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LUMEN GENTIUM. The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. The Teaching. Constitutions. The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy ( Sacrosanctum concilium ). Dogmatic Constitution on the Church ( Lumen Gentium ). Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation ( Dei verbum ).

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Lumen gentium


The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church

Lumen Gentium

The Teaching


The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum concilium)

Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium)

Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei verbum)

Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et spes)

The Teaching


Decree on the Means of Social Communication (Inter mirifica)

Decree on the Catholic Eastern Churches (Orientalium Ecclesiarum)

Decree on Ecumenism (Unitatis redintegratio)

Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church (Christus Dominus)

Decree on the Up-to-Date Renewal of Religious Life (Perfectae caritatis)

The Teaching


Decree on the Training of Priests (Optatam totius)

Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People (Apostolicam actuositatem)

Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity (Ad gentes divinitus)

Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests (Presbyterorum ordinis)

The four sessions

The Council

The Four Sessions

  • First Session

    • 11 October - 8 December 1962

  • Second Session

    • 29 September - 4 December 1963

  • Third Session

    • 14 September - 21 November 1964

  • Fourth Session

    • 14 September - 8 December 1965

Pre history

  • Counter-Reformation

  • First Vatican Council

  • Reception by Second Vatican Council

Lumen Gentium

Counter reformation

St Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621)

The Church is “an assembly of persons united by the profession of the same faith and communion in the same sacraments under the governance of legitimate pastors and especially of the one vicar of Christ on earth, the Roman pontiff.”

Lumen Gentium

First vatican council

  • Pastor Aeternis

    • affirming papal primacy in teaching and governance(juridical)

    • papal infallibility in teaching

    • hierarchical structure of the church

Lumen Gentium


So, then, if anyone says that the Roman pontiff has merely an office of supervision and guidance, and not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole church, and this not only in matters of faith and morals, but also in those which concern the discipline and government of the church dispersed throughout the whole world; or that he has only the principal part, but not the absolute fullness, of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate both over all and each of the churches and over all and each of the pastors and faithful: let him be anathema.


Therefore, ... we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman pontiff speaks ex cathedra, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. Therefore, such definitions are of themselves, and not by the consent of the church, irreformable.


“the power of the supreme pontiff by no means detracts from that ordinary and immediate power of episcopal jurisdiction, by which bishops, who have succeeded to the place of the apostles by appointment of the Holy Spirit, tend and govern individually the particular flocks which have been assigned to them.”

Gallicanism josephism


Lumen Gentium

T bingen school

Johann Adam Möhler (+1838)

By the Church on earth, Catholics understand the visible community of believers, founded by Christ, in which, by means of an enduring apostleship, established by him, and appointed to conduct all nations, in the course of ages, back to God, the works wrought by him during his earthly life, for the redemption and sanctification of mankind, are, under the guidance of his Spirit, continued to the end of the world.

Lumen Gentium

Pre history1

MysticiCorporis, Pius XII’s encyclical on Mystical Body (1943)

Lumen Gentium

Mystici corporis the mystical body

  • Acceptance of theological developments of previous century

  • Church is more than visible institution

  • Pauline image of the Body of Christ

  • Church defined by relationship with Christ

  • Visible and mystical

  • Visible Body is the Roman Catholic Church

  • Christ is Head of the Church

  • Holy Spirit is its soul

  • All are parts of Christ’s Body/members of the Church

Sources of renewed understanding

  • ressourcement by biblical and historical scholars

    • biblical images of church

    • patristic sources

    • rediscovering the church of the first millennium

Lumen Gentium

Catholic theologians

  • Karl Rahnersj

  • Edward Schillibeeckx op

  • Henri de Lubacsj

  • Hans Küng

  • Yves Congar op

  • Marie-Dominique Chenu op

Lumen Gentium

Sacrosanctum concilium 1963

Therefore all should hold in great esteem the liturgical life of the diocese centered around the bishop, especially in his cathedral church; they must be convinced that the pre-eminent manifestation of the Church consists in the full active participation of all God’s holy people in these liturgical celebrations, especially in the same eucharist, in a single prayer, at one altar, at which there presides the bishop surrounded by his college of priests and by his ministers. (SC, 41)

Lumen Gentium

First draft de ecclesia first session

  • The nature of the Church militant.

