Text of African Layman’s Council Speech on Missions

This is a translation of the French speech on the missions schema delivered Oct. 13 by Eusebe Adjakpley, lay auditor from Togo.


In the first place, may I say how happy I am, as an African layman, to be speaking on behalf of the lay auditors before this assembly, which includes African cardinals and so many bishops from Africa? The fact that Africa is present here in this way is in itself an indication of what missionary endeavor has done for the Church’s universal implantation. I wish also to pay homage to the missionaries and to all who have given their life and their blood for this mission whether they are from Africa, from Asia or from elsewhere.

The group of auditors desires first of all to express its gratitude to the cardinal moderators who have graciously allowed us to speak again today, in relation to this schema to which we attach particular importance. After the doctrinal riches of the Constitution on the Church, after the new horizons opened up by the Decree on Ecumenism, after the great debates on the lay apostolate and the Church in the modern world, the present schema adds an indispensable teaching and a new call, which we receive with joy and wish to see eagerly welcomed by all lay members of the people of God.

We thank the Fathers who during the debate have stressed the essential relationship between this schema and the other conciliar texts which more directly concern the laity; we thank those who have even asked that our role in missionary activity should be still more clearly outlined. Continue reading

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Atlanta Archbishop Seeks Stronger Condemnation of Discrimination

Archbishop Paul J. Hallinan of Atlanta, Ga., has called on the ecumenical council to make a more forceful denunciation of all forms of racial discrimination.

He called for an amendment to the proposed declaration on the Church in the modern world — the so-called schema 13 — to make it state explicitly that of all forms of discrimination, that based on race or color most dishonorably offends the God-given law of justice.

Archbishop Hallinan, whose metropolitan province includes North and South Carolina, Georgia and peninsular Florida, submitted both a written statement and a draft amendment to the council secretariat. He asked that the amendment be inserted after the 30th paragraph of the schema, which declares that much remains to be done to establish the fundamental equality of all men among themselves.

The archbishop’s proposed addition states that slavery, forced segregation, deprivation and degradation have been the fruit of racial discrimination. These in turn give rise, it states, to monstrous inequalities in education, housing, jobs, in the right to vote, and even in denying to members of racial minorities the right to worship in particular churches. Continue reading

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Press Session Focuses on Priestly Celibacy

Discussion at the U.S. bishops’ council press panel centered on the subject of priestly celibacy, which Pope Paul VI has already ordered not to be discussed at the ecumenical council.

A large part of the discussion revolved around a figure given by one news agency that over the years 10,000 priests have requested the Congregation of die Holy Office for dispensations from celibacy.

Panelists agreed that there is no accurate figure as to the number of such cases. They also agreed that celibacy is not a major problem for the American clergy. Continue reading

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Christ’s Missionary Mandate, Role of Laity Highlighted at Council Session

148th General Congregation
October 13, 1965

Dressed in the colorful robes of an African tribesman, a lay auditor from Togo stood before the world’s bishops in the ecumenical council and pleaded for recognition of the layman’s role as a witness to the Gospel in mission lands.

Speaking in French, Eusebe Adjakpley thanked council Fathers on behalf of his fellow auditors for the document on the Church’s missionary activity. He said it would add “indispensable teaching and a new call” to the layman’s role in the Church.

His words, he continued, were spoken “in the name of a great number of lay people — men and women, youth and adults, married couples also — who desire, in the diversity of their vocations, to place their witness and their skills at the service of the Church’s mission of evangelization.” To youth especially, “born into a world which was already on the way to unification, already conscious of new destinies … full of enthusiasm for tasks of development, for building up civil society,” he addressed through the council a call to be “at least equally committed to the essential task of the Christian: bringing Christ to the world and the world to Christ.”

Although the council agenda called for the beginning of discussion on the last council document still to be debated — the one on priestly life and ministry — only the report on that document was read before closing time since 10 Fathers invoked “the 70 signature rule” to continue debate on the schema on the Church’s missionary activity. Cloture on this discussion had been voted the previous day, but according to council rules a speaker may continue debate after cloture if his request to speak is backed by the signatures of 70 other council Fathers. Continue reading

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Changes Proposed in Role Of Women in the Church

Far-reaching changes in the role of women in the Catholic Church have been proposed to the ecumenical council by Archbishop Paul J. Hallinan of Atlanta.

In a statement filed with the council’s general secretariat, the American prelate declared that since women “constitute half the people of God” they should be given equal consideration in the council’s schema on the Church in the modern world.

The archbishop asked whether the Church “has given the leadership that Christ, by word and example, clearly showed he expected of her.”

