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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 November 2013

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When the second period of the Council opened in September 1963 Paul VI had replaced the deceased John XXIII as the Roman pontiff. During this period the discussion on Lumen Gentium continued and the Council Fathers also began discussing Unitatis Redintegratio (Document on Ecumenism).

Research Article
Copyright © Royal Historical Society 2013 

Commentary: September–December 1963 – the second period of the Council

When the second period of the Council opened in September 1963 Paul VI had replaced the deceased John XXIII as the Roman pontiff. During this period the discussion on Lumen Gentium continued and the Council Fathers also began discussing Unitatis Redintegratio (Document on Ecumenism).

Lumen Gentium had been revised in the interim and when the Council Fathers assembled anew they turned their attention to the question of co-operation (cooperentur) which emerged as one of the key words in the vocabulary of Vatican II in the sense of collegiality. The question of whether Mary's role in the Church should be treated in a separate document or not was also debated; eventually the Council voted for implementing it within the larger Constitution on the Church which was finally ratified by the Pope in November 1964.

On 18 November 1963 the Council Fathers were finally ready to debate the long-awaited schema De Ecumenisme (On Ecumenism). The document had been prepared by the Secretariat on Christian Unity and consisted of five chapters that addressed the principles and practice of Ecumenism, Christians who were separated from the Catholic Church, the Christian attitude to non-Christians (especially Jews), and the question of religious liberty. Rather than referring to Protestants as ‘heretics’ and to Orientals as ‘schismatics’, the schema spoke of these as ‘separated brethren’.

It was, however, the question of the relationship to the Jews which proved contentious. It was the German Cardinal Bea who presented chapter 4 on the Catholic relationship to the Jews. He said that this relationship was an important issue because of the violent outburst of anti-Semitism that had culminated in National Socialism. After the Holocaust the Church could no longer project any form of anti-Semitism.

The question of religious freedom was presented by Bishop De Smedt, who asserted that religious liberty was part of the Catholic tradition and not a break with the past. Although many applauded De Smedt's speech, some feared that religious liberty did not so much represent the Catholic past as deviate from it. The discussion on the Jews and the question of religious freedom was deferred to the Third Period.

At the end of the Second Period the Decree on Liturgy and that on Inter Mirifica (Decree on the Media of Social Communications) were solemnly ratified.

Report No. 82      1st October, 1963



This opened on Michaelmas Day, Sunday 29th September in S. Peter's Basilica with the usual ceremonies. The Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Tisserant, the Cardinal Dean. This was followed by the profession of faith of the Pope and the Secretary General of the Council and the Pope's absolution.


Their number has increased slightly since the last time. There are two Russians there this time, Borovoj and a new one called Ilic, who is said to be a Canon of Leningrad Cathedral.

[. . .]

You will perhaps realise that in addition to our delegation we have the Bishop of Nagpur (Sadiq), who comes in the name of the W.C.C., the Bishop of South Kerala (Leggs), who is Moderator of the Church of South India, and a man called Norgren of P.E.C.U.S.A., who is also under the umbrella of W.C.C.

The Observers came here for a discussion and lunch on Saturday and we planned our campaign. It is intended to send general Observers’ reports as well as mine. Miss Johnstone is installed as secretary, and is very satisfactory.

[. . .]

It is intended that Observers’ reports will be sent when Schemata are completed. General progress of the debates will be shown in my series.


This was very satisfactory. It continued the Roncalli tune and went to the length of admitting Roman Catholic responsibility for the divisions in the past. We now look out for the next stage, which is the admission that the Roman Church is also partly responsible for the continuation of divisions in the present. [. . .]

Report No. 83.      2nd October, 1963




The session began with a Mass in the Ambrosian rite said by the new Archbishop of Milan.


It was proposed to admit laity who are to be ‘auditors’. They can be called upon by the same rules as the Periti.

  • A rule as propounded whereby speakers must give three days’ notice before speaking and should, if possible, submit the whole text of their speech. This was received with a smile.


[. . .]

Cardinal Ottaviani and Cardinal Browne read formal introductions to the lay out [sic] of the Schema. The text of these introductions had already been distributed.

[. . .]

Cardinal Frings of Cologne spoke for the bishops of Germany and Scandinavia. He said that the Schema was on the whole placetFootnote 1 because it is clear and pastoral. It is a great improvement on its predecessor. It avoids the bombast and pride of the former and is more firmly rooted in the Scripture.

[. . .]

Patriarch Cilicia of the Lebanon made a reactionary speech saying that the essential difference between laity and hierarchy should be emphasised, and also that the non-Catholics should have made it clear to them that defective faith is an impassable barrier to union.

[. . .]

Archbishop Ngô-Din-Thuc of Huê, Vietnam wondered why there were not Buddhist, etc. Observers. Similarly, among the Christian Observers, he thought there were not sufficient Asiatics.

Bishop Gargitter of Bressanone wanted further clarification of the relations between the Pope and the college of bishops. He thought the Schema did not give sufficient teaching on the place of the laity.


Cardinal Rugambwa of Bukoba, Tanganyika, made an impassioned appeal for the overriding importance of the missionary function of the Church.

Bishop Hermaniuk of Winnipeg, of the Ukrainians in Canada, commended the scriptural basis of the Schema and its foundation in the fathers, especially of the Greeks. He thinks the ecumenical spirit is also commendable.

[. . .]

Bishop Gasbarri of Velletri, Italy regretted the omission of any reference to the problems of the relations between Church and State.

[. . .]

Bishop Arceo of Cuernavaca in Mexico said the separated brethren are often able to speak with reason against exaggerations in the devotion to the Saints. The chapter de Sanctitate Ecclesia should take account of this fact for the avoidance of misunderstanding.

Cardinal Browne summed up.

[. . .]

Report No. 84      4th October, 1963



Cardinal Gracias of Bombay thought the introduction should contain something about the history of salvation and the place of the Church in it. ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth’, there are too many signs of unresolved differences.

In ‘missionary countries’ the Church must learn to shed all ideas of ruling of kingdoms and of authority, except in the scriptural sense. They were a negligible community, and should behave accordingly. Some Christians can be more papal than the Pope. He quoted Newman,Footnote 2 who said that growth without improvement is no use: quantity without quality is often the aim of missionaries. The Church must be aware of this. The language of services should be more prominent in the Schema.

[. . .]

Archbishop de Provenchères of Aix, France said it was important to decide whether the Church was a sign of the union of men with God, or whether it was the actual means of a union.

[. . .]

Dom Christopher Butler referring to the paragraph about the non-Catholics, said, these separated communities were not simply natural communities, but supernatural. They are therefore in a real sense related to the Church.

There is a distinction between the regnum Dei and the regnum Christi.Footnote 3 You cannot equate the Church with the regnum Dei, it is subject to it, receives it, appropriates it. You can only make this equation in the case of the regnum Christi.


Further speeches on details of the schema de Ecclesia, and further repetitions of points already raised. But three contributions were of importance or interest or both.

Card. Bea reminded the Council that it was the Pope's desire that the statements of the Council should manifestly spring from scripture. It is also very important that separated Christians be shown the scriptural foundations of the Council's formularies. In this light, the Schema has serious defects. For example, it is often said in the Schema that the Church must be a unity etc., but no scriptural proofs for this are given. Ever since the Reformation the understanding of this idea has been a cause of division and the Schema does not help. Often in the text scripture is used wrongly. [. . .] When it comes to arguments from tradition, it is no good trying to convince non-Catholics of the truth of Catholic positions simply by quoting recent Pontifical statements, and this is particularly so in the case of references to the B.V.M. The Council should find and use the common faith ante-dating the 11th century schism. This is the only possible foundation. When, e.g. the Schema asserts that episcopacy belongs to the sacrament of order, it is only asserted. There should be argument documentation from antiquity. Similarly, in the Schema, when the Papal prerogatives are referred to, only recent statements from canon law are cited. This will not do – and it is especially irrelevant and harmful in relation to Eastern Christians who do not accept the authority of such canon law. The whole thing should be revised in this light. [. . .] And the only scriptural arguments used should be based upon exegesis acceptable to modern scholars. Other sorts of arguments are of no help in creating unity with the separated brethren, and the Council should remember that this cause of unity is one of the primary purposes of the Council.

Archbishop Heenan, speaking in the name of the hierarchy, spoke characteristically! He found the section (paragraph 9) on non-Catholic Christians defective because it did not sufficiently emphasise the duty of preaching to non-Catholics and bringing them into the Catholic fold. All Catholics had the duty of the apostle, and non-Catholics ought to know that the Church would never be satisfied until they were converted to her [. . .]

Bishop van Velsen of South Africa spoke of paragraph 9 in another voice. (Curiously, his points are omitted from the official press release summarising the day's proceedings. Accidentally? Deliberately?) Nothing was made of the (common) faith in Scripture as the Word of God. It is said that they have baptism, yet nothing is said about what ‘body’ they are incorporated into by baptism. Nothing is said about their order: priesthood, episcopacy – nor about their eucharist. And financially, nothing is said about the question of the papacy in relation to these non-Catholics. The Bishop did not go on to say what he wanted said about these matters in the Schema, but it may be significant that one voice has raised the question.


My comments are these:-

This only confirms what I have never ceased to say, that Heenan is a dyed-in-the-wool reactionary.

Does this mean that the proposed Lambeth bridge is to be built for one-way traffic only?

Heenan is chairman of the committee of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Britain for ‘ecumenism’. He said he was speaking in the name of all the episcopate. Is this then their combined conception of ecumenism? What then does it mean to them but a convert-drive, disguise it how you will?

Does Heenan not realise that though this speech and the enthronement speech do not seem inconsistent to him, to the ordinary Christian they indicate a quite transparent duplicity?

This gives encouragement to anyone in the Church of England who feels inclined to continue anti-Roman propaganda.

This confirms our belief that we can as yet expect little ecumenical advance in England. If we wish to follow up the intentions of the past Pope and the present one we must do so outside England.

The comment of a prominent American bishop was that there are more than enough non-Christians in England and U.S.A. or elsewhere for it to be right for us to have time for convert-catching.

This was not the voice of Pope John, nor is it that of Pope Paul.

Report No. 85      8th October, 1963



The discussion of Chapter 1 of de Ecclesia was continued and concluded, and discussion of Chapter 2 begun. Once again (in regard to Chapter 1) little that was new was said. [. . .]

Archbishop Baudox of St. Boniface, Canada, dealt with paragraph 9 and repeated the Abbot of Downside's criticism, viz. that it treated non-Catholic Christians only as individuals. He even elaborated the Abbot's point by saying that these separated communities possess (as it were) the marks of the Church, sacraments, preaching of the word of God, and that they doubtlessly bring men to God. This should be recognised in paragraph 9.

[. . .]

Chapter 2

Cardinal Spellman roundly condemned the proposal for a permanent diaconate, on the ground that it would lead to a diversion of what would otherwise be vocations to the priesthood.

Cardinal Ruffini did the same [. . .]. The Bishops may have the Pope's ‘permission’ (from time to time!) to meet and teach, but there are no grounds for the notion of ‘collegiate’ episcopacy as defined in the Schema. The Pope has no need of such a College to confirm his teaching.

Cardinal Bacci, to complete a trio of the Sacred College, took the same line on proposals for the diaconate.

The other speakers were generally of a very conservative kind and in particular Bishop Pocci (speaking on behalf of Cardinal Micara) took the fully ‘integrist’ line, and said that the Council ought to concern itself with the condemnation of errors – of which there were many, often supported by dignitaries (!). Earlier councils had pronounced Anathemas – and so should this one.

In relation to Chapter 2, it was the conservatives’ day, and no one spoke with any force against them


[. . .]

Cardinal König emphasised the power of a Council as expression of collegial power. But there should be more said about the formation of the bishops outside the Pope. This makes little advance on Vatican I. He defended the text against Ruffini's attacks concerning the uniqueness of Peter as the foundation-stone. There should be more development.

[. . .]

Cardinal Alfrink – Whenever the Schema speaks of ‘Peter with the Apostles’ etc it should read ‘Peter and the other Apostles.’

Patriarch Maximos IV – Vatican I defined the Primacy. The real obstacle to unity was not the Primacy itself but the excessive doctrines concerning it and its juridical expression. Paul VI told the Council not just to repeat Vatican I but to suggest new interpretations.

This Schema should therefore express with a sane balance the relations between the Pope and the bishops [. . .]

Bishop Zazinović of Jugoslavia – The bishops as a body are unusual to the task of governing the Church. Insistence on collegiality could weaken the Primacy. It would be better to make no change in the traditional practice. Still, it would be advisable to set up a permanent episcopal commission with representatives of all nations, with regular meetings, and with authority to decree changes even in the prevailing practice of the Roman Curia.

Bishop Beck of Salford spoke on behalf of the English bishops for a closer definition of the office of the priesthood, particularly of the sacrificial priesthood. The importance of emphasising this in ecumenical work (!).

(continued in report No. 86)

Report No. 86      10th October, 1963



Bishop Beck of Salford (continued) [. . .]

(it is amazing how English Roman Catholic bishops seem to interpret their ecumenical role as being the reiteration at every possible opportunity [of] those particular doctrines which provoke separation).


Before the speakers began to address the Council, the General Secretary announced the procedure to be followed in voting on the individual amendments proposed for Chapter II of the schema on Sacred Liturgy.

[. . .]

Continuation of debate on Chapter II of the Schema on the Church

Cardinal de Arriba y Castro, Archbishop of Tarragona, Spain said the insistence on the concern of the Church for the poor should not be interpreted as though the Church intends to do nothing to improve the living conditions of those in want. No true member of the family of God will ever allow anyone to suffer much less die of hunger. But mere help is not sufficient. There is a serious obligation to help better the over-all social situation. We should not leave to the Marxists the task of improving the social conditions of the vast masses of the poor. Christ's commandment of love demands that we be interested in the poor and this is not a mere counsel, but a precept. The improvement of the poorer classes is a most urgent duty. Fulfilment of this duty would be greatly helped by organizing in Rome a central office, or Sacred Congregation, to coordinate study on social problems and assist in promoting social justice everywhere in the world.

Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay considered the use of scripture in arguments proposed in the schema should conform in all respects to the principle of sound scholarship and exegesis. This document should reflect the Church's veneration for sacred scripture. As for the arguments from tradition, it would be advisable to use only the earlier sources for arguments on points of disagreement with our separated brethren. But this schema is not intended only for them; it is designed as a foundation for the renovation of the Church. Consequently we should use all the riches of tradition, of whatever period, in order to present an integral image of the Church [. . .]

Cardinal Landázuri Ricketts, Archbishop of Lima, Peru – In the discussion on the advisability of a permanent diaconate, it should be borne in mind that there is no question of laying down universal legislation. As for the objection that the presence and activity of married deacons in the Church might have unfavourable repercussions on the tradition of clerical celibacy, it should not be forgotten that all necessary precautions are to be taken by the Church. If it is objected that this provision might eventually diminish the number of vocations to the priesthood, there is the possibility that any such eventual diminution might be overbalanced by an increase in the greater overall number of workers for souls. Besides, the work of these deacons is intended to deepen the spiritual life of many of the faithful and this in itself would be a stimulus to more vocations.

Cardinal Suenens, Archbishop of Malines-Bruxelles, Belgium continued the discussion of the oportuneness of restoring the permanent diaconate, and said it should be borne in mind that this was a question pertaining to the very constitution of the Church. It has not arisen merely from the necessity of meeting local needs in various parts of the Church; it proceeds not from natural but from supernatural realism. The argument in favour of this diaconate is based on the fact that the work to be entrusted to such deacons would proceed from the order they have received; there is no question of work which could just as easily be done by dedicated laymen. Simple natural gifts would not be sufficient, even with the special grace of Baptism and Confirmation. The purpose of this restoration would be to attribute greater prominence to the diaconate in the Hierarchy of the Church [. . .]. The task of the Church is not to issue a universal decree but only to make it possible for the Church not to fall short of its duty where this is necessary. There can be different solutions of the problem for different places, but the supreme law must always be the salvation of souls.

[. . .]

Archbishop Staffa, Secretary of the Sacred Congregation of Seminaries and Universities considered the use of the phrase ‘undivided subject of full and supreme jurisdiction in reference to the Roman Pontiff and the bishops of the Church’ gave rise to certain doubts and uncertainty. It would be much better to retain the doctrine set forth by many theologians at the time of the first Vatican Council and to maintain that supreme power over the entire flock of the faithful was entrusted to Peter and to Peter alone. Since everyone agreed that the Pope always had ultimate power over all the bishops, it would be advisable to retain the doctrine that full and supreme power is vested solely in the Pope, independently of consultation with others. The bishops of the world must cooperate with the Roman Pontiff but it belonged to him to exercise eventually the supreme power of decision. (There you have the supreme doctrinal clerical view in all its nakedness).

[. . .]

Report No. 87      10th October, 1963



De Ecclesia. Chapter II

[. . .]

Dr. Lukas Vischer said he felt the priest was much more the successor of the Apostles in the sense of being the celebrant of the Eucharist (para. 14). He wanted much more reference to the Holy Spirit.

Prof. Schmemann thought the whole document too Latin. Not enough appeal to later Ecumenical Councils. Even chapter 16 de Collegio Episcoplai ejusque CapiteFootnote 4 tells us more about the Pope than about the bishops. This appears to an Orthodox quite bizarre. It is an address to the Pope, with an apology for the existence of bishops. There is a fear of approaching the doctrine concerning the Pope.

Prof. Cullmann

  1. 1) Of what sort is the primacy of Peter among the twelve before the Resurrection?

  2. 2) What is the character of the primacy of Peter after the Resurrection before he leaves Jerusalem, among the Church of Jerusalem?

  3. 3) What is the nature of the primacy after Peter's departure? His church tradition and his life study leads him to agree with Ruffini (!) that the bishops are not the successors of the apostles, who were eye-witnesses of the Resurrection.

The lecturer (Mgr. Philipps of Louvain) said it was not for us to justify the position of the papacy – that was done once for all at Vatican I. He answered Cullmann's last point (or tried to) by quoting the incorporation of Matthias into the college.

[. . .]

Canon B. C. Pawley (C of E) said that speaking as a member of an episcopal church he found the Roman Catholic use of the office of a bishop uncertain not only because of the intrusion of the Papacy but also because of:

  1. 1) the cardinals,

  2. 2) Titular bishops with no jurisdiction,

  3. 3) Missionary bishops with no de jure seat in council

  4. 4) Praelatura nullius,Footnote 5

  5. 5) Those very independent and Presbyterian phenomena, the Religious Orders, exempt from Episcopal jurisdiction.

New forms of episcopate (as in South India) had soon been able to teach us lessons.


Moderator: Cardinal Suenens

Chapter II of de Ecclesia

Cardinal Liénart of Lille said we must never speak of Peter and the Apostles as if they were separate. The whole Scriptures must be read together [. . .]. So he made the college. The college therefore came before Peter, who had the special job of confirming his brethren (not his slaves) in the faith. There was to be a link of charity between them. Their first preoccupation after the Resurrection was to fill up the number of the college. Then they began the preaching. The exercise of authority came spontaneously. The gospel never interprets authority in terms of power but of service.

Cardinal Richaud, Archbishop of Bordeaux – The permanent diaconate will do no harm to the presbyterate. He remarked on the institution of the diaconate in the New Testament which was for practical administration and needed so far no seminary training. The present pastoral needs suggest that there should be a greater concentration of priests in towns, which would make the provision of this kind of ministration more necessary.

[. . .]

Bishop Ataún, coadjutor of Cadiz, Spain said that the section on the priesthood did not sufficiently refer either to the biblical foundation on which it should rest, nor did it properly relate to the High Priesthood of Christ.

[. . .]

Archbishop Conway of Armagh, Ireland criticised several omissions and deficiencies, especially in treatment of the priesthood. It deals with bishops in nine pages, but gives only half a page to priests. Even this is not about priesthood itself, but only in its relation to bishops [. . .]. Priests are mediators between God and man! They handle the precious Body and Blood, they absolve in the name of Christ. There being such a critical shortage of priests throughout the world, the function of the priesthood should be exalted. It should have a separate chapter.

Several speakers in the course of the morning expressed anxiety lest whereas Vatican I offended by not giving sufficient attention to the episcopate, Vatican II might make the same mistake with regard to the priesthood.

Bishop Franić of Spalato, Jugoslavia, on behalf of all the bishops of Jugoslavia, was strongly against the introduction of the married diaconate, whose wives (and children!) might be the ridicule and the scandal of the Church. In the Orthodox Church there was obviously a greater esteem for the unmarried, from whom alone bishops were appointed!

