Council Fathers Continue Debate on Church’s Nature, Approve Liturgy Amendments

48th General Congregation
October 15, 1963

 The Fathers of the ecumenical council voted by an overwhelming majority to end their discussion of the second chapter of the draft proposal ‑‑ or schema ‑‑ “On the Nature of the Church” and to go on to debate the third chapter.

The second chapter deals with the hierarchical structure of the Church. The third deals with the laity.

An eyewitness of the standing vote by the Fathers reported: “It seemed that only those remained seated who were too feeble to rise.”

Following the vote, the secretary general of the council, Archbishop Pericle Felici, announced that the following day (Oct. 16) the text of four amendments to the second chapter would be distributed and that a vote would be taken on them the day afterward (Oct. 17).

Thus, as the council Fathers heard the final speeches on the second chapter of the schema on the Church, they simultaneously studied the proposed amendments to chapter two and voted favorably on four amendments to chapter three of the liturgy schema.

The four amendments:

‑‑Added to the liturgy schema’s text a short explanation of sacramentals, describing them as distinct from but related to the sacraments; as sacred signs to express spiritual effects, to be obtained through the prayer of the Church, to prepare men to receive the sacraments and to sanctify certain circumstances of human life.

‑‑Extended the use of the vernacular to the administration of the sacraments and sacramentals, pending the approval of regional or territorial episcopal conferences, but retained the use of Latin for the precise “form” of the sacraments generally.

‑‑Added that a special provision is to be made for changes in the ritual of Baptism for cases in which a large number of persons are to receive the sacrament.

‑‑Clarified the original text by stating that the sacrament of Extreme Unction is also and better called “The Anointing of the Sick.”

Votes cast numbered 2,239. The largest negative vote was 42, cast on the third amendment.

At the U.S. bishops’ press panel following the council meeting, Father Frederick McManus of The Catholic University of America, a council expert, said that the most significant of the amendments was the second.

This meant, he said, that depending on the approval of national or territorial episcopal conferences, all sacraments and sacramentals will be administered in the vernacular. Only the basic sacramental form would remain in Latin, such as “I baptize thee, etc.” in Baptism, and “I absolve thee, etc.” in Penance. The sacramental verbal form of Matrimony will remain in vernacular as it has always been, that is, the exchange of vows pronounced by the two being wed.

At the same press panel two announcements were made relative to the council’s vote on the amendments to the second chapter of the liturgy schema on the previous day.

Bishop Albert R. Zuroweste of Belleville, Ill., chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee for the Press Panel, said:

“The vote on Monday, Oct. 14, concerning chapter two of the constitution on the liturgy was an expression of almost unanimous approval of the proposed reform of the rite of the Mass. Only 36 negative votes were cast. Affirmative votes on the chapter came from 2,198 Fathers. Of this number, 781, although approving the chapter, added to their affirmative vote a specific qualification or proposal called a ‘modus.’

“Chapter two, in view of this approval, will not be revised or reconsidered by the Commission on the Liturgy. Rather, only the specific proposals made by the 781 Fathers will be examined by the commission and reduced to the form of a few amendments which will then be voted upon by the entire council without affecting the general approval already given to the chapter by all but 36 Fathers.”

Archbishop Paul J. Hallinan of Atlanta, a member of the council’s Liturgy Commission, said:

“The approval of chapter two of the liturgy schema will affect the Sunday worship of millions of Catholics. It applies to the Sacrifice of the Mass the fresh ideas that the council Fathers put into their first chapter last December. Again, the size of the majority ‑‑ 2,198 ‑‑ emphasized the worldwide nature of this movement toward the full renewal of the liturgy.

“The chapter on the Mass was first put to the council Fathers in the form of 19 amendments. These were all approved, in most cases broadening the text to move the liturgy closer to its complete renewal. Then the chapter as a whole was voted. Of the 2,198 ‘placet’ votes, 1,417 were unqualified votes of approval; 781 were modified by some particular qualification. Some Fathers wanted to extend the communion under both species to include marriage. Some wished to define more clearly the control over the practice of concelebration.

“The commission now goes back to work to examine these qualifications, combine them and send them back to be voted as amendments. If they are approved, they will be simply inserted in the text of chapter two, which has now been approved.

“Another step has been taken in the forward movement of the Church as the liturgy progresses to that ‘happy conclusion’ of which Pope Paul spoke in his opening address.”

