Yves Congar, My Journal of the Council, Part XIV

Monday 29 October 1962

Conversation with Canon Boulard. … One of the results of the Council, he believes, will be the emergence of a new kind of bishop. Just as after Trent a new type of bishop emerged, more pastoral than feudal, so now, in the middle of the twentieth century. This new kind of bishop will be characterized by the presence of the Church to the world. Not only in creating structures for parishes and other works, but, in addition to these structures, ensuring that the bishop is in touch with the problems of the world, together with his priests, who will keep him informed and whom he will inform, organize, animate, supervise and encourage.

But, once again, that all seems to me to depend on the country, and on the relationship between the Church and the world in each country. For a start, that supposes that one has acknowledged the existence of the world at large. This in turn implies 1) the existence of a mature laity; 2) the presence of the Church, not in the form of clerical authority but in the form of a prophetic awareness of what it means to be human. …

Msgr. Felici said that enough had been said about the use of Latin! In fact, the discussion to follow was to be about hardly anything else. I have not noted down everything, as it is very tedious. Moreover, before long I was to count at least a quarter of the places empty: the bishops were crowding into the bars!

An Italian bishop: 1) mention Mary in the schema; 2) ensure agreement between the bishops of neighbouring episcopal conferences; 3) in favor of Latin! …

Franić: in Dalmatia, the Roman liturgy is celebrated in a Slavic language.

An Italian bishop: proposed three PRINCIPLES: 1) the purpose of the liturgy is first the glory of God, and secondly the salvation of souls, which is subordinate to the primary purpose; 2) Christ committed the deposit of faith to the Apostles alone, and to their successors; 3) Peter’s mission is to confirm. Conclusion: have recourse to his magisterium. —What ecclesiology!

A German bishop from East Germany: Atheism has access to not only enormous means of propagation (reserved exclusively for its own use), but a veritable liturgy which takes the place of our sacraments by copying them, and which is very effective. Remedy: a liturgy adapted to educating people.

A bishop from Asunción (Paraguay): adaptation to the mentality of today. Many rites relate to the mentality of ages long past.

After a mind-numbing Spanish bishop, a Coptic bishop (Candal?) suggested the example of the Copts who have not retained the Coptic language (which no-one understands today) except for the Consecration, using Arabic for the rest.

An auxiliary bishop from Sao Paulo: barely able to read his paper, written in a Latin worthy of the Merovingian era; he stuttered in places.

A Spanish bishop: Veterum Sapientia [Apostolic Constitution of 22 February 1962, which made the use of Latin compulsory in the training of clerics.] deals with clerical studies and does not forbid adaptation. In favor of a via media. But everything through the Holy See: nothing through the episcopal conferences.

Msgr. Simons (India): Look at the present state of the use of Latin! Priests never speak it; the Pope speaks in Italian or French; like international conferences, the Council itself could have used the major modern languages. They are used even in communications with the Holy See. Official translations of encyclicals are published; theologians publish their work in the vernacular. A word about regions with mixed languages. Far from being a factor of unity, Latin is rather one of division. …

The Infant from Agrigento, the pitiable Mgr Peruzzo spoke again with his hateful ‘quaver’ and his great tones of solemn entreaty: civis Romanus sum: [‘I am a Roman citizen’ (expression attributed by Cicero to a Sicilian in one of his speeches against Verres).] all holy bishops have been in favor of Latin, etc. Wretched creature, as full of piosity as he is limited in outlook.

A beginning was made on Chapter II: the celebration of the Eucharist.

Cardinal Spellman: against communion under both kinds and concelebration.

