Posts Tagged ‘Catholic’
Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on July 29, 2015
Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on April 4, 2015
Easter Message by
Mar Joseph Powathil
Arch Bishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Changanacherry
Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on April 4, 2015
Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on April 3, 2015
Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on April 2, 2015
പുത്തൻ പാന, അർണോസ് പാതിരി
Puthan Pana by Arnos Pathiri
അമ്മകന്യാമണി തന്റെ നിർമ്മല ദുഖങ്ങളിപ്പോൾ…
Bhoomi Manusharkku Vanna
ഭൂമി മാനുഷർക്കു വന്ന ഈ മഹാദോഷം പൊറുക്കാൻ…
Puthen Pana Full
Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on January 16, 2013
CELEBRATION OF THE YEAR OF FAITH
AND RELIGIOUS RENEWAL PROGRAM IN M. C. B. S.
MCBS EUCHARISTIC APOSTOLATE
ALUVA -683 112
MCBS GENERALATE, ALUVA
Dear Rev. Fathers,
In the Acts of the Apostles we read that God has opened the door of faith for the early Church. But did you know that God has opened the door of faith for each one us and he invites us to step through the threshold into a deeper relationship with him. With his Apostolic Letter of October 11, 2011, “Porta Fidei, Pope Benedict XVI declared that a “Year of Faith” will begin on October 11, 2012 and conclude on November 24, 2013. October 11, 2012, the first day of the Year of Faith, was the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and also the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. During the Year of Faith, Catholics are asked to study and reflect on the documents of Vatican II and the Catechism so that they may deepen their knowledge of the faith. The upcoming Year of Faith is a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Saviour of the world” (Porta Fidei 6). In other words, the Year of Faith is an opportunity for Catholics to experience a conversion – to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with him. The “door of faith” is opened at one’s baptism, but during this year Catholics are called to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew their relationship with Christ and his Church.
In connection with the year of Faith MCBS Eucharistic Apostolate is privileged to organize a renewal program for our members. It is the fine opportunity to renew our religious commitment basing on the study, reflection, and discussions on the official teachings of the Catholic Church on Religious life, namely Catechism of the Catholic Church Nos. 871-945, Perfectae Caritatis, Redemtionis Donum, Vita Consecrata and other homilies of Popes. It was also one of the decisions of the 18th special General Synaxis (No.8) to organize renewal programs as part of our ongoing formation. So we humbly request you to co-operate, participate and take the best advantage of this renewal program. As we cannot conduct a new evangelisation without new evangelizers let us earnestly be prepared for the New Evangelization.
Yours Fraternally in the Eucharistic Lord
Frs. Jacob Naluparayil, George Theendapara & Jose Thundathil
Councillors for the Eucharistic Apostolate
MCBS GENERALATE. ALUVA
As all of you know the Holy Father Benedict XVI has declared the Year of Faith on 11th October 2012 which will be concluded on 24th November 2013. In preparation to this great event He has promulgated an apostolic letter under the title Porta Fidei explaining the aim of the Year of Faith and how we shall implement it in our life. The Bishops’ Synod to be held in October 2012 in Rome shall studied and discussed the New Evangelization. All these attempts aim at the renewal of the Church. All feel that there is an urgent need of an Aggiornamento – an updating of the Church with its contents. Since the Religious Life is the vital part of the Church, the renewal of the Church necessarily implies renewal of the Religious Life
The KCBC has also given norms for putting into practice in our context the guidelines given by Rome. There are nine action plans given by the KCBC to be adopted in the communities of consecrated people. We have to study them and bring them into action.
In His apostolic letter Porta Fidei Pope Benedict XVI writes: “One thing that will be of decisive importance in this Year is retracing the history of our Faith, marked as it is by the unfathomable mystery of the interweaving of holiness and sin. … By Faith, men and women have consecrated their lives to Christ, leaving all things behind so as to live obedience, poverty and chastity with Gospel simplicity, concrete signs of waiting for the Lord who comes without delay” (# 13) By this the Pope reminds us of the urgent need of renewal and revival of Religious life. Since faith is the source and constant stimulation of our religious consecration, strengthening of faith means the resurgence of our commitment.
Besides, our previous General Synaxis has earnestly recommended a renewal course in the whole Congregation which will help the members to revive the commitment they have made in religious profession. Imbibing inspiration from all these authentic sources the General Council has decided to conduct in this Year of Faith a renewal course for all the members of the Congregation. The members are divided into five groups according to their age. The department of Eucharistic Apostolate, headed by Rev.Fr.Jose Thundathil is entrusted to organize the course. He will inform you in time the details of the course.
My dear Fathers, I cordially invite each one of you to co-operate with the programme and participate actively in the course to which you are assigned. Consider it as a religious obligation. I am sure that this course will bring more life and vigor to our Congregation.
