The Catholic University of America

Dissertation Defense - Rose M. Beal

Final Examination of

Rose M. Beal

for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

Monday, April 27, 2009

2:00 p.m., Caldwell Room 333

Committee in Charge

Chair: Philip Rousseau, D.Phil.

Secretary: Rev. Dominic Serra, S.L.D.

Director: Rev. Msgr. Paul McPartlan, D.Phil.

Reader: Rev. Joseph Komonchak, Ph.D.

Reader: Rev. John Galvin, Dr.Theol.

Summary of Coursework

TRS 760 Theological Foundations

TRS 780A Introduction to the Study of Religion

TRS 770C Theology of Karl Rahner

TRS 867D Aquinas on the Life of Jesus

TRS 728K Vatican II: History and Theology

TRS 764B Church as Communion

TRS 862A Contemporary Problems in Ecclesiology

TRS 862B Eucharist and Church

TRS 863B Magisterium and Infallibility

CL 803 Directed Research: Canon Law and the Church as Sacrament

TRS 741A Liturgy: Theological and Historical Perspectives

TRS 744 Eucharist: A Liturgical Theology

TRS 840 Liturgical Theology

TRS 500 Theological Latin

TRS 751A Teach/Learn: Religious Education and Catechetics

TRS 997 Doctoral Dissertation Guidance


In Pursuit of a "Total Ecclesiology": Yves Congar's De Ecclesia, 1931-1954

Rose M. Beal

Director: Rev. Msgr. Paul McPartlan, D.Phil.

The French Dominican theologian Yves Congar (1904-1995) coined the term "total ecclesiology" in his ground-breaking outline for a theology of the laity, Jalons pour une théologie du laïcat (1953). "At bottom there can be only one sound and sufficient theology of laity," he wrote, "and that is a 'total ecclesiology.'" This study presents a systematic analysis of Congar's striving for a "total ecclesiology," that is, an ecclesiological synthesis that does justice to the mystery of the Church in all its dimensions, as exhibited both in his published work from the first half of his career and also in unpublished materials from the same period. The unpublished papers examined in this study include Congar's Thèse du Lectorat; lecture notes for ecclesiology courses given at the French Dominican House of Studies, Le Saulchoir, and in German prisoner-of-war camps; and the incomplete manuscript of the treatise De Ecclesia that he drafted from 1948 to 1954. These texts effectively chronicle the development of his intended treatise De Ecclesia over nearly twenty-five years.

This study seeks to explicate the meaning and role of a "total ecclesiology" in his early theology of the Church and suggests that the pursuit of a "total ecclesiology" is an appropriate interpretive lens for a comprehensive reading of his early ecclesiology. In presenting and analyzing for the first time the content of Congar's unpublished course materials and draft texts for his treatise De Ecclesia, this study demonstrates that the aspiration for ecclesiological synthesis that he expressed numerous times in his published writings from 1931 to 1954 was accompanied by substantial unpublished efforts to develop a comprehensive treatise that would accomplish that aim. It shows that Congar pursued an integral ecclesiological synthesis, not just as the product and goal of theological reflection on the Church, but also as the method for carrying out that reflection. This study concludes by reflecting on Congar's contribution to the Second Vatican Council and the fact that in his judgment the Council itself laid substantial foundations for a "total ecclesiology," which was perhaps the reason that Congar never completed his De Ecclesia project.