Yves Congar, My Journal of the Council, Part XXVII

I left the tribune. Conversations with Moeller, Daniélou and Laurentin. They told me this: the four Moderators had announced for yesterday a vote on four points. But nothing has in fact been proposed, either yesterday or today. Yesterday, the four Moderators were discussing something throughout the Mass. Cardinal Ottaviani had objected to their initiative for the planned vote, saying it was against the regulations and that the Moderators were overstepping their power. That would explain why nothing had been put to the Assembly.

The Moderators are to see Paul VI this evening: the debate is likely to be cancelled. (The Pope is also due to receive the Observers, who are also due to be received tomorrow by Cardinal Bea.)

Daniélou added that it is considered in various quarters that Ottaviani can no longer preside over the Theological Commission; that the Commission ought to ELECT its own President, and even that the Council ought to ELECT some new conciliar Commissions. Because, on the one hand, the men of worth have been identified and marked out, on the other hand, the Council has revealed its spirit to itself; mentalities have changed: it is only now that the Council is in a position to provide itself with instruments that are suited to the direction of its work.

While this conversation was going on, I saw Fr. Balić who, these past few days, has been doing his mariological rounds in the side-aisles. He has had a report printed of which he gave me a copy.

I had lunch with Fr. Schmemann and Nissiotis. They invited me to a restaurant in Piazza di S Maria in Trastevere. Both feel intensely the charm and soul of Rome as a city that has kept all its past. We had an interesting chat: about ecclesiology. I told them my way of seeing the ecclesiology of the Fathers and of the liturgy, as including anthropology, and we agreed that the best ecclesiology would be, in De Populo Dei, a development on the Christian human being. We spoke about the De oecumenismo. They told me: these texts ON ecumenism are not very important: an anthropology and a pneumatology in the De Ecclesia would be the most positive ECUMENICAL step . . . We also spoke of the De Beata. In their view, a De Beata is a fairly doubtful step. In the East, Mary is A DIMENSION of everything: of christology, of the history of salvation (continuity with Israel), ecclesiology, of prayer. That is why the Orthodox mix her up with everything without ever producing a treatise De Beata.

They also spoke to me about the situation in the USA: Schmemann told me that it was absolutely necessary to go there. In a month, I would make things take a gigantic leap forward. Küng had great success there, but my two orthodox interlocutors were fairly critical of Küng and also of Baum, whom they found overrated. They asked me about Rahner, whom they were inclined to mistrust. I could not quite see why.

We also spoke about the Brothers from Taizé, whom they felt ‘exaggerated’: on the one hand by an excessively clerical aspect (their cowl in St Peter’s), on the other by a systematic policy of making contact with as many bishops as possible. They saw in that a touch of indiscretion or of professionalism. But I stressed the fact that, within its very human limits, Taizé remains a real miracle, a work of God: it is quite out of the ordinary!

In the evening, at the Hotel Botticelli, where the Vietnamese bishops, and also some Melkite and Maronite bishops (Msgr. Doumith) are staying.

After dinner, lecture on the De Laicis and De populo Dei. Then questions and dialogue. I realized that these bishops (thirty to thirty-five of them) are rather ill at ease with the texts and the discussions on the De Ecclesia. They even told me so quite forcefully. They do not see themselves in it. They have a tradition of thought, of categories, of lines of interest which are quite other than those. It is quite disturbing.

I realized once again to what an extent the Catholic Church is Latin, to what extent she deceives herself, in good faith, by believing herself to be ‘Catholic’. She is nothing of the sort. Romanism, Italianism, Latinism, scholasticism, the analytical spirit, have swallowed up everything and have almost established themselves as a dogma. What a job!!

Yves Congar, My Journal of the Council, pp. 382-383. 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.


  1. 1. “The Moderators are to see Paul VI this evening.”

    Guess this means by this time, Pope John XXIII had gone home to God… 🙁

    2. “She is nothing of the sort.”

    Which makes one wonder: has the Church become less self-deceiving? Is she more ‘Catholic’ now than she was then?

    Not sure one can say a definite ‘yes.’ At least not yet.

  2. Elisabeth – yes, John XXIII had “gone home to God”. This quote comes from Congar’s journal entry for October 17th 1963. Context and pagination indicate we are about a third way through the Journal, but sometimes a date-line and a little on the context of entry might help.

    1. @Brendan Kelleher svd – comment #2:

      1. Thank you! I wasn’t even born then, but whenever I think about it, it still makes me sad.

      2. “… a date-line and a little on the context of entry might help.”

      Yes, they most certainly would help this reader at least. 😀

      I think previous posts in this series began with dates, just not this one.

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