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What does episcopal fraternity and communio look like? This central question is explored through the erudition and experience of Archbishop Anthony Fisher, Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Australia. Unity in Christ, based upon a series of addresses given to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) at their Special Assembly in 2022, delves into the themes associated with episcopal unity. By surveying the Christian tradition, beginning with the scriptures and then through various periods (Apostolic generation, patristic, scholastic, Vatican II, recent post Vatican II developments such as synodality) a coherent picture of episcopal togetherness is presented. What becomes clear is that unity among Christ’s disciples and their successors is not simply an ideal but rather a constitutive element of their office. They are called to love as Christ loved, expressed above all through genuine friendship with one another. The consequences of this fraternity and communio have implications in areas such as spirituality, preaching and fraternal correction, among others. This second feature, the implications of episcopal fraternity and communio, are explored through Archbishop Fisher’s twenty years of experience as a bishop of the Catholic Church. By providing concrete examples of lived episcopal fraternity and communio, Fisher offers a glimpse into both the challenges and fruits of living out Christ’s call that "they might all be one" (Jn 17:21).
Anthony Fisher, OP, is Archbishop of Sydney (Australia), and has published 10 books, over 100 academic articles, as well as over 400 newspaper/magazine articles. Cardinal Mario Grech is General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops.
"A great deal of learning and experience is distilled into its brief but substantial chapters. At a time when bishops themselves have been very much under scrutiny, both in the US and elsewhere, Unity in Christ offers a valuable and revealing window into episcopal life, and into the relationships and self-understanding of bishops themselves."~Rev. Paul McPartlan, Carl J. Peter Professor of Systematic Theology and Ecumenism at The Catholic University of America
"Collegiality, synodality, communion…we hear these words so much, but what do they precisely mean? Many are asking, and Anthony Fisher is answering."~Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York
"Archbishop Fisher's book is both enjoyable and timely. In a culture that has grown accustomed to cynical and disparaging voices, the Archbishop offers an edifying alternative: the voice of a shepherd genuinely concerned for the well-being of his fellow shepherds. Drawing from the example and teaching of the early Church all the way to Pope Francis, and sprinkled with bright Australian humor, he asserts that episcopal communion does not come from the demands of bureaucratic efficiency, but from mystical communion with Christ. This is a must-read for any seeking to know what a synodal Church might look like for bishops."~Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, DC
"Archbishop Fisher’s Unity in Christ provides timely reflections on the importance of episcopal unity and bishops working together for the good of the Church and the people of God. In the Gospels, we often find Jesus with the Apostles amid their work as fishermen on their boats. Today our bishops are called to guide the Barque of St. Peter on the course that Jesus established, however well intended our own GPS settings may be. The Church and her people are blessed by the graces and good works that follow from the collaboration of our bishops. Archbishop Fisher’s essays are a wonderful source of encouragement for our being confident of achieving the greatest good when together we let the Lord take the helm, trusting in His promise to be with us always."~Cardinal Seán O’Malley, OFM, Cap., Archbishop of Boston
"Albert the Great was warned by fellow Dominicans not to accept appointment as a bishop: ‘Better lie in a coffin than sit in a bishop's chair!’ This is but one of the gems in this book of insight and reflection on the ministry of the bishop today. Anthony Fisher, OP, is at pains to point to the collegiate nature of this ministry, for bishops must work hard to give a united witness, not without disagreements but always without division. His point is clear: there is no place in the episcopate for the solo performer. This book is a rich resource for us all."~Vincent Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
"These lectures first delivered at the USCCB are written in an engaging style that mingles theology with history, literature, and popular culture. The author, an archbishop and a Dominican, is also a former lawyer with a doctorate from Oxford University. But for his religious vocation he may have become a high court judge. Reading these lectures is like reading a high court judgment that takes opposing arguments, presents each of them in its best light, and then offers a synthesis of the two in which reason and rhetoric play together. As he unpacks the concepts of ‘Communio’ and ‘Synodality’ in the context of the vocation of a bishop, he also demonstrates how Christology and Pneumatology always play together."~Tracey Rowland, University of Notre Dame, Australia
"Starting from a consideration of the apostolic origins of the Church, Archbishop Fisher helpfully considers modern magisterial teachings on the Church, communion, collegiality, and the living work of synodality that unfolds from these. His theoretical and practical reflections on the office of the bishop provide numerous insights that are vital for understanding the theology of the Church. This volume effectively constitutes one of the very best introductions to the theology of the episcopacy in the Catholic Church available."~Thomas Joseph White, OP, Rector, Angelicum, Rome
"Archbishop Fisher is one of the finest thinkers in the Church today. Here he delivers a profound reflection on communio, communion in the Body of Christ, rooted in his close reading of the Gospels and a return to the sources of the Church’s tradition. He reminds us that while the Church is divine, it is also human, and we are not immune from the pressures of division and faction that affect every institution. In this thoughtful book, addressed to bishops, he shows us the path to seek fraternity and friendship in Christ, united in His Word of truth. I pray that Archbishop Fisher’s reflections will stir us to be ever more united in our love for Jesus Christ, and our desire to proclaim Him as the way, the truth, and the life for the human family."~Most Reverend José H. Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles