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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 November 2013

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The Council reopened on 14 September 1964 and the Pope concelebrated mass with twenty-four others from nineteen different countries. The next day the Council returned to the revised text of Lumen Gentium. The bishops confirmed the Church as a ‘divine mystery’ going beyond comprehension and therefore it could not be precisely defined. The document now stressed the important role of local and provincial councils throughout history and held up the model bishop as one who collaborated with the priests and the laity. Although the bishop was still in charge, the document stressed the horizontal dimension of the relationship between bishop, priest, and layman.

Research Article
Copyright © Royal Historical Society 2013 

Commentary: September–November 1964 – the third period of the Council

The Council reopened on 14 September 1964 and the Pope concelebrated mass with twenty-four others from nineteen different countries. The next day the Council returned to the revised text of Lumen Gentium. The bishops confirmed the Church as a ‘divine mystery’ going beyond comprehension and therefore it could not be precisely defined. The document now stressed the important role of local and provincial councils throughout history and held up the model bishop as one who collaborated with the priests and the laity. Although the bishop was still in charge, the document stressed the horizontal dimension of the relationship between bishop, priest, and layman.Footnote 1

Regarding religious freedom and the Jews, De Smedt argued that the early Church did not oppose religious freedom as it was fundamental to the faith. The right to religious liberty is a natural right of the individual human to civil liberty. The right is neither a moral licence to adhere to error nor a right to error.

Of the other documents considered, Nostra Aetate (Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions) led Asian bishops to query why the attitude had only changed to the Jews but not to Muslims and other Asian religions. According to Dei Verbum (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation), scripture was now regarded as the primary source of revelation and the Magisterium was not above the word of God but served it. All teaching must have a basis in divine revelation. The schema for De Apostolatu Laicorum (Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity) was introduced by the President of the Commission on the Apostolate of the Laity, Cardinal Fernando Cento, who stressed that the Commission had been established by John XXIII, which showed the regard for the laity. Rather than regarding the laity as being in the Church, they were the Church.

Probably the most important new discussion centred on Gaudium et Spes (The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World). This document addressed the whole of humanity and not just the sons of the Church, as the aspirations of humanity were also those of the Church. It was the only Vatican II document which was addressed to people outside the Church. Every type of discrimination – whether based on sex, race, colour, social condition, language, or religion – was to be overcome and eradicated as it was contrary to the intention of God. The Council recognized that fundamental rights were not yet universally honoured. Unlike Pius IX's Syllabus of Errors, which had condemned the modern world and had been instrumental in Church teaching since 1864, Gaudium et Spes actually regarded the world positively and addressed specific problems such as world peace and matters of justice.

The Pastoral Constitution avoided using the traditional terms of primary and secondary reasons for marriage (procreation, the overcoming of sexual urges, and the expression of love between two people). This was an explosive topic exacerbated by the invention of the contraceptive pill. Although John XXIII had set up a Birth Control Commission in 1963, the Council was informed that it was not to discuss the issue as it was the preserve of the Papal Commission. However, it proved predictably difficult to avoid as it was also relevant in terms of population growth in the developing world. The issue of birth control remained under the auspices of the Papal Commission and in 1968 Humanae Vitae was propagated by Paul VI.

Optatam Totius (Decree on Priestly Training) stressed that the responsibility of priestly training would rest with the local episcopal conferences, although the Holy See retained final approval. The decree also prioritized the spiritual formation of the seminarians and gave primacy to scripture. Finally, the Council was due to vote on Dignitatis Humanae (Declaration on Religious Freedom), with votes being taken on individual chapters. The text was therefore treated as an improved text. Some Fathers, however, found that the text had been reworked so extensively that it was essentially a new text and should be treated as such. It was therefore to the great consternation of many of the bishops present when it was decided that the vote on the schema would be postponed until the following year.

Report No. 127      8th September, 1964



I shall return on September 19th, late for the third session of the Council, which begins on Sept. 14th.

[. . .]


This is the department of our negotiations in which ‘timeo Romanos et dona ferentes’.Footnote 2 There have been quite a lot of cases in which apparently liberal attitudes have been taken by Romans. E.g. a ceremony in which the Anglican priest (in S. Louis, U.S.A.) was allowed to assist in a mixed marriage in an R.C. Church, in Cardinal Ritter's diocese. But my French Informations Catholiques says that the ‘Anglican party had given the necessary assurances about the upbringing of children’. So this was again only really a ‘farewell service’. I do not think we should show much satisfaction about the promises not being signed; and the verbal promise can be equally offensive. Can the observers please have some guidance about what attitude they should take about this?


I have asked that copies of the Schemata be sent to Lambeth for the use of the Archbishop and his advisers. I hope they will have arrived [. . .]


I have still not had time to study these schemata carefully, but this schema in general follows the line mapped out for it by the 2nd session. The main points I have noted so far are:

  1. a. the Petrine texts, the primacy, universal jurisdiction etc. remain intact.

  2. b. certain jurisdiction is delegated to national episcopal conferences.

  3. c. the ‘collegial’ magisterium of the bishops ‘under Peter’ is asserted.

  4. d. the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of the creeds is identified still with the Roman Catholic Church.

  5. e. Baptism confers status, though not full membership, as before. But whereas in the second draft this relationship was defined as ‘quaedam communio’, this now reads ‘vera quaedam communio’.Footnote 3

  6. f. the married diaconate is very guardedly stated. I do not think the Council will be satisfied with the text, and will wish to be more open.


The main change here is in our status, to that of a communitas ecclesialis in which there are certain (though not all the) ‘vestigia’ of the Church. Among those so described ‘praeeminet Communio Anglican’!! How much good that compliment will do us among the Protestant brethren could be a matter for conjecture. The section on future dialogue admits that they must enter it ‘par cum pari’Footnote 4 and seems to make possible considerable degrees of common prayer, study and social action – as much, at least, as it will take all concerned decades to implement effectively.

[. . .]

The section on the reformation and its consequences is again much improved upon in comparison with the former draft, and represents an immense triumph for Cardinal Bea, even though of course it doesn't go as far as we should like it to do. It talks of the ‘ecclesiae et Communitates ecclesiales . . . quae vel in gravissimo illo rerum discrimine, quod in Occidente iam ab exeunte medio aevo initium sumpsit, vel posterioribus temporibus ab Apostolica Sede Romana separate sunt’.Footnote 5 I can't think who the ecclesiae can be, except the Old Catholics.

A new and pregnant phrase is ‘Baptismus igitur vinculum unitatis sacramentale constituit vigens inter omnes qui per illud regnerati sunt.’Footnote 6

The material on the Jews and the non-Christian world, on which I have commented in a previous report, is set out in two Declarations. I still wish these two could be separated from Ecumenism altogether.


It is likely that the Ecumenism decree will be promulgated during this session, before Christmas. I hope that the Church as a whole will be able to ‘buy up the opportunity’ which this occasion will offer. Anglicans will need to be carefully led in this matter. It is becoming difficult for me now, after such close familiarity with the dramatis personae, to imagine the perspective of it all as seen from the point of view of the average parishioner at home, who will only have newspaper reports of it all. It will not be difficult for ill-disposed Anglican prophets to show from the published documents that all the old barriers are still there, undestroyed; and so to evaluate the Council as a failure. It therefore seems to me that considerable efforts should be made to show that not only do paper documents represent an immense advance in comparison with their predecessors but behind them lies the great struggle, which still goes on. Our friends in the Roman Church have won much ground, more than we thought they would, against a deep and sinister conspiracy of powerful, politically-minded reactionaries. Our favourable and understanding reception of the results of the Council will help our friends to continue the struggle. We also have a duty to educate the largely uncomprehending Protestant world (including some of the W.C.C. ‘Curia’).

[. . .]

Report No. 128      18th September, 1964



The allocation was considerably shorter than that which marked the opening of the Second session on the 29th September, 1963, perhaps because the Pope has so recently (in his Encyclical, Ecclesiam SuamFootnote 7) dealt at great length with many of the issues confronting the Council. Also in spirit it seemed nearer the Encyclical than the speech of last year. It even reminded one of the speech he delivered in November, 1963, on the occasion of his enthronement at St. John Lateran. There was, that is, a heavy and not easily explicable emphasis on the Roman primacy.

For reasons which may or may not be obvious, the Pope chose to speak of only one subject: episcopal collegiality and the relation of the episcopate to the Holy See. His praise of the character and office of bishops was great, but always carefully set within the context of the Roman primacy and the definitions of Vatican I. The closer attention one pays to the text the more difficult it is to say precisely how he would like Vatican II to define episcopal collegiality. Whatever the finally approved wording of the Schema de Ecclesia may be, it seems certain that the Pope's words will prove patient of an interpretation consonant with that wording. There is at least something in the allocution to suit every variety of opinion. [. . .]

If the content of the allocution struck a tone rather more reserved than that of last year, so did the actual delivery. It was only in the final paragraphs that the Pope's voice and manner displayed great feeling: that is, in his words addressed directly to the Observers. There can be no doubt whatever of the depth of the feeling which lay behind those words. Yet once again there was a careful ‘balance’. The reiteration of the word ‘churches’ and the phrase ‘pluralism in practice’ were notable; but they were followed by an invitation ‘to enter into the fullness of truth and charity which, as an unmerited blessing but a formidable responsibility, Christ has charged Us to preserve.’

[. . .]

From the point of view of Anglican–Roman Catholic relations and dialogue it may ultimately be no disservice that the question of the primacy has been so carefully elaborated in this allocution. At some stage it has to appear and this allocution gives at least some indication of how far (or how little) the present Pope is prepared to go in the aggiornamento of the central Roman claim.

[. . .]

Report No. 129      18th September, 1964



Cardinal Tisserant, Dean of the Sacred College and chairman of the Council Presidency, began the morning's work by thanking the Fathers for the work they have already accomplished for the success of the Council and drew their attention to the importance of their task. He said there was a desire among many of the bishops that this should be the concluding session of the Council, and he asked them to keep to the point and not to waste time. He ended by reminding them of their obligation of secrecy and regretted that certain imprudent interviews had been given during the last session.

Cardinal Agagianian greeted the Council in the name of all the Moderators and said there was much to be discussed and voted on, but that neither the nature of the work nor the amount would become tiring if the task was undertaken in the spirit of love of God and dedication to the interest of the Church. The Council must aim at concluding its deliberations as soon as possible, but without prejudice to full freedom of speech.

Archbishop Felici drew attention to the rules concerning the Periti as defined by the Commission of Coordination in the name of the Pope on the 28th December 1963, and as follows:

  1. 1) The Periti must reply with all science, prudence and objectivity to the questions which the Commissions put before them for examination.

  2. 2) They were not to try and influence votes, to give interviews or to put forward publically their personal ideas about the Council.

  3. 3) They were to abstain from criticising the Council and from giving news about the activities of the Commissions, remembering that it was for this reason that the Pope had decreed that the work of the Council should be secret.

[. . .]


[. . .]

Professor Müller of Louvain spoke about Chapters 7 and 8 of de Ecclesia on eschatology and on the Blessed Virgin, and in particular pointed out the extreme difficulty which the theologians had incurred in reaching an agreed text in the case of Chapter 8, because of the wide divergence in views on the Marian question. The discussion which followed was completely given over to Chapter 7, for lack of time, but the next meeting will be devoted to Chapter 8.

Fr. Scrima, representing the Ecumenical Patriarch, and Fa. Borovoj pointed out the difficulties which much of the text would create for the Eastern Church. This was eschatology understood in a purely Latin and Western sense.

Prof. Skydsgaard said that he found, much to his surprise, that the actual world that we live in, and all its sufferings and so on, were completely absent from the chapter. In this picture of eschatology there was no sense of the world in which we live.

Prof. Müller, in his reply to all the Observers, seemed very clearly not prepared to defend the existing text, but simply said how it had arisen and what the difficulties for Latin theologians of divergent views were. All his replies were noticeably ironic [possibly ‘irenic’].

Report No. 130      19th September, 1964



[. . .]

Cardinal Wyszynski, Archbishop of Warsaw, said the bishops of Poland had presented to the Pope a request for official acknowledgement of the spiritual maternity of Mary for all men. They wanted the Council to proclaim Mary the ‘Mother of the Church’. Mary's universal motherhood was a salient point of the Church's teaching on her. This declaration should be a solemn public act entrusting the Church to the Virgin Mary for the protection of morality, furthering the mission of the Church, promoting the unity of the human race, and working for the cause of peace. The Bishops of Brazil and Belgium had presented similar petitions. Cardinal Wyzsynski considered this chapter should be chapter 2 to emphasize Mary's relationship with the mystery of the Church.

Cardinal Léger, Archbishop of Montreal, thought this year's text was an improvement over last year's, especially with regard to the use of scripture. They must not lose sight of the necessity of renewing doctrine and preaching on Mary. They should use accurate, clear and sober words in describing Mary's vocation. Preachers sometimes indulged in hyperbole and exaggerations. This turned many away, because people today were more attracted by sobriety than exaggeration. They needed more precision in their description of the relationship between Mary and the human race. They should avoid everything not required by strict doctrine, even though it may be commonly used by preachers. They should weigh carefully all their expression with regard to their origin and meaning. The term Mediatrix appeared late in Church literature and was open to the objection that it ran counter to the teaching of St. Paul. In its present context it was acceptable, but because this context was not always at hand, it seemed advisable to avoid the title in the Schema. The text spoke out against Marian abuses, but offered nothing positive to assist in correcting possible deficiencies.

Cardinal Döpfner, Archbishop of Munich, considered the chapter provided a solid and accepted explanation of doctrine. Not too much should be said about Mary as Mediatrix, as this could give rise to controversy. There should be a treatment of the general foundation for the special role of the texts as a reply to objections against the teaching here presented. The expression in which Mary, in her immaculate conception, was ‘redeemed in a more sublime fashion’ should be modified, so as to indicate that she received a more sublime share in the fruits of redemption. The former could cause some misunderstanding, if the cause of Mary's redemption was thought to be different from that of the human race.

Cardinal Silva Henríquez, Archbishop of Santiago, said that, despite certain defects, the text was well balanced. The doctrinal foundation of the chapter was Mary's divine maternity [. . .]. The chapter was commendable for its insistence on the sole mediation of Christ. Many people talked too much of the mediation of Mary and not enough of that of Christ. This sometimes caused scandal among the faithful and also among those outside the Church.

Cardinal Bea said it should not be forgotten that criticism of this chapter dealt only with the appropriateness of the text in view of the interest of the Church. There was no question of anyone's personal devotion to the Virgin Mary. The chapter was basically acceptable, but it failed to keep the promise not to enter into theological controversies. It was not enough merely to give general warnings against ‘whatever might cause abuse’, practical directives should be given. In several places the doctrine needed to be more precise to obviate misunderstanding. The text needed to be broadly revised in order to get more solid arguments and to avoid controversial discussions.

[. . .]


[. . .]

Cardinal Suenens, Archbishop of Brussels, continuing the discussion on Chapter 8, said the text had two defects. Firstly, there was not enough stress on Mary's spiritual maternity in the Church today. She appeared rather as a figure belonging to the past, whose present activity was hardly noticed. The text was too prudent and too timid. There was not sufficient emphasis on the profound association which linked Mary with the work of Christ. It was good to concentrate on Christo-centrism, but not if this involved the danger of being anti-Marian. Secondly, nothing in the text showed the connection between Mary's spiritual maternity and the apostolate. Historically Christ was born of the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin Mary. Mystically speaking Christ was born and grows in the same way, i.e. through the Holy Spirit and through the Virgin Mary. The apostolate, which aimed to communicate the life of Christ to the world, was intimately related to Mary's spiritual activity. Marian piety should be made to stand out in bolder relief.

Archbishop Gawlina, Titular Archbishop of Madytus, considered devotion to Mary no obstacle, but rather a stimulus, to unity. It marked out a path of unity between the Church and their separated brethren. It was a bridge to ecumenism because real unity and authentic ecumenism were founded on charity. The separated brethren in the Oriental Church had deep and tender devotion to Mary. Even the founder of Protestantism composed several devotional works on the Mother of God [. . .]. Even in the Soviet Union visitors had been struck by the deep devotion of the faithful to Mary. This could be a bridge between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholics. Because Mary leads to Christ she acts ecumenically.

[. . .]

Bishop Arceo of Cuernevaca, Mexico, thought the Council should agree on a text which would eliminate any danger of their seeming divided before the world. The doctrine presented in the schema was traditional. The title ‘Mother of the Church’ was foreign to the traditions of the Oriental Church and too recent to have a place in a Council declaration. Leo XIII was the first Pope to use it. St. Pius X cautiously referred to Mary as the ‘Mother of the members of the mystical body’. Pius XII was equally careful. John XXIII used the title. Paul VI had always used it conditionally. If the Church were their mother, as they were accustomed to regard her, then Mary, as the Mother of the Church, would really be their grandmother. She would also be the Mother of the angels because St. Thomas maintained that the angels were part of the Church. The simple fact that they did not use the title would not imply any condemnation of it, but would only mean that the time was not regarded as ripe for its use. The Mexican bishops asked for a definition of Mary's motherhood of all men, not of her spiritual maternity over the Church. Mary, a traditional sign of unity in the Church, could not be turned into a sign of division.

[. . .]

Report No. 131      22nd September, 1964



In spite of the discussion on Chapter 8 of de Ecclesia having been concluded the day before, it was announced that three Fathers had obtained the necessary 70 signatures from other Fathers to enable them to return to the discussion of the B.V.M.

Cardinal Frings, Archbishop of Cologne, began by saying that the chapter did not contain anything against the truth or that could offend the legitimate demands of the separated brethren. It represented a middle way which all could take. It was necessary for the vote on the chapter to bring together the divergent views and to arrive at a practical compromise. Everyone must be prepared to sacrifice something of his personal opinion.

Cardinal Alfrink, Archbishop of Utrecht, speaking on behalf of 124 Fathers (and he said he could have obtained the signatures of many more, if time had permitted) said there had been confusion in the debate between Marian devotion and doctrine. It was for the Council to set forth the faith of the Church and not the opinions of theologians and the faithful. If one spoke of Marian devotion, the terms maximalism or minimalism were appropriate. If one spoke of faith it was another thing, it had to be the truth. The title Mediatrix was not appropriate to explain the doctrine of Mary's spiritual maternity. When applied to the Blessed Virgin the term was essentially different to when it was used for the unique mediation of Christ. For this reason Cardinal Alfrink preferred that the chapter should not mention a title which caused confusion among Catholics and astonishment and scandal among non-Catholics.

[. . .]


Bishop Franić of Split, Yugoslavia, a very reactionary consultor of the Holy Office, read a speech from certain members of the Theological Commission, against the amendments of Chapter 3 (on the Episcopate) of de Ecclesia. On the question of sacramentality of the Episcopate, he said, the Schema touched on a question historically complex and obscure, not to say theologically debatable. The majority of theologians upheld that the Episcopate was a sacrament which conferred a distinct category. The Fathers who held the opposite opinion were few, but a certain number of them had asked that the matter should not be defined, because it was too complex. On the subject of collegiality, the text expressed satisfactorily the supreme authority of the Pope, but if the bishops received through consecration the power to co-govern the whole Church, with the Pope and under the Pope, how could these two facts be reconciled? The supreme power of the Pope must inevitably be reduced.

[. . .]

The whole thing was interesting as it showed how clearly the conservatives regarded the revised Schema as inconsistent with previous teaching. In particular it would be contrary to the teaching of Vatican I concerning the universal jurisdiction of the Pope. The allowing of a married diaconate also would be the first stop [sic] to the abandoning of the celibacy of the priesthood. It had already been advocated as such by certain Catholic professors. There was evidently to be a headlong collision on these points. [. . .]

Cardinal König of Vienna and Bishop Parente of the Holy Office between them argued that there was no such collision between the two Councils, because the potestas under concern was in any case that of Christ, and was indivisible.

We (the Anglican observers) are nevertheless of the opinion that there is a real contradiction here (and of course are glad of it). Similarly, we agree with the conservatives that the married diaconate could easily be the edge of a slippery slope. It seems to us to be very significant that the Council, after frequent monition, applauded Parente. This man was one of the stickiest members of the Holy Office, who had been converted on the matter of collegiality during the Council. When I asked the second in command of the Secretariat who had converted him, he said ‘Spiritus Sanctus Dominus, quis renovabit faciem terrae’!Footnote 8

Cardinal Léger, Archbishop of Montreal, continuing the discussion on De Pastorali Munere Episcoporum Footnote 9 said a new approach was necessary in the bishop's method of teaching and governing. It was important for them to understand men as they were. Things were different today from what they were a generation ago. People were technically minded and they had new attitudes towards religion and authority. They were critical and they would accept only what was true and genuine. They objected to paternalism in the hierarchy or clergy and had new ideas of obedience, maintaining their personal responsibility. Bishops and clergy must speak so as to be heard and understood, and the so-called ecclesiastical language, which was archaic and cut off from modern reality, might be one of the reasons why their voices were crying in the wilderness. Their language should be humble, especially in fields in which they had no particular competence. There must be contacts between the bishops, priests and the faithful. Too often they knew nothing of the living conditions of their flock. There was also room for reform in dress, titles and other details.

[. . .]


There is a notable tendency to expedite the business of the Council, and strong rumours are running that this may be the last session. Archbishop Heenan said that they might postpone the fourth session for two or three years, but that is regarded as a guess. There is no doubt in my mind that the main business will be completed by November. The text of the Schema on the Church in the present world has been issued. On the whole it is a series of wide balanced pronouncements on general themes (what else can it be?) rather on the lines of the less exciting Church Assembly reports. One gets the impression that the best thing would be to get it hurried through as soon as possible (it is bound to be regarded as ‘tame’ by the press) so that all concerned can settle down to living it out. It might cause great debate in detail, but we shall see.

Report No. 132      23rd September, 1964



[. . .]

