"In verbo veritatis" (2 Cor 6:7)

September 25, 2012

As the Council neared

Filed under: Vatican II — komonchak @ 4:48 pm

During the period of preparations for the Council (November 1960 – Summer 1962), ten commissions drafted texts for the bishops to consider. When finished, they were brought before the Central Commission [CPC], a body that was supposed to have certain supervisory functions and in particular to review the prepared texts, propose amendments to them, and decide whether to recommend to Pope John XXIII that they be placed on the conciliar agenda. That they came to the CPC simply as they were completed, in no particular order, reinforced the impression that no unifying purpose had guided the preparation of the Council. Because most of them were practical and flew very close to the ground, the criticism began to be heard that if these texts were representative of what the Council would do and say, it would greatly disappoint expectations. As for the doctrinal texts prepared by the Theological Commission, they provoked rather lively discussions in the CPC that anticipated the debates of the first session of the Council in 1962. All in all, many people began to ask Hans Küng’s question: “Can the Council Fail?” (His article with that title was translated and published in, 12 (1962) 269-76; if you make use of Questia, it can be found here.)

Below are pages taken from my chapter in volume I of the History of Vatican II, on the last stages in determining the conciliar agenda and on spreading apprehension about what it might accomplish or fail to accomplish. Cardinal Suenen’s plan for the Council, drawn up at the direction of Pope John can be found here, and here is the radio address that Pope John gave exactly a month before the Council was to open, a text in which the influence of Suenens’s proposal seems evident.


1 Comment »

  1. In preparation before Vatican II the following also happened:
    In the spring of 1962, in Metz, France, Cardinal Eugene Tisserant had a meeting with Metropolitan Nikodim of the Russian Orthodox church – a KGB operative, as were the other Orthodox prelates. At this meeting Tisserant and Nikodim negotiated what came to be known as the Metz Pact, or more popularly, the Vatican-Moscow Agreement. The existence of the Vatican-Moscow Agreement is an irrefutable historical fact attested to in all of its details by Monsignor Roche, who was Cardinal Tisserant’s personal secretary.
    On October 12, 1962, two representative priests of the Orthodox church debarked from a plane at Fiumicino Airport to attend the Council. The Council began with Orthodox obervers watching over its proceedings in order to verify compliance with the Vatican-Moscow Agreement. The written intervention of 450 Council Fathers against Communism was mysteriously “lost” after being delivered to the Secretariat of the Council, and Council Fathers who stood up to denounce Communisim were politely told to sit down and be quiet.
    A complete account of this debacle is found in the Rhine Flows into the Tiber, Father Ralph Witgen, (New York: Hawthrone, 1967: TAN, 1985) pp. 272-278.

    Comment by Maria Moore — February 20, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

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