Proposal on Church in the Modern World Advances

105th General Congregation
October 20, 1964

In an attempt to understand the modern world and to interpret the Church’s message to that world, the council Fathers began discussion of one of the most talked-about and long-awaited schemas on its agenda.

Eight cardinals took the floor and all but one expressed general satisfaction with the text of schema 13 on the Church in the modern world. They asked the council to accept it as a basis for discussion.

Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York hailed it as “representing the basic hopes of the Second Vatican Council” and asked that in recommending changes, council Fathers take care not to weaken but rather to strengthen the text and improve its clarity.

Both Julius Cardinal Doepfner of Munich, Germany, and Giacomo Cardinal Lercaro of Bologna, Italy, cautioned against speed in deliberations. The latter observed that “perhaps there is not even time enough left in this session — especially if there is going to be a fourth session next year.”

Saying he was unhappy with the impression given by the text that the Church “fears contagion from associating with the world,” Albert Cardinal Meyer of Chicago called for a deeper understanding of the role of the world in the plan of salvation. He cited Scripture and tradition to support his contention that the world itself, and not only the soul of man, is the proper object of Redemption. Continue reading

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More Debate on Eastern Churches; Council Approves Chapter on Church’s Nature, Wants Revisions on Priesthood Draft

104th General Congregation
October 19, 1964

The council Fathers gave overwhelming approval at their 104th meeting to chapter seven of the schema on the nature of the Church, which concerns the Christian vocation to the happiness of heaven.

They also voted to send the proposition on the priesthood back to commission for revision.

In continuing debate on the Eastern churches, several Fathers reacted to strong criticism at the previous meeting of the schema’s treatment of patriarchs. In the name of the Patriarchal Conference of the Chaldean Rite, Bishop Raphael Bidavvid of Amadiya, Iraq, said that the present document is “entirely satisfactory, combining pastoral solicitude with an ecumenical spirit.” He said the section on patriarchs is especially gratifying since it sets forth their dignity “as truth, justice and ecumenism demand.”

Armenian-rite Bishop Raphael Bayan of Alexandria, Egypt, called the patriarchates an anachronism and asked that they be eliminated, though with the provision that their synods and system of government be honored. Continue reading

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Father McManus Discusses Instruction on Liturgy 

The striking new changes in the Mass made by the instruction of the Vatican Liturgy Commission aim at stressing the community nature of Christian worship and taking full advantage of the liturgy’s educational or formative possibilities.

The new changes, which go into effect March 7, 1965, the first Sunday of Lent, must be regarded as a preliminary step in the overall liturgical reform decreed last December by the Second Vatican Council.

In the Constitution on the Liturgy the council gave broad mandates for reforms to be worked out in detail by a commission drawn from all over the world. Early this year, Pope Paul VI set up the commission with the major task of revising the official missal, ritual, breviary and so forth. Although complete reform is expected to take several years, the Vatican Liturgy Commission has prepared an interim instruction concerning the Mass and other services. It was made public Oct. 16 by the Congregation of Rites, the Vatican agency which has dealt with liturgical matters since the 16th century.

Unlike the changes of liturgical texts into various languages, which are questions entrusted by the council to the bishops of each country, the new instruction is obligatory throughout the Latin rites of the Church by the expressed direction of Pope Paul.  Continue reading

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Text of Instruction on the Liturgy to Implement Changes in Mass

This is an English translation of the Vatican Liturgy Commission’s instruction implementing changes in the Mass and other forms of the liturgy recommended in the Vatican council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. The instruction was issued by the Sacred Congregation of Rites with the date of Sept. 26, 1964, but made public Oct. 16, 1964.


  1. I. Nature of this Instruction
  1. 1. The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy is deservedly counted among the first fruits of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, since it governs the most excellent part of the Church’s activity. It will bear more abundant fruit the more profoundly the pastors and the faithful of Christ perceive its genuine spirit and put it into practice with good w
  1. 2. The Commission for the Implementation of theConstitution on the Sacred Liturgy, established by the Supreme Pontiff, Paul VI, in the apostolic letter Sacram Liturgiam has already speedily undertaken the task entrusted to it, to bring the directives of the Constitution and of the apostolic letter to a proper fulfillment and to provide for the interpretation and execution of these document
  1. 3. It is of the greatest importance that the documents, from the very beginning, should be properly applied everywhere, with doubts, if there are any, concerning its interpretation being remov Therefore, the Commission, by mandate of the Supreme Pontiff, has prepared this Instruction, in which the functions of the bodies of bishops in liturgical matters are more clearly defined, some principles given in general words in the above-mentioned documents are explained more precisely, and finally some matters, which can be put into practice now, before the restoration of the liturgical books, are allowed or required.
  1. II. Some principles to be noted
  1. 4. What is now defined as to be put into practice has the purpose of making the liturgy correspond always more perfectly to the mind of the council concerning the promotion of active participation of the faithfu