Today's votes were of the greatest importance. Vote No. 8, for example, established that episcopal consecration gave a bishop all the powers he needed for the exercise of his office, though he could not exercise them except in communion with the Pope and other bishops. This is said to be an advance on the present position. The notes on the passage say that the Orthodox exercise these powers de facto. When I asked for explanation, I was told that the position of Orthodox prelates in Catholic eyes is that they exercise jurisdiction with the tacit permission of the Pope. When I referred to our position I was told that, if at some future time the validity of Anglican orders were established, the same would be true of us. Ergo, if the Archbishop of Canterbury's orders were valid, his canonical position would be that he would be exercising his episcopate with the implicit consent of the Pope!!

Vote No. 10 established the position of collegiality by declaring that Peter, with the eleven, formed the college.

When the whole Schema has been voted in detail, it will then be voted on as a whole. It must then, of course, get its two thirds majority. It is said that Maximos IV of Antioch has submitted a number of ‘modi’, complaining that the language of the Schema is still too juridical, too pompous and too Latin.


Fr. Benoit, O.P., École Biblique, Jerusalem

De B.V.M.

The Old Testament

The themes of the Daughter of Sion, Jerusalem, etc. The town is a feminine personification, an allegory of the marriage of Jehovah with his people. The Bride, sometimes unfaithful, often punished, but always loved, invited to return – before the Exile. After the exile the emphasis is on the redemption of the unfortunate [. . .] Isaiah 41. Then she appears to be going to be the mother of the Messiah, the Emmanuel.

There are many references also to the daughter of Sion as Virgin. Isaiah 62, 63. The return of Israel, Jeremiah 31. The 70Footnote 10 introduces the translation of the word parthenos. Rejoicing introduced in the later prophets. IV Ezra has much material. Some texts from Qumran preserve the idea of the mother of the Messiah.

The New Testament

St. Luke is clearly and deliberately giving us the connecting thread in the birth narratives. Isaiah 14 etc. The Annunciation exploits it. The obvious connection of the Magnificat with the Song of Hannah and the idea of the Church as the community of the poor. The words of Simeon at the presentation, cf. Ezekiel 14.17. The same sword which will cleave the heart of Mary.

In the marriage at Cana we see Mary in face of the disciples. John entrusted with the care of Mary and vice versa. All her life Mary had formed Jesus, and her whole existence was dedicated to the accomplishment of this. The woman of Apocalypse 12 is deliberately meant as the completion of the Church and Mary. Mary as a type of the Church.

Prof. Quanbeck, Lutheran, U.S.A., said that his Church tried to do justice to the place of Mary. They appreciated the aim of Chapter 8 to try and compromise. Gen. 3.15 should not be used, nor Micah 5, 2–3. The tendency to ‘psychologise’ the text should be resisted, as at Cana and in John 19. The chapter should not proceed from allegory and devotion to dogmatic assertion – that was quite another thing. There was a total difference in the use of language.

Gr. Willebrands remarked that much of this was in the line of Cardinal Bea's intervention.

Fr. Benoit distinguished between ‘interpretation by accommodation’ and the ‘interpretation by unwinding of a revelation’. This must be by comparison with the whole context of revelation. i.e. it was sometimes legitimate to read back meanings which were not understood until later.

Prof. Cullmann agreed that Mary was an instrument chosen in the ‘history of salvation’, but there were other, many other, such instruments, e.g. Abraham, the Apostles. Mary indeed ‘longe antecellit’,Footnote 11 but only as a question of degree. All these instruments had been chosen, elected and were therefore blessed within that history. There was no ‘Abrahamology’ or ‘Paulology’. The faith of Mary is undoubtedly there in the narratives. The schema was too rapid about the life of Jesus. Did the faith of Mary never fail, Luke 2.41, ‘The parents understood not . . .’. In Mark 3, 21, those about him came to take him away because he was beside himself. Jesus’ answer is very uncomfortable.

Fr. Benoit thought that Mary's particular relation to the incarnate body put her in a totally different relationship. He drew a distinction between ‘lack of comprehension of faith’ and ‘lack of faith’.

Fr. Scrima, Representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch, said the main problems were not really biblical, but psychological. Typology was an effort to draw out the spiritual meaning of Holy Scripture. The place of the B.V.M. in the mystery was to give its context to Christology and Pneumatology. The Theotokos was present also at Pentecost, with the Church, at the completion of Christology. The B.V.M. was a type of the Church and of man, because she knew all suffering. Was it the intention that this great source of devotion and inspiration should disappear from the Christian scene, or that she should pull us back to unity in Christ? There is ontological necessity for some doctrine and some devotion.

Prof. Schlink, Evangelical Church in Germany, said the Reformation churches had much in common with the Roman Catholic Church, not only the body of Christ born from Mary, but the act of faith. The proposed chapter 8 was indeed a blow for the ‘maximalists’, but it by no means avoided the difficulties of Protestant objectors. Mark 3, 31–5 was a most impressive text for those who opposed Mariological tendencies. Mary was included among those whose faith was inadequate, and there was no confession of faith parallel to that of St. Peter.

Mary was not simply a model in the spiritual sense, but in her we are united through her with the company of the apostles. The greater exploitation of this relationship was a possibility for future understanding. But was the title of Mediatrix, unexplained, an opening for future dogmatic definition? Mediator was one of the titles of Jesus which was applied to him alone, and therefore should only be used of him if the meaning of it was made crystal clear. The introduction of this title in the Council would be an ecumenical catastrophe. They had hoped that the insertion of this chapter meant that it would be shown how Mary was a member of the Church. On the contrary, every effort seemed to have been made to emphasise the difference between her and the Church. This now seemed to be almost the crown of the Schema.

Fr. Benoit admitted that the first tradition hadn't much to say about Mary, for naturally the force and weight of the Resurrection etc. at first crowded out everything else.

Prof. Nissiotis said that the Orthodox were proud of their Mariology, and brought Mariology to the West, but they were shocked by the recent Roman mania of doctrinal definition. All this was due to a total lack of Pneumatology. Was this mania a substitute for the Holy Spirit? Much of Fr. Benoit's exegesis attributed to Mary the energies of the Holy Spirit, due to this vacuum. The role of Mary was not that of mediatrix redemptionis, but mediatrix intercessionis, in the centre of the Church. The mosaic of Daphne was the true type of Mary praying in the Church. The Roman Catholic Church will spoil this picture at her peril. In doing so she will injure unity.

This meeting was altogether one of the most moving I have ever attended. The Orthodox marshalled their arguments most skilfully and swept the board. This seems to me to epitomise the work of the Council at its best. All was in good humour, and the confrontation was direct and effective. The best thing since 1054.

Willebrands and Benoit tried to answer and failed to do so effectively, in my judgment. Willebrands said that Mediatrix intercessionis would equally lead to a doctrine of mediation if it were used that way. To which Nissiotis countered that that was only one more argument for not having the title in the Schema anyhow.

Report No. 133      25th September, 1964


[. . .]


Cardinal Ruffini, Archbishop of Palermo, who is normally spoken of as a ‘Fascist’, opening the debate on Religious Liberty, said that it was only the truth which should be free. What association was there, then, between error and liberty? What was to become of the Concordats (e.g. in Italy, Spain, etc.) if there were religious freedom for all? The text said that a government should not favour one form of religion over another. That too undermined concordats. He ended by drawing attention to a passage forbidding Roman Catholics to impose their religion by force, and asked whether it was right that they should be given this instruction, when in many countries Roman Catholics were being persecuted for their faith.

Cardinal Léger, Archbishop of Montreal, considered the text acceptable because it safeguarded the rights both of individuals and of groups. It answered the patient expectation of those who were suffering everywhere for their religion. It provided a foundation for dialogue with the separated brethren. The text was prudent in its warning against relativism and indifferentism. But it needed to be clarified on two points. On the subject of religious liberty, what the text said was, strictly speaking, applicable only to believers. It must, however, be applicable to all men without exemption, even those who do not believe. They must affirm the freedom of religion of those who wish to profess no religion at all. As for the foundation of religious liberty, it was inexact to put it in following the will of God or corresponding to man's divine vocation. This presupposed God, and some will not accept God. This foundation should be put in the highest exercise of human reason. Anything against religious liberty was also against man and his reason.

[. . .]

Cardinal Meyer, Archbishop of Chicago, said the declaration should be accepted because it was in line with the declaration of modern Popes, especially of John XXIII. It was necessary for the following reasons: 1) Men wanted from the Church a proclamation of religious liberty because their common experience had shown that, where the state dominated religion, civic welfare was generally harmed, whereas, where religious freedom was enjoyed, civic welfare flourished. 2) This confirmation of religious liberty by the Council would point the way to civil governments and show them how to act. 3) It would show that true religion was not in external acceptance but consisted chiefly in the conscious and full acceptance of the will of the Creator. 4) It would aid the Apostolate by making clear that religion was best promoted by interior conviction. 5) It was necessary to insure fruitful dialogue with the separated brethren. They must give to others what they claimed for themselves. The importance of this declaration was so far-reaching that, if the Council were not to approve it, nothing else which it might do would satisfy the expectations of men.

Cardinal Henríquez, Archbishop of Santiago, Chile, thought the text was much better than that presented in 1963. It was acceptable because it was not a chapter but a distinct declaration. It was correct in declaring the incompetence of civil authorities in religious matters. He approved of the statement that the doctrine given was traditional in the Church. The declaration would have extreme importance, not only for Christians, but for all men. In Latin America especially it would dissipate certain opportunist ideas, according to which the stand on religious liberty would vary as to whether the Church was in the majority or the minority. The declaration would have a special impact on the work of evangelism. The peoples of Latin America need a new Christianisation. [. . .]

Cardinal Ottaviani said there were some exaggerations in the text as, for example, where it stated that, even though he be in error, a man was worthy of honour. A man in error deserved charity and kindness, but it was not clear how he was entitled to honour. The declaration forgot many elements which were beyond the field of ecumenism, and it did not pay sufficient attention to non-Christian religions. Attention must be paid not to natural rights but also to supernatural rights. Those professing a revealed religion had rights over those coming from the natural law. They must profess and defend their Catholic faith no matter what the consequences. How many prisons had been sanctified by confessors of the faith. Religious liberty could exist only in dependence on the Divine Law. It was not true that the state was incompetent to choose a religion. If this were so, they would have to suppress all the concordats made by the Holy See. This would mean the suppression of the many benefits which these concordats had produced, such as the protection of marriage and religious education in the concordat with Italy. It was not lawful to admit freedom to spread a religion when this might harm the unity of a Catholic nation and culminate in weakening it. [. . .]

This speech by the head of the reactionaries was delivered with a consummate oratory. He is the only speaker who really speaks Latin.

The six votes of the morning were of the greatest importance, and were one of the turning-points of the Council:

  • Vote 13.   The order of bishops, succeeding the college of the Apostles in magisterium and pastoral government, in union with its Head, is likewise a subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church, but this power may never be exercised independently of the Roman Pontiff - - - Very large majority.

    Vote 14.   The power of binding and loosing given to Peter personally was also given to the College of the Apostles in union with its Head - - - Very large majority.

    Vote 15.   With due respect for the primacy and authority of its Head, Bishops exercise their own power for the welfare of the faithful and even the whole Church through the help of the Holy Spirit - - - Large majority, Non placet 152.

    Vote 16.   This supreme power is exercised in Ecumenical Council. Only the Roman pontiff can invoke, preside over and confirm Councils. There can be no Ecumenical Council not confirmed, or at least accepted, by the successor of Peter - - - Large majority.

    Vote 17.   This same collegial power in union with the Pope can be exercised by Bishops throughout the world, provided the Head of the College calls them to collegial action or at least approves their unified action freely - - - Large majority, non placet 204.

    Vote 18.   The collegial union of the bishops is reflected in their relationships with their particular churches and with the universal Church. Individual bishops represent their churches and all of them together with the Pope represent the entire Church in the bond of peace, love and unity - - - Large majority.


This has not yet taken place, it is said because of the departure of Cardinal Bea and Willebrands to Greece. When the Standing Committee of the Observers (of which I am a member) met to decide who should reply to the Pope's address it was easily decided that the Ecumenical Patriarch's representative should do it. It is very satisfactory how readily the Protestants accept the general leadership of the Orthodox. We of course encourage this as over against any hegemony of the W.C.C.

[. . .]

Report No. 134      28th September, 1964



[. . .]

The following speakers continued the discussion on the text of the Declaration on Religious Liberty. Considering the urgent nature of the subject, the speeches were on the whole insipid, and only a few of them are here recorded.

Cardinal König, Archbishop of Vienna, said that, although he considered the declaration acceptable as it stood, it should not keep silent about the tragic fact that there were nations who enjoyed no religious freedom. Some governments today were militantly atheistic, while others granted religious freedom only when this could be distorted into meaning the suppression of all religion. The Council should find a way to speak out in the name of all men in order to arouse the conscience of the world and to prevent those deplorable situations where atheism had all the privileges and religion had no rights.

Cardinal Browne of the Theological Commission, said that the declaration could not be approved in its present form, a form which was not even necessary for the peace and unity of the peoples of the world. It put the foundation of religious liberty in the rights of the human conscience. But it was evident that social rights, based on an individual conscience which was erroneous, could not be equated with rights flowing from an individual conscience which was right.

Archbishop Parente, Assessor of the S.C. of the Holy Office, thought the text could not be approved as it stood. It prefers the rights of man, his liberty and his conscience to the rights of God. There was no clear distinction between the objective and subjective aspects of truth and error, nor was there a forthright admission of the mission of the Church. Much of the text was open to equivocation. They should be concerned about the probable reactions among various governments and learned circles. The declaration spoke of protecting followers of every religion in the name of liberty of conscience. It seemed to forget the duty of the Church to preach the truth with prudence and charity. It was an unfortunate suggestion [. . .]

Bishop López Ortiz of Tui-Vigo, Spain, considered that the passage declaring a state incompetent to judge the truth regarding religion should be deleted from the text, because of its false and harmful consequences. It insinuated that no government could declare itself Catholic if it so wished. When a government made such a declaration it was not passing judgment on truth concerning religion, but solemnly manifesting its obedience to the Divine Law [. . .]. When the citizens of a nation, with practical unanimity, profess the true religion, then the state should act accordingly.

Bishop Pohlschneider of Aachen, Germany, said this declaration was a truly historical document which would serve the good cause of peace on earth. It needed to be supplemented, however, by a reference to freedom of education. [. . .]

Bishop Primeau of Manchester, New Hampshire, said they should distinguish between religious liberty which is internal and personal and religious liberty which is external and social. In present day parlance the first was called liberty of conscience, and the second was known as freedom of worship. There was a commonly accepted bond between the two. They must beware of the false concept of man which would make him first an individual and then social. Man was essentially social [. . .]. Because of this, it was unlawful to recognise a man's right to freedom of conscience while restricting him in his freedom of worship. Both freedoms were equally essential and pertained to the integrity and dignity of the human person [. . .]

[. . .]

Archbishop Dubois of Besançon, France, thought the text was too philosophical and too juridical. It should be given a tone more in keeping with the spirit of scripture and tradition. Everyone must be regarded as a man, as a member of human society and as an object of the love of Christ. It was for these reasons that St Augustine addressed a heretical bishop as ‘honourable brother’. Our Lord commended religious liberty, as could be seen in the passages comparing the Apostles to light and salt, comparisons which excluded coercion. Many other texts of scripture could be used to illustrate this point.


[. . .]

Cardinal Roberti, President of the Commission for the reform of the Curia, continuing the debate on religious liberty, said a clear distinction must be made between freedom of conscience and freedom of consciences. This distinction was dear to Pius XII. The Church could not admit freedom of conscience because that would be contradicting herself. Freedom of conscience was too often understood as conferring on someone the right of free, personal choice even when confronted with the law of God. But the Church could admit freedom of consciences, because this implied freedom from all external coercion in the belief and exercise of religion.

Archbishop Hurley of Durban, S. Africa, said it was completely unlawful to impose on anyone the rejection of a religious belief as a condition for sharing in the benefits of civic life. No religious group could be subordinated to the political ends of the state. Nevertheless, since the classical argument for the union of Church and State was the obligation of the state to make a social profession of religion, this argument could influence many people in the opposite direction from that intended. The weakness in this argument was that it ascribed to the state the obligation to provide for social worship, whereas this was an obligation only of the Church. The Church would be more effective in the discharge of its mission when it worked with its own resources and did not have to depend on the support of the state.

Archbishop Alter of Cincinnati, U.S.A., said they were not speaking of the declaration of religious freedom in every possible sense, but only in the right of every human being to be free from force in his worship of God. They did not affirm the right of anyone to teach error or to do harm. No one had such rights before God. They were claiming only freedom from social coercion. It would promote the cause of peace and harmony if the Council issued a clear declaration on this point, especially in those areas where the Church was living in a pluralistic society. Catholics had been accused of inconsistency and even insincerity, and of shifting their stand on religious liberty according to whether they were in the majority or minority. The text should therefore forestall any repetitions of these doubts and suspicions. They should affirm the absolute incompetence of public officials to judge religious matters, and should reiterate their obligation to use all appropriate means to ensure the free practice of religion with safety to the individual. Matters as sacred as this could not be left merely to the majority vote of citizens.

Bishop Lucey of Cork, said liberty of conscience was not to be understood as a personal moral right, but as a human right. It could be called a negative right, as it entitled us not to be interfered with in the practice of religion. [. . .] There was a universal obligation to respect good faith, no matter where it was found. There were even atheists in good faith. A man's personal acts of religion were always acceptable to God, but this gave him no right to interfere with the acts of religion of others.

After this, Cardinal Suenens proposed to the Fathers a standing vote on the closing of the debate on Religious Liberty. A vast majority declared themselves favourable. The Moderator reminded the assembly that the debate could be continued by those who could secure the support of at least 70 others.

[. . .]

Report No. 135      30th September, 1964



Cardinal Bea began his Relatio on the Declaration on Jews and Non-Christians by remarking on the vast interest it had aroused. There was practically no other schema on which so much had been written. This showed how the world was looking to the Church for approval or rejection of this schema, and the judgement of many on the whole Council would be based solely on this. The Church must follow the example of Christ and the Apostles in their love for the Jewish people. The crucial point of this entire discussion was the question of ‘deicide’, i.e. whether, and in what way, the death of Christ could be said to be the fault of the Jewish people as such. It was wrong to say that this was the chief reason for anti-semitism, since there were many other reasons such as religion, politics and psychological, social and economic prejudices. It was a historical fact that the culpability for the death of Christ had at times been laid on the entire Jewish people with the result that they were often despised and persecuted.

The leaders of the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, although not democratically elected, were regarded as the legitimate authority of the people. But were the leaders of the Jewish people fully aware of the Divinity of Christ to the extent that they could be said to be deicides? St. Peter and St. Paul indicated that the death sentence was the result of ignorance. Could the entire Jewish people of that time be said to be responsible? [. . .] Anyway there were no grounds for attributing to the Jewish people of today any responsibility for the death of Christ.

The second part of the Declaration dealt with non-Christian religions, with explicit mention of the Moslems. This was of special importance as even non-Christian religions today were troubled by practical irreligiosity or even militant atheism. It was agreed to stress three points: 1) God is the Father of all men and they are His children. 2) All men are brothers. 3) All discrimination, violence and persecution of national or racial origin is to be condemned.

Many felt that the present Declaration on the Jews was out of place in the schema on ecumenism, which should, strictly speaking, deal with the promotion of Christian unity. On the other hand there was a close connection between all Christians and the chosen people of the Old Testament. A compromise has been reached and the subject has been treated in a separate document connected with the schema on ecumenism.

It must be realised that they were dealing only with religion, and were in no way touching on politics. There was no question of Zionism but only of the followers of the law of Moses, wherever they may be. The purpose of this Declaration was for the Church to imitate the charity of Christ and the Apostles and to consider how God worked out her salvation and what great benefits He conferred on the Chosen People. This renovation of the Church was of such importance that it justified the risk of being accused of pursuing political ends.

[. . .]


We received Cardinal Suenens and Bishop De Smedt of Bruges to dinner. This was very easy, these two being among the most relaxed of all the Council Fathers. Even so, the Cardinal seemed unfamiliar with the relationship between the C. of E. and P.E.C.U.S.A. and was interested to pick up information about the latter. He referred with pleasure to the Archbishop's visit to Belgium and hoped it would be repeated. We said we valued contact with Belgium, especially at Louvain. When I said that Belgium was nearer to Cambridge than some parts of England (in mileage) they both laughed heartily and obviously knew what was intended. The letter said openly that of course the English hierarchy was sticky but that it was getting better.

[. . .]


We received Cardinal Léger of Montreal, Bishop Pocock (assistant to Cardinal McGuigan, Archbishop of Toronto) and a very young-looking man called de Roo, Bishop of Victoria, B[ritish].C[olumbia] [. . .]

Fairweather knew the first two of our guests very well already. The Cardinal, he said, had a real intense interest in Ecumenism. That certainly appeared from the number of questions he asked. We discussed religious liberty and Canadian nationalism: the Cardinal was obviously against it, but saw no reason for anxiety about the Queen's visit.Footnote 12

They said that there was now a tension in the Council, on lines which cut across the usual alignment of conservative and liberal, about the duration and the prospect of a fourth session. There was considerable dissatisfaction about the text of the Church in the World. Liberals said it would be better to put out nothing than this, or that they should prolong the Council indefinitely until some adequate text was presented. The conservatives are divided between those who want to send the bishops home as soon as they can, so that they can get down to the business of ‘bossing’ the Church again, and those who want to elaborate the text on the B.V.M. and get the slightly reactionary text on This World on to infallible paper.

[. . .]


We had the routine audience, this time in the Sistine Chapel, so that the long wait was a sheer joy. Cardinal Bea made a formal introduction, saying how appropriate it was that this meeting should be happening so soon after the ‘gracious gesture’ scil.Footnote 13 of St. Andrew's head.Footnote 14 The principal observer of the Patriarch (Archimandrite Rodopoulos) added that, although the head was indeed a gracious gesture, they should not forget that there were formidable obstacles [. . .]. The Pope nodded appreciatively.

In his answer the Pope announced his intention of suggesting the foundation of an interconfessional institute for the study of theological problems, the first of which should be the ‘history of salvation’.

In the presentations afterwards the Pope spent a flatteringly disproportionate time with me saying, ‘so you are abandoning us’ and ‘. . . but you mustn't, for you are civis Romanus now’.Footnote 15 I didn't explain at length on plans about the future, but will do so at a private audience later.

