong to the apostolicity of the only Church of Christ [6].

Even if the agreement with the Catholic Church can only be brought about sacramentally - and never on the basis of purely legal or administrative measures [7] - it is evident that the pneumatic quality of these ministries must never be neglected. Such a sacramental act would have to incorporate existing values ​​into the Catholica integrate, and its rite would have to express unequivocally that actually existing charisms are being incorporated.


[1] The personal presence of the apostles is the hallmark of the apostolic age, which therefore cannot be precisely defined in terms of time, since the apostles in the different churches died at different times. The post-apostolic period is understood here as the period between the death of the apostles and the completion of the canonical writings, which are often introduced under the name and with the authority of an apostle in order to document the continuity with the message they update.

[2] Cf. Augustine, De civitate Dei X.6 (CCL 47, 279).

[3] Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Ephesios III, 2 (Funk I, 216; A. Lindemann [Ed.], The Apostolic Fathers, Tübingen 1992, 181).

[4] See the results of certain bilateral dialogues.

[5] For the Eucharistic hospitality in individual cases cf. Ecumenical Directory No. 38ff. (This refers to the first Ecumenical Directory, which appeared in two parts in 1967 and 1970: AAS [1967] 574–592; [1970] 705–724; German translation: Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity, Ecumenical Directory, Part One, Bonifatius-Verlag: Paderborn 1967, and Paulinus-Verlag: Trier 1967; Second part: Bonifatius-Verlag: Paderborn 1970, and Paulinus-Verlag: Trier 1970; Note d. Eds.).

[6] Cf. LG 15 and UR 3 and 19-23.

[7] If one wanted to replace this rite with a simple decree of some authority, there would be the danger of replacing the sacramental gift, which one cannot dispose of at will, with the arbitrariness of the official.