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The Ecumenical Intentions of Pope John Paul II. The Third of the Four Quadrennial Lectures Under the Bequest of Judge Paul Dudley, 1750*

  • George Huntston Williams (a1)


In his third prescribed lecture out of four, for each of a Harvard student's year in College, Judge Paul Dudley, in parlous times for New England, with the Catholic French and their Indian allies a constant threat, asked that his Lecturer be mindful that the Seer of Revelation, carried away in the Spirit into a wilderness (17:3), saw a woman “and on her forehead was written a name of mystery: Babylon the great, mother of harlots” (17:5). He expressly identified “the Romish Church with that mystical Babylon.” The first Hollis Professor of Divinity, Edward Wigglesworth (1693–1765), gave the initial anti-Popery lecture in 1757, and he more than adequately fulfilled the Donor's intentions.



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1 See the venerable Book signed by all Dudleian Lecturers and especially Stange, Douglas, “The Third Lecture: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Anti-Popery at Harvard,” Harvard Library Bulletin 16 (October 1968) 355–69.

2 The great Orthodox spokesman in the World Council of Churches observed that several of the nineteenth-century predecessors of McGiffert, often Unitarian, had found a bit of “popery” not only in Rome but also in some forms of conservative Protestantism. Accordingly, Florovsky took his cue from this theme of earlier Lecturers concerning an alleged double threat to the pure Gospel of apostolic Christianity and revealed truth; and, with the benign cunning some can remember in him, continued this motif, changing only the principals!

Alive, he would support the Ecumenical Patriarch, under whom he stood canonically: in bilateral exchange with Rome; in preparation for the Great and Holy Synod (pan-Orthodox counterpart of Vatican II). Yet against the ancient canon giving Constantinople jurisdiction in the diaspora, he would favor autocephalous national churches but decry any subtle mutation of Moscow as the Third Rome.

Father Florovsky served as Professor of Eastern Church History at Harvard Divinity School from 1957 to 1964 and was, by a special vote of the Faculty in accordance with venerable tradition, recommended to the Corporation for the rank of professor emeritus, to which his status on annual or term appointment had not technically qualified him. He went on to serve at Princeton University, 1964–72, having begun earlier as part-time visiting lecturer at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1962, where he continued until his death, 11 August 1979.

There is a kind of minute, Fr. Georges V. Florovsky Dies,” The Russian Orthodox Journal 52 (1979) 4f., followed by a reprint of Paul B. Anderson, “Some Recollections: The European Years,” Ibid., 6f. and 17, and an In Memoriam, “Archpriest Professor Georges Florovsky,” The Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, 1980, No. 2, 5457. One of the most complete studies of his thought is cited in these tributes as my own Georges Vasilievich Florovsky,” GOTR 11 (1965) 7107. There are two jubilee works in his honor: The Heritage of the Early Church, ed. Neiman, David and Schatkin, Margaret (OrChrA 195; Vatican City: Polyglot, 1973), with complete Bibliography, pp. 437–51, and Russia and Orthodoxy, ed. Blane, Andrew and Bird, T. E. (3 vols.; The Hague: Mouton, 1974); Vol. 1 on the life and thought of the honorand (with an essay by me) is still unprinted.

3 Harvard Divinity School Bulletin, 1962/1963. At the time Professor of Church History at the School, 1959–66, Oberman had come fresh from Vatican II and its dealing with the schema on revelation. His lecture dealt discerningly with the three meanings of Tradition; and the third, that of an accumulated body of infallible papal teaching ex officio which he vehemently rejected.

4 John Paul II was invited directly and through the good offices of Humberto Cardinal Medeiros to give the Third Dudleian Lecture in the Harvard Stadium, 1 October 1979, out of cycle. The rejected invitation partly explains his gracious double reference to Harvard during the homily on the rainy afternoon on Boston Common. He had been at Harvard in 1976. See his own reminiscences in Tygodnik Powszechny 45 (1976) 380f.