We were all presented with a specially bound copy of the New Testament with Greek on one page and the Vulgate on the other.

Report No. 136      1st October, 1964



[. . .]

Having secured the signatures of at least 70 other bishops, four prelates were authorised to continue the discussion on religious liberty, of whom four we quote only the speech of:

Archbishop Heenan of Westminster who drew attention to the 16th century bitter battle between Protestants and Catholics in England. He said that religious liberty was soon banished and the number of martyrs was evidence of the ferocity of the persecution. In all honesty, though, it must be admitted that, when a Catholic queen occupies [sic] the throne, Protestants suffered a similar fate. By the end of the century Protestantism had triumphed and [the] Church of the early centuries had almost ceased to exist. Great Britain could in no sense be described as Catholic today. The Church of England is the established Church and the Queen is its head. The general mentality of the country was Christian in the sense that babies were usually baptised, couples generally preferred to be married in the Church and almost all were given Christian burial. It was true that many professed no religion; nevertheless, religion was honoured both publicly and in private. The State made substantial contribution for Church schools and paid full salaries to all teachers, lay or religious. Catholic schools were granted the same rights as the Church of England schools. Everyone recognised that liberty and equality of treatment for all was the only way to obtain peaceful civic relations. He praised and unreservedly approved the declaration of religious freedom. Because the world was small, what happened in one state could have repercussion all over the world. Some feared the danger of allowing the propagation of error. This was a genuine fear because no one could feel happy at the prospect of the young or ignorant being led into error. But against the contempt for all restraint, they must safeguard liberty. Freedom must be defended at all costs. Experience showed that any state interference in religious matters had always been harmful. The external practice of religion should be subject only to those restrictions which were absolutely necessary to safeguard public order. The text did well to base this right on something more positive than tolerance and the common good. This pastoral doctrine should not omit some doctrinal considerations, because they should give some indication of the methods used to reach their conclusions.

Archbishop Heenan was announced as ‘Archbishop of Westminster in France’. The beginning of this speech [. . .] we found very unacceptable. It was contentious, inaccurate and provocative. It introduced, quite unnecessarily, an inadequate reference to the Reformation. In a discussion on religious liberty it seemed to us quite inexcusable to refer to the severities of persecution in Queen Elizabeth's reign without acknowledging what was the obvious cause of them, viz. the knowledge that the Pope was encouraging a naval and military expedition against the freedom of these islands. It therefore behoves no one to refer to these unhappy days except in the spirit of Pope Paul VI, who said: ‘In this great cauldron of human history many severe things were done of which we are all together culpable.’

It seemed strange to us, moreover, that the Vice-President of the Secretariat for Union should provoke us by the bland and misleading statement that ‘the Queen is Head (of the Ecclesia Anglicana)’. The only Head of any Church, we would hope, is Jesus Christ. The honorific title of the Queen of England only runs in the provinces of Canterbury and York: and even then it does not in practice impinge upon the liberties of the Church to anything like the degree voluntarily assumed in the Roman Catholic Church, e.g. in Spain.

If Archbishop Heenan has wanted to illustrate any of the evils of religious intolerance he could have done so better from the state of affairs in Italy at the present moment, where the Roman Catholic Church is in league with the State for the suppression of religious liberty. (Ask the Waldensians).

The discussion then returned to the attitude of the Church towards Jews and other non-Christians.

Cardinal Liénart of Lille thought the text [. . .] was acceptable in its treatment of the common patrimony of Christians and Jews. Nevertheless, more stress should be put upon the statement that the Jewish people were not to be regarded as reprobate. St. Peter and St. Paul never regarded the Jews as a rejected people, so neither can we.

Cardinal Ruffini of Palermo, commended the praises of the Jewish people. It hardly seemed necessary to insist that Christians should have love for Jews. Many incidents in the last war were eloquent proof of this, and the Grand Rabbi of Rome had felt obliged to express thanks publicly for asylum granted by the Holy See. It would also be in order to urge Jews to love Christians, particularly Catholics, and to desist from offensive practices which have taken place in the past. It was known that most Jews followed the Talmudic text which inculcated contempt for all who were not Jews. It was well known that Jews supported Free Masonry, which was hostile to the Church and which had been outlawed to members of the Roman Catholic Church under pain of excommunication. Why was there no mention in the text of redemption through Christ also for Jews? The text hardly mentioned non-Christians except Moslems. There were in the world as many Buddhists and Hindus as Moslems, and they were no further removed than the Moslems from basic Christian teaching.

Cardinal Léger, Archbishop of Montreal, said the importance of the declaration on Jews and other non-Christians was that it was an act of a renewed Church. [. . .] Reference to the Jewish origin of Jesus, Mary and the Apostles should be made more clear. They should explain why they condemned hatred of the Jews, i.e., not only because they were men, but because they were specially related to us. They should declare that past persecution of Jews came from false philosophies and wrong interpretation of Christian doctrine. The text was too ambiguous [. . .]

Cardinal Cushing of Boston said their declaration about the Jews and love for the sons of Abraham must be more clear and positive, less timid and more charitable. In a word it must manifest Christ. The text must rule out any special culpability for the death of Christ which would be made to affect later generations [. . .]. They must proclaim to the world in this sacred assembly that there was no logical or historical reason which could justify the iniquity, the hatred or the persecution of our Jewish brethren. It may well be true that not many voices of this kind were lifted in the past, but at least they could be lifted now.

[. . .]

Cardinal Meyer, Archbishop of Chicago, said the importance of this declaration had been stressed by many and it should be accepted with our whole hearts [. . .]. It was enough to say that the Church deplored the persecution of Jews merely because it condemned injustice to all men. There should be explicit mention of the special bonds uniting us to the Jews, as in the previous text [. . .]. The text should make it very clear that the Church took a vigorous stand against any and all discrimination of nation or race, etc. This should be set forth with greater clarity.

[. . .]

Report No. 137      2nd October, 1964



[. . .]

The discussion was continued on the declaration on the Jews.

[. . .]

Archbishop Heenan said it was not surprising that the Jews had received the new version of this declaration without enthusiasm. It was natural that they should ask why certain changes had been made as there was a subtle difference in tone and spirit in the new version. The wording of the document now before the Council was not precisely the wording given it by the Secretariat of Christian Unity. The reasons were not clear, but it was safe to say that there was no desire to make the approach less warm or generous. The change may have been made by men inexperienced in ecumenism. There have been unpleasant reactions to the ‘conversion’ which seems to be the reason for quoting St. Paul to the Romans. But conversion was not in the context of ecumenism (!), which aims to lead people only to examine each other's beliefs. Its goal was not victories but mutual understanding and esteem. Nonetheless, their hope was for the return of all the brethren of Christ to the one fold. The fact that this quotation had been taken badly by the Jews was sufficient reason for eliminating it. Unless a change is made in the mention of deicide the obvious conclusion will be that, after a year's reflection, the Council Fathers have decided that the Jewish people are culpable. The Council should proclaim that the Jewish people are not guilty. It would certainly be unjust if all the Christians in Europe were judged guilty of the death of millions of Jews in Germany and Poland. It was no less unjust to condemn the whole Jewish people for the death of Christ.

We were pleased to hear Archbishop Heenan disconnecting conversions from ecumenism. This represents a step forward.

[. . .]

We wished that the Moderator would feel able to silence speakers for insufferable repetition of what had already been said.

Report No. 138      5th October, 1964



[. . .]

Bishop Wright of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, presented the Relation on Chapter 4 of de Ecclesia. He pointed out that the discussion in the previous session seemed to revolve around three main points: (1) many thought the idea of the layman, as presented in the text, was too negative; (2) Some felt the text was insufficient and even inexact in its presentation of the accepted Catholic doctrine on the hierarchical constitution of the Church; (3) Others wanted more explanation of the concept of royal priesthood and of the role of the laity in the Church, especially concerning the consecration of the world.

The Commission had endeavoured to express its idea of the laity in more positive terms [. . .]. With regard to the second point, the Commission had tried to steer a middle course between confusion between the laity and ordained ministries and such a distinction and separation as would offend against the basic unity of the Body of Christ [. . .]

Consequently the content of the introduction had been developed on a broader base, although nothing really new had been added. The text now spoke more explicitly of the dignity of the laity as members of the people of God, but the amendments were really only of secondary importance. The Schema now presented an explicit proposition of the way in which the laity were to exercise their apostolate in the Christian life, and recognised a closer cooperation between some members of the laity and the apostolate of the hierarchy.

[. . .]

A start was then made on the revised text of de Divina Revelatione. The minority report was presented to begin with by:

Bishop Franić of Split, Yugoslavia, who indicated that the basic problem of the disagreement in the Commission was over the relationship of Scripture and Tradition, i.e. could tradition be said to have a wider scope than scripture in such a way that certain doctrines could be held in virtue of tradition alone, even though they were not based on scripture. He then outlined the views of the minority of the Commission. He felt that the schema would be basically defective unless a clear stand were taken on this important point.

The first argument tried to show how the adoption of the position on the wider scope of tradition would be of great ecumenical value in relations with the Orthodox churches. The Protestant brethren also wanted to have a sincere and open statement on this question. They should not be deceived with a silence aimed at hiding disagreement, as this would not be genuine charity.

[. . .]

This kind of minority report is one of the most interesting features of the Council. We agree on his main contention that the report represents a serious departure from the doctrines of the Council of Trent, though we are of course glad of this. [. . .]

Report No. 139      6th October, 1964



The Council discussed the Schema de Divina Revelatione.

Cardinal Léger, Archbishop of Montreal, said it was wise to avoid any solemn conciliar pronouncements on the difficult problem of one or two founts of Revelation. The schema should stress the transcendence of the Apostolic deposit transmitted to us through scripture and tradition. Divine Revelation transcends the entire life of the Church and all the acts of the Magisterium. In the strict sense only Revelation is the Word of God. It was right that the Church should turn to Revelation as the source of inspiration for her renovation. It would be advisable for all of them to make a careful examination of conscience, as there was no doubt that there had been exaggerations on the importance of the Magisterium. On the subject of Revelation and Magisterium there should be a clear distinction between the teaching of the Apostles and that of their successors. The Apostles were direct eye witnesses of the events they described, and they were direct preachers of Revelation, and so in this way they were different. They must realise that there had been at times certain indiscretions in insistence on infallibility. This set up a wall between the Roman Catholic Church and their separated brethren. They should distinguish between the infallibility which is strictly speaking proper to Revelation and that which is proper to the Magisterium of the Church.

[. . .]

Cardinal Browne of the Theological Commission made a reactionary statement and said that the text unfortunately omitted all mention of the role of theologians in furthering the evolution of the teaching of Tradition. There was a wrong emphasis on deeds instead of words. It should be stated that Revelation was contained in words and deeds, because words were the principle means of expressing thought. Tradition did not grow and the substantial content of Scripture was always the same. Certain expressions should be clarified to prevent modern error on the priority of ‘religious experience’.

[. . .]

Archbishop Attipetty of Verapoly, India, said the deliberate avoidance by the Theological Commission of the touchy question of the objective content of Tradition could not be defended. They were dealing with two contradictory things, i.e. whether Tradition alone without scripture was the fount of Revelation. One opinion holds as a dogma of faith that Tradition alone is a source of Revelation. If this were now contradicted it would mean that what has up to now been proclaimed as dogma would be declared false. Recent studies had shown that the mind of the Council of Trent on this point had prevailed in the Church in the intervening centuries. If no stand were taken on this the Church would be open to ridicule, as though she had been hitherto teaching a false doctrine. The dogmas like the Assumption, which was based on Tradition, would also appear ridiculous. Nothing was more dangerous than to allow ecumenical preoccupations to harm the integrity of the faith. Nothing could justify silence. Therefore, if the Council was unable to reach agreement on this, the Pope should be asked to decide in virtue of his supreme Magisterium. (A surprisingly reactionary statement from India).

[. . .]


We now know that our Archbishop of Uganda has accepted the Secretariat's invitation to be present in St. Peter's on the 18th October for the canonisation of the martyrs, at which the Pope will mention the Anglican martyrs in his speech. This is another unprecedented encounter.

Report No. 140      6th October, 1964



The debate was continued on the schema de Divina Revelatione and the main speakers were:

Archbishop Beras of Santo Domingo, Dom. Republic, (as an example of a really reactionary approach) said that if there were any desire to avoid discussion of the question of the objective content of Revelation, the whole question could be postponed. This suggestion was not prompted by any doubt of the truth, but merely of the opportuneness of making a definitive statement at the present time. Was it not for Ecumenical Councils to decide and confirm what had been traditional doctrine in the Church? It seemed necessary to proclaim the doctrine of Vatican I, which stated that not all truths were contained in scripture, some were made known to the Apostles and transmitted by them to us. Such a stand was of great importance with regard to the three basic Marian dogmas of Perpetual Virginity, the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption [. . .]

Bishop Alba Palacios of Tehuantepec, Mexico, suggested the title should be changed to ‘Divine Tradition’ instead of ‘Sacred Tradition’ in order to show that there was not sufficient emphasis on preaching as the chief means of transmitting the Word of God, an idea which frequently recurs in the Epistles of St. Paul. There was nothing wrong in the acceptance of teaching which was not based on St. Thomas. Pope Pius XII issued an Apostolic constitution clarifying the matter of the Sacrament of Orders, even though St. Thomas had held a different opinion.

Very Rev. Christopher Butler, Abbot President of the English Congregation of the order of St. Benedict, said that it would seem that the text used the term ‘tradition’ in two different senses. In the first it includes scripture, but in the second sense the text speaks of the ‘relationships between scripture and tradition’, thus giving us to understand that tradition is different from scripture. The Theological Commission had no doubts as to the teaching of the Council of Trent on tradition. In judging the statements made by the ordinary Magisterium of the Church distinction must be made between words used and the intention behind the words. It should not be forgotten that at the time of Trent exegesis was more static than dynamic, whereas today it was essentially dynamic, thus enabling them to see more in scripture than was possible for previous generations. Magisterium never had any intention to declare deficiency in scripture. Since any definition by the Council would be seriously misunderstood, the matter was plainly not mature for final decision.

[. . .]


Religious Liberty

I asked for clarification of Archbishop Heenan's position with regard to the place of proselytism in the scheme of things. In the Schema de Ecumenismo he had asked for the insertion of a section declaring that the work of ‘reconciliation’ was not ruled out by the Schema. Yet in the declaration on the Jews he had said that there was no connection at all between proselytism and ecumenism.

I said that the world would judge the whole Schema and its declarations by the practical outcome of them. It would therefore expect:

  1. a) Suggestions concerning the revision of some of the Concordats now in existence in which the R.C. Church is compromised because liberty of others is restricted thereby.

  2. b) Suggestions concerning the running of ecumenical institutes so that they will under no circumstances be suspected of proselytising activities.

  3. c) Positive directions for the guidance of people working in the mission field both with regard to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the Roman Church, and also with regard to the rights and correct treatment of others working in the same area.

Willebrands said that the Secretariat would welcome suggestions for the Directorium on Ecumenism and for the practical working out of the Declaration on Religious Liberty.


Archbishop Martin of Rouen, presented the Relatio on Chapter 1 of de Ecumenismo and said that the expression ‘restoration of unity’ with which the schema now opened should be a source of satisfaction to the separated brethren. The doctrine outlined in the schema was closely connected with the teaching of the constitution de Ecclesia.

[. . .]

Report No. 141      7th October, 1964



[. . .]

Bishop Helmsing of Kansas City, U. S. A., presented the Relatio on Chapter 2 of the Schema de Ecumenismo. He said that Chapter 1 had dealt with the general nature of the ecumenical movement and that Chapter 2 showed the connection between this movement and the life of individual pastors and faithful. To bring about this conversion of heart, it would be useful, even necessary, to pray for unity sometimes in brotherly association with Orthodox and Protestant Christians.

[. . .]


[. . .]

The Secretariat was happy to accede to the wishes of many Fathers who asked for a degree of latitude in the legislation on participation in non-Catholic services. A general ruling on this point had been made part of the text. The approval of this text would mark the beginning of a new era in the history of the Church and lead all Christians to the primitive and genuine unity of the Church of Christ.

Archbishop Heenan presented the Relatio on Part 2 of Chapter 3 dealing with separated churches and ecclesial communities in the West. The title of this second part had been changed in order to make it more objective. The groups which had arisen as a result of separation in the West were not merely agglomerations of individual Christians, but were made up of genuine ecclesial character. It was intended to include all those who called themselves Christians. There was no intention to go into the disputed question of what was required for a Christian community, theologically speaking, to be called a Church. There was now no reference in the text to Christian communities which arose ‘since the 16th Century’, but only to communities ‘separated in the West’.

A new method of presentation had been adopted. There was no attempt to provide a description of definition of other communities but only to set down four points which must be accepted in these communities: 1) belief in Christ; 2) study of the sacred books; 3) sacramental life; 4) life with Christ. These were common to all Christians and served as a foundation for dialogue with the separated brethren. As a part of this dialogue there was an indication of those doctrines on which there was disagreement. This tempered and well-balanced presentation aimed at satisfying the worries of those Fathers who were concerned about avoiding either any semblance of proselytism or any danger of indifferentism.

The conclusion in Article 24 was to be regarded as the conclusion of all three chapters, not only of this present part. The article provided a brief indication of the general principles underlying all ecumenical activity, namely fidelity to the Catholic faith taught by the Church and fidelity to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who was moving all Christians towards the unity willed by Christ. These principles showed the pastoral and ecumenical aim of the Council as formulated by John XXIII and continued by Paul VI.

The entire world was awaiting the outcome of this vote. The separated brethren united with Roman Catholics in Christian hope and prayer and wanted to collaborate in an ever-increasing degree. Even men with no religion would examine the statements on Christian unity very carefully. Here there was an opportunity to demonstrate that today, no less than in Apostolic times, Christians were recognised by their brotherly love.

[. . .]

Bishop Hengsbach of Essen presented the Relatio on the Schema on the Apostolate of the Laity. He explained that the text had been completely revised.

[. . .]

The schema considers four main fields of the Apostolate: 1) the family, 2) ecclesial communities, i.e. the parish, the diocese and the universal Church, 3) the special milieu of the laity, and 4) organisations with open membership. The family is considered as a subject of the Apostolate, because it is there that the faithful first come into contact with the Apostolate. In ecclesial communities the order of procedure goes from the parish to the diocese. There is greater insistence on inter-parochial collaboration because of the pastoral needs of modern cities and rural areas which sometimes also go beyond national barriers. It is recommended that there should be scientific studies of these situations and careful examination of how these social structures could be rearranged according to the teaching of the Gospel. Only very general principles can be given for inter-parochial and international activities. There are two distinct objects in the Apostolate of the Laity, i.e. the conversion of men and their progress towards God, and the Christianisation of the temporal power.

The text deals with various degrees of the dependence of the lay apostolate on the hierarchy and concludes with a recommendation of collaboration with other Christians and with non-Christians.

Finally an invitation was issued to the laity to participate through the hierarchy in bringing about the one mission of Christ in His Church and to adapt this in the future to the needs of the time.

Cardinal Ritter, Archbishop of St. Louis, Missouri, began the discussion of the Apostolate of the Laity by saying that the schema seemed to contain everything necessary for the present day needs [. . .]. The weaknesses were juridicism, treatment of points which should be left to the revision of Canon Law and discussion of the relationship of the laity with the hierarchy. The text should also not give special praise to Catholic Action (there is a growing crisis about this in the Roman Catholic Church). There should be a distinction between different forms of the Apostolate of the Laity according to their mutual relationship and not their relationships with the hierarchy.

Bishop De Roo of Victoria, Canada, said that the text as it stood would be a great disappointment for the laity. It failed to lay down the essential principles of the Lay Apostolate and did not give any indication of the real character or spirit of their vocation. St. Paul, on many occasions, called the attention to the vocation of individual Christians to apostolic activity. This must be realised in the Church [. . .]. If the Apostolate of the hierarchy was ever completely separated from the lay apostolate then the hierarchy could not really fulfil their mission.

[. . .]

Bishop Sani of Denpasar, Indonesia, thought the schema needed to be written in language more adapted to the laity. It did not explain what a ‘temporal order’ was nor did it say how its restoration was one of the activities of the lay apostolate. The faithful must be taught that this apostolate was not something distinct from their daily life, it was their daily life [. . .]

[. . .]

Archbishop Maccari of Mondovi, Italy, thought the entire schema should be completely revised before it was approved. It failed to come up to the expectations of either the Church or the world. One of the reasons why the text was disappointing was its insufficient treatment of Catholic Action. The general apostolate was praised warmly but the special apostolate of Catholic Action was almost belittled. The text made a compromise on Catholic Action and, what was still more grave, what had been the hitherto accepted notion of Catholic Action in the Church. This was dangerous because the enemies of the Church were legion today and the Church should not be lulled into a sense of false security and induced to lay down the arms of prudence. (This last is given as an example of a really reactionary speech). The bishop conceived Catholic Action as a totally submissive action group, which of course solidly favours the Christian Democrat party).

Report No. 142      13th October, 1964



[. . .]

The Council then continued the discussion on the Apostolate of the Laity.

Archbishop d'Souza of Bhopal, India, (one of the bishops whom we dined on the 5th October) said the inspiration to implement the decisions of the Council could only come from the Holy Spirit. Consequently they should see to it that the text contained nothing which might hamper the workings of the Spirit. When they realised that they must treat laymen as adults, it was amazing to read in the text that ‘nothing is to be done without the bishop’. This phrase could open the door to untold abuses and repressions of initiative. The People of God was not a totalitarian state where everything was run from the top. The hierarchy must assure the laity that they recognised that they could count on collaboration. [. . .] They must show that they were genuinely ready to de-clericalise their outlook and treat the laity as brothers. The hierarchy should not take upon themselves the laity's responsibilities, but should leave them to do those things which they can do better. For example why should representatives of the Church in international organisations always be priests? Laymen could be used in many different offices in the Curia. They also could be employed in the diplomatic service of the Holy See and could even be appointed Nuncios in some cases. There were countless examples at all levels of Church life. Vain would be their talk of promoting the preaching of the Gospel unless they had a radical reorganisation of their way of thinking. The text should say what needed to be reorganised. There was no hope for the apostolate of the laity if they were always to remain under the thumb of clerics. There would be mistakes and difficulties, but one of the facts of life was that there was no growth without crises. The schema opened up a new era and a new spirit.

