The Eucharist as sacrament of ecclesial "koinonia" with reference to the contribution of Jean-Marie Tillard to ecumenical consensus on the Eucharist
The dissertation is an extended analysis and application of the Roman Catholic ecclesiology of communion. The concept and phenomenon of koinonia is examined from multiple perspectives: in biblical exegesis of 1 Corinthians 10 and 11, in 20th-century Roman Catholic ecclesiology, in ecumenical dialogue statements on the Eucharist (the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), the Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry Statement of the World Council of Churches (BEM), and the Theses on the Eucharist of the Group of Les Dombes).
The second objective of the dissertation is to examine and evaluate the contribution of Jean-Marie Roger Tillard to the ecclesiology of communion. During the course of the analysis principal concepts--participation, presence, sacrifice and salvation--emerge and re-emerge in new contexts. There follows an excursus on the problem of essentialist tendencies in current Roman Catholic approaches to ecumenical problems, including Pope John Paul II's recent encyclical Ut unum sint. In the concluding chapters, the author suggests that the history of the eucharistic activity of the Church describes an ecumenism through time or paradosis. The ecumenical predicament of the Church is apparent in the divergence of eucharistic paradosis within the Church. No church ever conveys the entirety of the eucharistic paradosis, but must always selectively emphasize those doctrines and practices which it more highly values and esteems. Churches which value their ecumenical relationships will communicate the paradosis on the Eucharist selectively, emphasizing doctrines and practices which enhance the prospects for future unity, while soft-pedaling divisive and polemical statements and practices.
The summary and final conclusion of the dissertation is that the quality of the eucharistic and ecclesial communion of a local Church, as a sacrificial participation in the presence of Christ for the purpose of salvation, is diminished to the extent that communion in its altar is closed, by doctrine or practice, to any group or class of baptized Christians. For the Church, to exist is to exist in communion; and to exist in communion is to exist ecumenically.