Yves Congar, My Journal of the Council, Part XVIII

Wednesday 7 November 1962

Msgr. Rougé, conspicuously the spokesman for the CPL [French Centre for Pastoral Liturgy], replied to the objections to the text relating to the anointing of the sick and the change of name (formerly Extreme Unction).

Angelini: in favor of extending the administration of this Sacrament, for example before a serious operation. And for the anointing of only the forehead and the hands.

Bishop from Brazil De ritu confirmationis [on the rite of confirmation]: the bishops are the ones to judge whether or not to celebrate this sacrament during Mass.

Sansierra (Argentina) spoke also to the Observers. In favor of the schema as it stands. Marriage Ritual: in favor of developing a whole dialogue in which the couple getting married would express the great values of Christian marriage. Against the use of black for burials: it is pagan.

Faveri (Italian) made people laugh with very serious tales of baptismal water going stagnant and of babies vomiting. Hygiene! Pure clean water: simplify the rites; no breathing on the one being baptiszd (and what if the priest were tubercular?).

(I went to the WC. … Picard de la Vacquerie: [Bishop of Orléans] ‘I am the big mouth of the Episcopate . . . I told Ottaviani that there is no longer any Holy Office, it is the bishops’ turn to speak’, … prevented me from hearing the interventions of … Mgr van Bekkum, of whose intervention I heard only snatches. Why can we not do what St Ambrose did (create a rite)? He repeated the words of St Ambrose quoted by the Pope last Sunday. We too are human beings and we are intelligent!) …

I heard applause. It was Msgr. D’Souza, who had just said: one writes to Rome to request a permission, an ‘indult’ concerning a matter which for us is pastorally important. One receives a bit of paper written by some minutante or other from one of the offices with a brief Non expedit [not appropriate]! In the different speeches, the speakers are demanding that the bishops’ conferences be given the right to authorize extensive adaptations for their people, who need to express themselves in accordance with their own genius and their own culture.

This is also what was said by a bishop from the Congo, who quoted the encyclical Evangelii Praecones in favor of a consecration of cultures by their being used in the Church. We now have an opportunity to implement that, he said. Applause from the younger bishops.

Two or three more bishops. Then, at 11.50 am, the discussion moved on to chapter IV. The following spoke on the subject of the Divine Office:

Cardinal Frings: 1) in favor of a version of the psalms which matches the language of the Fathers: not to depart from the Vulgate, except when the text is obscure or false, and then in favor of the psalter of St. Jerome: he gave the example of the Dom Weber psalter. 2) in favor of greater use of the treasures of Scripture and of the Fathers. 3) balance between the psalms and scriptural texts. 4) in the name of the German-speaking bishops, that the bishop be given the power to dispense from reciting the Office in Latin.

Cardinal Ruffini: when his name was announced there was a murmur. Now he was speaking of the psalms, he even quoted Luther on them. But in favor of eliminating the imprecatory psalms and some others (those which seem to express doubts about eternal life). On No. 74: oratio publica fit a solo sacerdote; orationes fidelium sunt privatae [public prayer to be made only by the priest; the prayers of the faithful are private].

Cardinal Valeri: in favor of various details. Reduce the obligation [of reciting the Office] to Lauds and Vespers. …

Cardinal Léger: Once again, very much listened to. He certainly expressed the general feeling of the Fathers. I think he ought to be one of those guiding the Council. Concern for our priests . . . That, for those who are not bound to choir, the obligation be restricted to Lauds, Vespers and a Lectio divina [meditative reading of the Bible] for about twenty minutes, to be done at any hour of the day. Criticized the idea of sanctifying the various hours of the day, which leads to formalism. Language: that the bishops be authorized to allow the use of the vernacular, so that the prayer can be truly prayer, ut mente intelligent quod labiis pronuntiant [that they understand with their minds what they say with their lips]. He was applauded. End of session.

Yves Congar, My Journal of the Council, pp. 150-152. The 1100-page book can be purchased from Liturgical Press. Pray Tell ran the previous installment of the journal of Yves Congar last Thursday.

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