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!”

SOURCE

Joseph Komonchak, The antepreparatory period (JA Komonchak)

Council name announced: “Vatican II”

At a press conference on 30 October, 1959, Cardinal Tardini officially announced that the Council would be called “Vatican II.”

The chief aim would be “to foster the growth of the Catholic faith, a healthy renewal of
the Christian people’s practice, and an updating of Church discipline according to the needs of the day.”

While it would be “an internal affair of the Catholic Church,” it would “represent so
marvelous a spectacle of truth, unity, and love as to constitute, even for those alienated from the Apostolic See, an invitation to seek and to achieve that unity to which many of them aspire.”

Whether non-Catholics would be invited as observers was a matter under discussion.
The preparations were well underway, Tardini reported.

Eighty per-cent of the residential bishops had already submitted recommendations, and it was likely to require a full three years of further work before the Council could meet. He expected that it would not be of long duration, both so that bishops would not be absent from their sees too long and because of the highly organized preparations.

“An immense correspondence with Bishops all over the world” was to be carried on prior to the Council to ensure that “we will already be agreed on many things by the time the Council meets,” Tardini noted.

SOURCE

Joseph Komonchak, The antepreparatory period (JA Komonchak)

Clarify Catholic Action

Himmer to Tardini 1

On 26 October 1959, Bishop Charles-Marie Himmer of Tournai, a long-standing proponent of the JOC and Specialised Catholic Action, wrote to Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal DomenicTardini, with his reflections for the Ante-Preparatory Commission.

He first sought clarification on “moral” issues, particularly marital questions. He also raised the issue of using vernacular language in the mass and the use of more appropriate scriptural readings.

Finally, he sought clarification of the notion of Catholic Action, which had been under challenge in various quarters.

He wrote;

“Rogatur ut conceptus actionis catholicae a Pio XI traditus elucidetur et servetur ad rite secernendam hanc apostolatus laicorum formam nostris temporibus maxime adaptatam ab aliis speciebus apostolatus in quibus laici sese devovent.”

Rough translation based on Google

It is requested to clarify the concept of Catholic Action that Pius XI regarded as especially adapted to our times for the promotion of the apostolate of lay people…

SOURCE

Archives Himmer (Diocèse de Tournai)

New Management Committee for COPECIAL

Ramon Sugranyes de Franch

On 6 August 1959, L’Osservatore Romano announced the appointment by Pope John XXIII of a new management committee for COPECIAL, following the departure of Vittorino Veronese, who had been appointed secretary-general of UNESCO.

The six members were:

  • Silvio Golzio, president of the committee. Golzio was a professor of statistics at the University of Turin and director of the Piedmont Hydro-Electric Company. He was also president of the Movimento laureati, the Italian Catholic Action movement for Graduates.
  • Jean-Pierre Dubois-Dumée, a French publisher, who was then working with Cardijn for the eventual publication of a book.
  • Prince Karl zu Lôwenstein, a German nobleman, who was also the president of the Central Committee of German Catholics.
  • Claude Ryan, secretary-general of Catholic Action in English-speaking Canada.
  • Ramon Sugranyes, a Catalan exile living in Switzerland, who played a significant role in the foundation of Pax Romana ICMICA and in the organisation of the World Congresses on Lay Apostolate.
  • Juan Vasquez, an Argentine mathematics professor who also worked for the Argentine Ministry of Transport. He was also responsible for international relations for the Central Committee of Catholic Action in Argentina and president of the International Federation of Catholic Youth.

There was an obvious absence of worker representation here and, no doubt after some feedback if not protest, this was remedied by the addition of three more members:

  • Marguerite Fiévez, Belgian former leader of the JOC Internationale, now working as Cardijn’s personal secretary.
  • Patrick Keegan, another former leader of the JOC Internationale, originally from Britain, now involved with developing an adult lay apostolate in the UK and also coordinator of “The Team,” an exclusive group of mainly former YCW leaders devoted to the lay apostolate.
  • Martin Work, an American, who was secretary-general of the National Council of Catholic Men of the USA.