Fraternally Yours in the Eucharistic Lord,
Fr.George Kizhakkemury mcbs
EMMAUS PROVINCIAL HOUSE, KOTTAYAM
Dear Reverend Fathers/ Brothers,
It gives me real joy to join you in thanking and glorifying God for the great and benevolent love He has showered on the Missionary Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament (MCBS) since its very conception. As we are on the threshold of Year of Faith let us acknowledge the commitment, courage and dedication of our Founding Fathers Very Rev Fr Mathew Alakkalam and Very Rev Fr Joseph Paredom and our forfathers. Let us appreciate their resolute faith, unwavering determination and unmatched self-sacrifice for the causes of the Universal Church particularly of the Syro Malabar Church.
The Year of Faith summons us to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world (Porta Fidei 6). Its an opportunity to experience a conversion – a return to Jesus and enter into a deeper friendly relationship with him. The Holy Father has described this conversion as opening the “door of faith” (Acts 14:27). The “door of faith” is opened at one’s baptism, but during this year we are called to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew our relationship with Christ and His Church.
Year of Faith is closely associated with the New Evangelization recently launched by Pope Benedict XVI. It is a call to deepen our own faith, have confidence in the Gospel, and possess a willingness to share the Gospel. The New Evangelization is first and foremost a personal encounter with Jesus Christ; it is an invitation to deepen our relationship with Christ. It is also a call to share our faith with others. In the same the Year of Faith also calls religious to conversion in order to deepen our relationship with Christ and to share it with others.
The story of MCBS is the history of being witness to the Word of God. Our commitment to the Word is praiseworthy. A religious congregation like MCBS certainly exists to serve and love people of God, to nurture them, motivate them, fit them morally and spiritually and above all to have an optimistic attitude towards life and its challenges. I am sure that the renewal programmes anchored by MCBS Eucharstic Apostolate Team in the Year of Faith for our members will provide ample opportunity to renew and strengthen our religious commitment. I wish and pray that all the MCBS members translate their dream in to reality, in their various fields of apostolates. “What the world is in particular need of today,” Benedict XVI wrote, “is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the Lord”
I extend my heartiest congratulations and appreciation to Rev Dr Jose Thundathil, the General Councilor, Rev Dr Jacob Naluparayil and Rev Fr George Theendappara, the Provincial Councilors for Eucharistic Apostolate, and all the members of Eucharistic Apostolate team. It is my fervent hope and prayer that the Good Lord will continue to guard, guide and sustain us to grow from strength to strength to His glory.
With prayerful regards, yours in Eucharistic Lord,
Fr Francis Kodiyan MCBS
Emmaus Provincial Superior
ZION PROVINCIAL HOUSE, KOZHIKOD
Precious Brother Priests
Prayerful greetings from our Zion.
As we know, every fiber of our being is having tremendous ‘Mission Spirit’. That is why we earnestly wanted to reach the four corners of this planet to sow the seeds of THE WORD.
At the same time we are to make a thorough examination of conscience about our faith life in particular and the faith life of the people whom we serve, in general. Let us humbly acknowledge the truth and fact that we are not up to the expectation of Jesus in this regard. What we are to do is just meditate upon: Luke 22, 31-33, and do the needful.
This is the opportune time to serve the purpose as Pope Benedict XVI declared ‘ Year of Faith’, that truly focus on genuine and radical introspection upon the faith life of each one of us. Let us pray, think and work together with our Leader to regain and reinstate our solid faith life through our whole hearted support and cooperation in the programs headed by the Eucharistic Apostolate of our Congregation.
Fraternally yours in the Eucharistic Lord
Fr Jose Mulangattil
MCBS Zion Province.