The Pope had an additional reason to salute Harvard Divinity School. Augustin Cardinal Bea had given the Charles Chauncey Stillman Lectures on the Unity of Christians after Period I of Vatican II, The Ecumenical Dialogue at Harvard, ed. Miller, Samuel H. and Wright, G. Ernest (Cambridge?: Harvard University, 1964). In recognition of the importance of the Colloquium in giving a North American resonance to Vatican II, Cardinal Bea, as an Old Testament scholar, bequeathed an important collection in his library to the Andover Harvard Library.

5 See my The Mind of John Paul II: Origins of His Thought and Action (New York: Seabury, 1981).

6 Gramatowski, Wiktor and Wilińska, Zofia, eds., Bibliografia: Karol Wojtyχa negli Scritti (Vatican City: Librería Editrice, 1980) 280 pp.; see also Rubin, Wχadzisχaw Cardinal, ed., Karol Wojtyχa e il Sinodo dei Vescovi (Vatican City: Librerīa Editrice, 1980).

7 The practice has been criticized by Karl Rahner, S.J., among others: “The Pope is not writing private documents and should enlist theological help.” See also the scathing criticism of John Paul's first encyclical along the same line, Murphy, Francis X., C. SS. R., The Papacy Today (New York: Macmillan, 1981), chap. 8, “John Paul II,” 194ff.

8 I have developed, beyond Mind of John Paul II, 288–305, the ascetic “sectarian” motif in the papal ecclesiology in “The Ecumenism of John Paul II,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies (Fall 1982), Part I of this article. See also my “Church and State in John Paul II,” in Journal of Church and State (Fall 1982). For Opus Dei, see, critically, Artigues, Daniel (Jean Becarid), El Opus Dei en España 1928–1962 (2d ed.; Paris: Ruedo Ibérico, 1968); Moreno, María Angustias, El Opus Dei (2d ed.; Barcelona: Planeta, 1977); and La otra cara del Opus Dei (2d ed.; Barcelona: Planeta, 1978).

9 Chadwick, Owen, The Popes and European Revolution (Oxford/New York: Clarendon, 1981).

10 Wojtyχa, Karol, Sign of Contradiction (New York: Seabury, 1979) 164.

11 Ibid., 206.

12 This text appeared in New York City News, an interim strike newspaper, 18 October 1978, p. 2. The reporter was Thomas Poster and the quotation is here given in its entirety because the speech is not noted among the 1490 items of the prepapal bibliography (above, n. 6) and is unavailable from the two Polish-American organizations that co-sponsored the gathering in Old Soldier's Home in 1976. The New York Times did report the gathering but did not quote the Cardinal, 5 September 1976, p. 40, col. 6. The News text minus the last two sentences was picked up by alert Adams, James R. for his “Notable and Quotable”, Wall Street Journal (9 September 1978) 30. This slightly shorter version was picked up by Manion Forum, 9 December 1978, the mailed transcript of a conservative broadcasting service originating in South Bend, Indiana, founded by Clarence Manion, late Dean of Notre Dame Law School. Vincent P. Hiceli, S.J., told me by telephone that the Forum was his source for the quotation in his The Anti-Christ (Hanover, MA: Thomas A. Christopher for Drama of Truth, 1981) 11.

13 The words “New Babylon” are not to be ascribed to the text of the Cardinal in New York City in 1976 but are used in close connection with it by Father Miceli in his full-page advertisement of the book in several anti-abortionist newspapers and in the promotion of the book distributed by the Drama of Truth, Alexandria, Virginia, along with a separate picture of the Cardinal and Father Miceli together in a small group.

It is of interest that the Pope permitted three clips of his speaking against martial law in Poland (imposed 13 December 1981) to appear in the U.S. Government star-studded documentary and propaganda entertainment film, “Let Poland Be Poland,” 31 January 1982, along with especially composed statements of several NATO leaders and the prime ministers of Australia, India, and Japan, almost all directed, as in the speech of President Ronald Reagan, against both the Polish Military Council and the Soviet Union.

