Council Completes Work on Liturgy Document

59th General Congregation
October 31, 1963

The council Fathers completed the schema on the liturgy when they passed its final amended chapter.

The liturgy schema thus became the second — after the one on communications media, passed at the council’s first session last year — to be successfully concluded. There remained only its approval by Pope Paul VI and its promulgation for it to become law. Many of its parts, however, will then have to be approved by national hierarchies for local use.

Father Frederick R. McManus of the Catholic University of America, a council expert, pointed out after the day’s meeting that in the balloting 94 council Fathers voted in favor of the chapter with reservations. These, he said, are to be examined and slight alterations in the text may be made. He said it is possible that within the next couple of weeks the full liturgical document will be completely finished, taking into account the reservations expressed on all the various amendments, and that the full document could then go to a public session of the council where the bishops would complete the formality of the final public vote and the Pope would approve the schema.

Father McManus said that post-council commissions are to be set up for implementation of the schema. At this point the constitution and personnel of these commissions are not known.

The means by which action was taken on the last set of amendments to the liturgy schema — Chapters VI and VIII combined, which deal with sacred art — was in itself one more sign of the growing power of the four council moderators to expedite the council’s work.

The day’s moderator, Julius Cardinal Doepfner of Munich and Freising, Germany, in the name of the other moderators, simply suggested to the council Fathers that they express their approval of the text as a whole without voting on the seven individual amendments, since, he said, the text contains no controversial points. A vote was taken accordingly and the amendments passed with only nine dissenting votes out of 1,941 cast.

In this manner almost a full day’s work was saved. It seemed probable that similar actions would expedite council action in the future.

Following is the substance of the seven amendments:

1. Chapters VI and VIII of the liturgy schema are to be combined into one chapter, which will become Chapter VII.

2. In the encouragement of sacred art, bishops should seek beauty rather than mere costliness in art, vestments and general church furnishing.

3. Care should be taken in the construction of churches that the edifices be suitable for celebration of liturgical functions and the active participation of the faithful.

4. A new article here confirms the practice of setting up images for veneration in churches, but warns that they should be moderate in number, reflect proper order and be doctrinally sound.

5. Provides that the article dealing with the establishment of commissions for sacred art on various levels be deleted, since it was included in Chapter I, which is already approved.

6. Schools of sacred art should be established in different places for training artists and artisans.

7. During their seminary years, candidates for the priesthood should be instructed in the history, development and principles of sacred art.

Msgr. George G. Higgins, council expert who is director of the Social Action Department, National Catholic Welfare Conference, said at the U.S. bishops’ press panel after the day’s meeting that although some of the council Fathers opposed the use of abstract art for sacred purposes, the section dealing with art favors freedom in the use of art forms and avoids restrictive language. Father Robert Trisco of Chicago, another council expert, said that because abstract art means non-representational art, it was understood that non-representational art would be excluded from use. However, Father McManus said, the text is very open and very free and does not bind the Church to the use of one form or another.

Before opening the day’s discussion, Cardinal Doepfner observed that many complaints had been lodged on the slow pace of the council’s deliberations. He remarked that it was important to safeguard freedom of speech in the council, but that it was also essential that work of the assembly should move more quickly. Even in the use of the right to speak in the name of several others after cloture has been invoked to close debate, he said, the council cannot lose sight of the clear will of the majority which has already voted in favor of stopping discussion.

Those who had invoked the privilege, supported by five bishops, to continue speaking on Chapter VI of the schema on the Church, were therefore asked to be brief and to the point. It was decided furthermore by the moderators that, since 20 speakers had reserved time for the continued discussion, a limit of eight instead of 10 minutes would be put on them.

Council Fathers, furthermore, were advised that moderators would be exacting in insistence on observance of the established norms. It happened in fact later at this meeting that several Fathers who were speaking were called to order for being repetitious.

Applause followed Cardinal Doepfner’s general remarks, indicating the Fathers’ pleasure with the position adopted by the moderators. Discussion then continued on the chapter on the schema on the Church entitled “Call to Holiness in the Church.”

Benjamin Cardinal de Arriba y Castro of Tarragona, Spain, was first to speak, saying that “the council would help to concentrate attention on the need for sanctity if it were to organize a special solemn Holy Hour for the council Fathers, with the participation of the Faithful, to be offered especially for this intention.”

A practical measure was offered by Bishop lsidor Emanuel of Speyer, Germany, who suggested that “our liturgical books should take care to mention the precise state of life in which the saints reached sanctity. Gathering goodly numbers of saints under such negative headings as ‘non-bishops’ and ‘non-virgins’ hardly does sufficient honor to the walks of life which they sanctified.” He suggested, for example, that “mother of a family” would be more significant than “non-virgin” in the liturgical books.