VENUE : MCBS GENERALATE
DATE : 24,25 JANUARY 2013
- Arackal Mathew
- Arackal Sebastian
- Ayyampally Alex
- Ayyampally George
- Chittilappilly Inasoo
- Edayal Thomas
- Elavanal Zacharias (Batch Leader)
- Kadukanmackal Joseph
- Kalapura Antony
- Karathuruth Joseph
- Karimtholil George
- Karott Philip
- Kizhakkemury George
- Kizhakkemury Mathew
- Kizhakkethalackal Emmanuel
- Kizhakkethalackal Eppachen
- Konickal Joseph
- Konukunnel Sebastian
- Kottayarikil Cyriac
- Kuttickal George
- Kuttiyanil George
- Madathikandam Joseph
- Maleparambil Joseph
- Maliyil George
- Manampurath Jacob
- Mattam George
- Moloparambil Abraham
- Mulangattil Joseph
- Nadackal Augustine
- Palakkattukunnel Joseph
- Parackal Joy
- Paremackal Joseph
- Pathiyamoola Jose (Batch Leader)
- Pattery Thomas
- Peedikaparambil Jose
- Pooppallil Joseph
- Poovathumkal Sebastian
- Puthenpurayil John
- Puthiyidath Joseph
- Thekkekuttu Cyriac
- Therukattil George
- Valliyamthadathil Joseph
- Vallomkunnel Joy
- Vattapara Thomas
- Vellanickal Sebastian
- Vengasseril Xavier
VENUE : MCBS EMMAUS PROVINCIAL HOUSE
DATE : 21,22 FEBRUARY 2013
- Alavelil Varghese
- Akkanath Jacob
- Anthyamkulam Joseph
- Chencheril Mathew
- Kaipayil Joseph
- Kannamplackal George
- Karikunnel Vincent
- Karimankal James
- Kariyilakulam Tomy
- Kochukaniyamparambil Isaac
- Kochupurayil Abraham
- Kodiyan Francis
- Kozhimala Thomas
- Kunnumpuram Xavier
- Kuttickal Antony
- Meempuzha Kuriakose
- Meledath James
- Moonjely Kuriakose
- Morely Francis
- Mukaleparambil Kuriakose
- Mundattu Dominic
- Naduvilekunnekatt Thomas
- Naluparayil Jacob
- Olickal Mathew
- Paikkatt Augustine
- Painadath Jose George
- Plathottathil Thomas
- Plathottathil Tomy
- Puliyurumbil Mathew
- Punnassery Augustine
- Thadathil Thomas
- Thayil Varghese
- Theendappara George
- Thottankara Thomas
- Thundathil Jose
- Vallikattukuzhy George (Batch Leader)
- Valiyaparambil Cyriac
- Vadakkeputhenpura Mathew
- Vandanath Antony
- Vazhappally George
- Vettukattil Thomas (Batch Leader)
VENUE : MCBS GENERALATE
DATE : 14,15 MARCH 2013
- Chennakkattukunnel Sebastian
- Cheruvamkalayil Kurian
- Chiramel Simon
- Chunayanmackal Alex
- Edamannel George (Batch Leader)
- Edapparackal Jose
- Elavathinkal Sebastian
- Elavumkal Joseph
- Kaithamattathil Mathew
- Kalapurackal Devasia
- Kallirikumkalayil Joseph
- Kanipallil Stephen
- Kanjiramparayil Thomas
- Karisseril Mathew
- Kochanichuvattil Joseph
- Koonathan Joseph
- Kumblanickal Joseph
- Kuzhikkattumyalil Jose George
- Madathiparambil Mathew
- Malamackal Cyril
- Maniyampara Joseph
- Manjaly John
- Mavelil John
- Muttamthottil Sebastian (Batch Leader)
- Nattuvazhiparambil Joseph
- Orapuzhickal Michael
- Pallath Thomas
- Parathottil Thomas
- Paruvanmoottil Varghese
- Pathiparambil Joseph
- Payyappallil Mathews
- Peedikackal George
- Peringalloor Sebastian
- Perumbattiikunnel Thomas
- Podippara Varghese
- Pulichumackal James
- Pullukalayil Abraham
- Puramchirayil Varghese
- Puthuparambil Joseph
- Thannickal Sebastian
- Thekkanal Xavier
- Thekkath Mathew
- Thuruthiyil Sebastian
- Valloppallil Mathew
- Varekkalam Joseph
- Vattakeril John
VENUE : JEEVALAYA, BANGALORE.
