Fears of a ‘pre-fabricated Council’

Cardinal Tardini’s announcement that much of the Council’s work would be done by correspondence even before the bishops met in Rome immediately raised fears.

Belgian Dominican Jérôme Hamer reported Tardini’s comments in a letter to Yves Congar on 7 November 1959:

“The Cardinal gave us to understand that a great part of the work prior to the Council could take place by correspondence, thus shortening the presence of the Fathers in Rome. Here is the outline he presented:

a document prepared in Rome by one of the preparatory commissions to be named; sent to the bishops;

registering their reactions (refusal, simple acceptance or with amendments); redaction of a new document or reworking of the previous one;

finally, meeting of the Fathers in the Vatican to take a stance on a document that has already been reworked and would have received an initial rather general approval in the way indicated above.”

Congar recorded his reaction in a margin note on the letter:

“It’s a prefabricated Council. It’s the procedure followed for the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption. This wouldn’t be a real Council!”


Joseph Komonchak, The antepreparatory period (JA Komonchak)