Page 3, 30th August 1963

30th August 1963
Page 3
Page 3, 30th August 1963 — Losing the battle 1 PRODDING THE VATICAN'

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Locations: Milan, Rome, Vatican City


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Losing the battle 1 PRODDING THE VATICAN'


Ilv I{ 11MUNI) H 11 11\1:11

is only a few weeks -Isince the appearance of Robert Kaiser's Inside the Council. "Outside the Council or "Inside of Rome" might have been more apt. but it would have diminished a natural sales appeal which one could hardly expect either publishers or author to abandon.

Why, for that matter. should a Catholic book he less professional than any other. The fact also that it appeared under the imprint of a Catholic publish i ng house. is a welcome breath of fresh air. in keeping with Pope John's throwing open of the windows of the Church at -the Council.

The journalistic approach of Mr. Kaiser was the right pre lode to this latest hook on the Council. This is. however. a more serious assessment than predecessor. and only suffers the loss of title to which it could lay claim with more justice than

its forerunner.

We are not told in detail how the author assembled his information. He dues not trouble himself (or themselves) with inverted commas but the approach has such an authoritative stamp and so many day-to-day details. that we forget that the Council was to have been in secret. Perhaps both these hooks will linally decide the authorities to lift a little the veil of secrecy and accompanying gossip to which the last !session of Ili:' Connuil was prone. Certainly. it ought la have the effect Of a reorganisation of the press arrangements.


One doubts whether it would be wise to throw open all Congregations. Discretion, the Church knows only too well. is the better part of valour. If the deliberations of the Fathers of the Council were laid bare to the eyes and ears of the world. they might lose much of the candour and freedom enjoyed in the First Session. and would consequently harm the cause of those who expect so much from this historic gathering and who arc the very people urging such changes. In fact. if the Latin discussions were to he reported "verse by verse". the task would be a formidable one and open to every kind of misinterpretation and no longer cloaked by the mantle of secondhand gossip. Furthermore. those who would abandon Laths its the language of discussion cannot have given

very serious thought to the

problem. The United Nations. probably on a smaller scale. and dealing with concrete facts. figures. economies. political matters. etc., on a permanent basis has a formidable task, but one which cannot be compared to the deliberations of abstract theology. Translators would have to he scholars of as great an eminence as those whom they

tried to interpret.

So. one will just have to put up with Americanised Latin. which may not he readily intelligible to some of the Fathers! But a radical reorganisation of the communications system of the Holy Sec is long overdue, and if hooks such as these help towards this end. they are welcome for that alone. The author (or authors). Xavier Rynne. declares in his preface that he is not "a disgruntled Catholic clergyman". nor "a Roman student, who after failing his final exams. criticised the Roman educational system". nor "Wilfrid Sheer. nor "a mild Redemplorist professor of Church history", though talk has it that the word "mild" might be misleading! Xavier Rynne gives a very frank account of the debates and discussions in the Council. The style has the stamp of an American journalist. hut it also carries the authority of someone completely familiar with the thoughts and movements of church affairs and theological problems. It is this which gives it the mark of authenticity which it certainly carries.


There is no doubt that there

were clashes between the pastoral and curial bishops and the

progressive and conservative schools of thought. Reports of these have been too frequent not to he common knowledge. At times these were also conflicts of personalities. hut though these exchanges, as reported fully in the hook. appeared sometimes to be more than just frank. in fact almost personal. the impression given by the book is not one of sensationalism. Rather is the ultimate effect one of vitality surging through the church and realising the aims of Pope John of re-vitalising the church in the world today. For whether the arguments are for change or not. to the right or left, towards unity or against it. all the Fathers of the Council are shown to he sincerely and positively thinking and acting: not merely allowing the world in this modern age lo pass us hy. You finish the hook with a feeling of gratitude that you arc alive at a time when the ('hatch. perhaps at one of the most important historical cross roads, is alive and surging to meet the situations of the world today; not just existihg. All that has and will happen at the council shows the Church to be alive and truly the Church



Letters from Vatican City appeared in part in "The New Yorker" and caused extensive comment. ...this hook. like Hans Kfing's The Living Church, perhaps even more so, will make Catholics, who never thought of reading a religious book, read this one for a start. However. in his (and despite the author's allusions to the plural. I prefer to keep to the

a a

singular) treatment of the reports of the vrious Congregations and Schemas. he has so patently given a more generous contribution of space to the progressive school of thought. and less than scant attention to the arguments of Cardinal Ottoviani and the conservative curial cardinals. that he is almost in danger of creating sympathy for the latter.

Just as in a poison pen case. letters (whether from or to the Vatican). will ensure that the recipient, he he Cardinal Ottaviani or anyone else. will become the object of our sympathy.

However. the author has written his hook so skilfully that he gets away with it, despite a somewhat biassed approach. Obviously, the agrgornamento school of thought played a very significant part in Ilse proceed. ings and it is of course the more exciting and hopeful approach we have today.

Furthermore. once the idea

has been planted hi our minds. one cannot help but agree that mans 01 Pops, John's utterances sieniliseintly underlined the great need lor progress or rather. for the printing, up to date of the Clint ch. "I Mts. iii Ptipe John's address at the opening 01 the Council. he said: "In the daily evcreise of our pastoral of fill', (Sr vomerimes holy JO listen. much to our regret. in voices Of persons, who, though burning with zeal. are not endowed with too lunch sense of discretion or measure. In these modern times they ran ACC nothing hut prevarication and ruin.


"They tar that our era. com

parison with pits: erttr. is gettiog worse and they behave as though they had learned nothing from hitIOU. Witte') jr. none the less. the ;cache,' of We. They behave as though at the slate of former Councilsetertthing 11(15 a fail beittiatql (or the Christian idea read life and for proper religions liberty.

L'lni'1110t(Piti;:tag3r( ' hair alwat if/Vet-I./tiring tlimmrt, ii /1/0/1;:// r»,1 of the world were enough. we are reminded by his Opening Address that Pope John announced the imucil to the Sacred Collet'( (. ordinals on January 25th. 1959, the Feast of the Conversion of St. Patti. Pope John was still alive when this book was written and so the report about Pope Paul the Sixth. then Cardinal Montini. is most significant for the future of the Church and the Council. for if it is accurate (and there is no reason to doubt it). it indicates the future quite clearly. Cardinal Montini's contribution wet, all the more significant as he had been reticent in entering the discussions and did. in fact. speak twice, The second time on Decembei 5th when the general discussion of Schema on the Church continued: he hook reports as Follows:


"The intervention of Cardinal Suenens proved to he crucial. At the. 34th Congregation on Dec. 5. with Cardinal president. Cardinal Ruffini spoke in a conciliatory tone. reminding the fathers that. after .111. their disagreements were presenting the Church's doctrine. and not with the fundamentals Of the faith itself. Whatever the purpose of this statement. Cardinal Montini nest took the microphone and, to all intents and purposes. confirmed the suspicion that Cardinal Suenens had been speaking for the Pope. Montini approved whole heartedly of the Belgian Cardinal's approach. The Church. he said. was nothing by itself. it was not so much a society founded by Christ. but rather Christ himself using us as his instruments to bring salvation to all mankind. "The Cardinal of Milan went on to say that it was up to the fathers in Council, now, to restate the 'mind and will of Christ.' by defining the collegialits of the episcopate. by giving a truly ecumenical outlook to the Church, and by insisting that each bishop was the image of the father and the image of Chrise." The less we insisted on the rights of the Church. he said. the more chance we had of being heard. particularly in those parts of the world that were suspicious of the Church as a paternalistic or colonialminded institution. Therefore it was necessary to send this schema hack to the Theological Commission and to the Secretariat for Unity so that it might he completely revised.


"This was the first time that the Cardinal of Milan had spoken since the opening days of the Council. What made his intervention all the more significant was the fact that. over the weekend. in a letter to his diocese which he faithfully published every week. he was openly critical not only of those members of the Council who refused to follow the newer viewpoint, but he actually laid the blame for the Council's failure to make greater progress on those members of the Curia who had prevented cooperation between the various Commissions during the preparatory phase of the Council. They were obviously failing to follow the Pope's lead. he said. its stated in his opening address. A discreet and prudent mansuch as the Cardinal of Milan would never have so revealed his true mind in this way, had he not been certain that he was expressing the thoughts of the Hole Father." This hook is a great tribute to the late Pope John. whose love. not just respect. for humanity as a whole. inspired the Council. and linked with him as confessor and trusted adviser. Cardinal Bea.

concerned with the manner of

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