Text of Pope Paul VI’s Address Closing Council’s Second Session

Following is the council press office translation of the Latin address delivered Dec. 4 by Pope Paul VI at the closing meeting of the second session of the ecumenical council.

 We have now reached the end of the second session of this great ecumenical council.

You have already been long absent from your Sees, in which the sacred ministry requires your presence, your guidance and your zealous pastoral labors. Your work here has been heavy, and assiduous and protracted by reason of the ceremonies, studies and meetings of this period of the council.

Pope Paul VI (CNS photo)

Pope Paul VI (CNS photo)

And now we have just entered upon the sacred season of Advent which prepares us to celebrate worthily the memory of the blessed Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, that yearly recurring feast which never loses its solemnity and wonder and holiness. During this important and absorbing commemoration of the ineffable mystery of the Incarnate Word of God, none of us should be occupied with other thoughts, however elevated or holy they may be. None of us should be detained in any other See, however great and venerable, but each of us should celebrate the liturgical mysteries in that place where Providence has entrusted to us His church, His community and His priestly pastoral duty.

We must, therefore, interrupt for a second time the course of this great synod; we must once again bid each other farewell and go our separate ways after these happy days of momentous brotherly conference.

But we must first thank God for the blessings that He has bestowed during this session and by its means, nor can we withhold our thanks from any of those who have taken part in the session and have had some positive part in its successful functioning. We thank especially the presidency of the Council, the moderators, the secretariat and also the commissions and the periti, the representatives of press and television, those who have fitted out this basilica, and those who have offered hospitality and assistance to the Fathers of the council. Continue reading

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As Second Session Ends, Documents on Liturgy, Communications Promulgated; Pope to Visit Holy Land

Closing General Congregation
December 4, 1963

The second session of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council came to an end with:

—An announcement by Pope Paul VI that he will go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in January.

—A papal wish that the council end at the close of its third session next fall.

—Overwhelming passage of the Constitution on the Liturgy and Decree on Communications Media.

Pope Paul noted that no pontiff since St. Peter has been in the Holy Land and added:

“We are so convinced that for the final happy conclusion of this council prayers and good works are necessary, that after careful deliberation and much prayer we have decided to become a pilgrim.”

The Pope also expressed the wish in a 6,000-word address that full council meetings end with the third session scheduled for Sept. 14 to Nov. 20, 1964. He suggested that after that date council work should be terminated in commissions, with the bishops being summoned to Rome for a final ceremony to promulgate the council’s total decrees.

The second session’s last meeting approved a sweeping reform of the public worship of the Church by passing the liturgical constitution by an overwhelming majority of 2,147 to 4. A tremendous burst of applause greeted announcement of the vote. The Pope then approved and promulgated the constitution, making it the law of the Church. (Editor’s Note: The full text of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, “Sacrosanctum Concilium,” is available here.) Continue reading

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Text of Italian Layman Vittorino Veronese’s Address to Council

Following is a translation of the address given by Vittorino Veronese, a leader in Catholic Action, before the ecumenical council in commemoration of the Council of Trent.

Most Holy Father:

Our generation has been nourished by great things. It has been tested by war and by separations, undermined by doctrines denying the Divine Fatherhood and thus the sacredness of the human person. But it, this generation of ours, has also had powerful nourishment, the illuminating assistance of the Church for a more open testimony of the evangelic message.

A pope admonished us that it is not permissible for anyone in this century to be mediocre. And another pope who followed him recalled that duties unknown to another age are incumbent upon us, and he taught us that “the faithful, and more precisely the laymen … must always have a clearer consciousness of not only belonging to the Church but of being the Church” (Pius XII, Discourse to the semi-public consistory of Feb. 20, 1946).

More recently still, a pope, whose voice rang out like a testament, pointed out to us “the signs of the times” and told us that peace comes from an “order founded on truth, constructed according to justice, vivified and integrated by charity and carried out in freedom” (Encyclical letter of John XXIII, “Peace Among All Peoples”).

