Lecture at the International Conference of the Joseph Ratzinger / Pope Benedict XVI Foundation at the Franciscan University of Steubenville

Ohio, 20 October 2022


“We declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete” (1 John 1:3-4). The writer of the First Letter of John addresses his congregations with these significant phrases; and in them we can find all the essential dimensions of the Christian understanding of communion. Accordingly, the crucial starting point of communion lies in the encounter with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became flesh and comes to us human beings in the proclamation and in the sacraments of the Church. This encounter with Jesus Christ gives rise to a communion among people that is based on communion with the Triune God. After all, when the individual baptized persons have communion with Jesus Christ they are also brought closer to each other and the communion of the Church is built up. The Church is thus to be understood as the space of salvation that the Triune God has provided, or, as the Second Vatican Council underlines, „a people made one with the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”.[1] It is true that the term ‘communion’ did not have a central place during the Council. However, in 1985, 20 years after the Council - in the context of seeking where the church stood - the extraordinary synod of bishops took up the threads of the Council’s work on a renewed ecclesiology of communion and consistently carried them further.[2] In the eyes of Joseph Ratzinger - Benedict XVI the basic term ‘communion’ serves as a synthesis of the ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council, and represents “the actual centerpiece of Vatican II on the Church,” or, more exactly, “the actual new thing that this Council gave us, although it had also been there from the beginning”.[3]


1. Joseph Ratzinger’s preparation for the conciliar ecclesiology of communion

This positive judgment is also explained from the fact that the basic term ‘communion’ had a foacal importance from the start in the theological and especially ecclesiological thought of Joseph Ratzinger and that he himself made a great contribution to developing conciliar communion ecclesiology. I will illustrate this with the aid of two important interventions by the young theologian.

The first occasion was Joseph Ratzinger’s engaging with the contention of Hans Küng - presented even before the Council opened – that ‘Council’ and ‘Church’ had fundamentally the same meaning, and identity. Küng started from the etymological assumption that the Greek term for church (ecclesia) and the Latin one for council (concilium) were based on the same linguistic root, i.e. kalein and concalare, which mean, respectively, ‘call out’ and ‘call together’. Consequently, Küng defined ‘church’ as God’s constant council in the world. In its being, he said, the Church is the Council called together by God, or more precisely, an “ecumenical Council of divine calling”, while that reality designated ecclesiologically as a Council is an “ecumenical Council of human calling” and, in essence, represents the “ecumenical Council of divine calling”. Hans Küng’s main conclusion from these considerations was that the structure and form of a Council should be derived from the structure and form of the Church itself, and that the Council should therefore on no account be understood solely as an assembly of bishops[4].

Countering this contention of Hans Küng, Joseph Ratzinger demonstrated in his comprehensive lecture “Zur Theologie des Konzils” (“On the Theology of the Council”) that Küng’s etymological derivation was wrong, in that neither the Latin Bible nor the Church Fathers used the word concilium to translate ecclesia; rather, concilium was the equivalent of synhedrion. Hence he judged Küng’s theory to be a “simplification”, one “which cannot do justice to the traditional finding but which ultimately boils down to a very central question about the self-understanding of the Church”.[5] Joseph Ratzinger sees the “radius of the Council as far more narrow” than “that of the Church as a whole”;[6] the Council admittedly represents an important aspect of the life of the church, but the Church is much more than a Council and has more profound roots. The Church is not an institutionalized Council in the sense of a council meeting, it is communion in the sense of Eucharistic communion.

“The Church holds councils, it is communion”.[7] The critical engagement of Joseph Ratzinger with Hans Küng before the Council may be summed up in this pithy phrase. While church and council are equivalent for Hans Küng, for Joseph Ratzinger ‘communion’ is the key word that expresses the actual being of the Church.

This fundamental difference in theological understanding of the church was probably most clearly perceivable in the names of the two different theological journals that were launched after Vatican II. 1965 saw the founding of the Concilium journal, which understands itself decidedly as the ongoing voice of the Council and backs the ecclesiological programme of Hans Küng in which Church and Council are identified with one another. The journal founded by Joseph Ratzinger and his theological friends Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Louis Bouyer and Jorge Medina, deliberately bears the name Communio as a deliberate counterpoint. It is committed to interpreting and spelling out the legacy of the Council under the heading of ‘communion’.

For Joseph Ratzinger it is a matter of course that a journal called Communio must deepen and keep open the talk of God, the Trinitarian God, and God’s revelation in the history of salvation in the Old and New Testament, the focus of which is God’s being with us human beings, to the point of God’s Son becoming flesh. Communion is a theological, not a sociological term, with a profound ontological dimension; Ratzinger says it is “then largely a sacramental and only as such an ecclesiological term as well”[8]. That is because in-depth communion can only arise from God and from nothing else: “The communion of humans among one another becomes possible from God, who – through Christ in the Holy Spirit – brings people together so that they become communion <church> in the real sense of the word.”[9]

With respect to the two journals mentioned, behind which there are two quite different ecclesiologies, George Weigel referred in a somewhat overstated way but not without justification to a ‘Concilium-Communio division’ in the Church after the Council, which has also affected the reception of the Council up to the present. It is therefore understandable that, in the aftermath of the Council, the theological understanding of ‘communion’ was subject to misunderstandings and simplifications, particularly when the concept of communion was not integrated correctly into the concepts of ‘people of God’ and ‘body of Christ’. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under the chairmanship of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger reacted to these problems in 1992 with its letter “Communionis notio” in order to clarify the basic points relevant to understanding the Church as communion.[10]


2. Trinitarian grounding of ecclesial communion

The misunderstandings and tensions that have arisen can only be overcome if we seek a more precise understanding of communion. The premise here is that, in the biblical view and in patristic tradition, the concept of communion has two main dimensions: a vertical one, that is, communion with God, and a horizontal one, that is, communion among human beings, and that the horizontal dimension only arises from the vertical one and can only be understand in the light of it. The word ‘communion’ therefore has a “theological, christological and salvific, and ecclesiological character”.[11] To be able to understand the ecclesiological character of the word ´communion` and thereby the communion ecclesiology of Joseph Ratzinger, we need to at least briefly examine its theological and more exact Trinitarian grounding. Only in this way does the communion ecclesiology present itself as “a theo-logical ecclesiology in the real sense” – in the sense that the talk of ‘church’ is bound up with the talk of God and with the life from and with God.[12]