  • The members of the Church and the necessity of the Church for salvation.

  • The episcopate as the highest grade of the sacrament of orders; the priesthood.

  • Residential bishops.

  • The state of evangelical perfection.

  • The laity.

Lumen Gentium

First draft de ecclesia first session1

  • The teaching office of the Church.

  • Authority and obedience in the Church.

  • Relationships between Church and state and religious tolerance.

  • The necessity of proclaiming the gospel to all peoples and in the whole world.

  • Ecumenism.

  • Appendix: Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of Men (sic).

Lumen Gentium

Bishop emile de smedt of bruges

  • Critique of De Ecclesia:

  • “triumphalsim”

  • “clericalism”

  • “juridicism”

Lumen Gentium

Cardinal l on joseph suenens

  • Church ad intra

  • Church ad extra

    - became Gaudium et Spes

Lumen Gentium

Second draft de ecclesia second session

  • The mystery of the Church.

  • The hierarchical constitution of the Church and the episcopate in particular.

  • The People of God and the laity in particular.

  • The call to holiness in the Church.

Lumen Gentium

Debates second session
DEBATES (Second Session)

Chapter 2 – collegiality

Chapter 3 – to be placed before Chapter 2

Separate schema:

“The Blessed Virgin, Mother of the Church”

  • Cardinal König v. Cardinal Santos

  • Final vote: 1114 to 1074

Lumen Gentium

Second session

October 30 – Votes on Specific Matters:

Should the schema assert that episcopal consecration is the supreme grade of the sacrament of Orders?

2,123 affirmative, 34 negative.

Should the schema assert that every legitimately consecrated bishop in communion with the other bishops and the Roman Pontiff is a member of the Body of Bishops? 2,154 affirmative, 104 negative.

Second session1

October 30 – Votes on Specific Matters:

Should the schema assert that the so-called Body or College of Bishops in its evangelising, sanctifying and governing task is successor to the original College of the Apostles and, always in communion with the Roman Pontiff, enjoys full and supreme power over the universal church? 2,148 affirmative, 336 negative.

Lumen Gentium

Second session2

October 30 – Votes on Specific Matters:

Should the schema assert that the aforementioned power of the College of Bishops, united with their head, belongs to it by divine ordinance (and therefore not by papal delegation)?

2,138 affirmative, 408 negative.

Second session3

October 30 – Votes on Specific Matters:

Should the schema assert that it is opportune to consider the reinstatement of the diaconate as a permanent grade of sacred ministry, according to needs in different parts of the church?

2,120 affirmative, 525 negative.

Third draft third session
THIRD DRAFT (Third Session)

  • Intense debate concerning collegiality

  • Preliminary Explanatory Note (nota explicativapraevia) added on Nov. 16, 1964, approved by Pope Paul VI

    • Final vote: 2151 to 4

Lumen Gentium

FINAL DRAFT (Third Session)

Chapter I: The Mystery of the Church (Nos. 1-8)Chapter II: The People of God (Nos. 9-17)Chapter III: On the Hierarchical Structure of the Church and in particular on the Episcopate (Nos. 18-29)Chapter IV: The Laity (Nos. 30-38)Chapter V: The Universal Vocation to Holiness in the Church (Nos. 39-42)Chapter VI: Religious (Nos. 43-47)Chapter VII: The Eschatological Nature of the Pilgrim Church and its Union with the Church in Heaven (Nos. 48-51)Chapter VIII: The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the Mystery of Christ and the Church (Nos. 52-69)


No. 1

Christ is the Light of nations (lumen gentium). Because this is so, this Sacred Synod gathered together in the Holy Spirit eagerly desires, by proclaiming the Gospel to every creature (cf. Mk. 16, 15) to bring the light of Christ to all men, a light brightly visible on the countenance of the Church.


