Yves Congar, My Journal of the Council, Part IX

Sunday 14 October 1962

I was told that the ‘Holy Office’ (Parente) has distributed a list of bishops to be elected to the Theological Commission. It has been distributed to the Italian and Spanish bishops and to the English-speaking ones (Irish); and possibly also to others, but not to the French, the Germans or the Dutch…

If this is true, it would give notice of the inevitable conflict between the Curia and the ecclesia. Two Churches within a single framework!

Visit from Jean Guitton, who has got himself sent here on behalf both of Le Figaro and of the Academy. Being himself an Academician, he is well received and honored! He has lines of approach to Cardinal Montini. He told me that the beatification of Pius IX is in fact being seriously considered: the Pope would like it, in order to link Vatican II with Vatican I.

The further I go the more I find Pius IX puny and catastrophic. He was primarily responsible for the unfortunate orientation that has weighed on French Catholicism for the past sixty years. Precisely when he was being called upon by events to leave behind the frightful lie of the ‘Donation of Constantine’ and at last adopt an evangelical attitude, he perceived nothing of this summons, and sank the Church even deeper into its insistence on temporal power.

This temporal demeanor is still crushing the Church of today with all its weight. All this heavy and costly apparatus, prestigious and infatuated with itself, imprisoned in its own myth of seigneurial grandeur, belongs to the non-Christian part of the Roman Church and it is this that conditions, or rather prevents, its opening out to a fully evangelical and prophetic task: all of this comes from the lie of the Donation of Constantine. I see it clearly in these present days. Nothing decisive can be done until the Roman Church has emerged COMPLETELY from its seigneurial and temporal pretensions. ALL OF THAT must be DONE AWAY WITH; AND IT WILL BE!

Of course, there must be order: positions of superiority must be given external expression by marks of dignity. But all of that must be limited simply to the function. Those that exist in Rome have been borrowed directly from a world of TEMPORAL POWER which is not even that of the contemporary world but rather that of the Byzantine empire, that of the sumptuous princes of the Renaissance, that of the period of the Restoration and of the Holy Alliance. What is needed is to turn one’s back on all that and to discover something else, something which is both modern and evangelical, communitarian too, and not satrapic.

I have read the little speech the Pope made to the Observers whom he received in audience. Some people found it very inadequate. That is not my opinion. It is true that he said nothing on the theological or historical level. But that does not matter very much. He was cordial, very simple, Christian. And then, whatever he is, the monumental fact is that a speech was made, that there are Observers, that the Pope has received them, that there is a Council. Such facts have their own weight, and that is enough. Who would have thought that all this would have happened before I reach my sixtieth year?

Yves Congar, My Journal of the Council, pp. 93-94. The 1100-page book can be purchased from Liturgical Press. Pray Tell ran the previous (eighth) installment of the journal of Yves Congar last Sunday.

One comment

  1. This temporal demeanor is still crushing the Church of today with all its weight. All this heavy and costly apparatus, prestigious and infatuated with itself, imprisoned in its own myth of seigneurial grandeur, belongs to the non-Christian part of the Roman Church and it is this that conditions, or rather prevents, its opening out to a fully evangelical and prophetic task:

    From the Francis Interview with the non-believer:

    “No, there are sometimes courtiers in the curia, but the curia as a whole is another thing. It is what in an army is called the quartermaster’s office, it manages the services that serve the Holy See. But it has one defect: it is Vatican-centric. It sees and looks after the interests of the Vatican, which are still, for the most part, temporal interests. This Vatican-centric view neglects the world around us. I do not share this view and I’ll do everything I can to change it.

    I found it very insightful that Francis has gotten beyond a simple critique of the “court” aspect of the Vatican, as if its problems would vanish if it were run by men in business suits. Francis recognizes it is not simply a problem of people in the Vatican pursuing forms of exalted status, but they are also pursuing power and money by trying to make the Vatican the center of everything. He recognizes that while religious motivations are often given for this, in most cases the motivations are really non-religious, i.e. temporal to retain status, power, and money.

    It is interesting how quickly Francis is tackling some of the fundamental issues that were not resolved by Vatican II, namely synods that work, curial reform, and the overly temporal interests of the Vatican.

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