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

September 28, 2012

The Council that might have been… [Updated 9/14/2015]

Filed under: Vatican II — komonchak @ 9:53 am

On July 23, 1962, the Secretary General of the Second Vatican Council sent out to all those with a right to participate in the Council a book that contained the first draft-texts that were to be debated when the Council opened on October 11th of the same year. The following texts were included:

On the sources of revelation

On defending intact the deposit of faith

De deposito fidei – Latin text

On the Christian moral order

De ordine morali christiano – Latin text

On chastity, marriage, the family, and virginity

De castitate et al – Latin text

On the sacred liturgy

On the communications media

On the Church’s unity.

(A second book, containing the drafts on the Church and on the Blessed Virgin Mary, would be distributed only after the Council had opened.}

I offer here my translations of the first four of these texts, prepared by the Theological Commission, which expected that they would be the first ones debated. Instead, the Council first debated the fifth text, on the liturgy.

At the request of several people I have scanned and uploaded the original Latin text of three of these texts. I’ll try to get to the others later.

And I now add the Latin text of the draft on the Blessed Virgin May as well as my translation of it. The draft was only six pages long as printed, but it was accompanied by twenty-two pages of endnotes!

Draft on the Blessed Virgin 1962

Schema de BVM

One very useful way of studying the conciliar process and its products is to compare these officially prepared texts with the final texts issued by the Council, to note similarities as well as differences in orientation, style, and content, and then to account for the differences.

As far as I know, no other English translations of these texts are available.

I am now readying these translations for publication next year by Orbis Press.



  1. This is wonderful, a total gift. Thank you, Father!

    Comment by TJM — September 29, 2012 @ 9:49 am

  2. Dear Fr. Komonchak,

    Thank you very much for making these translations; I will read them with interest and have passed this post along to others as well.

    Comment by gallitzin — October 4, 2012 @ 3:54 pm

  3. Hello Father, when might we see a translation of the rest of the texts? Thank you!

    Comment by Laurence Gonzaga — November 22, 2012 @ 10:52 am

    • I’m not sure which texts you’re referring to. I was mainly interested in comparing the doctrinal texts prepared for the Council to the eventual final texts–it’s a very good method for determining elements of continuity and discontinuity–and that’s why I translated all the texts dealing with doctrine. I don’t have any plans for translating any others. Buy I do have the original text on the Church, and I suppose I could add it here.

      Comment by komonchak — November 22, 2012 @ 11:13 am

      • I hope you will do that someday! Thank you.

        Comment by Iacobus — May 19, 2013 @ 1:44 pm

      • Father, do you have the original Latin of all these texts? Thank you

        Comment by Laurence Gonzaga — August 5, 2015 @ 1:46 am

        • Laurence: I have uploaded the original Latin for three of the preparatory texts. The others will follow when I have time to scan them.

          Comment by komonchak — August 7, 2015 @ 10:14 am

  4. Your On the sources of revelation here is the one the council fathers rejected by a simple majority (1,368) on Nov. 20, 1962; which Ratzinger harshly criticized (Ratzinger Reader pp. 258 ff.); and which John XXIII thereafter called upon a mixed commission (incl. Card. Frings et al.) to redraft, right? It it is also what will become Dei Verbum, right?

    Also, what was the voting record on the other texts you mention? And what Vatican II documents did they morph into?


    Comment by Alan Aversa (@SententiaeDeo) — June 15, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

    • Mr. Aversa: The text was on the sources of revelation (De fontibus revelationis), and 61% of the bishops voted not to use it as the basis for further discussion; Pope John XXIII then ordered that it be submitted to a mixed commission composed of members from the Doctrinal Commission and from the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. None of the other doctrinal texts prepared for the Council were submitted for a formal vote. After the vote on the De fontibus draft, it was recognized that they would all have to be revised in the light of the Pope’s opening address and its ratification by the votes of the bishops on liturgy and on the sources of revelation. Even the text on the Church, which was briefly discussed at the end of the first session, did not come up for a vote.

      Comment by komonchak — June 15, 2013 @ 8:04 pm

  5. Dear Father! I’m very intereted in the original schemata, especially the one on the Curch and the State. could you pls. add (or send me via emial) the original (latin) text on the Church?

    Comment by Stefan — July 23, 2013 @ 3:19 pm

    • Stefan: I have just uploaded the eleven chapters of the draft on the Church. The ninth of them discusses Church and State.

      I do not have a file with the draft in Latin.

