Yves Congar, My Journal of the Council, Part X

The Brazilian bishops, and a large proportion of the South American episcopacy, would like to reject the doctrinal schemas. They would like to make a start on the texts De episcopis [on bishops] after dealing with the De Liturgia. If this is not done now, they say, it will never be done. If it is postponed until the April 1963 session, many of the bishops will not come to this session. This schema is necessary to balance Vatican I. Moreover, it is called for by the schemas on the liturgy and on ecumenism.

They asked me if I could produce a schema that was wide-ranging and would address their concerns. I said I could, with Frs. Lécuyer, Rahner, Ratzinger and Colombo.

But I see that I am taking some crushing burdens on my shoulders. All the more so in that the Brazilian bishops want me to give them lectures. Msgr. Helder has also asked me to prepare a bibliography of good books (French, English, German) on the most important questions today’s Church is facing: simple and easy enough for bishops who can neither buy nor read very heavy books. Questions of theology, sociology, philosophy, psychology, etc.

What I really need is a secretary!

I tried to meet up with Fr. Lécuyer. I did not know where to find him and did not succeed. I returned here at 6 p.m. Veni Sancte Spiritus! Ad robur! [Come Holy Spirit! Help me!]

I record here also that Msgr. Helder told me about the three personal conversations he had had with the Pope. He had suggested to the Pope some things that would have been significant gestures: on behalf of the President of the Republic of Brazil, he invited him to come for the inauguration of Brasilia; he suggested to him the idea of a Catholic Bandung2, etc. Each time the Pope said: Yes, I would like to, BUT I AM A PRISONER. He had also once said to the Pope: isn’t it true, Holy Father, that communism is not the worst enemy? And the Pope had replied: Yes, you are right.

I have also been struck, these past few days, by the role played by the theologians. At the First Vatican Council, they played almost no role at all. Those who could have done so were not invited or did not go: Döllinger, Newman, (even Scheeben!). From the point of view of theologians, it all happened among the people in Rome, or almost. It is true that quite a few of the bishops did their own theology. This time, the bishops are much more shepherds than theologians.

On the other hand, there is in the Church a large group of theologians who are alive and who do not confine themselves to the completed chapters of scholastic theology but try to think about and to explain the facts of the life of the Church. There are quite a few of these theologians. They are very far from being all in Rome, but, speaking only about Rome, I see: Chenu, Colson, Chavasse, Ratzinger, Rahner, Semmelroth, Lubac, Rondet, Daniélou, Schillebeeckx, etc., etc. These theologians exercise a true magisterium. This is what Pius IX would have wished to avoid, at the risk of highlighting Döllinger I presume! Moreover, Pius IX was defeated all along the line, he who chose not to understand the truth of history:

the Christian Democrats are displaying their motto on the walls: Libertas [liberty].
Last Saturday’s appeal to all humankind, as compared with the Syllabus, and its last injunction;
the temporal power (of which vestiges still remain, however); conciliarity reinstated.

Yves Congar, My Journal of the Council, pp. 109-110. The 1100-page book can be purchased from Liturgical Press. Pray Tell ran the previous (ninth) installment of the journal of Yves Congar last Wednesday.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *