Sacramentum Mundi Online

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Subject: Religious Studies

Edited by: Karl Rahner with Cornelius Ernst and Kevin Smyth.
Advisor for the online edition: Karen Kilby, Durham University

Sacramentum Mundi Online is the online edition of the famous six volume English reference work in Catholic Theology, edited (in 1968-1970) by Karl Rahner, one of the main Catholic theologians of the 20th century. Sacramentum Mundi: An Encyclopedia of Theology was originally published by Herder Verlag, and is now available online at Brill.

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(1,299 words)

Author(s): Ismael Quiles
1. Pantheism is not a special and self-contained phenomenon in the history of religions, but a constantly recurring tendency which appears in almost all religions, cultures and philosophies: the tendency to define the relationship of God or the absolute to the world and the cosmos as that of unity. It is difficult to reduce its various manifestations to one common definition, since they developed in each case on the basis of various concepts of God and the world and in terms of various epochs in…

Parish - Parish Priest

(821 words)

Author(s): François Houtart | Ernst Niermann
Part of Parish: 1. Sociological Structure 2. Parish Priest 1. Definition. The parish priest is the physical person ( sacerdos) or juridical person (in incorporated parishes) to whom the parish is entrusted for the exercise of pastoral care ( CIC, can. 451, para. 1). 2. Canon law. The legal definition of the rights and duties of the parish priest, especially his relationship to episcopal authority, has changed in the course of the history of the parish. In the early Christian system of titular churches he was the helper and delegate of the bishop. Now he has potestas ordinaria et propria, subo…

Parish - Sociological Structure

(3,163 words)

Author(s): François Houtart | Ernst Niermann
Part of Parish: 1. Sociological Structure 2. Parish Priest 1. Definition. Vatican II gives the following description of a parish: “Because it is impossible for the bishop always and everywhere to preside over the whole flock in his Church, he cannot do other than establish lesser groupings of the faithful. Among these, parishes set up locally under a pastor who takes the place of the bishop are the most important: for in a certain way they represent the visible Church as it is established throughout the world” (Constitution on the Liturgy, art. 42). The communities …

Parousia - Exegetical Findings

(2,692 words)

Author(s): Klaus Berger
Part of Parousia: 1. Exegetical Findings 2. Theological Doctrine The Hellenistic term “parousia” means the arrival, visit and presence of armies, officials, rulers arid gods. There is no equivalent in the ОТ, and the Septuagint shows no contacts with the: NT usage. But the term is used in Jewish apocalyptic in Greek, in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs and the Testament of Abraham. In the NT too, ancient Greek elements: are linked with ОТ notions of the Day (of judgment) of Yahweh. In the NT, parousia; is to a great extent interchangeable with the; “Day of God” (see Amos 5:18; Ps 96:131; 98:9, etc.). Lk, Jn, Heb, Jud and Rev only use the term ἡμέρα. Parousia and ήμέρα are used side by side in Paul, Jas, 2 Pet and 1 Jn. From this it would seem that ἡμέρα was the older term, which was gradually displaced by parousia. This process also shows that parousia primarily referred to the hour of judgment, and hence took on the meaning of ἡμέρα. From the parallel passages Mt 24:3; Lk 21:7 (D) it can be seen that parousia is also an equivalent to “coming”. All the texts show that parousia never means return, but only coming — hence not the coming of Jesus in the flesh but the coming of the Son of man for the judgment of the world. The Slavonic Enoch speaks of the second coming of God, contrasting the coming of God at the resurrection with his coming at the beginning of creation. In the NT too the coming was originally that of God, in keeping with the ОТ tradition. The function of the Baptist was to arouse this expectation, as is particularly clear in Mk 1:7f. The impulse to speak also of a parousia of the Son of man could have been provided: by the verbs παρῆν, παρῆσαι in Dan 7:13 (on the Son of man). But the decisive factor was that even in Jewish tradition (Enoch), the judgment held by the Son of man competes, so to speak, with that of God or takes its place. In the later letters of the NT, parousia is replaced by έπιφάνεια (pastoral letters), which is then logically applied to the coming of Jesus in the flesh (2 Tim 1:10). It is now taken for granted that the message of Jesus was concerned with the expectation of the Kingdom of God in the future, very close at hand — an expectation shared, however, with apocalyptic and already voiced in the ОТ (Joel 2:1). This eschatological character of the message of Jesus, which has come to be recognized once more since J. Weiss and A. Schweitzer, means two things as regards Jesus. Firstly, he expected the coming judgment to bring with …

