this issue
previous article in this issuenext article in this issue

Preview first page
Document Details :

Title: Macht, zingeving en de speelse theologie van ‘Kerk & Ambt’
Author(s): DROOGERS, André
Journal: Tijdschrift voor Theologie
Volume: 51    Issue: 4   Date: 2011   
Pages: 391-411
DOI: 10.2143/TVT.51.4.3203397

Abstract :
From a cultural anthropological viewpoint regarding the relationship between power, signification and playfulness, the author analyses the case of the Dutch Dominican brochure ‘Kerk & Ambt’ (‘Church and Ministry’), including the reception it received. Power often is a blind spot in theological debates. It is more than a contextual factor. Power metaphors, taken from institutions, easily enter faith discourse and change the contents of the Christian message. In certain respects ‘play’ can be considered power’s opposite, because it allows for the reconnaissance of alternatives. In their brochure, the Dutch Dominicans discussed ministry, Eucharist and celibacy, as well as the role lay believers might play. They sought to solve the problem of the priest shortage through the admission of chosen lay ministers, allowed to pronounce the words of the institution of the Eucharist. In their view, priesthood and celibacy are less important than the believers’ right to celebrate the Eucharist. On its publication in 2007, the booklet, approved by the Dutch province of the Dominicans, was sent to the 1300 Dutch parishes. The proposal caused an immediate uproar in the Dutch church and beyond. The Dutch bishops promptly denounced the booklet, not only for its proposal, deemed totally contrary to Catholic faith, but also because the booklet was sent to the parishes without their consent. The Roman magister of the order distanced himself from the ideas of his Dutch brethren. The French Dominican theologian Hervé Legrand was asked to write a critique of the Dutch brochure. The Dutch Dominicans consented to send this text to all those who had received their brochure. Though heavily criticized by the hierarchy, the brochure also met with approval. In view of the relation between power and meaning production, it is striking that many critical reactions argue from the idea that the current order and hierarchy are presupposed and not open to discussion. Consequently any proposal that leads to changes in the given order is considered heretic. The Dutch Dominicans were even accused of preparing a schism. The case illustrates the mechanisms that the institution applies as soon as its rules and structure are criticized. Power is inevitable, but institutions tend to use it for their own maintenance and protection. Any proposed change in the ministry and its monopoly on the Eucharist is therefore felt as a direct attack against the institution. The Dutch Dominicans’ perspective, however, was that of a playful theology.

Download article