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 →
Following is the text of remarks made Oct. 15 in Rome’s Columbus Hotel by Augustin Cardinal Bea, President of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, to non-Catholic observers delegated to attend the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council.
My dear brothers in Christ:
Instead of listing at length your titles, which I certainly do respect, please allow me to address you with these simple yet very profound words, “My brothers in Christ.”
This title plunges us immediately into the profound consciousness of the immeasurable grace of Baptism which has created bonds that are indestructible, stronger than all our divisions. Christians all over the world are daily becoming more conscious of these bonds.
These bonds have prompted authorities to delegate you as observers to the Council of the Roman Catholic Church. And these same bonds prompted His Holiness Pope John XXIII to create the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, in order that the non-Catholic Christian communities may better follow the council’s work.
Now that this fraternal encounter, longed for by so many baptized persons, has become a reality, I believe that the first and most sincere feeling of all is one of the gratitude that lets us say with St. Paul, “Blessed be the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1,3). Continue reading →
Pope John XXIII has put the finishing touches on preparations for the Second Vatican Council by appointing the council’s major officers and spelling out its rules and procedures.
He did so only five weeks before the council’s opening by issuing a motu proprio—the technical name for a document drawn up and signed by the Pope on his own initiative.
One of the Pope’s acts was to name a presiding council of 10 cardinals who will take turns in presiding over plenary sessions of the ecumenical council in the Pope’s name when he is not present. The 10 are from nine nations. Among them is Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York.
With the release (Sept. 5) of the motu proprio, the Pope also:
Named cardinals of the Roman Curia to head 10 council commissions which in general parallel the preparatory commissions he set up for the council two years ago.
Appointed Amleto Cardinal Cicognani, his Secretary of State and former Apostolic Delegate to the United States, president of a Secretariat for Extraordinary Affairs which will deal with any unforeseen problems. Among its seven other members is Albert Cardinal Meyer, Archbishop of Chicago.
Required a two-thirds majority—plus his own approval—for enactment of decrees of the council.
Stated that non-Catholic delegate observers may attend not only the solemn public sessions of the council, but also the working sessions in which all the Catholic bishops take part.
From the August 11, 1962 issue of America by Eugene C. Bianchi, S.J.: What are the problems that will be discussed at the coming Vatican Council?
Out on Rome’s Via Aurelia, in a modest study on the second floor of the Brazilian College, works a man who reflects a vitality, optimism and foresight that belie his 81 years. Augustin Cardinal Bea, as president of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, is one of the truly outstanding personalities in pre-conciliar Rome. People marvel that this quiet biblical scholar, once confessor to Pope Pius XII, has become the dynamic and articulate champion of the cause of Christian unity.
As teacher and superior of the Pontifical Biblical Institute for more than a quarter-century, Father Bea, SJ., contributed much to the renewal of scriptural studies among Catholics. His many scholarly works and his inspiring direction have left their mark on a whole generation of Rome-trained exegetes. It seems eminently fitting that the Cardinal’s escutcheon should feature a dove hovering over a book. For the dove unintentionally symbolizes his very important contribution to Pius XII’s epoch-making encyclical. Divino Afflante Spiritu, the modern Magna Charta for Catholic biblical research.
But it is since 1960, when the scholarly Cardinal became head of the Unity Secretariat, that he has shot into the forefront of the world religious scene. The purpose that Pope John wished to engrave on the coming Council—that of a renewal of Catholic life in view of greater Christian unity—is perhaps best mirrored in the tireless activity of Cardinal Bea. His secretariat was established to keep non-Catholics abreast of Council preparations, to receive their suggestions, and to see to the delicate task of inviting non-Catholic observers to Vatican II. The secretariat also formulates proposals for the Council on such important topics as religious liberty, membership in the Mystical Body and the dialogue with the non-Catholic world. Continue reading →
From the August 4, 1962 issue of America by Robert A. Graham, S.J.:
Historians of the ecumenical movement will probably put down July 5, 1962, as a notable date in the development of Catholic-Protestant rapprochement. On this day, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Arthur Michael Ramsey, announced that the world-wide Anglican Communion, of which he is the spokesman, would be represented at the Second Vatican Council by three delegate-observers.
Within a few days, spokesmen for similar non-Catholic communities announced that they, too, would send observers or were on the point of making an official favorable decision. While the significance of these successive announcements should not be exaggerated, they are a measure of the state of mind on both sides. Continue reading →
At the request of Cardinal Agustin Bea, president of the Secretariat for Christian Unity, who also has as his area of responsibility relations with Judaism, the American Jewish Committee has already submitted twomemoranda regarding the treatment of Jews and Judaism in theology and liturgy, intended to guide the development of conciliar documents. The AJC asked the eminent theologian Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel to prepare this third memorandum on Catholic-Jewish relations, submitted today from New York.
A Memorandum to His Eminence Agostino Cardinal Bea,
President, The Secretariat for Christian Unity,
Submitted by Abraham Joshua Heschel, New York, May 22, 1962
With humility and in the spirit of commitment to the living message of the prophets of Israel, let us consider the grave problems that confront us all as the children of God. Continue reading →
The time has come to put an end to this nonsense. Either the Biblical Commission will bestir itself, do some proper work and by its suggestions to the Holy Father make a useful contribution to the needs of the present time, or it would be better to abolish it and let the Supreme Authority replace it in the Lord by something else.—John XXIII to Cardinal Amleto Giovanni Cicognani
Angry at the backward, literalistic views of the Biblical Commission and its attacks against Cardinal Agustin Bea, rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, where progressive approaches to biblical scholarship were favored. From John XXIII: Pope of the Century by Peter Hebblethewaite (p. 211).