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On the Ground and the Implications of a Christian Eschatology to the Constitution and Canons of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente
Introduction The Statement on Church Mission (SCM) endeavours to find a more unified vision and to coordinate all the faithful of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) into a harmonious community in which its “nationalist heritage”–Pro Deo et Patria–would be recaptured.1 In our time, this “nationalist heritage” should be assumed in the Constitution and Canons. While in former times the “nationalist heritage” tended to be expressed only in the ‘mission and ministry’ of the IFI; now, the expression of the nationalist heritage is exceedingly sought in the Constitution and Canons for the greater glory of God. For one who are actively engaged in the integral ministry of the church, it is impossible not to notice the crying absence of the ‘perspective’ of the IFI nationalist heritage in the Constitution and Canons of the church. Such perspective is categorically desirable and should have been positively enshrined in the “Constitution and Canons” long before. There is, however, no point in speculating whether the omission is the fault of the clergy who lost interest in the practical life of the church (are they not accused sometimes of gaging divine and human stuffs from their own ivory towers?) or whether was the omission of the framers of the “1977 Constitution and Canons” (who are blamed for too much secular, drafted by a lay person, therefore forgetting the essence). However, there is no point of apportioning the culpability. Now is the opportune times, we should start to work out the amendments of the ‘Constitution and Canons’ and to enshrine the standpoints and viewpoints of the ‘nationalist heritage’ of the church. By we I mean the clergy and lay people together, since for the sake of balance, both are needed in the process. The primary purpose of this paper is to help out instigate the endeavour, hoping that others, as well as this Study Session of the Supreme Council of Bishops (SCB), will soon come and do it categorically. In view of that, within a reasonable time the IFI shall have a profound theological vision as well as an insightful Constitution and Canons that genuinely express its nationalist heritage. From this perspective, the IFI will profit and will build up a richer life of spotless faith and unfailing ministry for the promotion of the humankind and the realization of the kingdom of God2 and of its vision as pillar of Philippine society.3
Prepared by Fr. Noel Dionicio L. Dacuycuy, S.Th.D for the Study Conference of the Supreme Council of Bishops on February 28 to March 2, 2012. 1 The National Consultative Assembly was held on October 21-24, 1976, at the national cathedral with the purpose of assessing the mission of the church, particularly in the light of the growing demand for greater participation of the laity in the governance and administration of the church. The Assembly gave birth to two vital documents: the 1977 Constitution and Canons (CC); and the Statement on Church Mission (SCM). 2 SCM, §16.
I It is usually think that Roman Catholicism and Aglipayanism as opposite extremes. Or Aglipayanism is a kind of Roman Catholicism without the Pope. However, the IFI is quite distinct from Roman Catholicism or any other religious system in the West and even in the East as well as from the mainstream Protestant and Evangelical churches. Yet, those who look more closely at the heart of the teachings, doctrine and practices of the IFI will discover much in it which, while different, is yet curiously familiar with the same faith once delivered to the saints. Undeniably, the IFI rooted in at the heart of the Filipino peoples’ desire for liberty and freedom. It brings forth an emerging notion of the church that sought the establishment of the kingdom of God in the world, of which, the ‘central nerve’ of the IFI nationalist heritage. It is a way of understanding the Christian faith in a less legalistic and less abstract, but more concrete based on the continuing revelation of the divine will of God in the concrete human events that many of the IFI originators had been eyewitnesses to. Historically, the IFI is a people’s movement with a religious perspective inspired by Filipino nationalism for total human freedom and liberation. Theologically, the IFI is acclaimed as a movement of God’s people in the Philippines towards total and integral salvation. It needs, therefore, an elaboration of the theological groundings and fundamental objectives of the IFI as perceived by the originators and as inscribed in the early documents of the church. All the same, the IFI asserts itself as ‘people of God’ endowed with all the marks of the Universal Church. It is a true church called by God to continue the mission of Jesus in the proclamation of integral salvation, conscientiously adhering the Catholic and Apostolic beliefs.4 On one hand, the IFI theological grounding is a quest for a ‘new humanum’. The IFI believes that its inception is a divine plan of God. Its existence was seen as a presence of Christ “who crowned the effort of our countrymen (Filipino people), who were zealous for the true glory of the one God and for our national dignity, have accomplished the great enterprise of our religious emancipation.”5 This tenet shapes the Aglipayan theology which is fretful for the well-being of humanity as fundamental in the mission of the church. On the otherhand, the fundamental objectives of the IFI asserts a ‘new presence’ of church in society. The Doctrina y Reglas Constitutionales de la Iglesia Filipina Independiente (DRC) declares the three interrelated objectives in the founding of the IFI.6 Whereas the first
Cf. Objective #4, of the Ten-Year Strategic Program (TYSP) of the IFI. See: Proclamation Statement and the First Constitution of the IFI (1903). 5 Cf. Epístola IV . 6 It positively declares that, 1. The object of the founding of the Philippine Independent Church is principally to respond to the imperative need to restore worship of the one true God in all its splendor and the purity of his most holy word which, under the reign of obscurantism, has been diluted and distorted in a most disheartening manner for any Christian of even moderate education (Epistle II of the Supreme Council of the IFI); 2. To liberate the conscience from all error, excesses and unscientific scruples against the laws of nature and blessed good judgment (Epistle VI); and, 3. And to form and dignify the Filipino Clergy by reconquering all the rights and prerogatives, which they lost through the exploitation of which they have been, and still are, the object. Cf. Doctrinas y Reglas Constitutionales de la Iglesia Filipina Independiente (DRC), Chapter I, Section1.