[. . .]

Bishop Leven, Auxiliary of San Antonio, Texas, was happy that for the first time the laity were being discussed in a positive way in an Ecumenical Council. This showed that the Church was not merely juridical but the living spirit of Christ. The lay apostolate was not a concession made to the faithful, but their right. Every Christian had the cause of Christ at heart and this was the apostolate of Christians, the majority of whom were laymen. The hierarchy could direct this apostolate but must not forbid it or hem it in with such restrictions as to make it meaningless. They needed real dialogue between bishops and the laity, and this was impossible if the laity were expected only to listen. The schema was too timid and hesitant [. . .]. This was most important for areas where the laity were educated and were ready to give their time and efforts to the cause of the Church. Little would be gained if a bishop consulted only a few people, especially if these few were only his doctor and his housekeeper. It was desirable that every diocese should have a kind of diocesan senate, perhaps modelled on the one suggested for the Pope. This would make it possible for the bishop to maintain contact with different trends in his diocese and consider all reasonable suggestions. There might be problems because fanatics and crackpots were to be found everywhere, but still they must be prepared to take chances, because the movement towards the lay apostolate was one of the signs of our times.

Bishop Tenhumberg, Auxiliary of Münster, Germany, said the apostolate of the laity was necessary for more than just extrinsic reasons. References to the ‘canonical mandate’ for the exercise of the apostolate sounded like a residue of clericalism. The commission would do well to consult with authoritative members of the laity in order to perfect the final version of the schema. The laity should be represented in ecclesiastical curias. The idea of the apostolate had for too long been restricted to the hierarchy. The theological aspects of the apostolate should be used as a guide for the apostolic training of the laity, so as to give them a clear idea of their proper place in the Church. The final version of the text should take care to avoid schoolroom language.


I have now had three audiences within a fortnight! The first was the normal Observers’ collective audience, already reported. The second was the occasion of a pilgrimage of Fr. Curtis, who had already been to a general audience. The Holy Father got to know that there were ‘amici del Canonico Pawley’ in town and requested that I brought them to a private audience, which I did. We tacked on a pilgrimage led by the Bishop of HuronFootnote 17 which happened to be around.

The Pope was very affable indeed, and said it was always a special pleasure to greet Anglicans. I introduced Fr. Curtis C.R.Footnote 18 as a ‘veterano dell'Ecumenismo’, as indeed he is. Fr. Curtis then presented the Holy Father with a copy of his new book on l'Abbe Couturier,Footnote 19 which the Pope received. He said, ‘I always read English books when they are given to me’.


The third audience was at my request through the private access I have through Dom. Pasquale Macchi whom I have known for some time, who is now his principal private secretary. The audience came the day after the previous one. It took place at the end of a working morning.

My object in going in was to make sure the Holy Father understood what was in the minds of the Observers concerning his proposed response to the suggestion of an ecumenical institute (see my letter of 6th October to the Archbishop). All the Observers were unanimously of the opinion that this should not be made to appear a Papal enterprise, still less a Papal institution, to which the rest of us are summoned. I said that the Orthodox and the Protestants were more touchy than we were about it all. But we agreed in thinking that the Pope would be well advised to call a meeting of representatives of heads of churches as soon as possible and not to allow the scheme to mature before presenting the rest of us with a fait accompli.

He said it was impossible to commit the Roman Catholic Church to a round table conference on these matters. We did not know one another well enough for that. I said that there was a danger of the thing foundering if he didn't.

The Pope said there was the difficulty of who would pay, who would be the governing body of the institute etc., who would decide who should be the students, where the building should be located.

I said that the question had come up in the W.C.C. at the beginning, but is simply solved by the allocation of proportionate expenses to the participants. Similarly a representative meeting could appoint an executive committee to decide the other questions.

He said he saw our point, and thanked me for drawing his attention to it. He was sensitive to the whole position and would do his best to avoid wrong appearances. At the same time he said quite firmly that he could not let go of control. He was going to propose the institute should be under the Catholic Universities’ Organisation.

I said with considerable deference that even that might be misunderstood. Could not they be his representatives? He said we were not to worry: there would be no attempt to ‘capture’ the enterprise, still less to exploit. I said we should never suppose of him (emphasis on the last two words). He smiled. I hoped I hadn't spoken out of turn. He said ‘No’, he was glad to know indirectly what was going on. He was of course also getting reports through the Secretariat. But he was always pleased to hear what the Anglicans thought – they were very sane!

[. . .]

We then spoke of the Council, and when he asked for my impressions I took the liberty of saying I would like to communicate something which was the common talk of many of the bishops and of the observers. That was that much now depended on ‘whether the Holy Father gave us the senate of bishops we have so clearly said we want’. He smiled the smile he always smiles when he doesn't want to talk about something and said something to the effect that we must wait and see. I didn't of course expect him to discuss this, but was glad to have made the point.

We exchanged some personal information and he invited me to come again as often as I liked. This certainly is now a very useful link. He repeated that he wanted to see the Archbishop of Canterbury as soon as convenient. I explained the matter of the Archbishop's two tours next spring.


The bishops (and observers) spend so much time now in the aisles and coffee-bars of St. Peter's that this assembly is normally called by the above name. It is almost always more useful than the Council itself. We make endless interesting and profitable contacts there.

Report No. 143      14th October, 1964



Discussion continued on the Apostolate of the Laity.

[. . .]

Archbishop Kozlowiecki of Lusaka, N. Rhodesia, said the description of the apostolate was inaccurate, narrow-minded and one-sided, as though it were to be reduced to mere activity or preaching the Gospel. In this sense the laity would have no apostolate except as helpers for the hierarchy. But if they looked beyond this and realised that work, suffering, sacrifices and prayer were part of the apostolate, then the laity would be true apostles aiding the hierarchy. The text should omit the exhortation to the laity to build up their piety through parochial liturgy, because it was not the Council's job to dictate to the Holy Spirit how He should inspire the laity. The description of the apostolate in the text was so narrow that it only covered activities which came under the direction of the hierarchy. The Council had much to say about religious liberty for all men and, in the same spirit, they should not be too quick to limit the liberty of their own laity.

Bishop Carter of Sault Ste. Marie, Canada, said the schema still needed to be completely rewritten. It lacked unity because everything contained in the longer version had been compressed leaving a collection and the commission had realised that it was absurd for a group of ecclesiastics alone to study the apostolate of the laity. But when a group of lay experts had been called in the work of the commission was almost finished and therefore their contribution was hardly noticeable. The schema did not come up to the expectations of the faithful. They were supposed to be working for dialogue, but in fact the text only spoke to the hierarchy.

[. . .]

Bishop Rastouil of Limoges thought the schema was not clear enough about the powers, the rights and the duties of the laity. It should be insisted upon that the basis of the Lay Apostolate was the share on the priesthood of Christ through baptism and confirmation. It must never be forgotten that the whole Church was one of a sacerdotal nature. It was regrettable that they had not yet succeeded in working out an adequate theology of the sacrament of confirmation. (!) (Shall we send them a copy of the ‘Theology of Christian Initiation’?)Footnote 20

[. . .]


The Secretariat for Union has apparently had a strong push from the conservatives to persuade it to deal with the above [. . .]. This is undoubtedly in response to heavy pressure from the Middle East. The Rome papers said that the two declarations are ‘in danger’: this in our view is an exaggeration. We (the Observers) seem to be agreed that we are not happy about the statement on the present situation of the Jews in regard to the Covenants (it being in any case unnecessary to define it); and that we should be glad that the declaration is out of the context of Ecumenism. (Dr. Kelly'sFootnote 21 opinion to the contrary notwithstanding).

We were told today by ‘authoritative sources’ that this attempt to force the issue has failed. A group of cardinals wrote protesting to the Pope against this interference. The Pope has intervened in favour of letting the Council run its course and against an attempt by the ‘old guard’ to stifle it. This piece of news has given great pleasure in the Council. It has at once shown up the weakness of the old Italian ‘dead-beats’ and the reliability of the Pope's rule.


We had dinner in the company of this remarkable young man the other day. He is still very impatient indeed about the progress of the Council. He thinks the appointment of the ‘Senate’ will be the decisive move. With six appointments, if they were the right men, he said, the Pope could change the face of the Church.

Mgr. Höfer, who was also present, said that even Pius XII had invited bishops to nominate suitable young men for service in the Curia. But all were agreed that the lower offices should all be filled by specially trained laymen (equivalent to a Civil Service) and that bishops from important sees elsewhere should be called in (without previous ‘curial’ experience) to direct the main policy (cf. the Cabinet Ministers).

Report No. 144      16th October, 1964



Cardinal Liénart, Bishop of Lille, continuing the discussion on the Apostolate of the Laity, said that it was right to stress that the apostolate did not exclusively belong to the clergy. The laity participated in the apostolate through baptism and confirmation. The text should emphasise the importance of giving them real responsibility.

[. . .]

Bishop Padín, Auxiliary of Rio de Janiero, (This speech illustrates how unexpectedly liberal thought comes out of quarters which were normally supposed to be entirely reactionary) said the laity must have its proper share on all the work of the Church in under-developed nations. The text should show the great diversity of fields of the apostolate [. . .]. Their policy should be to open doors, not to close them, and they should make every effort to avoid putting things into categories. Some people criticised the privilege of using the name ‘Catholic Action’, but had they been called from all over the world merely to discuss names? [. . .] Similarly there should be no such name as ‘Holy Office’, because all ecclesiastical offices were holy [. . .]. The passage dealing with the future secretariat of the lay apostolate was too clerical. The laity should not merely be invited to ‘cooperate’ but should be summoned to positions of direct responsibility.

Archbishop Heenan thought the schema was not merely opportune but most necessary for the Church of today, when the place of laymen in the life of the Church had completely changed. Gone were the days when the vast majority of the laity were uneducated [. . .]. The faithful today were sometimes more learned than the priests [. . .]. The laity may have a vast knowledge of secular things, but they still needed careful spiritual training which only theology and asceticism could give them. The work of the lay apostolate was sacred and delicate as it was concerned with the salvation of souls. Those who wished to be lay apostles must put themselves humbly in the hands of their priests for training [. . .]. The enemies of the Church do their utmost to create divisions between the clergy and the laity. The apostolate of the laity should not be thought of as being in opposition to the apostolate of the clergy. The authors of the schema should be commended for their efforts to bring the clergy and laity together and unite their respective apostolates [. . .]. The proposed secretariat for the lay apostolate was bound to fail unless the laity were fully consulted, in fact most of the members should be chosen from the laity [. . .]. Let the laity be ‘doers of the word and not hearers only’. The people chosen for this work should be those who have taken the lead in the lay apostolate and others who are not connected with any organisation. They should not send to Rome only old gentlemen loaded down with ecclesiastical honours. They should send young men and women who had to earn their daily bread. They must show their devoted laymen that they have the full confidence of the hierarchy.

(This is a good speech. But I am informed it does not represent a conversion: Heenan has always been enlightened by the laity.)

The president called for a standing vote on the closure of the debate on the lay apostolate, and this was carried by an overwhelming majority.

[. . .]

Report No. 145.      19th October, 1964



Discussion continued on Priests:

Bishop Bánk, Auxiliary Bishop-elect from Hungary, drew attention to the need for proper support for priests. The world was waiting for new laws adapted to present circumstances and expected more deeds than words. It could not be denied that the clergy sometimes disregarded encyclicals of the Pope, especially when these concerned salaries for people who help them, and the fact that these people should not be overworked. Vatican I was called the Council of the Pope. Vatican II was said to be the Council of the Bishops. Vatican III will be the Council of Priests. It would be advisable to assure younger clergy that an assignment was not indefinite, but that they could expect periodical promotion. The present system of stole fees could be reorganised and, in a parish, all these fees should be added together and then distributed equally at the end of the year.

Archbishop Baldassarri of Ravenna, Italy, thought it right that the Council should put the Episcopate in its proper light, but it was not right for the bishops to treat their chief helpers, the priests, in a second-rate way. He wanted the schema to be completely revised. After the excellent speech made by the lay auditor it would be perfectly in order to ask that the Council should be addressed by an experienced parish priest. The text should take care to use the words ‘sacerdos’ and ‘presbyter’ in the right sense. It should not be forgotten that they were not synonymous in the early Church. The Council could lay down general principle[s] and leave practical details to the national episcopal conferences. They should not be less considerate in their treatment of priests than they were in that of bishops and the laity.

Bishop Sánchez-Moreno Lira, Auxiliary of Chiclayo, Peru, said there was a great need for priests today. They must first endeavour to break down the wall of separation which tended to cut them off from the people, for it was their duty to go out in search of the sheep. Secondly, priests must have a fuller knowledge of present pastoral needs. Doctors tried to keep up with developments in medicine and, as doctors of souls, priests must do the same. Lastly, there should be no more mobility and specialisation in the organisation of priests, so that they may be more readily available.

Archbishop Gomes dos Santos of Goiânia, Brazil, said it was no use hiding the fact that the schema was a big disappointment. After all that had been said about bishops and laity a few propositions on the priesthood were almost an insult [. . .]. He proposed that a new text should be drawn up and submitted at the 4th session of the Council. The priesthood was too important to be discussed in haste.

Bishop Garaygordóbil, Prelate Nullius of Los Rios, Ecuador, said the pastoral work of the Church depended on the bishops, who in turn, could only work through their priests. Priests needed to be protected against ‘arbitrariness’ of their bishops, who were neither confirmed in grace nor infallible [. . .]. In every diocese a representative board of priests should be set up as consultants.

Bishop González Martín of Astorga, Spain, thought something similar to the second novitiate for the religious would be of great value to the secular clergy, giving a period of spiritual renewal after some time spent in the ministry. Great attention should be paid to the distribution of clergy, perhaps through national or international seminaries. It was unbelievable that in a country like Spain between one and two thousand candidates were turned away from seminaries every year because they were not needed in their home diocese, while many other dioceses were having great difficulty in providing the minimum number of priests required.

Bishop Corripio Ahumada of Tampico, Mexico, was anxious for unity to be safeguarded in the Church among priests. They should do away with the many financial inequalities resulting from the benefice system [. . .]. All priests would be provided with social security and health insurance. A good way of doing this would be to set up a common fund in each diocese to provide for the needs of all.


No doubt this matter has had full treatment in the British press, in spite of the elections, Khrushchev and the Chinese atomic bomb; than all of which it is probably more significant in the long run. The Archbishop of Uganda was ceremoniously received, royally entertained, given a prominent place in the basilica. The Pope received him in private audience immediately afterwards. He was entertained to a reception by all the R.C. bishops in Africa.

In his speech at the canonisation the Pope said, among other things:

‘Uganda est un champ d'apostolat missionaire, qui accueillit comme premiers messagers de l'Evangelie des anglicanes, venus d'Angleterre, auxquels se joignirent, deux ans plus tard, des missionaires catholiques de langue française, les Pères Blancs . . .

‘Et nous ne voulons pas oublier non plus les autres qui, appurtenant à la confession anglicane, ont affronté la mort pour le nom du Christ.’Footnote 22

Report No. 146.      20th October, 1964



Continuing the discussion on Priests:

Cardinal Alfrink of Utrecht said the text was not up to the expectations of the priests. It did not give a clear image of either the priest or the priesthood, and it left out, or only treated superficially, many problems in a priest's life. The apostolate required new thinking on the mission of priests and should be adjusted to the needs of modern times. The discussion of celibacy was of great importance and the Council could not afford only to mention this matter in passing, as it was receiving widespread publicity which had almost created a crisis on this important point of Church discipline. Celibacy should be presented in a more biblical light, with fuller explanation from tradition. Many felt the schema could not be published as it stood without the risk of great disappointment. It was hoped that a new text would be satisfactory and a source of greater consolation for priests in their difficulties.

The discussion was then closed.

[. . .]

Discussion on the Oriental Churches:

Cardinal König of Vienna, opening the debate, said the text should be revised so as to be more in harmony with the schema on ecumenism. The treatment of the Patriarchs should be based on the schema on the pastoral duties of bishops. The discipline of the sacraments was either common to the universal Church or was peculiar to the Oriental Patriarchs. If the former, then it was out of place here. If the latter it should come under legislation of the particular rites.

His Beatitude Stephanos I Sidarousa, Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria considered the schema generally acceptable. Nevertheless many Orientals would have preferred it to come under the schema on the Church for, although the Oriental churches had different rites, they were not, strictly speaking, separate churches. It would be preferable to leave freedom of choice of rite to those within the Catholic Church. Steps should have been taken soon to restore the ancient rites and privileges of Patriarchs [. . .]

His Beatitude Maximos IV Saigh, Melchite Patriarch of Antioch, thought the present text was a real improvement on the previous one and the Commission should be congratulated. It was not, however, satisfactory in every detail. The weakest chapter was the one on Patriarchs, and this was absolutely inadmissible. It misinterpreted history and did not prepare the way for the future. It was absolutely wrong to say that the Patriarchs were a purely Oriental institution. The first Patriarch of the Catholic Church was the Bishop of Rome [. . .]. It was no use to shower Patriarchs with praise and reverence in the text and then reduce them to the position of subordinates, obliging them for many administrative details to apply to the Roman Curia. They have their own Synods and should have freedom of action. That this outlook had guided the preparation of the schema was evident from the building, when the text stated that the Catholic Church wished to show its affection and esteem for the ‘Oriental churches’, thus implying that they were not Catholic. Steps should be taken to restore the Patriarchs to their previous dignity. Steps should also be taken to eliminate the honorary Patriarchs in the West.

[. . .]


We have been invited to present suggestions about material for inclusion in the above, and are compiling some. We have as headings so far:

  1. 1. Ecumenical institutes (especially in view of item 3, Report No. 147 on Trier et alia). The nature and purpose of these need to be carefully defined. It should be entirely objective and should abjure proselytism.

  2. 2. Definition of powers of united prayer, drawing the bonds as wide as possible.

  3. 3. Exhortation against provocative literature.

  4. 4. (eventually) Something about the ecumenical context of mixed marriages.

[. . .]

Report No. 147      21st October, 1964



[. . .]

Discussion continued on the Oriental Churches:

Cardinal de Barros Camâra, Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, said the Council should avoid giving the impression that it was concerned with those of the Oriental faith who actually lived in the East. There were millions of them living in other countries and among Latin Catholics. In Brazil alone there were members of eight Oriental rites. Those who were converted to the Catholic Church should, as in the present legislation, be given freedom to choose their rite, although they should be encouraged to keep their original rite [. . .]

His Beatitude Alberto Gori, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, thought that the passage which insists on converted Orientals retaining their original rite, but says that when in difficulty they should appeal to the Holy See, was hardly likely to provide the right answer [. . .]. It was ironical that a convert wishing to change rites should have to appeal to the authority of Rome, which he had always been taught to distrust [. . .]

[. . .]

Archbishop Ghattas of Thebes, Egypt, considered the schema needed revision, firstly because the Oriental churches were not just appendages to the Catholic Church but an integral part of it. They should therefore be included in the Schema de Ecclesia [. . .]

Archbishop Zoghby, Patriarchal Vicar for Melchites in Egypt, raised two points: Firstly, the patriarchal system, as canonised by early ecumenical councils, was in force also in the West for many centuries. It was gradually supplanted, but Latin patriarchs were set up in various Oriental sees. They were generally regarded as intruders and shadows of the Pope and their presence was a constant source of friction. There must be some new thinking on the validity of the patriarchal system for the Church of the West today. Secondly, until Vatican I the primacy of the Pope, which was the chief source of division between East and West, was regarded in the East only as a canonical structure. The decision to proclaim the infallibility of the Pope as a dogma of faith was taken by a Council at which representatives from the Orient were conspicuously absent (!). When the Orientals broke with Rome they attached no special theological value to the primacy, neither did they consider they were separating from the universal Church of Christ, but only from the Latin Church. The text should be revised so as to eliminate a false vision of the Church.

[. . .]

Report No. 148      22nd October, 1964



[. . .]

The debate was then continued on Oriental Churches:

[. . .]

Archbishop Tawil, Melchite Patriarchal Vicar of Damascus, said the Church wanted to have dialogue with all those who believed in Christ. To do this they must change many things in their way of thinking and acting. This schema should be in harmony with the schema on Ecumenism. It should not be forgotten that the Latin Church was also a ‘particular church’. The Latin Church had been governed by the patriarchal system for over 1,000 years. It was strange that the text, while mentioning the great Patriarchates of the Oriental Church, failed to list their names. One might wonder what was the value of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem [. . .]. For the Orientals it was the last word in Latinisation of the Orient. The Council should remedy these situations and a post-conciliar commission should be set up to work out the details.

[. . .]

Abbot Hoeck, President of the Bavarian Congregation of the Order of St. Benedict, said the most important thing in the Oriental churches was the patriarchal structure of the Church. This was also most important for ecumenism [. . .]. The system should be re-established. In any discussion about unity the great churches of the East immediately ask what their place will be in the Catholic Church. Will they be subordinated to the Roman Curia, and will they take second place after the College of Cardinals? For 1,000 years the churches of the East enjoyed full freedom when choosing their patriarchs and bishops, and in organising their liturgy and canon law. The right of intervention by Rome was always recognised, but seldom carried out. Any attempt to restore unity with the Orthodox churches must be on the understanding that this unity will be based on the same principles as existed before the break [. . .]. This question cannot be discussed, much less decided, by a council which is predominantly Latin.

Report No. 149      22nd October, 1964



[. . .]


Bishop Guano of Livorno presented the Relatio and said that, while the bishops had been busy in Rome with the renewal of the Church, their brethren throughout the world had been living their own lives. They were concerned with the problem of daily bread, with their own dignity and with the peace and unity of the world. Often they paid no attention to the Church, but all the same, if for no other reason than custom, they felt there was something superhuman in the Church and that from it could come some world which would be of importance and serve their interests. Therefore they ask the Church what she thinks about men, culture and civilisation, and the worries and desires of men. They want to know if the Church is ready to help them and to fulfil the hopes of the world.

