Liturgy Is First Topic Tackled by Council Fathers

4th General Congregation

October 22, 1962

Twenty-one Fathers of the general council opened debate on the liturgy at the fourth general congregation.

Among those participating in the discussion at the closed meeting were Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York, and Archbishop Egidio Vagnozzi, Apostolic Delegate in the United States.

The council press office said in a bulletin that the liturgy was scheduled as the first topic because the work of the council is directed primarily toward the task of an internal renewal of the Church.

The project on the sacred liturgy consists of a preface and eight chapters.

The first chapter outlines the general principles for renewal and promotion of the liturgy. It explains the nature and importance of the liturgy in the life of the Church and then deals with liturgical formation and with participation of the faithful in the liturgy, outlining the rules and general principles which must be respected for renewal and reform.

The first chapter ends with paragraphs concerning liturgical life in the diocese and in the parish and with ways of promoting pastoral action.

The second chapter deals with the mystery of the Eucharist, the Holy Mass and with sacramental concelebration. The third chapter is devoted to sacraments and to sacramentals and revision of the ritual. There also are paragraphs which deal with burial.

Chapter four deals with the Divine Office and other prayers. The fifth is concerned with the liturgical year and calendar. The sixth deals with sacred vestments and vessels. The seventh and eighth are dedicated to sacred music and art.

The session began promptly at 9 a.m., with a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Lorenz Jaeger of Paderborn, Germany. The president of the day’s session was Norman Cardinal Gilroy, Archbishop of Sydney, Australia.

The first order of business was the reading of the names of the Fathers elected to posts on three commissions which had not been announced previously.

After the lists were read, showing that 42 nations are represented by the 160 elected Fathers, Arcadio Cardinal Larraona, president of the Commission on Sacred Liturgy, spoke. He made a number of declarations on the subject of the liturgy and then yielded to Father Ferdinando Antonelli, O.F.M., secretary of the commission, who read the project proposed for the first discussion.

In explaining why the council took up the liturgy first, the council press office said: “The work of Redemption, pre-announced by God in the Sacred Scripture and fulfilled by Christ, is continued in the Church chiefly through the liturgy, through the Sacrifice of the Cross perpetually renewed on the altar, through the sacraments and through daily tribute of public prayer.”

The press office’s bulletin said that liturgy could be defined as “worship rendered to God by the Church. It is not only an external and sensible part of the divine worship or an instructive ceremonial; neither can it be considered as a simple collection of the laws and precepts through which the ecclesiastical hierarchy governs the acts of worship. Though not combining within itself the whole activity of the Church, liturgy is the font from which grace flows and is the terminus to which souls are directed.”


While the council’s general congregations were recessed on Sunday, Oct. 21, the council’s Commission on Sacred Liturgy held a meeting that morning presided over by Arcadio Cardinal Larraona, C.M.F., and attended by all 24 members and consultors.

Cardinal  Larraona named as his vice presidents Paolo Cardinal Giobbe and Andre Cardinal Jullien, both members of the Vatican administrative staff. As secretary he named Father Ferdinando Antonelli, O.F.M., Promoter General of the Faith, and thus one of the top officials of the Sacred Congregation of Rites.


Pope John XXIII has named as council Fathers the generals of all congregations of men Religious with more than 1,000 professed members.

According to the norms of canon law only the generals of religious orders with solemn vows may take part in the council. However, in the case of the Vincentian and the Pallottine Fathers, Pope John made exceptions and admitted their generals to the council since both are exempt communities although they do not take solemn vows.

The Pope’s ruling brings to the council the heads of many of the Church’s youngest and most active mission congregations. Among the religious congregations whose superiors general now have a voice and vote in the council are such large and prominent communities as the Redemptorists (9,030 members), Oblates of Mary Immaculate (7,500), Holy Cross Fathers (3,127), Salesians (21,048) and Divine Word Fathers (5,436).


Pope John XXIII has named Archbishop Matthew Kavukatt of Changanacherry, India, to replace Archimandrate Teodoro Minisci, Abbot Nullius of the Basilian monastery of Grottaferrata near Rome and Superior General of the Italian Congregation of Basilian monks, on the Commission for the Oriential Churches.

The Pope appointed Archimandrite Minisci to the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity when the secretariat was made equal in status to the 10 council commissions (Oct. 22).

The change in the secretariat’s status made its members ineligible for elective positions.

Pope John also named Archbishop Thomas Morris of Cashel, Ireland, to replace Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, Archbishop of Gniezno and Warsaw, on the Commission for the Lay Apostolate, the Press and Entertainment. The Polish Cardinal has been named by the Holy Father to serve on the Secretariat for Extraordinary Affairs.

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