No. 1

Since the Church is in Christ like a sacrament or as a sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race, it desires now to unfold more fully to the faithful of the Church and to the whole world its own inner nature and universal mission.

Lumen Gentium


  • Body of Christ

People of God




No. 8 But the society structured with a hierarchical system and the Mystical Body of Christ, are not to be considered as two realities, nor are the visible assembly and the spiritual community, nor the earthly Church and the Church enriched with heavenly gifts; rather they form one complex reality which is composed of a divine and a human element.


No. 8 For this reason, by a striking analogy, it is compared to the mystery of the incarnate Word. As the assumed nature inseparably united to the divine Word, serves him as the living organ of salvation, so, in a similar way, does the visible social structure of the Church serve the Spirit of Christ, who vivifies her, in the building up of the body (cf. Eph. 4, 16).


No. 8The Church, embracing sinners with herself, at the same time holy and always in need of being purified, ceaselessly follows the way of penance and renewal.


No. 8The Church, constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by Peter’s successor and the bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and truth are found outside its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward universal unity.


No. 10Though they differ essentially from one another and not only in degree, the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood are nonetheless inter-related; each of them in its own special way is a sharing in the one priesthood of Christ.


No. 13Within the Church particular Churches (Eastern Catholic churches) hold a rightful place; these Churches retain their own traditions, without in any way opposing the primacy of the Chair of Peter, which presides over the whole assembly of charity and protects legitimate differences, while at the same time assuring that such differences do not hinder unity but rather contribute toward it. (LG13)


No. 15The Church recognises that she is linked in many ways with those who, being baptised, are honoured with the name of christian, but do not profess the faith in its entirety or preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter.


No. 16Finally, those who have not yet received the gospel are related in various ways to the People of God. In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and promises were given, and from whom Christ was born according the flesh (cf. Rom. 9, 4-5). On account of their fathers this chosen people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts he makes nor of the calls he issues (cf. Rom. 11, 28-29).


No. 16But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. Among whom in the first place are Moslems: professing that they hold the faith of Abraham, they adore with us the one and merciful God, who on thelast day will judgemankind.


No. 16Nor from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God is God far distant, for it is he who gives all men life, breath and all things (cf. Acts 17, 25-28), and as Saviour wills that all men be saved (cf. 1 Tim. 2, 4). For those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the gospel of Christ or his Church, yet sincerely seek God, and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do his will as it is known to them through the promptings of conscience.


No. 21And the Sacred Council teaches that by episcopal consecration the fullness of the sacrament of order is conferred, .....But episcopal consecration, together with the office of sanctifying, also confers the offices of teaching and governing, which, however, by their very nature, can be exercised only in hierarchical communion with the head and members of the College.


No. 22Just as – the Lord so disposing – St Peter and the other apostles constitute one apostolic College, so the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter, and the bishops, the successors of the apostles, are united with one another.

Preliminary note of pope paul vi

College always includes its head.

In College, Pope remains Pastor of Universal Church.

Distinction is not Pope or College but Pope or Pope + Bishops

As Pope he alone has certain competencies.

The Pope arranges, promotes and approves the exercise of collegial activity.

As Supreme Pastor, the Pope can always exercise his power at will.


Lumen Gentium


No. 22But the College or body of bishops has no authority unless it includes the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter, as its head. His power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and entire. In virtue of his office, as vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power: which he is always free to exercise.


No. 22Together with its head the Roman Pontiff and never without this head, the order of bishops which succeeds to the college of apostles in teaching and ruling the Church, and give this apostolic body continued existence, is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church. This power can be exercised only with the consent of the Roman Pontiff.

No. 22This College, insofar as it is composed of many, expresses the variety and universality of the People of God, but insofar as it is assembled under one head, it expresses the unity of the flock of Christ .....