DATE : 11,12 APRIL 2013
- Areekkattu Paul
- Attickal George
- Chelakunnel Joseph
- Edakkarott Augustine
- Elamplackal Dominic
- Ittiyappara Francis
- Kalarithara Varghese
- Kallarackal Abraham
- Kallupalam Joseph
- Kandavanathil John
- Kattoor George (Batch Leader)
- Kochuchira James
- Kolattukudy Varghese
- Koonananickal Joseph
- Kottupallil Thomas
- Kulakkottu Varghese
- Kunnathett Thomas
- Makkiyil Devasia
- Manickathukunnel Philip
- Mathoor Chacko
- Melukunnel Joseph
- Mundunadackal George
- Mylackal Stephen
- Naduviledath Thomas
- Nalukandathil Francis
- Njondimackal Martin
- Palathinkal Sebastian
- Pandiyamackal Joseph
- Pathiyaparambil Joseph
- Plathottathil Mathew
- Polethara Sebastin
- Pootharayil Sebastian
- Pulimoottil Kuriakose
- Punnakkalayil Cyriac
- Puthenchira Joseph
- Puthettupadavil John
- Thoonatt George
- Thottathil John
- Valikulath Sebastian
- Vathapallil Michael (Batch Leader)
- Vattamattathil Martin
- Venatt Kuriakose
- Vettarumuriyil John
VENUE : SANATHANA, THAMARASSERY
DATE : 23,24 MAY 2013
- Cheeramvelil Cherian
- Chekkathadathil Joseph
- Chellamtharayil Xavier
- Cherukattikalayil George
- Choorapoikayil Pius
- Chundelikattil Sebastian
- Edathinal Joseph
- Elakkadunaluparayil Martin
- Idimuzhithadathil Devasia
- Kadamthodu Mathew
- Kaduvannoor George
- Kalambukatt Mathew Joseph
- Kanjoothara Jose Anto
- Kochuparambil Joseph
- Koottakara Abraham
- Kottarathil Varghese
- Kottayil Nixon George
- Kudiyiruppil George
- Kureekombil Joseph
- Kuttarappallil Joseph
- Kuttentharappel James
- Kuzhivelithadathil John
- Kuzhiyadichira Thomas
- Madathikandathl Antony
- Mangalathil Mathew
- Manickathan Joseph
- Muttath Alex
- Njavarivaditharayil Joseph
- Olamkannel Joseph
- Palackal Abraham
- Paliyathil Chacko
- Palolil Thomas
- Panackachalil Varghese
- Panathara Varghese (Batch Leader)
- Parathanath John
- Paravakkadu Joseph
- Plakuzhiyil Joseph
- Polackal Jose
- Ponnadampackal Joseph
- Puthiyidathu Mathew
- Puthumana Thomas
- Thaipparambil Thomas
- Vathalloor Joseph
- Vavolil Joseph
- Vazheeparambil Joseph
- Vellaringatt Joseph (Batch Leader)
THEMES AND THE RESOURCE PERSONS FOR THE
CLASSES I, II
CONCECRETED LIFE IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. (Nature and relevance of consecrated life, its Scriptural and theological aspects. Why does a Christian choose the religious life? Is religious life a superior way of Christian life? Chapter VI of Lumen gentium and the decree Perfectae caritatis imply a higher excellence when they refer to the “special” nature of this life (Lg 44; Pc 1), when they use comparatives in stating that religious are “more intimately consecrated” to Christ and enjoy a union with the Church by “firmer and steadier bonds” (Lg 44), and when they emphasize the “unique” eschatological sign value of the religious state (Lg 44; Pc 1). Rev. Dr. Francis Kodiyan mcbs
CLASSES III, IV
CATHOLIC PRIESTHOOD (Official teachings of Catholic Church on Priesthood, priestly identity. “Priests by sacred ordination and mission which they receive from the bishops are promoted to the service of Christ the Teacher, Priest and King. They share in his ministry, a ministry whereby the Church here on earth is unceasingly built up into the People of God, the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, in order that their ministry be carried on more effectively and their lives be better provided for, in pastoral and human circumstances which very often change…” (Presbyterorum Ordinis).
Rev. Dr. Mathew Olickal mcbs
NEW EVANGELIZATION The new evangelization is not a program; the mission of the Church is not a program. Our faith is a way of life. The mission entrusted to the apostles and to the whole Church is bold, specific, and deliberate, to teach and baptize all nations. The new evangelization requires new evangelizers. Evangelization will always contain as the foundation, centre and, at the same time, the summit of its dynamics. A clear proclamation that, in Jesus Christ salvation is offered to all men, as a gift of God’s grace and mercy.
Rev. Dr. George Koilparambil
FAITH OF JESUS AND THE TRUST OF THE DISCIPLES. The faith lived and demonstrated by the Jesus of the Gospels is the basic foundation of the disciple’s faith. Jesus passionately engaged to cultivate in his disciples His own trusting faith in the Father. These being the fundamental constituents of Christian faith, i.e., the faith of every Christian, it is all the more so for us religious, who seek perfection of baptismal consecration. Anyone who undergoes such a faith formation is automatically oriented towards the proclamation of the gospel, or evangelization. How can a religious belonging to the MCBS, advance in his faith formation each day, in the context of the ministry he has undertaken? How can he discover innovative ways and means of evangelization within the charism and the context of MCBS ministries?
Rev. Dr. Jacob Naluparayil mcbs
CLASSES VII, VIII
MCBS CONSECRATION (Nature, Charism and Challenges of MCBS Vocation, the founding Fathers of the Congregation have entrusted to its members, as their spiritual heritage, a religious life marked by love and single minded devotion to the Eucharistic Lord and missionary vitality. Its charism is to live and proclaim the Eucharistic mystery that is celebrated, to gather the children of God around the alter, to ‘praise God in the midst of His church, to take part in the sacrifice and to eat the Lord’s supper’ (SC 10) and up hold the real presence of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. The members try to obtain this through their dedicated life and various apostolates (Constitution No.8).