Parousia - Theological Doctrine

(1,379 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
Part of Parousia: 1. Exegetical Findings 2. Theological Doctrine 1. The parousia, as understood in theology, is the permanent blessed presence of Christ in the mani


(2,406 words)

Author(s): Lourencino Bruno Puntel
A. History of the Problem Like such terms as being, unity and analogy, participation has had a major role in the metaphysical and theological thinking of the West, where it has been used to reflect on the Greek and biblico-Christian experience of reality. Hence the understanding and critical assessment of the notion of participation, with the possibility of re-thinking it on one’s own behalf, involves an interpretation of Western metaphysics which is particularly concerned with its origin and the fateful encounter between the Greek and the Christian experience of existence.…

Passion of Christ

(2,118 words)

Author(s): Josef Blinzler
1. Terminology. In the expression “the passion of Christ”, the passion means not only the sufferings which preceded the death of Jesus but above all his death itself. This usage is scriptural, insofar as the death of Jesus is often indicated as his πάσχειν (Lk, Acts, Heb, 1 Pet) in the NT. The usage probably goes back to Jesus himself (Michaelis, p. 912). Since Ignatius of Antioch the substantive πάθος has been used as a fixed expression for Jesus’ death. The corresponding meaning was given in early Christian Latin to the words pati and passio. 2. The passion in the early Church. The death of J…


(3,520 words)

Author(s): Notker Füglister
1. Mysterium paschale. a) The expression mysterium paschale is used repeatedly by Vatican II as a pregnant designation of the Christian redemption in its essential aspects. It is the Easter mystery of the passion, resurrection and ascension of Christ, the salvation prefigured in the ОТ, consisting of the conquest of death and the gift of life (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, art. 5), hence the origin of the Church and of the sacraments, especially baptism and the Eucharist ( ibid., arts. 5, 61; cf. arts. 10, 47). This gives the Christian life a paschal character. It is…

Pastoral Medicine

(1,831 words)

Author(s): Werner Schöllgen
1. Origin and history. This vague expression, coined approximately a century ago, needs to be defined, chiefly because medicine over the past century has reached the level of a methodical science. All the older material is outdated and of interest now only for historians and ethnologists. The figure of the priest-doctor found at the beginning of the development was …

Pastoral ministry

(4,134 words)

Author(s): Viktor Schurr
A. Introduction The “pastoral ministry” is the expression now preferred for the “cure” or “care of souls”, the “spiritual charge”, formerly too exclusively regarded as a clerical task (see Pastoral Theology). It is really the “ministry of salvation” (Vatican II, Christus Dominus, art. 35.), in the service of all men (see Salvation I), the basic charge of the Church (see Missions I), and incumbent according to their various states of life and offices, on all members of the Church. See

Pastoral Theology

(2,730 words)

Author(s): Heinz Schuster
1. Basic remarks on the history and nature of pastoral theology. The need for systematic doctrine and practical, up-to-date guidelines for the exercise of the pastoral ministry led to the development of pastoral theology as a separate discipline within theological studies. This took place from about 1770 onwards, at first in Austria, and shortly afterwards in Germany and neighbouring countries. The individual pastor was alone regarded as the agent of the Church’s pastoral action. Consequentlyhe and his ac…


(979 words)

Author(s): Wilhelm de Vries
In the first centuries of Christianity certain great Churches in the East administered districts in which a number of bishoprics were brought together under a central government. This was necessary for the uniform guidance of the Church which Rome was unable to effect under the conditions then prevailing. This development followed a parallel course both inside and outside of the Empire. The districts inside the Empire (Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, Jerusalem) were later called “patriarcha…

Patrology - Greek Patristics

(2,774 words)