No. 22

  • National Episcopal Conferences

  • Synod of Bishops

  • Regional Councils

    • continent or cultural group

    • called by Rome





Local church

No. 26

“This church of Christ is really present in all legitimately organized local groups of the faithful which, united with their pastors, are also called churches in the New Testament. For these are in fact, in their own localities, the new people called by God, in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.”

Local church1

No. 26

“In any community of the altar, under the sacred ministry of the bishop, there is exhibited a symbol of that charity and “unity of the mystical Body, without which there can be no salvation.” In these communities, though frequently small and poor, or living in the Diaspora, Christ is present, and in virtue of His presence there is brought together one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. For “the partaking of the body and blood of Christ does nothing other than make us be transformed into that which we consume.” (LG 26)

Local church2

“A diocese is a portion of the people of God which is entrusted to a bishop to be shepherded by him with the cooperation of the presbytery. Thus by adhering to its pastor and gathered together by him through the Gospel and the Eucharist in the Holy Spirit, it constitutes a particular church in which the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church of Christ is truly present and operative.” (Christus Dominus 11)

No 27 as vicars and ambassadors of christ bishops govern the particular churches entrusted to them
No. 27As vicars and ambassadors of Christ, bishops govern the particular churches entrusted to them.



No. 27This power, which they exercise personally in Christ’s name, is their own, ordinary and immediate, although its exercise is ultimately regulated by the supreme authority of the Church, and can be circumscribed within certain limits, for the advantage of the Church or the faithful.


No. 29On a lower level of the hierarchy are deacons, upon whom hands are laid “not for the priesthood, but for a ministry of service”. For strengthened by sacramental grace, in company with the bishop and his group of priests they minister to the People of God in the service of the liturgy, the word, and charity.The diaconate can in future be restored as a proper and permanent rank of the hierarchy.


No. 30 Everything said above concerning the People of God is intended for the laity, religious, and clergy alike. But there are certain things which belong especially to the laity, men and women, because of their own status and mission. Due to the special circumstances of our time the basis of this doctrine must be more thoroughly examined.


No. 32The chosen People of God is one: “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5); sharing a common dignity as members from their rebirth in Christ; having the same grace of sonship and the same call to perfection; possessing in common one salvation, one hope and one undivided charity. There is, therefore, in Christ and in the Church no room for inequality on the basis of race or nationality, social condition or sex, ..... (Gal. 3, 28; cf. Col. 3: 11).


No. 41 In the various groups and different duties of life, one and the same holiness is cultivated by all, who are moved by God’s Spirit, and obey the voice of the Father, worshipping him as God and Father in spirit and truth.


No. 48 The final age of the world has already come upon us (cf. I Cor. 10, 11) and the renewal of the world is irrevocably decreed; it is already anticipated in a real way in this life: for the Church on earth is already distinguished by genuine, though imperfect sanctity. However, ..... the pilgrim Church in her sacraments and institutions, which belong to the present time, is like this passing world, and dwells among creatures who groan and suffer in pain as they wait for the revealing of God’s sons (cf. Rom. 8, 19-22).


No. 62Mary’s motherhood in the order of grace remains: it began with the consent she gave in faith at the annunciation and sustained without wavering at the foot of the cross; it lasts until the everlasting consummation of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this task of salvation, but by her constant intercession has continued to acquire for us the gifts of eternal salvation.


No. 62Therefore the blessed virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of advocate, help and mediatrix. This, however, must be so understood that it neither detracts from nor adds anything to the dignity and worth of Christ the sole mediator.


No. 62 For no creature could ever be counted as equal with the incarnate Word and redeemer. But just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in different ways by both ministers and faithful, and as the one goodness of God is really communicated in different ways to his creatures, so the unique mediation of the redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a multiform co-operation. This co-operation participates in the power flowing from the unique source of Christ’s mediation.