In the light of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, communion with the living God is mediated through the communion of God with the person who is Jesus Christ himself and in person, the encounter with Jesus Christ giving communion with the Father in the Holy Spirit and hence also uniting humans among themselves. That gives rise to the unprecedentedly new understanding of God as enabled in the New Testament revelation. The Trinitarian notion of God says that the highest unity that can exist, namely the unity of God, is not the “unity of the un-structured and un-differentiated” but the “unity in the manner of communion”, more exactly the “unity that is and creates love”[13]- Consequently, the Christian understanding of communion differs fundamentally from the Greek root of this word, which does not focus on communion, but on union, and thereby not on relationship but on identity. It also differs from the Jewish root, with which there can be no ‘communion’ between God and human beings since the transcendence of the Creator is regarded as so great as not to allow of any crossing over between them.[14]

According to Joseph Ratzinger, the Trinitarian understanding of communion is primarily shown in pneumatology. He does not understand the inner-trinitarian mediation of Father and Son towards perfect unity in a general sense as an ontic consubstanciality but as communion and thus starting from the persons, which is why this communion itself is personal. So the special feature of the Holy Spirit consists in the oneness of Father and Son, and thus in unity. If the Holy Spirit is called “that which is the divinity of God, the oneness of Father and Son, then its essence is precisely this – to be the communion of Father and Son”.[15] Referring to the pneumatology of Saint Augustine, Joseph Ratzinger defines more precisely the Christian understanding of the Holy Spirit as communion designated as gift and, particularly, love: “God’s gift is the Holy Spirit. God’s gift is love – God shares God’s own self in the Holy Spirit as love”.[16]

The unique newness of the Christian understanding of communion is especially shown in Christology, also by contrast with Old Testament revelation, as clearly brought out by Joseph Ratzinger: “The Old Testament knows no <communion> (chaburah, koinonia) between God and humankind; the New Testament is this communion, in and through the person of Jesus Christ.”[17] After all, in Jesus Christ the new event has taken place – that the one and only God enters into communion with human beings in a real way by becoming incarnate in human nature. The incarnation proves to be the new synthesis that God has accomplished in the history of salvation: “The incarnate Son is the <communion> between God and humankind.”[18] Jesus Christ has enabled the communion between God and humankind because, as the incarnate Word, he is this ‘communion’.


3. Communion ecclesiology as Eucharistic ecclesiology

This provides a seamless transition from Christology to ecclesiology. On the one hand, the path leads to the communion of human beings among one another via communion with God. On the other hand, Christ leads us not only to God but also to one another. Since the communion between God and humankind has been completely realized in Jesus Christ, the decisive intention of his life and work consists in making his most inward mystery communicable to people by drawing them into himself and gathering them together. Such communing with Christ of the individual Christian also brings individual Christians to one another and in this way builds up the communion of the Church – so much so that Christ and Church belong indissolubly together: “Christ is never a mere individual over against the whole of humanity: that Jesus of Nazareth is <the Christ> also means that he did not want to remain alone and he created a <body> for himself. The <body of Christ> means just this: people participating in Christ’s ministry, so that they become his <organs>, as it were, and he cannot be imagined without them. At this point we could say Solus Christus numquam solus (Christ alone, never alone).”[19]


a) Church-founding acts of Jesus

That Christology leads into ecclesiology stems from Jesus wanting a religious community, a new ‘people’. He expressed and realized this intention with two church-founding acts. Joseph Ratzinger sees the first one in the calling of the Twelve. Right at the start of his public work, Jesus gathered disciples around himself and from them chose his twelve witnesses. Mark the Evangelist expresses their calling by bluntly stating that Jesus ‘made’ (Jn 3:14) the Twelve. By appointing the Twelve, Jesus announced his mission in Israel, which understood itself as the twelve-tribe people and – with reference to the Messianic time of salvation - hoped for the restoration of the twelve tribes of Israel that had formerly emerged from the twelve tribes of Jacob. By ‘making’ the Twelve, Jesus presented himself as the progenitor of the new people of God and thus the new Jacob, “who now laid the foundation for a new Israel, a new people of God, that would grow from these twelve progenitors into a true twelve-tribe people through the power of God’s Word, the seeds of which these men were called to sow”.[20]

The forming of the group of Twelve constituted the original cell of the church, as confirmed in the Last Supper, which Jesus celebrated with the Twelve on the evening before his suffering, and in so doing finally founded the people of the New Covenant. Since the celebration of the Last Supper is seen as being in close connection with the Jewish Feast of the Passover, which commemorates the rescue of Israel from Egypt and thus that decisive event on which the Israel’s becoming a people was based, the Last Supper of Jesus turned out to be the origin and foundation of a new Israel and its lasting centre: “As Ancient Israel once revered its centre and the guarantee of its unity in the Temple, and reenacted this living unity in the common Feast of the Passover, so now this new supper is to be the bond of unity of a new people of God.” The Lord’s body that is the centre of the Lord’s Supper is now “the new Temple that forges the Christians of all places and times into a much more real unity than could a temple of stone”.[21] The communion character of the Last Supper is visibly expressed, above all, in the two symbolic actions of breaking bread and blessing wine, and Jesus’ accompanying, explanatory words. If we consider its far-reaching significance, the Last Supper cannot just be a single cultic action; rather it is a “covenant and, as such, the tangible founding of the new people, which becomes a people through its covenant relation with God”.[22] Because the people of the New Covenant become a people through the body and blood of Christ and thereby through the body-and-blood communion with him, Joseph Ratzinger discerns the decisive church-founding act of Jesus as being in the celebration of the Last Supper and the founding of the Eucharist.

From the consideration of the two church-founding acts of Jesus, Joseph Ratzinger draws the conclusion that Jesus created a new, visible community of salvation, understanding it to be the new Israel and thus the new people of God that is centered on the celebration of Holy Communion from which this new people of God arose and which remains at its heart. The Church is then to be understood as the people of God that lives from the body of Christ and itself becomes the body of Christ in the celebration of the Eucharist. Or, put more simply: the new people of God is “the people of God from the body of Christ”.[23]


b) Church as people of God from the body of Christ

Joseph Ratzinger had already reached this fundamental ecclesiological insight in his doctoral dissertation on Saint Augustine’s concept of church. He had noticed that with Augustine, and the church fathers in general, Eucharist and Church could not be conceived as two different realities side by side but they were constitutionally connected through a mutual relationship.[24] The French Council theologian Henri de Lubac also exercised an essential influence on Joseph Ratzinger’s ecclesological thinking[25] by expressing the indissoluble link between Eucharist and Church in the pithy phrase: „C´est l´Eglise qui fait l´Eucharistie, mais c´est aussi l´Eucharistie qui fait l’Eglise (It’s the Church that makes the Eucharist but the Eucharist also makes the Church)”.[26] Further, a similar view of understanding the Church as coming from the Eucharist was developed after the First World War by exiled Russian-Orthodox theologians in Paris, whose ideas Joseph Ratzinger took up and integrated into his Catholic view.

