Commission to Guide Work During Recess

A newly created central committee is directing and coordinating the work of the various commissions of the Second Vatican Council during its nine-month recess.

Announcement of the creation of the committee, and a description of its duties, was given in a document called “Norms for the Work During the Interval Between the First Session of the Council and the Beginning of the Second.”

The document was distributed to the council Fathers (Dec. 6), just two days before the close of the council’s first session.

Head of the new central commission is Amleto Cardinal Cicognani, Papal Secretary of State, who is president of the council’s Secretariat for Extraordinary Affairs.

The initial announcement said only that the commission would include “several cardinals and bishops.” Continue reading

Complex Issues Plague Relations with Orthodox

The many obstacles standing in the way of Christian unity were stressed at least implicitly when the Orthodox Churches of Greece and of the Near East declined the invitation to send observers to the Second Vatican Council.

But the stand of the Greek Orthodox could stimulate the council Fathers to study with special attention the problems concerning the Eastern Churches — of both those in communion with the Holy See and those separated from it.

One of the problems concerning Eastern Rite Christians is that because 97% of all Catholics follow the Latin Rite, it is often assumed that this is the best, and that others are somehow suspect.

To many Latin Rite Catholics, it seems strange to find other Catholics whose Mass is in languages other than Latin, whose laity receive Holy Communion under both species, whose Baptisms involve plunging the child entirely into water three times, and who have married men who are ordained priests.

Such customs mark most of the Eastern Churches, separated as well as Catholic. Some separated Eastern Christians fear that if they came into unity with the Holy See in a body such customs would result in their being considered second-class Catholics. Continue reading

The Human Side of the Council

While the grave problems of the universal Church are being examined in the Second Vatican Council, there is a side-play of human activity reminiscent of congresses and parliaments around the world.

The general meetings of the council begin at 9 sharp every morning. At that hour the bishops find their assigned places and attend Mass.

The Mass, with which each day’s work begins, is in a different Rite almost every day. The ancient tongues chants provide a daily education in the fact that all is not Western and Latin in the Catholic Church.

After the Mass is over, the ceremony of enthroning the Gospels on the center of the altar is repeated everyday. Some bishop, each day chosen from a different part of the world, carries the book the full length of the council hall accompanied by two candle bearers.

Perhaps 40 minutes has been required for all this. Now there is the muffled coughing and shuffling of papers which is the sign everywhere on earth that the assembly is settling down for the work of the day. Continue reading

Council Fathers Consider How to Describe Tradition

The ecumenical council may adopt one of two views as a result of its discussions on the relationship between Scripture and Tradition, an official council expert said here last month.

Father Georges Tavard, A.A., of the Pittsburgh diocese, told reporters at a meeting of the U.S. bishops’ press panel that the two views are:

1.That Scripture and Tradition appear as two sources of Faith (or as two sources of Revelation).

2.That Tradition and Scripture are not two sources standing side by side, but that Tradition is the explanation of Scripture by the Church.

Father Tavard also noted that the council’s stand on the matter can affect the movement for Christian unity. Prior to the council’s opening the priest was a consultor of the Preparatory Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity and is now one of the experts named by Pope John XXIII to advise council Fathers. Continue reading

Protestant Scholar Says Council Observers Pleased

Non-Catholic observers at the Second Vatican Council are pleased at the concern shown by the council Fathers for the Catholic Church’s relations with other churches, according to a leading Protestant scholar.

“I am not betraying any secrets when I tell you how glad we are to note how a concern for ecumenism pervades these discussions,” said Prof. Oscar Cullmann of the Universities of Paris and Basel (Switzerland).

“Yet even here,” the noted Scriptural and patristic scholar told newsmen, “we must be on our guard against illusions. We certainly hope with all our hearts that this renewal [of the Catholic Church] will be realized. For we are convinced that if it is, it will make so much easier the dialogue between Catholic and non-Catholic that will go on after the council. Continue reading

Cardinal Bea Optimistic for Wider Participation

Following is the text of a ‘press conference given by Augustin Cardinal Bea, S.J., president of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, at the council press center in Rome on Nov. 8.

Introduction: Allow me to begin with a personal word. The Holy Father has told you wonderful things about the importance and the grave responsibility of your profession, and he has also expressed his heartfelt thanks to you for all you have done to inform your readers about the Council, about its intentions and its preparation. But I wish to express very sincere and personal thanks to you for all the collaboration that so many of you have given to the work of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, or to my personal work, in the press, on the radio and on television. This collaboration was certainly not always easy, if only because it was not in any way possible to satisfy all the requests and because on more than one occasion it was necessary— though with sincere regret—to refuse even important requests. I can tell you in all sincerity, however, that, with the exception of a very few cases, the collaboration was carried out in a satisfactory manner—and I believe for both sides. If the work of the secretariat had the widespread echo that it did in world public opinion—and consequently also in the council itself—a considerable part of the merit belongs to your profession. Therefore, my sincere and heartfelt thanks.

I would also like to add a word of what is almost an anticipated apology. During the work of the council it will not be possible for me, unfortunately, to continue the aforementioned collaboration with the lively and steady rhythm it has had in recent months. Everything must come in its own time. The work of the council with all the accompanying studies and consultations must now have absolute precedence. I do not doubt that you will understand this fact and that you will agree. I accepted this meeting with you today almost as a consolation for this sacrifice and to give you information on the work of the secretariat. Continue reading

Local Customs Urged to Be Included in Liturgy

An Indian prelate has expressed a hope that local customs can be made part of Church rites.

Archbishop Eugene D’Souza, M.S.F.S., of Nagpur, India, told a press conference here that “the marriage rite as it now stands is completely unintelligible to many of our Catholic people living in rural areas.”

“Many a missionary complains of the delicate situation created by some of our people who get married in church and afterwards have their marriage performed according to local custom,” the Archbishop said at his press conference. Continue reading

Ecumenical Mass Proposed

Why shouldn’t the greatest ecumenical council in the Church’s history create a new rite—an ecumenical or world Mass—to which Catholics could invite their Protestant brothers who retain a love for the Eucharist?

This was the question posed to newsmen by a German-born missionary bishop shortly after he had raised it at the council itself.

Bishop William Duschak, S.V.D., Apostolic Vicar of Calapan, the Philippines, suggested that the ecumenical or world Mass should be in the common language of the people wherever it is celebrated. It would be, he said, “simple, grand and monumental” and composed in Rome.

Bishop Duschak said he spoke not as a liturgy expert but as a “practical missionary.” He has spent more than 30 of his 59 years in the Philippines.

The Bishop emphasized that he is not against Latin.

“I love the Latin language. It is and should remain the language of the Church.”

But he said that an unfamiliar language such as Latin or any tongue other than that of the people “deprives the people of their right to participate in the Mass.” Continue reading