Date of Award

Spring 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Fahey, Michael A.

Second Advisor

Carey, Patrick W.

Third Advisor

Wood, Susan K.


Francis A. Sullivan, S.J. (1922-) is a "Vatican II" ecclesiologist. Although he began his academic ministry at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1956, shortly before the Second Vatican Council, his chief work has been to explore the theology of the Church fashioned at and proceeding from the Council. He is a preeminent scholar on the topic of authority in the Church, and much of his writing has addressed this subject. Less well known are Sullivan's theological efforts on topics related to a theology of charisms, and to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. As a young professor, he made a modest contribution to the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church at the Council, framing its articulation of a theology of charisms and its significance for the Church. Subsequently, he worked toward the production of a monograph on the topic, which appeared in 1982. After this, he turned to address other topics within ecclesiology. This dissertation argues that the possibility of an ecclesiology structured upon the category of charisms can be discerned within Sullivan's work and from its Catholic theological context. The possibility of such an ecclesiology began to be explored around the period of the Second Vatican Council, but it never materialized. Investigating the promise of such an ecclesiology, this dissertation first explores the experiential and historical basis of Sullivan's encounter with a theology of charisms and with the Charismatic Renewal by means of a biographical study. Proceeding from this is a systematic exploration of Sullivan's formal theology of charisms as developed within his academic research and also in his pastoral ministry. The potential within an ecclesiology of charisms is then assessed by examining preliminary work done on the idea by other Catholic theologians of the period, and through comparisons to the dominant ecclesiological forms now in use. The dissertation argues that Sullivan's subsequent work was influenced by his understanding of the Church as constituted by the possession of charisms. Other aspects of Sullivan's ecclesiology thus become points of departure for demonstrating the viability and desirability for finally engaging in the project of constructing a full ecclesiology organized upon charisms.

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