Simplicity, holy poverty, and above all, the service of the ministry were among the marks of the primitive Church. In the course of time, social and political obligations obscured the basic function of the hierarchy, especially after Constantine. But the Church is renewing its understanding of itself through the Holy Spirit's enlightening of the Fathers in Vatican II. John XXIII's emphasis on a Church of service and poverty is explored and presented here.. He traces the New Testament concept of the hierarchy as service through its actual historical development, showing how titles, honors, and privileges came to obscure and hamper its true function. He clarifies the Christian concept of authority in teaching in relation to service.
Originally published in 1964, Congar's thought on ministry and the need for simplicity is still timely and worth reading as it foreshadows the teachings of Pope Francis.