Following is an unofficial translation of the Latin text of the message of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council in which they promised to work for peace and social justice and stressed that “all men are brothers irrespective of the race or the nation to which they belong.”
We wish to convey to all men and to all nations the message of salvation, love and peace which Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, brought to the world and entrusted to the Church.
In fact, it is for this reason that we, the successors of the apostles, all united in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, forming one single apostolic body whose head is the successor of Peter, are gathered here at the invitation of His Holiness Pope John XXIII.
Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we intend in this meeting to seek the most effective ways of renewing ourselves and of becoming increasingly more faithful witnesses of the Gospel of Christ.
We will strive to propose to the men of our times the truth of God in its entirety and purity so that they may understand it and accept it freely. Continue reading →
Following is the text of an English translation made available by the Vatican of Gaudet Mater Ecclesia, the address of Pope John XXIII at the solemn opening (Oct. 11) of the Second Vatican Council.
Mother Church rejoices that, by the singular gift of Divine Providence, the longed-for day has finally dawned when—under the auspices of the Virgin Mother of God, whose maternal dignity is commemorated on this feast—the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council is being solemnly opened here beside St. Peter’s tomb. Continue reading →
This is the third and final installment of the first-ever translation of “the banned pastoral letter,” the document of the bishops of Holland to their people in preparation for the Council. Cardinal Ottaviani of the Holy Office had the Italian translation banned from the bookshops of Rome in the weeks leading up to the Council. The translation is by Janice Poss. See Part I and Part II.
Chapter III: The Ecumenical Council
The sense of faith and the council
Against this backdrop we understand more clearly what a council is. What passes more or less imperceptibly in the life of people of God under the daily teaching, pastoral care and administration of the global episcopate in communion with the pope, receives from a council a particular expressive form. A general council is then a concentration of grace in action visible from the Holy Spirit, that we send to the Head of the Church, Christ. The Holy Spirit ‘recalls’ to us what Christ did and taught when he lived on the earth. Under this aspect the council is like a sacrament: a sacred sign of the action of the Holy Spirit in the doctrinal magistrate and in the pastoral direction of the Church. Strictly speaking, the council is an act of ecclesiastical hierarchy and an act only of this hierarchy: this is an authoritarian, prophetic, and normative judgment, an act of authority, to what participates in principle as the representatives of the jurisdictional function in the Church, that is to say the hierarchy, always sustained by grace of which Christ provides it and possessing the discernment to distinguish the collective conceptions of believers of earthly hopes and human considerations not always exempt from sin. This power of discernment, gift of the Spirit, permits, not only to define the truth of faith, but to again fix ecclesiastic organization, to direct ecclesial and liturgical life, to formulate the exigencies of Christian life in confrontation with the world and its problems. From antiquity it was clear that a council was as such “the business of the bishops”, as what was said at the start of the Council of Ephesus.1 But what preceded showed sufficiently that this Episcopal activity presupposed the entire faith life of the lay community. This was not only in a general manner, but in particular in the immediate preparation of a council. Continue reading →
J. Harduin, Conciliorum collection regia maxima, Paris FR, 1715, Vol. II, col. 71. ↩
What did the Holy Office find so threatening about the encyclical of the Dutch bishops that Cardinal Ottaviani felt the need to confiscate it from the bookshops of Rome? Here for the first time in English is the second installment of the complete text of their encyclical, promulgated on Christmas Eve, 1960, translated by Janice Poss of Los Angeles from the French, Le Sens du Concile: Une Réforme Intérieure de la Vie Catholique. Read Part I.
