147th General Congregation
October 12, 1965
To commemorate the seventh anniversary of the election of Pope John XXIII, the ecumenical council which he initiated will hold a public session Oct. 28 at which several completed documents will be enacted.
At the public session Pope Paul will commemorate his predecessor by concelebrating Mass with several council Fathers. Then he will officially proclaim the completed council documents — which were not immediately identified — following a formal public vote on each of them by the assembled council Fathers.
It will be the third such session since the council began on Oct. 11, 1962. Pope Paul promulgated the Constitution on the Liturgy and the Decree on Communications Media at the end of the second session in 1963. He promulgated the Constitution on the Church, and the decrees on ecumenism and on the Eastern Churches at the public congregation closing the third session last November.
In making the announcement during the council’s 147th general congregation, Archbishop Pericle Felici, council secretary general, did not specify which documents would be ready for promulgation. But the schemas on pastoral duties of bishops, on the renovation of Religious life, on divine revelation, and on priestly formation have already been completed by the council and await only a formal final vote. Three other documents — on the lay apostolate, Christian education, and the Church’s attitude toward non-Christians — are known to be in the final stages of council work and at least some of them could be completed in time for the public session.
Voting on amendments to the schema on seminaries was completed during the same meeting, leaving only an over-all vote to conclude the council’s work on it.
Seventeen council Fathers, all but four of them from mission lands, debated the schema on the Church’s missionary activity before cloture was decided by a standing vote. A further written ballot was taken on its general acceptability as a basis for revision by the council commission on missions. The results were not announced, however. One final speaker invoked the “70 signature rule” to continue debate before the morning’s meeting ended.
Four bishops from Rwanda and Burundi, all speaking in the name of their combined episcopal conference, called for clarification of the authority and relationship between local bishops in mission territories and mission societies who come to work within their jurisdictions.
Bishop Michel Ntuyahaga of Bujumbura, Burundi, called this “the most important item in the schema.” Unless it is solved, he said, confusion will continue and collaboration — an essential element of missionary activity — will always be threatened.
Bishop Joseph Sibomana of Ruhengeri, Rwanda, said the bishop must be the “common father … and bond uniting all missionaries in the common striving for the restoration of the kingdom of God.” Every missionary must work under the local bishop, he said. “There cannot be two obediences — one to Religious orders and one to a bishop.”
Turning to technical aspects of missionary administration, Bishop Joseph Martin, W.F., of Bururi, Burundi, asked for “equity rather than equality” as the basis for worldwide distribution of financial aid and mission personnel. Equal distribution — without reference to particular needs in certain areas — was all right in the past, he said, but cannot suffice for the future. He reiterated the call of several previous speakers for reorganization of the Church’s Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith bearing those considerations in mind. Decisions regarding such an equitable distribution, he said, should rest with the reorganized curial missionary body.
Bishop John Gahamanyi of Butare, Rwanda, re-emphasized the plea of his fellow African prelates for cooperation on the local level between bishops and men’s and women’s missionary societies. He also called for greater stress on the training of specialists such as doctors and nurses in missionary areas. Priests should not take over what these lay specialists can do themselves, he said, but the laity must also remember that their primary goal in the missions is to “restore all things in Christ.” Whether they are doctors, nurses, teachers or builders, he said, they are “first of all missionaries.”
An eloquent prelate who last year called the mission schema a “collection of dry bones without flesh or warmth” said the present revision was “no longer a naked series of frigid propositions but a solid body of doctrine.” Irish-born Bishop Donal Lamont, O.Carm., of Umtali, Rhodesia, speaking in the name of 70 others after cloture on debate was voted, wanted greater stress on need for all in the Church to help developing areas to reach Christian maturity.
Missionaries do not want a “fine literary document or missionary text,” he said, but something that will make all bishops throughout the world conscious of their missionary responsibility in the light of the council’s own doctrine on the collegiality of bishops.
“No land is so primitive as to be unfit for the Gospel,” Bishop Lamont said. “Nor is any so civilized as not to need it.”