14 Mind of John Paul II, chap. 10:5.

15 The encyclical was significantly dated as of “the First Sunday of Advent.”

16 Mind of John Paul II, chap. 9:2 and 10:2.

17 “Help to Perfect the Freedom of the Gift,“§§4, 5; Osservatore Romano (henceforth OR or OR English, a weekly), 19 November 1981, 1, 3; Papst Johannes Paul II. in Deutschland, 15.–19. November 1980 (Bonn: Deutsche Bischofskonferenz, 1980) 157–63. Major communications of the Pope eventually find their place in the original language of delivery in Acta Apostolicae Sedis, or, if more popular, in Il Papa Ci Parla (Rome: Edizione Paoline, yearly or now roughly quarterly), as also in other vernacular editions, The Pope Speaks, etc.

For the “divine violence,” see Mind of John Paul II, 241.

18 In none of his communications concerning martial law in Poland, even in the words of 10 January 1982, nor in his impromptu words about the right to strike addressed to some three hundred Poles resident in Nigeria, at Lagos, 15 February 1982, has the Pope thus far resorted to the thinly veiled anti-Communist rhetoric of his New York address as Cardinal in 1976, above at n. 12. But in his speech in Turin, 13 April 1980, without any mention of Camillo Cavour who helped shape a united Italy for which Adam Mickiewicz had earlier actually fought, the Pope denounced both liberalism and Marxism and intimated that authentic, materialistic Marxism was primarily responsible for global terrorism. Il Papa Ci Parla, s.d.

19 Address, §3; OR, 28 March 1981, pp. 1f.; OR English, 21 April 1981, pp. 2f.

20 OR, 17 May 1981, in four languages, pp. 1f. On “Mother Earth,” see further below, our Part III.

21 OR, 9–10 December 1981, p. 1. Vatican sources said that the Pope had considered dedicating the Immaculate Heart of Mary to the people of Russia but then decided that would be politically imprudent and contented himself with a reference to traditional Russian Marian devotion.

22 In this paragraph the quotation of 24 March is printed in ORE, 28 March 1982, p. 3; in square brackets is a phrasing of the Pope in the preceding lines. The quotation from 5 May is printed in ORE, 10 May 1982, p. 3.

23 This Easter message is printed in the Boston Pilot (16 April 1982) 3; and the Holy Thursday message, Boston Pilot (9 April 1982) 7; the same in Origins and ORE.

24 Origins 12:2 (27 May 1982) 1724 (allusion to the three dire prophecies).

25 Apostolic Letter of 24 March 1981; OR, 1 April 1981, p. 1; homily communicated during convalescence, 6 June, and Letter to Patriarch Dimetrios I, OR, 8–9 June 1981, pp. 1f. and 4. For the statements in Istanbul, see Mind, p. 337. For an account of the Congress by a Methodist theological participant, see Nelson, J. Robert, “Arrivedérci Pneuma,” Christian Century 14:20 (2 June 1982) 667–69.

26 The Church is called “Patriarchal” because there is also a schismatic Orthodox Church of Old Believers, the Raskol of 1667, who were excommunicated because they did not follow the Greater Church obeying Patriarch Nikon in his reforms, but also because the Greater Church itself lost its Patriarch under Peter the Great in 1721, whereafter it was ruled by the law Chief Procurator appointed by the Tsar/Emperor. The Patriarchate was restored during the Sobor of 1917/18. Cf. above, n. 2.

27 Archimandrite Victor J. Poshishil (Carteret, NJ: St. Mary's Religious Action Fund, 1979).

28 OR, 17 June 1979, pp. 1f.

29 For the Catholic Ukrainian perspective, see Ukrainian Weekly 46:67 (25 March 1979) 1.

For the strong feelings about the papal letter, see the exchange between Metropolitan Juvenaly of Krutitsy and Kolumna in charge of external affairs for the Patriarchal Church and Cardinal Willebrands, Irénikon (1979) 532–44.

30 Before the fifth in Odessa, the Roman Catholic-Russian Orthodox encounters were in Leningrad (1967), Bari (1970), Zagorsk (1973), and Trent (1975).