[. . .]

Report No. 88      11th October, 1963



Still on Chapter II of de Ecclesia.

Bishop Schick, auxiliary of Fulda, Germany, in the name of the bishops of Germany, called for a more thorough treatment of the theological functions of the priesthood, especially 1. Cor. 12, the Eucharistic foundation and the general New Testament background. The implications for the local church of the theology of the universal Church should be more closely defined.

[. . .]

Archbishop Descuffi of Smyrna, Turkey made a very reactionary speech. For the sake of the observers etc. it should be very clearly stated that the Pope has absolute and sole authority of declaring infallibility without the consent of the Church.

[. . .]

Archbishop Yago of Abidjan, West Africa said that against the restoration of the diaconate it had been objected that we should not return to the conditions of the first century in the Church. But it is evident that in many areas the Church is actually living for all practical purposes in the first century [. . .]

[. . .]

Archbishop Vande Hurk of Medan, Indonesia, in the name of the Indonesian bishops, said it cannot be demonstrated with certainty that the apostles set up individual bishops as heirs of their authority and as real successors. This is a historical question which the Council should not undertake to settle. The text should not refer to a bishop and his diocese, but rather to the bishop and the Church entrusted to him. The bishop exists for the Church, not the Church for the bishops.

[. . .]


Chapter II of de Ecclesia continued.

Cardinal Quiroga y Palacios of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, spoke against the conception of the collegiality of the bishops, considering it neither founded in scripture nor to have other significance. The single bishop working in union with the intention of the Holy Fathers was the characteristic form of the Church.

Archbishop Slipiy of Lvov, Ukraine, recently liberated from long incarceration, gave a long history of the Church in the Ukraine. The bishops do not form a college – this is a quasi-political conception. The bishop is given full powers which are not modified by his membership of the college. The Pope is ‘bishop of the Church’ and receives his authority directly from Christ.

Bishop Costantini of Sessa Aurunca, Italy, said the Schema put too much stress on priests and deacons. There is no cogent reason for restoring the diaconate as a permanent rank. In case circumstances in a particular locality should demand services which can be rendered only by a deacon, the problem can be solved by ordaining qualified lay-brothers in religious communities [. . .]

Bishop Casamandari of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico said that in many parts of Central America many marriages were not able to be celebrated in church for lack of priests. It should therefore be possible for the new deacons to be able to do this. There should at least be a period of experiment.

[. . .]

Archbishop Gouyon, coadjutor of Rennes, France, considered the primacy of Peter and the collegiality of the bishops was inseparable.

This bishop pointed out that when the Pope consecrated bishops he did so alone, because he was ‘all the bishops’. Where does this get us? Is this another sign of insecurities of the Roman Church in exercise and conception of the episcopate?

[. . .]

Bishop Bettazzi, Auxiliary Bishop of Bologna said the concept of episcopal collegiality constituted no danger to the Primacy [. . .]. This doctrine was not a theological or canonical novelty. When a bishop was consecrated he contracted a close bond of union with the particular church to which he was appointed. The will of the Holy Father could break this bond by transfer to another diocese, but could never sever the bond linking the bishop with the Universal Church.

[. . .]

Report No. 89      15th October, 1963



Cardinal Frings of Cologne said the concept of collegiality in its juridical sense was not found in the earliest fathers, but neither was the primacy of the Pope. But they both come unmistakeably out of the later tradition as history evolved. The primitive Church was made up of many elements. The two were clearly present by the time of Cyprian. S. Augustine, speaking of the Donatists, said that they did want to form part of the college.

The collegiality of the episcopate was therefore quite as clear and authoritative as the Primacy in Vatican I and the Assumption of the B. V. M.

[. . .]

There were three speakers at this period who vainly repeated the text book doctrine of Vatican I, who were obviously creating impatience among the fathers.

[. . .]

Bishop Vion of Poitiers said the schema was still too much concerned with the bishop[’]s duty of ruling rather than with the apostolic duty of serving.

[. . .]

Bishop Kémérer of Posadas, Argentina, in the name of bishops of Latin America, made a very impassionate appeal for the diaconate without which the Church in many parts of Latin America could scarcely survive. This was applauded.

Archbishop Zoungrana of Quagadougu, Upper Volta, Africa, was against the permanent married diaconate because of the fatal consequences in Africa to the future vocations of the priesthood [. . .]. At the end of the speech he said that if in any province it should be necessary to have permanent married diaconate, they should be able to apply to the Pope. It was not for a council to make this immense change general.

Bishop Carli of Segni, Italy, who is apparently very much in the pocket of Ottaviani, Ruffini, etc., wanted corpus, or even familia, episcoporum, rather than collegium.Footnote 6 The bishops have no corporate existence apart from the Pope.

The introduction of the idea of the collegiality seems to compromise the absolute privilege of the Pope. (Note: the vote on this will be the clearest indication of progress or reaction on the part of the bishops).

The expression of infallibility was not as clear as in Vatican I and there was a danger of the charisma being lost in the collegiality. Whenever the Pope spoke infallibly he involved the college!


[. . .]


With the whole hierarchy, I got an opportunity to say to the Rector how disappointed we had all been at his utterance on the occasion of the Pope's visit. That had evidently been brought home to him by others.

I sat next to Archbishop Heenan and was able to refer to his speech about conversions, showing him that we wanted to know was what was left of Ecumenism after that. He said it would be made clear when we got to de Ecumenisma.


I sat next to Archbishop Heenan at a party the very next day and was able to let him know that I had not had a lot of correspondence about his speech. He has since been reported as saying at a press conference that one can not distinguish in the Council at this session ‘progressives’ and ‘reactionaries’. That is absurdly untrue. Admittedly the issues aren't so sharp because the progressives have had so many of their points now incorporated in the Schema but reactionaries are still very distinguishable, Heenan himself in the front ranks of them.

[. . .]

Report No. 90      16th October, 1963



Bishop Cassien, Director of the Orthodox Theological Institute St. Serge, Paris, made a general plea for some strictness in the use of theological terms. Our use of them has often been more poetical than scientific. The flame is often used as a metaphor, as expressing the Holy Ghost in relation to the Church. But it is not scientific.

It is said that the Holy Ghost reveals Christ to the Church. But how? In the Conception? In the Parousia?

Mgr. Willebrands said that Cardinal Bea had complained in the Council about the inexact use of Scriptural notions in the Schema and had sent a detailed list of passages.

Prof. Caird, Congregational, said that what is said of the Apostles is often transferred to the bishops without care. Some of the characteristics of the Apostles (e.g. eyewitnesses) were not able to be handed on. In Matt. 18,18 the Apostles are representatives of the whole people of God, not predecessors of bishops. Note the immediate previous context, and that which follows. It is therefore dangerous to apply binding and loosing to the episcopal office on the strength of these verses.

Fr. O'Hearne,Footnote 7 Passionist, U. S. A., agreed with Prof. Caird as exegete. The whole passage was addressed to the disciples. But this did not render less strong the other texts in which all seemed entrusted to the Apostles.

The mystery of the Council of Jerusalem in which James, not one of the twelve, was in a prominent position. But now the power to bind and loose was also passed on to priests by the college of bishops.

Rev. El-Moharaky, Copt from Cairo, said that a tradition to be catholic must be in accord with the Scriptures. A council to be ecumenical must be in accord with the three sources of truth; Scriptures, Tradition, and Councils. The action of the Pope in Vatican I in declaring himself infallible is not in accord with these criteria.

If Christ were the corner stone of the Church, Peter could not be the rock. But the rock was the teaching revealed by Christ, later defined by really ecumenical councils. In this sense every bishop was infallible in a way whenever he taught in the name of the Church. Paul's conversion of Peter.

Prof. Oberman, Congregational, U. S. A., was surprised that there was no discussion whatever of the position of S. Paul, with its suggestion of the charismatic character of the office of the Apostolate [. . .]

Prof. Skydsgaard, Lutheran, University of Copenhagen, said that the Pope in his inaugural address said the Church was a mystery which should be continually explained. There was something completely lacking in the nature of the Church. It was an essential characteristic. The Schema spoke of the mystery in a one-dimensional way. The mystery of the people in its pilgrimage, in his relations with his people. As with Israel so with the Church. The history of the new Israel was also a mystery, in darkness. The sin of the people of God made it so. God was in the midst of his people as the one who was continuously redeeming them. This belonged to the core of ecclesiology. The paradox was to be kept before the people. The prophetic word of God's wrath and mercy must never be absent from the conception of the Church.

The restoration of this dimension was also the key to the possibility of ecumenical progress.

Prof. Cullmann, of the Universities of Basle and Paris, put hope in the new chapter de populo Dei.Footnote 8 It was necessary to recite the ‘histoire du salut’Footnote 9 at every turn. We are the point in the ‘histoire du salut’ in between the Pentecost and the Parousia. This was the hour of the Holy Spirit. He deplored the school of Bultmann which had done so much to destroy this classic sequence.

Cullmann asked if the ‘propers’ of the Roman Mass of the Holy Spirit were fixed for all time, for he thought they were drawn from too few sources. Should there not be citations from that classical chapter of the Holy Gospel, Romans 8? The Roman Mass only used the Johannine texts, good but incomplete.

Prof. McAfee Brown, Presbyterian, U. S. A., welcomed the rumour that the Schema might include the Schema of the B.V.M. What was said about her was best said in the context of the Church, rather than as a quasi-celestial personage. And the suggestion that anything that was said about her should have a strong biblical base was also welcome.

Bishop of Nagpur, India, spoke about the Church's function of mission. The Hierarchy should be shown primarily as missionaries. Unity was inseparable from mission. The urgency of the missionary situation was not sufficiently emphasised.

Canon Pawley, C of E., read the draft on one of the points which the Anglican observers will submit to the Secretariat on the Schemata; in which was emphasised the need, from the personal angle, to apologise first for the all too evident weakness of the Church in this world (where more evident than in Italy?) and only then to advance to the teaching that the Church is also equally certainly conscious of the mystery that, in spite of her weakness, she was the divinely instituted means of grace etc . . .


The moderator informed the assembly that notwithstanding the vote the previous day to close the debate on Chapter II, several Fathers had availed themselves of the faculty granted in the rule of procedure to speak on this same chapter.

Bishop Ammann, titular Bishop of Petnelisso, in the name of five other bishops, said the concept of the collegiality of the bishops and of their dependence on the Holy See requires that efforts be made to maintain and to tighten the bonds uniting the hierarchy throughout the world with the Roman Pontiff. Nevertheless one might ask if this strengthening of union requires the presence of diplomatic representatives of the Holy See throughout the world. Many persons think that such officials as Apostolic Nuncios, Internuncios and Delegates are shadows hiding the genuine face of the Church. Their presence in a country seems to create the impression that the Church is imitating the secular powers, and the false impression is encouraged that, in one way or the other, the Church is mixing in international politics. It is time to put the representation of the Holy See in various countries in the hands of Patriarchs, Bishops designated by their respective national conferences, etc. These people know their own country better than outsiders, are thoroughly familiar with its language and traditions, and they are in a much better position to evaluate problems and decide on appropriate solutions. Why would it not be possible, if the diplomatic representatives are to be maintained, to appoint outstanding laymen instead of clerics? As witnesses to the faith they would be ‘confessors’ but not necessarily Pontiffs. The present system needs to be radically reorganised.

Bishop Carretto, Vicar Apostolic of Rajaburi, Thailand, in the name of the bishops of Thailand and Laos, said that in mission countries the scarcity of priests is such that they are not able even to preserve what the Church has already accomplished let alone engage in any activity of spreading the faith. This is the main reason why permanent deacons should be instituted in the Church. To forestall many of the objections which have been raised, the choice of deacons should fall on men who would be at least forty years old, men outstanding for the sincerity of their Christian life and their apostolic zeal. They should be financially independent and thus better able to act with upright intentions. If they are married, no permission should be forthcoming to pass to the priesthood, at least not as long as the marriage bond lasted. Such men would be able to act in several capacities to promote the welfare of souls and there is no reason why their labours should not be ennobled and sanctified by the special grace of the order of deacon.

Archbishop Zoghbi, Vicar of the Greek Melchite Patriarch for Egypt, considered the text of the schema was too unilateral in that it did not pay sufficient attention to the long-standing tradition of the Oriental churches regarding the collegiality of the bishops. The text placed so much emphasis on the authority of bishops and the Roman Pontiff that it failed to place in the proper light the figure of Christ, who is the source of all authority. Special care should be taken to eliminate the constantly recurring emphasis on the dependence of the bishops on the Pope. No one denies the authority of the Roman Pontiff over the entire Church, but this authority is not intended to destroy the power of individual bishops, rather to protect and safeguard it. An apparent obsession with the Primacy has beclouded the doctrine on Christ the High Priest. The greatest grace conferred on Peter was his membership of the apostolic college. The special mission to confirm his brethren was something added on to his basic apostolic vocation. The same is true of the place of the Roman Pontiff in the Church.

[. . .]

Bishop Drzazga of Siniando, Poland, in the name of the bishops of Poland, said the spiritual needs of the faithful were such that they could be met only through the priestly ministry strictly so-called. The restoration of the diaconate would really not make a substantial difference in the over-all picture. If such deacons were to be permitted in the Church, they should be held to celibacy. In cases where a married deacon might wish to advance to the priesthood, this would be impossible in the Latin Church. Consequently there would be the serious temptation to go over to one of the national churches where celibacy would not be required. The activities proposed for deacons could be taken care of by secular institutes.

The synod then passed on to consider Chapter III of the Schema, de populo Dei et de LaicisFootnote 10 [. . .]

Report No. 91      18th October, 1963



Chapter III of the Schema, de populo Dei et de Laicis.

Cardinal Ruffini began the discussion on Chapter III by saying that no one denied the exalted function and duties of the laity in the Church. Today more than ever the hierarchy and the clergy were sorely in need of the assistance of the laity. Nevertheless this did not authorise us to speak of a ‘mission’ of the laity. They did not share in the mission conferred by Christ on the apostles, as though they were on the same level with the hierarchy in the task of evangelizing the world. Unless the unprecise terminology in the text was corrected there was a danger that pastors and bishops might encounter difficulties in cases where they must disagree with the laity. If the laity felt it had a juridical right to share in the ministry of the Church this could lead to a weakening of the position of the hierarchy. Pastors and people did not enjoy unconditional equality in carrying out the mission of the Church. In the schema certain passages from scripture and the fathers were quoted out of context or in a manner not really appropriate to the purpose in hand.

Cardinal Cento, Major Penitentary, said that the text of this chapter was of the utmost importance for the coming schema on the apostolate of the laity. Its provisions constituted the principle and foundation of this schema. What the present schema had to say on the quasi-episcopal aspect of father of families and on the priesthood of the laity constituted a valuable document for meditation of the clergy and laity alike.

Cardinal Bueno y Monreal, Archbishop of Seville, said for the first time a Council document made special mention of the laity and this represented an official appreciation by the Church of the importance of the laity. Perhaps in the past there had been too much insistence on the Oriental figure of ‘the flock’. The concept of the people of God represented the external manifestation of the Mystical Body which really constituted the internal spiritual reality of the Church.

Cardinal Bacci of the Roman Curia thought great care should be exercised in speaking of the universal priesthood of the faithful. Their priesthood was not all-embracing. They had no power like ordained priests over the real body of Christ or over His Mystical Body [. . .]. The priesthood of the laity was of a generic, not proper nature and was intended to offer to God spiritual victims of praise.

[. . .]


The discussion on Chapter III ‘De populo Dei et Laicis’

Bishop Rastouil of Limoges said in the Old Testament the people of God was essentially priestly in character. The new people of God was the Church, which was priestly in the unique priesthood and in all its members through the effects of the Sacramental character conferred by confirmation. This character was a derivation of the priesthood of Christ. Thus the priesthood was the key to the explanation of the nature and activity of the Church, since the Church was a continuation of the active presentation of Christ in the world through and in the members of the Mystical Body. The chief priestly functions of the people of God were to praise God and bring in ‘the other sheep’. The priesthood in Christ was the power of redemption; in the Church, the power to apply redemption. There should be a fuller treatment of the priesthood realized in Bishops, priests, and the laity.

[. . .]

Bishop Hengsbach of Essen considered the general language was not clear enough, it was more ideological than theological. The whole question of the apostolate should start from the theological conception and gradually move to practical implications. There was throughout a jealous tendency to guard the privilege of the hierarchy. It was now time to relax about this and to open the doors of opportunity to the laity. The laity must have a part in munere docendi.Footnote 11 In the New Testament the Holy Ghost is poured out indiscriminately.

Bishop Wright of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U. S. A., thought this was a great opportunity to give to the laity what they had been waiting for for several centuries, a coherent theology of the laity. It was time to make an end of the idea that the Roman Catholic Church was a sacerdotal church, whereas it was only the Reformation churches which had a place for the laity.

[. . .]

Bishop Dubois of Besançon, France, said that the conception of the populus Dei should be made broad enough to include all those who confess the name of God in any recognisable form; the Gentiles of the New Testament certainly, the Jews, possibly Muslims and Hindus. All in contrast with those who deny the existence and not the word of God.

Report No. 92      22nd October, 1963



Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, said that paragraph 26 was too much weighted in favour of the hierarchy. The laity must not be thought of as sheep under a shepherd. This is now a bad metaphor – in the case of the Good Shepherd it is a different matter. They are condisciplatiFootnote 12 with the hierarchy. Some members of the hierarchy neither seek nor want the collaboration of the laity and, when it is offered, give the impression that accepting it is something of a privilege for those who have offered to help. We must remember that the laity not only have a call and an invitation but also a right to share in the mission of the Church. This does not mean a share in the mission of the hierarchy, which must always be distinguished from the work of the laity.

[. . .]

Bishop Schröffer of Eichstätt, Germany, considered the people of God were not primarily a sacramental but a prophetic community. It was a mistake to speak of obedience in reference only to the laity. Were not the clergy also under obedience? It would be better to speak of the hierarchy ‘and the rest of the people of God’ rather than always opposing hierarchy and laity. The hierarchy was part of the people of God.

[. . .]

Bishop De Smedt of Bruges, said the doctrine of the universal priesthood was defective and should be amplified. Laity were called to lead a life of priesthood of Christ. They were under an obligation to lead a consecrated life . . . a living sacrifice. This sacrifice was at its height in the historic sacrifice of Christ.

[. . .]


[. . .]

Cardinal Meyer, Archbishop of Chicago, said, although baptism incorporated us into the Church, with all its privileges, we must not lose sight of the fact that the Church was a body of sinners. The mass was indeed offered, and pardon daily placed pro omnibus peccatis, erroribus et negligentiis nostris.Footnote 13

He proposed an amendment corresponding almost exactly to one of the proposals in the comment of the Anglican Observers. (We later discovered he had been put up to it by the Secretariat, so that this represents a real immediate impact of the Observers on the Council).

Cardinal Ottaviani complained about certain periti who were distributing leaflets to the fathers trying to persuade them in favour of celibate deacons. They were acting ultra vires.

He proposed that the new situation for which the new type of deacon was proposed could be equally well filled by the office of acolyte.


We had this distinguished cardinal (the youngest of the lot, aged 48) together with Prof. Cullmann. In the course of dinner we asked him what he thought would be the distinctive results of the Council. He said we must prepare our people not to be disappointed with the absence of spectacular results, and on the other hand to appreciate the value of the ‘new theological’ outlook of the Schemata. It is not easy for those outside the Roman Catholic Church to appreciate at what cost this new outlook has been achieved. It dominates all the Schemata. To assess it we must compare the present Schemata with the originals. He also said that if, as he hoped, there are no further Marian definitions, this should be appreciated as a positive achievement. He also hoped that the new permission to discuss and to pray together would make a tangible impression on the people. Even if they were unable to make changes in the mixed marriages legislation, he hoped there would be some organisation through which hard cases or mistakes could be rectified and regulated.


Archbishop Heenan told us that the Council was costing £20,000 [sic] per hour, and that therefore a ten minute speech cost £300, £30 a minute. Even Toronto can't touch this.Footnote 14

[. . .]


Everyone is very anxious to know when the next session will begin, not least the Anglican Observers. There is now an impatience to get the Council over, and a general inclination to finish it in one more session which, it is hoped, will defer a lot of administrative decisions to post-conciliar commissions. I am not certain that these hopes will be realised. I think the most likely date for resumption will again be September.