The schema was different from the others because it had nothing to do with the usual matters of Church renewal, sacramental and liturgical life etc. It dealt with the burning problems of today. The Church wanted men to speak to her about their problems and to learn from her what Christians can and must do to help solve the great crises of the world. In this the Church would only speak in her own light and about the problems as they were related to her mission, which was to preach Christ and to lead men to God through Christ.

It would be as well to remember that the work of this sub-commission benefited greatly from consultation with competent laymen.

The answers of the Church take up the chief questions posed by materialism [. . .] or atheistic communism. These problems will be discussed instructively in order to provide answers and to make Christians immune from subsequent evil influences.

Cardinal Liénart of Lille welcomed this important topic which for the first time was being dealt with in an Ecumenical Council. The text was acceptable in substance, but not in form. It exhorted Christians to come to the assistance of the world, but if they were to have dialogue between the Church and the world it was not enough to exhort only Christians. The world carried on its life in the natural order, which with the supernatural orders was the work of God [. . .]. It would help to declare the Church's esteem for worldly life and to show how helpful this could be on the level of personal, family and social life. All this should be said before indulging in any exhortations.

Cardinal Spellman [. . .] said this schema epitomised all the hope of the Council. It was good, clear and sincere. The Commission had done an admirable piece of work, and any modifications should be carefully made so as not to weaken the text. The Council's aim in this schema was to listen and to be listened to, as they tried to help the whole human race.

Cardinal Ruffini of Palermo said the text was weakened by many repetitions. In some parts the meaning was doubtful and could even be offensive. There was such stress on the Church's humanitarian mission that the main mission of procuring eternal salvation was almost obscured. Some passages dealing with ecumenism seemed to go too far [. . .]. The schema needed to be completely revised so that it was based on the encyclicals and other declarations of modern Popes, beginning with Leo XIII.

The cardinal was called to order by the Moderator, Cardinal Döpfner, for speaking on particular points rather than on general principles. Cardinal Ruffini was evidently very cross about this. He usually only speaks when Cardinal Agagianian is in the chair, as he is too scared of him to do such a thing.

[. . .]

Cardinal Döpfner of Munich considered the text acceptable as a basis for discussion. In the first three chapters the theological matter should be made clearer, briefer and give even more meaning. A clearer concept should be given of the ‘world’ and of the ‘service’ to be given by the Church to the world. More attention should be paid to atheism and those whom Christianity had not reached, lest it be thought that the text was only meant for Christians. Any quotations from scripture should be given modern exegesis, and all arguments in the schema should be based on scripture. For this schema and for that on the Apostolate of the Laity the commissions should have all the time required for careful work. (Liberal members often speak in favour of prolongation of the Council).

[. . .]

Report No. 150      23rd October, 1964



[. . .]

Discussion of the Schema on THE CHURCH IN THE MODERN WORLD then continued.

Archbishop Heenan said it would be ungracious not to praise the efforts of the Commission, but nevertheless the schema was quite unworthy of a General Council of the Church. If they were to speak at all they must do so in down-to-earth terms for all the world had been waiting for the Council's advice on many grave problems. It would be better to say nothing than to produce a set of platitudes. They had spent a lot of time discussing such things as the sources of revelation, and the theologians naturally regarded this as a highly important topic, but to the citizens of the world, whether Catholic or non-Catholic, it was far less important than the problems of the world. If they now rushed through a debate on world hunger, nuclear war and family life they would become the laughing-stock of the world and people would wonder what they meant when they called this a pastoral Council.

The schema was going to dash the hopes of everyone. It was more like a sermon than a document of the Council. They had been given the schema with certain supplements, but even read with the supplements it remained obscure; read on its own it was dangerous and could prove harmful. They had been told to debate the schema and pass over the rest without comment, but if they failed to scrutinise both documents with great care, the mind of the Council would have to be interpreted to the world by specialists who had helped the Commission to draw up the schema, and God forbid that this should happen.

Between the sessions of the Council the Church had suffered a great deal from the writings and speeches of some of the periti. They were few in number but they cared nothing for the ordinary teaching authority of bishops, nor even for that of the Pope. It was idle to show them a papal encyclical in which a point of doctrine was laid down. They would immediately reply that a Pope was not infallible when writing an encyclical. It really did not seem worth while for the Pope to write any more encyclical letters, since they could no longer be quoted in support of the faith. They must protect the teaching of the Church. There was no point in talking about a college of bishops if specialists contradicted what they said. Until now it had not been the doctrine of the Church that the theologians admitted to the Council were infallible. The theories of one or two must not be mistaken for a general agreement among theologians.

Perhaps the Commission had no chance of success for they had been denied the help of experts who really knew their subjects. When dealing with problems of social life it was necessary to consult those who knew and live in the world. It was useless to seek advice only from those who had spent their lives in monasteries, seminaries or universities [. . .]. If they were looking for examples of this they need only study the section on matrimony. Everyone knew that doctors were trying to produce a satisfactory contraceptive pill. This was to be the panacea to solve all sexual problems between husbands and wives. Meanwhile, it was said, married couples and they alone must decide what was right and wrong. Everyone must be his own judge, but the couple act according to the teaching of the Church. This was precisely what people wanted to be told – what was now the teaching of the Church? The schema said some practical solutions had made their appearance and more were to come. This was no way for a document of the Church to be written [. . .]. It was said that learned men and married couples must work out with theologians ways of understanding more thoroughly the mysteries of nature, but this should be done before and not after the schema was drawn up. The Archbishop proposed that a new Commission should be set up including members of the laity and priests with long pastoral experience and that a fourth and final session of the Council should meet in three or four years to discuss these social problems. It was a scandal to rush the debate now that they had at last come to really pastoral problems.

(There is no doubt that the part of the speech concerning the periti was a ‘brick’ of the first order and was taken very badly by the Council. Almost every speaker since, for a whole day, has gone out of his way to be gracious to the periti. I had some time with Archbishop Heenan last evening and he was aware himself that all was not well. He is still disturbed about the episode of his former ‘brick’ about the ‘pill’ in England.Footnote 23 It is said that these remarks were chiefly intended for HaeringFootnote 24 who, it will be remembered, was the peritus involved in the other case. Two jokes were current this morning, one saying that Heenan was chasing a ‘red Haering’ and the other that he had an attack of ‘peritonitis’.)

Bishop Stimpfle of Augsburg, Germany, said one of the gravest problems of our age was atheism which had wrecked churches, imprisoned and killed bishops and priests and tried to replace religion with the pseudo-religion of materialism. They could not possibly leave this out when dealing with the modern world. If they were silent they would be called blind watchmen and watchdogs who knew not how to bark. They must open dialogue with militant atheism, not to condemn it but to preach the truth in Christ [. . .]

Bishop Soares de Resende of Beira, Mozambique, said the term ‘world’ had different meanings in the Old Testament, in St. John, in classical authors and among the people at large. Why therefore speak of the modern ‘world’ when it refused to provide solutions of social and economic problems. The laity should be encouraged to take an active part in politics. Genuine poverty would help the Church. If she presented herself not merely as the Church of the poor, but as a poor Church, she could begin to claim more attention. This depended on all the Church. They could begin with the garments the bishops wore. Why did they need all this dignity and all this show?

Archbishop Hurley of Durban thought the main defect of the schema was that it was composed before its purpose was clearly determined. The solutions it provided were too theoretical for very practical problems. There were apparent contradictions and obscurities in the text. It was first necessary to show the value of the world in its proper light and in relation to man's final end [. . .]. All members of the Church must cooperate with all men to find practical solutions to the world's problems. A small group of Periti should be instructed – there are still some good ones left – to work out precisely what the schema intended to accomplish.

[. . .]

Archbishop Beck of Liverpool said the schema might well be the second most important of the Council. With de Ecclesia it was the base of the ‘aggiornamento’ so much desired by John XXIII [. . .]. It was their duty to offer practical and moral guidance with great compassion, but at the same time affirming the moral law. The desire for brevity must not prevent definitive teaching. The Church must avoid appearing as no more than a welfare institution [. . .]. Their difficulty today was not faith without works, but rather works without faith. The Church must try to make men better, not merely better off. The Council must emphasise that man and all creation had no meaning without eternity and a final destiny beyond this life. Man had no fulfilment except in God through Jesus Christ.

[. . .]

Report No. 151.      27th October, 1964



[. . .]

After warmly praising the work of the periti (this was clearly a criticism of Archbishop Heenan), the General Secretary asked the Commission who were revising texts already discussed in the Council to make every effort to finish so that some of them may be ready for approval before this session adjourns.

Discussion then continued on THE CHURCH IN THE MODERN WORLD:

Archbishop Tchidimbo of Conakry, Guinea, said that it was understandable that the writers of the schema could not work out a synthesis of so many varying problems. Nevertheless it was disappointing that the text was apparently intended more for Europe and America than for Africa. It had nothing to say on such crucial problems as underdevelopment, colonisation and racial discrimination. The schema failed to consider man collectively at a time when socialism was being preached widely in Africa. It was not enough just to speak of poverty. The Church would not really be poor unless bishops and all the sons of the Church started on the road to socialisation [. . .]

[. . .]

Abbot Reetz, Superior General of the Benedictines at Beuron, said he only undertook to speak with fear and trembling having heard it said the day before that monks could not be expected to know anything about the world (another ‘dig’ at Heenan) [. . .]. How could it be said that monks knew nothing of the world when the next day the Pope was going to proclaim a monk patron of Europe [. . .]. It should be explained what was meant by ‘world’ [. . .]

Bishop de Vet of Breda, Holland, wanted a special chapter added to the schema on atheistic communism. The Church could not ignore communism and, in defence of the truth, it should be exposed as an accumulation of all heresies. The world should be warned that there was always persecution where communism was in power [. . .]. Such a declaration would console the victims of communism. This subject should be treated openly, clearly and completely.

After a number of desultory speeches the Moderators called for a vote closing the debate on the schema in general, and this was agreed by an overwhelming majority. A second vote followed by secret ballot on whether the text was acceptable as a basis for discussion, and whether the discussion should move on to individual chapters. The results were as follows: Placet 1,579; non placet 296.

Bishop Guano of Livorno summed up in the name of the Commission. He wanted to make it clear that a good number of laity and scholars had been consulted when the schema was being drawn up. Priests with pastoral experience and some bishops were also consulted, but nevertheless the ultimate responsibility rested with the bishops alone. All the speeches will be carefully sifted, but it must not be forgotten that the Council could not go into too much detail, especially on some important points. The Pope had made it known that some of these questions were being carefully examined by experts and that he reserved the final judgement for himself. The Council had accepted the schema with varying degrees of enthusiasm and, as far as he could make out, only one bishop had damned the whole text to eternal fire – without including the periti. The Commission would begin revising the text at once, but it would not be possible to produce the final version during this session. They may all the same possibly be able to prepare pronouncements on such important topics as world peace, hunger, poverty and atheism.

[. . .]

Report No. 152      30th October, 1964




[. . .]

Bishop Guerra, Auxiliary of Madrid, considered the Church must learn how to judge efforts made by Marxism to interpret all religion as a denial of human nature. This idea pervaded a large part of present day culture. It should be made clear that aspiration to God was not a denial of human dignity, but a dynamic expression of one's perfection. They should be very careful not to seem to describe Christianity as an ideological system.

Archbishop Pogacnik, Apostolic Administrator of Ljubljana, thought the schema could be improved by stating clearly what the mind of the Church was and what she did for those living in misery. Among the ‘signs of the times’ special emphasis needed to be put on atheism, from which the Church had already suffered so much [. . .]. Atheism must be fought with constant prayer and fruitful penance, also the promotion of social justice. Pastoral letters were useless unless they were followed by practical results. It was well known that some government officials read ‘Mater et Magistra’ before many bishops.

Discussion then passed to CHAPTERS II and III:

Bishop La Ravoire Morrow of Krishnagar, India, said the Church in the West seems to have become far too juridical. Many people could not understand how God could be expected to damn an individual to hell for eternity for such a thing as eating meat on Friday, and thus put him on a level with an adulterous atheist. There was no proportion between the deed and the punishment. The mentality behind such legislation seemed more legal than religious and made the Church a laughing-stock for many. It was well known that rules did not produce the desired effect, but only dulled the moral sense of the faithful. People did not generally need to be forced. Insistence on this kind of thing made real dialogue impossible.

Bishop Cule of Mostar, Yugoslavia, said that if Christians led no better lives than those who had not faith, then all their preaching was pointless. It would be as well if the Church avoided acquiring special status from civil authorities. Lacordiare once said that the Church ran a greater risk from a government which was too well disposed towards it than from one which was hostile. It would be useful to organise a special centre for the co-ordination of Catholic activities.

[. . .]

Bishop Spülbeck of Meissen said the Church must recognise that she received much help from the world. Her relations with science were often archaic and they must be open-minded in their contacts with scientists. How could they explain the influence of Fr. Teilhard de Chardin?Footnote 25 They knew he was a pious priest and scientists told them that they felt he was close to them because he spoke their language. Some people would have condemned him as an enemy, as though they were afraid of seeing concord between religion and science. This would be a repetition of the history of Galileo. Disagreement between science and faith had been caused not so much by bad will as by lack of understanding. Religious scepticism was growing among students today and could easily lead them into the attitude which would enable them to maintain a spirit of comradeship in intellectual research without harm to the principles of faith.

Bishop Klepacz of Łodź, Poland, said the glorification of science in modern times had led to a genuine apotheosis of man and, they might almost say, the construction of a new tower of Babel. There were conflicting trends of exaggerated optimism and nihilistic pessimism. The Church must fight against both these destructive tendencies.

Archbishop Golland Trinidade of Botucatu, Brazil, said that in the Council the General Secretary often addressed the bishops as ‘Illustrissimi Domini’.Footnote 26 This was exactly what they were when they went to St. Peter's clothed in garments which were quite foreign to the world in which they lived. They gave the impression of being rich although they were not. They, who were supposed to be fathers, appeared to be separating themselves from their children. Why would it not be possible in the next session to go to the Council dressed in black? Their clothes would then open the way to a centre of dialogue, i.e. somewhere where anyone would be welcome who wanted to talk either for or against the Church. This would really mean opening themselves to the world.

Bishop Fourrey of Belley, France, thought the doctrine of poverty in the schema was true but that it was presented in a tone of exhortation and not based on countries and races. The malediction of the rich was as applicable to rich nations as to rich individuals. The schema said nothing at all about collective poverty – individual poverty was not enough. Usury should be condemned in all its forms, and by this it was meant exploitation of want for purposes of gain [. . .]

Towards the end of the morning there were so many bishops in the aisles and in the bars that the session was brought to an end abruptly.

[. . .]

Report No. 153.      4th November, 1964




Cardinal Caggiano, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, said that if everyone had his due we should not have the vast armies of unemployed. The condition of the proletariat all over the world would gradually be improved. Hence, the importance of proclaiming the Church's doctrine on justice. (It was interesting that even this reactionary Cardinal felt he had to speak up for social justice).

[. . .]

Bishop Kuharić, Auxiliary of Zagreb, Yugoslavia, thought the Council should make a declaration about the relation between science and religion. In countries under an atheistic regime the Church was constantly being called the enemy of progress and science. They should show how many men had become eminent scholars without losing their faith. In many countries abortion was permitted by law. Perhaps many people did not realise that more deaths have been caused this way than by many wars. The schema should declare the inviolability of human life within the mother's body.


[. . .]


[. . .]

Canon Pawley, on behalf of the Anglican Observers, submitted a statement suggesting that the Church's description of itself in the Schema should be more modest. The Church (particularly the Roman Catholic Church in Italy) has a very bad record in resisting new knowledge and social improvement. In the minds of many it was equivalent to reaction. The Church has a right to hope that this era had come to an end, if there were any hope of making contact with the modern world.

Dr. Vilmos Vajta, Lutheran, hoped that the Christian doctrine of history would be more clearly stated.

[. . .]

Bro. Max Thurian, sub-editor of Taizé, hoped that the Schema would be divided into two parts, the first saying what the world meant to the Church. There were two conceptions of the world even in the Schema. What was the Church's doctrine of nature?

Professor Thomas, Presbyterian, suggested that the paragraphs on social justice were addressed exclusively to the management classes, and should be expanded to cover the duties and responsibilities of the ‘working’ classes as well.

[. . .]

Report No. 154      5th November, 1964



Cardinal Agagianian, Moderator, announced that there would be no public discussion on certain points in CHAPTER IV of the CHURCH IN THE MODERN WORLD. This was to prevent possible misunderstanding and misinterpretation outside the Council. All were, however, urged to present their observations.

Bishop Wright of Pittsburgh, U. S. A., presented the report of the Commission on Chapter IV. He said it was not for them to find clever answer to all problems. That would take years. But they must make every effort to apply the ancient wisdom of the Church to the new conditions harassing the human conscience today. The Church did not pronounce the last word on these problems, only the first word of dialogue. It would be a mistake to ask too much of a schema which had no precedent in council history, but which was full of hope for the future. He assured the Council that a commission had already been set up to receive observations from every source, particularly from ‘the third part’ of the world. A report would then be sent to the Plenary Mixed Commission.

Discussion began on the INDIVIDUAL PARTS of CHAPTER IV:

Archbishop Athaide of Agra, India, said it could not be denied that slavery existed even now in the world. Men were being bought and sold and deprived of rights. They were often, through apartheid, made the victims of discrimination because of the colour of their skin. The Council should make a positive stand, as all men expected liberation from this new slavery. This was not a request for a condemnation of peoples or nations, only an appeal to arouse the conscience of the world. They should praise those who had made efforts in this direction. Among them were Mahatma Ghandi, who had devoted his entire life to bettering the lot of some 60 million outcasts. A great example had also been given by John Kennedy, and there were many other examples among laity and clergy. In a private audience recently given to Martin Luther King, the Pope had encouraged him in his peaceful crusade for racial equality and praised him for his policy of peaceful resistance. The faithful must be urged to collaborate against all discrimination.

Archbishop O'Boyle of Washington wanted a new section [. . .] to deal strongly with the problems of racial discrimination, which was found all over the world in various forms. What the text said was good, but the importance of the subject called for separate treatment. The problem was not merely sociological but moral and religious. The condemnation of racial discrimination must be given a theological foundation, for only in this way could it be effective.

Bishop Coderre of St. Jean, Canada, thought the schema should stress the role of women, which had previously been obscured by the wrong idea of the basic inferiority of the female sex. Full civil rights for women was one of the signs of the times of which the Council must take note. The Council must invite men to help women to attain their proper place in the Church. God made man and woman equal with equal responsibilities towards the life of the Church.

Bishop de la Chanonie of Clermont, France, said the Council should take up the special problem of the evangelisation of children who were handicapped physically, psychologically, morally or socially. In France they amounted to almost one fourth of all adolescents, numbering nearly 3 million, and in other countries the proportion was still greater. The Church called herself the Church of the poor and these children were the poorest of all. Despite their affliction they had a right to fulfil their human vocation.

Archbishop Malula of Léopoldville, Congo, said the principles of respect for human dignity should be the basis of ethics. The schema showed this, but only in passing. They should insist on this respect because it was the truth. Such crimes as racial discrimination and slavery of women came from the basic disregard of this fundamental principle. No one outside Africa could grasp the full impact of the canonisation of the Uganda martyrs. This was proof to Africa that the gates of heaven were open to all men no matter what their colour. Tribalism in Africa was racism on a minor scale. It affected Christians, causing hatred and fear and must be declared a serious sin against charity. Another serious problem in Africa was the proper understanding of the role of women. Here the Church could make a definitive contribution.


[. . .]

Discussion then continued on Articles 19 and 20 of the Schema on the CHURCH IN THE MODERN WORLD:

Bishop Stimpfle of Augsburg, Germany, said the schema urged the faithful to change social conditions when they were contrary to Christian principles, but this raised a difficulty. They knew that slavery existed in the time of Christ but neither Christ nor the Apostles opposed it [. . .]. Full liberty came from faith and obedience to truth. The attitude of the early Christians towards slavery changed the approach of the faithful, and this new way of thinking spread bringing about the gradual elimination of slavery. They must stress the importance of liberty in education. Full liberty must be allowed in scientific research. Those in administrative positions must leave a great deal of liberty to their subordinates because the suppression of liberty would cause more harm than the abuse of liberty.

Bishop Frotz, Auxiliary of Cologne, said that modern women expected to be accepted as equal to men in intellectual and cultural life. Just as the Church once failed to appreciate the problem of labour, today she faced a new problem arising from the changed position of women in modern society. The Church was not yet aware of the world-wide implications of this problem. The spiritual and religious interests of woman must be fostered so that she may apply her special gifts to the Church apostolate. Women should be accepted as grown up daughters of the Church, not just as children. In the liturgy they should be addressed directly as ‘sisters’ and not just submerged in ‘fratres’. The relationship of clergy and women should be adjusted to the recognition of women as images of God. Women everywhere would then see the Church as the guardian of their dignity and their talents would be used to a greater extent to the benefit of society as a whole. (It was surprising that this speech came from a German bishop).

Cardinal Feltin, Archbishop of Paris [. . .] said that in the statements contained in Article 25 on the burning issue of world peace, the world was expecting the Council to be as forthright as John XXIII had been in ‘Pacem in Terris’.Footnote 27 Public opinion expected a definitive condemnation of war, especially modern war with all its terrifying aspects. The text said sufficient to outlaw what had been called the A.B.C. weapons, i.e. atomic, bacteriological and chemical instruments of war. The Church must speak out because peace was something not merely to be talked about, but to be realised [. . .]. Emerging nations especially must be taught how to assure their growth in peace. International organisations such as the U.N. must be encouraged and strengthened. Peace must become part of their ordinary pastoral work. If not the international situation could only become worse as a result of the last century's divorce from moral principles. Peace must also be introduced into their missionary activities. A commission could be set up to follow the progress of studies taken up in this schema and in the supplement. They must spare no effort to get the Catholic world moving and working for peace.

