The Constitution on the Church in Vatican II (Lumen Gentium)
The Constitution on the Church in Vatican II is divided into 8 chapters. The numbers in brackets refer to the paragraphs of the Constitution.
- The Mystery of the Church
The Church is a sacrament (1).
It is identified as “a People made one with the unity of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit (4).
It goes on to detail other images of the Church taken from Scripture – e.g. a sheepfold, a cultivated field, the building of God, etc. (6-7).
The final paragraph (8) states that the Church of Christ “subsists in” the Catholic Church.
- The People of God
This is the preferred image of the Church – the People of God who journey on their pilgrimage through history (9).
This chapter speaks of the sense in which all the faithful share a common priesthood (10). It speaks of the relationship between the People of God and non-Catholic Churches (15) and non-Christians (16).
- The Hierarchy
This chapter deals mainly with the Bishops and their relationship with the Papacy (20-27). The principle of collegiality is explained (22). The ministries of the priesthood (28) and diaconate – including the restored permanent diaconate (29).
- The Laity
Chapter 4 declares that there is basic equality between the clergy and the laity, and among lay persons themselves (32). It identifies the role of the laity (33-36) and its relationship to the hierarchy (37-38).
- The Call to Holiness
This call is not just to Bishops, Priests, Deacons, and Religious (39-41), but to every member of the People of God (41-42).
A restatement of the main points of the traditional theology of religious life (43-47)
- The Pilgrim Church
A description, using many biblical images, of the relationship between the People of God and the end-time, the consummation of history and Heaven (45-51).
- Mary, Mother of the Church
Mary’s role in the mysteries of the Christ and of the Church (52-69).
Next: The Significance of the Constitution