“In proclaiming the equality of man and woman the Church must act as well as speak by fraternal testimony, not only in abstract doctrine,” he said. Continue reading

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Council Father Seeks Consideration of Conscientious Objection

Archbishop Thomas Roberts, S.J., former Archbishop of Bombay, wants the ecumenical council to give complete support to the position of conscientious objectors.

Scheduled to address the council on this subject, Archbishop Roberts was unable to do so since debate on that section of the Church in the modern world document was closed before his turn to speak came up. He later secured the signatures of 86 council Fathers requesting that he speak despite the closing of debate, but he was too late in presenting his petition.

Archbishop Roberts disclosed what he had intended to say to the council by reading his proposed intervention at a press conference. Continue reading

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Council to Hold Public Session to Enact New Documents

147th General Congregation
October 12, 1965

To commemorate the seventh anniversary of the election of Pope John XXIII, the ecumenical council which he initiated will hold a public session Oct. 28 at which several completed documents will be enacted.

At the public session Pope Paul will commemorate his predecessor by concelebrating Mass with several council Fathers. Then he will officially proclaim the completed council documents — which were not immediately identified — following a formal public vote on each of them by the assembled council Fathers.

It will be the third such session since the council began on Oct. 11, 1962. Pope Paul promulgated the Constitution on the Liturgy and the Decree on Communications Media at the end of the second session in 1963. He promulgated the Constitution on the Church, and the decrees on ecumenism and on the Eastern Churches at the public congregation closing the third session last November. Continue reading

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Panel Agrees Pope Had Right to Remove Celibacy From Council Deliberations

Pope Paul was fully within his rights in notifying the ecumenical council that he has decided to preserve the practice of celibacy in the Western Church, it was agreed by speakers at the U.S. bishops’ press panel.

The Pope, in a letter sent to Eugene Cardinal Tisserant, the chief council president, announced in effect that celibacy is not to be a matter for council discussion.

Later that day, speakers at the press panel told newsmen that the Pope’s decision was in line with the thinking of the majority of the bishops.

Father John J. King, O.M.I., superior of the Oblate house of studies in Rome, said the decision was easily justified because the Pope is not just a member of the council but the council’s decisions are subject to his ratification, and its acts are promulgated by his authority as Pope. Continue reading

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Pope Takes Celibacy Issue Off the Table at Council

146th General Congregation
October 11, 1965

Pope Paul VI informed the Second Vatican Council that he intends not only to preserve the ancient law of celibacy of the clergy of the Latin-rite Church, but also “to reinforce its observance.”

The Pope thus in effect removed the subject of celibacy from the competence of the council. His decision was revealed in a letter read to the council during its 146th general congregation (Oct. 11) by the secretary general, Archbishop Pericle Felici. The letter was addressed to Eugene Cardinal Tisserant, first of the council presidents. In it, the Pope said he was aware that some council Fathers had asked to speak on the law of clerical celibacy in the Western Church when the schema on the priestly life and ministry came up for debate.

The Pope said that “without impeding in any way the liberty of the Fathers,” he wanted to express his own opinion. Continue reading

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Education Draft Completely Revised; New Wording on Parents, Teachers, State Aid to Education

As it stands, the ecumenical council’s revised draft on Christian education does not go as far as present Church law in demanding that Catholic parents send their children to Catholic schools.

Commenting on the new draft distributed in the council for a vote, Msgr. Mark J. Hurley, vice chancellor of the San Francisco archdiocese, told newsmen at the U.S. bishops’ press panel that it was possible to hold new discussions on the draft because it has been extensively revised since last year’s council debate. He cautioned, however, that such a move, if it comes, should not be interpreted as a “plot involving progressives against conservatives.”

The decision on what to do about the new material has been a serious one among the bishops, he said; even the voting procedure has been changed since the vote was first announced Oct. 1. At that time, Archbishop Pericle Felici, the council’s secretary general, said the text would be divided into five sections for voting purposes. Since then, Msgr. Hurley said, it has been decided to further narrow down the material in each section to be voted on by having 14 votes, thus making it easier for the bishops to eliminate specific sections they don’t like without having to vote against a large section of the document.

Comparing the text debated last year with the present revision, Msgr. Hurley said the suggestion for a post-conciliar commission on educational matters has been retained. The present text goes further than the old one, however, in trying to counteract any overemphasis on the role of parents in their children’s education by stating clearly that the teacher is not only a delegate of the home or state or Church, but also a representative of society as a whole in the task of perpetuating culture, he said. The interlocking role of all these influences on the child’s education is stressed.

New wording in the section dealing with state aid to education, he said, represents a compromise. Although not as clearly worded as Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York had asked last year, the text does favor assistance in the name of distributive justice so that the freedom of parents is safeguarded in the choice of education for their children. Continue reading

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