SENATE'S LINK WITH DIOCESES
From Alan McElwain
ROME ALTHOUGH Ecumenical Council Commissions are trying "desperately" to meet Pope Paul's desire that the Council's work should end with its third session late this year, many experts strongly doubt if this is humanly possible. It is now thought in some quarters that while the Council in its present form may be wound up, it will still be necessary for specialised "working groups" to carry on to complete the long-term projects affecting every phase of the Church's life — and, in particular, the ultimate aim of Christian unity.
These groups would he very similar to the present specialised commissions and they would meet and report in Rome from time to time.
One practical reason why the Pope is insisting on a third session "deadline" is that he wants to inject the utmost urgency into a, by then, two-year-old assembly that could otherwise drag on. Keeping the bishops away from their dioceses indefinitely.
Secondly, Pope Paul is well aware that the majority of the Bishops, although dreading undue haste that would impair both present and long-range impacts of the Council, were already irked by unnecessary delays in the last session and are themselves anxious that its work—in Rome— should not be too prolonged.
Many Bishops are put to considerable hardship and expunge in travelling long distances to and from Rome. They, like others with the pressing demands of major dioceses upon them, want to see the Council complete as soon as possible at least an overall "working plan".
This would enable the Bishops to get down to solid ecumenical endeavour in their own dioceses. They could then deal with Rome through their own national con.ferenees and meet again in full council should the Pope decide this was necessary in the future.
When Pope Paul's international "senate" of Bishops to help him run the Church is under way, this diocesan-Rome technique will become much easier than it would be now.
Meantime, the Pope has issued orders to the commissions, which are already drastically revising projects for the next Council session.
He has told them to go to the length, if essential, not only of cutting out some sections completely, but of taking only the salient points of what remains and reducing them to brief "propositions", which the Council Fathers can readily assimilate and 'speedily vote upon.
The vital schema for Christian unity will not be summarily ernes
Continued from page 1, col. 2 culated, of course, but it will be in a form, 1 am assured, that will enable even the most cautious Council Fathers to vote upon it after limited debate.
It has been meticulously revised and re-revised. So assiduous have Cardinal Augustin Bea's team of experts been in their determination to have the great project in shape that for some weeks' they have been meeting-and livingin a convent in an outer Rome suburb, thus isolating themselves from fhe inevitable distractions of their own busy headquarters near the Vatican.
Also, when the Christian Unity Commission, which includes Archbishop Heenan of Westminster and Bishop Holland of Portsmouth, meets from Rbruary 24 to March 2 to go over the unity project in its new form, It too will "flee the city" and work in a place in the Alban Hills, some miles from Rome.