Unanimity of Council Fathers Cited by Spanish Bishop

Voting on the liturgical project in the ecumenical council has focused attention on two facts: the almost unanimous agreement of the council Fathers and the absolute liberty with which they cast their votes.

These points were made by Auxiliary Bishop Jose Cirarda Lachiondo of Seville, Spain, in a press conference given in the council press office.

The Bishop said that the unanimity shown in the council is the result of the discussions of last year and of the maturing of thought since the last session. “All has contributed to create a conciliar climate which makes us hopeful. The conciliar commissions have followed a middle road between extreme positions and the results of the voting assure us that the road followed is a good one.

Bishop Cirada noted that the “law” of the council “is the law of unanimity, which can be obtained solely by comprehensive dialogue among the Fathers. No one seeks to impose his point of view but all are concerned with the good of the Church and of souls in this particular moment of history.”

The Bishop pointed out that the Fathers had four days to study the new amendments to the liturgical project before they were asked to vote on them.

Commenting on the long debate on the collegiality of the bishops, Bishop Cirarda said it was “providential” that this problem was not thrashed out at the First Vatican Council a century ago. He explained that since the definition of the infallibility of the pope, there has been almost 100 years for maturation of theological opinion.

He said that after the debate over infallibility at the First Vatican Council, a second debate on the collegiality of the bishops could have had serious consequences for the success of the council and for the Church. Today, however, debate is proceeding with serenity and thoughtfulness.

“All the Fathers admit a solidarity of the episcopal body and a responsibility of each single bishop in the life of all the Church. Both these realities are founded on the episcopal consecration. Many Fathers see in it the base of a collegiality necessary for exercising the universal responsibilities of bishops; others consider the term ‘college’ as too juridical, and fear that proclaiming it as divine law, one diminishes the authority of the primacy of the Supreme Pontiff, although it is affirmed that the ‘college’ is subject to the pope as its head.”

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