Rev. Fr. Jose Peedikaparambil mcbs
TIME TABLE FOR THE RENEWAL COURSE
09.30 INAUGURATION and CLASS I
10.30 Tea break
11.00 CLASS II and DISCUSSION
12.20 Examination of Conscience
12.30 Lunch, Rest
03.00 CLASS III
06.00 CLASS IV and DISCUSSION
07.15 HOLY HOUR, Supper
09.00 SAT SANG, Night prayers, To Bed
06.00 Morning Prayers, Meditation and Holy Mass
08.00 Break Fast
09.30 CLASS V
10.30 Tea break
11.00 CLASS VI and DISCUSSION
12.20 Examination of Conscience
12.30 Lunch, Rest
02.00 CLASS VII
03.15 CLASS VIII and DISCUSSION
04.30 Coffee, Departure
Very Rev. Fr. George Kizhakkemury (Chairman)
Very Rev. Fr. Francis Kodiyan ( “ )
Very Rev. Fr. Joseph Mulangattil ( “ )
Rev. Fr. Jose Thundathil (Coordinator)
Rev. Fr. Jacob Naluparayil ( “ )
Rev. Fr. George Theendapara ( “ )
Rev. Fr. Issac Kochukaniyamparambil
Rev. Fr. Thomas Kanjiramparayil
Rev. Fr. John Vattakkeril
Rev. Fr. Kuriakose Venatt
Rev. Fr. Pius Choorapoikayil
Rev. Fr. Joseph Vazheeparambil
Rev. Fr. Zacarias Elavanal (First Batch Leader)
Rev. Fr. Jose Pathiyamoola (First Batch Leader)
Rev. Fr. George Vallikattukuzhiyil (Second Batch Leader)
Rev. Fr. Thomas Vettukattil (Second Batch Leader)
Rev. Fr. Sebastian Muttamthottil (Third Batch Leader)
Rev. Fr. George Edamannel (Third Batch Leader)
Rev. Fr. Michael Vathapallil (Forth Batch Leader)
Rev. Fr. George Kattoor (Forth Batch Leader)
Rev. Fr. Joseph Vellaringatt (Fifth Batch Leader)
Rev. Fr. Varghese Panathara (Fifth Batch Leader)
CELEBRATION OF THE YEAR OF FAITH IN MCBS (In Word Document Format)
Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on January 8, 2013
Divine Retreat Center, Muringoor
The Divine Retreat Centre is the largest Catholic retreat centre in the world. Over 10 million pilgrims from all over the world have attended retreats here since 1990. It is an achievement possible only through the grace of God. The centre which started out as a preaching ministry, has now evolved into a home of love by the providence of God.
This website is our effort to keep in touch with our beloved retreatants and anyone in need of the Lord’s comforting touch. As you glance through the pages of our site, we hope that it is not only informative, but also provides a spiritual experience for you. Let it always be etched into your hearts that Divine remembers and prays for you and your family every day.
How the Potta-Divine ministry began
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor” (Lk 4:18) This was taken by St.Vincent as a special motto for his own ministry and that of the society of priests that he founded. The Vincentian Congregation, patterned on the society of priests founded by St. Vincent de Paul, was started in India in 1904.
The two main aims of the Vincentian Congregation are:
- Preaching the good news to the poor
- Caring for the poor and the afflicted
Since 1950, Indian Vincentian priests have been conducting popular mission retreats in parishes in Kerala, India. The effect has been overwhelming – it brought out a dynamic spiritual transformation in the lives of people.
In 1977, the Potta ashram was established as the centre to direct and to co-ordinate popular mission retreats. Full time preachers began to stay over to pray and prepare together. Large crowds began to flock to the ashram – the sick, the brokenhearted, and those seeking spiritual deliverance from vices including alcohol and drug addictions. God’s compassionate love poured out in abundance and healed many, as the good news of salvation was preached to all.
The facilities at Potta ashram became inadequate for the large number of people converging for week-long residential retreats held in Malayalam. A sprawling residence was acquired at Muringoor, on the banks of Chalakudy River, six kilometres away from Potta – it was named Divine Retreat Centre. The mighty works of God spread far and wide, all over the world, and the pilgrims poured in. New vistas opened up and retreats began in six other languages – English, Konkani, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Hindi.
Today, Divine Retreat Centre is the largest Catholic retreat centre in the world. Since 1990, over 10 million pilgrims from all over the world have attended retreats here. Weekly retreats in 7 languages are held non-stop every week of the year. It is truly an achievement possible only by the grace of God.
Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on November 2, 2012
THE CONTEMPORARY CHURCH HISTORY (1648 – the present)
Fr Thomas Pallippurathukunnel
The contemporary period begins with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. Peace of Westphalia was a treaty that ended the thirty years war (1618-1648) between the Catholics and the Protestants. The war started with the election of the catholic Jesuit educated Ferdinand II as the emperor and king of Bohemia. The Protestants appealed to the emperor for protection and a guarantee of their religious liberties. Receiving no satisfaction they revolted against the king. In 1618 they (Bohemian rebels) declared Ferdinand deposed and elected a Protestant Frederick as their king. This caused a conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants all over Germany. Later the Protestants in Denmark and Sweden also became involved in this war.
In the beginning the Catholics were successful, later the Protestants with the support of France won. After thirty years of war peace was settled on 24 October 1648. As a result of this treaty a principle “cujus regio ejus religio” was adapted. The treaty also ratified the confiscation of ecclesiastical property. It provided certain absurd religious arrangements, whereby some dioceses were to be held alternately by Catholics and Protestants. Pope Innocent X (1649 55) protested vehemently against this treaty.
Peace of Westphalia marked the end of a period of history and the beginning of a new, whereby the Catholic Church became one of the several Christian Churches. Internal politics were now carried on without reference to Rome. Religion had become a private affair and was driven out of political and social life. It led to the process of secularization, the characteristic of modern history.
In the years following the treaty of Westphalia, the position of papacy was an extremely difficult one. The popes of this period witnessed a definite decline in the political prestige and ecclesiastical authority of the Roman Curia. The catholic rulers of Europe exerted powerful influence in the election of popes. They often humiliated the popes by exerting their superior political power. State absolutism opposed the freedom and privileges of the church.
1. Decline of the Church and the Absolute State.
The decline of the Church and the growth of the absolute state power are the two characteristics of the 17th and 18th centuries. The rulers in the catholic countries looked upon religion as a political concern. They felt that it was their right to control the church through the power of appointing members of the hierarchy and binding them closely to themselves. The interference of the popes in the domestic affairs of the state was considered as an illegitimate foreign intrusion. The popes of this period were generally good, but they granted concessions to make peace between Rome and the catholic kings.
Gallicanism was a typical example of the absolute power of the state. It means that the king has absolute power in his state to control the church. It came to a most complete expression in France in the 17th century but it was also realized in one way or another in almost every catholic country
Gallicanism as a programme adopted whatever measures increased the independence of the national church and lessened the papal authority in the country. These measures could be to increase the authority of bishops -Episcopal Gallicanism –which found its justification in the council of Constance (1414- 17) and Basel (1431) or to increase the royal power over the national church –Royal Gallicanism. As an attitude Gallicanism was the religious manifestation of nationalism. It was a tendency to ignore Rome and to develop a peculiarly “national church”. As a doctrine Gallicanism held that the pope was subject to a general council and his authority over the church in foreign countries is limited.
History of Gallicanism
In the beginning of the seventeenth century several French theologians and canonists began to decrease the importance of the pope. They refused to consider the pope a universal bishop and demanded superiority of the general council over the pope and maintained that the council could be convened even without the pope. They concluded that the pope was in no way omnipotent and that natural law and even the civil law of Christian nations placed limits upon his authority. Yet the French theologians unanimously acknowledged the true primacy of the pope, his universal authority and his position as the center of the unity of Christians.
The claims of political gallicanism had been formulated in 1594 by Pierre Pithou, a lawyer of the French parliament. According to him the king had the right to rule over his clergy and to convoke national councils. The pope could not interfere in the affairs of the church without the permission of the king. He could not excommunicate the king or his official nor could he absolve the subjects from obedience to the king. Another author Pierre de Marca limited papal infallibility to those matters which received the consent of the church. He defended the right of the king to censure ecclesiastics in his country
Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister of France (1624) advanced this theory. He wanted to suppress episcopal gallicanism and to strengthen royal gallicanism. He promised the king that he would make him an absolute ruler. His aim was to make French church into a patriarchate with himself as its head. But he died before it was taken place (1642).
Gallicanism under Louis XIV (1643-1715 ruler 1660 1715)
A revival of gallican ideas can be perceived from the beginning of rule of Louis XIV. He believed that he was a divinely instituted ruler over the church and the state. Hence he admitted no limitations on his power. In 1661 the Flemish Jesuit Coret challenged his authority and defended divinely instituted infallibility of the pope. Louis branded this theory as the new heresy of the Jesuits.
In the following years there occurred certain events that favoured gallicanism and created an antipapal feeling in France.
1. The violent confrontation between the Corsican guards and the French soldiers. The confrontation took place on 20 August 1662 near the French embassy in Rome. Louis then expelled the papal nuncio and declared Avignon and Venesian County annexed to France. He even threatened to attack Italy. Pope Alexander VII (1655 1667) apologized and punished the guards and erected a monument to commemorate the event. This event though apparently had no doctrinal significance had been made use of by Louis to create antipapal feeling in France.
