The Shape of the Church to Come

If … basic communities gradually become indispensable – since otherwise in the present situation and that of the immediate future the institutional church will shrivel up into a church without people – the episcopal great church has the task and duty of stimulating and of contributing to their formation and their necessary missionary activity … If the basic community is really Christian and genuinely alive, the result of a free decision of faith in the midst of a secularised world where Christianity can scarcely be handed on any longer by the power of social tradition, then all ecclesiastical organisation is largely at the service of these communities: they are not means to serve the ends of an ecclesiastical bureaucracy defending and wanting to reproduce itself.

Karl Rahner, The Shape of the Church to Come (SPCK: London, 1974), pp. 114-15, quoted in Jean Vanier, Community and Growth, rev. edn. (Darton, Longman and Todd: London, 1989), pp. 9-10.

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