Church is the “people of God from the body of Christ”. When we contemplate the internal interlocking of Eucharistic theology and ecclesiology in Joseph Ratzinger’s theological thinking, it becomes perfectly clear that his communion ecclesiology is inherently Eucharistic ecclesiology.[27] At its innermost core, it means that the idea of church as the body of Christ and the idea of the Eucharist, in which Christ gifts us his body as food are indissolubly linked with one another in the sense that the term ‘body of Christi’ always points to the Eucharist and that the church must be understood from the Eucharist.

Joseph Ratzinger finds such Eucharistic ecclesiology mainly in Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians and in the Church Fathers.[28] Paul expresses the idea that the church is the body of Christ and that his body is forever renewed by the Eucharist by using the term “body of Christ” for both the Eucharistic gift and the church community: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor 10:16-17). Paul switches immediately from the ‘body of Christ’, which the Eucharistic bread gives a share in, to the ‘body of Christ’ that is the Church. In this way he makes it clear that the building up of the church happens through the Eucharist and that the unity of the many believers in the one church comes from the one Eucharistic bread and thus from the one Christ. So the Pauline phrase that the church is the body of Christ means “that the Eucharist, in which the Lord gives us his body and makes us his body, is the everlasting place of origin of the church, where he himself continually founds it anew”.[29]

As Joseph Ratzinger showed in detail in his doctoral dissertation on Saint Augustine’s understanding of church, Paul’s foundational conviction that Eucharistic and ecclesial communion inseparably belong together was taken for granted in the time of the early church, as well. Above all, Saint Augustine understood the life connection of Eucharist and Church so profoundly that he was able to put it in a nutshell: “If you are therefore the body of Christ and his members, then your own mystery lies on the Eucharistic table… You are to be what you see, and receive what you are.”[30] For Augustine, the Eucharist is therefore the “sign of unity and bond of love”.[31] In the same way, Saint Chrysostom emphasized: “What is the bread? The body of Christi. What do those who receive it become? The body of Christ. Not many bodies but one Body.”[32]

This insight of the Church Fathers was also preserved in the later great tradition of the Church, above all by the important theologian Thomas Aquinas, for whom the actual „res“, the deepest ground of the Eucharist, is the unity of the Church. For that reason, he calls the Eucharist sacramentum ecclesiasticae unitatis.[33] As Joseph Ratzinger analysed, [34] following on from the influential studies of Henri de Lubac,[35] the Eucharistic foundation of the church and, accordingly, the ecclesial dimension of the Eucharist in church history has partly been forgotten. This has led to a fatal individualization, if not privatization, of the understanding of Eucharist and its actual celebration. By contrast, it is to the credit of the Second Vatican Council that it enrooted ecclesial communion in the Eucharistic communion again when the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium underlined: “Really partaking of the body of the Lord in the breaking of the Eucharistic bread, we are taken up into communion with Him and with one another.”[36] Pope John Paul II accentuated this holistic view of the Council in his encyclical Ecclesia de eucharistia and made it fruitful for church life.

If the Eucharist is the source and creative power from arises which the community of church members an elementary practical consequence automatically follows. The equation Church – Communion – Body of Christ must be taken seriously so that the Church is the community of those who receive the body of Christ together and, consequently, those who do not take communion are ultimately not in the body of Christ. Joseph Ratzinger recalled this in urgent terms in his early work “Die christliche Brüderlichkeit” (The Meaning of Christian Brotherhood): “Only through taking part in the Eucharistic cultic gathering will someone become a member of the Christian community of brothers in the proper sense. If, however, someone has never partaken of the Christian brotherly meal they cannot as such be counted among the brotherhood. Instead, the Christian community of brothers consists of those, and only of those, who at least attend the celebration of the Eucharist as a participant, with at least a certain regularity. Only such a definition is Pauline and only such a definition is also realistic.”[37]


c) Cultic gathering as the nature of the Church

When Paul speaks of the Lord’s Supper he always begins with the phrase: “When you come together as a church” (1 Cor 11:18). For Paul, the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is essentially a coming-together. That helps us to understand Joseph Ratzinger’s insistent stressing that the early church understood itself as ecclesia. In ordinary Greek this word meant the general meeting of a political community and in the language of faith, the gathering of the faithful. The latter differs from the former primarily in that the so-called free men came together in the Greek polis to take important decisions, while the faithful came together for the cultic gathering not to decide anything themselves but to listen and attentively take in what God had decided and to give it their approval. That is why in Israel the gathering on Mount Sinai at which God communicated his commandments to the people became the original and definitive image of all other popular gatherings in the Old Testament. And in the New Testament revelation, the ecclesia is basically a gathering for worship; hence it points to the Eucharist and denotes the assembly called together to celebrate the Eucharist: the Church is primarily present where Christians assemble for the Eucharistic celebration. The Church is the community of those who allow themselves to be called together by Christ in order to receive the Eucharistic body of Christ and, from the Eucharist, become the body of Christ ever anew.

From the original self-designation of the church as ecclesia, Joseph Ratzinger sets out the sense in which the Christian church can also be grasped as the people of God. That the ‘people of God’ cannot be the primary, and certainly not the only, description of the church is already clear to Joseph Ratzinger from the biblical sources. Just as Paul only uses the word ‘people of God’ in quotations from the Old Testament, the statements in the New Testament that refer to the ‘people of God’ mean not the church but almost exclusively the people of Israel: “People of God in the New Testament is not a term denoting the Church; only in the Christological re-interpretation of the Old Testament, i.e. through the Christological transformation, can it point to the new Israel.”[38]

However, the Old Testament understanding of Israel as the people of God contains an important aspect of truth that we must keep in mind for the New Testament understanding of ‘church’, as well. With the exegete Werner Berg, Joseph Ratzinger points out that, by contrast to the now widespread talk of ‘people of God’, which is mostly located at the horizontal level, the Old Testament understanding foregrounds the vertical direction of the relationship of God to the people of God: “The concept <people of God> expresses the <kinship> of God, the relation starting from God, the bonds between God and the persons called <people of God>, hence a vertical direction.”[39] In the Old Testament the term ‘people of God’ does not just mean Israel in its empirical existence; rather, Israel is termed ‘people of God’ as long as it is turned towards its Lord.

