Exploring Sacramentality of the Episcopate Could Be Far-Reaching

The doctrine of the sacramentality of the episcopate could be the starting point of a doctrinal and theological exploration whose repercussions would be far reaching, according to Archbishop Emile Guery of Cambrai, secretary of the French Episcopal Conference.

The Archbishop said in a documentation center press conference that the repercussions could include three major ones.

The enunciation of the real role of the bishop in its sacramental nature would rediscover “the place and mission of the episcopate as the sacrament of the fullness of the priesthood of Christ, who is the High Priest and mediator.”

Archbishop Guerin said that the episcopate must be “relinked to the supreme priesthood of Jesus Christ.” He said the “mission of the episcopate is linked with the central mystery of the priesthood of Christ, Mediator and Savior. The episcopate is the sacrament of the fullness of the high priesthood of Jesus Christ: it renders Him present, visible and acting” in the world.

Secondly, he said, the clarification of this doctrine would provide “a sacramental frame for the notion of episcopal collegiality.” He continued: “The episcopal body, with the Pope as its head, rests on a sacramental and not merely juridical frame. The sacrament of the episcopate supports the apostolic succession.”

Lastly, the Archbishop stated, the triple mission of a bishop — to sanctify, teach and govern spiritually — would by the clarification of this point be related to the act of episcopal consecration.

The Archbishop said that the doctrine of the sacramental nature of the episcopal consecration is supported by the unanimous and constant tradition of Eastern Christianity, by the agreement of the Eastern and Western liturgies and by all contemporary theologians.

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