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August 10, 1962     Arkansas Catholic
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August 10, 1962

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The Ecumenical Council- Church and Christendom The New State of World Needs; The Catholicity of the Church This is the fifth installment in a series which presents strik. ing passages from a brilliant and timely book of the above title, written by a renowned scholar and just published in English translation by P. J. Kenedy & Sons, New York. By Most Rev. Lorenz Jaeger Archbishop of Paderborn, Germany In his encyclical Princeps Pastorum, Pope John XXIII, looking confidently into the fu- ture, foreshadows the ways of adapting the missions to the changed situation. What he is concerned with is the unfolding of the full catholicity of the Church, which is open to all peoples and races, all cultures and civilizations,, all genuine ethical and religious values. This unfolding is governed by four principles: 1. The Church is not to be identified with any particular culture or civilization not even that of the West. 2. The Roman and Greek cul- ture of the Mediterranean peo- .ples was, indeed determined by Providence as the cradle of Christianity in its infancy. "In regard to many unessential mat- ters of ritual, oganization art and science, the present outlook of the Church would be very different if it had its origin in China, for example, instead of the Hellenistic world.' (S. Tromp, S.J., De Revelationc Christiana, Rome, 1950) 3. As the Church purified Hel- lenistic culture, retaining and vivifying all its goodness and excellence, so she will clear away all the errors inter- mingled with the real values of other religions and cultures, elevating and transfiguring them. All that is good, true and noble in the religions and cultures of the world comes from God, the source of all ex- cellencies manifested in Itis creatures. 4. Although t h e Church's Faith and essential structure are of divine origin and have been determined by Christ for all time, Christ's message, though one and unchanging, is deceived variously according to the character of peoples and their cultures, and takes on visible form in religious prac- tices and ritual. God's revela- tion is profound and compre- hensive, and peoples of differ- ent cultures feel a special af- finity to one or other aspect corresponding to their own in- dividuality. Possesses Truth's Fullness The Church's catholicity means that she possesses the fullness of truth, which is al- ways capable of being expressed in more perfect fashion up to the end of time. The Church is in continual growth, and, without sullying the purity of life, and gives them a fresh splendor. The Church proclaims the Gospel for every age, every peo- ple, every civilization, as she did in the heroic age of the first three centuries before Constantine. That does not im- ply a repetition of the early history of the Church. She is organic, and her existing state cannot be replaced by that of the pre-Constantine age, any more than a tree can be cut back to its roots and first be- ginnings. The Church has her own law of growth, and one of them concerns her adaptability to new conditions. She lives in a 'kind of symbiosis with the world. While preserving the Faith given her once and for all by God and tile basic struc- ture established by Christ, she must continue to adjust herself to her changing environment. So it is that her outward ap- pearence and her pastoral meth- ods were different in the early Christian age, the high Middle Ages, the post-Tridentine per- iod, and the nineteenth cen- tury. And the futm'e Council will see a notable advance in her adaptation to the present lime and to the world of the future. Simply Catholic The Church is neither na- tional nor international, but simply catholic and universal. No country can look on her as something alien; sire belongs to all nations and peoples, quite irrespective of race or color. Everywhere she has right of citizenship, wherever there are hmnan beings and communities; for all men are called to be sons of God, and the Church of God is the common mother of all. These are the principles gov- erning missionary work, which aims at establishing in every country a normal hierarchy of native bishops. The number and quality of the native clergy is the true criterion of mission- ary work jn any district. The problems of the Church's apostolate in the changed world must be given an important place. As we have seen, all the Councils gave prominence to questions of the relation of the Church to the world. In the Middle Ages, questions about "Clwistcndom," that compre- hensive and ordered structure, often took the first place in the program of Councils. In the Councils of Trent and the Vati. can the activity of the Church in the world had its place in the program, but considered in a new fashion suited to the changed circumstances; this was the case both with the chapters on dogma -- we have only to think of the Vatican de- cisions on the relations between faith and reason--and more par- ticularly with the decrees con- cerning reform. Relations to World Tle pastoral letter of the Italian bishops to