Date of Submission



This thesis explores Walter Kasper’s theology of the Spirit in his three major works on Christology, God the Trinity and the Church. It then takes up implications of his pneumatology for the reception of a new phenomenon in the life of the Catholic Church: lay ecclesial ministry. The originality of the thesis lies in its unique contribution to theological reflection on the Spirit at work in the life of the Church in the emergence of lay ecclesial ministries. Kasper’s pneumatology has been put to the service of deepening the identity and mission of ordained ministry, to strengthening the theology and practice of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue and to other major theological questions and pastoral concerns. However, its potential for contributing to systematic reflection on the identity and mission of lay ministers in the Church and to the emerging shape of Catholic Church identity and mission has not been fully explored. Kasper’s pneumatology is a rich, and until now, untapped, theological resource for the reception of new models and practices of lay ministry. In the light of Kasper’s pneumatology, lay ecclesial ministries can be understood as leading the Church into deeper reception of conciliar renewal.

Part A critically examines Kasper’s Spirit-christology, his pneumatologically conditioned Trinitarian theology and his communio-ecclesiology. Part B explores implications of Kasper’s pneumatology for lay ecclesial ministry. This section begins by analysing Kasper’s explicit treatment of lay ministry and leadership in selected largely untranslated works. It then brings his pneumatology and pastoral reflections into dialogue with the work of key English language theologians writing about lay ecclesial ministry. The thesis explores how Kasper’s theology of the Spirit functions in addressing theological questions which lay ecclesial ministry raises for the Church. The thesis concludes with a number of implications of Kasper’s pneumatology for future development and deeper reception of lay ecclesial ministries as an open-ended, unfinished contemporary work of the Spirit.


School of Theology

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


278 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Faculty of Theology and Philosophy

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