More Catholic Scientists Would Benefit Church, Society, Bishop Tells Council

110th General Congregation
October 27, 1964

Catholics are not contributing their share to the world’s supply of scientists, a German bishop complained to the Second Vatican Council.

This reinforces a notion propagated through newspapers, television and other means of mass communications that religion is somehow hostile to science, Auxiliary Bishop Wilhelm Cleven of Cologne, Germany, noted.

He spoke during debate on chapters two and three of schema 13 on the Church in the modern world. The chapters deal with the Church in the service of God and men, and on Christian conduct in today’s world.

The day’s debate heard renewed appeals for a fresh look at the heavy penalties attached to breaking some laws of the Church. Melkite-rite Patriarch Maximos IV Saigh of Antioch and Bishop Sergio Mendez Arceo of Cuernavaca, Mexico, in asking for a less rigidly legalistic attitude, echoed the speech made the previous day by American-born missionary Bishop Louis Morrow of Krishnagar, India.

Two cardinals also underlined the part poverty plays in the world, both as a plague afflicting mankind and, when voluntarily embraced, as a measure to help eradicate that plague.

Another group of council Fathers spoke of men’s need to communicate with one another — or what has come to be called dialogue.

Bishop Cleven in his appeal to the council to reaffirm the Church’s real teaching about science and its role in the life of man, asserted that the Church’s list of forbidden books — the index — tends to deprive people of their confidence in Church authority. He said television shows and the like are making sure that men do not forget the Church’s condemnation of the great scientist, Galileo.

Bishop Cleven began by referring to the passage in the chapter which treats of the attitude of Christians to the natural sciences. He said it is statistically certain that in most countries the proportion of Catholics among scientists is smaller than the proportion of Catholics among the total population.

This lack of full Catholic representation in the world of science should not be laid to any guile or ill will on the part of non-Catholics, he said.

He asserted that in an age when man’s most basic needs, such as heat, water and bread, are brought to him through scientific discoveries, the relative scarcity of Catholic scientists is dangerous.

He appealed for a forthright declaration that the Church confidently expects that science will contribute to the spiritual mission of the Church itself. He said a clarifying note should be added that while Catholics should respect science and cooperate with it, they should not place their hope for salvation in science but in charity.

Raul Cardinal Silva Henriquez of Santiago, Chile, said the exercise of Christian poverty must be aimed at bringing about a more equitable distribution of the world’s goods.

He said that while poverty can spring from grace, it can also be brought about by sin. This point was also made in a slightly different form by Antonio Cardinal Caggiano of Buenos Aires.

The Chilean cardinal noted that while God’s perfection consists in what He is, man’s perfection stems from what he has. He observed that this “having” can easily run riot.

He suggested that in order to make voluntary poverty socially effective, an organization should be set up to sponsor an annual worldwide collection for the poor. Such a collection — suggested by Protestant theologian Oscar Cullman, professor at the Universities of Paris and Basel, Switzerland, and a guest of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity at the current council session — would be like “a sacramental of brotherhood.”

Cardinal Caggiano asked that charity not be overemphasized in the schema at the expense of the virtue of justice. He said that if justice were respected, everyone would be given his due, and if everyone were given his due, there would be no vast armies of men without work.

We must follow Christ Crucified in a spirit of poverty, he said.

Bishop Charles-Marie Himmer of Tournai, Belgium, echoed this call for emphasis on the positive and constructive aspects of poverty. He said the schema must point out how this poverty is not sought for itself but as a means of building a better earthly city and eliminating poverty from the lives of those afflicted by it.

According to Bishop Himmer, all the problems of this schema — from those of marriage to the eradication of hunger — demand the collaboration of men who are generous and really ready to help the poor. He asked for a clarification of the distinction between Christian poverty, which is essentially evangelical, and the detachment from earthly things sometimes practiced by non-Christians.

He also appealed for an investigation of modern society’s economic and political structures to find means of a better sharing of wealth.

Bishop Mendez and Patriarch Maximos both laid the groundwork for their attacks on ecclesiastical legalism by emphasizing personal responsibility.

Bishop Mendez said efforts to nurture personal dignity and responsibility along with freedom are among the chief “signs of the times” of which the schema speaks. This insistence on liberty was anticipated by St. Paul who, the bishop said, was so fully convinced of his liberation from the Law of Moses.

While Church law should be so established as to promote a spirit of love, this is not always achieved by a multiplication of Church laws, he said. He added that the Church cannot afford to show a kindly face to those outside and a harsh face to its own children.

In a reference to the severe punishment attached to failure to observe certain Church laws, Bishop Mendez observed that if civil states imposed life imprisonment for small crimes, there would be no real understanding and cooperation between the authorities and citizens.

Patriarch Maximos also asserted that the Church’s mind should be characterized by St. Paul’s spirit of broad understanding. He said to state that missing Mass on a holy day or eating meat on Friday entails the guilt of mortal sin and can lead to eternal damnation is hardly reasonable.