objective refers to the object of worship, the other two simply articulate about the subjects – who worship the one true God. It is portrayed in these objectives that God alone is the absolute source and fulfillment, the instigating cause of inspiration, the ‘flowing spring’ of strength and hope, and the animating spirit in the celebration of life in its fullness. While “worship of the one true God” the prime object, the IFI asserts that worship is ‘the offering of our total self to God in Christ’; “it is Kerygma in action and must be the spontaneous outcome of the ‘new life’ in Christ as experienced in the breaking of the bread [Eucharist] and the fellowship of sharing [Koinonia].”7 As the church exists to witness salvation, the IFI understands that the word ‘witness’ into two intermingling notions: first, the ‘fruit’ of God’s historical process of salvation (the reality of salvation); and, second, ‘commissioned’ to proclaim salvation in the world (the sacrament of salvation).8 The IFI, therefore, conclusively avers that it is being called by God for a historical vocation to the new humanum.9 The two other objectives are: first, ‘the process’ and, second, ‘the approach’ of proclaiming the Gospel message, respectively. While religious belief touches people on two levels: psychological (individual) and sociological (socio-political); on these two levels, beliefs in God can either ‘liberate people’ or ‘enslave people.’ Interestingly, the IFI aims to emancipate the Filipino people from enslaving religiosity.10 It is indeed (while linking the notion of ‘objective one’ to that of the ‘second objective’) a theological perspective of holiness and sactification today, a perfect offering to the Lord echoing the prophets of the Old Testament (cf. Hosea 6:6) and the demand of Jesus for: ‘mercy, not sacrifice’ (Matthew 9:13; 12:7-8; 21:12-13). Therefore, ‘devotion to the Lord’ is sternly linked with social justice and peace (Amos 5:21-24; cf. Micah 6:8). But, how are these statements actuality understood in the IFI? How can the nationalist heritage reflective in the ecclesial rules of the IFI? However, let us first look into the relationship between the doctrinal principles (Aglipayan theology) and ecclesiastical rules (Constitution and Canons) in the life and works of the Church of Christ. II Overwhelmingly, the IFI is increasingly seeking to overcome ‘religious legalism’ and ‘theological fanaticism’. With this, the question on fitting together the Aglipayan theology and the Constitution and Canons in the life and works of the IFI has emerged with some force and urgency today. The ‘theological statements on mission and ministry’ have to be coagulated into the ‘ecclesial vision and identity’ of the IFI. Thus, while the work for the amendments of the Constitution and Canons progresses, the whole church should look into a paradigm that could: first, articulate the place and role of ecclesial rules in the church; and, second, the dynamism of Aglipayan faith and practices – the mutual interaction between the doctrines of faith (‘theory’) and the norms of action (‘praxis’). By integrating
SCM, §19. SCM, §1-7. The IFI vividly explains this notion: “The Philippine Independent Church is a congregation of new men educated in and liberated by the teaching of Christ, dedicated to the worship of God in spirit and in truth, nourished and sustained in the Eucharist, and commissioned to be witnesses to God's love in the world.” In “Introduction” #2, CC. 9 SCM, §16; cf. Statement on Ministry (SM). 10 Cp. DRC, I.1:§2.
together (theory and praxis), thus, expressing the ‘mystery’ of the Church, the IFI, as ‘the reality’ as well as ‘the sacrament’ of salvation in Christ inherent to the insights of the IFI ‘nationalist heritage.’ Yet, the doctrine of faith and the Constitution and Canons continuously overlapped and intermingled together because the reality is that, both are talking about the one kingdom of Christ and the life of the mystical Christ on earth – this life cannot be divided into a mere ‘legal’ one that would be the object of the ecclesial rules, and into a ‘mystical’ one that would be the object of the doctrine of faith. Conclusively, both are aspects of the same life that is one and indivisible. Hence, there is unity in the object of both aspects (doctrine of faith and ecclesial rules), a unity that is vital, and overwhelming: the unity of life and of work in the mystical body of Christ, the Church.11 Predominantly, the word ‘Church’ in Christian usage has two aspects which are so important and has such consequences in ecclesiology and polity. On one aspect, the Church is ‘the fellowship of people with God and with one another in Christ’—the ultimate reality of the Church—the aggregate of those who are ‘in Christ Jesus.’ On the other aspect, the Church is ‘the totality of the means provided by the Lord to bring them to this fellowship’—the heart of the ecclesial reality—which radically distinguishes the constitutional structure of the Church from every society that is purely earthly or human.12 In other words, the Church is an ‘event’ (the reality) and yet an ‘institution’ (the sacrament) of salvation. It is both ‘divine’ and ‘human’ community of faith, hope and charity. Likewise, in the Church is ‘the human to the divine’ order – the visible sign and instrument of the invisible. While the Church (life-creation) is ‘sacrament’ in analogy to the mystery of the Incarnate Word, the social structure and structural element (polity and governance) of the Church expressing the mystery and order it, which is ‘sacramental’ in the realm of the word. Therefore, the Constitution and Canons do not exist or be conceived without the theological context, which is part of ecclesiology; in the case of the IFI, the Constitution and Canons necessarily expresses its ‘nationalist heritage.’ In fact the categories ‘sacrament’ and ‘reality’ are useful for presenting the relationship between the two aspects of the Church. The distinction (without separation) between these two aspects is at the bottom of the relationship of theology and ecclesial rules of the church.13
Ladislas M. Örsy asserts that “in the Middle Ages, the separation between the two sciences *theology and canon law] did not exist, or was so imperfect that they continuously overlapped and intermingled. Most probably, if one had asked those ancient writers who wrote in the same volume about grace and legal rules for reconciling sinners with the Church, why they did not separate the two problems separately, they would answer that they could not separate the two since the reality was one. They were talking about one kingdom of Christ.” See, Internet; http://www.jstor.org/pss/27658913. 12 Yves Congar asserts that, the word [Church in Septuagint] has a religious value and designates the community of chosen people gathered together to give worship to God or to listen to his word. The semantic value of the word is that of an assembly called together. That the assembly exists on the basis of an act of God does not prevent its being made up, as such, of its members.” In Lay People in the Church, translated by Donald Attwater, revised edition with additions, (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1985), 28. This aspect of the Church as a “fellowship” is the one formally expressed by the very Greek word ΄εκκλησία, of the Latin equivalent word “ecclesia,” which means ‘convocation,’ or ‘assembly’ (at least that is what it means etymologically) 13 For further discussion on canon law and theology as two different sciences, see: T. Jimenez, Canon Law and Theology, in: Concilium, III (1967), No 8, 28-38.
Though the Church is similar to that of society as a civil right and, therefore, its ecclesial rules are similar to that of civil society. But ecclesial rules receive its bases, nature and purpose by theology and not in civil law, which is sometimes forgotten in practice. Thus, ecclesial rules are independent, but correspond with the civil law, which may well make a significant contribution to ecclesial rules. [It expresses appreciation that the ‘State’ is a providential institution instituted by God for humanity – ‘steward of God for the good of creation,’ cf. Romans 13: 4]. Accordingly, the proper nature as ‘legal,’ ecclesial rules are different from civil law in its content but conforming to it (civil law) in many forms.14 The church lives under several legal system of society, which they overlapped and sometimes contradict. Necessarily, the Constitution and Canons must take seriously the context of civil law system as the state recognizes the internal order of the church. Abjuring a kind of uncritical view towards the legal system of the Church, the best definition of the Constitution and Canons is derived by its purpose: “a system of structures and norms to secure freedom for the people so that they can receive, without impediment, the gifts of the Spirit.”15 For that reason, the Constitution and Canons serve as ways of living out the ecclesial vision and identity of the IFI. They do not create the church but merely serve to regulate vivacity in the church. III Categorically, the IFI nationalist heritage is zeal of doing theology. It is the Aglipayan confession of faith and witness: the pastoral ministry for human promotion and the building up of the kingdom of God. It emerges from action and leads into action in the atmosphere of faith. The church must live the faith in the complex situation today without harking back to ‘the good old days,’ which the effect of this restoration can be to isolate the IFI from the live reality of the society. Thus, the viewpoints and standpoints of the church are necessarily changing as the horizons changing rapidly; because the changing horizons, the church itself, and old ideas/teachings, must be brought into coherence. Therefore, it is a ‘theological lens’ essential in appraising the Constitution and Canons of the IFI; consequently, it calls the elucidation of the ‘constants of faith’ in Aglipayan theology. First, the overriding theology on the question of eschaton (eschatology) determines the IFI ecclesial vision and identity, and, therefore, undermines its Constitution and Canons, if not the ‘causative force’ to ‘doctrinal and constitutional rules’ of the church. While not denying ‘ahistorical’ realities, the IFI takes human history with utmost seriousness and understands eschatological fullness not as ‘the end’ of historical process and, therefore, the inauguration of timeless spiritual state, but as the transformation of history and fulfilment towards the establishment of the kingdom of God in the world.16 At the heart of the Aglipayan eschatology is the “expectation” or “hope” of the establishment of the kingdom of God.17 It explicitly refers to the kingdom of God as its object and goal: the Aglipayan hope. It affirms the testimony of Paul: “God was reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor. 5:19). It is a message of redemptive activity of God: bringing
Ibid. Ladislas M. Örsy, S.J., Receiving the Council: Theological and Canonical Issues and Debates (Collegeville, MN: Michael/Liturgical Press, 2009), 78-79. Örsy is a theologian and canon lawyer who is on the faculty at Georgetown Law and was formerly professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America. 16 SCM, §26. Eschatology (Greek: ta eschata,) literally means “the last things”. 17 Cp. SCM, §1; SM.
the entire creation under his lordship—the kingdom of God. It is not understood merely as the salvation of certain individuals or even the ‘reign of God’ in the heart of the people, but rather the kingdom of God over the entire creation—a reign of life in its fullness (John 10:10). It is the renewal of the ‘wholeness’ of the humanity, the imago Dei, spoilt by sin.18 Second, the theological affirmations of the IFI are rooted in practical concerns and not such theoretical issues on Christology. Its primary concern is on what kind of salvation is offered by Christ to humanity. Concurrently, Jesus is the prophet of the kingdom of God attested by the Synoptic Gospels. He did not “spiritualize” the eschatological promise of the kingdom of God. But he gave the meaning and fulfilment “today” (cf. Luke 4:21). It is the sense of fullness that takes on and transforms historical reality in accordance to God’s redemptive purpose. Therefore, the kingdom of God is perceived as the dynamic reign of God in history, potentially-actually present in the historical experience of the people. The Kingdom is the establishment of a better world, “a new heaven and a new earth” (Isa. 65:17). It implies that the kingdom of God embraces all humanity and the wholeness of humanity.19 It is a life lived in a community of freedom, which emphasizes the encounter with God through neighbourly relationship guided with justice.20 It, therefore, gives priority to social justice over the ceremonial purity and reveals the relation between the cause of God and the cause of humanity; that is, God brings experience of salvation to humankind in the history of human quest for liberation from ‘sin.’ Third, the notion of IFI on salvation underlies ‘human wholeness.’ It emphasizes that, “Jesus associates the reign [kingdom] of God, not with the salvation of souls, but with the restoration of well-beingness (sic) and wholeness of human person.”21 It transforms the entire notion of the mystery of salvation. While salvation does not mean a deliverance from ‘creaturehood’ or an escape from this world, the IFI asserts that social liberation or historical process of liberation is salvation. It starts with the soteriological dimension of salvation (liberation from “sin and death”), and then moves to the social dimension (liberation from oppressions and subjugation).22 However, this is not to deny that Jesus did not forgive sins or that forgiveness of sins is not part of Jesus’ mission, but to emphasize the key mission statements of Jesus: the kingdom of God. The kingdom vis-à-vis salvation, which is integral, is not purely a personal and individual gospel, nor is purely social and merely about justice; for as a saying goes: ‘A purely personal gospel is irrelevant; a purely social gospel is impotent!’ Likewise, it is both universal and covenantal. Hence, the sanctifying activity (sacraments) of the church must articulate these principles of integral salvation. Fourth, the IFI has an affirmative appreciation of human beings (anthropology). It promotes and develops the potentials of individuals so that they may become a driving force of a collective action towards liberation (salvation) as a human concrete participation
SM. Ibid. 20 SCM, §26. 21 SM; cf. St Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., 1, 36, 1. 22 The IFI recognizes the ‘diverse truths’ of the Christian faith; likewise, it vividly asserts that the message of ‘salvation’ in Jesus is the Kingdom of God. Therefore, it formally and organically integrates the “truths” of the Kingdom of God into its faith. It refers to the Kingdom of God: the ‘ultimate truth’ of salvation, which then functions as an organizing and ordering principle for Aglipayan life and works, its integral ministry and mission of evangelization and, likewise, its ecclesiastical rules. Cp. Statement on Development (SD).
to the historical salvific activity of God.23 The creation of man and women in the “image and likeness” of God (Gen 1:26-27) reveals a fundamental understanding to the identity and vocation of human person in accordance with the divine plan of God. The IFI explains that the nature of a person with all its rights and liberty. It is a perfect and admirable creation of God (Gen. 1:31). It describes a free humanity, the perfect humanum. This freedom is not only a dimension of its subjectivity to God. But it is a liberating praxis—a power that transforms the world (stewardship) in accordance to God’s purposes.24 It is, therefore, of this notion that serves as enthralling motivation to reflect on human dignity, human freedom and religious liberty. Undeniably, ‘human dignity’ originates from God and is of God, which is appropriately expressed: the human person as imago Dei. The dignity of a person is understood as flowing from this relationship with God and, therefore, inherent to a human person, which is neither earned nor merited, but must necessarily be affirmed in society and, likewise, has ecclesiological and canonical consequences in the church.25 While human freedom is the capacity of a human person to act purposefully according to the will of God— an expression of the divine image in man (divine trust ties in with the theme of human freedom), therefore, it is the whole totality of a person: the ‘being’ of a person. The fullness of “liberated human freedom” can only be articulated through genuine worship of God, which is a perfect sacrifice to God. The IFI finds fulfilment of servanthood in its nationalist heritage (religious liberty) as the adhesion to the truth of God within civil society. Therefore, human dignity, human freedom and religious liberty are a triad emanates from imago Dei. Each of the triad cannot be alienated from each other or one from the other. It is therefore necessary to enshrine such Aglipayan anthropology to the constitutional rules and canonical provisions of the IFI. Fifth, the IFI asserts itself as a community of faith (ecclesiology) tasked to witness God’s love in the world in spirit and in truth, and to confess Jesus Christ as both Lord of nature and history, of liberation and salvation.26 Rather than a “mystical communion” focused on merely in itself, the IFI is described as “herald” or “servant community,” witnessing to the liberating work of God in history.27 In like manner, the IFI is a reality and a sacrament of salvation. It likewise conveys a new understanding of salvation and, that, the experience of salvation comes about the community of the chosen people of God. It is through people that God wants to bring salvation to humanity and the whole universe and it is conveyed as a gift through fraternal service done within tangible community. Sixth, while taking into consideration the Philippine context, the IFI is in pursuit of its historical vocation of serving the Filipino people and of being consistent to its nationalist heritage, the “product of the Filipino people’s desire for liberty, religiously, politically and
Ibid.; SCM, §9. Cp. Epistle VI. 25 SCM, §27. 26 Cf. “Canons: Introduction, #2,” CC. 27 Cf. SD.
socially.”28 Nevertheless, the IFI insists “the mission of revealing, unmasking and proclaiming the One and True God in the hearts, minds, culture and life of the Filipino people.”29 Inevitably, therefore, for the IFI to rethink the Gospel message in such a way that it can contribute to the transformation of Philippine society. The fundamental experience of the IFI having directly involved as a counter culture to religious life marked by a well-known ‘fuga mundi’ (flight from the world). Conclusively, the IFI sees itself as a “witness” to the liberating and transforming works of God towards the realization of the kingdom of God in the world. The historical merit of the IFI nationalist heritage has been to introduce into the church the cry of the struggling poor and vulnerable in society no longer in the perspective of the natural law (that of mere human rights), but in one spectrum of the theological themes of the Christian faith. Therefore, the vantage point of the imago Dei is a most important criterion for the constitutional structure, while the perspective of eschatology, the kingdom of God, for the canonical provisions of the IFI. Hence, it requires a sound Constitution and Canons to develop the whole of this theology, which is the heart of Aglipayan ecclesiology, and to show its applications in the life and works of the church. IV In the Constitution and Canons, as the title indicates, there are two significant divisions of the provisions confined therein. While the Constitution embodies the organic law and principle of government of the IFI, the Canons regulate the organized life of the IFI whose general structure is sets forth in the Constitution. The Constitution The Constitution articulates those laws which are ‘constitutive’ of the nature and function of the church’s mandated organizations. In addressing the mystery of ‘ecclesial koinonia,’ there are two basic affirmations and the most profound ways to envision the ecclesial dynamism of the IFI and to find the clue for achieving some knowledge as how the church is a community of persons. These are: first, the koinonia in the Trinitarian doctrine; and, second, the Eucharistic communion. On one hand, the IFI basically affirms that, “Koinonia is the life of the Triune God from which proceeds the communitarian dimension and dynamism of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente.”30 Therefore, the logical assumptions of Trinitarian tradition, which provide a dogmatic insights for the nature of Christian community, is sought to guide in the theological exposition on constitutional rules of the church. It shows how to be true to the God of our faith in our action and belief. Our theology and our life as Christians are bound together, one wedded to the other without the possibility of separation. On the other hand, the IFI fundamentally upholds that “the local Church or diocese exists in ecclesial communion (Eucharistic communion) that no individual local Church can claim autonomy and independence, but only nurturing interrelatedness, mutual responsibility and interdependence with other local Churches.”31 In Paul, this communion
Centennial Bible (English), 599-626. SCM, §9. 30 SM. 31 Statement on the Recovering the Local Church (SRLC).
implies that every local community gathered together or comes into existence through the celebration of the Eucharist (cf. Rom 8:30) – the means that the risen Lord binds the faithful together into one body through the mystery that re-creates His saving deeds.32 Therefore, the constitutional rules and canonical provision, then, can be truly part of the sacramental structure of the Church itself, a sign and symbol of the kingdom of God and of the humanity that is being redeemed. While in this unfolding theory, one may find the best explanation of the place and role of ecclesiastical rules in the Church, admittedly, it still needs refinement and elaboration.33 Nevertheless, the awareness of the unity of the faithful in the celebration of the Eucharist could become a reason for the increase participation of the lay people in decision-making processes as enshrined in the Constitution and Canons, which likewise affirms that the supernatural sense of the faith resides in the entire people of God.34 It represents a vision of ecclesial rules that not only is an antidote of ‘religious legalism’ but is likely to inspire respect for the ‘constitutional rules and canonical procedures’ through the immense and gratuitous mercy in the Eucharist. On the basis of these basic affirmations (in the light of the Trinitarian mystery, the Eucharist constitutes the sacramental nature of the church as a whole), how do the institutional structures visibly reflect the mystery of this koinonia in the “episcopally led and synodally governed” polity of the IFI? Essentially, it is a fundamental question on authority and responsibility in the church. The notion of ‘synodally governed’ while primarily denotes a gathering of bishops and of the members of the Church exercising a particular responsibility, which necessarily meant that each member, by virtue of baptism, has his/her proper responsibility in the koinonia. On one hand, synodally reflects the Trinitarian mystery and, therefore, finds its ultimate foundation. While the dynamism of the three persons of the Holy Trinity does not imply any diminution or subordination, similarly, there also exists an order among local Churches, which does not imply inequality in their ecclesial nature. On the other hand, the Eucharist manifests the Trinitarian koinonia actualized in the faithful as an organic unity of several members each of whom has a charism, a service or a proper ministry, necessary in their variety and diversity for the edification of all in one ecclesial Body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor.
