Yves Congar, My Journal of the Council, Part XXIII

Wednesday 9 October 1963

Cardinal Liénart in the name of more than sixty French bishops: one felt a kind of antinomy between the primacy and the episcopal college. All one needs to do is to seek out what Jesus wanted to do and what the Acts show us of the early Church. Peter has the primacy but he is always IN the college. ‘Nec collegium apostolicum a potestate coregendi cum Petro destitutum est’ [The Apostolic college is not bereft of the power of governing in union with Peter]. The Eleven exercised their power collegially with Peter. If one were to look at the authorities from a juridical point of view, there would be competition, but not if what is in question are service and responsibilities.

Cardinal Richaud: De diaconatu [On the diaconate]: he endorsed what Cardinal Suenens had said. He believes that the restoration of the diaconate would be likely to promote priestly vocations (he quoted lots of examples and banalities, but it may have been useful).

Msgr. Felici said that some of the Fathers had added a question to the vote they had given concerning article 42 of De S Liturgia (communion under both kinds). They would have preferred to distinguish or separate a first vote on the actual principle of the restoration of this practice. But the Council of Presidents replied.

Msgr. Anoveros in the name of several of the Fathers on No. 15, with reference to priests. It would be better to say more about them. Arguments from Scripture and tradition are called for. The priesthood should be related to the priesthood of Christ and not merely to the fullness of the bishop.

Msgr. Blanchet: asked about the weight of the texts and the theological note (he could have said what he said—which he said very well—in three minutes!).

Msgr. Conway (Armagh): cap. II in genere mihi placet [In general, I approve of Chapter II]. But there is a serious omission on the question of priests and of the presbyterate. His speech made a great impression. But why do the speakers feel they must fill in their ten minutes when two or three would suffice?

Msgr. Martínez (Zamora, Spain): Do not give room to errors that have already been condemned. Keep the full truth of the hierarchy (long exposition). …

Msgr. Weber on the Apostolic college in the New Testament (people were not really listening as they have already heard all that).

Msgr. Hurley: the bishop possesses pastoral leadership. This should be mentioned. Unfortunately, renewals have not come to any great extent from the bishops . . .

Msgr. Sigaud (Brazil) proposed a theology of the bishop and of collegiality. He distinguished between collegial acts (councils) and collective actions (episcopal conferences). Against the idea of a sort of permanent synod of bishops appointed by the other bishops who would direct the Church collegially with the pope. Equally against a permanent national council. …

D’Agostino (Italy): The origin of the hierarchy should have been shown more clearly. He proposed a number of corrections, including the deletion of the citation of Ephesians 2:20. On the diaconate, he allied himself with Bacci and insisted on the obligation to celibacy. There is no reference to the duty of priests to obey their bishop. In favor of the primacy of Peter: no college without a head. …

Msgr. Doumith: By his consecration, a bishop receives pastoral power which includes the powers of government, teaching and celebrating. That comes from the tradition and from the liturgy: he cited texts. Consecration includes mission. Consecration is made ad Ecclesiam [for Church] and formerly always for a specific church. The canonical mission is tantum ad moderamen potestatis, sed potestatem ipsam non confert nec aufert [only for the management of power, but it neither confers nor withdraws power].

Msgr. Franić: on the diaconate: Sixteen out of the 21 Latin-rite bishops in Yugoslavia deem it inopportune: how would they be kept under discipline? The proposed text should be deleted. He said that there had been no vote on this point at the Theological Commission and that the text had been inserted without a vote. On the relationship between episcopate and the primacy: the schema contains a good via media, but there are some expressions that obscure the rights of the primacy. No distinction has been made between the foundation of the Church ratione doctrinae [by reason of doctrine] and its foundation ratione iurisdictionis [by reason of jurisdiction]. The text of Ephesians 2:20 is doubtful and one ought to delete mention of the Apostles as foundation (he was listened to attentively, in spite of the lateness of the hour). …

Commission meeting:

Msgr. Florit proposed as a title: De membrorum in Ecclesia Christi aequalitate et inaqualitate [on the equality and inequality of the members of Christ’s Church]; following that, the chapter De S. Hierarchia [on the Sacred Hierarchy], then the chapter De statibus perfectionis [on the States of Perfection] (with the text that hasjust been prepared by the joint Commission of Theological and Religious Life); finally the text De Laicis as Chapter 5.

Msgr. Charue: the expression Populus Dei is in I Peter 2:10. Msgr. Philips might be asked to explain it. Which he did. He insisted on the usefulness of grouping together everything relating to the intermediate and pilgrim state of the Church. He also explained the reasoning behind the drafting of the chapter on the call to holiness: it was in order to avoid speaking of Religious separately. He gave reasons justifying the plan for five chapters such as he had conceived it.

I asked to be allowed to speak but was not given leave to do so: instead Fr. Tromp was called upon; he wanted a division into clerici, continentes, matrimonio iuncti [clerics, those who live in continence, and those who are married]. – Cardinal Ottaviani hurried things along and wanted a vote on the proposition: Utrum standum sit primitivae divisioni [Should the original division be retained]?