In view of my double dedication of this article, I cannot forbear mentioning the fact that the father of Georges Florovsky, Dean Vasiliy Florovsky of the cathedral of Odessa, was also once rector of the Academy there. Thus the father of Florovsky and the immediate successor of Bea, Orthodox and Catholic, deliberated in the same Academy.

31 Mind, 98–102; chap. 7.

Among the Americans on the papal commission for the millennial celebration are Professors Miroslav Lablinka of La Salle College in Philadelphia and Ihor Ševčenko of Harvard.

32 Une proposition oecuménique de Msgr. Zoghby,” Proche-Orient 25 (1975) 200f. Zoghby is quoted by Theodore Pulclni of the Melkite Greek Catholic Eparchy in Newton, Massachusetts, in what strikes me as an unusually clear exposition of the Catholic-Orthodox ecumenical problematic, Toward an Acceptable Byzantine Catholic Ecclesiology,” Diakonia 15 (1980) 522; idem, Hie Melkites,” Images 2 (1981); Zoghby, , Tous schismatiqucs? (Beirut: Heidelberg, 1981): both Churches incomplete.

33 Acta Apostolicae Sedis 62 (1980); OR English, 6 April 1981, p. 2.

34 ORE, 22 February 1982, p. 16.

35 OR, 26–27 January 1982, p. l.

36 ORE, 10 May 1982, pp. 10f.

The Report, copyrighted by the co-chairman, Anglican Archbishop Henry McAdoo of Dublin and Catholic Bishop Alan Clark of East Anglia, was published in Great Britain (London: SPCK/Catholic Truth Society, 1982); in North America (Cincinnati: Forward Movement Publications; Washington, D.C.: U. S. Catholic Conference, 1982).

37 Origins, 12:4 (10 June 1982), pp. 4965.

38 The international and interconfessional pilgrimage to Rome was organized by Prior Roger Schutz of the Reformed Community of Taizé, 30 December 1980; OR, 1 January 1981, pp. 1, 3.

39 Prayer, § 7; cf. OR, 22 January 1981, p. 1 and 24 January 1981, pp. 1f.

40 Communication, § 5; OR, 21 February 1981, pp. 1, 3.

41 This is not quite the Confessio invariata. The Confessio variata was a compromise written by its principal author, Philip Melanchthon, when he turned from Catholics to the Reformed to reconcile them with Lutherans in 1540. Properly the Invariata applies to the text of 1530/31 when it was restored to primacy, with many small changes, among Lutherans in the Formula of Concord of 1580.

For the most recent documents and the related literature, see Origins, 11:16 (31 September 1981), pp. 251ff.

42 “Called to Unity in Dialogue of Truth and Love,” OR, 18 November 1980, pp. 1f.; Johannes Paul in Deutschland, pp. 79–82. Strangely, the German episcopal editors allowed the Pope to adduce, uncorrected, Luther's Römerbriefvorlesungen as of 1516/17, when the Lutheran scholars addressed would have known that these Lectures were delivered between November 1515 and September 1516. Neither the Pope nor his editors in Germany give the source of his quotations, which are accurate: Luthers Werke, Weimar Edition, LVI, p. 251, lines 11–13; 24f.

43 Johannes Paul, loc. cit.

44 Mind, 273; cf. Bishop Prof. D. Dr. Lohse, Eduard, “Ökumenische Begegnung mit Johannes Paul,” Ökumene, ed. Froehlich, Karlfried (Tübingen: Mohr, 1982) 3239.

45 For John Paul's Address, see OR, 9 May 1981, pp. 1f.

46 “Ai Convegnisti di Missloni al Popolo per gli anni ‘80,” OR, 7 February 1981, pp. 1f.

47 “The Third Force in Christendom,” Life (9 June 1958).