the clergy, of March 25, 1960, puts in the forefront the question of the relation of the Church to the world. It bases this relation- strip on the Incarnation: the in- carnate Son of God has set all human problems in their true light, laid down the principles to be applied, and provided the means for their solution. In modern times there has arisen a form of humanism whicl aims at solving all prob- lems by purely natural and hu- man means, and deliberately ignores, or openly opposes, the Incarnation and all that follows from it. It fails to see that, if men deny and set aside super- natural revelation, they cannot even give an account of nature in its totality, and sink below the human level, which is that of a spiritual nature ordained to God. The Italian bishops ask whether there lies at the root of all modern false ideologies and wrongful practices in the religious and moral sphere a single basic error from which all the others arise. They reply that there does, that it consists in a "tendency, or more exactly a mentality, which rejects, sys- tematically and emplmtically, any ini!luence of religion in general and the Catholic hier- archy in particular on human life and institutions. We are confronted with a purely na- tural conception of life, in which the pronouncements of religion are either expressly re- jected or confined to the secret domain of conscience and tim mystic twilight of the Church, without any sort of right to in- terfere in or influence public life, whether in the philosophi- cal, legal, industrial, artistic, scientific, social or political spheres." Doctrinal Error The doctrinal error of natur- alism and false humanism makes its appearance in two dis- tinct forms: 1. Materialistic atheism at- tracks every kind of belief in God as an "ideology" from a past age, and to be superseded. The brute force or organized atheism is something repulsive to anyone with any kind of re- ligion. 2. Another form is modern "laicism," which acknowledges God and religion, but rejects tire supernatural order arising from the Incarnation, denying that it is a living and dynamic force in ilistory. "In building the civitas tcrrena (earthly city) it wholly ignores the prescrip- tions of the Christian revelation and disputes the Church's claim to a mission to act, on spiritual grounds, in the temporal order, by directing, informing and stimulating its activities." On this view, the Christian faith is an exclusively private concern, and, as regards public life, the only relevant factors are alan's natural endowments, disconnected utterly from relation to a supernatm'al der of truth and morality. believer is, therefore, free confess his faith in his life, but he may not trY shape the life of the ity to tire teachings of the pel. The Church is to possess independent and s ereign power to exercise specifically religious for a direclly supernatural (for example, in matters of ship, the administration of sacraments, aad preaching), lias no right whatever to in vene in public life, virtue of its complete and moral autonomy, can mit no dependence on, or prompting . by, "external gious doctrines." Contrary Teachings These opinions are contrary to Catholic "In practice timy deny ignore the lfistorical fact revelation, misconceive the ture and mission of the and tend to break up the of the Christian life, knows no cleavage private and public life. hand over the decision truth and falsehood, good evil, to the arbitrary choic the individual or the tivity, and open the door to kinds of individual and errors, of which recent provide so many frightful stances." All this raises and uates the problem of the don] of the Church. HoW the Church in tire modern exercise her mission in its tire scope? Militant athei based on a materialistic ology and embodied in a ganized socicly, aims at elil haling belief in God tolerates the Church's only for the time being in sanctuary and in private There is, too, a vague kinC deism, which separates wholly from lhe world, and mits a naluralistic the sole slandard in the of the world; consequentlY, also opposes the ChurcWS what belongs to See SERIES on Page 9 Pontiff Provides Best Forecast of Ecumenical Council By Msgr. James I. Tucek (N.C.W.C. News Service) Vatican Cy--The best fore- cast of the Second Vatican Ecu- menical Council can be found in the words of His Holiness Pope John XXIII. This is true because it was he who first conceived the idea for the council, he alone who had the power to convoke it, and he alone who by his approval can give it an ecumenical character. Almost four years have pass- ed since Pope John first an- nounced his intention to con- voke an ecumenical council. Not a week has gone by since that time in which he has not written or spoken on the sub- ject. An accurate picture of what the council will be--not in its details but in its pervading spirit, motivation and hopes can therefore be drawn from the monumental record of the Supreme Pontiff's spoken and written word. After revealing his intention to the cardinals assembled at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls en January 25, 1959, the Pope then went out to tell the community of Benedictine monks who staff the basilica about the council He told