Despite this clearly vertical sense, the Old Testament expression ‘people of God’ is not used in the New Testament to designate the Church. While it describes the actual nature of the people of Israel, the Church of the New Testament is only the ‘people of God’ since it is, at the same time, the body of Christ and built up from the sacramental body of the Eucharist. The unmistakably new element is therefore expressed in the idea of the church as the body of Christ: being the body of Christ gives the differentia spezifica “through which the ‘peoplehood’ of the <new people> fundamentally differs from the peoplehood of the world’s peoples and the ‘people of Israel’”.[40]


d) Communion between the local churches and with the Universal Church

The word ecclesia, which was what the earliest church called itself, contains a further perspective that is significant for Joseph Ratzinger’s Eucharistic ecclesiology. This is because it has three different and yet closely related meanings: the cultic gathering, the local congregation and the universal Church. Accordingly, the one Church of Jesus Christ is actually present in the respective local congregation, which becomes itself when it meets as a cultic gathering to hear the Word of God and for the common celebration of the Eucharist. On the basis of the celebration of the Eucharist, however, the local congregation is inwardly bound up with all other local congregations in which the Eucharist is likewise celebrated. The Eucharist is celebrated at the respective place and is yet universal, because there is only one Christ and consequently only one body of Christ. Since the Christ present in the Eucharist in the individual local congregation unites the participants with all the others who believe in the same Jesus Christ and are integrated into his body through baptism and Eucharist, the latter can only be celebrated such that the participants gather together from and through Christ: “Anyone who does not celebrate the Eucharist with all others only creates a caricature of it. The Eucharist is either celebrated with the one Christ and thus with the whole Church or it is not celebrated at all.”[41]

On the basis of these Christological and Eucharistic-theological beliefs, the Church represents a network of Eucharistic communities spanning the whole world. Practically, this means that every individual church is, starting from the Eucharist, completely church, but that no individual church is the whole church. Rather, every individual church only is and remains church when it is in unity with the other Eucharistic gatherings. Starting from the Eucharist, the one, universal Church consists in and of the many local churches, and the many local churches in the wider world exist as the one Church. The unity of the universal Church and the plurality of the local churches are in an inner relationship of mutual bonds, in turn based on the Eucharist.

The Second Vatican Council expressed this unmistakable theological constitutional structure of the Catholic Church with the wording that from the individual churches “comes into being the one and only Catholic Church”[42]. Since this wording frequently led to a one-sided local church ecclesiology in the post-conciliar discussion, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith felt obliged to recall the other wording that the individual churches live in and from the one, universal Church and that the universal Church was to be understood in its ontological and temporal precedence as a ‘community of churches’.[43] Accordingly, the Church cannot be understood as a federation, let alone the sum of local churches; instead, as communio ecclesiarum und communio ecclesiae it must preserve its universality and unity: “The Church cannot become a static juxtaposition of local churches that are in principle sufficient unto themselves; it must remain <apostolic>.”[44]

The term ‘apostolic’ alludes to the specific responsibility of the bishop as the head of the local church. He is the visible principle and foundation of unity in the particular church entrusted to his pastoral ministry. However, a bishop is not only an individual bishop but belongs to a college, which means the historical continuity of the apostolic college: “The individual bishop stands in the apostolic succession through his belonging to this college. In this way, it is essential for the individual bishops to relate to each other, which at the same time necessarily includes fellowship and mutual communication among all Catholic congregations.”[45] To that extent, the unity or communion of the individual churches is also rooted in the Episcopal ministry, as in the common Eucharist.

This reminder about the Episcopal ministry also applies to the office of the successor of Peter since Joseph Ratzinger also understands the primacy of the bishop of Rome only in connection with Eucharistic eccesiology.[46] His primacy is neither solely, or primarily, a juridical and purely external extra to Eucharistic ecclesiology, but is grounded in it. The unity of the Church is based “primarily not in its having a central governance but in that it lives from the one Lord’s Supper. This unity of the Lord’s Supper is, however, orderly and has its highest point of unity in the Bishop of Rome, who personifies, guarantees and preserves the purity of this unity.”[47] The papal office is therefore a lasting feature of the Church because the Bishop of Rome above all exercises his special responsibility by living the ‘presiding in love’ and in the Eucharist connecting all local churches worldwide with one another to make a universal Church. Just as in the early church the word ‘love’ – ‘agape’ – also designated the mystery of the Eucharist, in which the love of Christ for his church is intensively experienced, the Petrine ministry is a primacy of love in the Eucharistic sense, which in the Church is concerned for a unity that enables and protects Eucharistic communion, and credibly and effectively prevents one altar being set up against another altar. This happened – to give a particularly significant historical example – in the spectacular clash of Optatus of Mileve with the Donatists:[48] “The Petrine ministry is presiding in love, which means ensuring that the Church takes its measure from the Eucharist. The Church will be all the more one the more it lives from the Eucharistic measure and the more truly it, in the Eucharist, holds to the measure of tradition of the faith.”[49]

From the Eucharist, again, the most profound nature of the Church becomes visible. Every Episcopal church is only really church if it stands in relationship to all local churches celebrating the Eucharist and in unity with the Petrine presiding in love. In the early church, this – in the original sense of the word – ‘catholic’ dimension of the Eucharist was clearly expressed in ‘communion letters’, known as litterae communicatoriae and litterae pacis:[50] Any Christian on a journey carried such evidence of his membership in a Eucharistic community, issued by the bishop. That way he found accommodation in every Christian congregation and kept up the communion in the body of Christ as the core of Eucharistic hospitality. After all, a Christian is at home in every Eucharistic community, thanks to the Eucharist, and belonging to the Eucharistic communion – as belonging to the Church - is universal: whoever belongs to one local church, at the same time belongs to all on the basis of the Eucharist. Participating in the Eucharist implies drawing all communicants into the one Christ and their becoming one in the universal communion of the Church.


e) Wounded communion in the ecumenical movement

Eucharistic ecclesiology means that the Church in its innermost being is Eucharistic communion and that consequently, only those who take communion are in the Church. The painful question then arises as to the situation of those baptized Christians who are incorporated into the one body of Christ, yet are in a certain, but not complete, communion with the Catholic Church and in this elementary sense belong to the ‘excommunicated’[51]. Communion exists in a special way with the Oriental Orthodox and Orthodox Churches that manifest the same ecclesial structure as the Catholic Church with the apostolic succession of the Episcopal ministry and the valid Eucharist, and are consequently recognized as particular churches.[52] Since, however, communion with the universal Church, which is represented by the successor of Peter, is an important internal element of the particular church’s own nature, these churches are regarded as wounded in their existence as particular churches. This wound goes even deeper in the case of those ecclesial communities that emerged from the Reformation, who have not − at least, not in the same sense − preserved the apostolic succession and the valid Eucharist and have thus given up the ‘old church’ structure. Since these wounds also and precisely prevent the Catholic Church from fully realizing its unity and universality in history, it too is wounded, which means a lasting thorn in its flesh as well: “The Church must and may not accept the situation where those who have separated themselves from its communion are left to themselves, nor may it even overlook their being Christians. The fact that the host of those who do not take communion with it is today greater than the inner circle of communicants is distressing and is the deep wound in the body of the Lord that it has to suffer as its own wound.”[53]

Due to this pain that Christianity is divided, it goes without saying that the area of ecumenism represents a special field of activity for Christian communion and that Joseph Ratzinger accepted this important challenge from the very start of his theological work.[54] He already noticed the ecumenical problem with the interleaving of the singular ‘church’ with the plural ‘churches’ that was based in the rediscovery of the plural ‘churches’ at the Second Vatican Council; by the way, the ecumenical issue was not to be understood as relating to the many local churches in which the universal Church is present but rather to those ecclesial communities that were not in full unity with the Catholic Church.

In view of this situation, the Catholic Church knows that it is obliged to dare the paradox, “in the midst of the assumed plural to still attribute to itself, in a unique way, the singular <the Church>”[55]. According to Joseph Ratzinger, therein lies the indispensable truth of the famous subsistit formula at the Second Vatican Council, which seeks to state what is “specific to the Catholic Church and cannot be multiplied”: “The Church exists as a subject in historical reality.”[56] At the same time, Joseph Ratzinger sees “the whole ecumenical problem“ as “hidden” in the Council’s “difference between subsistit and est”[57], to the extent that, on the one hand, it renews the ecclesiological claim that the Church of Jesus Christ exists forever in the Catholic Church and, on the other, leaves room for recognizing elements of the true Church outside the borders of the Catholic Church as well and thereby also for the plural ‘churches’ besides the singular ‘church’.

In this paradox of the difference between uniqueness and historical reality of the Church, on the one hand, and realizing the fact that there is also ecclesiastical reality outside the Catholic Church, on the other, Joseph Ratzinger sees an “ontological bridge” that can be built towards the “existence of other ecclesial communities”[58] and which must be crossed with all seriousness in order to restore full communion with the Catholic Church and Eucharistic communion, since ecclesial communion is realized in Eucharistic communion. It is therefore a matter of credibly demonstrating - also, and especially, in the ecumenical movement - that communion ecclesiology must be, and is, Eucharistic ecclesiology.


f) Becoming the Eucharist in Christian life

Eucharistic ecclesiology would be misunderstood if it were to remain in the space of the church alone and not have an impact on everyday Christian life. Just as Jesus did not simply bring a new liturgical rite into the world but presented a new liturgy, founded in his giving his life on the Cross and focusing no longer on a stone temple but his own body,[59] Christian liturgy can never be a mere rite, nor can it be completely celebrated in the space of the church building alone. Instead, it must become the love of Christians to another in daily life, which is an essential component of the Eucharist itself. Eucharist can never be a liturgical act alone – from the liturgy it seeks to become love and sanctification in daily life.

In this spirit, Saint John Chrysostom spoke of poor people as the living altar of the New Testament sacrifice, that is built of the members of Christ’s body: “This altar is more awesome even than the one in our church, not merely than that of the Old Covenant. The altar here (in the church building) is wonderful for the sake of the sacrificial offering that lies on it; but the former is wonderful not merely for that reason – as the altar for bringing alms – but because the altar itself consists of the sacrificial offering, which works such sanctification.”[60] As this example shows, daily Christian charity for the Church Fathers is an “essential component of the Eucharistic event”, which is why the body-of-Christ life of Christians is consummated in it, “which has its defining, but hence also demanding centre in the Eucharistic celebration”.[61] Starting from this Eucharistic ecclesiology of the Church Fathers, Joseph Ratzinger underlines that there “cannot be a final boundary between liturgy and life” and that, rather, the Church’s liturgy “continually reaches out beyond the doors of the church building”. From this he derived the liturgical-theology principle: “Christian faith relates everything to worshipping God, but no differently than through loving our fellow human beings”.[62] Just as the every life of Christians is to become the Eucharist itself, the everyday love that makes up the actual being of Christian faith is, on the other hand, rooted in the Eucharistic celebration of the body of Jesus Christ.

It is also founded in this insistence on the inseparability of liturgy and life that Eucharistic communion ecclesiology leads to social action. If Christian communion means communion in the body of Christ and, at the same time, communion of Christians among one another, it also essentially includes mutual acceptance and the readiness to share, as Joseph Ratzinger underlined in his theological interpretation of the Eucharistic words of institution: “<Caritas>, the care for the other, is not a second sector of Christianity besides the cult, but is anchored in the latter and belongs to it. Horizontal and vertical are inseparably connected in the Eucharist, in <breaking bread>.”[63]

Since the love of Christians is the cult appropriate to God, we can also understand that in biblical tradition cultic-Eucharistic language is used about everyday Christian life and that, on the other hand, the Church’s mission to the world is regarded as the fruit of the Eucharist. In this spirit, Paul exhorts the Christians in Corinth as follows: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Rm 12:1). And also Paul himself understands his mission as a priestly act of sacrifice when he confesses he has written his letter to the Romans “to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (Rm 15:16). Paul says here that the mission of the church is sacramentally founded because it follows from the Eucharist and thus is “a ministry of cosmic liturgy”.[64]