In a glowing tribute to American servicemen who served in the Korean war, Archbishop Paul Kinam Ro of Seoul called the witness many of them gave to their faith a clear example of practical missionary activity.
Many Catholic soldiers and officers were conspicuous, he said, for their fervor in attending Sunday Mass, receiving Communion side by side with Koreans, and in talking with the Korean pastor and faithful after Mass. This “produced profound and lasting effects in all Koreans, whether they were pagans, catechumens or Christians,” he said.
The superior general of the Jesuits, in his second council speech since his election earlier this year, listed several reasons why he thinks missionary activity has become so little attractive and arouses so little enthusiasm within the Church. The approach has been “infantilistic,” Father Pedro Arrupe, S.J., said. He added it is geared to children and the uneducated and thus cuts out the appeal to those who have attained a degree of cultural advancement. There has been “sentimentalism” as though mission work were intended for children and the sick.
Father Arrupe said that the missionary effort itself has often been accompanied by a “superiority complex” causing missionaries to underestimate the capabilities of those to whom they preach. Furthermore, he said, “we have been myopic,” failing to bring a broad view to missionary problems, and “superficial” in disseminating information on the missions.
Here he cited inaccuracies, particularly of authors who write on the missions after short and superficial visits. There has also been, he said, a “false criterion” in the selection of missionaries, “as if all that were necessary were good health and mediocre talents.” Finally, he said, the very notion of the missionary has almost become synonymous with “beggar,” since many of them have spent in collecting of funds for missions much time which could have been spent more effectively in preaching the Gospel.
Father Arrupe called for the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith to set up information centers for a worldwide exchange of ideas.
The day’s session opened with the Mass of the Holy Spirit celebrated by Bishop Albert Cousineau, C.S.C., of Cap Haitien, Haiti, after enthronement of the Gospel book by Bishop Daniel Liston, C.S.C., of Port Louis, Mauritius. The day’s moderator was Gregorio Cardinal Agagianian, prefect of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith.
Archbishop Felici as secretary general read the text of a letter sent by Eugene Cardinal Tisserant in reply to Pope Paul’s letter read in the council the previous day. In his letter, the Pope had removed the discussion of clerical celibacy in the Latin-rite Church from the council’s competence or discussion and asked that any view the Fathers might have on the subject be submitted to him in writing. Cardinal Tisserant’s letter informed the Pope the Fathers had been told of his “mind and will regarding ecclesiastical celibacy,” and that the announcement was greeted “with repeated applause.”
“For our part, Holy Father,” the letter continued, “we are ready always to accept your will and obey your commands. We ask your blessing.” Further applause followed the reading of the Cardinal’s letter.
Copies of a new list of questions to be submitted to vote on amendments to the Christian education schema were distributed during the morning. The vote was scheduled for the following day. The Fathers also received the series of Vatican stamps commemorating the Pope’s visit to the United Nations.
The day’s first speaker on missionary activity was Laurean Cardinal Rugambwa of Bukoba, Tanzania. He asked for greater emphasis on need for the lively faith which must animate all who have a role in the missionary apostolate. In some areas of the world, he said, the Church “sheds her blood” just as the Apostles did for the Faith. “In others,” he said, “she is held in the chains of silence,” while in still others she is free to preach the Gospel. No matter what her status, he said, the Church can accomplish nothing without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit — which depends on faith for its recognition.
Leo Cardinal Suenens of Malines-Brussels, Belgium, said the document is not strong enough in stating the urgency of preaching the Gospel. Whereas the text “multiplies adverbs like gradually, patiently and the like,” he said, it seems to forget that Christ “came to cast fire on the earth. … Our aim is not to conform each one in his own religion as does Moral Rearmament, but to preach the Gospel to every creature.”
He asked for mention in the schema of the need for specialized preparation, both practical and progressive, in training missionaries in seminaries, such as that adopted by the Jesuits in their recent general congregation in Rome. Such training in “active charity,” he said, cannot harm piety or seminary studies. Students must be prepared for a sacramental ministry which is not only personal but “communitary,” and must learn “the art of discovering lay apostles.”