Archbishop Dearden of Detroit, in the name of the Commission, presented a report on Article 21 on DIGNITY OF MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LIFE. He reminded the Council not to expect in this brief statement a full discussion of the nature and sanctity of marriage. The text provided only a synthesis of doctrine to enable Christians to achieve a better understanding of the dignity and sanctity of their marriage. On the fecundity of marriage the schema laid down the principle of conscious and generous pro-creation. This basic question could not be omitted from the discussion. The schema stated that married couples may follow their conscience as to the number of children, under the influence of true love and being rightly informed. When it came to the question of which methods were to be used to reach this end of limiting the number of children, the methods must be judged according to the doctrine and the mind of the Church. Being obliged to judge did not mean that married people were free to use every means. The text left no room for subjectivism. Both the schema and the supplement had deliberately avoided any direct discussion of ‘the pill’, because the Pope had reserved judgement on this important point for himself. Besides it was an intricate question which certainly could not be settled in any Council discussion.

The following then spoke [. . .]

Cardinal Ruffini of Palermo, thought the very serious problem dealt with in this article was not presented with sufficient clarity or caution. The text almost omitted any mention of the nobility of Christian marriage [. . .]. The unity and the indissolubility of marriage must be safeguarded at all costs. The teaching of the Church on marriage was of prime importance and it would be difficult to defend their stand on many points without it. The text stated that if in particular cases married couples had sufficiently serious reasons to limit the number of their children, they must still manifest their tender love towards each other, but the text failed to explain how this love could be expressed, because Catholic teaching had always maintained that in these circumstances the use of marriage was unlawful!! To say that the final decision on a problem of this importance was left to the individual concerned opened the door to all kinds of abuses. St. Augustine had some very harsh passages on certain aspects of conjugal life in his own time and this showed us that our own age was not so different. In 1930 Pope Pius XI gave the Church his encyclical ‘Casti Connubii’, and Pius XII's allocution to midwives some years later provided all the principles needed for the solution of this problem.Footnote 28 It was to be hoped that in the revision of the text the Commission would follow this authentic Magisterium. (This extremely reactionary view was much disapproved by our liberal friends).

Cardinal Léger of Montreal said the article took up grave problems for which, as yet, no satisfactory answers had been provided. Confessors had been confronted very frequently with the doubts and uncertainties of Catholic husbands and wives that the Church would be accused of opportunism in undertaking such a study. This revision had been provoked by the worries of the faithful and its only scope was to protect the sanctity of marriage. Some people thought that the difficulties might have arisen from inadequate explanations in theological manuals on the ends of marriage, explanations not based on scripture but dictated by undue pessimism. The text did well to avoid the old terminology of the ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ aims of marriage. The principle of marital fecundity was well expressed when it was stated that this must be governed by prudence and generosity. Parenthood must always be regarded as a participation in creation. Fecundity must be looked upon in the light of the married state, not in connection with each individual act. The text should state that human conjugal love involved both soul and body, was something good in itself, and had its own characteristics and laws. They should give clear principles, avoiding that fear of conjugal love which had pervaded so many moral tracts. They must not forget that husband and wife had promised each other mutual help. In marriage they were not only procreators but persons. It was not sufficient merely to state the ends of marriage, more attention must be paid to the purpose of individual acts. This would only put into the principles what had long been accepted in the teaching of the Church, especially in its teaching on the lawfulness of conjugal love in spite of sterility. With this done on the level of principles, moralists, physicians and psychologists would be able to take care of further details.

Cardinal Suenens, Archbishop of Brussels, said the Council must be courageous in facing up to the pastoral demands for an objective study of the theology of marriage. There were reasons for thinking that their outlook had become too one-sided. Their insistence on the command ‘to increase and multiply’ might have caused them to forget that this was not the only text in scripture and that the other passage, saying that husband and wife ‘become two in one flesh’ was also contained in Revelation and thus equally divine in origin [. . .]. It was true that the Church could not abandon a doctrine which had been accepted and which clearly came from Revelation. But there was nothing to prevent the Church from making a thorough inquiry to see if all sides of a problem had been sufficiently explored. Modern science might well have much to say in this connection and they should keep a ready ear. The Council should take care to avoid a new ‘Galileo’ case. One such episode in the history of the Church was quite enough! There were no grounds for being afraid. The Holy Father had set up his commission to study this all-important problem, and the commission should be made up of men of all ranks and walks of life so as to represent the entire people of God. It would be advisable for the means of the members of this commission to be made available to the public.

Maximos IV Saigh, Melchite Patriarch of Antioch, said they needed courage to face up to the problems of the hour in the love of Christ and souls. This was an urgent problem and at the root of a grave crisis of Catholic conscience. There [was] the question of a break between the doctrine of the Church and the contrary practice of the majority of Christian couples. The authority of the Church was called into question and they must have courage to approach the solution without prejudice. The position of the Church should be revised in accordance with modern theological, medical, psychological and social science. In marriage the development of personality and its integration into the creative plan of God were all one [. . .]. Is the physical rectitude of an act the only criterion of morality without considering the moral, conjugal and family climate and prudence, which must be the basic rule of all human activity. The Church proclaims the law of God in the light of social, scientific and psychological truths brought to light in modern times [. . .]. The duty of the Church was to educate the moral sense of her children, not just to surround them with a series of rules which they should observe blindly. They should open their eyes and be practical. See things as they are, not as they would like them to be. Otherwise they ran the risk of speaking in the desert. The future of the Church's mission in the world was at stake.

Report No. 155      10th November, 1964



[. . .]

The debate continued on Article 21 (Marriage and the Family) on THE CHURCH IN THE MODERN WORLD:

Cardinal Alfrink, Archbishop of Utrecht, said all priests in the ministry were well aware of the marital problems of those faithful who came for advice. These difficulties were often the cause of people leaving the Church and the spiritual struggle which they involved could eventually weaken even the human values of conjugal life. A sociological analysis could do nothing for the moral aspect of an act. There was no room for situation ethics [. . .]. With the increasing knowledge of the difference between biological and human sexuality many moral questions were arising. The Church could not afford to rush into a solution. She must guard the purity of divine law and at the same time safeguard human values. Only when she was quite certain would she be in a position to obligate or liberate the conscience of the faithful. Modern scientific progress raised many moral problems. To keep pace with these there should be a standing commission in the Church to study the evolution of various problems with moral judgements referring to modern discoveries and research lagging behind.

Cardinal Ottaviani, President of the Theological Commission, did not approve of the freedom given to married couples in the schema to decide for themselves the number of their children. They should not forget the command in scripture to ‘increase and multiply’. This did not contradict the other text which spoke of husband and wife being ‘two in one flesh’. Freedom such as that proposed by the schema was unheard of in the past [. . .]. The Council should not think of approving the proposal in the schema. The text insinuated that the Church had erred in the past of a grave moral problem and any such insinuation was completely out of order. (We have become used to reaction from Cardinals Ottaviani and Browne).

Cardinal Browne said no aspect of the grave problems confronting Catholic married couples should be neglected. They had doctrine on marriage from the Magisterium of the Church and from contributions of theologians. The primary purpose of marriage was the procreation and education of children [. . .]. There were three goods in marriage: procreation, mutual fidelity and holiness of the sacrament. The conjugal act must conform to nature. It remained lawful in sterile periods. All this could be found in Leo XIII, Pius XI, and Pius XII. There would always be difficulties which must be solved by scientific discoveries, not theological discussion. The Church must wait for the result of modern research. If the Holy Father wanted the cooperation of the Council in this matter, a commission would have to be formed for this purpose.

Archbishop Urtasun of Avignon, said there was nothing in the schema on divorce which had become such a plague in modern life, especially since the war [. . .]. Protecting the sanctity of marriage and the family was one of the most sacred missions of the Council. [. . .]

[. . .]

Bishop Nkongolo of Bakwanga, Congo, thought they could be happy about what the schema said on the dignity of marriage and the sanctity of the family. All this would contribute to an enlightened idea of woman and her role in life. The big problems of marriage in Africa were the lack of free consent and polygamy. The girl had to obey the will of the head of the family and this was in direct violation of personal freedom of choice. The schema should mention the basic simple requirements for valid marriage and should insist on its unity and indissolubility. This would help to counteract polygamy which was making inroads even in Christian communities.

Bishop Fiordelli of Prato, Italy, wanted something said about the problem of abortion. The schema should also mention ‘responsible fatherhood’ [. . .]

[. . .]

Report No. 156      11th November, 1964



[. . .]

Report No. 157      12th November, 1964



[. . .]

Discussion then continued on article 23 of Schema 13 – the CHURCH IN THE MODERN WORLD:

[. . .]

Archbishop Zoungrana of Ouagadougou, Upper Volta, said the Council could not afford to ignore the Third World. Inequalities among nations were growing from day to day. The population would double before the year 2000 in all the poorer areas of the world. Poorer countries could not progress like richer nations because of poor land, lack of environment, lack of education, etc. Ideologies and politics could never forge the bonds of true friendship and only such friendship could assure development in equality. More stress should be put on the overall economic situation of the world. Competent periti should be asked to revise Article 23 so as not to neglect the essential question of the Third World. It would be tragic to disappoint the expectations of those in need.

Mr. James Norris, Lay Auditor, President of the International Catholic Commission on Emigration presented the report of the Committee on Article 24 of Schema 13 (World POVERTY):

In the last decade, the problem of poverty had taken on a new shape and become more urgent. The poor differed today because modern science had helped to create a single economy, an inter-dependent neighbourhood, but one largely lacking solidarity, compassion and human obligation.

[. . .]

Cardinal Frings of Cologne said that to emphasise the Church as the mother of the poor episcopal conferences should organise agencies for the relief of misery everywhere. These agencies should aim at helping others to help themselves. Besides relief they should provide schools for agriculture and domestic science, etc [. . .]

Bishop Rupp of Monaco said much of this article was expressed in verbose and turgid style, calling for patience and alertness in the reader. They should denounce Christian nations who close their doors to immigrants from poor countries. They should insist on Christian solidarity while remembering that the term ‘Christian’ was today often so watered down as to lose all significance. They should attack not only evils but the roots of evils. The Council should aim at direct contact with the youth of the world. The style of the text was too prudent, too diplomatic, too political and, in a word, too feminine to achieve its purpose. If it were not made more direct it would not only not save the world, but would do harm to itself.

Report No. 158      13th November, 1964



The Pope assisted at the Mass and afterwards took his place at the President's table.

The Pope addressed the Council saying that it had been his intention since the beginning of the session to come and take part in a meeting of the Council. He had purposely chosen the day of the opening of the discussion of the schema on the missions because he wanted to emphasise the seriousness and vastness of this important subject. The Church was increasingly aware of her divine mandate to preach to all people. The Council would show new ways of achieving this mission and would stimulate the zeal and generosity of the clergy and faithful.

[. . .]

The debate was then opened on the schema on THE MISSIONARY ACTIVITY OF THE CHURCH:

Cardinal Léger of Montreal said there was throughout the Church a longing for new impetus to missionary activity. It was the very essence of the Church. [. . .] There was great hope for the beginning of dialogue with non-Christians. For centuries the Church had been afraid of anything of this kind but now she could go ahead. The schema had much to say on the meeting of various cultures, but it was almost silent on the meeting of religions. This was very important in the mission field. It was good to see that the text favoured collaboration between religious institutes and between them and the bishops, for this was necessary to prevent wasted effort. But the schema did not have enough to say about it. If they could succeed in interesting all bishops of the universal needs of the Church, this would be a practical application of episcopal collegiality. The Central Mission Board proposed by the schema would ensure collective activity, but its relationship with Propaganda Fide was not clearly defined. It should be part of the Sacred Congregation. This would provide an opportunity for local churches to become better acquainted with the needs of the whole Church.

[. . .]

Cardinal Bea said there was no doubt that the Council must be source of a new mission drive throughout the Church. Missionary activity was one of the Church's essential roles and the renewal of zeal was necessary to the very nature of the Church [. . .]

Report No. 159.      13th November, 1964



[. . .]

The debate was continued on the schema on the MISSIONS:

Cardinal Frings of Cologne said that the missionary aspect of the Church's mission was so important that it could not be compressed into a few propositions. It should be elaborated on from both the theological and practical points of view and should not be brought up for discussion until the fourth session of the Council. They needed a more profound theology of the missionary character of the Church [. . .]

[. . .]

Bishop Lamont of Umtali, S. Rhodesia, said the schema provided only frustration for missionaries. It contained no fire, no inspiration. The glorious missionary tradition of the Church had been reduced to a few dry and miserable propositions. [. . .] It would be realised that missionary work was essential when they recalled that four-fifths of the world did not know Christ [. . .]

Bishop Massa of Nanyang, China, said that many Chinese had been kept from the faith not because of the demands of conversion, as their national traditions conformed in many ways to Christian teaching, but because becoming a Christian meant abandoning largely one's culture [. . .]

[. . .]

A number of desultory speeches during the morning expressed dissatisfaction with the Schema without stating very precisely what they expected it to say. It was not clear to us what exactly it could say, or whether a Council document on Missions was necessary at all.


[. . .]

Discussion of the Schema on THE MISSIONARY ACTIVITY OF THE CHURCH then continued:

[. . .]

Archbishop Zoghby, Patriarchal Vicar for the Melchites in Egypt, thought it might seem strange for an Oriental bishop to speak about missions, for Oriental churches had been forced by historical events to abandon almost entirely the missionary work, to which they had been so devoted previously. But the schema paid no attention to what the Oriental fathers regarded as the mystique of the missions [. . .]. Missionaries should not try to impose on people a pre-fabricated Christ, but should let people receive and, so to speak, reincarnate Christ in the light of their own culture. This Christ would be all things to all men. The missions were also regarded as an effusion of the pastoral mystery perpetuated in the Church through the Eucharist.

[. . .]

Discussion was then resumed on article 24 of the Schema on THE CHURCH IN THE MODERN WORLD:

The Very Rev. Gerard Mahon, Superior General of the Missionary Society of St. Joseph of Mill Hill,Footnote 29 (This man, as head of the Mill Hill Fathers, seems to be quite influential. He is certainly very friendly, very liberal, and very critical of the R.C. hierarchy in Great Britain. As he lives in London I suggest that his acquaintance be cultivated). He said the Council was proclaiming for the first time the necessity of social justice on an international level. The difference existing today between nations was no less than those formerly existing between social classes. It was staggering to recall that 35 million people die of hunger every year and that 400 million of the world's people go regularly hungry [. . .]. Socio-economic activity was part of the mission of the Church. It could be carried on effectively by missionaries who knew their people and the circumstances in which they lived. Missionaries could collaborate with the international organisations.

[. . .]

Discussion then went on to article 25 on WORLD PEACE:

Cardinal Alfrink, Archbishop of Utrecht, wanted the Council to be no less forthright than John XXIII in his Pacem in Terris.Footnote 30 The encyclical was more positive in its treatment of the reduction of armaments. The Council should denounce the world race for armaments, as in the encyclical, which proposed reciprocal and simultaneous renunciation of arms with guarantees of sincerity. The statement on the unlawfulness of nuclear warfare should be clarified because, as it stood, it could give the impression that only ‘dirty bombs’ with uncontrollable consequences were prohibited. Modern research had produced a ‘clean bomb’, but the text should include this also. They should spare no efforts to bring about world disarmament.

Bishop Ancel, Auxiliary of Lyons, said it had already been pointed out that the text was contradictory. While recognising the legitimacy of defensive war it declared nuclear war unlawful in any respect. This was the same as saying there was no lawful defence against nuclear attack.

Report No. 160.      16th November, 1964



Discussion continued on the concluding articles of the Schema on THE CHURCH IN THE MODERN WORLD:

Maximos IV Saigh, Melchite Patriarch of Antioch, said the entire human race was living in dread of a nuclear war. The world raised its voice in a heart-rending plea and with crises of anguish and despair. The Council should do everything possible to ward off this threat [. . .]

Bishop Hannan, Auxiliary of Washington, said the Schema was wrong when it stated that ‘all nations without exception have been derelict in their duty of promoting world peace’. Such a statement was offensive to some nations and to some genuinely great leaders. Their task was to avoid war and to defend national and personal freedom.

Archbishop Beck of Liverpool [. . .] Great clarity and precision were called for in dealing with the use of nuclear weapons from which the problem of peace and war derived its gravity and urgency. The Council must maintain the traditional doctrine that indiscriminate destruction with killing of the innocent was murder and thus evil. The text should not fail to mention biological and chemical warfare. They should make it clear that this Schema was not a universal condemnation of nuclear weapons. In a just war of defence there could be legitimate targets for nuclear weapons. Therefore the Council should not condemn these weapons outright as necessarily evil. They must remember the responsibility for the use of nuclear weapons rested with those lives and property of citizens, and even more the spiritual and cultural values which were the inheritance of a people or nation. It was a matter of fact that at times peace could be assured only by ‘the balance of terror’, through the deterrent of nuclear weapons against unjust aggression. Governments should not be condemned if they maintained world peace in this way. To turn the other cheek was a counsel of individual perfection but was not applicable to governments which had a grave duty to defend their citizens.

The rest of the debate on this section followed a very desultory course and came to a tame conclusion.

[. . .]

Report No. 161.      17th November, 1964



[. . .]

Report No. 162.      18th November, 1964



[. . .]

The Council then went on to the Schema on TRAINING FOR THE MINISTRY.

Cardinal Meyer, Archbishop of Chicago, thought the schema contained good points. He welcomed the proposal that national episcopal conferences should draw up programmes for seminaries and have them approved by the Holy See. This would help to adapt seminaries to pastoral needs. But the text did not make clear what should be common to all seminary programmes and what could and should be different.

Archbishop Colombo of Milan (the Pope's successor) said that it had often been stated that seminary training today lacked unity and failed to produce mature candidates for the priesthood. The schema appeared to answer this charge effectively and well. The unity which would follow from the application of these principles would prevent disorganisation [. . .]. Other studies, as well as theology, should be organised in the same way [. . .]. The schema also gave a remedy for lack of maturity. It said that men were to be trained with regard to sound psychology. It showed ways of making the training personal and not mechanical. By giving bishops power to interrupt studies for a period of spiritual training or for an opportunity to resolve doubts and anxieties, the schema helped to insure that men would not be ordained without full awareness of what they were doing [. . .]

N.B. This speech was regarded as very revolutionary. It was not easy to get a clear picture of the issues as seen from the R.C. angle (as distinct from what we would like to happen). There is undoubtedly a great tension pro or contra scholastic philosophy, also about more ‘liberal’ syllabuses, and about the excessively monastic pattern of seminaries.


[. . .]

Discussion then continued on the schema on TRAINING FOR THE MINISTRY:

[. . .]

Cardinal Léger, Archbishop of Montreal, said more stress should be put on the spiritual, intellectual and pastoral needs of the clergy. The new text on the whole answered the needs of the times. With regard to philosophical training the term ‘perennial philosophy’ is ill chosen. It was ambiguous. Did it mean scholastic philosophy? But there were several scholastic philosophies. The term was in conflict with the basic nature of philosophical inquiry because philosophy was interested not in what authors had said, but in what things were. Besides it would be a mistake to impose the system of scholastic philosophy on non-western minds. The task of the Council was not to provide a philosophical system but to give general directives. The text had done well not to insist unduly on St. Thomas in theological training. It would be unwise to rest theology on one teacher [. . .]. Dialogue with the Middle Ages was not dialogue with today [. . .]. The schema should state that moral theology should be brought closer to dogma and scripture. Thus the way would be prepared for a new evangelical dynamism coming from the Council.

[. . .]

Archbishop Staffa, Secretary of the Congregation of Seminaries and Universities, (a notorious reactionary) said that the text should insist on fidelity to the doctrine of St. Thomas. Although they must always be in favour of progress they must not forget that there could be no progress when what was new was separated from what was true. Progress in truth must be integrated in truth already known. St. Thomas had understood truth and proclaimed it better than men, leading them to progress, and this was his place in the intellectual tradition of the Church [. . .]. The doctrine of St. Thomas in philosophy and theology must be wholly safeguarded.

Cardinal Suenens regretted that the general structure of seminaries today was based in many ways on religious houses. Such an atmosphere was unsuited to the secular clergy and did not give them the spirituality which they needed [. . .]. They needed practical pastoral training in leadership in order to be able to give life to the apostolate. Those who were called by God to live and work in the world could not be trained outside the world.

[. . .]

Report No. 163      19th November, 1964



[. . .]

The debate continued on SEMINARY TRAINING:

Cardinal Bacci said the importance of the study of philosophies in seminaries was obvious. There were grounds for concern about some of the remarks made in the Council on Saturday about the place to be given to St. Thomas in the studies of the seminaries. No one wanted to throw St. Thomas out completely. Too many popes had praised him since the 13th Century [. . .]

Bishop Komba, Auxiliary of Peramiho, Tanganyika [. . .] The Council should decree that seminary studies should be closely coordinated with those provided by state authorities, lest priests complete their training without gaining the diplomas and degrees which may eventually be required for the proper discharge of their apostolic duties.

Bishop Añoveros of Cádiz y Ceuta, Spain, said the most important thing in seminaries was well trained superiors and directors [. . .]

Bishop Weber of Strasbourg said that, in reorganising seminaries, there were two extremes to be avoided. The first was a spirit of iconoclasm with regard to the work of the Council of Trent and its implementation by St. Charles Borromeo in Italy and also by St. Vincent de Paul, St. John Eudes and M. Olier in France. The second was inflexibility with regard to the needs of modern times. The text satisfactorily combined the old and the new, and the greater freedom allowed to national conferences of bishops was particularly welcome.

Bishop Escuín, Coadjutor of Malaga, said seminarians must be trained in pastoral work. They should only be ordained after two years practical experience following their theological studies. This period could be spent living with priests and gaining practical experience, doing social work and they would gain much by living with the poor during their vacations.


[. . .]

The debate then continued on SEMINARY TRAINING, the speakers having obtained the necessary 70 signatures:

Archbishop Garrone of Toulouse commended the article which suggested that much authority or seminary training should be in the hands of the national episcopal conferences. The number of these conferences would make it more than ever necessary for the central office in Rome to coordinate all these relatively autonomous groups. The Sacred Congregation in charge must be modernised so that it would be able to meet the needs of the times and keep up with scientific progress. It should be capable of clearly understanding the problems of individual nations. Until now its attitude had been too negative and detached. It should maintain close contact with the Congregation responsible for priests, so that it should have first hand knowledge of the problems for which priests should be prepared [. . .]