Cardinal Suenens, Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, said that we too easily lost sight of the fact that charisms still existed in the Church. Recognition of this fact was important for any well-balanced view of the Church. Such charisms were not mere peripheral phenomena nor accidental appendages to the Church but part of its nature. We must avoid giving the impression that the Church is no more than an administrative machine completely cut off from the influence of the spirit of God. This was the age of the Holy Spirit, who was given not only to pastors but to all members of the Church [. . .]. Any treatment of the Church which took up bishops and the hierarchy while saying nothing of the gifts of the Holy Spirit would be defective. It was a fact of history that some members of the laity had at times awakened a sleeping church lest the teachings of the Gospel were lost sight of. Charisms without a hierarchical direction would be a source of disorder, but a government of the Church which ignored charisms would be poor and sterile. The chapter should be revised with more emphasis on the freedom of the children of God in the Church. To show the world that we practised what we preached, we should provide for an increase in the number of lay-auditors with the representation on a broader international basis, the admission of women among the auditors, since women constituted one half of the population of the world, and representation likewise from the great congregations of brothers and sisters who contribute so signally to the apostolic work of the Church.

Bishop Ruotolo of Ugento, Italy, suggested there should be a separate Schema on the laity. More space should be given to the place of confirmation, which should be made more effectively the ‘ordination of the laity’. The present emphasis on the laity should not be regarded as a novelty, but as an age-old tradition of the Church, starting from the Scriptures. The talents and experience of the laity should be used at every level of Church life, theological, administrative. There should be training colleges for laity.

[. . .]

Report No. 93      23rd October, 1963



Professor Müller of Louvain, gave an introduction to the part of the Schema which concerns the laity. The priesthood of the laity. Is it only metaphoric, by transfer of the language used of the real (!) priesthood, which is the ministerial or sacramental priesthood.

Note how the Sensus FideiFootnote 15 is extended to the whole body, as is also infallibility. The charismata of the laity is therefore very much extended from what has been supposed in previous Roman Catholic pronouncements [. . .]. This, it is hoped, will have great ecumenical importance as offering a field for future dialogue. Many people think these notes should have been included in the text.

In this Schema the laity are not defined but described negatively, as being neither clergy nor laity. There are significant emendations proposed (page 10 and 11 of the second volume of emendations) which make an attempt at real theological definition.

[. . .]

Dr. Steere (Quaker), said that the Schema should be careful of being guilty of ‘abolishing the layman altogether’ by merely extending to him metaphorically the language of the priesthood.

Note the habit of the Holy Spirit of speaking through the laity (Benedict, Francis, S. Catherine of Siena etc.)

Some references to what Tillich calls the ‘latent church’ of do-gooders who fear to be saved alone).

Professor Mathew (Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar, India), said the hierarchy of the Roman Church seemed to be shy of using laypeople for the purpose of preaching.

Professor Berkouwer, of The Free Protestant University of Amsterdam, asked for further clarification of the concept of obedience, as distinct from submission on the part of the laity.

Dr. Horton (Congregationalist), considered the Schema ought to give guidance to the laity perplexed by the apparent impossibility of ministering truthfully to Christ in the Hall.

Pastor Roux (French Reformed Church) said a new conception of hierarchy could be a great help to large sections of Protestantism, especially where it suffers from a caricature of the conception of the universal priesthood of the laity.

Mgr. Willebrands said he would be glad if all could agree that the word ‘hierarchy’ could be taken to mean ‘holy order in the whole Church of God’. Then there can be various degrees of office within the order.

Revd. El-Moharaky (Coptic Church of Egypt), reminded the meeting that when the Apostles wanted to replace Judas, the general laity chose two, from whom they appointed. Likewise at the appointment of the 70 it was the multitude who acted as C.A.C.T.M. before the Apostles laid hands on them. This principle is carefully preserved in the Coptic Church in the selection of bishops, priests and deacons.

Professor Schlink (Evangelical Church in Germany), referring to Cardinal Suenens[’] speech in the Council, said that the Church is founded not only on the Apostles but on the prophets. They had the imposition of the hands, though they did not belong to the hierarchy. This charismatic function is essential to the Church. These two functions must be reconciled in all the churches.

[. . .]


Bishops have been complaining (and so have the Observers) that progress is now very slow. Last Wednesday (23rd) the four moderators had a meeting (it is said) with the thirteen presidents to decide (a) who was really in charge, and (b) how to accelerate procedure. As a result of that the moderators have been throwing more weight about and things are moving more swiftly.


The first thing the moderators (particularly Cardinal Döpfner) have done is to get the Council to make up their mind whether to have the constitution on the B.V.M. as a separate Schema or whether to include it in de Ecclesia.

The cardinal arranged for two speakers (one on each side) to address the assembly on Thursday. They were Cardinal Santos of Manila (conservative) and Cardinal König of Vienna (liberal). The speech of the former was very thoroughgoing. While admitting that the B.V.M. was of course a member of the Church Triumphant, he claimed that the nature of her membership was so different (because of her pristine sinlessness through the Immaculate Conception) that to include her doctrine in a Schema on the Church would be misleading. She related more naturally to Christology and to Soteriology than to Ecclesiology! In any case who knew whether new doctrines were going to be revealed through the Council about her.

Cardinal König started by saying that Mariology had had a big impetus in the past century and had been the occasion of much zeal in the Church. The Church was to be the main theme of this Council and it was not fitting that the B.V.M. should be absent from it if she was the ‘crown and example of the Christian’. Mariology should not too readily be allowed to become a separate department of theology, lest it lead to exaggerations. The Council has already said clearly that it did not want new doctrines about the B.V.M., which would be the only excuse for a separate Schema. It was necessary for the clear conception of Christ as the only Mediator that the B.V.M. should be confined to de Ecclesia. There was a sense in which we were all ‘mediators of grace’ when we fulfilled our Christian membership. In that sense only the B.V.M. was Mediatrix gratiae.Footnote 16 The biblical references to the B.V.M. all related her to the Church, and in that context let her be proclaimed to the world.

There is no doubt that this vote, the result of which you may have read by the time you get this, will be one of the turning points of the Council. The ‘conservatives’ are working very hard to win it, and if they lose it will be a considerable defeat. It will demonstrate the power of the Council, it will represent a slight criticism in retrospect of the last two Mariological doctrines, it will show the kind of way in which we may hope for future developments. In fact, it will be the kind of fruit which we could hope for. If, on the other hand, the issue is lost to the reformers, there need be no great despondency. It will only show that the time is not yet, but that the number is growing of those who are working for better things.

[. . .]


Two prelates from the other side of the Iron Curtain (Poland and Czechoslovakia) made impassioned speeches on Friday, 25th OctoberFootnote 17 about the restrictions they are suffering. They were brought into the discussion on the nature of the Church in the hope that the language concerning the right and duty of the laity could be made more vivid.

That started me wondering about the question of religious liberty in general. While the Romans are thinking about it they might start at home and consider the cases of Italian Protestants who find it impossible to get permission to erect new buildings and of ex-priests in Italy who are victimised. The last Lateran treaty contains some very cruel clauses. And of course there is the whole question of Spain. We must try to let the Romans here see that we regard all these questions as related.

Report No. 94      25th October, 1963



His Beatitude Paul II, Chaldaean Patriarch of Babylon, said the Council should avoid becoming involved in controversial questions such as the universal priesthood of the faithful. In any case, if it were not to be taken up, it should be very clearly explained lest it opened the door to interference by the laity in things which properly belonged to the Hierarchy. This question would be understood only with difficulty by the Oriental churches, for which there was only one priesthood, namely the one shared in by those who had received Holy Orders. The laity had the mission to preach the Gospel, not as sharers in the priesthood, but as witnesses to divine truth. The non-Catholic observers were present at the Council daily, assisted reverently at Mass each morning, and gave evidence of their good will and patience. It would be well to give them an opportunity to be heard at least once a week, either in the Council hall or elsewhere.

[. . .]

Bishop Przyklenk of Januaria, Brazil, wondered if a non-theological definition of the layman should be part of a dogmatic constitution. That the definition should be negative should not be surprising. There were only two classes among the members of the Church, and at times one could be described only in contrast with the other. In this dogmatic text doctrinal ideas were intermingled with disciplinary and pastoral considerations. Either the text should be purified of these non-dogmatic elements or the constitution could not be called ‘dogmatic’. After the example of some other Councils the content of the constitution could be presented as ‘the doctrine’ on the Church.

Bishop D'Agostino of Vallo di Lucania, Italy, thought it would be more logical if the content of this chapter were presented as follows: Christ was the Head of the Mystical Body. All the baptised were incorporated into Him, therefore they all enjoyed equality, all shared in the priesthood of Christ and were all called to sanctity. The schema was inadequate on this last point. It should stress more insistently the holiness of priests, the obligation of all the faithful to pursue sanctity and the relationship of the evangelical councils to Christian life.

Bishop Moralejo, Auxiliary of Valencia, said that since most men, whether within or outside the Church, knew the Church only from its externals, our mode of presenting this schema should be in keeping with present day thinking. As it stood, it was not [. . .]

[. . .]

Bishop Arneric of Šibenik, Yugoslavia, considered the doctrine on the priesthood of the laity was of the utmost importance for areas where the Church could not function and where its Catholic action organizations were not permitted to carry on their work of deepening Christian life both within and outside the family circle. In many localities it was engaged in a struggle, not merely against atheism but actually against anti-theism, if the term could be used. In protecting the freedom of the Church's spiritual activity the laity would draw great inspiration and courage from realising their dignity in the Church and being conscious of what they could do to carry on the mission of Christ.

[. . .]

Bishop Primeau of Manchester, U. S. A., said the laity were not to be regarded as silent and passive sheep. They recognized in the Church not just a dry complex of laws, but a living body which was constantly growing and therefore subject to change. We needed a genuine dialogue between the Hierarchy and the laity, so that the latter might have a greater share in the life of the Church. It had been proven by experience that in many fields members of the laity were much more competent than the clergy or the Hierarchy. They had a genuine love for the Church and were animated with the spirit of reverence for their superiors in the Church. They wanted to do their part. Unless the Council determined the respective roles of liberty in the laity and authority in the Hierarchy there would be greater danger that dedicated laymen might lose interest in the mission of the Church, give in to discouragement and even eventually fall away. The obligations of the Hierarchy in this respect had particular importance when dealing with intellectuals in the Church, since it was necessary to acknowledge their right to freedom of interrogation and to intellectual initiative. Our text was too negative and too clerical. It might be said to sum up the duty of the laity as being: believe, pray, obey and pay. In their mission the laity should not be regarded as mere delegates of the Hierarchy, but as having their own proper part in the mission of the Church. We should put these principles into practice by giving our lay auditors an opportunity to be heard in the Council.

Bishop Scandar of Assiut, Egypt, asked that in any discussion of the mission of the Church special attention be paid to the importance of Catholic schools. Such schools were essential for the proper training of youth in the understanding and practice of their faith.

[. . .]

Report No. 95      25th October, 1963



Continuing the discussion on De Ecclesia:

Cardinal Siri, Archbishop of Genoa, said that there was a danger about the text which concerned the subjection of the laity to the hierarchy. The separation of the chapter gave the impression that the laity were something apart from the Church. The analogical use of the idea of the universal priesthood of the laity was excessive.

The Church must always proceed with the greatest caution in the handling of the charismata, because of the danger of excesses, illusions and deception. But they must all be carefully kept under the authority of the Church.

Fr. Fernández, Minister General of Dominicans, spoke in favour of the unification and hierarchical control of the lay associates. They should be more adventurous, not sitting back and bemoaning what is going on in the world. What the world is misusing let Christians commend by its good use. There is too much canalisation of Catholic social work into ‘charitable’ work. The best ‘social’ work is for men to be exemplary citizens, industrialists, businessmen, politicians etc.

Bishop Cantero of Huelva, Spain, on the next sensus fidelium.Footnote 18 This was to be found in the whole Church and was an instinct both positive and negative. Sometimes the sensus fidei flourished in the people before it did in the hierarchy, and as such was in a certain way a fluid source of revelation. The history of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was a case in point.

Bishop Tracy, Baton Rouge, U. S. A., asked that the text which made race discrimination unthinkable for Christians should be even more clearly stated. He wanted a plain dogmatic definition (cheers).

[. . .]

Archbishop Hakin, Maronite of Nazareth said the Schema was made by bishops etc. who lived in places where the Church was still regnans. It should be acknowledged that the Catholic Church was really a very small minority. The whole Schema was still too pompous. How did the Fathers dare speak so disparagingly of women and the wives of the clergy? What about the east and the separated brethren? In many ways the woman was not sufficiently honoured, and in many ways parts of Christendom.

It was then decided by unanimous vote to discontinue discussion of Chapter III.

It was decided to take a vote next week on the issue of whether the Schema de B.V.M. should be an independent schema or should be contained with de Ecclesia.

[. . .]


[. . .]

It was announced that a vote would then be taken on the question whether the Schema de B.V.M. should be included in the Schema de Ecclesia or stand by itself.

Notice was given that on the following day, by order of the Moderators, the five following general questions would be voted on, to accelerate the procedure. In each case the question was phrased, ‘Should the Schema, in the opinion of the fathers, be arranged so as to teach that . . .’

  1. 1. The bishops embody the fullness of the priesthood.

  2. 2. The bishops are a college in communion with the Pope, their head.

  3. 3. The bishops acting in cooperation with the Pope, exercise full authority in the Church.

  4. 4. The bishops ought not to act apart from the Pope.

  5. 5. The institution of an order of permanent deacons is compatible with the teaching and order of the Church.

During the morning there was a general desultory discussion on Chapter IV, de Vocatione ad Sanctitatem in Ecclesia.Footnote 19

We had already made representations concerning this section in our observations on the Schema. The congregation emptied itself into the bars for long periods of this discussion, and we had some profitable discussions. We were able to show our general attitude to the question, as follows:

  1. a) We are also concerned in the religious life, which is highly prized in the Anglican Church.

  2. b) We don't use the expression ‘vocation to sanctity’ solely concerning the religious life, because it is more aptly applied to the disciplining of every Christian.

  3. c) We would hesitate to describe the religious life in terms of sacrifice. In comparison with the hardships of the secular priesthood in some areas it could be (and in the Roman Catholic Church is) a soft option.

Cardinal Döpfner, Archbishop of Munich, said the chapter should be rewritten along the lines of the following principles: a distinction would be made between the general means of sanctification and the special means provided by the Counsels, as also between the holiness conferred in baptism and the personal holiness which is a development of it. The description of holiness should pay more attention to the primacy of grace. There should also be a description of the theological concept and role of the Counsels and of the state in which they are professed, explaining these elements in a Christological, soteriological, eschatological and ecclesiological sense. Scripture texts should be used with greater caution and the chapter should be cleared of repetition and some superfluous elements.

[. . .]

Report No. 96      31st October, 1963



[. . .]

The de Ecclesia still needed so much revision that it could not be adequately treated in this Council.

Canon Pawley, Church of England, said that in his opinion the Schema de Ecclesia and its discussion had shown how much the churches were in need of one another in the matter of church order, among other things. They were all to some extent caricaturing of what church order should be (and that is what hierarchy really meant). They had all been distorted to some extent, or were defective, because of accidents of history. The Roman Catholic distinction between ecclesia discens and ecclesia docensFootnote 20 was outrageous, and we therefore rejoiced to see the Roman brethren struggling free from that power and trying to find a place for the laity. The Church of England was trying to solve that problem as well, though of course for centuries the laity had had their place. The Church of England in England was perhaps too closely allied with the state, though not in other countries. In Protestant churches in practice the laity were often as tyrannical as the Roman hierarchy and the ministers were therefore ‘stooges’. In other cases churches were at the mercy of their theological faculties which was worse still (laughter), etc. etc. He hoped that all churches could feel their way back to a catholic church order together.

Archpriest Borovoj, Orthodox Church of Georgia, said that the question of the relation of hierarchy and lay people was well preserved among the Orthodox. [. . .]

The experience of Russian Christians underlined the importance of the laity in the life of the Church. When, for example, Roman Catholic Poland invaded the Ukraine and tried to convert the Orthodox population by force (said with a good gesture, and kindly accepted), some of the hierarchy defected, others converted in order to curry favour, but it was the lay people who put up the real resistance. Likewise, in the Russian revolution, many of the hierarchy were executed for civil crimes, some defected to the west, but it was in the laity that the whole body recovered the life which it now is able to live, under the most dangerous circumstances.

[. . .]


Discussion was continued on Chapter IV of the Schema de Ecclesia.

Cardinal Léger, Archbishop of Montreal, said:

  1. 1) Sanctity must not be represented in such a way as to appear unattainable by the laity.

  2. 2) We must therefore see that the ‘evangelical counsels’ are always carefully explained with that end in view.

  3. 3) Very great care must be taken to work out a theology of the sanctity of the laity applicable to all.

  4. 4) All sanctity must be carefully linked to the baptismal profession.

Cardinal Urbani, Patriarch of Venice, said that in commending the sanctity of the Church we must insist that the Church Militant was but a small part of the whole, and emphasise the intimate connection with the Triumphant and Expectant.

Cardinal Cento, Major Penitentiary, said the process of solemn canonisation resulted in the elevation of a large proportion of clergy and religious. This was liable to give a wrong impression. Efforts should be made to enrol a larger proportion of lay saints.

Cardinal Bea considered the Schema was not realistic enough. The Church was, and should be shown to be, a body of sinners. If it had not been the Reformation of the 16th century would not have been necessary! The whole Church, therefore, consisted of the perfected saints and those in the world who were being perfected. The scriptural quotations were not good enough. Very often mistakes were made in the applications of texts meant for the Apostles which were applied to all Christians. There were many texts in the New Testament, almost 20 in St. Paul alone, which were omitted but which could be used to present the entire doctrine of authority. Unfortunately no reference had been made to primitive tradition and this was a lacuna of great importance because any dialogue with our separated brethren on this question must be based on scripture and early tradition.

At the end of the session a motion for the closure of the debate was passed almost nem-con.

[. . .]


Still on Chapter IV of the Schema de Ecclesia.

Although at the end of the previous congregation a motion closing the debate had been passed, the ruling of procedure required that the list of speeches should be completed. The Council endured this with ill-disguised impatience, and the day's president, Cardinal Döpfner, ruled many fathers out of order for repetitio rerum quae iam longe tractate sunt.Footnote 21

[. . .]

Report No. 97      7th November, 1963



The introduction to the Schema de Episcopis et DiocesisFootnote 22 was read by Cardinal Marella and the Bishop of Segni. These speeches seemed preoccupied with a desire to show how ready the Curia was to be reformed and not to stand in the way of the bishops. ‘Qui s'excuse s'accuse?’Footnote 23

[. . .]

Bishop Rupp of Monaco said the very important question of an obligatory retirement age for members of the hierarchy was touched upon and then left hanging in the air [. . .]

[. . .]


On the 4th Chapter of de Ecclesia, de vocatione ad sanctitatem in Ecclesia.

Introduction by Pere Lalande, Superior General of the Holy Cross Fathers.

This proved to be a most unprofitable beginning. To start with, the Observers were unprepared to discuss a Schema which they supposed had been ‘shelved’ for further editing. In any case, there had always seemed (to me at least) to be such a gap in thinking and even in terminology between ourselves (a fortiori the Protestants) and the Roman Catholic Church on this whole matter that it was difficult to know where to begin our work as pontifices. Presumably we should wish to demolish the whole scholastic moral theology and to start again in the general spirit of Anglican moralists (Kirk, Mortimer, etc.) to work out the proper relations between revelation and natural ethics. When the Roman Church said that of course all sanctity must be founded on the evangelical counsels they were in a world of discourse so different that it was difficult to comment.

The speakers eventually got down to saying that the foundations of the religious life as stated in the Schema should be more certainly illustrated by the Scriptures, as they easily could be.

Professor McAfee Brown, United Presbyterian Church, U. S. A., was grateful for the point that holiness was an aim for all, which ecumenically was most acceptable. Then a caveat about the absence of conception of justification, growth in sanctity by the redeemed sinner. Simul justus et peccator.Footnote 24 What Roman Catholic objection was there to this doctrine? If none, why should it not be better represented in the Schema? Emphasis should be laid on the fact that sanctity was first and last a gift.

Professor Skydsgaard, Lutheran, Denmark, said the chapter lacked Christological and biblical foundation. It lacked the ‘radicalism’ of the Kingdom of God. It was too moralistic and there were dangers of phariseeism, especially in the eyes of the world. [. . .]

