SECRETS OF THE COUNCIL
AHUGE metal filing cabinet in a building a stone's throw away from St. Peter's, Rome, hides secrets that the world may not know for another two years: the 2,500 replies from bishops all over the world to Cardinal Tardini's request for their proposals for subjects to be discussed at the forthcoming Ecumenical Council.
The building is the headquarters of the Central Preparatory Commission for the Council in the Via Serristori, off the Via della Conciliazione, the broad avenue that leads from the Tiber to the Vatican.
More secrets are hidden nearby in the Via della Conciliazione itself, in the Palazzo del Convertendi that now houses the Secretariat for Christian Unity presided over by Cardinal Bea, S.J.
These are the suggestions for the Council's agenda sent in by Protestant circles in England and Germany—an indication of the response that has been awoken among non-Catholic Christians both by the summoning of the Council and the setting up of the Secretariat.
Another indication is to be found in the same building, in the part occupied by the Sacred Congregation fot the Oriental Church. Through this Congregation various proposals for the Council's agenda have been submitted to the Holy See by h:gh dignitaries of the Orthodox Church,
While the actual proposals must remain secret. it is possible to make reasonably accurate guesses at what the Council will discuss when it meets. Thus the Italian Jesuit weekly Civiltri Cattolica has listed 13 subjects that might well be discussed:
(1) Dogmatic utterance concerning the Church's teaching not merely with a view to defining doctrine more closely but also with a view to drawing all Christians together; (2) The tasks of the bishops within their dioceses and within the Church [which might possibly meet the Orthodox wish for greater emphasis on the status and dignity of the bishops as successors of the Apostles]; (3) The relations between the episcopate and religious institutions [major religious orders and congregations enjoy a fair extent of autonomy]:
(4) Tne training of the clergy in a manner adapted to modern needs;
(5) A study of the shortage of vocations [particularly severe in Latin America]; (6) The rights and duties of laymen within the Church; (7) The social doctrine of the Charch and its application.
(8) The reform of ' the liturgy; (9) The relations between Church and State; (10) New methods of the missionary apostolate; (11) Modern techniques of mass communication — press, radio, television; (12) Tne solemn condemnation of contemporary errors such as Communism, laicism, naturalism; (13) The reform of the Index of prohibited books.
One subject that many nonCatholics would undoubtedly like to see on the agenda is the whole question of tolerance: whether Catholics should tolerate the existence of non-Catholics merely as a lesser evil or whether tolerance should be regarded as a positive virtue. as some theologians have urged. This would help to remove some of their worst fears about the base designs of Rome.
The Central Preparatory Commission and the various prepara tory sub-commissions are now beginning their real work, following last week's audience in St. Peter's, Pope John has now created an I lth commission, to deal with matters of ceremonial, under the presidency of Cardinal Tisscrant. The Pope has also named 14 new members and tonsultors of the various commissions, including two bishops, four monsignori, and eight regular clergy.
THREE STEPS TO UNITY: See page 5.