Church leaders are servants
St. Norbert College president influenced by Vatican II theologian
By Tony Staley
What: Claude Allouez Forum, sponsored by the Green Bay Diocese and the St. Norbert College Theological Institute; it is open to the public.
When: 7:15 a.m. Oct. 19.
Where: Bemis International Center, St. Norbert College.
Who: Sr. Ann Rehrauer, president of the Bay Settlement Franciscan Sisters, Green Bay.
Topic: So Many Books, So Little Time: "Landscapes of the Sacred" by Belden Lane.
Cost: $8, includes breakfast.
Reservations: (920)437-7531 or (toll-free) 1-877-500-3580, ext. 8173.
DE PERE -- How authority is exercised in the church has changed many times, but the underlying concept of leaders as loving servants has remained, the Claude Allouez Forum was told at its first session of 2001-02.
Dr. William Hynes, president of St. Norbert College, opened the monthly series Sept. 14 discussing Power and Poverty in the Church by Card. Yves Congar, a French theologian and a guiding force at the Second Vatican Council. Speakers this year are to discuss a book that has influenced their lives.
Hynes told the breakfast forum, which is co-sponsored by the Green Bay Diocese and the Theological Institute at St. Norbert College, that he read Congar's book during the 1960s as the first lay Catholic to attend the University of Chicago Divinity School, where he earned a doctorate.
In the book, Congar talks about how Christianity evolved from different religions and cultures, some of which it adapted, while others it dropped, Hynes said.
Ss. Peter and Paul might not always recognize later popes in church history, Hynes said. But the element that comes through over the years is that of the pope, especially, but all the hierarchy as the "servant of the servants," as Jesus described himself after washing his disciples' feet at the Last Supper (Jn 13:1-17).
In the early church, the various communities were organized around a rabbi and his inner circle, Hynes said. By the end of the first century, the community elected its leaders.
A century later, the influence of Rome was increasing. Even at that when St. Ambrose was elected Bishop of Milan in 374, he said he would serve as a bishop, not a judge. By the high middle ages, popes were calling themselves "super judges."
The papacy took on civil trappings after the civil leaders fled Rome leaving the pope to deal with invaders to secure food and safety for the city's people. As a result, titles such as emperor and Pontifex Maximus ("Bridge Builder") were given to the Bishop of Rome.
Church organizational structures such as provinces, dioceses and parishes also were based on Roman models, Hynes said.
Other changes came about under Gregory the Great, whose pontificate (590-604) sought to restore the early Christian idea of community living and promoted the monastic life and a celibate clergy. Gregory also adopted the title, "Servant of the Servants of God," still used by his successors.
While at times, Hynes said, some structures in the hierarchical church are distracting, that fundamental idea of love and service still comes through and is most apparent in the modern papacy.
Hynes said that as a college president, he tries to be a servant of the servants, helping teachers better serve students.