Immense opportunities were given to the Roman Church to go out into the world with the message of the Kingdom of God. The very title of the chapter was wrong. It made of sanctity something to be achieved in the future. Sanctity was much more than that, it was something which we were now by a vocation.

He then went on to a rather narrow exposition of sola fideFootnote 25 which was slightly disappointing.

Mgr. Höfer intervened to say that the Roman Church had no general objection to Professor Skydsgaard's doctrine. They had the reality of which he spoke in their spirituality. But the foundation of it was proving difficult! They had been glad of Lutheran help. Much of their difficulty was a legacy of the middle ages. The lives of the saints as understood by the Roman Church surely put the matter of grace beyond doubt. Mgr. Höfer said that bad biographies of saints had led to much confusion.

Fr. Ahern, Passionist, asked that we should look at the rule of St. Benedict, of St. Bernard, the works of St. John of the cross and St. Theresa of Avila, which abound in the spirit of which complaint had been made. Historically it was Pietism, Quietism, Madame de Guyon, Fénelon, Bousset, etc. which started the rot. Since Abbot Marmion there had been a turn back to the right lines.

Mgr. Willebrands said that as long as the Roman Church persisted in speaking of a system of sanctity it was bound to fail in its task of explaining the true nature of redemption and sanctification.

[. . .]

Report No. 98      8th November, 1963



Schema de Episcopis et Diocesis.

Cardinal Ruffini said some of the arguments of the day before would turn the Schema inside out. Most of them were invalid. The granting of juridical authority to episcopal conferences would lead to dangerous divergences and must certainly injure and diminish the authority of the Pope.

The solution was to divide episcopal faculties into two careful categories, one of which could easily and rightly be administered by single bishops (dispensation) and the other [of] which would contain those things which could only be handled by papal authority.

Cardinal König, Archbishop of Vienna, suggested that, because of the importance of keeping channels of communication open between the centre and the periphery (i.e. between the Pope and the bishops), it would be helpful to mention explicitly the annual, or at least semi-annual, convocation of the Chairmen of the National Episcopal Conferences, and other members of the hierarchy for meetings in Rome. This would be important also in maintaining relationships between missionary countries and the rest of the Church.

Cardinal Alfrink, Archbishop of Utrecht, considered there should be much more detailed treatment of the new theme of the collegiality of the bishops, and of the relation of the college with the Pope. It was frequently said that the organization of National Episcopal Conferences would be an expression of the collegiality of the episcopate, and that this would be even more true of the institution of one central organ in Rome to assist the Sovereign Pontiff on the government of the Church. But such an organ, whether composed of cardinals in charge of dioceses or otherwise, did not reflect the collegiality of the bishops nor would it be a parliamentary expression of their authority. The Council should also accept the Pope's invitation to offer suggestions about the new central body. The function of the Curia was not to stand between the Pope and the bishops. Whoever said the Curia Romana existed iure divina?Footnote 26 The Curia should be the administrative organisation of the corpus episcoporum!!Footnote 27 Many more facultates could with safety be entrusted to episcopal conferences. (Sustained applause!)

Cardinal Bea said the principles of ecclesiastical organization should be drawn together from revelation, and this was much more important than just grouping together certain practical applications. According to St. Paul the Church was a spirit of each member, but always in close union with the others. Thus there was no danger of schism but everything contributed to mutual concern for one another. In the history of the Church, and as the result of particular circumstances, many institutions had grown up; the Patriarchates, the erection of ecclesiastical provinces, the Roman Curia, among others. The role of authority was not to replace individual members in what they could do by themselves, but only to supply what they could not provide. This was true of any authority, but particularly of authority in the Church, and was particularly applicable to those special members of the Mystical Body who were the bishops, brought to Rome to work with the Pope in the way determined by him. This would have ecumenical importance because the traditional accusations of lust for power, ecclesiastical imperialism, curialism and centralization could not only be answered with words. The most effective reply was in a spirit of profound reverence for individual bishops.

[. . .]

Archbishop Gomes dos Santos of Goiania, Brazil, said the schema lacked general perspective, was out of harmony with the dogmatic teaching of the schema on the Church, favoured the position of those who regarded the hierarchy as strictly juridical, and pushed into appendices some matter of crucial importance. It needed to be completely redone and should be integrated with the schema on the cure of souls. More stress should be placed on the spiritual figure of the bishop and on the practical consequences of collegiality. The Roman Curia should have only consultative and executive powers. The National Conferences should have sufficiently wide authority to meet their needs without prejudice to the primatial rights of the Pope.

[. . .]

Report No. 99      11th November, 1963



The debate was continued on Chapter I of the Schema on Bishops and the government of dioceses.

His Beatitude Ignace Pierre XVI Batanian, Armenian Patriarch of Cilicia, said that from the first Vatican Council it was known that the Pope had the fullness of jurisdiction, that his power came directly from God and was not subject to limitation by any human authority, and consequently he had the right to organize the Curia as he wished [. . .]. Every human institution had its weakness and we should try to correct them wisely and prudently. This did not mean publishing them and bringing them to the attention of everyone with the risk of scandalizing or shocking souls. It was not right to forget all the services rendered by the Curia and to concentrate only on its weak points.

Archbishop McCann of Cape Town considered that, in addition to the appointment of bishops from dioceses to the Roman Curia, it was essential that a consultative body be set up to represent the episcopate of the entire world. This organ would have periodic meetings in Rome with the Pope and the chief Curia officials for the discussion of all business concerning the universal Church. In order to prevent undue prolongation of the Council, this body of bishops could be empowered by the Council to decide certain detailed points. It would also have an important informative function for the Holy Father and his aides.


It will be readily understood that with Maximos IV the ‘temperature’ of the Council was already beginning to rise.Footnote 28 Today it went up many degrees. The first inflammatory was provided by:

Cardinal Frings of Cologne, who is a man of great calm and dignity who commands the highest respect. Perhaps the cold Germanic manner, which was exceedingly courteous, added to the provocation. He said remarks recently made in the Council to the effect that the collegiality of the bishops had not been approved by the Council because the Fathers must wait for a definitive response from the Theological Commission were indeed amazing. They seemed to insinuate that this had at its disposal sources of truth unknown to other Council Fathers. Such observations also appear to lose sight of the fact that the Commissions were to function only as tools of the General Congregations and were to execute the will of the Council Fathers. The distinction between administrative and judicial procedures in the Roman Curia should be extended everywhere and include the supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office. Its procedures were out of harmony with modern times, were a source of harm to the faithful and of scandal to those outside the Church. No Roman Congregation should have the authority to accuse, judge and condemn an individual who had no opportunity to defend himself. With all due reverence and gratitude for the devoted individuals who spend their lives in the difficult work of the Holy Office he felt that its methods should be basically revised. It would be advisable to diminish substantially the number of bishops working in Curial Offices. No one should be consecrated bishop just in order to honour him or the office he held. If a man were consecrated bishop, then he should be bishop and nothing else. No one was ever ordained to the priesthood as a mark of honour or gratitude. Not a few of the tasks of the Roman Curia could be performed by laymen. Consequently, efforts should be made to use bishops, fewer priests and more laymen.

Cardinal Fring's speech had evidently proved to be too much for:

Cardinal Ottaviani, Secretary of the Holy Office who spoke with great vehemence in impromptu Latin, beginning ‘altissime protestor’,Footnote 29 so that the saying ran through the Council that Ottaviani had joined the Protestants. He said the opportunity must be taken to protest most vigorously against the condemnation of the Holy Office voiced in the Council hall. It should not be forgotten that the Prefect of the Holy Office was none other than the Sovereign Pontiff himself. The criticisms formulated proceeded from lack of knowledge, not to use a stronger term, of the procedures of this Sacred Congregation. No one was ever accused, judged, and condemned without a thorough previous investigation carried out with the help of competent consultors and experienced specialists. Besides, all decisions of the Holy Office were approved by the Pope personally, and such criticisms were a reflection on the Vicar of Christ. The five points recently submitted for the approval of the Council Fathers were drawn up by the Council Moderators. They should have been submitted to the Theological Commission for careful study, and the Commission would have been able to perfect certain expressions and eliminate certain obscurities. Those who proposed the collegiality of the bishops proceeded in a vicious circle, since they presumed that the Apostles existed and acted as a collegial body. From the collegial character of the Apostolic College they deduced the collegial character of the body of bishops. But even learned and experienced professors of Sacred Scripture would admit that these theses had no solid foundation in the Sacred Books. Defending collegiality entailed some limitation of at least the exercise of the Universal Primacy of the Roman pontiff. The fact was that Peter only had responsibility for the whole flock of Christ. It was not the sheep who led Peter, but Peter who guided the sheep.

This whole episode reflects the biggest clash of personalities and tendencies which we have seen in the Council. It was the bishops versus the Curia in a big way. We found ourselves, as always, metaphorically cheering the liberals. It seems to us most important that the Council should be made to prevail over (a) the Curia, (b) its own Commissions who, on the Council's own procedural rules, are there to do its will, not to be the big stick with which to beat it, and (c) the Code of Canon Law, which some people have the temerity to quote against the Council, forgetting that the Law exists for the Church, and not vice versa. For, unless the Council can swallow these three smaller fish, how can it hope to nibble at the Pope.

Cardinal Browne said no objection could be raised on theological grounds against the proposal to bring bishops to Rome to assist the Holy Father, but the Congregations constituted the Curia and the Curia belonged to the Pope [. . .]. If collegiality conferred on all bishops a right to co-government with the Pope, then he in turn had an obligation to recognize this right. This would inevitably lessen the power of the Pope, who would no longer have full jurisdiction. This would be against the constitution ‘Pastor Aeternus’.Footnote 30 We should be on our guard.

[. . .]


We have been circulated with copies of a new Chapter IV which it is proposed to add to De Ecumenismo. The covering notes say that it is non-political. Its main intentions are to make clear that the Jews are not to be blamed for the death of our Lord, to point out that we enjoy the same common heritage and that the Roman Church is against anti-Semitism in every form. We hide the fact, though the passage is in desuetude. But we do protest strongly against the inclusion of this Chapter in the Schema de Ecclesia [sic]. Our notes say, ‘Although we entirely endorse both the spirit and the letter of the new Chapter IV concerning the Jews we most strongly urge that it be not included in the schema De Ecumenismo. This schema concerns only the internal arrangements, the Ecumene, of the Christian family in which, unfortunately, the Jews have no part. Its inclusion at this point might seriously harm the image of the Roman Catholic conception of ecumenism, suggesting that it was little more than a gesture of benevolence to all men of goodwill.’

Report No. 100      14th November, 1963



This seems to be an occasion to send a respectful greeting to our distinguished readers. The first report was written on the 19th April 1961, in days when ecumenical relations were very different from what they are now. A lot has happened in three years. In those days Cardinals Ottaviani and Tardini were tyrannising the circles and making the life of the new-born Secretariat for Unity very difficult. Now the Secretariat holds its head high in the Council and Cardinal Ottaviani is at bay, a rather pathetic figure trying in vain to stave off the episcopal hounds.

This assignment continues to be very exacting, including many useful peripheral activities which we have no time to chronicle here. But it is exciting beyond description and involves prolonged and intimate contact with an unbelievable variety of people – of whom the members of the observers’ tribunal are among the most interesting.

We should like to take this opportunity of saying that we are very conscious of inadequacies in the literary style etc. of these reports, often from sheer lack of time to correct them. Now that we have a secretary here life is much more satisfactory, but often we have to lay elaborate plans to meet because of the endless engagements. Otherwise notes made rapidly in the Council (from Latin), or at other meetings, have to be left to be transcribed and translated with press bulletins and newspaper reports.


The Council will finish with De Episcopis at the end of this week or the beginning of next (Friday 15th or Monday 18th) and will then go over to De Ecumenismo, which is awaited with considerable anticipation.


The Secretariat, after long trials, have got their material on religious liberty past the Theological Commission, and it is going to be included as a last chapter in De Ecumenismo. This seemed to me to be a very inappropriate place for its inclusion, and that it ought to stand by itself. I should have been tempted to object to its inclusion on the same grounds as we quoted in the case of the Jews. The Secretariat said this was the only way in which the subject could be introduced into the Council – otherwise it would be dismissed as ‘political’. On consultation with the other observers it was decided to raise no objection.

[. . .]


A great French ecumenist, P. Maurice Villain, friend and disciple of Couturier, told me of a dilemma in which the Roman Church now finds itself with regard to its own uniates. These patriarchs make themselves a considerable nuisance in the Council, wishing to be regarded as taking precedence before the cardinals. In a united Church Rome would probably have no objection to this, but what is she to do at the present moment? These patriarchs represent very small communities of ten quite small minorities, yet under Roman ecclesiology they are the rightful successors in the ancient apostolic sees. If they exalt them, they offend the Orthodox, if they disregard them they disturb their own people. But the ‘Liberals’ regard them as most useful because they are so critical of the Roman pretensions.


Chapter II of the Schema on Bishops and the Government of Dioceses.

Cardinal Spellman made a characteristic contribution, saying that not a few indications led them to believe that here were many inexact ideas being set forth on such questions as the collegiality of the bishops of the Church. The theology they all learned in the seminary taught them that the Pope alone had full power over the entire Church. He did not need the help of others. As far as the Roman Curia was concerned it was only an executive organ of the Holy Father. Consequently it was not up to them to try to reform or correct it. They could only offer suggestions and recommendations.

[. . .]

Cardinal Döpfner, Archbishop of Munich, considered the dominant theme of the present schema should be the idea of the bishop as shepherd and head of his diocese. Good order in a diocese called for only one head. Titular bishops in the Church had their own particular dignity and the constitution should put this in a clearer light. By way of answering Cardinal Ottaviani's strictures he observed that the special point proposed on the collegiality of bishops, as submitted for vote some days ago, was formulated in terms which reproduced, if not the actual words, at least the substance of passages drawn from the schema prepared by the Theological Commission. It would be to no purpose now to obscure what was clear in itself.

[. . .]

At the end of the morning's session it was announced that the Council Fathers would be asked to vote the next day on referring Chapter V of the schema on Bishops etc. to the future commission for the revision of Canon Law. This chapter, dealing with the erection of parishes and the determination of parish boundaries appeared to be much too detailed to be discussed on the council floor.

Report No. 101      14th November, 1963



[. . .]

Discussion then continued on Chapter II of the Schema on Bishops, etc. on Coadjutor and Auxiliary Bishops.

Cardinal Suenens, Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, said when the preparatory commission began its deliberations the members were almost unanimously opposed to any obligatory retirement age for bishops. After the matter had been thoroughly discussed at many meetings, the opinion became almost unanimously in favour of such legislation. This was a point which needed to be determined by law, since no one could be expected to be an impartial judge in his own case [. . .]. If it were objected that an obligatory retirement age would be a violation of the quasi-marital bond uniting a bishop with his diocese, they might reply that the Council was full of ‘divorced bishops’, that is bishops who had been transferred from one diocese to another. The supreme law must be salvation of souls. A real precept with binding force was required; a pious exhortation would be next to useless. The decision could not be left in the hands of the bishops themselves, not even of cardinals. Today's needs called for an ability to animate all diocesan activities; the bishop must be the head and the heart of his diocese. This demanded a man's full strength. The accelerated rhythm of modern life called for youthful vigour and a young mind and heart. Old age put a gap between the bishop and the world in which he lived, and also between him and his clergy. In governmental, university, industrial and diplomatic circles a retirement age was mandatory. It was true that the office of bishop was different from a purely human office, but in both cases a man's physical strength remained the same. Consequently the text should make it clear that the obligation extended to all bishops, with the exception of the Roman Pontiff, whose office was perpetual in view of the very welfare of the Church. Retiring bishops should be assured of proper support. The Roman Pontiff would have the power to grant exceptions in individual cases, and the application of this provision to Oriental churches would depend on the special circumstances in which these churches lived and operated. But whatever provision was adopted, it should be a question of law, not a mere recommendation [. . .]

[. . .]

Cardinal McIntyre, Archbishop of Los Angeles, a notorious conservative, said, national episcopal conferences could be accepted if they were on a voluntary basis but were to be deplored if they assumed a strictly juridical character. Authority given to such a body always tended to take on greater expansion. The obligation imposed by national conferences should not be juridical, but voluntary and free. Juridical authority was not necessary to enable a conference to provide for national needs. Wanting to give a national conference juridical character could be interpreted as an attack on the Roman Curia, and thus as an indirect attack on the infallibility of the Pope. This proposal brought clouds to the horizon. No one knew better than the Pope how to provide for the needs of the Church. His natural talents were elevated by supernatural protection which made him the one best qualified to understand problems and find their solutions. Why put strictures on him through the adoption of a juridical character for national conferences? [. . .]

Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, said that there were now some fifty national episcopal conferences in the Church and their number could be expected to grow. They demonstrated the value of organized effort and had made a genuine contribution to the welfare of the Church. The crucial point of this chapter was whether to give these conferences juridical status. It would seem more advisable for the Council not to inject its authority into a question still open to controversy. It was better to allow each national conference to decide for itself the kind of obligation to be imposed on its members, with the approval of the Apostolic See. It would be unwise to impose one iron-clad procedure for all.

Cardinal Ritter, Archbishop of St. Louis, U.S.A., said national conferences were essential for any effective apostolate in the Church. Attributing juridical binding force to the decision of these conferences seemed necessary. They all knew how frequently unanimity was required to achieve a purpose and to provide support for individual bishops, not only in things directly concerned with the salvation of souls, but also with regard to social and moral problems. National conferences with juridical power would promote decentralization because, according to the principle of subsidiarity, when problems were solved on a local level, central authority had no need to intervene. The Council had taught all the bishops the significance of working together for the entire Church and trying to understand the problems of others. National conferences would accomplish this on a small scale. The text was sound and prudent and breathed a universal spirit. It was prudent because it excluded positive moral obligation without intervention by the Holy See. National conferences had nothing contrary to the nature of the episcopate. Thus they did not interpose a new body between the bishops and the Pope.


De Ecumenismo

Introduction by Professor Thils, Louvain, who asked the Observers to consider how revolutionary the conception and the language was from the Roman Catholic point of view, and to be patient with any insufficiency.

There were three possible interpretations of unity:-

  1. 1) Where Peter is, there is the Church,

  2. 2) Where the Eucharist is, there is the Church,

  3. 3) Where the Spirit is, there is the Church.

It was the baptismal community which proclaimed, for better or for worse, what unity there was. Why then did we refuse to give the name of Church to any baptismal body? The terminology of mysticum corpus. Before 1943 this applied to the whole mystical body – since then it has applied to the Roman Church only.

Ecumenism consisted mainly of a reform in the hope that it would make the Church more acceptable to those who might return to it. Was this a reasonable programme?

Professor Cullmann said the Schema was an ecumenical event of the first order, because it was the first time that we had a definitive text from the Roman point of view. We could all accept the biblical foundations of the first chapter. We even began to accept some of the biblical foundations on which Peter rested, but it was the question of the succession. The schisms which have arisen have had as their cause the allowing of charismata to outgrow their proper limits.

The difference between ecclesiae and communitates ought to be tackled, as unsatisfactory. Where was the limit of vestigia beyond which a community was no longer a church? Did not the act of inviting observers constitute the recognition of a church as such? A beginning should be made from the idea of KoinoniaFootnote 31 in the hope of reaching a solution, because the doctrine of the vestigial was likely to lead to bankruptcy.

Pastor Roux, Eglise Reformée de France, said it was not Peter who was the bond of unity in the New Testament. Paul in the Epistles was deliberately discouraging the idea. It was rather the preaching of the gospel and the consequent reception of it which was the bond of faith, and therefore the ‘stuff’ of unity.

Fr. Ahern, Passionist, said that the scripture texts in the Schema should and could be improved upon. The Roman text for baptism should be replaced by the one in Galatians, where the baptised ‘put on Christ’.

Mgr. Mathew, Malankarese, deplored the inclusion of the text concerning the Jews on exactly the same grounds as those set forth in the Anglican observations.


In discussion about this with responsible members of the Secretariat, we get the impression that the text of the Schema as it stands is the result of a long struggle with conservative elements on the Theological Commission, etc. and represents an optimum of what we can expect. We should therefore prepare ourselves and our public not to be disappointed if certain positions at present occupied are heavily attacked and even lost. Some of the texts (e.g. that on permission for corporate prayer) are deliberately vague, in the hope that they will be able to be given a favourable context later.


[. . .]

There was a notable atmosphere of expectation as the Council set about discussing the Schema de Ecumenismo.

[. . .]