2. The right of regalia. It was the right the French king enjoyed during the vacancy of a diocese to receive its revenues (temporal) and to appoint benefices (candidates). In France this had been limited to a few dioceses and Lyons 11 (1274) had forbidden further extension. On 10 February 1673 Louis declared that it was an inherent and inalienable right of the king and he extended it over all dioceses of France. 118/120 bishops supported the king. Pope Innocent XI (1676-89) condemned it.
In 1682 a general assembly of the clergy was convoked to settle the question. It recognized the right of the king to extend the right of regalia to all dioceses and suggested that the candidates presented by the king should be canonically installed. This assembly approved the four Gallican Articles formulated by Bossuet, bishop of Meaux:
1) The church and the pope have no power over the temporal rulers. They cannot depose the king nor release the subjects from obedience to the king.
2) The exercise of papal power is limited by the customs and privileges of the gallican church.
3) The papal power is limited by a general council.
4) The pope has the chief voice in deciding the questions of faith but he needs the consent of the whole church.
The king ordered that these articles be taught in all seminaries and formally subscribed to by everyone taking a degree in theology. Pope Innocent XI condemned the assembly and the articles. He refused to confirm the appointment as bishop anyone who attended the assembly. Louis insisted on nominating only those who participated the assembly. Therefore by 1687 there were some thirty sees vacant.
3. The Embassy dispute. The embassies in Rome claimed the right of asylum not only to the embassies themselves but also for a large district surrounding the buildings. This created difficulties for the police authorities. Pope Innocent XI limited this right to the embassy and its gardens. All European countries except France conformed. The pope excommunicated those who acted contrary to the decree. In spite of having been excommunicated, the new French Ambassador Marquis de Lavardin entered Rome and had the sacraments administered to himself at the church of San Luigi dei Francesi on 24 December 1687. As a result the church was interdicted. At the beginning of January 1688 Innocent XI secretly informed Louis that he and his ministers had been excommunicated. The king immediately took several countermeasures. He occupied Avignon and Venesian County and appealed to a general council. He jailed the papal nuncio and forbade the bishops any and all correspondence with Rome. During the next pontificate (Alexander VIII (1689-91) Louis returned the papal territories and consented to the restriction of the right of asylum due to the popular demand.
In 1693 a Louis withdrew his edict compelling the acceptance of the four gallican articles. In return pope Innocent X11 (1691-1700) confirmed the king’s nominees. All bishops chosen after 1682 signed a retraction: “we profess and declare that we are extremely grieved at what happened in the assembly of 1682 which is so displeasing to your Holiness and your predecessors. Hence we hold and affirm that all declarations issued by the assembly against the power of the church and the authority of the pope are herewith rescinded.” The conflict thus ended and the danger of a French schism vanished. But Gallicanism continued until the 19th century and it was adopted by other countries especially Holland, Germany, Austria and Tuscany. It not only weakened the papacy but led to a too great dependence of the church on the absolute state.
In the following years after the Peace of Westphalia it was France that was the principal cause of Church’s anxiety. After the condemnation of Lutherinism in 1520, small groups of Protestants began to form in various towns. During the time of Henry 11 (1547-59) Calvinism began to establish in France. Henry II was killed and in the struggle of the different factions to control the regency the religious division received a new importance. For forty years there was the conflict between the Catholics and the Calvinists. It is called wars of religion (1562-1598). During this period many Catholics were massacred. Catholic churches were sacked and destroyed (about 20.000). The Catholics rose against this. Henry 111 (1574-1589) was stabbed by a mad Dominican. His successor Henry IV (1589-1610) submitted to the church. There now began in France a revival of catholic life in all its forms.
St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622) founded a new Congregation of the Visitation. He wrote the famous book “Introduction to the devout life” and “treatise on the love of god”, one of the masterpieces of mystical theology. These books served for the general revival of the life of prayer. The Order of Visitation (cofounder was Jane Francis de Chantal) was originally conceived as a partially active congregation without complete claustration, but in 1618, impelled by the archbishop of Lyon, it had to change into a contemplative order with ceremonious public vows. They then took over educational tasks.
During this period there were attempts to reform the life of the clergy. Cardinal de Berulle founded the French Oratory. Two other orders -Eudists, founded by St. John Eudes (1611-80), the company of St. Sulpice, founded by Jean Jacques Olier- were also founded to supply well instructed and well informed parochial clergy.