Consequently it comes to light that the mission of the Church naturally follows from the Eucharist. The Christian Church is convinced that the destiny of the whole of humanity is decided in the Eucharistic self-giving of Jesus Christ on the Cross and that the Church therefore bears responsibility for the whole world. Aware that the goal of the whole of humanity is union with God,[65] the Church understands itself as the public sign of God’s will for salvation, as the “effective sign of God’s becoming part of the human family”.[66] As a visible depiction of Jesus Christ’s action “for” humanity, the Church’s mission to the world consists in pointing out and implementing the fact that the nature of the Christ event is union, or more exactly, “bringing back the scattered members of humanity into one body” and that this is symbolized in the events of Pentecost, which is created by love by joining up what was separated into unity: “Mission happens in order to complete the miracle of Pentecost, to heal the wounds that divide the body of humankind and to lead them out of Babylon into the Pentecostal reality. Only mission renders fully visible what the Church is: ministering to the mystery of the union that Christ wanted to bring about in his crucified body.”[67]


4. Achieving communion for the whole of reality in God

In summary, we can say that the deepest nature of Christianity consists in achieving communion for the whole of reality in the Triune God, whom the Church as communion serves. However, it can only perform this service credibly and effectively if it draws all power from the Eucharist and if communion ecclesiology is understood and practiced as Eucharistic ecclesiology. This is because Christian and Church life starts from the Eucharist and ends up with the Christian and the Church itself becoming Eucharistic.[68] Joseph Ratzinger expressed this chiefly by describing the Eucharist as a “process of transformations”: transformation of violence into love on the Cross, transformation of death into life in the resurrection, transformation of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, anticipation of the transformation of the whole Creation, transformation of the Church into the body of Christ and transformation of Christian life, with all transformations pointing to the last one: „The goal of the Eucharist is the transformation of those receiving in the true communion with his transformation. The goal is thus union and peace so that we separate individuals standing beside or against one another become an organism of self-giving ourselves, with and in Christ, and live towards the resurrection and the new world.”[69]

This rootedness in Jesus Christ in the Eucharist shows again that, for Joseph Ratzinger, Eucharistic ecclesiology is not just academic theology but always also profound spirituality, centering on the postulate of a change of subject in that the ‘I’ of the communicants is fitted into the greater ‘I’ of Christ and his body.[70] And that leads to a further result, that Eucharistic communion piety necessarily has a profoundly social and caring character. Anyone who enters into Eucharistic communication with Christ and communicates with him cor ad cor will naturally also communicate with people and will be pulled out of their individualistic isolation or egoistic tension and fitted into the “company of those journeying in faith”, in which Joseph Ratzinger perceives the most elementary characterization of the Church. After all, no Christian can want to have Christ for him-or herself alone Christ himself leads us in his travelling company not only to his Father but also to people. That makes visible what the Church is and what it is called to be: “Church arises and exists through the Lord communicating himself to people, entering into communion with them, and so bringing them to communion with one another. The Church is the Lord communicating with us, which at the same time creates true communication of people with each other.”[71]

In this brief statement Joseph Ratzinger summed up his communion ecclesiology, which is inherently Eucharistic ecclesiology: the Church does not only celebrate the Eucharist – the Eucharist also builds up the Church and leads into the depths of Eucharistic solidarity. Those who look for direction to this ecclesiology will serve the true reform of the Church that is needed today, and will also receive a solid foundation for an ecumenical consensus on the understanding of the church.[72] And they will be overcome with that joy promised by the author of the First Letter of John when he describes the Christian communion: “We declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete” (1 John 1:3-4).


