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Posted February 1, 2006

Book: Orders and Ministry
Author: Kenan B. Osborne
Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY, 2006, pp. 227

An Excerpt from the Introduction:

In today’s Catholic Church a renewal of order and ministry has been urged and encouraged by the bishops at Vatican II, by Popes Paul VI and John Paul II, and by many conferences of bishops throughout the world. Individual diocesan bishops have added their voices, calling for a renewal of both ordained and nonordained ministry in their own doceses and nations. All these official statements have occasioned a major effort to rethink and to reimagine what church ministers at all levels might do in new ways. This includes the ministries of bishops, priests, religious, laymen and laywomen. Key theologians and pastoral leaders have written books and articles, directives and analyses on the renewal of ministry in the Catholic Church today, and the contemporary Catholic Church has been blessed with a large amount of written material on ministry and enthusiasm for new developments in pastoral service.

One of the most amazing characteristics of the current interest in and enthusiasm for the reform of ministry is the globalized scope of the situation facing the church. The series in which this volume is published, Theology in Global Perspective, under the leadership of Peter C. Phan, intends to focus directly on the worldwide dimensions of theological issues involving the Roman Catholic Church. This particular volume deals with the global dimension of a theology of Christian order and ministry.

An Excerpt from the Book:

There is no doubt that the churning aftermath of Vatican II has proved confusing, and that sincere voices have called both for a more conservative approaches and for updating, progressive approaches. All of this has played a role in the way in which order and ministry have been interpreted within a global theological perspective. We find this back-and-forth movement fairly dominant in offical documents on liturgy. Nevertheless, the tendency to make liturgical celebration more uniform makes it hard to avoid concluding that the scope for different theologies and practical adaptations of order and ministry in a globalized perspective is reduced.

The point I wish to make is that the furor over culture, liturgy, worship styles, and rules is not the fundamental issue. We are instead back to the question, What difference do perspectives make in a globalized world? Recall that saying “globalized” does not mean that uniform solutions need to be found for every problem, because one of the paradoxes of globalization is that global trends produce different results in different cultures. Therefore the questions are: What forms of worship, order, and ministry are necessary to make manifest a universal faith? And what forms can be adapted to suit local conditions?

Table of Contents:

1. Globalization
What does it mean? What does it imply?

2. The Ministry of Jesus
The Foundational Model for All Ministries

3. Priestly Order and Ministry
Their History and Meaning Today

4. Lay Ministry
Its History and Meaning Today

5. Dreams for the Future