Following is a translation of the address given by Vittorino Veronese, a leader in Catholic Action, before the ecumenical council in commemoration of the Council of Trent.
Most Holy Father:
Our generation has been nourished by great things. It has been tested by war and by separations, undermined by doctrines denying the Divine Fatherhood and thus the sacredness of the human person. But it, this generation of ours, has also had powerful nourishment, the illuminating assistance of the Church for a more open testimony of the evangelic message.
A pope admonished us that it is not permissible for anyone in this century to be mediocre. And another pope who followed him recalled that duties unknown to another age are incumbent upon us, and he taught us that “the faithful, and more precisely the laymen … must always have a clearer consciousness of not only belonging to the Church but of being the Church” (Pius XII, Discourse to the semi-public consistory of Feb. 20, 1946).
More recently still, a pope, whose voice rang out like a testament, pointed out to us “the signs of the times” and told us that peace comes from an “order founded on truth, constructed according to justice, vivified and integrated by charity and carried out in freedom” (Encyclical letter of John XXIII, “Peace Among All Peoples”).
And now in a moment of history in which the world is confronted by problems of universal dimensions and of perhaps decisive importance, before the Church responds to the expectations and needs of the world, you, Holy Father, have asked the council: “What do you say of yourself, Church of Christ?” And you have granted (us the privilege) of assisting and of participating in some way of our own in this dialogue, promise and preparation of this answer.
Our souls are stirred and exalted by these great things and we, as we have already said, and we repeat here, (we wish to give) public testimony of our feelings to the venerable council Fathers for what we have heard and seen in this session, and so, today we are able also to offer solemnly to you, most Holy Father, our gratitude for this exceptional privilege which makes life worth living.
Yes, in this recognition (of us), we are certain to be the interpreters of that Catholic laity which otherwise we would not have known how to represent out of modesty. And we can certainly expect from so many brothers and sisters the help needed to make us become, according to the words of Your Holiness, not only “auditors” but also, at the proper time and place, “locutores.”
Now as the bishops return to their flocks, pastors who not even being here are really far from them, so we return to our neighbors, to those to whom each of us has been sent. We return to our parishes and to our families, because the lifting of the mind to God in prayer expresses itself in a more exemplary practice of the fundamental virtues of prudence, justice, firmness and temperance.
We return to our professions and to our work, the exercise of which in responsible freedom will not be mortified but rather nourished by the charity of Christ, which works in us and which must bring us to the “updating” of the works of spiritual and corporal mercy, according to the desires and sorrows of this age and in terms of their communal dimensions.
We will return to resume the work of the ecumenical council, if this be your pleasure, Holy Father, ready to give, we and so many others who will be called to work with us, the cooperation which will be asked of us by the workload of the commissions.
May there accompany us, Holy Father, your guidance and your blessings, as well as that of our bishops which we have in our own countries. May the help of God and the grace of our state (in life) work to contribute — together with our wives and our children and all men of good will both inside and outside the Church — to the realization within us of a purer religion, a fuller justice, a deeper unity and a more real peace.
Thus we will be better able, when each time the priest invites us at the Orate Fratres (let us pray, brothers) to respond with conviction and fervor, “May the Lord receive the sacrifice at your hands to the praise and glory of His name, to our own benefit and to that of all His holy Church.”
In the name of the Lord — most Holy Father, with you and with our bishops.