[1]  Lumen gentium, No. 4.
[2]  See Zukunft aus der Kraft des Konzils. Die ausserordentliche Bischofssynode ´85. Die Dokumente mit einem Kommentar von W. Kasper (Freiburg i. Br. 1986).
[3]  J. Ratzinger - Benedikt XVI., Zum Kirchenbild des II. Vatikanums, in: idem, Gottes Projekt. Nachdenken über Schöpfung und Kirche (Regensburg 2009) 93-116, quotation 102.
[4]  H. Küng, Das theologische Verständnis des ökumenischen Konzils, in: Theologische Quartalschrift 14 (1961) 50-77. See also idem, Kirche im Konzil (Freiburg i. Br. 1963), especially 41-61.
[5]  J. Ratzinger, Zur Theologie des Konzils, in: idem., Das neue Volk Gottes. Entwürfe zur Ekklesiologie (Düsseldorf 1969) 143-170, quotation 155.
[6]  Ibid. 159.
[7]  J. Kardinal Ratzinger, Eucharistie – Communio – Solidarität: Christus gegenwärtig und wirksam im Sakrament, in: idem, Unterwegs zu Jesus Christus (Augsburg 2003) 109-130, quotation 115.
[8]  J. Kardinal Ratzinger, Communio – ein Programm, in: Communio. Internationale katholische Zeitschrift 21 (1992) 454-463, quotation 461.
[9]  Ibid. 460.
[10]  Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of the Church understood as Communion. of 28 May 1992
[11]  J. Cardinal Ratzinger, Die Ekklesiologie der Konstitution
Lumen gentium, in: idem., Weggemeinschaft des Glaubens. Kirche als Communio (Augsburg 2002) 107-131, quotation 113.
[12]  Ibid. 109.
[13]  J. Kardinal Ratzinger, Kommunion – Kommunität – Sendung. Über den Zusammenhang von Eucharistie, Gemeinschaft (Gemeinde) und Sendung in der Kirche, in: idem, Schauen auf den Durchbohrten. Versuche zu einer spirituellen Christologie (Einsiedeln 1984) 60-84, quotation 78.
[14]  See ibid., particularly 69-74.
[15]  J. Cardinal Ratzinger, Der Heilige Geist als Communio. Zum Verhältnis von Pneumatologie und Spiritualität bei Augustinus, in: idem, Weggemeinschaft des Glaubens. Kirche als Communio (Augsburg 2002) 34-52, quotation 37.
[16]  Ibid. 40-41.
[17]  J. Kardinal Ratzinger, Kommunion – Kommunität – Sendung. Über den Zusammenhang von Eucharistie, Gemeinschaft (Gemeinde) und Sendung in der Kirche, in: idem, Schauen auf den Durchbohrten. Versuche zu einer spirituellen Christologie (Einsiedeln 1984), 60-84, quotation 72.
[18]  Ibid. 74.
[19]  J. Ratzinger, Kein Heil ausserhalb der Kirche? in: idem., Das neue Volk Gottes. Entwürfe zur Ekklesiologie (Düsseldorf 1969) 339-361, quotation 358.
[20]  J. Ratzinger, Vom Ursprung und vom Wesen der Kirche, in: idem., Das neue Volk Gottes. Entwürfe zur Ekklesiologie (Düsseldorf 1969) 75-89, quotation 77.
[21]  Ibid. 79.
[22]  J. Kardinal Ratzinger, Zur Gemeinschaft gerufen. Kirche heute verstehen (Freiburg i. Br. 1991) 25.
[23] J. Ratzinger, Zeichen unter den Völkern, in: M. Schmaus und A. Läpple (ed.), Wahrheit und Zeugnis. Aktuelle Themen der Gegenwart in theologischer Sicht (Düsseldorf 1964) 457-466, quotation 460.
[24]  Joseph Ratzinger, Volk und Haus Gottes in Augustins Lehre von der Kirche (München 1951).
[25]  Vgl. Bischof R. Voderholzer, Pioniere der Internationalen Theologischen Kommission: Papst Benedikt XVI., Joseph Ratzinger und Henri de Lubac, in: M. Graulich / K.-H. Menke (ed.), Fides incarnata. Festschrift zum 65. Geburtstag von Rainer Maria Kardinal Woelki (Freiburg i. Br. 2021) 433-451.
[26]  H. de Lubac, Méditation sur l´Église (Paris 1953) 103.
[27]  See M. H. Heim, Joseph Ratzinger – Kirchliche Existenz und existenzielle Theologie. Ekklesiologische Grundlinien unter dem Anspruch von
Lumen gentium (Frankfurt a. M. 2005), particularly 255-268: §3 Eucharistische Ekklesiologie; G. Jankowiak, Volk Gottes vom Leib Christi her. Das eucharistische Kirchenbild von Joseph Ratzinger in der Perspektive der Ekklesiologie des 20. Jahrhunderts (Frankfurt a. M. 2005). See also K. Cardinal Koch, Die Kirche feiert Eucharistie – Die Eucharistie baut Kirche auf, in: G. Augustin (ed.), Eucharistie und Erneuerung. Aufbruch aus der Mitte des Glaubens (Freiburg i. Br. 2021) 11-25.
[28]  See J. Ratzinger, Vom Ursprung und vom Wesen der Kirche, in: idem, Das neue Volk Gottes. Entwürfe zur Ekklesiologie (Düsseldorf 1969) 75-89, particularly 80-86, and idem, Eucharistie und Mission, in: Weggemeinschaft des Glaubens. Kirche als Communio (Augsburg 2002) 79-106, particularly 87-97.
[29]  J. Cardinal Ratzinger, Zur Gemeinschaft gerufen. Kirche heute verstehen (Freiburg i. Br. 1991) 34.
[30]  Augustinus, Sermo 272.
[31]  Augustinus, In Joann tr 26, c.b.n. 13.
[32]  Chrysostomos, In 1 Cor Hom. 24, in: Patrologia Greaca 61, 209.
[33]  Thomas von Aquin, Summa theol. III 73, 3.
[34]  Vgl. J. Ratzinger, Der Kirchenbegriff und die Frage nach der Gliedschaft in der Kirche, in: idem., Das neue Volk Gottes. Entwürfe zur Ekklesiologie (Düsseldorf 1969) 90-104.
[35]  H. de Lubac, Corpus mysticum. Kirche und Eucharistie im Mittelalter (Einsiedeln 1969).
[36]  Lumen gentium, No. 7.
[37]  J. Ratzinger, Die christliche Brüderlichkeit (München 1960) 99-100.
[38]  J. Kardinal Ratzinger, Die Ekklesiologie des Zweiten Vatikanischen Konzils, in: idem, Kirche, Ökumene und Politik. Neue Versuche zur Ekklesiologie (Einsiedeln 1987) 13-27, quotation 25.
[39]  W. Berg, „Volk Gottes“ ein biblischer Begriff? in: W. Geerlings – M. Secker (ed.), Kirche sein. Nachkonziliare Theologie im Dienst der Kirchenreform (Freiburg i. Br. 1994) 13-20, quotation 20, quoted in J. Cardinal Ratzinger, Die Ekklesiologie der Konstitution
Lumen gentium, in: idem, Weggemeinschaft des Glaubens. Kirche als Communio (Augsburg 2002) 107-131, quotation 111.
[40]  J. Ratzinger, Art. Kirche. III. Systematisch, in: Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche. Band  6 (Freiburg i. Br. 1991) 174-183, quotation 176.
[41]  J. Cardinal Ratzinger, Eucharistie und Mission, in: idem, Weggemeinschaft des Glaubens. Kirche als Communio (Augsburg 2002) 79-106, quotation 92.
[42]  Lumen gentium, No. 23.
[43]  Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of the Church understood as Communion, No. 8.