Author(s): Suso Frank
Part of Patrology: 1. The Science 2. Greek Patristics 3. Latin Patristics 1. Definition and basis. Greek patrology means the theological achievement of the Fathers of the Church who belonged to the world of Greek language and thought. Within the history of theology of the ancient Church generally it represents the work of the Eastern Church down to John Damascene (d. 749?), the classical theologian of the Orthodox Church. Its development and historical course falls into the usual patristic periods. The basis of Greek patrology is the Greek version of the documents of revela…

Patrology - Latin Patristics

(3,073 words)

Author(s): Ekkart Sauser
Part of Patrology: 1. The Science 2. Greek Patristics 3. Latin Patristics 1. Some fundamental remarks on the sources, independence and influence of the Latin Fathers. The Latin Fathers were pupils of the Greek. In particular, Ambrose, Rufinus, Jerome, Cassiodorus and even Augustine gradually provided the West in the 4th century with “the results of the historical, exegetical and dogmatic work of the East, in translations which were often revisions and in supposedly independent works which were in fact basically reproductions” (H. von Soden [К. Aland] in RGG, I, col. 286). Von Саmp…

Patrology - The Science

(1,770 words)

Author(s): Johannes Quasten
Part of Patrology: 1. The Science 2. Greek Patristics 3. Latin Patristics The study of the Church Fathers is briefly known as patrology. It embraces all ancient Christian writers down to Gregory the Great (d. 604) or Isidore of Seville (d. 636) in the West, and John of Damascus (d. 749) in the East. In our own days, the study has been pursued with a new attentiveness. In theology, a one-sided effort to exploit the Fathers according to scholastic viewpoints has given way to a more scientific investigation of…


(2,848 words)

Author(s): Julio Terán-Dutari
To set the concept of peace in its proper framework in contemporary theology, we must begin by observing with Vatican II that the gospel’s message of peace stands forth today with new clarity, and in harmony with the best efforts and aspirations of mankind (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, art. 77). Hence this article will first show the central position which the idea of peace occupies in Scripture and in the present situation of mankind, and then try to build up a (systematic and practical) theology of peace. 1. Scripture. One could set forth the whole history …


(1,733 words)

Author(s): Henri Rondet
Pelagianism designates in theology a heretical position with regard to the problems of grace and freedom. It goes back to the British monk Pelagius (“Morgan”) who about the year 400 preached in Rome a strictly biblical spirituality with strong emphasis on the human will. It was disseminated by his disciples Caelestius and Julian of Eclanum. Augustine played a decisive role in the Pelagian controversy, whose historical course need not be pursued here in detail. Like the Stoics, Pelagius thought t…

Penance - Sacrament of Penance

(10,362 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
Part of Penance: 1. Virtue of Penance 2. Sacrament of Penance Penance is the sacrament in which, through the authoritative pronouncement of the priest, the Church removes, in the power of Christ, the sins of the repentant sinner which he committed after baptism. A. The Church’s Teaching The most important pronouncements of the magisterium on penance are contained in the condemnations of Montanism and Novatianism, in the doctrine of the Fourth Lateran Council, in the medieval doctrinal decisions regarding the existence of the seven sacraments…

Penance - Virtue of Penance

(1,209 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
Part of Penance: 1. Virtue of Penance 2. Sacrament of Penance 1. Essence. Penance as a virtue denotes the morally and religiously appropriate human attitude, bestowed by the grace of Christ, in regard to one’s own sin and to sin generally. Its central act is contrition in its various forms, but its full nature includes not only the specific act of contrition as a turning to God and away from past personal sin, but also all the other interior and external Christian attitudes to sin: courage to face the fear …

People of God

(1,858 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
1. Preliminary note on method. “People of God” is a biblical term, recently brought to the fore again in the Second Vatican Council ( Lumen Gentium, chs. i and ii). It characterizes the relationship between God and a certain group of men — Israel, the Church, humanity. “People” is of course a profane reality, part of the order of creation, produced by God like all primordial human realities. But this of itself does not justify the formation of the phrase “people of God” in scriptural and ecclesiastical language. For thi…
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