The U.S. bishops’ press panel held its first meeting three hours after the Vatican council’s fourth session ended its first working assembly.
It got off to a fast start under its new moderator, Msgr. Joseph R. Crowley, editor of Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, Ind.
In reply to a question, one panel member, Msgr. Mark J. Hurley, reported that “any number of bishops said they were thrilled” by Pope Paul VI’s announcement of a permanent synod of bishops.
Msgr. Hurley, vice chancellor of the San Francisco archdiocese, said that the bishops felt the Pope’s decision “set the tone for the fourth session of the council.”
He observed that the Pope’s choice of the word “synod” for this new assembly of the bishops might be significant.
Pointing out that in the Western Church a diocesan synod makes laws through the Ordinary of the diocese, who is the sole legislator, he said this might apply to any legislation from the new assembly of bishops.
Thus, the new body might find a parallel in the British Parliament, which legislates in the name of the monarch.
Father Frederick McManus, secretary of the U.S. Bishops’ Commission on the Liturgical Apostolate, and a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, Washington, noted that the word “synod” is used variously.
He said that in the Western rites of the Church it can apply even to a general council, while in the Eastern rites it can refer to a permanent body of bishops surrounding a patriarch and possessing deliberative authority.
When a newsman asked what effect there would be on Catholic countries if the schema on religious liberty is adopted, Msgr. George W. Shea replied that the Spanish concordat with the Holy See might have to be altered in certain regards.
Msgr. Shea, rector of Immaculate Conception Seminary, Darlington, N.J., cited the parity of Protestants before the law and the right to public worship.
It was pointed out by other members of the panel that the motu proprio creating the synod of bishops does not specify whether its meetings will be open or secret.
Auxiliary Bishop Philip M. Hannan of Washington, assistant episcopal chairman of the Press Department of the National Catholic Welfare Conference and editor-in-chief of the Catholic Standard, Washington, told the opening session he is acting as chairman of the panel in the absence of Coadjutor Bishop Clarence G. Issenmann, Apostolic Administrator of Cleveland, and episcopal chairman of the NCWC Press Department. Bishop Issenmann’s arrival at the council has been delayed.
Bishop Hannan said an additional ground rule has been made for the panel’s operation. “All questions must be directed to the moderator of the panel — not directly to a member of the panel,” he said.
An “initial listing” of the panel’s membership, in addition to Msgr. Hurley, Msgr. Shea and Father McManus, included these experts:
Father Francis J. Connell, C.SS.R., former dean of the school of sacred theology, Catholic University of America; Father John J. King, O.M.I., superior of the general house of studies in Rome for Oblate priests; Father Francis J. McCool, S.J., professor of introduction to New Testament at Rome’s Pontifical Biblical Institute.
Also Father Georges Tavard, A.A., chairman of the theology department, Mount Mercy College, Pittsburgh; Father Robert Trisco, professor of church history, Catholic University of America, and editor of the Catholic Historical Review; Father Eugene H. Maly, professor of Scripture at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Norwood, Ohio, and chairman of the editorial board of The Bible Today.
NCWC News Rome correspondent