  • Aggiornamento

  • The Reformability of the Church

  • Renewed Attention to the Word of God

  • Collegiality

  • Religious Freedom

  • The Active Role of the Laity

  • Regional and Local Variety

  • Ecumenism

  • Dialogue with Other Religions

  • The Social Mission of the Church


  • not simply a “christocentric” model

  • but a trinitarian model

    • People of God (God the Father)

    • Body of Christ

    • Temple of the HolySpirit

Lumen Gentium


  • the church structured according to the relationship within God

    • unity in distinction

    • mutuality in relationships

  • the church as a communion of churches

People of god

  • metaphor: a people on pilgrimage

  • not only an institution

  • Biblical roots

    • OT images

      • journey

      • intimacy

      • covenant promise

    • NT: I Peter 2

    • priestly, kingly, prophetic people


The ecclesiology of communion is the central and fundamental idea of the Council’s documents. Koinonia/communion, founded on the Sacred Scripture, have been held in great honour in the early Church and in the Oriental Churches to this day. (Synod of Bishops 1985)

Lumen Gentium


The communion of the eucharistic Body of Christ signifies and produces, that is, builds up, the intimate communion of all the faithful in the Body of Christ which is the Church (1 Cor 10:16).

(Synod of Bishops 1985)

Lumen Gentium


Communion with God through Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit. Communion in the Word of God and in the sacraments. Baptism is the door and the foundation of communion in the Church. (1 Cor 10:16).(Synod of Bishops 1985)

Lumen Gentium


  • communio (Latin) = koinonia (Greek)

  • Nuances of meaning

    • communion

    • fellowship

    • participation

    • sharing

Lumen Gentium


  • Triune communio

  • The church as an “icon” of the Trinity

    • communiofidelium

      • church as “the People of God”

    • communioecclesiarum

      • church as a communion of local churches

    • communiohierarchica

      • local bishops as a college “with and under Peter”


  • local church

  • collegiality

  • participation of the laity and diversity of ministries

  • ecumenism

  • collaboration

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship (koinonia) with us. And our fellowship (koinonia) is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ… If we say that we have fellowship (koinonia) while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship (koinonia) with one another, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from sin.

(1 John 1:3-7)

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship (koinonia), and to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42)

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation (koinonia) in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation (koinonia) in the body of Christ? (I Cor 10:16-17)

God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship (koinonia) of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (I Cor 1-9)

In baptism, fellowship cofirmation and eucharist the Holy Spirit brings us through faith into communion with the Risen Body of Christ.

The Risen Body of Christ is itself God’s communion with humanity in Jesus by the Holy Spirit.

So we are brought into communion with God through our communion with the Risen Lord.

… and we are brought simultaneously into communion with each other in the one Body of Christ. … Ecclesial Communion

Communion of church is communion of eucharist

Communion of Church each other in the one Body of Christ.


Communion of Eucharist

We must therefore “make the Church the home and the school of communion.

Pope John Paul II to the Diocese of Rome, 2001

Communion with Jesus, which gives rise to the communion of Christians among themselves, is an indispensable condition for bearing fruit: “Apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5). And communion with others is the most magnificent fruit that the branches can give: in fact, it is the gift of Christ and His Spirit. (CL32)

At this point Christians among themselves, is an indispensable condition for bearing fruit: “Apart from me you can do nothing” (communion begets communion: essentially it is likened to a mission on behalf of communion. (CL32)

Communion and mission are profoundly connected with each other, they interpenetrate and mutually imply each other, to the point that communion represents both the source and the fruit of mission: communion gives rise to mission and mission is accomplished in communion. (CL32)

The mission of the Church flows from her own nature. Christ has willed it to be so: that of “sign and instrument … of unity of all the human race”. Such a mission has the purpose of making everyone know and live the “new” communion that the Son of God made man introduced into the history of the world …. (CL32)

Lumen gentium1

LUMEN GENTIUM has willed it to be so: that of “sign and instrument … of unity of all the human race”. Such a mission has the purpose of making everyone know and live

The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church

Lumen Gentium