Chapter II: The Sense of Faith in the Ecclesial Community and Hierarchical Direction
Revelation and Faith
The revelation of God in Christ is the gift of the personal self of the living God who makes himself known and intimately experienced in personal gesture, by which he comes to meet man, inviting him to living communion with himself. This is why the salvific reality of revelation, addressed to men and women, is not understood solely by divine acts of salvation that are historically dated (“public revelation”) but also by the interior word of God, in and by the grace of faith, or “the light of faith”, by which we can personally perceive in our heart the gracious offer of God’s salvation. This is the “salve of the heart”, of which spoke the apostle St. John, who made in a way “faith by hearing” or the truth preached about salvation can be equally perceived by the believing heart.1Continue reading →
Following is the text of an English translation of the address made by Pope John XXIII on Sept. 11, 1962, in which he asked for recitation of the prayer of the Mass for the 12th Sunday after Pentecost for the Second Vatican Council. The broadcast was carried by radio networks in Italy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Ireland and Monaco. Delayed broadcasts were carried in Germany, Austria and Canada. Radio Free Europe broadcast it to communist-controlled Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Rumania and Bulgaria.
The great anticipation of the ecumenical council, just a month away from its official opening, is shining in the eyes and the hearts of all the children of the holy and blessed Catholic Church.
In the course of three years of preparation, an array of chosen minds assembled from all parts of the world and of every tongue, united in sentiments and in purpose, has gathered together so abundant a wealth of doctrinal and pastoral material as to provide the episcopate of the entire world, when they meet beneath the vaults of the Vatican basilica, themes for a most wise application of the Gospel, teaching of Christ which for 20 centuries has been the light of humanity redeemed by His blood.
Several times [during the preparatory meetings], resolutions to abolish the Congregation of the Holy Office outright were brought to the floor. In the sessions that took place last June, after Cardinal Ottaviani had ordered that the Italian translation of a pastoral letter on the Council written by the Dutch bishops be withdrawn from circulation, the Indian cardinal—vehemently supported by Cardinals Doepfner, or Munich; Koenig, of Vienna; and Lienart, of Lille—came to the aid of Cardinal Alfrink, of Utrecht, by informing the Holy Office, and the Roman Curia in general, that while ecumenical councils usually ended with someone in schism, this time, for once, it would not be the outsiders, because they happened to represent not merely the majority of the Church but the senior pars, and they expressed their disdain for the freemasonry (a nasty word in European ecclesiastical circles) of Italian prelates, who have held the Church in thrall for too long.
—Xavier Rynne, The New Yorker, October 20, 1962
What did the Holy Office find so threatening about the encyclical of the Dutch bishops that Ottaviani’s minions had to confiscate it from the bookshops of Rome? Here for the first time in English is the complete text of their encyclical, promulgated on Christmas Eve, 1960, translated by Janice Poss of Los Angeles from the French, Le Sens du Concile: Une Réforme Intérieure de la Vie Catholique.
This is an English translation of the motu proprio of John XXIII, Appropinquante concilio. The document, dated Aug. 6, was made public Sept. 5.
With the advent of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, our soul is filled with a great joy thinking of the now close and marvelous spectacle which will be offered by the multitude of bishops gathered together in the beloved city of Rome, coming from all parts of the world to study, together with us, near the tomb of St. Peter, the most grave problems of the Church.
Therefore we give deep thanks to God, not only because He has benevolently given us the inspiration to initiate such important work but also because He has continually guided with His help the preparatory labors of the council. This confirms us constantly more in the confidence that the abundance of divine blessings will not be wanting for the completion of the work begun, just as they were abundant at the happy beginning. Continue reading →
This discussion of possible areas of reform of the upcoming Council is an excerpt from the 1962 Lenten pastoral letter of Cardinal Richard Cushing to the faithful of the Archdiocese of Boston, “The Call of the Council.”
It may seem strange to some that words like change and reform, adjustment and adaptation are often used when the Church and the forthcoming Ecumenical Council are discussed. Certainly the Church, like her divine Founder and Head, is “ever the same…yesterday, today, and always”; ever giving the same apostolic witness of one Lord; ever professing the one Catholic Faith; ever renewing men in holiness through the same sacraments; ever showing herself as the faithful and constant spouse of her divine Bridegroom, in a very real and true sense then the Church is unchanging—she can never lose or deform that which the Apostles have left her or what our Lord requires of her. To this end Christ has promised his continuous presence in the Church through the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Truth. Continue reading →