Paul Cardinal Zoungrana, W.F., of Ouagadougou, Upper Volta, in a strongly worded defense of missionaries of the past, deplored “negative criticism” of their activities. “One may wonder,” he said, “where such detractors of missionary activity have drawn such wisdom as to enable them to pass ex-cathedra judgment on things about which they know little or nothing.”
He supported the need for continuance of mission societies and institutes even though local Church organizations and hierarchies have been formed in mission areas.
“Without the deep faith and ardent generosity of missionaries in the past,” he said, “the Church would not today have so many flourishing communities.”
The role of mission schools was the concern of Bishop Joseph Guffens, S.J., retired Belgium missionary bishop. Though both schools on the secondary and higher levels are of “decisive importance” to missionary activity, he said, the text mentions them only in passing. Every effort must be made, he said, to increase the number of students and the quality of teachers, as these schools are “workshops of the Holy Spirit.” He asked also for more extensive and more permanent utilization of native teachers, both Religious and lay.
Bishop Victor Garaygordobil of the Los Rios prelature in Ecuador asked for removal from the text of the reference to the missionary vocation as a lifetime occupation. The Spanish-born prelate said he felt this implied that only missionary institutes could provide real missionaries. Temporary missionaries from among the diocesan clergy should be encouraged, he said, and established dioceses invited to adopt missionary territories as their special apostolate. Not only is this useful for missions, he said, but it stimulates missionary vocations at home as well.
The importance of lay missionaries was the particular concern of Bishop Giocondo Grotti, S.M., of the prelature of Acre, Brazil. He said they should be provided with proper training at special centers devoted to particular mission areas. The reference in the text to secular institutes could be insulting to these groups, he said, since it states only that they “can be useful.” A change should also be made providing for their dependence on local bishops rather than on national episcopal conferences, he said, and provision made within the curial missions congregation for a special department whose task would be channeling specialists among them to the areas of greatest need.
In the name of 134 Fathers, Bishop Ugo Poletti, head of Italy’s National Society for the Propagation of the Faith, asked for greater recognition in the text for the role of pontifical missionary associations. The present version, he said, ignores the duty of service and the discipline of cooperation among all the faithful for the good of the missions.
Archbishop Paul Yu Pin of Nanking, who since his exile from Red China has become rector of the Catholic university in Taipei, Formosa, asked for establishment of special seminaries to train missionaries for countries such as China where the Church labors under the scourge of persecution. These seminaries, to be established in nations blessed with an abundance of vocations, would specialize in the particular needs of the country to which their candidates aspired, he said.
He welcomed the special role of lay apostles in the missions, asking that their work not be teaching the catechism in the strict sense of the term, but the role of “witnesses, the light, salt and leaven of the world.”
Bishop Sebastiao Soares de Resende of Beira, Mozambique, called for training of an elite laity to assist the Church and for the organization of social programs to accompany missionary preaching in underprivileged areas of the world. He asked that the word “propaganda” be dropped from the Latin name for the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, since it has disagreeable connotations in modern usage. He suggested instead “secretariat for evangelization.”
Perhaps the most popular speaker of the day was Archbishop Eugene D’Souza, M.S.F.S., of Bhopal, India, who said his points had already been covered. He submitted his text in writing to the council secretariat and sat down amid the appreciative applause of his weary colleagues.
Father John P. Donnelly
NCWC News Rome correspondent
* * * *
The ecumenical council cast its final six votes on amendments to the schema on seminaries, completing that schema except for the ballot on the document as a whole. The votes were as follows:
Vote one — on ecclesiastical studies — yes, 2,164; no, 14; null, 1.
Vote two — on philosophical studies, with special emphasis on modern philosophies — yes, 2,127; no, 58.
Vote three — on integrated and vitalized theological studies — yes, 2,170; no, 16; null, 3.
Vote four — on emphasis on pastoral theological studies — yes, 2,180; no, 6.
Vote five — on the conclusion: an exhortation to seminary professors and seminarians — yes, 2,166; no, 6; null, 2.
Vote six — a general vote on acceptance of the amendments of minor importance throughout the text which were not specifically included in the previous voting — yes, 2,120; no, 13; null, 2.