Ibid. At first, it seems, because every town had only one Eucharist, those places where the Eucharistic assembly took place were counted and considered Churches. The local Eucharistic community is the local Church. The local Church becomes the totality of these Eucharistic communities in communion with this bishop, and also within the area of its See. (With a presider “authorized” by them, as stated later by Ignatius of Antioch—communities celebrated for themselves the Memorial of the Lord.) The Church is itself, therefore, communion of local communities. It todays terminology it is a diocese (entrusted to a bishop), made up of parishes, each one of these is being a Eucharistic community – the local Church is the diocese, not the parish. 33 Ladislas M. Örsy identifies various theories with a brief critical assessment that seek to explain the place and role of law in the church. In summary, the first group of theories articulated and defended by Rudolf Sohn (d. 1917) does not represent adequately the true nature of canon law or any law; the second group often designated as the Italian School virtually identifies the nature of canon law with that of civil law and fails to account sufficiently for the religious and ecclesiastical character of canon law; the third group as the position of the Munich School since Kalus Mörsdorf (d. 1989) sees canon law too much a theological enterprise and fall short of doing justice to its humanity and juridical nature. All such theories can lead to interpretations that lack internal balance and harmony. The last theory, “the Eucharist is the source of rights and duties in the Church” is well founded and promising but as yet not completed: it should be considered as a report on ‘faith seeking understanding.’ See Internet; http://books.google.com.ph/books?id=JKgZEjvB5cEC&pg. 34 SCM.
12:4-30). In this way, the mystery of salvific koinonia, the entire Church as a reality as well as a sacrament of salvation, with the Blessed Trinity is realized in humankind.35 The notion of “episcopally led” while primarily referred to the authority of the Church described in the New Testament.36 This authority, however, is predominantly exercised in various ways whereby the kingdom of God manifests itself to the world until its eschatological fulfilment (1 Cor. 15-24-28).37 In conformity to the mandate of Christ, the authority includes the proclamation and the teaching of the Gospel, sanctification through the sacraments and the particular direction of those who believe (Luke 10:16). In other words, authority in the Church belongs to Jesus Christ himself (Eph. 1:22; 5:23), through the Holy Spirit, the Church as the Body of Christ shares in (John 20: 22-23) gathering of the whole of humankind into Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:10; John 11:52).38 Since the exercise of authority expresses divine authority (in the name of Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit) must be, in all its forms and at all levels, a service (diakonia) of love (Mark 10:45; John 13:1-16). While at the same time, authority can and must call for obedience, for Christians, to rule is to serve without domination or coercion, the exercise and spiritual efficacy of ecclesial authority are thereby assured through free consent and voluntary collaboration (cf. Phil. 2:8), which fundamentally expresses the insights of the imago Dei. While the institutional elements of the church visibly express and serve the mystery of koinonia, the constitutional structures express the sacramental life of the church, where all ecclesiastical authority is exercised; in which communion is the criterion for its exercise. Nevertheless, the charisms of the faithful, both clergy and lay people, have originated in the one Holy Spirit for the good of all, of which sheds insights on both the demands and limits of the authority of each one in the church: neither passivity nor substitution, neither negligence nor domination of anyone by another. Nonetheless, all charism and ministries in the local Church (diocese) converge in unity under the ministry of the bishop, who serves the communion or the ‘the totality of the means of the local Church. All, through the sacraments, therefore, are called to be renewed by the Holy Spirit and to respond in constant repentance (metanoia) in order to ensure the communion.
Synodal in the church is understood in different levels. It is manifested in by virtue of baptism, each baptized person is called, according to the gifts of the one Holy Spirit, to serve within the community (cf. 1 Cor. 12:4-27) – thus through communion, whereby all the members are at the service of each other (the local Church appears already “synodal” in its structure: solidarity, mutual assistance and complementarity which the various ordained ministries, everything done in concert; involves obedience to the bishop, who is the ‘first’ and head of the local Church, required by ecclesial communion; and the active participation of the laity, both men and women, is effected in the diocese and the parish through many forms of service and mission. 36 It comes from Jesus Christ, having received his authority from God the Father, Christ after his Resurrection shared it, through the Holy Spirit, with the Apostles (John 20:22), transmitted to the bishops, the successors to the Apostles, and through them to the whole Church. 37 Jesus manifested authority in different ways: by teaching (Matt. 5:2; Luke 5:3); by performing miracles (Mark 1:30-34; Matt. 14:35-36); by driving out impure spirits (Mark 1:27; Luke 4:35-36); in the forgiveness of sins (Mark 2:10; Luke 5:24); and in leading his disciples in the ways of salvation (Matt. 16:24). 38 The authority linked with the grace received in ordination is not the private possession of those who receive it nor something delegated from the community; rather, it is a gift of the Holy Spirit destined for the service (diakonia) of the community and never exercised outside of it. Its exercise includes the participation of the whole community (cf. St Cyprian, Ep. 66, 8).
