142nd General Congregation
October 5, 1965
Pope Paul VI’s return from his historic mission of peace to the United Nations brought the 142nd general meeting of the ecumenical council to a halt, but 16 speakers continued debate on the council’s document on the Church in the modern world until the Pope arrived in the council hall.
The 2,174 council Fathers waited in silence for half an hour while diplomats and newsmen crowded into the basilica to hear the Pope’s own account of his visit to New York and to the great international forum of the United Nations.
Archbishop John J. Krol of Philadelphia, who acted as council secretary in the absence of Archbishop Pericle Felici, had announced that debate would end at 11:30 a.m. in expectation of the Pope’s arrival. But debate continued until about 12:15 p.m. Pope Paul arrived half an hour later.
Archbishop Krol also announced that a vote would be taken the following day on the schema on the pastoral duties of bishops as a whole. This was a reversal — hinted at previously in the council hall — of an earlier decision to consider votes on amendments to this schema as votes on the schema as a whole.
Earlier indications of this reversal had given support to reports that the Pope himself had made certain amendments to the schema. It was said this vote on the schema as a whole would be designed to allow the council to put its seal of approval on these papal amendments. But a conciliar official told the N.C.W.C. News Service that the schema stood exactly as voted by the council.
It was also announced that voting would begin the next day on the revised schema on the renewal of the religious life, and that the schema on the Church’s missionary activity would come up for debate when the council concluded its present debate on the Church in the modern world (schema 13).
Archbishop Krol announced the deaths of two Italian prelates: Bishop Agostino Rousset of Ventimiglia and Archbishop Angelo Rossini of Amalfi. Achille Cardinal Lienart of Lille, France, acting as chairman of the council of the presidency in the absence of Eugene Cardinal Tisserant, dean of the College of Cardinals, led council Fathers in the prayers for the dead.
During the day’s debate 10 Fathers continued discussion of the third chapter of the second part of schema 13. Four then spoke on the fourth chapter and two on the fifth.
Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, Primate of Poland, said the text should give a stout reply to the frequently heard objection that the Church lacks concern for the worker. A concise historical introduction to chapter three could show how the Church has always cared for the poor and exhorted men to accept their moral responsibilities in economic life, the cardinal said.
Such a historical synthesis could also reply to the objection that the Church is supporting capitalists, he added.
The Polish Primate asserted that both opposing economic systems — capitalism and communism — have the same root: individualism. He said both are erroneous because they ignore the primacy of the human person. In line with this he suggested that the third chapter’s title be changed to “Socio-Economic Life.” Its present title, “Economo-Social Life,” is oriented to things rather than persons, he said.
The value of production, Cardinal Wyszynski asserted, should be measured by the good it brings to man; the goal of unlimited production is too materialistic.
He said it is a sad thing that, for political reasons, goods are sometimes produced more cheaply for export than for domestic consumption. (In communist-ruled Poland most production is in the hands of the state.)
Joseph Cardinal Cardijn, Belgian prelate who rose to eminence through his apostolate among young workers, said the schema is not sufficiently realistic in its treatment of workers’ problems. While some countries have made great advances in treatment of workers (here he cited the United States and Australia), most workers still suffer from poor working conditions and poor educational facilities. These sins against workers are sins against God, Cardinal Cardijn declared.
He said the workers of the whole world should band together.
“I say again and again, workers must be the liberators. It is they who must change their conditions. It is they who are the first apostles among their own.”
Cardinal Cardijn said the workers themselves do not like to produce armaments but rather goods that will be of benefit to mankind.
Father Gerald Mahon, superior general of the Mill Hill Missioners, proposed the establishment of a permanent secretariat for the promotion of social justice. This, he said, would help infuse into the world the principles of Pope John’s encyclicals, Mater et Magistra and Pacem in Terris, and the speeches of Pope Paul.
The missioner can do much in this field of social justice, he said, but he is often without means. Father Mahon said the secretariat he proposed could show bishops how to meet these needs.
He finally proposed that a votive Mass be instituted to ask God for the establishment of charity and social justice in the world.
Bishop Charles Himmer of Tournais, Belgium, took much the same line as Cardinal Wyszynski, pointing out that while economic progress has been made possible by a growth in productivity, this productivity should be utilized for the service of man and not simply toward profit as a supreme law.
He said that while modern industrial man no longer is an artisan, he nonetheless has more creative power through his newly found ability to transform matter and energy. But in the race to transform matter the only concern has been the rate of production. Man’s consumer mentality has killed his creative spirit, which now is directed only toward material profit and not, for example, toward relief of the poor.
Even in the Marxist world, Bishop Himmer said, production has been directed at ends other than man. He concluded that man, like God, must be guided by love in his creative activity.
Bishop Manuel Larrain Errazuriz of Talca, Chile, who has led the way in distribution of Church-owned land among people who work it, said the text applies poorly to South America. In that continent, he said, conditions of economic and social life constitute a grave danger to peace. If Maurice Cardinal Feltin of Paris is right in defining progress as “a new name given to peace,” then the present retrogression in South America is already a breach of the peace.