General approval was then given to the Schema.

Bishop Daem of Antwerp presented the Schema on CHRISTIAN EDUCATION. He said that nations of the world were making great efforts about education and the Council was aware of its duty to make some declaration on the mission of the Church in the field of education [. . .]. Much of Christian education took place outside schools, e.g. in the family. Because it covered such a vast field the commission thought it best to refrain from discussing details and to leave them to a post-Conciliar commission which would be able to make a thorough study and then produce its conclusions. The declaration looked at the universal problem of education. The Commission was well aware of the immense necessity of education in the world today [. . .]. The fact must be faced that there were countless young people in the world today who received little or no education.

On the juridical side of the educational problem the Commission felt, in view of present circumstances, that it was opportune to recall the duties and primary rights of education [. . .]. Therefore the text recalled the inalienable rights of parents and the Church to educate and teach their children and to set up schools, observing also what was required by civil society for the common welfare. It stressed the rights of children to education and the right of parents to send their children to schools of their choice according to their conscience. Lastly it mentions the duty of civil society, without prejudice to its own rights, to help parents to carry out this duty.

[. . .]

Report No. 164.      24th November, 1964



The Pope assisted at the opening mass which was celebrated in the Armenian rite by the (R.C.) Armenian Patriarch of Cilicia.Footnote 31 The mass marked the opening of the 50th anniversary year of the near extermination of 1,500,000 Armenians which took place in 1915 during World War I. All those present were asked to add their prayers for the Armenian people.

We took occasion to express regret (with which the Secretariat agreed) that no mention was made of the existence of what we should call the ‘real’ Armenians, from whom these are only a Roman schism. And there was an Armenian bishop (Sarkissian) in the box.

[. . .]


[. . .]

The DECLARATION ON RELIGIOUS LIBERTY then came up for consideration. There had been a rather grizzly pre-history to its appearance in the Council. The reactionary ‘old guard’ had evidently been obstructing, blocking and amending the text during the previous months. The American bishops, on the other hand, were hysterically anxious not to return to the United States without having achieved it. The text was actually delivered to the Fathers on Tuesday 17th November. On Wednesday, the 18th, the conservatives petitioned the Presidents to say that there was not time to discuss this matter this session. (There had been considerable additions to and changes in the text). This was clearly a manoeuvre but the Presidents (who are old Pope John's nominees) agreed to it. I reluctantly feel that at this stage they were right. A large number of bishops surged out of their places and held an indignant meeting in the transept as a result of which a letter with 800 signatures was sent to the Pope. The Pope felt unable to over-rule the Presidents. But the whole thing was evidently a piece of ‘dirty work’ behind the scenes which was much resented.

Bishop Smedt of Bruges presented the report on the DECLARATION ON RELIGIOUS LIBERTY. He was greeted with tumultuous applause. He gave a resumé of the dates of the progress of the printing to show how the whole thing had been held up. The applause was most moving. Bishops stood and shouted, while the old Italian cardinals looked glum. Cardinal Cicognani, the Secretary of State, is now voted Public Enemy No. 1. The Curia have done themselves much harm by this episode.

Bishop De Smedt said that the objections raised against the previous text fell into two categories. First there were those who admitted the doctrine but felt that certain arguments were not convincing, that the method of procedure was faulty or that certain expressions were not clear or imprudent. On the other hand there were those who felt in conscience unable to admit the doctrine itself. Their objections would be answered later. It was necessary to keep to the point at issue. The declaration did not touch directly on the juridical question of the relationship between Church and State, nor were there any explicit inquiry [sic] into the theological problem of the right and mission of the Church to preach the gospel. Neither was there any discussion of the moral doctrine by which a Christian must be guided in his contacts with non-Christians, which demanded the virtue of tolerance. On all these points the doctrine of the Church must be faithfully observed. The schema dealt with the religious liberty which is owed to a human being in the juridical organisation of society and the state. Modern communications were such that there was nowhere in the world an island of Catholics cut off from all others. In our pluralistic society men of good will would want to observe or restore religious peace. They want the Church to state what she thinks about the way secular life is organised. They have set up, or want to set up a mode of life in which no man or no religious community could be coerced in religion. Was such a mode of life lawful or necessary? That was the question. The declaration answered that in religious matters no human should be made the victim of coercion by others. Religious liberty was necessary to human dignity. Religion was above the competence of the state. The state must recognise and defend the free exercise of religion by all its citizens.

On the other hand an individual could not claim unlimited rights in the external manifestation of his religion. It was difficult to find formulas which public authority could not abuse, but the principle was there. There were two aspects. The first was moral: in the external exercise of his liberty no one might violate the rights of others nor fail in his duties towards others. The second aspect was juridical: no one might exercise his religion in such a way as to cause a great and inadmissible disturbance of public order. According to the accepted opinion of jurists and political scientists, the competence of the state in this matter is restricted to the protection of public order. Three things are necessary for public order: public peace, the proper observance of public morality, and harmony among citizens in the exercise of their rights. Religion must be immune from government intervention unless it contravenes the penal laws of the state.

Does the affirmation of religious liberty contradict the rights of the Church? The Church has her authority from Christ. But what is better or more dignified for the Church than to carry out her mission freely and independently. The religious liberty under discussion demands that no one should be subject to violence in order to be made to accept the faith and that the Church herself should be free of violence in society and in the state.

Religious liberty did not prevent the Catholic Church from having a privileged status in a state where Catholics were in the majority. If such a status was granted, this did not prevent other religious communities from enjoying genuine religious liberty. This privileged status was not in opposition to religious liberty, provided that non-Catholics were not subjected to force. Religious liberty was an outstanding benefit and necessary in order that faith in modern society should make deep and solid progress. The confidence of the Church of Christ was not to rest on secular power. In her difficulties and problems she should not seek refuge in the arms of public authority. To the man of the modern world, the Church must show herself personal and free. Her most effective witness to the truth of the Gospel would be in proving that she puts her confidence in the power of truth itself. Their protection was to be found in God and in the strength of their faithful. The Church would ultimately win over all men of goodwill, not by violence or political means, but through the arms of justice and the power of God.

At the conclusion of this report Bishop De Smedt was applauded for several minutes.

Cardinal Masella, President of the Commission on the Discipline of the Sacraments, made the first presentation of the Schema on the SACRAMENT of MATRIMONY. He said the Preparatory Commission had presented its findings on the following items: matrimonial impediments, mixed marriages, matrimonial consent, the form of the celebration of marriage, the basic principles which should govern a re-organisation of the handling of marriage cases. A chapter had been added on the preparation of couples for marriage and on pastoral concern for their conjugal happiness. The present text dealt only with the Sacrament of Matrimony under its disciplinary aspects. Doctrinal and moral questions were handled by the Moral Commission.

Archbishop Schneider of Bamberg, Germany, presented the report of the Commission. He explained that the present form of the Schema was the result of directives received from higher authority (!) This document was intended to list the various points on which it was necessary or advisable to adapt matrimonial legislation to the needs of the times. The Commission also offered its suggestions for the reorganisation of future matrimonial legislation. Many Fathers had complained the world was expecting something from the Council about this. However the Commission on the Discipline of the Sacraments was of the opinion that this subject was beyond its competence, as it pertained to faith and morals and not to the discipline of the sacrament of matrimony.

Cardinal Gilroy, Archbishop of Sydney, praised the schema for its practical suggestions, all of which aimed at preventing frequent invalid marriages. In addition he suggested that the impediment of disparity of worship should be, not diriment,Footnote 32 but only impediment. This would always pre-suppose that no danger of perversion of the Catholic party was involved, in which case the marriage would be forbidden by divine law itself. The Council should insist even more strongly than it did in the schema on dissuading Catholics from contracting mixed marriages, but in such a way that, except for the danger of perversion, these marriages would not be absolutely forbidden. As far as the ‘promises’ were concerned, it would help to acquire moral certainty that they would be fulfilled if they were to be made before the local pastor. This should be the case even in the new form of promises proposed in the document. Provided a marriage had taken place in conformity to civil law and the parties could produce a legal document testifying to the marriage, it was proposed that the Church should recognise such a marriage even for Catholics as being valid, though unlawful. Clandestine marriages should be strictly forbidden. Those who transgressed the law of the Church regarding marriage should not be admitted to the sacraments until they had taken steps to rectify the situation. In the case of mixed marriage, Nuptual Mass should not be prescribed but only permitted. It would be helpful to make a new definition of the impediment of mixed religion so as to make it applicable to marriage with a non-baptised person also. All these points should be discussed in the fourth session of the Council.


There can be no doubt that the machinery of the Council of the Roman Catholic Church is among the most cumbrous yet devised by men. Slow and archaic, it is ill adapted to the needs of the modern world. Yet it does at least give expression to the fact that the Church is concerned with all her parts and members. Even so it is still not totally representative, because neither priests nor laity are able to send delegates.

Since our last despatch in October a number of Schemas, considerably shortened in comparison with their original form, have come up and gone through the laborious process of discussion in general, discussion in particular, reference back, voting on amendments, and then (only some of them) final voting. The course of these debates has been continually interrupted by votes about other Schemas in various states of completion, so that at times it has been difficult to remember where one is. Nevertheless, through all this process, the Lord's work of the renewal of the Church has gone steadily on, and our report must be mainly of pleasure and thanksgiving for what has happened. New ideas have continued to find expression. The forces of renewal, doing their uphill battle against dull conservatism and entrenched authority, have been given grace to win the day.

The chief feature of the session has been the final voting on the Schema de Ecclesia and de Ecumenismo, which were publicly promulgated by the Pope at the closing ceremony. These two decrees will undoubtedly stand as the principal work of the Council, and as such should be a matter of considerable thanksgiving. As we have said in a previous report, there is no ‘let up’ on the traditional dogmas concerning the Papacy, but they are set in a new and more biblical context. Taken in conjunction with the Schema on ‘The Pastoral Function of Bishops’ they give a more democratic conception to the papal office. The resultant situation is that here is a new version of an old problem which is at least now able to be discussed on grounds which are intelligible. It is sometimes disconcerting to read reports of Protestant leaders minimising and depreciating the work of the Vatican Council on the grounds that the central obstacles still remain. To be fair one must remember that many other confessions are ‘saddled’ with doctrinal statements which are embarrassing to them and which they have done nothing as yet to revise (Does not the Presbyterian Westminster Confession describe the Pope as Anti-Christ – are we therefore to hold aloof from them because of this?Footnote 34). One other welcome feature of the Decree on the Church is its treatment of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in which again, although previous doctrines are not retracted, yet a definite halt is called to Mariological exaggerations and a real attempt is made to state the Church's attitude to her in terms of references in Scripture. She is described as having only a ‘subordinate role’ in the work of salvation. Although she is described by the title mediatrix, it is explained that every priest is a mediator of grace when he ministers the sacraments and every layman when he forgives his neighbour or does a work of mercy. With this type of explanation there will be many who will feel there has been a real effort to bring Mariological devotion (very dear indeed to the piety of Roman Catholics) to a point at which it ceases to be offensive and could from now on be a matter of rational discussion.

The decree on Ecumenism we have also referred to in these reports. It has undergone a certain amount of emendation in detail. Here again, although the ecclesiology behind it is not such as entirely to please the World Council of Churches [underlined and ‘satisfy non-Roman Catholics’ added] it represents an unbelievable step forward in these relationships. It recognises, for example, the full ‘church status’ of the Orthodox, and realises that the Anglican Church has a special place to play [sic] in the future of ecumenism. All Christians are in some sense members of the Church by baptism, and future discussions will therefore be recognised as taking place ‘within the Church’. It leaves to local[,] national or regional conferences of bishops the task of deciding how far and in what way the practice of ecumenism shall find expression in common devotion, in exploratory discussion and in social action. It ushers in a future full of promise. Our Archbishop's Commission on Roman Catholic Relations, which for some time has been enjoying semi-official discussions with Roman Catholics on the continent of Europe, will look forward to exploiting to the full in England the opportunities offered by the new decree.

Discussions have taken place during this session also on the following Schemata or ‘Sets of Propositions’:

1) on the Apostolate of the Laity. In this, as in almost all other discussions, there was a tug-of-war between the ‘new thought’ of the liberal bishops and the dead conservatism of those who are still satisfied with things as they are. Archbishop d'Souza of Bhopal, India, for example, was heard to say: ‘When we realise that we must treat laymen as adults, it is amazing to read in the text that “nothing is to be done without the bishop”. This phrase could open the door to untold abuses and repressions of initiative. The People of God is not a totalitarian state where everything is run from the top. We must show that we are genuinely ready to de-clericalise our outlook and treat the laity as brothers. The hierarchy should not take upon themselves the laity's responsibilities, but should leave them to do those things which they can do better. For example, why should representatives of the Church at international organisations always be priests? Laymen could be used in many offices in the Curia. They could also be employed in the diplomatic service of the Holy See and could even be appointed Nuncios in some cases.’ And Bishop Leven of S. Antonio, Texas, said, ‘This is most important for areas where the laity are educated and are ready to give their time and effort to the cause of the Church. Little will be gained if a bishop consults only a few people, especially if these few are only his doctor and his housekeeper. It is desirable that every diocese should have a kind of diocesan senate.’ [Mr GoyderFootnote 35– deleted] Some may be dissatisfied with the rate of progress of synodical government in the Church of England, but he will sympathise with the efforts of some of the Roman Catholic bishops to rescue their Church from total clerical domination. It was in the course of this debate that Mr. Patrick Keegan,Footnote 36 an Irishman, was invited to address the Council. He exemplifies in his own person the concern of progressive Roman Catholics to pursue ‘Christian action’. He is President of the World Movement of Christian Workers.Footnote 37 It will be remembered that Mr. WoodcockFootnote 38 and Sir Leslie [sic] Carron,Footnote 39 two most prominent Trades Union leaders, are Roman Catholics.

2) The discussion on the Priesthood was desultory in the extreme and the Schema was eventually rejected for rewriting.

3) A Schema on Oriental Churches (i.e. the eastern churches in communion with Rome) was criticised from many sides. It did not do adequate justice to the Orthodox churches, and seemed somewhat preoccupied with the question of the reception of converts. The central authority in Rome dealing with these churches should be representative, consisting largely of Orientals, instead of having a predominantly Latin and therefore juristic approach to most questions. Maximos IV, Melchite Patriarch of Antioch, that giant of the Council, wanted a ‘new deal’ and [a good deal of – deleted] more autonomy for the ancient catholic office of Patriarch. The hope was expressed that the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem would be suppressed.Footnote 40

4) The Schema on the Church in the Modern World was one which had been long awaited. Its main themes were to be the Church in relation to modern culture, to hunger and poverty, to atheism and to marriage and population problems. It is impossible to analyse the wide range of these debates. In our view it attempted too much, and raised too sanguine expectations. The usual pattern of debate emerged, progressive against conservative. Some reminded the Council of the Church's agelong resistance to modern knowledge (Galileo and all that) and suggested that she should be careful not to be too closely wedded to any particular culture lest she become ossified in it. She had spent the whole of the 19th century denouncing the enlightenment and was now in the 20th having to catch up with it. The sad history of Fr. Teilhard de Chardin and the modern state of the Index were evidence that all was not well. Illiteracy in Latin America (the largest of the ‘civilised’ world) was said to have been fostered by the Church. Archbishop Heenan of Westminster contributed to the part of the debate concerning population control, but earned the disapproval of the Council by an attack on the ‘Periti’ or specialist theologians. The Pope had given notice that he intended to keep to himself the regulation of the text concerning birth-control, but there was evident in the general debate a desire to move away from the [kant – deleted] blank[et] prohibitions which have so far characterised Roman Catholic legislation on the matter to something more positive and pastoral. The section on world peace went over the ground which is normally covered by the Church Assembly, or every other responsible Christian body, totally condemning war as a means of arbitration, yet unable to agree to a total unilateral disarmament as a duty incumbent on any Christian nation. Strong declarations were made against world poverty and hunger and in a dramatic moment the Pope offered his ceremonial tiara to be sold and given to the poor. The Schema was eventually withdrawn for revision in the light of the debate.

In the last few days the bishops rushed breathlessly through a number of minor Schemas.

5) On Missions. Here the Council asked for more representative international control of missions and for the liberation of the Church in new areas from European culture.

6) On Religious (it was revealed that there were 2,000,000 of them in the world). Here a strong appeal was made that they should be brought up-to-date both in devotion and in habits of life and that a greater distinction in type of spirituality should be allowed between the contemplative and active orders.

7) On Seminaries. In the debate the issue was broadly whether the education of ordinands should continue to be exclusive and universally based on indoctrination in Thomistic philosophy, or whether it should be opened up to the new insights of contemporary knowledge and thought-forms.

8) On Christian Education. Here Archbishop Beck of Liverpool pleaded the right of the parent to be able to educate a child in a school of his own choice, according to the tenets of his own conscience; though he did not touch the corresponding question as to whether the State had a right to protect the child from excessive indoctrination.

9) On the last two days of the Council attention was turned to the Schema on the Sacrament of Matrimony. There of course the whole world was waiting to see what would be said about Mixed Marriages. The text shows some improvement on the situation as we now know it, dispensing with the extraction of a promise from the non-Roman party and allowing the Roman party to promise ‘as far as possible’ to ensure the Catholic education of the children. To our great disappointment Archbishop Heenan of Westminster showed himself against even these small concessions (saying he represented the whole hierarchy of Britain), though we gathered that most of his fellow bishops in the rest of the world are against him.

The last two days witnessed a drama of the greatest moment. The long-awaited declaration on Religious liberty, which had been delayed, blocked and modified so often by the conservative members of the Curia, was produced as a printed text in its final form on the Tuesday of the last week, in the hope that it would be voted [on] in one of the last days. But the Council of Presidents decided that the Council fathers had not enough time to digest the revised text. This created an uproar in the Council of dramatic proportions, and it was clear that the overwhelming majority of the bishops was against them. The Pope felt unable to overrule the Presidents, and promised that this should be the first item on the agenda of the next session. But let it be remembered that it was Pope John's ten presidents and not Pope Paul's four moderators who did the overruling. The American bishops in particular will find it difficult to face their fellow countrymen with this disappointment. Our reaction was not quite so violent. After so many centuries of error in this matter, it does not seem to us to be of great moment if the declaration of the official [commission – deleted] conversion of the Roman Church is delayed by a few months.

This rather shabby episode sent the bishops away in a bad humour, but it merely serves to emphasise that the ‘liberals’ in the Council will win in the end and that what the Roman Church needs above all things is a new set of high officials who will help, rather than impede, the present Pope in his intentions for the renewal of the Church. That might be a theme of prayer when we intercede, as we frequently should, for our brethren of the Roman obedience.

Report No. 165.      24th November, 1964



Discussion was continued on the suggestion for MATRIMONIAL LEGISLATION:

Cardinal Ruffini, Archbishop of Palermo, praised much of the text such as those parts on the preparation of couples for marriage, the reduction of the number of impediments and the streamlining of marriage cases. It was not correct to use the term ‘sacred’ except in a broad sense for marriage before the time of Christ, since marriage became sacred because of its sacramental character. The respective roles of the Church and the State in marriage should be clearly shown, and it should be pointed out that the State was only competent in the purely civil side of marriage. It might be advisable to abrogate the excommunication now in Canon Law for Catholics who attempted marriage before non-Catholic ministers, but if this were done the text should formulate a stringent prohibition against such an act. (This represents a great concession on the part of this extremely reactionary Cardinal). The proposal to regard as valid for Catholics a marriage contracted contrary to the leave of the Church before a civil magistrate or a non-Catholic minister was something which at first sight seemed to be well nigh unthinkable.

Cardinal Monreal, Archbishop of Seville, said marriage should be considered not only as a sacrament but also as a duty of nature. More stress should be placed on the indissolubility under all its aspects. Such questions as the prohibited degrees of consanguinity should be left to the National Episcopal Conferences. The impediment of Orders should relate only to the priestly ordination and not to be applied to sub-diaconate and diaconate. The same should be true for solemn vows. With regard to mixed marriages, disparity of worship should affect only the lawfulness of the marriage. Marriage contracted before a civil magistrate or a minister should be regarded as valid, but the parties should remain outside ecclesiastical communion until they repented and made their peace with the Church.

Cardinal Döpfner, Archbishop of Munich, said the present text was in harmony with the doctrine on the Church and the decree on Ecumenism. Since the question of mixed marriages was extremely urgent and the Code of Canon Law could not be revised for at least some years, the Council should ask the Pope to take immediate steps to implement the legislation proposed in this schema.

Cardinal Ritter, Archbishop of St. Louis, Missouri, considered that the text moved prudently and wisely between the extremes of inflexible retention and complete relaxation of the form. The problem of clandestine marriages which preoccupied the Council of Trent no longer existed. Nevertheless there was a new problem, namely the high incidence of early and hasty marriages with the probability of divorce. This was a reason for retaining the form of marriage for the liturgy [. . .]

Bishop Fearns, Auxiliary of New York, said that whatever may be the merits of the legislation proposed in the schema it should certainly not be imposed indiscriminately on all nations. Many bishops were sincerely convinced that this new legislation would be very harmful in the United States. In any case the bishops should have had more time to prepare their pastors for such a drastic modification of the Church's law on marriage. It would be advisable to convoke a meeting of pastors, especially those coming from pluralistic countries to discuss the problems involved. Many felt that this change of legislation would do immense spiritual harm, at least in many quarters of the Church.

[. . .]

Bishop Renard of Versailles said that not infrequently priests were confronted with the problem of baptised Catholics requesting Catholic marriage even though they had become lax in their religious practice or had abandoned it completely. Often they were completely ignorant of the sacramental character of marriage. In handling these situations there were two extremes. Some priests simply refused to admit such couples to marriage before the Church, while other priests, for fear of alienating them completely, admitted them to marriage with little or no preparation. To avoid such abuses the Council should issues some pastoral directives on the practical preparation of young couples for marriage, especially in such cases as described above. The Ordinary should be able to permit marriage without any sacred rite whatever, simply in the presence of a priest and two witnesses, whenever a sacred rite might be an occasion of offense. (This seemed an interesting reaction by a French bishop to what is in effect our situation in England. We got malicious joy from knowing that Heenan had to listen to it. Could we not have a joint study group with the French about ‘the Administration of Matrimony in a post-Christian society’?)

