Approval Expected for Liturgy Document; Discussion Continues on Nature of Church

43rd General Congregation
October 8, 1963

The first day of voting by council Fathers on amendments to the constitution on the liturgy forecast the successful passage of the entire schema, which would greatly affect the liturgical life of the Church in the future.

Ballots were cast on the amendments to the liturgy schema as discussion on the schema “On the Nature of the Church” was was conducted simultaneously. Thus two separate currents were going in the council hall at the same time: silent decision on one and lively discussion on the other.

The first five of 19 amendments to the second chapter on the liturgy schema were passed by an overwhelming majority. Voting on the remaining amendments was to continue in the following days. It was anticipated that the entire second chapter would be completed before Oct. 11.

The five amendments passed were briefly summarized as follows:

1. A new introductory paragraph was given to the second chapter of the schema explaining the Mass as the Eucharistic Sacrifice entrusted to the Church by Christ as the memorial of His Death and Resurrection, as the sign of unity and as the Paschal Banquet.

2. An addition to the text was proposed to the effect that the revision of the rite of the Mass should keep in mind especially those of the Sunday and feast day Masses in which the greater number of the faithful participate.

3. More directives for the change of the Mass text and rite were proposed which would give greater simplicity to the Mass and omit certain duplications and additions which have been added to the Mass in the course of history but which are now considered less useful.

Father Frederick McManus of the Catholic University of America, at a press conference following the council meeting, gave the Last Gospel of the Mass as an example of an “addition.” He said a sung Mass would be an example of the “duplications” where parts of the Mass are duplicated between the priest celebrant and the choir.

4 and 5. These present the homily or sermon as an integral part of the Mass. The one adds to the schema an explanation of the homily as the exposition of the mysteries of the Faith and the norms of Christian life, taken from the readings during the Mass in the course of the Church year. The other amendment requires the preaching of a homily at Masses on Sunday and holy days of obligation when the people are present.

The preface and first chapter of the schema on the liturgy had already been passed at the first session of the ecumenical council last year. These dealt chiefly with a statement of principles, such as liturgical participation and liturgical education, which are generally and always applicable to the liturgy without going into specifics on liturgical reform or restoration.

Chapters two to seven of the schema on the liturgy deal with specifics. The second chapter, now being voted on, “On the Holy Mystery of the Eucharist,” is followed by chapters on the other sacraments and the sacramentals, the Divine Office, the liturgical year, sacred music and a final chapter on sacred art and sacred furnishings.

A vote was taken on the first five amendments, but the council press office communiqué gave the tally of votes only for the first four ballots, presumably because the tally of the fifth ballot was not completed in time for publication. There were 2,298 council Fathers present.

On all four reported ballots, no less than 2,249 voted affirmatively on any single amendment. The highest tally of “unfavorable” votes came on the third amendment with 31 negative votes.

Before the voting began, Giacomo Cardinal Lercaro, Archbishop of Bologna, Italy, and one of the four council moderators, gave the assembly a brief report on how the Liturgical Commission prepared the amendments. Bishop Jesus Enciso Viana of Mallorca, speaking in behalf of the Liturgical Commission, gave a background explanation to the amendments.

Bishop Enciso said that the commission had been confronted with a wide variety of recommendations on the use of the vernacular. It therefore preferred to adopt a middle-of-the-road position to insure that no particular group would be able to impose its views on the others in a body of universal legislation. For this reason, the amendments provide for varying practices in different localities, always under the control of competent ecclesiastical authority.

Regarding receiving Communion under two species, he said, the mind of the commission again was to avoid any universally binding regulations, but to allow an elasticity of practice.

He said that on the question of concelebration (when more than one priest offers the same Mass) the changes in the text tend to increase the number of situations where this is allowed.

In a press briefing following the council assembly, the bishop’s remarks here were commented upon.

Father McManus gave priests’ retreats and religious communities as examples in which concelebration might be practiced.

Father Francis Connell, C.SS.R., of the Catholic University of America, added as another example the case in which an old priest would be unable to celebrate alone but could concelebrate even while seated in a chair, joining in the words of consecration. Father McManus emphasized the fact, however, that “manifestation of the unity of the priesthood” would be the principal motive for concelebration while practical convenience would be only a secondary motive.

Discussion of the schema on the Church continued while voting was in progress.

Benjamin Cardinal Arriba y Castro, Archbishop of Tarragona, Spain, led off with a declaration that an expression of the Church’s concern for the poor should be not only spiritual but should also include improvement of their living conditions.

“We should not leave to the Marxists the task of improving the social conditions of the vast masses of the poor,” he said. He recommended the organization in Rome of a central office or congregation to coordinate the study of social problems and assist in promoting social justice throughout the world.

Valerian Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, returned to the topic of the collegiality of the bishops, saying that “further discussion of the collegiate character of the episcopate would now seem to be only emphasizing the obvious.” He then repeated the idea given by Laurean Cardinal Rugambwa, Bishop of Bukoba, Tanganyika, on the previous day on the missionary aspects of the doctrine.

Speaking in the name of 37 Peruvian bishops and 58 other bishops of Latin America, Juan Cardinal Landazuri Ricketts, O.F.M., Archbishop of Lima, supported the proposal for a permanent diaconate. He countered previous arguments against the proposal point for point.

Perhaps the most forceful speaker of the day was Leo Cardinal Suenens, Archbishop of Malines-Brussels, Belgium, who spoke on the same subject. It should be borne in mind, he said, that the question of a permanent diaconate pertains to the very constitution of the Church. It has not arisen merely from the necessity of meeting local needs, but proceeds not from natural but from supernatural realism, he said.

The argument in favor of the permanent diaconate, continued Cardinal Suenens, is based on the fact that the work to be entrusted to such deacons would proceed from the order they have received. There is no question of work which could just as easily be done by dedicated laymen, he said. The purpose of this restoration would be to attribute greater prominence to the diaconate in the hierarchy of the Church, while at the same time making it possible for vast segments of the faithful to enjoy in greater abundance the gifts which flow from the supernatural riches of the Church.

Two speakers followed who expressed opposition to the collegiality of bishops—Latin Rite Patriarch Alberto Gori, O.F.M., of Jerusalem and Archbishop Dino Staffa, secretary of the Sacred Congregation of Seminaries and Universities.

Patriarch Gori’s opposition to the teaching of collegiality was based chiefly on the fear of a deterioration of unity because of “more marked trends to greater autonomy.”

Archbishop Staffa held that the First Vatican Council taught that supreme power over the faithful is entrusted to Peter and to Peter alone. Therefore, he said, it would be advisable to “retain the doctrine” that full and supreme power is vested solely in the pope, “independently of consultation with others.” The bishops of the world must cooperate with the Roman Pontiff, he said, but it belongs to him to exercise eventually the supreme power of decision.

Bishop Jean Rupp of Monaco was the first council Father to speak out on the subject of titular Bishops. He answered the contention that titular bishops are not members of the college of bishops in the full sense because they do not have territorial jurisdiction. It should be remembered, he said, that “the importance of not a small number of such bishops goes far beyond the confines of the particular diocese or other locality in which they carry on their work.” He reminded the assembly that titular bishops are often assigned to offices of national and international importance and therefore are frequently identified more with the universal Church than with a single diocese.

The last two speakers Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Heuschen of Liege, Belgium, and Bishop Andre Charue of Namur, Belgium, offered arguments from Scripture to support the collegiality of bishops.

Msgr. James Tucek
NCWC Rome bureau chief

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