Page 8, 3rd March 1950

3rd March 1950
Page 8
Page 8, 3rd March 1950 — PAPAL DECREE ON
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PAPAL DECREE ON

REUNION

Holy Office instruction to the Bishops on methods

(Continued from page 1)

Canon Law " on previous censorship and prohibition of books" (canons 1384 et seq.).

The same applies also to publications of non-Catholics on this subject if they are intended for publication, reading or sale by Catholics.

Moreover the Bishops will see that facilities are provided for nonCatholics seeking knowledge of the Faith, and that there are centres where specially appointed persons may be visited and consulted by nonCatholics.

They will also make provision far those who have already been received into the Church to he further instructed in the Faith and the practice of their religion. This may be done by suitable conferences, study groups, retreats and other spiritual exercises.

Danger of indifferentism

2. As to the method to be followed in this work, the Bishops themselves will prescribe what is or is not to be done. and they will see to it that all obey.

They should be on their guard against those who under false pretexts stress the points on. which we agree rather than those on which we disagree.

Such an approach may give rise to a dangerous indifferentism, especially amongst those who are not so well versed in theology or the practice of their religion.

They must be on their guard too against the so-called spirit of " irenicism " which, looking in vain for a progressive assimilation of the various creeds, subjects the tenets of Catholicism, whether dogmas or truths connected with dogma, to a process of comparative study, whittling them dawn and bringing them into line with non-Catholic teaching.

In this way the purity of Catholic doctrine is jeopardised and its original and true meaning obscured.

Certain dangerous modes of expression also must be avoided, inasmuch as they give rise to false opinions and misleading hopes which can never be fulfilled: saying, for example, that what the Popes have written in their encyclical letters about the return of our separated brethren to the Church, about the Mystical Body or about the constitution of the Church, is not to be

taken too seriously, for after all not everything is de fide worse still, saying that in the realm of dogma not even the Catholic Church yet possesses the fulness of Christ, but can be perfected from other sources.

The Bishops will pay special attention to the manner in which the story of the Reformation is presented and will lake a firm stand against any exaggeration of shortcomings on the Catholic side coupled with a glossing over of the Reformers' errors.

They will guard against the undue focusing of attention on side issues so that the real point, a falling away from the Catholic faith, is obscured and barely perceived.

Finally they will take care lest, rather than good, harm may be done to the cause by the excessive and over-zealous activity of misguided enthusiasts.

Catholic teaching is therefore to be set forth and explained whole and entire and none of its truths must be passed over in silence or cloaked in ambiguity: for example. the truths concerning the nature and means of salvation, the constitution of the Church, the Roman Pontiff's primacy of jurisdiction and the certainty that true reunion can only come about by the return of dissidents to the one, true Church of Christ.

Non-Catholics may certainly be told that, should they return to the Church, such good as the grace of God has already wrought in their souls will not be lost but will be completed and brought to perfection.

But they must not be given the impression that by their return they are contributing to the Church something essential which formerly she lacked.

All this must be stated clearly and openly since they are seeking the truth and real union will never be found outside that truth.

Rules for mixed gatherings

3. Mixed gatherings and conferences of Catholics and nonCatholics such as have been initiated in the past few years for the purpose of fostering " reunion " call for exceptional vigilance and control on the part of Ordinaries.

Even though they provide a welcome opportunity for spreading knowledge of the Faith among nonCatholics, who for the most part arc more or less ignorant of Catholic teaching, there is a real danger that the Catholic participants may become tainted with indifferentism.

Where there is hope of good resulting the Ordinary will see that such meetings are properly con

ducted and will appoint priests best qualified for this work to put forward a suitable exposition and defence of Catholic doctrine.

The faithful, however, may not attend these meetings without first obtaining special permission from the ecclesiastical authorities and this will only be granted' to those who are known to be well instructed and firmly grounded in the Faith.

Where on the other hand there is no such hope of good result or where special dangers arise from the particular circumstances. the faithful must prudently be prevented from attending and the meetings themselves be either suspended as soon as possible or gradually brought to a close.

Experience shows that as a rule little good results from larger gatherings of this character and that they are in fact a source of danger only to be permitted after most careful investigation.