Franić was in favor of a chapter De populo Dei, but with De Christifidelibus [Christ’s faithful] as its heading.

A vote was taken on:

1) Is a new chapter required? Result: yes = 20, no = 4.

2) What heading to give it? Populus Dei, Christifideles. Schauf spoke in favor of ‘Christifideles’. I spoke in favor of ‘populus Dei’. Msgr. Charue did likewise. Cardinal Ottaviano would prefer ‘De Christifidelibus’. Häring: De populo Dei, a social term, not an individual one. The vote was taken: De populo Dei: 15. De Christifidelibus: 7. De aequalitate et inaqualitate membrorum Christifid. = 1. The issue was settled.

Cardinal Ottaviani said that people had asked whether the De Beata [‘Blessed Mary’ – ed.]  should be kept separate, or whether it should be incorporated into the De Ecclesia. Cardinal Ottaviani had replied that the Coordinating Commission had asked for a separate schema and that Mary well deserved a schema to herself. But he had added that he would put the question to the Theological Commission. The cardinal said that two of the Fathers and two of the periti should be heard.

Franić RUSHED to be asked to speak in favor of a separate schema.

Ottaviani added: the schema has already been distributed!!!

Msgr. McGrath spoke in favor of it being incorporated into the schema De Ecclesia. Several bishops had asked for this; the COUNCIL’S Theological Commission had never either discussed or approved the schema, which had come from the Preparatory Commission.

Spanedda: There should be a separate schema. Mariology belongs more to christology than to ecclesiology. Moreover, in the schema De Ecclesia, it is mainly the pilgrim Church and the Church militant that is under discussion.

Fr. Tromp: many bishops want a link between the schema De BVM and the De Ecclesia, but they differ about how it should be conceived and where it should be placed.

Fr. Balić, who had only just arrived, was invited to speak, but Msgr. Doumith asked WHOSE IDEA IT WAS to produce a schema De BVM; if the schema says nothing new, then why a schema? Who had called for it?

That’s a good question, Msgr. Garrone said.

Ottaviani asked Doumith: Would the Easterners not welcome a text on the Blessed Virgin?

No, Msgr. Doumith replied. They have a great devotion to the Holy Virgin, but they are quite content to venerate the Theotokos and would not be pleased with dogmatic texts: we have not yet recovered from the difficulties created by the Assumption!!!

Fr. Gagnebet said: a text was produced because a great many of the bishops had asked for one!!!

When Fr. Balić was called upon to speak, he READ a text: a clever SALES PATTER, but a sales patter just the same. The separated brethren and above all the Protestants are asking for a clear and doctrinal statement. At the end, he improvised with eloquence and somewhat ridiculously. He talked and talked without being asked to stop.

Msgr. Philips intervened with a few wise and conciliatory remarks; he concluded along the lines of our conversation on Sunday: after the five chapters of De Ecclesia, a sixth chapter entitled De loco et munere Deiparae in Ecclesia [On the place and function of the Mother of God in the Church] (christological basis—Deiparae—and designed to set forth what the faithful owe to the Virgin Mother of God, and her presence in the Church).

Msgr. Garrone, speaking very calmly: in the Council, the Church is the CENTER of interest. For love of the Virgin, it would be good that she should be set forth in connection with the Church, the center of our work.

One would achieve the same effect, Cardinal Browne said, by placing the schema De Beata immediately after that the De Ecclesia, thus expressing the link between them. If the ecumenical movement is to achieve its aim: we must place our trust in the Virgin Mary.

Cardinal Ottaviani: that would amount to going back on the progress so far. That would cause astonishment.

Msgr. Griffiths supported the Philips proposal. He recalled that there had been a request, in the aula, for a clarification of the devotion of the faithful to Mary and the saints.

McGrath: we are only the delegates of the Fathers of the Council; they have not expressed their opinion.

Ottaviani contradicted him fiercely. The normal course is for the Commission to propose a text and for the Fathers to comment on it. There should be a vote on the following:

1) Schema de BVM maneat ut est (the schema on the Blessed Virgin Mary should remain as it is)

2) Schema de BVM fiat caput finale ‘De Ecclesia’ [the schema on the Blessed Virgin Mary should become the last chapter of the schema ‘On the Church’]

3) Quae dicuntur in schemate inserantur in Schemate de Ecclesia [what is said in the schema should be incorporated into the schema on the Church].

… By a show of hands, the almost unanimous decision was: as a final chapter. The decision for a SEPARATE chapter was unanimous.

In the lift, Cardinal Ottaviani said: If Fr. General (Fernandez) had remained to the end and had voted, we would have one more vote in favor of ‘extra schema’ [‘separate from the schema’ – ed.] I said: ‘Was it Providence, or was it the devil?’

It was a great and important meeting from the point of view of the future orientation of things. What has been played out this evening was, partly, the opening towards human beings (De populo Dei) and the soundness of a mariology cured of its maximalist canker.

Yves Congar, My Journal of the Council, pp. 352-359. For previous posts in this series, simply enter “Congar” in the search box in the upper right. The 1100-page book can be purchased from Liturgical Press.

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