The Canons While the Canons are fundamentally concerned with the clergy, it provides the essential structure of the ‘fellowship’ and, likewise, exists for the well-being (diakonia and martyria through the sacraments) of the whole body, the Church, which is anchored on the ministry of Jesus. What characterizes the Aglipayan faith and theology is not the new subjects it raises, but its new theological horizons; a reflection of the whole Christian mystery from the perspective of nationalism/patriotism and of liberation from all forms of alienation from God. Nevertheless, the IFI accepts the common sacramental doctrine and practice of the universal church, but like other theology it must try to systematize these sacraments, according to an ultimate principle, to set priorities and to organize in a coherent way, and in the case of the IFI ‘nationalist heritage,’ in a way that respond to the cry of the Filipino people for social justice and sovereignty towards the kingdom of God. The essential virtue of a Sacrament is the means by God in order that his people grow in the life of grace oriented to the realization of the kingdom of God, and in continuity with the salvific actions of God. Sacraments as ‘prophetic symbols,’ therefore: first, announce the Good News of the Kingdom of God; second, denounce the sin of the world which is the root of death; and, third, transform as well as demand the transformation of personal and historical reality towards the realization of the kingdom. It must be clear that sacraments must be interpreted in reference to the ‘kingdom of God’ as object of the Aglipayan hope. This kingdom overflows the church and not merely intra-ecclesial, but it is realized in the world, in the secularity, in the socio-political, economic, and cultural spheres, in the structures and conditions of life of the Filipino people. The IFI declares that: “The Sacraments are outward and visible signs of our faith and a means whereby God manifest His goodwill towards us and confers grace upon us.”39 There are three elements in this understanding of a sacrament, namely: (a) ‘outward and visible sign’ of a sanctifying grace; (b) ‘means’ whereby God confers grace; and (c) ‘instituted’ by Christ. Nonetheless, these elements must be ‘(re-)interpreted’ in the light of the kingdom of God, not only to the sacramental rites that seems to be its only expression, and therefore their meaning, their effectiveness, their validity, their ecclesiality, must always be considered in reference to the kingdom of God. Therefore, a sacrament as ‘sacramental sign’ of the kingdom is something that represents a reality (signified thing), intermediaries between the signified thing and the subject, and bears natural semblance to the signified reality. In such manner, without offending either aesthetics or pastoral theology, the mission of the sacraments is to prophetically celebrate the kingdom of God of which it has to do with social justice and peace in the world; nevertheless, not an injection of politics to sacraments, but a prophetic orientation to the kingdom of God. Yet, it must be accentuated that the individual’s faith must be emphasized as the essential constitutive moment of the sacraments, which is a ‘sacrament of faith.’ The sacraments recover the communal and celebrative character, where in the ‘epiclesis’ (invocation of the Holy Spirit) is recognized as constitutive sacramental element. The sacraments of the church are prophetic symbols of the kingdom of God that then church celebrates liturgically and that orient Christian existence not only to the church but also to
Declaration of Faith and Article of Religion (DFAR), B.4.
the realization of the kingdom of God, in continuity with the salvific action of God. But then again it is all the grace and gift of the Holy Spirit in the church which itself is sacrament of the kingdom of God. Nevertheless, these symbolic acts of the church are not empty, for the church itself is animated by the Holy Spirit who announces the Kingdom, denounces the anti-Kingdom and anticipates the Kingdom symbolically in the sacraments of the church. In other words, the church not only teaches the gospel, not only exhort the people to fulfil the gospel, but celebrate prayerfully, through symbols, the mystery of the kingdom of God, which is ‘embryonically’ realized in the Paschal mystery, but which must go on being realized in the concrete historical experiences of persons and peoples in the world. The IFI professes seven sacraments which are the maximum symbolic expression of all these levels and types of sacramentality, whose existence is a dogma of faith, namely: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, Holy Unction, Holy Orders and Marriage.40 These, however, should be placed within the context of the kingdom of God: the sacraments are privilege steps on the way from death to life and, likewise, orient Christian life to the service of the kingdom. One could first study each of the rites that are now called sacraments and dissect the aspects of the kingdom orientation in each sacrament. It is not a matter of restructuring a complete sacramentology, but only of specifying in the seven sacraments the sacramental horizon of the kingdom of God, as it is view from the perspective of the IFI nationalist heritage. First, in strict sense, the IFI states that Baptism is instituted by Christ and necessary for salvation, which has been considered almost exclusively in its individual dimension.41 In the New Testament, however, it is the “the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). The candidate is symbolically buried and resurrected with Christ (Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12), as “a new creature” (2 Cor. 5:17).42 It produces complete regeneration through with the infused virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In other words, the sacramental grace is union with Christ in His death and resurrection, birth into God’s family the Church, forgiveness of sins, and “new” creation in the Holy Spirit oriented to the eschatological kingdom of God, which is coming now (Matt. 3:2) and for which the people must prepare with a radical conversion (Luke 3:1-20). It should be understood that while it is a personal profession of faith, baptism effects not only an incorporation to the body of Christ, but also as eschatological orientation and initiation into the kingdom of God. Nevertheless, the general application of baptism and the reduction of the symbolic meaning of water to that of washing contributed to the individualization, which is not false, but diminishes the richness of the sacrament of baptism.43 With the requirement of conversion to Christ, baptism requires a clear
Cf. “Council of Florence,” Decree Pro Armeniis: DS 1310; “Council of Trent,” sess. 7, can. 1 De Sacramentis: DS 1601. The Christian tradition—in both the Eastern and Western Sources—agrees with this enumeration. The use of the expression “seven sacraments” started only at the beginning of the twelfth century, and the study of their common properties began even later. 41 DFAR, B.4. 42 To baptism usually means “to wash” or “to clean with water;” cf. “Ritual on Baptism” in FM; Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 3:10, 12); 43 In the early teachings of the IFI, in the Catequesis (CTQ), while it is “the ancient sign or rite symbolic of our entrance to the sanctuary or communion of the sons of God (Lev. 16:4 and 24), a visible profession of our
orientation to the kingdom of God; otherwise, it would be a “superstitious ceremony like ‘anting-anting’ *amulets+.”44 Second, the IFI affirms that “Confirmation, whereby, through the imposition of the Bishop’s hands, anointing [with oil] and prayer.”45 Anointment with oil from the time of the Old Testament has symbolized the gift of the Spirit in the sense of righteousness and justice for the poor (Psalm 72:1). Its effects are the increase of the sanctifying grace, specifically, “strengthened by the gifts of the Holy Spirit and confirmed in the Faith received in baptism.”46 The theology behind the popular understanding of confirmation (at least in the practice and canonical provisions of the church) was gradually unlinked to from its baptismal roots and from the initiating perspective of the kingdom of God, and emphasized its ecclesial and pneumatic dimensions. Nevertheless, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, communicated by confirmation through the symbolism of anointment, possess a prophetic and eschatological orientation to the kingdom of God. It reminds the baptized one and the church that their mission is the world and the kingdom. But to reduce confirmation as a renewal of baptism or an affirmation of the Holy Spirit, without referring to the historical Jesus and his commitment to the kingdom of God, is to distort the meaning of the sacrament of confirmation. Third, “The Holy Eucharist, commonly known as Holy Communion or Mass, the Sacraments of the Body and Blood of Christ, taken and received by the faithful for the strengthening and refreshing of their bodies and souls.”47 It refers to the ‘act of thanksgiving’ (Gk. ‘eucharistein’) as Jesus’ instituted it (cf. Matt. 26:27; Mark 14:23; Luke 22:17, 19; 1 Cor. 11:24) and symbolizes the fellowship of sharing one meal and one cup that best expresses the Kingdom. It is for this very reason a Eucharist without real sharing “is not the Lord’s supper” (1 Cor. 11:20-21). In the Scriptures it is the image of the banquet that best expresses the utopia of the kingdom of God (Matt. 8:11; 22:1-4; 25:1-13). The sacramental grace of the Eucharist implies the strengthening of the intimate union with God and the bond of unity between one another in Christ (John 6:56), and the foretaste of the heavenly banquet. Since the Eucharist is the most important rite of the Church and “central act of Christian Worship.”48 Nevertheless, it is not simply a celebration of trifling concrete historical victories over the forces of darkness, but a token of a final and full realization of the kingdom of God; likewise, a source of hope and the beginning of transfiguration, the final utopia in the world. Fourth, the Sacrament of Penance commonly called Confession and Absolution; “the confession of sins [committed after Baptism] as commanded by Jesus Christ.”49 Since it is of remitting of sin, the part of the person approaching this Sacrament is repentance.