And now in a moment of history in which the world is confronted by problems of universal dimensions and of perhaps decisive importance, before the Church responds to the expectations and needs of the world, you, Holy Father, have asked the council: “What do you say of yourself, Church of Christ?” And you have granted (us the privilege) of assisting and of participating in some way of our own in this dialogue, promise and preparation of this answer. Continue reading

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Text of French Writer Jean Guitton’s Address to Council

Following is a translation of the discourse delivered in St. Peter’s basilica before the ecumenical council by Jean Guitton.

Most Holy Father:

I can give Your Holiness this late title of Father in all its force and fullness because, as a simple layman, I am indeed your son.

Venerable brothers, united to the common Father: I would like to give here the testimony of a layman, which is not the divinely guaranteed testimony of the successors of the Apostles, but a personal testimony, founded on the inner conviction and the experience of an entire lifetime.

Forty-three years ago, I heard the ecumenical appeal through a French Religious, Father (Fernand) Portal, a friend of the future Cardinal Tisserant. At the time of the Malines conversations, I was the disciple of (Desire) Cardinal Mercier and of Lord Halifax, and then the friend of l’Abbe Couturier. It is the spirit, the testament of these forerunners that I would like to illustrate here, expressing my conception of the ecumenical vocation as a truth, a way, a life.

This vocation is founded on meditation on the reasons which, in the Gospel of St. John, Jesus gives for His Sacrifice; on the certitude that this will of Christ is effective and that we must cooperate in it with our whole being.

But like all sublime tasks, ecumenism is a difficult matter of balance, beset by two contrasting errors. One of these errors, and certainly the more serious, is the minimum ecumenism which restricts itself to retaining solely that which is common to all Christians, or which prepares a new super-church said to be the synthesis of the historical churches. Continue reading

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Two Laymen Address Council

Two laymen, one French and the other Italian, took the floor of the council (Dec. 3) to speak of the need for ecumenism and of the role of the laymen in the Church in the presence of Pope Paul VI and more than 2,000 bishops.

The rare occasion for laymen to address the assembled bishops of the council took place during a commemorative session marking the fourth centenary of the Council of Trent. The speakers were French writer Jean Guitton and Italian Vittorino Veronese, long a leader in the field of Catholic Action.

Guitton said his vocation to the ecumenical movement “is founded on meditation on the reasons which, in the Gospel of St. John, Jesus gives for His sacrifice and on the certitude that this will of Christ is effective and that we must cooperate in it with our whole being.”

He warned against two false approaches to ecumenism. Continue reading

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Remarks by Christian Unity Head on Ecumenism Issues at Council

Following is a translation of the address given by Augustin Cardinal Bea, president of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, on Dec. 2 before the 79th general congregation of the ecumenical council’s second session.

We have now arrived at the end of this session and, more particularly, at the end of the discussion of the first three chapters of the draft “De Oecumenismo,” which were proposed by our Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. What shall I say now, except above all to express my sincere and heartfelt thanks in the first place to the Great and Good God and then to all the venerable Fathers.

If by chance anyone should have held a divergent opinion up to now concerning the zeal and love of the bishops of the Catholic Church from all over the world for Christian unity, through this discussion he should have been able to see with the utmost clarity and be completely persuaded that this zeal and this ardent love do exist with full vigor in the Catholic Church. Already the very vote by which the first three chapters of our schema were accepted as a basis for discussion by an almost moral unanimity — even though from the beginning it had been clear to the members of the secretariat that there were many things in the draft which could and ought to be perfected — has very clearly revealed this zeal. Continue reading

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200 Council Fathers Seek Schema on Communism

A petition signed by more than 200 council Fathers from 46 countries asking for a special schema on communism, Marxism and socialism has been handed in to Amleto Cardinal Cicognani, Papal Secretary of State. This was reported here by the Divine Word News Service.

The petition called communism and Marxism the “greatest and most dangerous heresy of this century.” It said that the “faithful will remain puzzled if the council does not treat a question of such great importance.”

The petition, contained in a bound volume, asks that Catholic social doctrine be set out clearly and that the “errors of Marxism, socialism and communism” be treated philosophically, sociologically and economically.

The petition asked for condemnation of the Marxist error that “any person in need or any nation in need can take from another person or another nation by force those goods which the person or nation attacked did not strictly need to keep alive.”

The petition said that this was being spread “even by teachers in the ranks of the clergy.” Continue reading

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