The general reform of the sacred liturgy, moreover, will be accepted more readily by the faithful if it proceeds gradually and by stages and if the reform is proposed to the faithful and explained to them by the pastors by means required of the catechesis. Continue reading

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Ecumenism Schema Clarifies Church’s Stand

The newly approved decree on ecumenism gives a clear and authoritative decision on the future posture of the Church toward non-Catholic Christians.

The decree, which received the overwhelming approval of the Second Vatican Council in detailed voting completed here, tries to correct four major misunderstandings about the grace-filled movement toward Christian unity.

First, there is not a “Catholic ecumenism” pushing behind, alongside of, or ahead of Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant types. We are witnessing today one Christian movement, and each church is asked to contribute, according to its conscience, whatever can bring about, among all Christians, that full invisible and visible unity that Christ has willed for His Church.

The cause of Christian unity is not best served as it had been in the past: by the traditional refusal of serious contact with other Christian communities. The lack of such contact is no longer an obvious anomaly or a salutary punishment but an added obstacle insofar as it perpetuates and strengthens mutual ignorance and apathy.

Our common concern is not eventually to erect a ghetto of united Christians, set apart from the rest of men. Rather, our concern is to eliminate the scandal of a Christian family which appears to the non-Christian not as a united body of men and women proclaiming the Good News of Christ which can save the world from itself, but a chorus of voices hotly arguing about what the Gospel of Christ really is. We wish to be one in order that through our united witness in word and act the world may believe. Continue reading

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More Criticism Than Praise for Proposition on Eastern Churches

103rd General Congregation
October 16, 1964

The proposition on the Eastern Churches got sparse praise and severe criticism, particularly from Eastern-rite prelates, during its second day on the council floor.

The spiritual leader of Rumanians in exile made an eloquent plea for six million persecuted Eastern-rite Catholics and called on the council Fathers to make their plight known to the United Nations.

“Reading the text of the document on the Eastern Churches,” said Bishop Michael Doumith of Sarba, Lebanon, “one finds all hopes for the Eastern Christians vanishing into thin air.”

Bishop Joseph Stangl of Wurzburg, Germany, in an apparent reference to the recent speed in the council deliberations, observed: “Posterity will not ask if we were in session three years or four — but what did we accomplish.”

Four prelates debated whether converts from Eastern Orthodoxy should be allowed to choose their rite when entering the Catholic Church or required to enter the corresponding rite of Catholicism. Two favored freedom; two were opposed. One pointed out that such freedom could lead to “pastoral anarchy” in the administration of the Church.

In the name of the bishops of the Ukraine, exiled Archbishop Josyf Slipyj of Lvov warned Latin-rite Catholics of the dangers of “proselytizing” members of Eastern rites. He said the Eastern rites have suffered much from the attempts by “Latinizers” to make them fit into the cultural pattern of the West. Continue reading

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Lasting Impact in Revelation Document

Because of its solidly doctrinal character, the Second Vatican Council’s document on Revelation will have a powerful and lasting impact, which will be felt in many fields.

The discussion of the Revelation schema which has ended here indicates that it will receive a preponderant vote of acceptance. Though many suggestions were offered for its improvement, almost all the bishops spoke of it as adequate, balanced and well-informed — a worthy product of the long, careful labor spent in its preparation.

The opening chapters emphasize a dimension in Revelation which many have overlooked, its primary character as a vital communication of God to man. In the past few centuries common teaching has concentrated on an analysis of the separate truths which form the contents of Revelation. Doctrines have been presented as a monolithic deposit coming down from an ancient past to form a body of truths which men must accept with a predominantly intellectual assent of faith.

Somehow, St. Thomas’ emphasis on the self-manifestation of First Truth in every truth it utters was lost sight of, probably because the concept was too rarified for most teachers to grasp. In the schema, however, this primary factor is once more reaffirmed. The speaking of God, like the speaking of man, is presented as a self-revelation. Through His living word God enters into contact with those whom He addresses, revealing Himself and manifesting the secrets of His inward life and love.

Through this emphasis the schema restores a perspective which brings all Revelation into focus and binds its separate truths into unity. Each truth is now seen as resonant with the voice of God manifesting Himself to every man, past or present, who opens his heart through faith. Continue reading

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