      Comment by komonchak — July 27, 2013 @ 4:25 pm

  6. Hello. Could you kindly add, even if not in English, the original schemata on the sacred liturgy? Thank-you.

    Comment by Matt — October 17, 2013 @ 6:54 am

    • Matt: I translated the other texts for my students in a course on Vatican II because I wanted them to be able by comparison with those texts to see how much continuity and discontinuity there was in content and in style in the final texts of the Council. I didn’t translate the prepared draft of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, because of all the prepared texts it was the one least revised in the course of the redaction of Sacrosanctum Concilium. I do not have a copy of the prepared Latin text that I could upload here.

      Comment by komonchak — October 17, 2013 @ 10:14 am

  7. Regarding “On chastity, marriage, the family, and virginity”: Was any of this incorporated in the final Vatican II contents? If so, in which documents treat of this subject matter?

    Comment by sententiaedeo — August 2, 2015 @ 9:32 pm

    • A discussion of chastity, virginity, and celibacy can be found in chapter 6 of “Lumen gentium” and in the Decrees on the renewal of religious life, on the ministry and life of presbyters, and on the formation of presbyters. Paragraphs 47 to 52 of “Gaudium et spes” discuss marriage and the family.

      I’m glad that you asked because one of the most fruitful ways of understanding the Council is by comparing what it was proposed it should say in such prepared texts as this one on chastity, etc. with what the Council actually did say (or didn’t say) in its final documents. It also provides a way of concretely discerning elements of continuity and discontinuity.

      Comment by komonchak — August 4, 2015 @ 3:30 pm

  8. Thank you for translating the schema on Our B.V.M.!

    Will the publication by Orbis Press next year include commentary on the schemas?

    Comment by sententiaedeo — October 18, 2015 @ 1:03 am

    • I intend to introduce the draft texts by giving the history of their composition, which will include the background in the theological and ecclesial situation at that time, particularly, since the authors of these texts were told this was their first obligation, the errors they were designed to oppose and condemn. This will help explain why the texts were written as they were, but there won’t be a commentary as such. For example, with regard to the text on the B.V.M., I’ll discuss the growth of Mariology in the 20th century and the issues that were warmly debated on the eve of the Council: e.g., whether to define Mary as Mediatrix of all grace or as Co-Redemptrix; the meaning of her virginitas in partu; her knowledge of her Son’s divinity at the moment of the Annunciation; the first principle of Marian theology; the two opposing trends in Marian theology; etc.

      I also plan on having an appendix in which I will set out to which paragraphs in the final texts of Vatican II the paragraphs of these first official drafts correspond. This will facilitate what is the main reason for publishing these translations: so that by comparing what it was intended the Council would say to what the Council in fact did say, readers will be able to do their own analysis of continuity and discontinuity in the teachings of Vatican II.

      Comment by komonchak — October 18, 2015 @ 10:45 am

      • Very nice. I look forward to this. I’m surprised no one has done this sooner, as it is very crucial for understanding the “hermeneutic of continuity,” as Pope Benedict XVI calls it.

        Comment by sententiaedeo — October 18, 2015 @ 12:01 pm

  9. I’ve concatenated all the PDFs into one here, if anyone’s interested.

    Comment by sententiaedeo — October 18, 2015 @ 12:26 pm

  10. […] Draft of a Dogmatic Constitution on Chastity, Marriage, the Family, and Virginity, by the Preparatory Theological Commission for the Second Vatican Council, translated by Fr. Joseph A. Komonchak (2012). Available in pdf format (on this page) at In Verbo Veritatis. […]

    Pingback by Online text: “On Chastity, Marriage, the Family, and Virginity” (Draft), by the Preparatory Theological Commission for Vatican II | Catholic eBooks Project — December 30, 2018 @ 7:00 am

  11. Father, were the schemata ever published by Orbis Press? Would it be possible for you to make available the remaining schemata – especially the schema on the liturgy – in Latin, if not in English? Thank you.

    Comment by Lawrence Miller — September 13, 2020 @ 3:40 pm

    • I have returned to preparing my translations of the schemata for publication. I do not intend to translate the schema on the liturgy because of all the preparatory texts this is the one that underwent the fewest changes as a result of the conciliar deliberations.

      Comment by komonchak — October 12, 2020 @ 10:16 am

      • Father, do you plan to translate all of the preparatory schemata (72 schemas, I think), excepting the Liturgy document?

        Comment by Adam Michael — February 13, 2022 @ 3:18 pm

        • No, I don’t plan on translating any more of the prepared drafts. I chose to concentrate on the doctrinal texts because they were intended by the preparatory Theological Commission to be the principal work of the Council.

          Comment by komonchak — February 13, 2022 @ 3:37 pm

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