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focus | thought of the Church

Mgr Matteo Visioli


Nature of the Church

and Authority


Nature, purpose and limits in the exercise of ecclesial authority

Matteo Visioli - Nature of the Church and Authority

During a September 2021 meeting of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life with international moderators of lay associations, ecclesial movements, and new communities, Mgr. Matteo Visioli, then Undersecretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Consultor for the Dicastery, offered important reflections on exercise of ecclesial authority. The Dicastery and Mgr. Visioli have kindly given Ekklesia permission to republish the text of his talk. [1]

Note: The author’s discourse, published in our Italian Ekklesia edition in two parts, is instead presented here in the English language version as one article.  


When speaking of authority in the Church, and in particular of its exercise, we enter into a sensitive area, one that has been the subject of misleading interpretations in the past (and perhaps still is today), which risk becoming an exercise that is anything but virtuous. We know for example that the principle, often misrepresented, according to which authority comes from God (the principle is Saint Paul’s, nulla potestas nisi a Deo, found in Rom 13:1) has legitimized the most atrocious behaviors. However, even the exercise of authority that renounces its own function in the name of another principle, that, according to which, "You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers" (Mt 23:8), with equal dignity and therefore equal responsibility, runs the same risk.