First Day of Work at Council Lasts Only 15 Minutes; Fathers Postpone Leadership Vote

The first general meeting of the ecumenical council lasted less than an hour and then adjourned to give the council Fathers time to study the qualifications of candidates for 160 important council offices.

According to council regulation, the Fathers must elect 16 of their number to each of the 10 commissions which will draw up the final decrees and constitutions which will be passed by the council. Pope John XXIII names the other eight members of each commission.

Preliminary council plans called for the beginning of voting for the officers at the first general meeting.

Before business began, however, Achille Cardinal Lienart, Bishop of Lille, France, asked to speak. He presented a motion asking for a delay in the voting. He gave as his reason the need for prior consultation, especially among members of different ecclesiastical regions, and also to give the Fathers time to gain a fuller knowledge of the candidates. Continue reading

Pope Issues Rules, Procedures for Council

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.

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