faith in God and the teachings of Jesus, assign of regeneration” (CTQ q 201), baptism implies also the interplay of the faith and response of persons to the gift of God, “being born anew in the purity and grace of God—the spirit of virtue, peace and charity” (CTQ q 202). 44 Cf. CTQ q 196, 197 and 198. 45 DFAR, B.4. 46 Ibid. 47 Ibid. The term Eucharist has been chosen to refer to this sacrament since the times of Ignatius of nd Antioch, early 2 century A.D. 48 DFAR, B.5; the Canons meticulously specify the manner of its celebration. 49 DFAR, B.4. In the first two centuries, the confession of sins and the forgiveness of sins are referred not specifically to the Sacrament of Penance administered by the Church, but in a general approach: before the
Notably, the overriding notion of Penance in the Filipino Ritual is privatized, and the first effect is ecclesial reconciliation.50 Yet, though sin wounds the ecclesial body, it possesses a dynamic of death that affects society: the structure of sin. It follows that conversion must not only personal, but must also social. Reconciliation, therefore, must be oriented to undoing the consequences of sin. Moreover, sin is not only what is inflicted, but also the omission of “callings” in bringing in the kingdom of God.51 The perspective of penance, therefore, if one can ascribe to it, the church as a community seeks the forgiveness of God and of the world for its collective sins in the past (its sins of omission) and in the present sin (its alliance with the powerful). It must bear the sin of the world, intercede for sinners, and anticipate liberation towards the perspective of the kingdom of God through integral ministry.52 Fifth, the IFI avows that “Holy Unction, whereby the sick, especially one in danger of death, is anointed with oil with prayer. He receives, if necessary, remission of sins, the strengthening of his soul and if it be the will of God, restoration to health.”53 It must be emphasized that it is not wished-for merely a sacrament of the dying but the sick. It must not detract, therefore, from its eschatological orientation to the kingdom of God. It is a prophetic way of announcing the salvation of Jesus, of denouncing the present sickness and death as consequences of sin, and of anticipating the wholeness of the kingdom of God by the essential transformation of weakness into strength, of sin into grace, and even sickness into health. It is, therefore, a sacrament that speaks of eschatological wholeness and of the abundant life of the kingdom of God. Sixth, the IFI adheres that, “Holy Orders, a Sacrament by which Bishops, Priests, and Deacons by laying on of hands are ordained, and receive power and authority to perform their sacred duties.”54 From this affirmation of faith, there is in this Church a visible and external priesthood, a special priesthood and a special priestly status, different from the status of the laity or lay people in the Church, which is instituted by divine ordinance. 55 It confers sanctifying grace and enables the recipient worthily to perform the functions of his/her Order and to lead a worthy of life. It likewise imprints three distinct sacramental grades of Order that transcends the baptismal character and that of the character of
celebration of the Eucharist (Cf. Didache, 14,1) and made publicly (Didache, 4:14). In the third and fourth centuries, Tertullian speaks of two-fold penance: a penance as a preparation of Baptism and a penance after Baptism (Tertullian, De poenitentia, c. 1-12). For the Church in the East, Clement of Alexandria and Origen bear witness that the power to forgive sins was attributed to the Church (Clement, Quis dives salvetur 39, 2; cf. 42). 50 True repentance has three elements: 1) contrition or sorrow for sin; 2) confession of all known sins; and 3) satisfaction and amendment of life (Filipino Ritual [FR], 84). On the contrary, from the perspective of the kingdom of God emphasizes that neither sin nor reconciliation is purely intra-ecclesial (cf. SM). 51 Cf. ‘Confession’ in the Order of the Mass (OOM). In penance, the church prophetically announces the mercy of God, denounces the sin of the world and initiates its transformation by communicating the Spirit (John 20:19-23) for the forgiveness of sins. The dynamics of the Spirit leads to liberation from all forms of slavery (Rom. 8:19-27). 52 While it sheds light on the many penitential rites of popular religion/religiosity and shows the ambiguity of certain practices of communal penance, which soothe the economically powerful sectors with a collective absolution that requires no profound change of personal life. 53 DFAR, B.4. 54 Ibid. 55 The IFI affirms the three Orders of Sacred Ministry from Apostolic times: Bishops, Priests and Deacons. These are not three distinct Sacraments, but sacramental grades of Orders and conjointly form the one Sacrament of Holy Orders, cf. DFAR, B.6; “Intro. Canons, #5” CC.
Confirmation. Correspondingly, it confers a spiritual power on the recipient which directed principally to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.56 Seventh, the church declares, “Holy Matrimony is the sacrament in which a man and a woman are joined together in the holy estate of matrimony.”57 The mutual declaration of will of the pair (not the priestly blessing) is the efficient cause of the Sacrament of Matrimony. Therefore, the priest’s blessing does not pertain to the nature of Sacrament, but a ‘sacramental’58 which is added to the sacrament. Moreover, it must conform to the laws of the State.59 Nevertheless, marriage is opened not only to the ecclesial dimension, but to the eschatology of the kingdom of God, symbolizes the union of Adam and Eve (Gen. 2:22), which prefigures not only the union of Christ with his church, but that of God with humanity. It must proclaim the generous love of God; it must denounce selfishness and begin to anticipate, not only in the family but also in society, the new humanity, new human and social relationships, which are described in the symbolic and utopian terms in the paradise of Genesis. Conclusion Since the recapturing of the ‘nationalist heritage’ and the attempt to “de-clericalize” the church, the IFI may have been immersed with integral ministry but the Constitution and Canons has too little to do with the nationalist heritage of the church; it has hung squarely on to its authoritarianism. In other words, as the IFI rediscovered its identity and took itself out into the community and the world through integral ministry, that ‘old sacred role,’ enmeshed as with was with clericalism and authoritarianism (that the 1977 Constitution and Canons endeavour to get rid of) got left behind and still enshrined in the constitutional rules of the church.