Bishop Larrain suggested a brief insertion in the schema on the general principles of progress. This would state, he said, that progress is an authentic right; it is a right to participation in the development of science and technology; a right of the underdeveloped peoples. It would also state that this right has its corresponding obligation to go beyond simple economic increase and foster cultural and spiritual development.
Bishop Larrain, like other speakers, emphasized that the norm of progress is the service of man.
Bishop Bernardino Echeverria Ruiz of Ambato, Ecuador, complained that the schema fails to recognize sufficiently a characteristic element of our time, the spread of social consciousness. Fie said the popes’ teachings, modern communications and even Marxist propaganda have all contributed to this.
Like Father Mahon, he suggested the foundation of a secretariat for the promotion of the Church’s teachings on social questions.
Bishop Antonio Anoveros Ataun of Cadiz, Spain, admitted that the council must enunciate general principles, but said the norms provided in the text are too superficial, abstract and weak to inspire any realization of the obligations of conscience. He urged that the text treat succinctly the elements of social justice.
Bishop Carlos Parteli of Tacuarembo, Uruguay, also suggested something more concrete in the text, but his emphasis was on concrete suggestions for dealing with problems of underdeveloped countries and underdeveloped sectors of the economy, specifically agriculture.
Like Bishop Larrain he spoke of the danger of revolution in underdeveloped countries.
Bishop Albert de Vito of Lucknow, India, concluded debate on the third chapter. He said the text can be understood by theologians but certainly not by the millions who suffer from the miseries it speaks of. He asked for a return to the language of the Gospel.
He also noted that the text is silent on genocide and on the sterilization of men and women. In a clear reference to demographic policy in India, he pointed out that it is the poor who are pushed into undergoing such operations as a means of overcoming hunger and misery.
He said the word “state,” for example, can refer both to the government and to political society. Since this ambiguity is dangerous in speaking of the right of the state in education, it would be better to use the word “state” in one sense only.
He praised the text for avoiding the traditional reference to the Church as a perfect society, since the Church is a society only in an analogical sense.
Asserting that in the past the Church has insisted excessively on its rights, he expressed the hope that when the Church must enter into conflict with political authority, it would be a living witness to Christ’s love. He also expressed the hope that the Church in modern times would insist upon the rights of men as much as it has insisted upon its own rights.
Bernard Cardinal Alfrink of Utrecht, the Netherlands, opened debate on chapter five. He said the schema’s distinction between the possession of arms and the use of arms is useful, but under present circumstances the very possession of arms constitutes a danger.
He also conceded with the text that the possession of arms in hopes that they will be a deterrent is not wrong in itself. But he countered that this principle is not without limits: every nation will understandably think of some reason why it should possess arms. The lawfulness of this should therefore not be overestimated, and it would be better simply to repeat the teachings of Popes Pius XII and John XXIII on the reduction of arms.
Cardinal Alfrink asked for a clarification of the principle concerning the duty of obedience to civil authority. Civil authority is not always right, he declared.
Four speakers then dealt with the fourth chapter on political life.
Bishop Abilio del Campo y de la Barcena of Calahorra y La Calzada, Spain, said the text should state clearly that just tax laws are binding in conscience.
Bishop Eugenio Beitia Aldazabal, retired Ordinary of Santander, Spain, said the schema does well to devote an entire chapter to political life. He said he wondered if the council might not insert a statement on the state’s right to a public confession of faith. He asked for a revision of the text to make it more fully consonant with the teachings of Pope Pius XI, Pope Pius X and Pope Leo XIII. Some of their teachings, he said, have been systematically omitted from the text. He cited Pius XI’s strictures on laicism in the encyclical, Quam Primas, where he expressly invited states to recognize officially the reign of Christ represented by the Church.
Archbishop Antoni Baraniak of Poznan, Poland, said he agrees with the text’s statements that it is the duty of Christians to cooperate with the government. However, a great problem is posed for Christians who live under irreligious regimes, as does a large part of mankind. The council must do something to set limits beyond which the faithful cannot go in cooperating with atheistic regimes. He said it is beyond doubt that Christians may collaborate with an atheistic regime in activities honest in themselves, oriented toward the good of citizens and an ordering of social life.
Archbishop Denis Hurley of Durban, South Africa, in the name of 70 council Fathers, complained of certain equivocations or ambiguities in the text.
The cardinal said the schema should encourage the foundation of institutes to study how war might be avoided. Since wars have causes, these causes can be studied, he said, asserting that wars are not inevitable.
Owen Cardinal McCann of Cape Town, South Africa, like two speakers earlier in the day, asked for the foundation of a secretariat under the Holy See for the study of poverty and its eradication. He asked for increased cooperation between the Church and civil organizations for this purpose.
He specified, however, that the purpose of such a secretariat would be not actually to distribute food but to provide moral energy for the struggle against poverty.
NCWC News Rome correspondent