For discussions between Catholic and non-Catholic theologians only priests are to be sent and these must have proved their fitness for such tasks by their knowledge of theology and by their close adherence to the Church's principles and regulations in this matter.

Joint action on social questions

4. All such gatherings and conferences, whether public or private, large or small. are subject to the Church's prescriptions to which attention was drawn in the warning Cum compertuni, issued by this Sacred Congregation on June 5, 1948.

These gatherings, at which Catholics and non-Catholics undertake to meet as equals and discuss matters of faith and morals, each one putting forward the teaching proper to his creed, are not absolutely forbidden but they may only be held with the approval of the competent ecclesiastical authority.

This warning does not apply to cateehetical instructions, even when these are given to a number of persons together ; nor does it apply to conferences at which Catholic doctrine is explained to prospective converts.

This holds good even if on such occasions opportunity is afforded to the non-Catholics to expound the beliefs of their own denominations so that they may see clearly and accurately how these agree or disagree with Catholic teaching.

Nor does the warning of 1948 apply to those mixed gatherings where Catholics and non-Catholics meet, not to discuss matters of faith and morals, but to take counsel together concerning joint action in the defence of the fundamental principles of Christianity and the natural law ; nor does it apply to occasions when they meet to deal with the rebuilding of the social order and similar questions.

In the case of conferences and meetings which come within the terms of the warning explained above but which are purely local in character, local Ordinaries are hereby given the faculty for three years from the publication of this Instruction to grant the requisite permission of the Holy See on condition that: 1. There is absolutely no communicatio in sacris [joint participation in religious rites];

2. The discussions themselves are duly supervised and controlled ;

3. At the end of each year, a report is sent to this Supreme Congregation giving a list of the places where such meetings have been held and an account of what experiences have been gained.

With regard to theological discussions the same faculty is granted for a similar period to the Ordinary of

the place in which the discussions are to be held, or to the Bishop whom the other Ordinaries have, by common consent, appointed to assume the direction of such activities.

The conditions are as above, with this addition:

That each year this Sacred Congregation is to be informed of the questioned discussed, the names of those present and ffie speakers on both sides.

For interdiocesan, national or international conferences, special permission must be obtained each time before the event from the Holy See itself.

The petition must specify the questions to he discussed and give the names of the proposed speakers.

Moreover. before this permission has been obtained, no one may begin public preparations for such a conference or make any approach to non-Catholics engaged in similar work.

The 'Our Father' in common

5. Although every sort of cornmunicatio in sacris is to he avoided at all such conferences and meetings, it is not forbidden to open or close these gatherings with the common recitation of the Lord's Prayer or some other prayer approved by the Catholic Church.

6. It is the right and duty of each Ordinary to direct and take the lead in promoting this work in his diocese but the cooperation of several Bishops may be useful and even necessary in setting up offices and organisations to observe, examine and direct this work as a whole.

It will be for these Ordinaries to consult together and decide the most suitable means of obtaining uniformity and concerted action.

7. Religious superiors must he watchful and secure from their subjects strict and loyal obedience to the injunctions of the Holy See and all local Ordinaries.

This excellent work of " reunion " of all Christians in the one true Faith and in the Church should daily assume a more significant place within the Church's universal pastoral care, and every Catholic should pray ever more earnestly to God for this object.

It will prove a great help if the faithful are suitably instructed, for example, by pastoral letters, about these questions and the steps being taken, together with the Church's instructions on this matter and the reasons underlying them.

All, especially priests and religious, should he encouraged to take an ardent interest and do everything in their power, by prayer and sacrifice, to work for the success of this cause.

Finally, all should be reminded that nothing will contribute more towards preparing the way for our separated brethren to embrace the Faith and enter the Church than the living by Catholics of edifying lives in accord with their Faith.

Catholic M.P. challenged •

The right of a Catholic, Gordon Anderson, elected to the Australian Houseof Representatives, to hold office is being challenged by a defeated and notoriously anti-Catholic candidate on the grounds that as a Catholic he is under allegiance to a foreign power," the Vatican. and therefore cannot hold public office.

A suit has been filed by the defeated candidate. Henry William Crittenden of Sydney. with the Australian High Court. the country's highest judicial tribunal.




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