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
The editors of America comment on Pope John’s official announcement of the start date of the Council. From April 7, 1962:
With Pope John’s announcement that the Second Vatican Council would begin on October 11, the interest of the American bishops visibly quickened. Among other moves, two archbishops have produced important pastoral letters about the council.
Edward D. Howard, Archbishop of Portland in Oregon
The first, Most Rev. Edward D. Howard, Archbishop of Portland, Ore., entitled his document “The Second Council of the Vatican and Our Separated Brethren: Agreements, Difficulties, Possible Contributions” was pubiished in the March 8 issue of the Catholic Sentinel, weekly newspaper of the Portland Archdiocese.
Archbishop Howard looks to the council for development of doctrines set forth in Pope Pius XII’s encyclilcals on the Mystical Body and the liturgy. He hopes the council will bring Church law up to date, for “in this field the council can do much to make union easier for our separated brethren.” Foreseeing that the work of Christian union will be a long one, the Archbishop recommended establishment of diocesan, national and international commissions to apply the guiding principles that will be laid down by the council. He announced he would set up one of these commissions, a “Committee on Religious Unity,” for his archdiocese. Continue reading
Within the space of a few years, the annual Pastoral Letters of Richard Cardinal Cushing, Archbishop of Boston, have achieved an important place in American Catholic life. His The Christian and The Community (1960) and Moral Values and The American Society (1961) were widely and justly acclaimed for the balanced and wise contributions they made to some central and persistent discussions. His latest Pastoral Letter, The Call of The Council, is equally worthy of praise.
Describing, first of all, the role of the Councils in the history of the Church, Cardinal Cushing goes on to point out the moral crisis apparent in contemporary life. He then discusses the purposes of the forthcoming Second Council of the Vatican: the growth of the Church, the renewal of the spirit of the Gospel, the adjustment of Church discipline to modern life, and the unity of Christians. Continue reading