It later became known that, prior to taking the vote on the amended second chapter of the liturgy schema, mimeographed sheets were passed among a particular national group of bishops which made suggestions on what points they should vote “affirmative with reservations,” and which supplied them with a Latin formula to append to their “with reservations” vote. In view of the narrow margin by which the amended second chapter failed to pass, its failure was attributed by some to the mimeographed sheets.

In the council hall the day’s business was prefaced with remarks by Archbishop Hallinan who, speaking in the name of the Liturgical Commission, explained the background of the 10 amendments to the third chapter of the liturgy schema which were to be voted upon.

The first four were passed Oct. 15. The remaining six are briefly summarized as follows:

Five and six (together with four, which is already passed) concern the “Anointing of the Sick,” or Extreme Unction. The fifth amendment states more precisely than the original schema that the proper time for anointing is certainly as soon as a person is in danger of death, rather than at the actual point of death. The sixth amendment suppresses an article of the schema dealing with the possible repetition of anointing in a lengthy sickness.

The seventh amendment proposes a specific change in the consecration of bishops: all bishops present would impose hands on the bishop-elect, instead of the present practice in which only three bishops impose hands.

The eighth amendment proposes that the marriage blessing or nuptial blessing should be given at all marriages, instead of being limited to certain circumstances.

The ninth amendment says that in certain circumstances there should be sacramentals which lay people may administer.

The l0th amendment refers to changing services of profession and renewal of vows by Religious.

Apart from the amendments, there are several elements in the text of the third chapter of the liturgy which are worthy of note.

Provision is made for administering both Baptism and Confirmation during Mass when possible, to show the unity of the three sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.

Under the heading of sacramentals, the restriction or reservation of many blessings is to be lifted, except in a few cases of blessings reserved to bishops, so that priests will no longer need special permission to give them.

The debate on the second chapter of the schema “On the Nature of the Church” was opened in this assembly by Giuseppe Cardinal Siri, Archbishop of Genoa, who said that the basic question at issue is not the term “college,” but a definition of what constitutes the substance of episcopal collegiality.

It is easy to prove that the Apostles made up one body, he said, and received a collective mission. But it is quite another thing to prove that the bishops of the Church constitute a college, he added. One of the most convincing proofs here, he said, is based upon the councils in the history of the Church: a college of bishops exists because councils exist.

Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, Primate of Poland, reminded the council Fathers that today the Church frequently finds herself in situations where she is prevented from appearing before men as an external society. He urged that the schema present the Church to the faithful in the light of its essential constitution as a supernatural society.

“When the state insists on taking everything into its own hands, then the Church must necessarily stand out in the full reality of the internal and spiritual order,” he said. “In circumstances like these, such ideas as dioceses, parishes, bishops and priests often find no counterpart in the external organization of the Church. Then the foundation of the life of the Church is the doctrine of the Mystical Body.”

Maronite Rite Patriarch Paul Meouchi of Antioch followed and said that the collegiality of the bishops should be emphasized in its relationship with the primacy.

The clarification of this basic point is the principal task of this council,” he said.

Archbishop Thomas B. Cooray, O.M.l., of Colombo, Ceylon, asked that the text show the difference between “passive infallibility which is believing, and active infallibility which is teaching.”

Bishop Jesus Enciso Viana of Mallorca, Spain, agreed that proof from ecumenical councils for the collegiality of bishops is convincing, but he added that the whole idea is not necessary in the Church, and that it would weaken papal primacy.

Auxiliary Bishop Jan Mazur of Lublin, Poland, said that the perpetual missionary function of the Church would be emphasized if the text indicated that the Apostles not only founded the Church but spread it.

Auxiliary Bishop Narciso Jubany Arnau of Barcelona, Spain, urged that the text make a clear statement on the sacramental character of the diaconate.

Both Bishop Jubany and Bishop Jean Gay of Basse­Terre et Pointe-a-Pitre, French West Indies, raised a new point on minor orders. It was asked why nothing was said in the text about restoring minor orders. Minor orders should be suppressed, said Bishop Jubany, if they are not given practical consequences.

He referred particularly to the ninth amendment which he said does not go into specifics but has in mind certain blessings which might be given by lay people instead of by priests as at present. Examples of these would be blessing of the family, blessing of food or even the blessing of the school or its pupils which might be given by the principal.

Father McManus also noted that the third chapter suggests a reform of the funeral services. The reforms are designed to underline the Christian meaning of death in relation to the Resurrection. One result of this, he said, might be replacing the black vestments of Requiem Masses with some other color more in keeping with hope for eternity.

Msgr. James I. Tucek
NCWC Rome bureau chief

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