Cardinal Tappouni, Syrian Patriarch of Antioch, said there should be a separate chapter concerning the Orientals, because the problems were so different. The chapter on the Jews was quite out of place.

[. . .]

Cardinal Ruffini, Archbishop of Palermo, said it was misleading to use the word ecumenism in two different senses, as in Ecumenical Council and as in the Ecumenical Movement. This latter was introduced by the Protestants some forty years ago. He agreed with Tappouni that the question of relationships with the East was so different from that of the Protestants. He understood there were 511 sects in Australia. With the Eastern they had almost everything in common, but with the Protestants only baptism and the Bible.

They could have done without the first section because it was all in the de Ecclesia. It was often easier to convert a non-Christian than a Protestant. They must remember that many Protestants even support communism, which was death to all religions [. . .]

Cardinal de Arriba y Castro, Archbishop of Tarragona, Spain, said there should be exhortation to the Protestants to stop proselytising. There should be an ecumenical catechism in which people could see both the resemblances and the differences with Protestants. The right to preach to the nations was given only to the one Church, not to all.

Cardinal Bueno y Monreal, Archbishop of Seville, thought this ecumenism was a dangerous equivocation. Both sides were using the term in different senses and even dialogue can give rise to the most dangerous consequences unless it is conducted by expert theologians. The way of Catholic ecumenism should be made clearer, viz. that it is the seeking of a unity which the Catholic Church already possesses by those who don't possess it, and the helping of them by the Church.

Report No. 102      19th November, 1963



Concerning Chapter III (Episcopal Conferences).

Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York, said there were regional conferences already which did a lot of good work. But it would be a mistake to entrust them with juridical power. What about the Papal Delegate? Would he have a veto?

Cardinal Frings, Archbishop of Cologne, said there had been episcopal conferences for a hundred years centred on Fulda. He described its working, especially in good works for Germany after the last war, and for Latin America. Their greatest importance was not in juridical decisions but in the spirit of cooperation. The schema should not tie conferences down to close procedural rules, which should be flexible. [. . .]

Bishop McDevitt, Auxiliary of Philadelphia, said that although he was entirely in favour of episcopal conferences, and even of giving them juridical authority, they must beware of deducing their authority from the collegiality of the bishops. They must not limit the rights of the individual bishop.

Bishop Amadouni, Exarch for the Armenians in Cyprus, said the permanent patriarchal synod of the Oriental Church was clearly the answer to the problems of the West. But in the East, as often as not, these synods were not national or regional but often united bishops of one rite.


The discussion on Chapter III and IV of the Schema de Episcopis dragged its length along. The only significant point which attracted our attention was that of the Patriarch who said, rather airily, that of course the necessary degree of decentralisation had already been achieved centuries ago by the system of patriarchates, which the Eastern churches had preserved.

[. . .]


[. . .]

Report No. 103      20th November 1963



Before the general business of the day Cardinal Bea read the introduction to the Schema de Judaeis. His main preoccupation seemed to be to disclaim any political incentives in the Schema, presumably in order not to give any offence to the Arab world. He also disclaimed any intention to wish to establish diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. We had been informed that the U.S.A. were very keen on this Schema.

It was interesting to note that the Cardinal was having to contradict arguments (which must still be current in the Church) based on the most literal interpretation of the scriptural condemnation of the Jews by Our Lord, arguments which I remember were used by Hitler to justify his ‘solution of the Jewish problem’.

He referred to the wound to some Catholic consciences inflicted by the phenomenon of National Socialism, but omitted any mention of the fact that anti-semitism found a place in Italy as well as in Germany.

Discussion then turned to the Schema de Ecumenismo in general.

Cardinal Léger, Archbishop of Montreal, recalled in several examples the intentions of John XXIII and his present successor for the unity of Christendom. This unity must not be an emotion which will fade. Other communions have a right to some tangible token from us. The remarks about the separated brethren were sketchy and unsatisfactory, but what else could they be? He hoped there wouldn't be lengthy discussion of this.

Cardinal König, Archbishop of Vienna, considered the Schema corresponded to the Pope's intentions for the Council. The different uses of ‘ecumenism’ should at least be mentioned and resolved. Here they were dealing with Catholic ecumenism only. This should be the title of the first chapter. There should be a distinction made between those who have a valid succession and acknowledge all the sacraments, and those who do not. Perhaps they could then refer to ‘communitates ecclesiales’.Footnote 33

Cardinal Rugambwa, Bishop of Bukoba, Tanganyika, said God's revelation of Himself went on outside the Roman Church and they must respect the signs wherever they saw them. They were used to this kind of behaviour in the mission field. They were happy to observe the progress at New Delhi, etc.Footnote 34

His Beatitude Ignatius Peter XVI Batanian, Armenian Patriarch of Silicia, said that as they proceeded in charity they must not lose sight of the truth which was one and indivisible. They must not lose sight of the ultimate goal which was the visible union of all in one faith under one head, the Pope. Unless this was acknowledged as the goal, dialogue was useless. Let the separated brethren see how fortunate they were to have such an infallible source of truth, without which there could be no security. He continued the unbroken succession of those who did not want the Jews to be mentioned in this Schema.

Archbishop Garrone, of Toulouse, said that to forestall error it should be stated at the outset that their ecumenism was based on integral and unshaken faith and on courageous hope. This would make it possible to seek out sincerely mutual understanding, in spite of some disagreements. There were as many elements of ecumenism as there were mysteries of faith. It would be a mistake to see such elements only in some words or some aspects of revealed doctrine, because God's will for unity stood out everywhere in revelation. They had an obligation to practice ecumenical charity, not a vague or soft kind of benevolence, but a genuine charity diffused in their hearts by the Spirit who was given to them [. . .]

Bishop Elchinger, Coadjutor of Strasbourg, said one third of the French Protestants lived in his diocese. For them to be able to approach the Protestants they must undertake a thoroughgoing reformation. They must admit their mistakes in history. The reformers were not rebelling against unity but against false teachers. They should admit that this ecumenical movement was started outside the Roman Church, whereas it should have begun in it. They must put an end to the idea that ‘the faith’ was a dead set of propositions to be learnt by heart, but a living source of truth, continually to be revised and reconsidered. The dangers of uniformity were enormous.

Archbishop de Provenchères of Aix, said the Schema set forth the Church as a mystery and a communion, not merely as a juridical society. It showed the problem of Christian unity in positive terms and did well to distinguish between Christian communities having an episcopal structure coming from the Apostles and those which did not. But there was a serious defect in the text. There were three steps to union: 1) charity, 2) dialogue, 3) the internal renewal of the Church. The text treated the first two adequately but not the third. There should be more emphasis on the interior renewal of the Church through the liturgy, the revamping of some ecclesiastical institutions, and even research into theological doctrine.


De Ecumenismo

Fr. Thijssen said that the schema was a meditation by a Church on itself. Every Church must be true to itself and must hide nothing. The W.C.C. has said that membership does not compromise ecclesiology. Thus if a Church does not regard other churches as churches, it does not need to say so for the sake of union, or even of ecumenical dialogue. Perhaps we ought to seek some other more suitable word.

About the word ‘vestigia’. This means marks of the Church. The word ‘additus’ in the schema is meant to exclude ‘reditus’.Footnote 35

Professor Küppers, Old Catholic, said the Old Catholic Church can talk of the Roman Church as her ‘mother church’ as no other communion can. There ought to be more explicit reference (even on Roman standards) to the sovereign status of the scriptures as a prelude to dialogue. Then there should be a carefully prepared basis for the use of tradition – particularly, of course, that part of it which was common before the respective separations.

[. . .]

Professor Lindbeck, Lutheran, said there are basic conceptual mistakes in approach. The Roman Church is the sole deposit of truth. All other communities are grouped in a quantitative descending scale. A Church which is corrupt and moribund is regarded as more important than one which is overflowing with the Spirit and zeal just because of the historical accident that it happens to have retained the tactual succession of a valid ministry.

Fr. El-Moharaky, Copt, said the schema fails to offer practical steps towards understanding. Catholic catechisms accuse Copts and Alexandrine Orthodox of being Eatychians, Antiochenes in theology, and say that the Copts were left to the mercies of the Moslems because of their heresy. Roman Catholic theologians could prove their sincerity by reading Coptic sources. If there is real sincerity, proselytism and uniatism should cease. These divisions have seriously hindered the mission of the Church to the Moslem world.

Muslims are children of Abraham, but also to a certain extent heirs of the New Testament. They accept Our Lord as prophet and as Word of God; they have a veneration for our Lady and could almost be called a Christian heresy. Therefore if the Jews are mentioned, the Muslims should also be treated. Better to treat them together outside the Schema.

[. . .]

Professor van Holk, International Association for Liberal Christianity, thought that we should all face the fact that there are many who do not believe in credal formulas or in an institutional Church whose place in Christendom must be admitted. Should not the schema find some place for them?

Canon Pawley, Church of England, drew attention to the fact that the Relatio concerning de Ecumenismo mentioned the drawing up of Directories of regulations for the exercise of ecumenism. But this excellent section contained the suggestion that there should be included notes on how to instruct and to receive converts. It said that this work would not in any way be inconsistent with ecumenism. This would not carry conviction. In England at least the inclusion of such instructions at this point would undermine people's confidence in Roman Catholic intentions. The unfortunate speech of Archbishop Heenan had already shown how necessary it was to keep these ideas apart.

[. . .]

Report No. 104      22nd November, 1963



[. . .] when the assembly turned its attention to De Ecumenismo

Cardinal Meyer, Archbishop of Chicago, expressed his pleasure that the chapters on the Jews and on religious liberty were included. He was the first speaker to do so, all others being against.

Cardinal Bacci of the Curia, the Latin expert, deplored the title. It was not for them to alter the sense of a well-established word by making ecumenism now mean something near inter-confessionalism. He therefore proposed ‘The Union of Christians’ as a title.

Bishop Jelmini, Apostolic Administrator of Lugano, said that the whole schema should be written round Christ as the Head of the Church. All who were in Christ by baptism in faith were in the Church, schisms or not. He agreed that the Latin Church needed much renewal [. . .]

Archbishop González of Saragossa, Spain, welcomed the schema warmly because of its positive approach and its omission of the usual warnings and condemnations. He wondered if they could go still further. The separated brethren rejected any idea of ‘return’ because they were convinced that they were in the Church of Christ. On the other hand the Church could not disown herself or her God-given mission. Was any real dialogue possible in these circumstances? Yes, if they were faithful in the service of truth, which did not belong to them but to Christ and the Gospel, and if they were understanding and considerate in their relationships with the separated brethren [. . .]. The question of the Jews should be treated, not here, but in the schema on the presence of the Church in the world.

[. . .]

Archbishop Heenan. The full English text of this speech has already been forwarded. The official Vatican press report showed as follows:-

‘This present schema is welcomed with joy by the English hierarchy because it shows us the mind of the Church and gives us guidance for the future. Without this guidance our ecumenical work can make no progress. Some non-Catholics have turned to Catholics outside Britain in search of ecumenical dialogue. They are free to do so, of course, but the principle should also remain that ecumenical dialogue should take place in the country where the interested parties live. One reason for this is that the dialogue should take place against the background of daily life, and the second reason is the desirability of accustoming all Christians to live with each other. In the ecumenical movement we should have regard for the greatness of our common heritage and should forget past injuries in order to allow charity to be in control and to cast out the spirit of dissension. Union will never be achieved through argument but only through virtuous living. The text should indicate clearly the immediate objective of ecumenism, which is mutual understanding and love amongst those who are united by Baptism but divided by doctrine. Its final aim is the visible union of all Christians in the one Church of Christ. The schema should emphasise both the necessity of ecumenical dialogue and the obligation of the Church of preaching the whole truth. Some suspicious Catholics eye the ecumenical movement with misgivings and would cooperate with other Christians only on the level of charity and sociology. This is not enough. The renewal of the Church requires a true religious dialogue. Genuine interest in the mission of the Church demands that we undertake a fuller and more frequent dialogue with all Christians of whatever denomination.’


We have had considerable difficulty in making a balanced estimate of this speech. Our first reaction was of its insufficiency in comparison with our own hopes and practice in ecumenism. It certainly falls very far short of what it ought to be. But we have to estimate the value of this declaration against the total absence of Roman Catholic ecumenism in Britain only five years ago and also of the present resistance of large sections of the Roman Catholic hierarchy and people.

Many of those here, on whose opinions we rely, think that we ought to be thankful to have got as far as we have. Heenan has made his hierarchy declare unanimously in favour of ecumenism within a few weeks of his accession, and that (we are credibly informed) against considerable pressure. The Unity Secretariat people here, who have not hesitated to be very critical of the English hierarchy and of Heenan when necessary, were relieved at what he said and thought it might have been much worse, considering what he is up against. Abbot Butler of Downside said openly that he had put his name down to speak (in case Heenan said anything dreadful) and withdrew it with relief when he heard the speech. All this on the credit side.

The ‘staging’ of the speech itself was most careful. We were provided in the tribune with copies of the Latin and the English before the speech began. Cardinals, the Apostolic Delegate, came beaming into the box immediately after it had finished, to collect our reactions. I tried to be as generous as I could, saying that it was certainly an improvement on the past, though it still fell a long way behind the spirit of the Secretariat and of northern Europe etc. The speech was delivered with much flourish, and when the Archbishop said that the English hierarchy were behind the Schema, there was a certain amount of clapping, which I interpreted as being at least in part the ironic applause of those who thought this declaration overdue. The point about forgetting past injuries is a feeble echo of what the Pope said and an even feebler echo of what we mean and what real ecumenism requires. The forgetting of past injuries is useless by itself, and even wrong, if theological, pastoral and other consequences of forgiving also are not at the same time worked out to the last letter.

The hope of taking up dialogue in England is one which we should wish to respond to, but is it meant as a hint that we are not expected from that time onwards to treat direct with Rome? In that case, of course, we shall wish to say promptly that, although the Church of England will gladly have dialogue with Westminster now that this is possible, the Anglican Communion as such will continue to treat with Rome direct. Would it not be worth considering immediately giving an inter-provincial character to Dr. Kelly's Theological Committee (i.e. the one which has met at SelwynFootnote 36 and in Assisi, perhaps by co-opting an American or two in the first instance) fairly soon? I imagine that Heenan will want to direct its activities to Westminster at once, and as long as its membership is exclusively English it will be a little difficult to gainsay him. The Roman Catholic sub-committee of C.F.R. will then be the English Committee for this dialogue. Since it now will have to confront the official committee of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, ought it not to be strengthened with a Bishop as its chairman, etc.? Ought we to be prepared for Heenan to move fast after he gets home? I wonder whether the Archbishop of Canterbury will increasingly have to be careful to distinguish between anything he does or says towards the Roman Catholic hierarchy in England (which perhaps he might do as often as possible through the episcopal chairman of the R.C. Church) and what he says or does in his capacity (whatever that exactly is) in the Anglican Communion? Out here we have continually to uphold the distinction between these two functions.

There are, to my mind, several other points under this head. We hope that the official entry of the Roman hierarchy into the arena isn't meant to shackle the activities of the Roman Catholic religious orders, who have so far been almost the only people who have had anything to say to us. Further, even the English (as distinct from the Anglican) Committee must feel free to talk to the French, Belgian, German etc. Catholics in so far as they represent a spirit which is not to be found in official R.C. circles in England.

Report No. 105      22nd November, 1963



[. . .]

After several speakers had carried on the discussion on ecumenism in general, the Cardinal Moderator informed the assembly that a standing vote on this point would be taken. The Fathers were overwhelmingly in favour of closing the preliminary debate and passing on to Chapter I. Before opening discussion on Chapter I of the Schema the assembly voted overall approval of the schema independently of Chapters IV and V.

At a later date separate votes will be taken on the overall approval of Chapter IV, on the relationship of Catholics with Jews, and of Chapter V on religious liberty.

Bishop Flores Martin of Barbastro, Spain, said this schema led us into the path of ecumenism which was so dear to Pope John XXIII. This topic must be treated in order to prepare the way of the Lord for cooperation among all men of goodwill. The text should tighten up the logical connection between various parts and should clarify the foundation of ecumenism in the unity of God considered as Creator, Father and Preserver. They shared with their separated Christian brethren in the indelible sacramental character and in spiritual participation in the priesthood of Christ [. . .]. The widest possible latitude should be allowed for participation in non-Catholic religious services in order to avoid the struggles which are all too common among those who should be living together in peace.

Archbishop Florit of Florence considered it unacceptable to say that the Church was built on the foundation of the Apostles and the prophets. This expression gave rise to difficulties and the Council should not leave itself open to the accusation of not knowing its exegesis. It was too optimistic to say that certain elements which were common to the separated brethren and the Roman Catholics were a manifestation of unity. Rather they emphasised division. Prayers said by them and the separated brethren for unity were only externally the same, for they were basically different because of the internal personal intentions of each one. The text had high praise for the separated brethren, but not all of them deserved this praise in the same degree. The treatment of the Jews would be more appropriate in the Schema on the Church. The chapter on religious liberty would be better off in the forthcoming schema on the presence of the Church in the world, since it pertained more to the affirmation of human rights than to ecumenism. When they said that every man had a natural right to the profession and exercise of religion according to his conscience, did they mean to imply that this involved a natural right to diffuse a false religion? Diffusing a false religion was basically wrong, and no one could claim the right to do wrong; all error was against common good. However, this common good could vary according to circumstances and it might at times be better for the common welfare to allow the diffusion of a false religion than to prohibit it publicly and officially.

Archbishop Aramburu of Tucumán, Argentina, thought the schema should [. . .] map out a little course as a basis for common agreement. Ecumenism should not be treated as a problem but should be elevated to the dignity of a mystery [. . .]

Archbishop Nicodemo of Bari, Italy, said that this decree was very important, especially Chapter I, because it laid down the conditions necessary for the unity of Christians. It was the task of the Council to give clear and definite principles for ecumenism. Observations could be made on certain expressions used in the text. The schema should give a concrete idea of Catholic ecumenism. Even though this would be in the Vademecum to come later, nevertheless it should also be in the decree.

Bishop Volk of Mainz, Germany, said that Catholic ecumenism must rest on the certainty that only the Catholic Church fulfilled perfectly the promise of Christ to His Church. This presumed the Catholic Church to be really catholic in doctrine and practice. Consequently all Christian truth, all genuine Christian values could find a legitimate place in the Catholic Church. Similarly the Church wanted to recognise and welcome everything Christian. Although promised by Christ catholicity involved their responsibility also. If the Church did not realise this catholicity it would be only one religious group among others and would cease to be genuinely universal. Concrete catholicity was a serious condition of the credibility of the Church and her ecumenical mission.

These two speeches contain the substance of the two main views of the Council, in stark juxtaposition. They are of course quite incompatible. It would save much time if the vote could be taken at this point. If it were, on this sole issue, I think there is now no doubt that the view of the Bishop of Mainz would prevail. Laus Deo!Footnote 37


I have been thinking about my plans for next year, assuming that the Council will not reassemble until September. Heenan's speech would seem to indicate the importance of keeping up the continuity of this office outside and independent of the Council, and therefore of a visit here in the interim, say in May, on principle [. . .]. The people of the Secretariat say that May would be a good time to come, as there will be meetings of most of the conciliar commissions during that month [. . .]

Report No. 106      26th November, 1963



[. . .]


[. . .]

Continuing the debate on Chapter I of De Ecumenismo

Cardinal Léger, Archbishop of Montreal, said one of the weaknesses of the schema was its manner of presenting unity as a note of the Church. On this point the text was incomplete. Because of undue insistence on unity in the past, the false impression was given that the Church promoted a monolithic unity which entailed excessive uniformity in doctrine, liturgy, etc. In their insistence on unity, they had too often lost sight of the advantages of diversity. When properly understood and promoted, diversity did no harm to unity. Separated non-Catholic churches have their traditions, doctrines and special riches which they understandably want to preserve. They should not neglect to show how this could be done without placing any obstacle in the path of unity based on perfect obedience to the Vicar of Christ. The Schema should also provide them with more effective means of providing solutions for their doctrinal differences. Charity and truth must not suffer in their discussions. But they must pursue truth in humility as well as in charity. Since separation became a sad reality, the separated brethren had been engaging in their own doctrinal research. Discrepancies between them and us could not be resolved without joint theological investigation. The Church had known many heresies and schisms. The remedy was not necessarily in authority, but in humble progress in the faith. It was their privilege to have the opportunity to investigate with the separated brethren the unsearchable riches of Christ. Immobilism in doctrine was a serious obstacle in the path of unity. They could usefully recall the words of St. Augustine: ‘Seek that you may find and then continue to seek that you may find more’. Genuine Christianity had no room for immobilism.