CC, 4:11-16. DFAR, B.4. 58 Cf. CC, 11:1. Sacramentals are sacred signs, which in a sense imitate the sacraments, signify certain effects on spiritual ones and achieve effects through the intercession of the Church. There are several kinds of sacramentals. Most of the sacramentals are consecrated and blessed objects through which the faithful received spiritual benefits such as the holy water, rosaries, icons, and generally speaking, all blessed objects used exclusively for the worship of God. Sacramentals may also be actions that the Church enriches with special graces such as the recitation of an act of contrition, the imposition of the ash, exorcism, processions, pilgrimages, and the funeral rites. Some of the sacramentals consist of blessings, like those of churches, objects devoted to divine worship, houses, the nuptial blessings, and the blessing of water. 59 Cf. CC, 11:1-5. The traditional attitude toward marriage is sacred (even sacramental). It is reinforced by the teaching attributed to Jesus himself [Mark 10:11-12], but allowing an exception in the case of unchastity (Matt. 5:32). The key Old Testament [Deut. 24:1 = bill of divorcement] teachings take a substantially more open attitude toward the dissolution of marriages than the position attributed to Jesus. If Jesus allowed for breaking the honoured Sabbath laws so as to provide for healing, though the ancient laws forbade these on the sacred day, would he not also allow for a suspension of the proscription against divorce if such were to liberate a person from the bondage of an intolerable marriage? If the Sabbath was “made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27), does it not follow that marriage was made for humanity, rather than humanity for marriage? If the institution of marriage, important as it is, does violence to the individual, then should not the institution be amended in order that the individual might flourish? Humankind was not made for the laws of marriage, but the laws of marriage were fashioned for humankind. Whenever marriage serves to crush what is genuinely human, dissolution of marriage may be a creative and affirmative response, ethically justified in the midst of limited alternatives.
The Constitution and Canons aim to assist the church in fulfilling its task, which is, to reveal and to communicate the economy of salvation to the world. They, for that reason, can help by creating order in the church that leads to justice and peace, and by teaching the people toward the kingdom of God. What is the answer, therefore, for those who would like to see a more vibrant sense of the ‘episcopally led and synodally governed’ polity of the IFI without a return to the authoritarian days of old? The only instantaneous answer is to break the enmeshment between the ‘ego’ and the ‘role’ in both the ordained and the lay people. Another affirmative answer is for the Constitution and Canons reflect the nature of the church: while it is truly human institution because it has human community; it has affinity to the divine because it is an integral part of the church as a sacrament of salvation. The key element to it is the proper understanding of Baptism and that of the Holy Orders (and, of course, of the other sacraments of the church) and the church itself as the ‘reality’ and ‘sacrament’ of salvation from the vibrant wisdom of the Eucharist as communion entwined with the perspective of the doctrine of the Trinity. Of course some assumes that there is a problem, that there is disquiet in the ranks, or that there is a perceived lack in the way the church is structured. Many people, however, actually experience a strong sense of ‘belongingness’ in the church or otherwise quite satisfied with things as they stand; not all experience a lack of belongingness in the church and if they did might not see it as a loss. But many do and that, after all, by virtue of baptism all are commissioned to one mission of the church: to bring the whole creation under the lordship of God – the kingdom of God. The prevalent question of all is: What exactly is the sacred ministry for? In the sacred role, what sacred act is the ordained performing? The understanding of the ‘the sacred role of the ordained’ will naturally drive the structuring of the ‘life and work’ as well as the ‘ritual and worship’ of the IFI. Nevertheless, one can never revitalize the church by returning to the authoritarian days. But the IFI can however return to its roots by restoring the tradition of the transcendent mystery of kingdom of God to the life and works of the church. The dynamism of the doctrine of the Trinity as community of persons (Trinitarian koinonia) actualized in the church as an organic unity of several members by virtue of baptism each of whom has a charism, a service or proper ministry for the edification of all in the one ecclesial body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:4-30). Nonetheless, the Constitution and Canons must speak of the envisioned identity (nationalist heritage) of the IFI and the faithful must ‘live’ with it. Therefore, Constitution and Canons is a ‘blue-print’ (the abstract) of the IFI, and it must be received and realized in the lives of the faithful, both clergy and lay people, the process of ‘living out’ the nationalist heritage of the church. The ‘living out’ must take place in the world, the place of concrete, particular and personal events; thus, turning an abstract, universal and impersonal norm into a ‘force of life’ that uphold and promote the IFI. The best way to promote the nationalist heritage and to safeguard the Aglipayan faith is to create a climate of trust and confidence where the ‘church koinonia’ can flourish and do well; therefore, an environment of freedom and confidence is indispensable in the church. While Aglipayan faith and theology operates on the abstract level, Constitution and Canon operates in the concrete level. In other words, the ‘nationalist heritage’ determines the norms to be appropriated and gives meaning to the Constitution and Canon of the church, which deals with the real existing community of faith. As God is the one who brings the IFI into existence and sustains it; hence, the church, however, by divine design needs visible structures to be a community of people and to operate in a human way.
The Constitution and Canons are, therefore, for the well-being of the church, as they should be, then they are manifestation of charity, ‘love that wants to give’ or ‘love that wants to enrich the other.’ The insights of the ‘nationalist heritage’ have consequences in the practical order and postulate a conversion in the conducts of theological thoughts and ecclesial operations of the IFI. Therefore, it needs to build the structures and norms that will give full scope to those insights as partner of the Spirit in building structures for the unfolding kingdom of God in concrete human history. As the church is of a composite nature, so are the ecclesial rules. In it human elements blend with divine gifts. As the church is incomplete and unfinished, so are the Constitution and Canons. As the church is always in need of reform (ecclesia semper reformada) means that Constitution and Canons, too, are permanently in need of review (ius canonicum semper revidendum). Therefore, as the church is changeable and reformable, so are the Constitution and Canons; some of their substance, some of their formulation. While dying norms ought to be steadily pruned away, the new ones must be created as needed. In the case of the IFI, the ‘nationalist heritage’ through the Constitution and Canons must blend with divine wisdom in a close union within the ambit of the economy of salvation, but without fusion or confusion. Thus, this complex nature gives the Constitution and Canons its incarnational character. Let this character unfold in the life and work of the IFI now. NOW is the opportune time!
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