Former Archbishop Juan Gonzales Arbelaez of Popayan, Colombia, said there should be a special mention of parish priests in the text “since they have a greater share in the work of the bishops as sanctifiers and perfectors of the Faithful.”

The ecumenical importance of the chapter was underlined by Archbishop Joseph Martin of Rouen, France. Both the Orthodox and the Protestants could be edified by the careful statement of the chapter, he said.

Bishop Peter van Lierde, Papal Sacristan, complained that “the schema’s silence on the promotion of sanctity is a serious defect.”

Bishop Karl Leiprecht of Rottenburg, Germany, commenting on the chapter’s treatment of Religious, said that “the Church needs Religious, but Religious also have obligations toward the Church.”

“It is false,” said Bishop Michal Klepacz of Lodz, Poland, “to state that the law of celibacy prevents a priest from being completely human and natural. We should extol the value of consecrated celibacy by stressing the influence of the spirit of the evangelical counsels on priestly life.”

Auxiliary Bishop Ildefonso Sansierra of San Juan de Cuyo, Argentina, asked that the text stress the difference in the degrees of charity toward one’s neighbor.

“The text is not accurate in its treatment of consecrated poverty and chastity,” declared Malabar Rite Archbishop Joseph Parecattil of Ernakulam, India. “Poverty is a sign of consecration to God and to heavenly things. Chastity, in addition to its purpose of consecration, also provides a means for greater liberty in the apostolate.”

Bishop Andrea Sapelak, Apostolic Visitor for Ukrainian Rite Catholics in Argentina, criticized the text for being “silent on the extraordinary vocation to sanctity found in the heroic profession of faith in martyrdom.” Bishop Agostinho Lopes de Moura, CSSP, of Portalegre-Castelo Branco, Portugal, expressed the opinion that a treatment of the jurisdiction of the hierarchy over Religious had no place in the fourth chapter of the schema on the Church.

Father Leo Volker, WF, superior general of the White Fathers, complained that “nothing is said of the special sanctity proper to missionary life … it is a form of sanctity not common to other forms of Christian life.”

“More stress should be placed on the distinction of states of life in the Church,” according to Archbishop Pacifico Perantoni, OFM, of Lanciano and Ortona, Italy.

Abbot Jean Prou, OSB, of Solesmes, superior general of the Benedictine Congregation of France, said that “the text loses sight of the special role of the public prayer of the Church…. The text should commend the value of the contemplative life as expressing the ‘adorational’ aspect of the Church’s life.”

Two unusual suggestions were made by Father Giocondo Grotti, OSM, Ordinary of the independent prelature of Acre Purus, Brazil. First, he urged that if laywomen are invited to the council, they should be assured of an active part in the council deliberations. Secondly, he urged council Fathers to pay particular attention to fallen priests.

Archbishop Joseph Gopu of Hyderabad, India, said: “The term ‘diocesan clergy’ is better than ‘secular clergy’.” He noted that “secular priest” has a bad connotation in missionary countries, where secular means worldly.

Auxiliary Bishop Eduard Schick of Fulda, Germany, complained that the text does not give a clear definition of sanctity.

“We should either be silent regarding Religious,” said Father Augustin Sepinski, OFM, Franciscan superior general, “or we should treat them adequately. In May, 1962, the Central [Preparatory] Commission considered a complete schema on those who professed the evangelical counsels. No protests were raised against the text at that time. Perhaps the same text could be used now.”

Abbot Christopher Butler, OSB, president of the English Benedictine Congregation, while praising “a clear declaration of the obligation of the laity to pursue sanctity,” warned that “we should not lose sight of the primacy of grace in the achievement of holiness.”

At the press panel, Father McManus outlined the first chapter of the schema “On Bishops and the Government of Dioceses,” which will be the next matter to come before the council after all speakers on the schema on the Church are finished.

Father McManus said the first chapter deals with relations of the bishops with the Roman congregations. It has three parts:

Part I treats of solid and firm faculties to be delegated to the bishops by the Holy See instead of being reserved to the Holy See and administered by the Roman congregations.

Part II concerns the practices of the Roman congregations in relations with bishops in which the congregations act in the name of the pope and are established to serve all the world’s bishops and dioceses.

Part III concerns the proposal to have bishops representing the national hierarchies to be named by the pope as members or consultors of the Roman congregations.

Father McManus said this final point might be the section in which will be debated the already proposed idea of the constitution of a universal senate of the Church to assist the pope in the government of the Church.

Among the questions to be debated during discussions of the schema on the Bishops, the panel listed the matter of the relations of exempt Religious and bishops, the role of the Holy Office and the granting of real legislative power to national episcopal conferences.

Msgr. James I. Tucek
NCWC News Rome bureau chief

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