Cardinal Ritter, Archbishop of St Louis, U.S.A, said it should be pointed out how the unity which was the goal of all ecumenism was a fundamental principle of the ecumenical movement. For this reason the schema should show a real concept of unity. The basic inspiration must be pastoral. They were not only issuing a decree, but were also expected to provide it with effective stimulus for action. The goal to be achieved was the principle of all motion. They had with their separated brethren common desires and common activities. They should present unity not merely as a goal of inestimable value, but in such a way as to show disunion as an evil of equal magnitude. Chapter I presented a concept of unity which only Catholics could recognise. In her present state the Church was far from the realisation of the full perfection which belonged to her by nature. Separation and division in the ranks of Christians was a scandal to the world. The text told them that such divisions retarded the coming of the Kingdom of God. We should, of course, be united in perfect union only when we all shared together in the Lord's table. We should all pray for unity in recognition of one same truth.

Cardinal Bea said there had been much talk in recent days about the ‘dangers’ of the oecumenical movement. These dangers existed where the question of unity was treated by men who might be inspired by good will, but who were not sufficiently cautious. All inter-faith discussions should be under the supervision of local bishops [. . .]. Directives would come from Rome but must be applied on a local basis. Consequently local Ordinaries and national Episcopal Conferences would be able to take appropriate steps to forestall any possible dangers. It would be useful for regional secretariats to be set up for the promotion of unity in collaboration with the permanent secretariat in Rome. It is claimed that the ecumenical movement will foster a spirit of false irenicism. To obviate this danger, theological dialogue will be placed in the hands only of men qualified by theological knowledge and a deep spirit of devotion to the Church. Who these men were could be better determined by local bishops than by any office in Rome. It was a fact of experience that our separated brethren did not want to be presented with any watered-down version, but wanted only a clear statement of exactly what we teach. As far as the ordinary faithful were concerned it would be the duty of bishops to see that they were well instructed in their faith. It was objected that undue emphasis was placed in the text on what was true in the teaching of the separated brethren, but that there was no full presentation of Catholic truth. It should not be forgotten that the text was not directed to the separated brethren but to their own people. Hence they presumed that they knew their Catholic teaching. It was not their task here to present the whole outline of Catholic doctrine. The Catholics were only too often ignorant of the riches found among the separated brethren. They were to find the ‘traces of Christ’ and the effects of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in virtue of their baptism and the graces flowing from this Sacrament. If this approach was wrong, then they must criticise every Pope from Leo XIII onwards. No one should find fault with the exhortation to common prayer with the separated brethren. The Holy Office had already approved the common recitation of the Lord's Prayer. All of us pray for that unity for which Christ prayed and bishops should teach their faithful how to do this. All this showed how important it was for all Catholics to understand and appreciate the ecumenical movement.

[. . .]


We continue to notice Roman Catholic influence on the English press, usually at sub-editor level. I have often helped the Times correspondent prepare his statements when they have concerned conciliar affairs. His despatch on Heenan's speech was clearly doctored in Heenan's favour when it appeared next morning. The correspondent reckons there are several Roman Catholics among the sub-editors.

There was a particularly glaring instance in last Sunday's Sunday Times (24th November, page 17) in which in the same short article Cardinal Griffin is referred to as the Archbishop of Westminster, but Dr. StopfordFootnote 38 as the Anglican Bishop of London. Are we drawing attention to this form of propaganda?

Report No. 107      28th November, 1963



Some Fathers claimed the right to go on speaking about Chapter I (i.e. they could get five other bishops to support their claim in writing).

Archbishop Manek of Endeh, Indonesia, said that in the Christian communities which came out of the Reformation there were elements which made them real churches, even in an imperfect sense. They accepted the creeds of the first councils and had sacraments, which are the means of grace. They could not deny that the Holy Spirit uses them as a means of salvation. If they possibly could they ought to call them churches, and if they expect dialogue to be effective it ought to proceed on that basis.

Mgr. Kleiner, Abbot General of the Cistercians, said there could be no unity without Mary. Who could heal the divisions in the family better than the Mother?

Bishop Leven, Auxiliary of San Antonio, U.S.A., spoke to all, juncti et seiuncti.Footnote 39 His speech was a daring answer to those (particularly in Italy) who spoke disparagingly of work for Ecumenism. There had been charges of infidelity to the Church, to the Pope, to doctrine. But it was not among them that these things were seen. Why don't these Italian prelates look to their own Church affairs? In Italy baptised people fail to go to church and then vote communist; there the Lateran pact makes the Church guilty of conniving at injustice; there you can find ignorance and superstition. Let them educate and train their people. To hear them speak you would think there were no passages in scripture other than those which refer to Peter. They speak as if recognising good in others were to betray one's own faith.

[. . .]


De Ecumenismo

Professor Schlink asked two questions:

What status has a dogmatic constitution? [. . .]

What is the difference between a constitutio and a decretum? There is not complete agreement between the decretum on Ecumenismo and the dogmatic constitutio de Ecclesia. Then we hear of a directorium in the de Ecumenismo. That is a practical publication; will it be like an instructio?

Mgr. Willebrands gave a short answer saying that the constitution de Ecclesia is as yet in an unfinished state. A schema is only a draft. The intention at least is the same. If there are any discrepancies it is hoped that they will be ironed out. A directorium is not in any sense a source of dogma, though it ought to correspond, in its dogmatic implications, to all other sources. It is not safe to think of ‘degrees’ of authority. Generally speaking a decretum is pastoral first, and a constitutio primarily dogmatic.

Professor Witte said a matter is only de fide tenendumFootnote 40 if it explicitly says so. Otherwise it is an expression of the magisterium.

Professor Schlink said

When he gets back to Germany and reports to his bishops on Chapter II they will say that this view of ecumenism is without significance for us. The whole schema is written round baptism. There is some difference about the Roman Catholic reaction to Evangelical baptisms when Lutherans, for example, convert to Roman Catholicism. Sometimes they baptise sub conditione,Footnote 41 other times not. The doctrine of baptism is different in different regions. But sometimes the Roman Catholics ask different questions,

  1. a) was the baptism in the Trinitarian formula?

  2. b) was the baptism done by the pouring of water?

  3. c) Was the real intention to be baptised?

therefore it is to be hoped that something very precise will be said about the real nature of baptism. There is great difference between the regions, as indeed sometimes between the practice of baptism in the various Landeskirche.

Mgr. Willebrands in answering said that the Secretariat discourages a rigid attitude about this, and also that in the 19th century there were German Protestant theologians whose views of baptism were so queer that Roman Catholic bishops naturally became suspicious.

[. . .]

Dr. Nissiotis, Orthodox, asked in what way the schema expressed the Catholic mind of ecumenism. What is its purpose? It is a document first for Roman Catholic people, catechetical, pedagogical. But in this case should it not have a different title, such as ‘the Catholic view of Ecumenism’? We have to be careful that the hoped-for dialogue is not closed before it begins. Although the Orthodox come off better than anyone else, this schema gives no new thought. It is not easy for one Church to describe another. Does the Council realise the difficulty? There can be a certain amount of limited occidental dialogue, but that is about all. As far as it is for the Roman Catholic faithful, it is misleading. As for the Protestant churches, it is outside the possibility of dialogue. The treatment of history is very inadequate. It speaks of events without interpreting them.

[. . .]

Report No. 108      29th November, 1963



[. . .]

Still on Chapter II

Bishop Nuer of Thebes, Egypt, said that association with their separated brethren in prayer could be realised, not only in the recitation of common prayers, as indicated in the schema, but in other ways as well. This was particularly true of the participation of Catholic priests and laity in non-Catholic religious services. The presence of a Catholic priest at an Orthodox funeral, and vice versa, could provide a broadening basis. It hardly made sense, for instance, when two brothers of the same family, one a Catholic and one an Orthodox, were being married on the same day to have the Orthodox priest performing one ceremony with his back turned to the Catholic priest, or to have the Catholic priest do the same with his back turned to the Orthodox. Such procedures would never create goodwill or lead to union. For the same reason Catholics should sometimes be allowed to partake of the Holy Eucharist in a non-Catholic rite, because if they are allowed union with a member of the Mystical Body, they should be allowed to communicate with the Head.

Archbishop Mingo of Monreale, Italy, said there was a great difference between many of their separated brethren and themselves; many of the separated brethren would not admit the primacy or infallibility; others deny the natural law on marriage, and some even doubt the existence of a personal God.

Bishop Necsey, Apostolic Administrator of Nitria, Czechoslovakia, thought a paragraph should be added to Chapter II in order to insist on the necessity of removing obstacles standing in the way of the achievement of union. One of these obstacles was found in the tone of several of the books used for religious instruction. Their catechisms and texts of Church history should be revised in the light of truth and charity. They must avoid whatever could cause animosity or bitterness, never forgetting that the members of all churches were men with human sensibilities.

Discussing Chapter III of De Ecumenismo –

[. . .]

Bishop Collin of Digne, France, said the Anglican Church should be given special treatment, just as was done for the Oriental churches.

Bishop Dwyer of Leeds said those who lived in the midst of non-Catholics could be expected to have certain lights on ecumenical questions, which were not available to those who could speak eloquently, but who did not, perhaps, have in their dioceses even one of their separated brethren. We should not be deluded into thinking that a few kind words and a spirit of cordiality would bring on union in the immediate future. We had come a long way from the time when Catholics lived in closed communities. Polemics had waned. But union was still far off. There were differences in faith and in morals. Some, even bishops, (this means Woolwich)Footnote 42 did not admit the virgin birth or the fact of the resurrection. While holding the principles of true faith, some did not regard contrary doctrines as being against this same faith. They were unwilling to admit that there were actions intrinsically wrong. Even the Quakers, who were traditionally among the most rigid groups outside the Church, had recently declared themselves favourable to opinions which were in complete contrast with basic morality. A non-Catholic bishop (the Archbishop of WalesFootnote 43) had stated that those outside the Church reject Catholic dogmas, not because these dogmas are not understood, but because they have been understood and are rejected as erroneous. The basic principle of all ecumenism is to take each man exactly as he is. The dialogue must be perfect on both sides. There can be no preliminary accepting of conditions. We must begin with mutual respect and recognise problems, such as the basic one of how to reconcile human liberty with the authority of the Church. Our attitude cannot be that of a mother talking to a prodigal son. We must remember that today the one sheep is in the fold and ninety-nine are out in the desert.

Archbishop Gouyon, Coadjutor of Rennes, said had this schema kept silence on the Oriental churches, this would have been interpreted either as ignorance or as a lack of affection for these churches. If the text was to have its full value it should forget nothing. Anglicanism, because of its specific differences from Protestantism, should be given special mention. We should not use the term ‘community’ which had only a sociological sense, but rather the term ‘communion’, (koinonia), which was the term used in the early Church.

Bishop Baraniak, Auxiliary of Posznań, Poland, asked how they could promote ecumenism if they paid no attention to the suggestions of our separated brethren. The text speaks of unity as of a simple return of those outside the Church. This was not acceptable. They must study honestly all the difficulties of their separated brethren and with equal honesty propose solutions. Without this our ecumenism was nothing more than a pious desire and our words were as those of one beating the air.

[. . .]


When the Delegate was fêted at the English college a few days ago, Archbishop Heenan assured him of the loyalty of English Catholics. The Apostolic Delegate in reply said that he looked forward to working with them, but that they must not be surprised if they found him doing some things to which they were not accustomed – such as accepting invitations to Lambeth if he received them.


The Bishop of Ripon and Canon Pawley were received in private audience on the 29th November. They had twenty minutes with his Holiness at the end of a morning in the Council. Rather to their surprise, and slightly to their disappointment, most of the audience was an exchange of courtesies, though they were real courtesies and the Pope spoke very sincerely of his affection for the Anglican Church, saying that it had a real part to play in the work for ecumenism. The Bishop presented bound copies of four of his published works of which the Pope expressed appreciation. While looking into one of the historical books, he showed how conscious he was of the great figures of English church history which had contributed to the good of the universal Church, quoting St. Anselm in particular. Canon Pawley presented a record of Christmas music in Ely cathedral, knowing the Pope's delight in such things. He repeated that we should always feel free to come and see him ‘when you wish’. He told us to convey his greeting to the Archbishop of Canterbury, which we hereby do.

Report No. 109      2nd December, 1963



Still on Chapter II of De Ecumenismo.

Cardinal Frings, Archbishop of Cologne, said that in the Council they had been, so to speak, in the school of the Holy Spirit and all of them had learned much. The world had great hopes of this Council in the field of ecumenism, but they should take care to clarify some points in order to forestall misunderstandings. They should show that the ‘one holy’ Church was not something to be waited for in the future but that it was of the very nature of the Church founded by Christ. Consequently these notes must be found in the Church now, in expectation of the ultimate glorification of the Church with Christ in the world to come. They should insist on the question of religious schools for the education of their children. This insistence was not prompted by any desire to dominate the minds of the children, but rather by the wish to provide a spiritual centre and atmosphere for the process of education. Other churches had naturally the same right, and recognition of this fact would be a great contribution to tolerance. They should at the same time declare disapproval of mixed marriages. If a non-Catholic feels it is against his conscience to promise to bring up his children in the Catholic faith, he should not be subjected to pressure, but he should give up any idea of marriage in the circumstance. They should declare the validity of mixed marriages contracted in the presence of a non-Catholic minister and should remove the ecclesiastical penalties for such marriages. All this would clear the atmosphere and prepare the way for fruitful ecumenical activity.

This was a surprisingly reactionary statement for one of the ‘progressives’ of the Council. But he is an old man. Nevertheless he did end up by suggesting the abolition of the Ne Temere decree.Footnote 45

[. . .]

Archbishop Blanchet, Rector of the Catholic Institute, Paris, said they should not lose sight of the importance of intellectual activity in the work of reconciliation. The faith of their separated brethren could not be reduced to a simple list of propositions which it was enough to refute. They should make serious efforts to understand all their doctrines. They should carefully avoid any feelings of superiority or condescension and should guard against any attitude which might give the impression that accepting the Catholic Church was like abandoning one's mother. They should have great respect for the positive aspects of the faith of their separated brethren. This implied also mutual aid in fraternal service of the truth.

Fr. Reetz, O.S.B., Superior General of the Benedictines of Beuron, Germany, said the experiences of recent years at the Abbey of Beuron had provided an opportunity to see what outsiders like and dislike in the Church. In the monastery there were six priests who were converts to Catholicism. Theologians from the Protestant faculty of the University of Tübingen frequently came to the monastery for a few days of retreat. One of their major complaints was what we might call contorted and acrobatic theology – such as the book, printed with ecclesiastical approbation, arguing for the immaculate conception of St. Joseph and his assumption into heaven. Such theology did not reflect the doctrine of scripture and tradition. Similarly they disliked excessive scholasticism in Roman Catholic theology which was often lacking the biblical touch. They disliked undue juridicism, which exalted the legal element in the Church to the point where it became difficult to understand its relationship with human liberty. Lastly they objected to certain forms of piety which obscured true piety. This was particularly true in the field of Marian devotions – such as the rosary of the tears of Mary. The Roman Catholic presentation of the theology of indulgences often seemed to lose sight of the prudent warning of the Council of Trent. On the other hand they admired the liturgy with chant, the marvellous unity of the Church, the monastic life, the celibacy of the clergy, and sacramental confession. On one of the closing days of the Council the opening Mass should be the Votive Mass for Church Unity.

Fr. Capucci, Superior General of the Order of St. Basil, Aleppo, Syria, considered the legislation on participation in non-Catholic religious services should be changed for ecumenical, social, apostolic and pastoral reasons. This would involve no danger of scandal or indifferentism. The invalidity of mixed marriages before non-Catholic ministers should be rescinded. The Council should recognise the right of Patriarchal Synods to dispense from ecclesiastical laws on participation in non-Catholic religious services. Local Ordinaries should have the same right in specific cases.

Archbishop Fares of Catanzaro and Squillace, Italy, said the Octave for Christian Unity should be included officially in the liturgy, with permission for the Votive Mass for Church Unity. The Sunday falling in this Octave could be observed as Church Unity Sunday with solemn services to impress the faithful with their obligation to pray for unity.

Bishop Schoemaker of Purwokerta, Indonesia, said Chapter II spoke of the biblical movement as a pledge and augury of the success of the ecumenical movement. The Council should entrust to a post-Conciliar Commission the preparation of a text of the Vulgate for all Christians. This text should be prepared with the assistance of outstanding scholars and biblical experts from every nation and religious confession. It could be called the ‘Vatican Vulgate’. This proposal was once made by Desiderius Erasmus. It would be fitting now for the Council to accept the ‘desiderium Desiderii’.Footnote 46

The following speakers continued the discussion on Chapter III.

Archbishop Morcillo of Saragossa, Spain, said the distinction made in the text between the Oriental churches and the Protestant churches of the West was inadequate, because a geographical basis was used for the Orient while chronology was used for the Protestants. This enumeration of groups was lacking in ecumenical sensitivity. It omitted some groups, such as the Old Catholics, and even certain others who had Observers here at the Council. The Anglicans also, for example, have preserved a wonderful tradition which should not be ignored. The episcopate could serve as an adequate basis for distinction among the churches according to whether they had apostolic succession.

Bishop Malanczuk, Exarch for Ukrainians resident in France, thought the schema should make some mention of non-religious causes of past separations: politics, race, excessive patriotism, the desire to be free of outside influences, mutual ignorance, distrust [. . .]. It should be made clear that union with Rome for Oriental churches would not be made dependent on the suppression of local particular churches [. . .]

[. . .]


This will be held from 14th September to 20th November 1964. It is taken for granted that there will be at least one more after that.

Report No. 110      4th December, 1963



[. . .]

Discussion of Chapter III of the schema on ecumenism continued.

Bishop Goody of Bunbury, Australia, said there should be a clear exposition of the Catholic doctrine on the basic truths on which there would have to be complete agreement. One of these points would be the place of a hierarchical priesthood in the Catholic sense, because not infrequently they heard it said that Leo XIII's declaration on the invalidity of Anglican Orders was dictated by political necessity. Other doctrines which should be stressed were the primacy, the integrity of sacramental life and the public cult of the Blessed Virgin. The importance of this stress on clear doctrine came from the fact that if our separated brethren found us voicing nothing but praise and emphasising particularly doctrines on which we already agreed, they would be led to think that union was already achieved. There should, of course, be no harsh polemics, but clarity was indispensable. Where Catholics were in the minority, priests must first be convinced themselves of the ecumenical movement and then teach their people the principles of true ecumenism, urging them to the faithful practice of charity.

Bishop Helmsing of Kansas City – St. Joseph, U.S.A., considered the text as it stood, with its unwillingness to recognise the term ‘church’ as applicable to non-Catholic communities, would certainly be an obstacle to any effective ecumenical action. Reasons for this would be: (1) ordinary decency and politeness, because in daily life Catholics and non-Catholics alike use the term ‘church’ to designate such Christian communities. (2) the word ‘church’ does not have a strictly univocal meaning, but can be used analogically. (3) in the Old Testament when the Northern part of the Kingdom of Israel was cut off by schism it nevertheless continued to belong to the people of God, was moved by the Spirit of God and had prophets. (4) the elements of imperfect union referred to in the text were found not merely in individuals but likewise in these communities considered as groups. Many of them had an admirable sense of the ministry and had also had martyrs. They could not deny them communion in the sense of koinonia. Everyone was expecting a vote on the acceptance of Chapters IV and V as a basis for discussion, even though time would prevent them from being fully discussed on the floor. There was no reason why this vote could not be taken even today.

Bishop Rupp, Monaco, thought that although the statements in the text were not completely without theological foundation, they gave a general impression of superficiality. For instance, nothing was said about devotion to the episcopate which was found in several separated Christian communities. In the Anglican Church, for example, many beautiful and inspiring things were to be found on bishops and their place in the Church. Neither was there sufficient emphasis on the concept of divine transcendence, the idea which meant so much to Karl BarthFootnote 47 and which had a real foundation in the Old Testament. This would be a real positive element. While they must hold fast to the entire deposit of revelation, they must nevertheless remember that there was a hierarchy in the importance of revealed truths. Lastly, attention should be drawn to the special providence watching over all men of goodwill living in these communities. Cardinal John Henry NewmanFootnote 48 stated, after 21 years in the Catholic Church, that the fact that the Anglican Church had for three centuries produced so many holy people and accomplished so much good could be explained only by a special intervention of divine providence. The optimism reflected in the text was exaggerated and should be toned down so as to be more realistic.