SOURCES

Bernard Minvielle, L’apostolat des laïcs à la veille du Concile (1949-1959)

Golzio, Silvio (Treccani)

Ramon Sugranyes de Franch (Website)

Ramon Sugranyes de Franch (Wikipedia.fr)

Tribute to Ramon Sugranyes de Franch (Pax Romana ICMICA)

Karl, 8th Prince of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg (Wikipedia)

PHOTO

Ramon Sugranyes

Universities invited to respond

On 18 July , the Holy See wrote to Catholic universities and all faculties of theology seeking their feedback and advice on the preparation for the Council.

They were given until 20 April, 1960 to respond, a period explained by Cardinal Tardini’s suggestion that they may wish to send him their draft responses beforehand.

SOURCE

Joseph Komonchak, The antepreparatory period (JA Komonchak)

John XXIII chooses a name

In a calendar note dated 4 July 1959, after visiting the Vatican gardens, John XXIII wrote the following note:

“When I got back to the house, I found that the ecumenical Council now in preparation ought to be called ‘the Second Vatican Council,’ because the last one, celebrated by Pope Pius IX in 1870, bore the name of Vatican Council I – Vatican le premier.”

SOURCE

Giuseppe Alberigo, The announcement of the Council, History of Vatican II, Volume I, p. 50.

PHOTO

Vatican Gardens (Marek.69 / Wikipedia / CCA BY SA 3.0

A new clampdown on worker priests

On 3 July 1959, Cardinal Giuseppe Pizzardo, the president of the Vatican Congregation for Seminaries and Universities as well as secretary of the Holy Office, which was responsible for doctrinal matters, wrote to French Cardinals Maurice Feltin of Paris and Achille Liénart of Lille, to clamp down even harder on the worker priests.

In 1941, the French Church had launched the “Mission de France” in a bid to reach the working class. Two years later, Cardinal Suhard launched the “Mission de Paris” with a similar objective.

Cardinals Liénart, who was president of the Assembly of (French) Cardinals and Archbishops, and Feltin, both of whom had been early JOC chaplains, were

Many of the priests, including many who had been or were JOC chaplains, also began to work in factories, on wharves and elsewhere as “worker priests.” Indeed, Bishop Alfred Ancel, a Prado father, auxiliary bishop of Lyon and keynote speaker at the JOC Internationale Congress in Brussels in 1950, had also taken up part-time work.

However, as an increasing number of priests became involved in trade union struggles and strikes, often alongside communists and communist trade unions, fears began to rise.

As a result, in 1953, the Holy See requested the French bishops responsible for the worker priests to prohibit them from engaging in fulltime paid employed.

Now, Cardinal Pizzardo had again written to his French colleagues asking for the prohibition of even part-time work outside the Church.

To the extent that this decision was a portent, the early signs for the Council were not promising.

PHOTO

Giuseppe Pizzardo (Press Photo)

Study commissions foreshadowed

The second meeting of the Antepreparatory Commission took place on 30 June 30, 1959, in the presence of Pope John XXIII.

Cardinal Tardini began by thanking the pope “for having chosen to entrust the important task of carrying out the acts preparatory to the Council to representatives of the sacred congregations of the Roman Curia, who, in virtue of their offices, are in a position to know in a special way the present needs, to give an adequate evaluation of the obstacles to be overcome, and to formulate appropriate suggestions.”

He reported that since the first meeting instead of sending out a questionnaire to the world’s bishops, it had been decided to send a Circular Letter that simply provided very general indications on how the bishops should reply on their concerns and wishes for the Council. Pope John had already approved this letter which was in the process of being mailed out, Tardini reported.

He added that he had asked the heads of the curial dicasteries to establish “study-commissions, with the participation of consultors, officials, and scholars of various languages and nations, to formulate concrete proposals to present to the Fathers of the future ecumenical council.”