[. . .]

Archbishop Heenan, in the name of the hierarchy of England and Wales, welcomed the proposals for the future celebration of mixed marriages. Too often the ceremonies for such marriages were so stripped of solemnity and joys as to seem more like a funeral than a wedding. No blessing of the ring, no candles or flowers and – what makes the bride burst into tears – no organ. If the Church granted a dispensation she could do so graciously, magnanimously and in an open-handed way. Let the Church show herself a real mother not only for the Catholic but also for the non-Catholic. Mixed marriages must be looked at realistically. Frequently the non-Catholic partner in England was not a church goer of any kind. Only rarely had he found non-Catholic partners in a mixed marriage to be really active members of any religious community. In such cases the promise to raise the children as Catholic rarely caused difficulty. If the non-Catholic could not with a good conscience promise that the children would be brought up as Catholics there should be no attempt of coercion. It was sufficient for him not to object to the promise being made by the Catholic party. This promise should be without any conditional clause. The words ‘so far as I can’ were unnecessary because obviously no one was ever bound to the impossible. But the words could be misinterpreted as meaning that the non-Catholic party had no obligation to put up any fight for the children's Catholic education and that for the sake of peace they might be allowed to abandon the faith. Such a conclusion would hardly harmonise with the pastoral goals of the Council. (This was regarded as a reactionary speech by members of the Secretariat, with considerable distaste).

[. . .]

Cardinal Bea presented the Declaration on the RELATIONSHIP OF THE CHURCH WITH NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS. He observed that they could apply to the declaration the biblical comparison of the grain of mustard seed. It was first intended as a brief declaration on the Church and the Jewish people. But in the course of time the little seed had become almost a tree in which many birds were finding nests. That was to say in which all non-Christian religions were finding their proper place. The Council Presidency, the Coordinating Commission and the Moderators were all agreed that this declaration should be closely linked with the schema de Ecclesia. Nevertheless, in order not to interfere with the logical development [of the] Constitution or to complicate the voting and promulgation of this constitution, it was decided to add it at the end of the dogmatic decree as an appendix. This had the added advantage of putting in a clear light the exclusively religious character of the declaration against any unwarranted political interpretation. It also increased the importance of the declaration because it was added to a dogmatic constitution, even though its purpose was not strictly dogmatic, but pastoral.

In judging the necessity of this declaration they must remember that it was of great importance that the Church, the Christian world and world public opinion should have their attention drawn to the problems set forth in this declaration. The importance and extreme value of the declaration was in the fruits to be hoped for. For the first time in Conciliar history principles dealing with non-Christians were set forth in solemn form. The Church had a serious obligation to initiate dialogue with the one billion men who knew not Christ or his work of redemption. It was the task of the Church to help them to obtain a full share of the riches of Christ.

The following votes were taken:

Decree on Ecumenism (Approval of the entire document): placet 2,054; non placet 64; placet j.m.Footnote 41 6; null 5. (Enormous applause.)

Decree on Catholic Oriental Churches: (Approval of the entire text): placet 1,964; non placet 135; placet j.m. 1; null 4.

Declaration on the Relationship of the Church with non-Catholic Religions (Approval of the whole text): placet 1,651; non placet 99; placet j.m. 242; null 4.

The Council was then asked to vote on the following propositions: Is it agreeable that the schema of the suggestions on matrimonial legislation along with all the observations made by the Council Fathers be transmitted at once to the Pope in order that he may make immediate provision through the competent offices?: placet 1,592; non placet 427; J.M.T.N. 2; null 3.

Report No. 166.      25th November, 1964



This began with a concelebration by the Pope with fourteen other bishops who had Marian sanctuaries in their diocese (including Northampton because of Walsingham). The liturgical occasion was the Presentation (?) of the B.V.M.

The three decrees:




were voted and solemnly promulgated by the Pope, the first two with prolonged applause. This event is undoubtedly a milestone in Church history. It represents a commendable effort on the part of the Roman Church to make the best of the situation which has resulted from the disastrous definition of 1870. It confirms the picture we have constantly drawn (in season, out of season) of the present Pope as a friend in the long run of reform and enlightenment.

The Pope's discourse began by emphasising that these decrees represented not new teaching, but only explanations of what always had been. It reiterated that the new teaching about the bishop in no way compromised the position of the Pope as at Vatican I. But it did hint that he was going to call on the bishops extensively for help in the future.

The rest of the speech was given over to an amazing blast of Mariology which left the Observers quite dumbfounded. He declared the B.V.M. ‘Mater Ecclesiae’, a title which had been rejected for inclusion in the Schema by the Theological Commission. He said he would send a golden rose to Fatima etc. etc.Footnote 42 It all seemed for the moment quite disconcerting. The Marian fanatics rose and cheered loudly, while the Observers sat glum and despondent.

The whole thing was quite amazing. Many of the Protestant Observers left the Council reckoning to be totally disillusioned. I personally feared the effects which the speech might have on the Press, causing them to caricature the Pope even further as a disappointment etc. But my own reaction was to rally fairly quickly to the assessment of the situation which I ventured to send to the Archbishop by express letter immediately afterwards, to try to counteract any possible false impressions which the press reports might give. Later consultations, both on the Roman side and with the reliable organs of publicity, confirm the general interpretation given in the letter. Vide particularly the excellent despatch of the Times correspondent ‘Vatican pressure on the Pope’ of 22nd November. (I have had continuous and happy association with Peter Nichols,Footnote 43 the correspondent in question, which my successor will certainly also enjoy. Nichols’ despatches on ecclesiastical questions are first-rate. He has the confidence of some of the most reactionary elements in the Curia, as well as understanding and sympathising with the ‘liberal’ view.)

The main outlines of the situation now seem to me to be:-

  1. 1. The progress of the Council, particularly the votes of the Third Session, had been a bitter disappointment for the conservatives.

  2. 2. Sinister pressure groups have urged the Pope not to promulgate either de Ecclesia or de Ecumenismo. He has resolutely refused to yield to this pressure.

  3. 3. Accusations have been levelled at him, therefore, of ‘letting down the Church’ and ‘betraying the faith’.

  4. 4. As a good captain of the ship he has tried to steady her in a stormy hour by giving some comfort to the conservatives. Their most tender spot is the B.V.M., and Chapter 5 of de Ecclesia is bitter for them. He therefore concentrated on that.

  5. 5. The ‘rose of gold for Fatima’ is apparently a sop to the Portuguese, who are cross with the Pope for favouring India by the proposed visit to Bombay, India having swamped the Portuguese territories of Goa.

  6. 6. The episode of the delay in the Declaration on Religious Liberty had already been reported (report No. 164) but it is all part of the same situation. Someone observed that it were better that this should be delayed than that on the Jews etc.

  7. 7. It is said that the Pope forced one or two amendments on the Secretariat for Unity in the Ecumenism Schema, all but one of which were acceptable. The one difficult one was a change in a passage describing us as those who ‘Spiritum Sanctum invocantes in ipsis Sacris Scripturis Deum inveniunt quasi sibi loquentem in Christo’.Footnote 44 The word ‘inveniunt’ was replaced by ‘inquirunt’, i.e. we seek truth, but do not find it. But perhaps we cannot expect the Roman Church to admit that we find truth, or else their position is clean gone. Or perhaps it could have been allowed to be translated ‘are finding’, which would have saved face.

  8. 8. The Italian elections were due to happen the day following the speech. I don't know the political situation intimately enough to be sure, but it is just possible the Pope might feel he had to make a symbolic gesture to the right. In any case the Communists eventually registered slight gains.

The general picture, therefore, of the Council emerges as progressive and a matter for thanksgiving, and of the Pope as having run true to our expectations of him. It is much more important, in the long run, that the decrees on the Church and Ecumenism should have been steered through almost unanimously than that the Declaration on Religious Liberty should have been rushed through now rather than at the next session. The Pope has been heavily pulled in two directions. He has encouraged the tendency of the left and dealt a strong blow at the right. It is up to us, in my opinion, in public communications, to show that we appreciate this and to encourage him to continue this tendency in the future.


[. . .]. The Observers took objection to the description of all non-Roman Catholic Christians in England as ‘so-called church-going Protestants’. The Bishop of Ripon thought that the Archbishop of Canterbury's attention ought to have been drawn to this. I am inclined to think that we might ignore it in the interests of making him live up to the one or two liberal phrases in the speech. But it created a bad impression on the whole. I am afraid Heenan had not emerged well from the Council.

Report No. 167.      30th November, 1964



My wife and I were asked to dinner by Mgr. Willebrands on Thursday 26th November in the ‘Columbus’ Hotel. We were very much touched on arrival to find that the whole staff of the Secretariat were there (about 12 people), and that this was a dinner given in our honour. In the course of the speech of goodwill and thanks I was interested to note that Mgr. Willebrands repeated twice that the Anglicans tried to understand what was going on in the Roman Church and to evaluate it pragmatically. And he referred to ‘good humour’ etc. There is no doubt that the first thing they look for in any mission is sympathy. I suppose this could denigrate into complacency and too easy acquiescence. But I think they have appreciated our sympathetic handling of the situation (which would come naturally to most Anglicans) in contrast to the rather unselfcritical dogmatic reactions of e.g. the Lutherans. Willebrands stressed that Archbishop Fisher's response to John XXIII's overtures had had a quite observable influence on the progress of the preparations for the Council.

Two positions emerged in the general conversation. One was the confirmation (by Schmidt, Cardinal Bea's private secretary) of the rumour that Cardinal Suenens had fallen out of favour since his speech on the Church in the Modern World and that Cardinals Roberti and Browne were now seeing a lot of the Pope. This was regarded by all as a pity. The other concerned the Lutherans. Mgr. Höfer said there was a great debate going on among the Lutherans as to whether there was such a thing as a ‘Lutheran Church’ or not. Many of them (including Prof. Schlink) thought there was not. There was not a universally accepted statement of belief; there was no uniform pattern of ministry; there was no executive authenticity with the World Lutheran Federation. In Germany, the home country, the Lutherans were yoked with Reformed in the Evangelische Kirche Deutschlands. In Sweden there was an episcopal state Church etc [. . .]

The rumour was strong that the Council would resume in May. I have had no other confirmation of this date, and it seems unlikely on general grounds.


I took leave of the Cardinal on November 27th. He was very friendly and asked to be remembered to the Archbishop of Canterbury. He said he would welcome my successor. When he asked how I though the job would develop I said I hoped it would lead to the establishment of an Anglican Institute in some form, and he agreed that that would be desirable. He said that the third session had been memorable for the votes on the two great documents. He thought the acceptance of the declaration about the Jews etc. also very significant because

  1. a. It had been done uphill against constant attrition;

  2. b. Not even the political pressure in the middle East had been able to stop it;

  3. c. It formed a healthy rejoinder to the influence of such things as the Hochhuth play;Footnote 45

  4. d. It had been rescued from its improper place at the tail of the Decree on Ecumenism.

He said we (particularly my successor) must be vigilant to follow up the detailed development of the situation on de Ecumenismo. There will be those who will try to torpedo its application in detail.


I had a final audience with the Pope on November 28th. This was very remarkable, because he had invited me to bring all the family, which I did, having warned him that I could not be responsible for what Felicity (aged 3) and Matthew (aged 2) might say or do. He replied that he was quite used to his great nephews and nieces, some of whom had made havoc in the Vatican Palace, a few weeks previously. In the event nothing disastrous happened, and the whole thing was a success. The children were slightly more impressed, naturally, with the Swiss Guards than with the clergyman in the white cassock.

I had an audience alone first. His Holiness enquired about the Archbishop of Canterbury's health and plans (I had previously mentioned His Grace's projected journeys in 1965). I was able to explain our hopes about the future of church union in Nigeria. The Pope asked how these new ‘united’ churches would stand in relation to Canterbury. Did I think this would be the general pattern of reunion schemes in other parts of the world? He hoped that the Archbishop's visit to Rome would not be long delayed. I thought it might happen in 1965 if a date could be found free of the Council and of the Archbishop's journeys.

The Pope was complimentary about my mission and regretted that it had ended. He asked about FindlowFootnote 46 without my prompting and said he would receive him as he had received me. He hoped that I should still be associated with the work. I should always be welcome to visit him, or write or send material for his reading or to ask questions. I thanked him and said that I could have wished for answers to some questions in the last week of the Council. He smiled and said ‘There were difficulties, but all is well now’. I said that it was not always easy to report objectively what was really going on. He smiled again and asked what I had reported about the last days. I told him. His face went serious and he said ‘Bene, bene’, with some emphasis. ‘I think Anglicans often understand what is going on among us better than anyone else. They have a hierarchy, they believe in the Church. I have clear principles on which I act in times of difficulty. I must act in faith. I must show that I understand the aspirations of the two sides when they disagree, that I love them personally, that I respect their institutions and ways of thinking. As captain of the ship I have to keep her on a steady course’ (I had already used this metaphor in a despatch to the Archbishop concerning the Pope's actions). ‘So you bring all along with you. I am not going to act in a hurry. We have made great strides, but we have made them together (meaning that the new documents, through not being rushed, had had an almost unanimous vote). It is better for me to go ahead slowly and carry everyone with me than to hurry along and cause dissensions. Especially when I speak in public I must show that I love all my sheep, like a good shepherd’.

All this confirmed the diagnosis of the ‘crisis’ at the end of the 3rd session previously adopted in these reports. This line of talk gave me the opening I wanted for presenting my C.I.C.Footnote 47 booklet. I said that we were often faced with the same situation viewed from our angle. When we spoke or wrote we had to assure our doubtful brethren that we were not compromising our position, and so could attempt to bring them along with us. I had written very frankly in a spirit which was totally friendly and I hoped he would find it so. The Pope again said ‘Bene, bene’, and added ‘we must all speak with frankness, thus you get further in the long run’.

This interview was one of the most satisfactory I have had, offering immediate opportunities for exchange at quite a deep level, without wasting time on courtesies. It was a return to the old Milan days.

My wife and children were afterwards presented. The audience resulted in a pair of photographs which will be a great pride in the future.


1 O'Malley, John, What Happened at Vatican II (Cambridge, MA, and London, 2008), p. 211Google Scholar.

2 ‘[One should] beware of Romans bearing gifts’. This is presumably a pun on the phrase from The Aeneid, Book II, line 49: ‘Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes’ (‘beware of Greeks bearing gifts’).

3 This passage from Lumen Gentium, ch. 15, reads ‘Accedit orationum aliorumque beneficiorum spiritualium communion; imo vera quaedam in Spiritu Sancto coniunctio’ (‘They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits; likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit’).

4 Peer to peer.

5 ‘Churches and ecclesiastical communities . . . which separated from the Apostolic See of Rome during that most serious crisis which began in the West towards the end of the middle ages or during later periods.’

6 ‘Baptism therefore constitutes a bond of sacramental unity which is active between all who are ruled/governed by it.’

7 Promulgated 6 August 1964.

8 ‘The Holy Spirit as the Lord, who shall renew the face of the earth.’

9 ‘On the functions of bishops in the church’.

10 This is presumably a reference to the Septuagint, which uses the Greek word parthenos (translated ‘virgin’).

11 ‘Far surpasses’. The full section in Lumen Gentium is as follows: ‘The Virgin Mary, who at the message of the angel received the Word of God in her heart and in her body and gave Life to the world, is acknowledged and honoured as being truly the Mother of God and Mother of the Redeemer. Redeemed by reason of the merits of her Son and united to Him by a close and indissoluble tie, she is endowed with the high office and dignity of being the Mother of the Son of God, by which account she is also the beloved daughter of the Father and the temple of the Holy Spirit. Because of this gift of sublime grace she far surpasses all creatures, both in heaven and on earth.’

12 The Queen visited Canada on 5–13 October 1964.

13 ‘To wit’.

14 The relic had been presented to the Greek Church as a gesture of goodwill during the previous session of the council.

15 ‘A Roman citizen’.

16 Christians of both Roman Catholic and Anglican churches were killed by King Mwanga of Buganda in 1885–1887. The twenty-two Roman Catholics were canonized by Paul VI on 18 October 1964. One of the first Christians to die was Bishop James Hannington, the first Anglican bishop of East Africa. That the Anglicans were publicly acknowledged at the same time was regarded as a significant step forward in ecumenical understanding.

17 From the Anglican Church of Canada.

18 Community of the Resurrection, an Anglican Order founded in Pusey House, Oxford, in 1882.

19 Paul Couturier (1881–1953), priest and inspirational French ecumenist; creator of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

20 The report of the Theological Commission of the Church of England, published in 1948.

21 Dr J.N.D. Kelly (1909–1997), Principal of St Edmund's Hall, Oxford, 1951–1973; eminent scholar of biblical and patristic studies.

22 ‘Uganda is a field of apostolic mission that welcomed Anglicans, from England, as the first bearers of the Gospel, to whom were joined, two years later, French-speaking Catholic missionaries, the Pères Blancs [official name, Missionnaires d'Afrique]. . . . And we do not want to forget all the others who, subscribing to the Anglican confession, have confronted death in the name of Christ.’

23 As the first part of the Report shows, Cardinal Heenan voiced a very critical attitude to the work and presence of the periti at the Council and many of the bishops present took offence at this open hostility towards the periti. In May 1964 Heenan had, in the name of the bishops of England and Wales, issued a statement saying that contraception was not a question to be debated as it was against the law of God. Two years later he made waves in England owing to his opposition to the use of contraception and his emphasis that the voices of the bishops were hushed mainly as a result of the universal confusion. He also appeared on television, on Frost on Friday in 1968, discussing contraception, particularly the pill.

24 Bernard Häring (1912–1991), German Roman Catholic theologian and Redemptorist priest. He served as peritus at Vatican II and was involved in preparing the constitution Gaudium et Spes.

25 Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955), French Jesuit and philosopher, whose thought had in important areas diverged from the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Some of his work had been condemned in the 1950 encyclical, Humani Generis, but by the time of the Vatican Council he was attracting more sympathetic interest across the Church.

26 Illustrious gentlemen.

27 Encyclical promulgated by John XXIII, 11 April 1963.

28 In 1930 the Lambeth Conference approved the use of birth control in limited circumstances. Later that year Pius XI's encyclical Casti Connubii (On Christian marriage or On chastity in marriage) explored the meaning of Christian marriage and emphasized its threefold purpose, borrowed from St Augustine: to produce offspring, to grow in conjugal faith, and to show benefit from the sacrament. Contraception and abortion are identified as posing a threat to the Catholic understanding of marriage. In The Allocution to Midwives of 1951, Pius XII reaffimed the sanctity of life and upheld the views expressed in Casti Connubii regarding birth control and abortion.

29 Gerald Mahon (1922–1992), Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, 1970–1992; attended the last three sessions of the Council.

30 See p. 368, n. 27.

31 Ignatius Bedros XVI Batanian (1899–1979), Patriarch of Cilicia, 1962–1976.

32 An impediment that renders a marriage altogether invalid, unless a dispensation is granted by the Church, which is possible only in certain cases.

33 Pawley's analysis was sent direct to Archbishop Ramsey with this covering letter (in Lambeth Palace Library, London, Ramsey Papers, vol. 65 (1964), fo. 191):

Your Grace,

I felt I ought to write a personal note about the Pope's speech at the closing of this session. I have only just returned from St. Peter's and have not had much time to sort it all out. All the Observers, absolutely all, are very disappointed, our friends in the Secretariat are puzzled and annoyed, but all the ‘old gang’ in the Vatican are exultant.

My interpretation (subject to later thought and consultation with others) is as follows. The Council as a whole has been a severe disappointment to the old guard Roman Catholics who have run the Church from here for centuries. The Pope has ‘let them down’ by agreeing to collegiality, to ecumenism (can you think what a bitter pill this is?) and to the severe blows dealt to the Blessed Virgin Mary in de Ecclesia. There is no doubt that he has been appealed to on all sides to modify these decrees and has refused. So the good captain of the ship, to save the boat rocking too much, has put in a little weight on the other side, to comfort them, and to keep the balance. And I suppose we don't mind her being called Mother of the Church, do we, now that we know officially (ex cathedra) this morning that Church has a subordinatum munus [subordinate function]? All is not lost. Am I right?

With respect.

I am, Your Grace,

Yours sincerely,

Bernard Pawley

34 Westminster Confession (of 1647), Chapter 25, paragraph VI: ‘There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor can the pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof: but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God.’

35 George Goyder, chief administrator of the Church Assembly of the Church of England under Archbishops Fisher and Ramsey.

36 This contribution by Patrick Keegan was judged by some to be the first occasion on which an ecumenical council had been addressed by a layman since Constantine spoke to the Council of Nicaea in 325.

37 Based in Belgium, the World Movement of Christian Workers was in the process of formation during this period. It would be formally established in 1966.

38 George Woodcock (1904–1979), General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, 1960–1969.

39 Sir William Carron (1902–1969), President of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, 1956–1957.

40 Pope Pius IX had re-established a resident Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem in 1847. Between 1949 and 1970 the position was held by Alberto Gori.

41 ‘Placet juxta modem’, a vote or expression of assent but with changes.

42 The Golden Rose is a gold imitation of a spray of roses which is blessed on the fourth day of Lent as a sign of spiritual joy and of future good works brought forth by the Church. When Paul VI closed the third session of the Council he announced that he was sending the Golden Rose to Portugal in the near future to honour the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima.

43 Peter Nichols (1928–1989) had become Italian correspondent for The Times in 1957. He was a distinguished writer and author of The Pope's Divisions (London, 1983).

44 ‘Invoking the Holy Spirit, find God speaking to them in Christ through the sacred scriptures’.

45 Rolf Hochhuth's play Der Stellvertreter had been premiered in 1963. It accused Pius XII of passivity in the face of the Holocaust.

46 The Revd Canon John Findlow, Pawley's successor; a leading figure in the future of Anglican–Roman Catholic relations. He died in 1970.

47 Church Information Council.

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