The Church is a mother, he said, but he asked if even a stepmother would impose such punishments.

He suggested that a committee of moral theologians be set up to study the Church’s commandments.

He also touched on the need for dialogue between the Church and its children, a dialogue that requires maturity on the part of Catholics.

Bishop Gerard Huyghe of Arras, France, also centered his speech on the need for a dialogue within the Church. Such internal dialogue is a necessary condition for a dialogue with those outside the Church, he said. The primary internal dialogue, he stated, is that of the individual with the Holy Spirit.

Bishop Huyghe returned to the question of Church law. He turned his fire on the petty laws and regulations which hobble the freedom of Catholics in their own fields of action. He said some theologians who were sincerely studying modern problems and trying to foster dialogue were condemned without a hearing. He declared this should not be.

Joseph Cardinal Frings of Cologne, Germany, began the day’s debate with an address read by his secretary. His talk was basically a criticism of the schema for its emphasis on earthly goods at the expense of stress on the Cross and Redemption.

Cardinal Frings began with something of a concession to the schema’s treatment, pointing out the dangers of the error of distinguishing too sharply between body and soul. Christ came to save not merely souls but the whole man, he said. Yet, he added, no matter how positive our approach to worldly progress, we must not forget that such progress does not of itself lead directly to the kingdom of God. While the Church and the world will be united when they achieve their final vocation at the end of time, on this earth they are irreducibly distinct, he stated.

Like Patriarch Maximos and Bishop Huyghe, Coadjutor Bishop Adrien Gand of Lille, France, spoke of the need for dialogue. Bishop Gand criticized the schema for not emphasizing this sufficiently.

Men tend to think of themselves as lost in an anonymous mass unless they are reminded that something is expected of each of them, he said.

Archbishop Elie Zoghbi, Melkite-rite patriarchal vicar for Egypt, said he wanted chapter two to take a new tack. It opens with a discussion of the Church’s mission of service, he noted, and the Church is said to be in the world to bring the Gospel and salvation. Archbishop Zoghbi, however, suggested it would be more logical to start with the Church’s mission of love. He pointed out that Christ started this way, healing the sick and feeding the hungry, thus preparing people to believe in His mission.

How many nursing Sisters have opened the way to God by ministering to sick bodies, he asked.

Saying that the council should state clearly that the Church is in the world for the sake of men, he said it would be good Church usage to avoid expressions smacking of temporal power or rule, such as “happily reigning” when referring to a pope.

Archbishop John Garner of Pretoria, South Africa, speaking in the name of 84 bishops of Europe and Latin America, said the Church should take advantage of the means for dialogue offered by modern tourism. He asked that it be mentioned in the text. Tourists, he said, make important contributions to world solidarity and peace.

Bishop Kazimierz Kowalski of Chelmo, Poland, asked for a fuller explanation of the text’s reference to new modes of feeling, willing and acting. He said this new mode is a spirit of true penance or conversion of the heart.

The spirit of true penance consists less in deploring sins than in a continual and dynamic ascent to God, he added.

Auxiliary Bishop Franjo Kuheric of Zagreb, Yugoslavia, asked for a solemn council declaration on the relationship between science and revealed religion. He said that in countries under atheistic control, the Church is constantly being decried as an enemy of all progress and all science.

He also asked for a formal declaration on the inviolability of human life within the sanctuary of a mother’s body to counter the plague of abortions which takes more lives than war.

Bishop Hermann Volk of Mainz, Germany, asked for a clearer outline of the role of the Lord’s Day and of divine worship in showing Catholics how to play their role in the world.

Archbishop Enrico Nicodemo of Bari, Italy, suggested basing the schema’s explanation of man’s full vocation in the world on St. Paul’s “recapitulation of all things in Christ.” He said the text’s treatment of atheism should affirm the transcendence of a personal God and the objective existence of moral evil. Individual responsibility should be emphasized, he stated.

Bishop Maurice Pourchet of Saint-Flour, France, suggested combining chapters two and three and giving them the same order of treatment followed in the schema on the nature of the Church: the mystery of the Church, of God, and the hierarchy. The Church’s imminence in the world and the transcendence of its mission there should be made clear, he said.

Bishop Aurelio Sorrentino of Bova, Italy, asked that the schema be addressed not only to all men of good will but to all who do not refuse to listen. This is in the spirit of Christ and of St. Paul, he said.

The council’s 110th general meeting began with a Maronite-rite Liturgy (Mass) concelebrated by Bishop Antoine Abed of Tripoli, Lebanon, and Fathers Michale Hokayem and Abdel Ahad Chanin. The Gospel was enthroned by Maronite-rite Archbishop Ignace Ziade of Beirut, Lebanon.

The day’s moderator was Leo Cardinal Suenens of Malines-Brussels.

Chapter eight of the schema on the Church, which deals with Our Lady, was distributed. It was to take a single vote, which was expected on Oct. 29, on all the chapter’s amendments.

Patrick Riley
NCWC News Rome Correspondent

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