48 Mind, 175.

49 OR English, 8f. He avoids Col 1:15, wherein Christ himself is called the firstborn of all creatures.

50 Address, § 7; OR, 19 February 1981, p. 5. For the Pope's earlier contacts with China, see Murphy, Papacy Today, 236. For other examples of the Pope's Marian ecclesiological formulations, see further Mind, chap. 10:2, as also the Index for prepapal statements, especially about the national Catholic rededication to Mary of Jasna Góra under the direction of the late Primate Wyszyński, evoking the vows of King John II Casimir in 1658. In Nigeria in February 1982 John Paul among Poles in Lagos placed his hopes for Poland under martial law in the success of the intercessory prayers of the Virgin of Czƙstochowa.

51 It is well known that this formulation is the only instance of the papal privilege of infallible definition since infallibility was itself promulgated a dogma of the faith at Vatican I in 1870.

52 Speech in Japanese, § 1; OR, 23–24 February 1981, p. 4.

53 Homily, § 6; OR, 25 February 1981, pp. 1f. The same theme was picked up in the Address to Non-Christians, §§ 1, 3, 5, on the same day, when he opened with reference to “incomparable beauty, a beauty that manifests the divine presence hidden in every visible creature” (Ibid., 2).

54 Message in Budokan, §§ 3, 4. I recognize this “ecological” motif in John Paul in Mind, 47–49, but I could not make it one of the ten main thrusts to date in his papacy in my final chapter on him. However, as here and in my Dialogi of a Modern Gregory the Great on St. Benedict,” The Fifteenth Centenary of St. Benedict at Saint John's University (ed. Franklin, William; College-ville: Saint John's University, 1982) opening piece, I have brought out by now the considerable extent to which John Paul is markedly concerned with nature both as something to be saved and cherished (ecology, stewardship) and as the basis of a natural theology in interfaith dialogue.

55 Commemoration, § 6; OR, 17 May 1981.

56 See further Mind, 214–18; 272–76; 335–39; cf. Bloch and Czuczka, Praxis. In “Church-State Relations,” n. 12, I make clear the relationship of three versions in English of Acting Person, chap. 7, and the two versions in English of the equally important “Wspólnota.” In “The Ecumenism of John Paul II,”n. 2, I clarify the Pope's preference for the German version of Osoba i Czyn/Acting Person as Person und Tat (Freiburg: Herder, 1981).

57 Acting Person, 272–99.

58 Message, § 3; OR, 21 February 1981, pp. 1, 3.

59 In occasional speeches the Pope has used “ecumenical” in the sense of oikoumenical, i.e., the concern for racial and social harmony and peace “in the inhabited world.”

60 Address, §§ 5, 7; OR, 12–13 January 1981, pp. 1f.

61 In December 1981 the Pope authorized papal legations made up of the members and consultants of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences to call upon the heads of the five nuclear powers and the President of the U.N, Assembly to plead the case against the “Last Epidemic.” To the NATO Defense College, he said, 2 July 1982: “Yes, peace is the new name for defense.”

62 Cf. my reflections on the transmutations of Polish Messianism in John Paul, Mind, chap. 10:6.

63 See further, Mind, chap. 10:5. John Paul II perhaps first used the word Advent, so prominent in his utterances as Pontiff, when visiting Assisi, 5 November 1978, to honor Francis, he prayed: “You who brought Christ so near to your times, help us to bring Christ near to our times, to our difficult and critical times. Help us: These times are waiting for Christ with great anxiety …. We are come near to the year 2000 after Christ. Will they not be times that prepare us for a rebirth of Christ, for a new Advent?” (Talks of John Paul II [Boston: Daughters of St. Paul, 1979] 167).

64 The closing word of the Pope's “report” (§ 10) on the ecumenical and pastoral pilgrimage to the United Kingdom, OR, 10 June 1982, p. 1.

* Given the Pope's special ecumenical concern for the Orthodox, the author dedicates the Lecture, adapted and updated as an article, to the Memory of Georges Florovsky (1893–1979), with whom he was closely associated from 1951 to 1979 (see further n. 2), and to that of Augustin Cardinal Bea (1881–1968), under whose presidency of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, he served as an alternate observer for all four periods of Vatican II (see further n. 4). The Lecture was delivered 9 November 1981, updated for publication to 11 June 1982, the day of the Pope's arrival in Buenos Aires.


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