Offices for the Secretariate had been found, he concluded, and “some willing priests” had been found to staff it. Pope John concluded the meeting with a short address to encourage the Commission in its work.

SOURCE

Joseph Komonchak, The antepreparatory period (JA Komonchak)

Identifying the major problems facing the Church

With the approval of Pope John XXIII, Cardinal Tardini sent a letter dated 18 June 1959 to all Cardinals, archbishops, bishops (both residential and titular), and superiors general of clerical religious orders, asking them to submit their views on the Council by 1 September 1959.

The letter read:

“I am pleased to communicate to Your Excellency that the Supreme Pontiff, John XXIII, happily reigning, on May 17, 1959, the Feast of Pentecost, established an Antepreparatory Commission, which I have the honor of chairing, for the forthcoming Ecumenical Council.
The august Pontiff first wishes to know the opinions and views and to gather the advice and recommendations of the bishops and prelates who by right are called to take part in an Ecumenical Council (c. 223). His Holiness attaches the greatest importance to the views, advice and recommendations of the future Fathers of the Council, which will be most useful in preparing topics for the Council.

“Therefore, I strongly ask Your Excellency, in complete freedom and honesty, to send to this Pontifical Commission whatever views, advice and recommendations your pastoral care and zeal for souls may suggest to Your Excellency with regard to the material and topics which might be discussed at the next Council. Such topics may concern points of doctrine, the discipline of the clergy and the Christian people, the various activities which engage the Church today, the major problems which it must confront today, and whatever else Your Excellency may consider it opportune to present and develop.

“In this effort, Your Excellency may make discreet use of the advice of prudent and expert churchmen.

“This Pontifical Commission, for its part, will welcome with deep consideration and submission whatever You consider useful for the good of the Church and of souls.

“The responses, to be written in Latin, should be sent to the Pontifical Commission as soon as possible and not later than September 1st of this year.”

It was thus already becoming clearer that the concerns of the Council would go well beyond the need to clarify points of doctrine. And an open-ended process thus emerged as the best way forward.

SOURCE

Joseph Komonchak, The antepreparatory period (JA Komonchak)

Goldie replies to Cardijn

Rosemary Goldie - Cardijn 18 06 1959

On 18 June 1859, Rosemary Goldie responded to Cardijn, expressing regret that Cardijn was unable to join the COPECIAL meeting in Montallegro.

“I think you will have heard from Marguerite (Fiévez) about it,” she wrote. “We were very pleased with it. Apart from the intrinsic interest of the discussions – I am thinking, in particular, of those which followed Monsignor (Gerard) Philips’ theological presentation and of the presentation itself – the suggestions received and the collaborations acquired will be very valuable for the development of our work…

Gerard Philips was of course the Belgian theologian, who had published extensively on the theology of the laity, albeit not completely in the Cardijn line.

“In the meantime, I hope you have received the section of the meeting report devoted to theological discussion. The other part is well under way and will be sent to you as soon as possible. It will contain a very comprehensive summary of all the discussions on the work of the Permanent Committee.

“You asked me whether, from the perspective of the Council, we should not consider, “a special study on the apostolate of the laity and contact with non-Christians,” Goldie continued, responding to the concerns expressed by Cardijn.

“I completely agree, but seems to me that this study could fall within the framework of the initiatives that will be undertaken, in collaboration with the ICO Conference, to follow up the Resolution adopted in Luxembourg concerning the creation of a Commission which will have to look to any directives from the ecclesiastical authorities. engaging the help of the laity in view of the Council. (In formulating this very general resolution, possible contacts with non-Catholics were indeed considered.)

“On 12 July, I will participate on behalf of our Committee, in a first small meeting in Paris to study the implementation. of this Resolution,” Goldie concluded.

SOURCE

French original

Rosemary Goldie – Cardijn 1959 06 18 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

English translation

Rosemary Goldie – Cardijn 1959 06 18 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)