[44]  J. Kardinal Ratzinger, Zur Gemeinschaft gerufen. Kirche heute verstehen (Freiburg i. Br. 1991) 80.
[45] J. Ratzinger, Zeichen unter den Völkern, in: M. Schmaus und A. Läpple (ed.), Wahrheit und Zeugnis. Aktuelle Themen der Gegenwart in theologischer Sicht (Düsseldorf 1964) 457-466, quotation 461.
[46]  See R. Biniek, Theologie und Praxis des Petrusamtes bei Joseph Ratzinger / Benedikt XVI. Zum Primat des Bischofs von Rom im Denken und Handeln des Theologen auf dem Papstthron (Frankfurt a. M. 2017); W. Klausnitzer, Der Primat des Bischofs von Rom im Denken Joseph Ratzingers, in: Ch. Schaller (ed.), Kirche – Sakrament und Gemeinschaft. Zu Ekklesiologie und Ökumene bei Joseph Ratzinger = Ratzinger-Studien. Band 4 (Regensburg 2011) 153-195; H. J. Pottmeyer, Primato – collegialità episcopale nella ecclesiologia eucharistica di Joseph Ratzinger, in: R. La Delfa (ed.), Primato e collegialità. „Partecipi della sollecitudine per tutte le Chiese“ (Roma 2008) 71-90. See also K. Cardinal Koch, Vorsitz in der Liebe und in der Glaubenslehre. Das Papstamt in der Sicht von Joseph Ratzinger – Benedikt XVI., in: idem., Gottes Freude und Freude an Gott. Perspektiven heutiger Glaubensverantwortung (Freiburg i. Br. 2020) 339-364.
[47] J. Ratzinger, Vom Ursprung und vom Wesen der Kirche, in: idem., Das neue Volk Gottes. Entwürfe zur Ekklesiologie (Düsseldorf 1969) 75-89, quotation. 88.
[48]   See J. Ratzinger, Volk und Haus Gottes in Augustins Lehre von der Kirche (St. Ottilien 1992), particularly 102-123: §12: Optatus of Mileve.
[49]  J. Cardinal Ratzinger, Der Cathedra-Altar von St. Peter zu Rom. Eine Betrachtung über die Kirche, in: E. Kleindienst und G. Schmuttermayr (ed.), Kirche im Kommen. Festschrift für Bischof Josef Stimpfle (Frankfurt a. M. 1991) 423-429, quotation 426.
[50]  See J. Kardinal Ratzinger, Zur Gemeinschaft gerufen. Kirche heute verstehen (Freiburg i. Br. 1991) 82-83.
[51]  J. Kardinal Ratzinger, Kommunion – Kommunität – Sendung. Über den Zusammenhang von Eucharistie, Gemeinschaft (Gemeinde) und Sendung in der Kirche, in: idem, Schauen auf den Durchbohrten. Versuche zu einer spirituellen Christologie (Einsiedeln 1984) 60-84, particularly 80-83: Das Problem der Exkommunizierten.
[52]  Unitatis redintegratio, Nos 14 and 15.
[53]  J. Ratzinger, Der Kirchenbegriff und die Frage nach der Gliedschaft der Kirche, in: idem, Das neue Volk Gottes. Entwürfe zur Ekklesiologie (Düsseldorf 1969) 90-104, quotation 102.
[54]  See Th. Maasen, Das Ökumeneverständnis Joseph Ratzingers (Göttingen 2011); M. M. Surd, Ekklesiologie und Ökumenismus bei Joseph Ratzinger. Einheit im Glauben –Voraussetzung der Einheit der Christenheit (St. Ottilien 2009). See further K. Cardinal Koch, Dienst an der vollen und sichtbaren Einheit. Das Ökumeneverständnis von Joseph Ratzinger / Papst Benedikt XVI., in: M. C. Hastetter /  St. Athanasiou (ed.), „Ut unum sint“. Zur Theologie der Einheit bei Joseph Ratzinger / Papst Benedikt XVI. = Ratzinger Studien. Vol. 13 (Regensburg 2018) 10-38.
[55]  J. Ratzinger, Der Katholizismus nach dem Konzil, in: idem, Das neue Volk Gottes. Entwürfe zur Ekklesiologie (Düsseldorf 1969) 302-321, quotation 320.
[56]  J Cardinal Ratzinger, Die Ekklesiologie der Konstitution
Lumen gentium, in: idem, Weggemeinschaft des Glaubens. Kirche als Communio (Augsburg 2002) 107-131, quotation 127.
[57]  Ibid. 127.
[58]  Briefwechsel zwischen Metropolit Damaskinos und Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, in: Weggemeinschaft des Glaubens. Kirche als Communio (Augsburg 2002) 187-209, quotation 208.
[59]  Vgl. J. Kardinal Ratzinger, Der Geist der Liturgie. Eine Einführung (Freiburg i. Br. 200), particularly 30-43: Vom Alten zum Neuen Testament: Die vom biblischen Glauben bestimmte Grundgestalt christlicher Liturgie.
[60]  J. Chrysostomos, In 2 Cor Hom. 17, 20, 3, in:  Patrologia Graeca 61, 540.
[61]  J. Ratzinger, Vom Ursprung und vom Wesen der Kirche, in: idem, Das neue Volk Gottes. Entwürfe zur Ekklesiologie (Düsseldorf 1969) 75-89, quotation 86.
[62]  J. Ratzinger, Kirche und Liturgie (1958), in: R. Voderholzer – Ch. Schaller – F.-X. Heibl (ed.), Mitteilungen des Institut-Papst-Benedikt XVI. Band 1 (Regensburg 2008) 13-21, quotations 20 and 25.
[63] J. Ratzinger – Benedikt XVI, Jesus vom Nazareth. Zweiter Teil: Vom Einzug in Jerusalem bis zur Auferstehung (Freiburg i.Br. 2011) 150.
[64] J. Cardinal Ratzinger, Eucharistie und Mission, in: idem., Weggemeinschaft des Glaubens. Kirche als Communio (Augsburg 2002) 79-106, quotation 103.
[65]  Vgl. J. Ratzinger, Die Einheit der Nationen. Eine Vision der Kirchenväter (Salzburg – München 1971).
[66] J. Ratzinger, Zeichen unter den Völkern, in: M. Schmaus und A. Läpple (ed.), Wahrheit und Zeugnis. Aktuelle Themen der Gegenwart in theologischer Sicht (Düsseldorf 1964) 457-466, quotation 465.
[67]  J. Ratzinger, Der Kirchenbegriff und die Frage nach der Gliedschaft in der Kirche, in: idem, Das neue Volk Gottes. Entwürfe zur Ekklesiologie (Düsseldorf 1969) 90-104, quotation 104.
[68]  Vgl. K. Kardinal Koch, Eucharistie als Liturgie und Leben. Versuch einer mystagogisch-existenziellen Erschliessung, in: idem, Gottes Freude und Freude an Gott (Freiburg i. Br. 2020) 150-187.
[69]  J. Cardinal Ratzinger, Eucharistie – Communio – Solidarität: Christus gegenwärtig und wirksam im Sakrament, in: idem, Unterwegs zu Jesus Christus (Augsburg) 109-130, quotation 129.
[70]  See F. Haringer, Ich, doch  nicht mehr ich. Spiritualität als Ernstfall der Theologie bei Joseph Ratzinger = Monographische Beiträge zu den Mitteilungen. Institut Papst Benedikt XVI. Band 6 (Regensburg 2021), particularly 75-82: Eucharistische Ekklesiologie.
[71] K. Cardinal Ratzinger, Gemeinde aus der Eucharistie, in: idem, Vom Wiederauffinden der Mitte. Grundorientierungen (Freiburg i. Br. 1997) 35-37, quotation 35.
[72]  See P. McPartlan, Eucharist makes the Church. Henri de Lubac and John Zizioulas in Dialogue (London 1993); idem., A Service of Love. Papal Primacy, the Eucharist and Church Unity (Washington 2013).