Bishop Zoghby, Patriarchal Vicar for Melchites in Egypt and the Sudan, said that after nine centuries of separate evolution the Latin Church and the Oriental churches were now recognising their similarities. The difficulty in the past was that effective dialogue was blocked by social, cultural and political considerations. The Oriental churches always opposed the centralisation of Rome, seeing in this a threat of uniformity and a menace to their own particular Christian heritage. Unity of faith was impossible if it meant harm to the traditions of the Oriental Church. But, since they were both apostolic and traditional, real unity between these churches could be achieved. Dialogue must be on a basis of equality. The Oriental churches had the task of promoting this dialogue if they wished, within the Catholic Church, to bear witness to the institutions and traditions of the Orient.

Fr. Hage, Superior General of the Order of St. Basil in Lebanon, said the Council should authorise a mitigation of the prevailing legislation prohibiting participation in non-Catholic religious services. This prohibition causes an increase in dislike and fanaticism against the Church. There was no question of active participation, but only of having a passive part. This could be justified by the moral principle of double effect, or by the other principle which tells us to choose the lesser of two evils. There was no danger to faith, fear of scandal, or danger of indifferentism to be feared from this passive participation in Oriental communities, because the Oriental Church professed no formal error.


The Pope held a Cappella PapaleFootnote 49 on Tuesday 3rd December to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the end of the Council of Trent. Most of the Observers abstained from attending, as it was for them more in the nature of a disaster to be mourned. The Bishop of Ripon attended on the grounds that it was a Council function and that he was here as an Observer to observe, not to demonstrate. I took advantage of the fact that I am technically a ‘guest’ and not an Observer to absent myself in preference for much paperwork.

I notice, on looking up the facts, that the Council ended on 4th December 1563 and that on the 2nd and 3rd they rushed through the decrees on Purgatory and Indulgences, for which we give no thanks at all.

[. . .]


There seems to be a book recently published, ‘Vatican II – A Struggle of Minds and other Essays’, by E.H. Schillebeeckx, O.P.,Footnote 50 which has some interesting ideas. One which attracts me (to judge from reviews) is the use of the word ‘essentialist’ to describe a theologian who believes that divine truth can be and must be essentially contained in a proposition of words, which is therefore incapable of revision. I imagine the antithesis of this truth, which is that truth can never even adequately (let alone finally) be caged inside a proposition is nearer to our way of thinking. The future of this basic idea is presumably very important for ecumenism.


Cardinal Bea, in his last speech to the Council [. . .] emphasised quite rightly that ecumenical work shall only be undertaken by people who are intellectually qualified to do so. In this he was voicing the fears of many Roman Catholics who are afraid of too much open discussion.

I am interested in the obverse of this idea. There are far too many people, in my experience, on the Roman Catholic side engaged in ‘ecumenical’ work, who have not had the necessary preparation. There has often been occasion to refer adversely in these reports, e.g. to the FOYER UNITAS in Rome, to its staff and to its leader, Fr. Boyer S.J., whose continued ignorance about the C. of E. needs to be experienced to be believed. I have several times recently been approached by R.C. ecumenical enthusiasts who have asked where I think ecumenical dialogue should begin. They can often be deflated by being asked if they have ever read any Anglican book about the C of E.

Report No. 111      5th December, 1963



[. . .]

Cardinal Ruffini, Archbishop of Palermo, obviously filling in time, said that the only real way of ecumenism was the submission of all to Rome.

Bishop Green of Port Elizabeth, S. Africa, said some new attitude should be worked out towards Anglicans and the problems of their orders. Apostolicae CuraeFootnote 51 should be rethought.

Bishop Muldoon of Sidney, Australia, said the references to Anglicans and Protestants were totally inadequate. If the relevant passage went out to the world as it was, they would demonstrate to the world that they totally misunderstood and misrepresented the Protestant world. There was too little spirit of repentance about the undoubted mistakes which the Catholic Church had already made. Many of the orators who spoke so proudly as if the Church were perfect in all things ought to go to a good confession [. . .]

[. . .]

Bishop Tomášek of Buto, Czechoslovakia, said that if there was to be any hope of reunion between the Orthodox and Rome, there must obviously be as a sine qua non a ‘round table’ conference of representatives of all bishops of both sides without any question of precedence. This alone was an ‘ecumenical’ council. Thus the deep psychological barriers would be overcome, and the solution of problems of unity would be in sight.

[. . .]

Dom Christopher Butler agreed with those who agreed that there should be special reference to the Anglican Communion, especially as they are bundled in with the Protestants. This decree should not be something which offends those who claim some continuity with the past. Why not say that they were ‘separated in the 16th century’? The paragraph about penitence should be more carefully phrased to show that such penitence was mutual and sincere and that it was to be a starting point for better relations.

Cardinal Bea said that he regretted it had not been possible to examine Chapters IV (Jews) and V (Religious Liberty), but they would discuss them first thing in September next. He asked the fathers to consider them both most carefully and to send in emendations etc. to the Secretary General.

N.B. American publicists are very disappointed that a snap vote was not taken about these two chapters, but we are not. In our view the Americans are being somewhat naïve about this. Freedom, especially in its political context, is a great idol of theirs. Englishmen perhaps see it as one, no doubt the chief, of several political goods. But freedom of conscience for all Christians, but especially for Roman Catholics, is a very complicated problem. Protestants make it the greatest of virtues, because they have had to fight for it. But it is obviously not easy for the Roman Catholics suddenly to turn their backs on centuries of a contrary tradition. Even today it presents problems in detail, apart from the need to reconcile it to the principle of obligation in religion. It is not to be expected that, for example, the Spanish bishops will easily agree in effect that American Protestant fundamentalist sects can go everywhere unmolested and create havoc among their faithful. It is better that this problem should be carefully thought out and stated in a manner which will carry conviction, and also be able to be administered practically. Otherwise there is a danger that the whole chapter will be regarded by the world as a cynical piece of flag-waving.

[. . .]


The 2nd Session of the Council ended with a celebration in St. Peter's and the solemn promulgation of the two items so far completed, the Constitution on the Liturgy and the Decree on the Means of Communication [. . .]

The discourse of the Pope calls for little comment. It showed approval of the course the Council had taken and expressed the hope that it would continue on these same lines. At one point he said, ‘We hope that the third session in the autumn of next year will bring the Council to its completion.’ The discourse ended, as will have been widely reported, by the announcement of the Pope's impending visit to the Holy Land.

[. . .]


The Pope has recently accorded to the bishops the right of their see and a large number of faculties (40 in all) for which they previously had to refer to the Holy See. This is in line with the present policy of reducing the power of the Curia and increasing that of the bishops. Many of them are so ludicrous as not to be worthy of mention, but we selected the following:

  1. 1) To give permission for a priest to say two masses on a week day or three on a Sunday.

  2. 2) To give dispensations from fasting for certain cases according to circumstances.

  3. 3) To celebrate evening masses.

  4. 4) To celebrate Holy Communion outside churches.

  5. 5) For sick priests to celebrate sitting in bed.

  6. 6) To administer confirmation in cases of necessity.

  7. 7) To dispense for a just cause from the impediments of a mixed religion or disparity of cult.

  8. 8) To give people in minor orders and lay people, even women, the right to wash the altar linen (believe it or not!)

  9. 9) The right to enter for a just cause into the enclosure of a monastery or convent.

  10. 10) The right to give people permission to read prohibited books.

[. . .]

Report No. 115      March 25th 1964



I propose to return at the beginning of May and shall be on duty there for about three weeks, including doing a job for Bishop Bayne. We shall then take our summer holiday in Italy and return to this country about the 10th of June.

[. . .]


I never cease to wonder at the ‘enlightened’ opinions of the prelates of the Uniate churches. I had expected them to be unusually obscurantist because of their proximity to the Orthodox (for the same kind of reason that the English hierarchy are ‘sticky’). But such is not the case. I recently read a report of a speech by Archbishop Edelby (Melchite)Footnote 52 on the Schema de Ecclesia, in which he said:

  • The Western Church is still too clerical in its outlook and behaviour. It starts from a premise different to ours: Christ established Peter as the supreme head – ‘a kind of a Roman emperor in a soutane’ – then He gave him colleagues and finally subjects, the clergy and the faithful. For us of the Eastern Church it is the other way round: Christ was first of all united to the faithful, to whom the preaching of the Gospels belongs by right; then He gave them apostles, and finally, so that this collegium should remain coherent, he chose a head for them. In contemporary Catholic thought there is as it were a morbid obsession with the primacy of the Pope.

Do we have much traffic with these people? I have made some very good contacts in the Council which I should like to see followed up afterwards.

There is obviously much variety in the ecumenical ‘value’ of the Uniates. These real Easterns, of ancient lineage, seem to know what it is all about. On the other hand one got the very worst impression of the so-called ‘Greek Catholics’ in Greece who by the proselytism etc. are one of the principal obstacles to the ecumenical progress.

[. . .]

Report No. 118      6th April, 1964Footnote 53


[. . .]


I returned on May 4th.


Opinion almost everywhere seems to be divided about the question whether the next session will, or ought to be, the last. Most of our friends in the Secretariat incline to the view that the next session ought to be, but probably won't be, the last.

The Pope has ceased saying with confidence that the next will be the last, and never now says he hopes it will.

Conservatives say that most of what is good is done by Popes anyhow, often after Councils –as at Trent and Vatican I. But they also say that what is good about the Liturgy Schema was all said by Pius XII anyhow. In a recent press interview Cardinal Siri, of Genoa, an extreme right-wing conservative, said:

  1. 1. One more session is enough.

  2. 2. The Schema on Divine Revelation is important. He hoped nothing would be said to impair the magisterial authority of the Church.

  3. 3. The only other schema that really needs treating by the Council is that on the Laity, which has incipient dangers.

  4. 4. All other business could as well, and even better, be done by ‘ordinary’ means.

  5. 5. There is no need for statements on the Jews or on Religious Liberty. The church's views on these are clear and well-known.

Others say that the Council must lay down certain principles however long it takes (e.g. the principles of academic liberty already laid down by them in de Revelatione divina,Footnote 54 which would never have been stated without a Council) etc.

I feel quite unable to assess the answer to either of these questions. One factor is undoubtedly that people are getting tired of the Council and that it might be advisable to go and develop the ground already won, with the general intention of having another Council within, say, a decade.

[. . .]


It is fascinating to observe the recurrent phenomenon of the Roman Church behaving like an oyster with regard to the present irritants in its shell. The latest example of this is represented by several articles I have read on the subject of the Church in the 2nd session. We should describe what happened there as a welcome halting and reversal of trends in Roman ecclesiology which if pursued would have been disastrous. The articles I am thinking of (particularly one by a prominent Italian Jesuit Grassi in a recent Civiltà Cattolica Footnote 55) regards the development of Catholic ecclesiology since the Reformation as a necessary progress. In days of error the Church has to become conscious of itself as the societas fidelium.Footnote 56 It was at Vatican I (!) that the Church was again able to look at itself as the ineffable mystery. This happy development was continued, of course, in Pius XII's encyclical Mystici CorporisFootnote 57 and is now being crowned by the deliberations of the Fathers of Vatican II.

There is no doubt that the indication given by Vatican II that the episcopate is to be regarded as having plenary authority over the Church as a college is not proving easy to reconcile with the full doctrine of the Papacy enunciated at Vatican I, in which the Pope has in himself that full authority derived directly from Christ without reference to the episcopate. To my mind one of the great difficulties about this universal jurisdiction is that if it is to be understood it ought from the first to have been conferred sacramentally by a second consecration. If a man has to be ordained to the priesthood and consecrated to the episcopate a fortiori the assumption of universal jurisdiction over all bishops and the entering in to the position of Vicar of Christ should involve a sacramental grace. If a Cardinal was elected Pope who was only in Priest's (or even Deacon's) orders he was always consecrated bishop after election. But he was Pope from the moment of election. How very difficult it is for the Romans that it was S. Paul who felt wearied by ‘that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches’.

There are many hints in reviews that this new conception of collegiality needs much theological reconciliation with existing dogmas. It will be remembered that when, in the Council, the theologians said that they could not accept the principle of collegiality for that reason they were firmly told that the teaching office of the Church lies with the executive and not with the theological department. This all constitutes a pregnant situation for the future. As presumably the Council will be unwilling to negative the Papal decree of Vatican I I hope they may be content to leave some inconsistencies for the future to resolve.


The last sentence of the last item recalls one of the current jokes of the last session, retailed by Abbot Butler, which said that whereas ‘Les Russes nient la verité, les Allemands compliquent la verité, les Anglais s'en fichent de la verité, les Espagnols luttent pour la verité, les Italiens la possèdent’.Footnote 58

[. . .]


While in Frankfurt last week I had considerable opportunity to tour churches and various ecclesiastical centres. It was most vexing to find all the Lutheran churches shut, with no evidence of life on their notice boards (except the kind of thing we are accustomed to see on chapel boards in England – Next Sunday 10, PfarrerFootnote 59 X; 6, Pfarrer Y, not even indicating what the service was). The main church of Frankfurt (Niemöller'sFootnote 60 ‘cathedral’) was in fact shut when it was advertised to be open.

The Roman churches are all beautifully clean, many of them refurnished simply according to the Liturgical Reform, bristling with notices about activity. And the new architecture of the churches in the suburbs was breath-taking. There was good literature about the Council and its follow-up.

Report No. 119      7th May, 1964



I had a long talk with Willebrands about this matter, continuing our discussion at Ely a few weeks ago. There is no doubt that he has been deeply disturbed by a visit he had from Franklin Clark FryFootnote 61 (I think that is the name – one of the presidents of the World Council of Churches and a Presbyterian from America?). Willebrands said that this man's revelation of the ‘complete absence of a theology of marriage’ among Protestants in general made him realise how serious the differences were, and gave him a feeling of hopelessness about any immediate improvement in relationships on that score. Our conversation at Ely turned on my illustrating how we were not to be confused with the general run of Protestants in this, as in many other matters. Willebrands said that Clark Fry denied not only the sacramental character of marriage but the indissoluble nature of it, and even that the contracting parties should have an intention of indissolubility. There is no doubt that there is a serious problem for us all here (i.e. to determine how far it is wise for us to make common cause with the Protestants over this matter until we are quite sure how much common ground we have.) The Bishop of Bristol once warned me that we mustn't be too censorious about indiscipline among Protestants because of the questionable discipline e.g. of P.E.C.U.S.A. But a variety of practice in the treatment of divorce is a different matter from deep differences about the nature of matrimony itself.

Willebrands has often said that the Roman Catholic Church cannot be expected to take the submissions of Protestants seriously until they show some intention to define what they mean by matrimony. He has asked if there is any possibility of us every declaring Holy Matrimony a sacrament. I thought not, because we were anxious to emphasise the importance also of matrimony contracted outside the Church. Were there then no differentiae of Christian Marriage? I said, as to its validity in God's sight, no, if its intention was life-long; but as to its efficacy, Christian marriage obviously profited by the fact that it was deliberately used as a means of grace.

The Anglican definitions are not easy to defend. The language of Art. 25 is deplorable.Footnote 62 To begin with, it doesn't even define which of the 5 ‘ex-sacraments’ are ‘such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles’ or which are ‘states of life allowed in the Scriptures’. If it is the latter then this meagre language ill accords with the language of the service which describes it as ‘an honourable estate instituted by God in the time of man's innocency’ and that it is ‘consecrated . . . to such an excellent mystery that in it is signified and represented the spiritual marriage betwixt Christ and his Church’.

I have never tried to defend Art. 25 and sincerely hope it will one day be superseded. But to the Romans I have constantly said that it does not appear to us necessary to define matrimony any further than perhaps to assemble and clarify the principles stated or implied in the Prayer Book. The question whether or not it is a sacrament, or in what sense, would raise more questions than can be answered. The declaration, or absence of declaration, that Holy Matrimony was a sacrament would not alter its sacramental efficacy in any case. The only pastorally urgent question is as to whether the ordinance is regarded as life-long. This is unmistakably clear from the liturgy and has in any case repeatedly been declared dogmatically by the Convocations.

Willebrands finds it difficult to agree that the Roman Church can declare Anglican marriages valid in the absence of a declaration that they are a sacrament. Still less would it be possible to accept the validity of state marriages (I told him of the declaration of life-long contract status exhibited in civil registrars’ offices in Britain). This is a strange conservative streak in an otherwise liberal man.

As for the progress of the question in the Council, Willebrands for once seems to be quite uncertain. At the beginning of our last talk about the matter he said he thought it would only come up after the Council in the course of the revision of Canon Law. But when I pressed him about Cardinal Frings’ hope to get all ‘reasonable’ Protestant marriages to be declared valid in the eyes of the Roman Church, he admitted that it might come up under the Schema de Sacramenti, the text of which he had not seen.

I have frequently stressed the point that from the point of view of the ‘image’ of the Roman Church in the eyes of the contemporary world the whole of the marriage discipline (which is much wider than the question of Mixed Marriages) gives an unsatisfactory impression, both inside the Roman Church and outside. It is commonly said that decisions at the Rota can be bought – this is probably untrue, but it is said [. . .]

Willebrands has several times said, and I have had to agree with him, that if we reckon to object officially to the workings of the Rota we ought to be documenting our objections most carefully. It would be reasonable to forward cases complained about to the Secretary for Christian Unity for information.

Presumably the new Commission on Roman Catholic Relations will set to work on all this. How is it intended to convey to the clergy and church people that the Commission on Roman Catholic Relations is now the body to whom complaints of injustice, malice or misbehaviour should be sent? We obviously can't make a public announcement to that effect. Will the Archbishops perhaps make a statement about the proposed functions of the Commission on Roman Catholic Relations in committee to the convocations? Or what? The Secretariat seems to think it important that we should be documenting our case. I notice that the press hand-out of 8.5.64 refers to ‘discussions of theological questions with Roman Catholics’ as if they were the only activity of the Commission. Would the public understand theological to mean ‘academic’ only? Or as excluding practical, liturgical questions? That would be a pity.

[. . .]


I had Willebrands and Mgr. Höfer (Counsellor at the West German Embassy, Professor at Paderborn, Member of the Secretariat for Christian Unity, etc.) to dinner recently. The conversation turned on the diversity of the reactions within the Lutheran Church in particular to the Council. Reference has already been made in these reports to the belief that an agreed formula e.g. on Justification could easily be reached, and that controversy be regarded as at an end. But Höfer remarked that although e.g. Schlink has frequently agreed with him on this subject in private conversation there seems to be a hardening of the arteries when he gets home among his Lutheran friends. There is almost on principle a fear among Lutherans of a new reformation, dogmatic or liturgical, if it is thought of in connection with the Vatican Council. They think of themselves as the purest reform, and have great feelings of trust responsibility towards the immutable principles of the Lutheran Reformation.

[. . .]

Report No. 120      11th May, 1964


[. . .]


Cardinal Bea and Willebrands take it for granted that my office will continue. For the first time the other day Willebrands said that the Secretariat had been talking about appointing an Anglican specialist from their side who wants to spend half his time in Rome and half in England, or in some other Anglican centre.

[. . .]

Report No. 121      13th May, 1964


[. . .]


One of the most articulate and influential of the observers was the Revd. Robert McAfee Brown, Presbyterian, Professor of Dogmatics in some Western University of the U.S.A. He recently summed up his reactions as follows:

  1. a. We now know that ecumenism has definitely taken root in the Roman Church.

  2. b. It is admitted that there must be internal reform of the Roman Church before ecumenism can become effective.

  3. c. The reform of the Liturgy has been on lines entirely pleasing to Protestants.

  4. d. The intention to concentrate on the gospel and the figure of Christ in all issues has been most impressive and encouraging.

  5. e. The Council has shown itself anxious to reform the one-sided version of authority which has tormented the Church since Vatican I and the infallibility decree.

  6. f. The bishops have shown their deep concern for the world outside the Church.

  7. g. The Council has shown a desire to hear what the observers had to say to a degree which would have been thought impossible.

  8. h. The expected majority for a decree on religious liberty is most welcome.

[. . .]

Report No. 122      19th May, 1964



A bon mot is reported from Mgr. Heenan who, when asked how the new Apostolic Delegate was getting on, said: ‘Oh very well indeed – he's making lots of friends, even among the Catholics.’