Ruffini: against communion under both kinds; the Council of Constance, the condemnation of Luther and the Council of Trent all condemned it . . . and confirmed the change of rite with reference to that of the early Church. Trent reserved the matter to the pope.There are other disadvantages: the number of communicants matters of hygiene. ‘Fortasse concedi posset in sacerdotali ordinatione et in aliqua extraordinaria occasione, praevia concessione S Sedis . . .’ [perhaps it could be allowed for priestly ordinations and other special occasions, with the prior permission of the Holy See]. Against concelebration: When there is a large number of priests (such as pilgrimages, ‘in coetibus ecclesiasticis’ [in meetings of clergy], and there is a shortage of altars, each priest should celebrate every other day and simply receive communion on the day between.

Cardinal Léger: (made a great impression by his moderation and his tone which breathed honesty and peace): in favour of amplification [extending] the use of concelebration. He asked for the text to be altered, as it seems only to CONCEDE it, in the absence of anything better. State the fact in positive terms giving the following reasons: ‘Ex eo quod natura sua concelebratio pietatem sacerdotum fovet et unitatem manifestat’ [due to the fact that, of its nature, concelebration promotes the piety of the priests and expresses their unity].

Yves Congar, My Journal of the Council, pp. 124-128. The 1100-page book can be purchased from Liturgical Press. Pray Tell ran the previous installment of the journal of Yves Congar last Thursday.


  1. The future anticipated by Boulard and Congar in the first two paragraphs was, to some extent, codified in the “Directory on the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops,” issued May 31, 1973.

    Unfortunately, too many bishops are unfamiliar with what it says about the role of the laity, much less applying its wisdom.

  2. Cardinal Ruffini’s remark concerning concelebration seems startlingly “progressive”: if priest’s can’t celebrate Mass on their own they should simply go to Mass and receive communion. OK, so maybe his reasons for saying this is not the same as some contemporary progressive liturgists, but the convergence is striking.

    1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #2:

      Concelebration has gotten out of hand with hordes of priests and bishops concelebrating for no other reason than their priestly or episcopal rank. In other words it has become a “status” marker and a proclamation of the church as a class structure rather than as a proclamation of the communal structures of the church, i.e. we are a community of communities, and we serve within communal structures.

      In many cases, many priests and bishops involved might both psychologically benefit themselves and sociologically everyone by showing their baptismal solidarity with the people and having only those priests and bishops concelebrate who can symbolize the appropriate communal structures of the church, e.g. parish, cluster, deanery, diocese, archdiocese, region, nation.

      The concelebration of priests of a parish with their bishop in the presence of the congregation of the parish seems appropriate and archetypical. Similarity the concelebraton of priests of a parish on important occasions of the parish, or of priests of a cluster of parishes on important occasions of the unity of the cluster, or of priests of a deanery upon important occasions of the unity of the deanery. On all these occasions the important thing is the unity of the priesthood within the unity of the parish, the cluster, the deanery (with the bishop if he can be present but even if not).

      Similarly the concelebration of all the bishops of diocese, but not any priests, to emphasize the unity of the episcopal office on important diocesan occasions, and or the concelebration of the bishops with the deans (archpriests) of the deaneries of diocese, and or the priests of the presbyteral council.

      Similary the concelebration of all bishops of an archdiocese including the suffragan dioceses on important archdiocesan occasions. Likewise the concelebration of all archbishops of a nation upon important national occasions, or all archbishops of a region on regional occasions.

      On occasions of ordinations or installations of bishops it should be the archdiocesan community of bishops that concelebrates (with a representative of the national bishops conference, and the papal delegate). One occasions of ordinations and installations of archbishops it should be the national community of archbishops that concelebrates (with priority given to the regional archbishops, and representatives of the national bishops conference and the papal delegate).

      On all these occasions what we should be seeing is the church as a community of communities rather than as a stratified ranking system. We should be seeing the stratified ranking system only within the context of the appropriate communities.

      Hopefully this model would also help to renew some communal structures that presently are sick, namely deaneries, and archdioceses. The renewal of deaneries would help laity to better participate in the diocese, and the renewal of archdioceses would help laity to better participate in the national church. All these are important to the renewal of collegial synodal government in the church.

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