them: "The Lord must help Us be- cause We are trying to do Our best for the good of the Chris- tian people . . . the new Pope Q 8--THE GUARDIAN AUGUST I 0, 1962 hopes to bring to the attention of the whole world the ancient truths reflected in new forms." Repeatedly Expressed This same confidence was ex- pressed repeatedly in the years that followed, especially when the Pope made his numerous ap- peals for prayers and penance for the success of the council. "It is Our intention to con- vene an ecumenical council to deal with questions of greatest interest to the welfare of the universal Church," he said April 27, 1959. The council's "chief business will concern the increase of the Catholic Faith and the renewal along right lines of tile habits of Christian people in the adapting the ecclesiastical dis- cipline to the needs and condi- tions of the present times." (July 25, 1959). "The Church will bring itself into step with modern times. (July 29, 1960). "The council intends to be the starting point of a general re- newal; a new vigorous dii'fusion of the holy Gospel in the whole world, with the Church spread- ing it, making it known and explaining its teachings." (July 27, 1960). "The work ol' the new ecu- menical council is really direct- ed entirely toward giving back to the face of the Church of Jesus the Sl)lcndor and lhe pure and simple lines of its birth, and to pre:::nt it as the Divine Founder made it, without stain or defect.' (November 13, 1960). Christian Unity The union of Christians has been in the Pope's mind from the very beginning. The idea has constantly recurred in his words as a preface to the coun- cil, as an object of the coun- cil's deliberations and as one of the council's desired results. Four days after he announced his intention to call a council, the Pope went to the Monastery of SS. John and Paul in Rome where the pastors of the city were making their pre-lenten retreat. He told them that Christian unity was one of the foremost purposes in his de- cision to summon a council. He cautioned that, in working for Christian union, too much at- tention should not be paid to historic disputes of,the past or to where the blame for the rup- tures should be placed. On February 5, 1959, he told a group of Armenian Rite Cath- olics that there is reason to hope that Christian unity "can be achieved, and be achieved with perfection." In a letter to the priests of Venice, April 24, 1959, he en- visioned tile accomplishment of unity as a gradual process: "First, a step closer, then a step still closer, and finally the per- feet reunion of so many sep- arated brothers with the ancient common Mother." Tllen in his first encyclical, Ad i'ctri Cathedram, July 2, 1959, he expressed the hope l hat the council would be "a mani- flstation which We hope may be received b'Y those who be- tmld it, but who are separated from this Apostolic See, as a gentle invitation to seek and find that unity for which Jesus Christ prayed so ardently to His heavenly Father." Vivid Picture During an audience granted at Castelgandolfo on August 11, 1959, Pope John gave an especially vivid picture of what he envisioned the council would be. At the end of his descrip- tion he said: "To all other people separat- ed from us--Orthodox, Protes- tants and others--we shall say.. 'Behold, brothers, this is the Church of Christ. We have striven to be faithful to her, to pray to the Lord for the grace that she may always remain as fie wanted her to be. Come! This is the road open to meet- ing, to a return. Come and take, or resume again, your place, which for many of you is the place of your ancient fathers.' " Many times the Pope referred to the matters which the coun- cil would take under considera- tion. But generally he spoke in broad terms, giving indica- tions on what he considered the approach to the agenda should be. At first he was vague in his comments, as on February 5, 1959, during a general audience when he said that the council would deal with "the purity of good doctrine." lie was more specific in his motu proprio, Rubricarum In- structure, of July 25, 1960, when he declared his intention lo leave liturgical reforms to the Council Fathers. He said in part: "We have thought more once of what should be regards to this (liturgical reform) of Our decessor. And, having exanlJ the matter well, We have c to the decision that it woul best to put before the of the future council the cipal fundamentals liturgical reform and that should not do more than form the rubrics of the and the Roman missal." Made Suggestions During visits to the commissions he would certain matters that he sidered important for their sideration. For example, urged the Pr( sion on Studies and to give special attention to gious .vocations, and the aratory Commission for gious to study the need tcr coordination of among religious orders. Pope John's discourse in Peter's basilica on Sunday,, June 10, 1962, especially rich in detail o content of the council's ' He said in part: "In a spontaneous ma$ and wtih vast applicationS, Second Vatican Council S to succeed in expressing which Christ still that which Re represents more than ever before will not be a complete of Catholic teachings, See COUNCIL on Page 9