Catholics for a Changing Church

"To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often" - Bl. John Henry Newman

Equality as a Theological Principle within Roman Catholic Ecclesiology

By Thomas O'Loughlin


As the Roman Catholic Church aspires ‘to embrace a synodal way’, some old questions about its ecclesial vision return. One such question is the equality of all the baptised within the church. This question is particularly fraught because of the church’s long history of viewing the itself as a society of unequals, its hierarchical structures, and its culture of top-down authority modelled on pre-modern monarchical conceptions of society. This paper argues that not only must the church face the implications of accepting the equality of the baptised as a basis of its praxis, but also that it should embrace that equality as part of its witness and service to the world. Thus, it must not simply take equality to heart and express it in its rituals, but must create a ‘theology of human equality’ which then becomes part of its preaching.

KEYWORDS baptismepiscopacyequalitygenderhierarchylaityRoman Catholic Churchsynodality

In: Ecclesiology

Online Publication Date:  07 Feb 2022

Read the paper

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