I was told by a member of the Secretariat for Unity (which had a plenary meeting in Italy in April) that Mgr. Heenan had said that he was firmly determined to bring all ecumenical discussion in Britain under the control of the hierarchy. No doubt we are equally determined to exercise our freedom to discuss these matters where and with whom we choose.


The week of prayer for the union of Christians was celebrated in all Italian dioceses from the 18th to the 25th January. It is reported that until two years ago the prayers of the week were ‘for the return of the Orthodox, the Anglicans, the Protestants, etc, to the Catholic Church’. Last year faithful Catholics were invited to pray ‘for reconciliation to the Holy See of the Orthodox, the Anglicans, etc’. This year the prayer was simply ‘for the Orthodox’, ‘for the Anglicans’ etc.

[. . .]


The pilgrimage and visitor season is now in full swing again. I found myself invited to a party at which the Walsingham enthusiasts were demonstrating a film and proudly showing how ‘catholic’ life was coming back into the Church of England. The film had been taken and was being shown by a renegade Anglican priest (named Waterhouse) now at the Beda College. The principal lady official at Walsingham was in charge and had invited me to bless the whole issue (I didn't realise until I was there that there was to be a film and a talk). Fortunately I was asked to make a speech also and was able gently to correct the impression that the Church of England as a whole set much store by the revival of this shrine. Fortunately also I knew enough about the sordid end of medieval Walsingham to be able to see it as a means to illustrate the necessity of the Reformation.

One is frequently faced here with the need to discourage keen Anglicans whose conception of progress with Rome is that of showing the Romans how many Roman practices there are going on within the Church of England. In so far as these are also Catholic practices in the wide sense that is obviously to be encouraged. But drawing attention to stale practices, which the Romans want to reform themselves, defeats its own purpose. It was not easy to distinguish between the revival of pilgrimages, which are salutary (provided they are Christocentric) and the unnecessary recrudescence of Marian extravagances. I have already asked Percy ColemanFootnote 63 to do what he can to circularise among Church Union members the need for caution and common sense in these matters. I wonder if the new CommissionFootnote 64 might consider sending a memorandum to ‘catholic’ organisations in England concerning the need to rethink our behaviour under the new conditions which now prevail?

[. . .]


I had lunch with this remarkable prelate yesterday, one of his many 80th birthday lunches. He has been a Cardinal 26 years, and is Dean of the College. He had just been to America and was full of the World Fair and the 4 more honorary degrees he had collected.

At one point he took me aside and said, ‘Is there anything you're burning to ask me?’ I said, ‘How is the reform of the Curia going on?’ He said, ‘Bien ça commence. Ce Pape est très courageux, et très “furbo” (an Italian word meaning “cunning, artful”) et il fera ce qu'il veut; il y a beaucoup de gens là bas qui ont peur’.Footnote 65 The Cardinal again hinted that he would like to be asked to England, but he doesn't think Heenan will ask him. I wonder if Cardinale would?

[. . .]


The decree has had a chapter added to it on ‘Islam’ and on ‘non-Christian religions’. I imagine the inclusion of Islam has political reasons, lest it should be thought that the Vatican was especially concerned with the Jews (vis-à-vis the situation in the Middle East).

I imagine this makes it all the more desirable for this section to be removed from the decree and to stand apart.

Report No. 123      9th June, 1964



You ask for further details of Bishop de los Reyes’ visit to Cardinal Bea. The O.S. did most of the talking, with the Cardinal a very interested listener. There is no doubt that the Cardinal was very impressed with the O.S.'s discourse. The O.S. spoke with much animation and emotion, which was never excessive, but most telling. Incidentally, in his humility (which is impressive) he had asked me a number of questions about what I thought he ought to say, but at the interview, although he adopted my few suggestions, it was clear that his mind (and heart) were already full of a considerable number of things.

After the introductory courtesies the Cardinal apologised that he hadn't visited the Philippines and said that he had read about the circumstances of the origin of the P.I.C.Footnote 66 The O.S. then took the floor and said, with a great smile, that he hoped it had been an unprejudiced account. He said that had he (Cardinal Bea) lived through the circumstances of political, social and moral degradation of the Church in the Philippines he too would have had no alternative but to rebuild the Church on new foundations. Perhaps he would have been Obispo Supremo (laughter).

He then went on to extol Pope John XXIII and Cardinal Bea himself in a very touching and humble way. They were real patterns of the kind of church leader the world needed – all this with quite a display of knowledge as to what they had said and done in detail. Having thus prepared the ground he stopped abruptly and said: ‘Your Eminence, there is something which needs doing in our Saviour's name in the Philippines which I think you can do for us. It is this. The friendly spirit of Pope John and yourself must reach our islands at all cost, and soon. As I stand beneath our Saviour's image (pointing to the crucifix) I can honestly say that I have never spoken unkindly of or behaved unkindly towards Roman Catholics. And I have always encouraged my clergy and people to imitate this example. But I'm afraid your Cardinal Santos (R.C. Archbishop of Manila, P.I.) could not say the same! (Much laughter) We are a humble people and we don't ask to be made much of – we just ask that other Christians shall be kind to us. Can you not soften Cardinal Santos? (Laughter again.) I am President of the Council of Churches in the P.I. and I have often asked Cardinal Santos if he will send observers to our meetings so that we can act together on social questions, which are very pressing in our islands. He does not even answer my letters. I know that many of his clergy and people would want things to be different.’

Cardinal Bea was evidently very pleased with all this and promised that he would act. The interview ended with the O.S. promising to send the Cardinal copies of their liturgy, Canon Law etc.

All this takes on new interest in view of the reports that the Pope is to visit the Philippines next spring. This has been in the Italian newspapers, and the Secretariat are unable to confirm or deny it: they think it likely. The occasion is said to be the 400th anniversary of the evangelisation of the islands by (?Spanish) missionaries. It is certainly the only predominantly Christian country in Asia, and the fact that this would be his first visit to an Asiatic nation as such would be justified on that score (the visit to Bombay will be a visit to an Eucharistic Congress, not to India). If the Pope does go to Manila, we must try to arrange that he receives the O.S.


Cardinal Ottaviani has made a speech criticising the action of such as Cardinal Suenens and Archbishop Heenan in speaking on the above subject (particularly about the ‘pill’) before the Holy Office or the Council have pronounced.

Heenan at least had no alternative, with his Czech (?) doctor at his heels. It is unusual, and perhaps not a bad thing for his public image, to find Heenan being bracketed with the liberals by the Holy Office.

[. . .]


The professional organisation of Big Business Executives in Italy (U.C.I.D.) has been having its annual conference in Rome. At its annual banquet Cardinal Siri of Genoa was the principal speaker. His speech, which was most acceptable, was on a theme which I can remember hearing from more than one conservative Anglican prelate in the days when the Welfare State was coming to birth, that too much material prosperity is not good for the soul, and that God helps those who help themselves [. . .]

The executives were subsequently received by the Pope, and were offered very different pabulum. This speech was a sure step in the self-commitment of the present Pope, entirely to be admired. He said that in interpreting the gospel for the political and economic needs of nations in successive generations the Church was always in difficulty. It was not her business to make executive decisions or detailed programmes. That was for them (his audience). The Church's function was to call industrial leaders back to the gospel principles in so far as and when they seemed to be in danger of forgetting or transgressing them. Any form of political or economic theory which entailed for the fulfilment of its programme the control of one class of society by another, was mistaken. Thus capitalism in its 19th century form and ‘the present successors of Manchester liberalism’Footnote 67 were outworn. The religious and moral rights of individual men were to be woven into the industrial pattern at every stage. They (his audience) were under a heavy obligation to see that while the capitalist system prevailed it should be made to pass rapidly out of its primitive stage (that of the profit motive alone). Atheistic materialism was by no means the preserve of communism, and could be seen at work as well in many parts of capitalist society. Where it was allowed to run riot it just played havoc with society and left the politicians to clear up the resultant mess. He was bound to say that he favoured gradual evolution to drastic revolution; but social evolution must now be accelerated if it was to keep pace with the needs of man. The system of free initiative could only satisfy man's needs if it was guided by men who had the common good, rather than their own profit, as their aim, by people who had a spiritual conception of the dignity of individual man.

This line of talk sounds very much ‘redder’ in Italy than it would do in Britain, where we are accustomed to Christian sociology. It gives the lie to the American view that this Pope is a disguised conservative playing a skilful hand. Incidentally the American allegation (Report 119) that Capovilla, the left wing chaplain of John XXIII, had been ‘kicked upstairs’ is quite untrue. He is still in service with Paul VI, and probably helped to write the speech now reported.


Mgr. Willebrands has been nominated titular Bishop of Mauritia (?) which I believe is a heap of sand in the hinterland of Morocco, in partibus gentium.Footnote 68

This gives him a seat in the Council and upgrades the status of the Secretariat of which he will continue to be Secretary. It can be regarded as a pat on the back for the ecumenical department. It would be too much to interpret it as a step in grooming Willebrands for Cardinal Bea's post, though it would be acceptable if it were. Perhaps it is part of the reform of the Curia, presaging the elevation of the Secretariat to the status of a congregation.

[. . .]

Report No. 124      19th June, 1964



I return to Ely on July 13th and shall be there, off and on, until the middle of September.

[. . .]


I had another private audience, quite alone, with the Pope, the day before I came away. This now seems to be a well-established privilege. I had asked the Chaplain-in-course whom I know best to advise as to whether it would be judicious to ask each time, or whether it would be over-playing the former acquaintance, and he said that the Holy Father was quite pleased to see me each time. This could prove useful in emergency.

This time the Pope immediately got down to the question of when the Archbishop was coming to see him. I said that as far as I knew, although the Archbishop was looking forward very much to a visit, he had not been thinking of coming before the Council was over. There would clearly then be much to discuss, particularly the form which ‘dialogue’ would take. The Pope said he did not think he need necessarily wait till then if he wished to come before. The Ecumenism decree would probably be decided upon at the next session and that alone would give much to talk about. But it would be more convenient if the Archbishop came outside a council session. He told me to say that although he could not repay the Archbishop's call in London he would certainly repay it in Rome. I have since wondered if the Archbishop would go as the Primate of All England (in which case he would presumably stay with our Minister to the Holy See) or as the head of the Anglican Communion, in which case what would he do? Incidentally my American hosts (the lay vestrymen, at least) never cease to remind me that Archbishop Fisher didn't visit them when in Rome. They very much hope this can be remedied in any subsequent visitation. Perhaps if the Archbishop intended to have an ‘omnium gatherum’ service in Rome it might be held at the American church next time.

I promised to convey the Pope's invitation to the Archbishop [. . .]. He spoke briefly about the Council and said that although its progress was getting slower, for obvious reasons, he hoped it wasn't thought that enthusiasm was flagging. I said that we were very satisfied with what had happened so far. We wanted progress to be sure, so that reforms passed at the Council would really be effected afterwards. But we hoped that nevertheless he felt that the need for progress towards unity was very urgent. He agreed.

I said that the condition of the Church in Italy, and the consequent effects on the political situation, seemed very disturbing. The Pope said that it was very difficult for him to attempt to give any lead in Italian politics without being misunderstood. Did he feel the same abut Spain? He said he hoped that the publicists would realise that when he spoke e.g. to U.C.I.D.Footnote 69 his remarks could be interpreted as applying to other spheres as well. When he said that Christians must always support policies which tried to solve the problems of the world by voluntary rather than compulsive methods that could be taken to apply to Spain as well. Christian sociology must always be kaleidoscopic. (This I interpreted to mean that it was never wedded to any ‘school of thought’ or political party, it drew the best ideas from them all and showed their relationship to religious principles). I said that that had always been the Anglican tradition.

I presented the Pope with the latest record of Easter music from Ely Cathedral, and he enquired about the details of the services. He presented me with a copy of his speeches in Palestine, I having previously expressed our admiration for the enterprise.

He asked me to convey his greetings to the Archbishop and to tell him that he looked forward with great anticipation to his visit.

[. . .]


The First Secretary to the Legation, Donald Cape, who is of course an R.C. went out of his way before I left to ask me if there was anything we could do to ensure a good appointment in succession to Sir Peter when the time came. They had just had an inspection by an F.O.Footnote 70 inspector to whom he had expressed the hope that Sir Peter's successor would be a man who would be able to understand the ecumenical issues etc. The F.O. was not obliged to appoint a Christian, though perhaps it would be invidious for them not to do so. There had been in the past ‘shaky’ churchmen. The F.O. inspector had said that of course they couldn't be guided merely by a man's religious suitability. The field was always small, and usually consisted of officials who were entitled to a quiet job.

Report No. 125      3rd July, 1964


[. . .]


In a recent speech the Pope referred to this question for the first time. He said:

‘The Church recognises its many aspects, that is today the many competences, among which primarily are that of husband and wife, their freedom, their consciences, their love and duty. But the Church must also affirm its own aspect, that is, God's law interpreted by the Church, and the Church must proclaim this law of God in the light of scientific, social and psychological truths which lately have had new and ample studies and documentation. It will be necessary to look carefully in the face of the theoretical and practical development of the question. And this is what the Church is actually doing.

We will therefore soon put forth the conclusions in the forms which will be considered more adequate for the object dealt with than the target to be achieved.’

[. . .]


1 ‘It pleases’, i.e. ‘pleasing’.

2 John Henry Newman (1801–1890), pioneer of the Oxford Movement who left the Church of England in 1845 and converted to Rome; created Cardinal in 1879. Not a few regarded Vatican II as ‘Newman's Council’. He is claimed by both the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches as one of their own.

3 ‘God's kingdom’ and the ‘kingdom of Christ’.

4 The College of Bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman pontiff, Peter's successor, as its head.

5 ‘Prelature of none’, usually reffering to a titular bishopric with jurisdiction over a territory not in a diocese but subject to the Holy See.

6 ‘Body, or even family, of bishops, rather than college’.

7 This is an error. The person referred to is Fr Barnabas Ahern, as correctly spelled in Report 97.

8 ‘Of the people of God’.

9 Cullmann, Oscar, ‘L'evangile johannique et l'histoire du salut’, New Testament Studies, 11, 1964, pp. 111122CrossRefGoogle Scholar, shows that the Gospel of John as narrative is full of salvation-history references, indicating that, in the author's opinion, the events outlined in the narrative happened in accordance with a salvation-historical timetable, as ordained by God (see John 1:17; 3:14; 7:6, 8; 8:56; 9:2–3; 18:32).

10 ‘Regarding the People of God and the Laity’.

11 Canon law.

12 Fellow disciples.

13 ‘For all our sins, mistakes, and omissions’.

14 This reference remains obscure but may refer to a meeting held under the auspices of the Canadian Council of Churches, founded in 1944.

15 ‘Sensus fidei’ literally means ‘sense of faith’; the theological meaning of both it and ‘sensus fidelium’ (‘sense of the faithful’) are set out in Lumen Gentium.

16 Mediatrix of grace (referring to the intercessory role of Mary).

17 Either this is an error for Friday, 18th October, or the report was begun on 23rd October but not completed until after the speeches had taken place.

18 See p. 235, n. 15.

19 ‘On the call to holiness in the Church’.

20 ‘Learning church’ and ‘teaching church’.

21 ‘Repeating things that had already been drawn out [discussed]’.

22 ‘On bishops and bishoprics’.

23 ‘He who excuses himself, accuses himself.’

24 ‘Simultaneously righteous and a sinner’.

25 ‘Only by faith’.

26 ‘By divine law’.

27 ‘The body of bishops’.

28 During the discussion of the schema on the bishops that took place on 6 November, Maximos IV had caused much excitement among the Council Fathers by calling for a structural change of the government of the Church. The present structure merely allowed the Curia to assist the Pope and did not, according to Maximos IV, answer the needs of the day nor reflect the collegial responsibilities of bishops. Further, he asserted, ‘the present court reflected a certain particularism and was an obstacle to ecumenism’ (Report 98, passage not included in the text). This was the first effort of the Council to implement a framework for collegiality into its structure.

29 ‘I protest vehemently’.

30 On 18 July 1870, Pastor Aeternus or the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church of Christ was approved by the First Vatican Council. The Constitution dealt with the authority of the Pope.

31 Communion, i.e. the communion of the saints.

32 This report must have been completed several days after it was begun.

33 ‘Ecclesial community’. Within a Roman Catholic understanding this applies to a Christian religious group that does not meet the Roman Catholic definition of a ‘Church’. Although the word ‘ecclesial’ itself means relating to the Church, the Catholic Church applies the term ‘Church’ only to Christian communities that have true sacraments and hold to the apostolic succession, the priesthood, and the Eucharist.

34 A reference to the third General Assembly of the World Council of Churches in New Delhi in 1961, at which the Russian Orthodox Church was admitted to the Council.

35 ‘Return’.

36 Selwyn College, Cambridge.

37 ‘Praise be to God’.

38 Robert Stopford (1901–1976), Bishop of London, 1961–1973.

39 ‘Joined and separated’.

40 The Extraordinary Magisterium infallibly teaches both de fide credenda (i.e. of the faith to be believed) and de fide tenenda (i.e. of the faith to be held) doctrines through what are called Defining Acts.

41 Conditional baptism: baptism administered when there is doubt whether a person has already been baptised or whether a former baptism is valid.

42 See p. 38, n. 8, and p. 188, n. 48.

43 Edwin Morris (1894–1971), Archbishop of Wales, 1957–1967.

44 The newly appointed Igino Eugenio Cardinale (see Dramatis Personae).

45 The Ne Temere (‘Not rashly’) decree of 1907 set down the requirements of the Roman Catholic Church for marriage by members of that Church. The decree adopted a severe and rigid view of mixed marriages and was now widely regarded as inoperable.

46 ‘Desiderius’ wish’/‘wish's wish’.

47 Karl Barth (1886–1968), the great Swiss Reformed theologian, author of the multi-volumed Church Dogmatics and many other studies, whose reputation across the Protestant world was now colossal.

48 See p. 213, n. 2.

49 The papal chapel is a solemn function, typically Mass or Vespers, celebrated by the Pope or in his presence, and it takes place, as a rule, in the chapels of the apostolic palaces, basilicas, and churches.

50 Edward Schillebeeckx (1914–2009), progressive – and increasingly distinguished – Roman Catholic theologian, much involved in advising the Dutch bishops at the Council. Although never named peritus he was theological adviser to Cardinal Alfrink during the Council.

51 The papal encyclical of 1896 which declared Anglican Orders ‘null and void’ and accordingly defined Anglican–Roman Catholic relations unhappily for the next half-century.

52 Neophytos Edelby (1920–1985), Titular Archbishop of Edessa, 1962–1968.

53 So dated, but 6th May is clearly meant.

54 Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, which was solemnly promulgated by Paul VI on 18 November 1965. The Catholic faith is based on divine revelation and this Constitution explains in some detail what the Church believes and teaches with regard to divine revelation, primarily as it is contained in the Bible.

55 Jesuit periodical (see p. 37, n. 6).

56 ‘Society of the faithful’.

57 Perhaps the most influential encyclical of Pius XII, issued in 1943.

58 ‘The Russians deny the truth, the Germans complicate the truth, the English don't care about the truth, the Spanish struggle with the truth, and the Italians possess it.’

59 ‘Pastor’.

60 Martin Niemöller (1892–1984), Lutheran pastor who came to define the witness of the Confessing Church in the Third Reich before he was imprisoned in 1938. After the War he became a leading light in the ecumenical movement internationally.

61 See p. 92, n. 64.

62 Article 25 of the 39 Articles of the Church of England, Of the Sacraments, retains those two sacraments ‘ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel . . . baptism and the supper of the Lord’, the other five being excluded as having ‘grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles’.

63 Frederick Philip ‘Percy’ Coleman (1911–1998) became General Secretary of the English Church Union in 1955 but left the movement in 1968. A striking figure in the world of Anglo-Catholicism, deeply influenced by French Catholicism and Christian socialism, Coleman was enthusiastic about the new Vatican council.

64 It is not clear to which commission Pawley is referring here.

65 ‘It is going well. The Pope is very brave and very cunning and he can do as he wishes; there are many people over there who are afraid.’

66 Philippine Independent Church, or Aglipayan Church, which separated from Rome in 1902.

67 The school of free-trade economics inspired by Adam Smith and David Hume, and later developed by Richard Cobden and John Bright, who campaigned against the Corn Laws in Britain in the 1840s.

68 ‘In areas of the people’. A bishop of this class is invested with his office but has no stated charge or diocese.

69 See Report 123, pp. 299–300.

70 Foreign Office (more properly Foreign and Commonwealth Office).

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