One of the greatest organizers of works of charity, who ever lived, was St. Vincent de Paul (1581-1660). He with St. Louise de Marillac founded sisters of Charity and the order of Lazarists
In those years another benevolent society -Company of the Blessed Sacrament -was founded. Though it included priests and bishops among its members, it was under lay direction. It was the generosity of the member of this league that made possible many of the ventures of St. Vincent and the formation of Foreign Missions in 1663.
The spiritual revival of France was checked by certain heretical movements. The first among them was Jansenism.
Jansenism was a pernicious movement that disturbed the religio-ecclesiastical life of France in the 17th century. It tried to infiltrate Calvinistic thought into catholic theology and piety. It held the doctrine of predestination. It killed the prayer to the saints, practice of frequent communion etc.
Its cause was Cornelius Jansen, professor of theology at the university of Louvain and later bishop of Ypres. His book “Augustinus” seu doctrina Augustini de humanae naturae sanitate aegretudine, medicina adversus Pelagianos et Massilienses” repeated the opinions of Michael Baius (+1589). Baius asserted that the preternatural and supernatural gifts with which Adam was endowed at creation were natural to him and therefore that original sin was more than a deprivation, it was a disorderly act which corrupted the human nature and renders it incapable of doing good. For him free will is nothing but concupiscence (desire for worldly things). In his fallen state man can do nothing but sin. Pope Pius V (1566-1572) condemned these opinions by “Ex omnibus affectionibus” on 1 October 1567.
The book Augustinus was widely spread in Holland and France. In summer 1621 Jansen met Jean Ambrose Duvergier de Hauranne, a Frenchman, at the college of Saint Pulcherie in Louvain. Hauranne became the abbot of St. Cyran and wanted to reform caitholic life in the sense of “Augustinus”. Other leaders who supported Jansen was Antoine Arnauld (+1649), priest and theologian, the Cistercian nuns of Port-Royal of Paris where Antoine was confessor and his sister Angelique was abbess. Port-Royal was founded in 1204 by the wife of a soldier of the fourth crusade to obtain from heaven the safe return of her husband in the valley of Chevreuse. It was not enclosed, the members were free to come and go out. Mother Angelique was a daughter of a rich man who had eight daughters. Angelique (former name -Jacquiline) became coadjutrix of Port-Royal at the age of eight and her sister at the age of six. The phrase applied to these nuns is: “angelic in appearance but moved with pride of Lucifer”.
The principal opponents of Jansenism were the Jesuits. Antoine Arnauld wrote a book De la frequente communion (1643) in which he severely criticized the practice of frequent communion as recommended by the Jesuits. He laid down very strict conditions for absolution and reception of communion. Sacrament of Penance is valid only with perfect contrition. Absolution must be withheld until the penance is performed. Holy Communion should be received only a few times a lifetime. No one is worthy to receive it. Respectful abstention from communion honours Christ more than frequent reception. The abbot of St. Cyran wrote to a nun who was saddened by not receiving communion during her illness: “You will soon understand that you do more for yourself by not going to Holy Communion than by going”.
Eighty-eight bishops urged by St. Vincent de Paul requested the pope to examine the book Augustinus. On 31 May 1653 Innocent X by his bull “cum occasione” condemned five propositions as heretical.
1. Some of the commandments of God cannot be observed by the just because they do not have the necessary grace to do so.
2. In the present state of corrupted nature man cannot resist the action of interior grace
3. Merit or demerit presupposes freedom from physical constraint not freedom from interior necessity.
4. The semipelagians erred when they taught that human will can resist or respond to grace.
5. It is semipelagian error to say that Christ died for all men.
As authentic Christians the Jansenists could not openly oppose the condemnation. They denied that the propositions were the teaching of Jansen. They distinguished between “questio juris and questio facti”. The church is infallible when she decides a matter of faith (whether a doctrine is heretical or not), but she is not infallible when she pronounces on a mere fact that has not been revealed (whether an author ever held this opinion or not or whether it is certain that a theologian taught this or that doctrine). In the latter case she cannot demand interior consent, but only a reverential or respectful silence.
Pope Alexander VII declared in 1656 that the five propositions had been taken from Jansen’s work and had been condemned in the sense in which the author had used them. Then the French bishops drew up a formula of faith to be signed by those who had refused to submit. Then the Jansenists claimed that only the pope had the right to exact such subscription. Therefore the pope issued a new constitution in 1664 with a similar formula. Louis XIV for political reasons supported the pope and opposed the Jansenists. But in spite of these measures many refused to sign it. The nuns of Port-Royal were debarred from receiving sacraments and in 1664 the archbishop of Paris placed their convent under interdict.
The four bishops of Alet, Angers, Beauvais and Pamiers first refused to sign the papal formula on the grounds that the pope is not infallible in the matters of fact. They signed a much moderated formula. When the king and the pope decided to take action against them nineteen more declared publicly that they agreed with the four bishops. The crisis was solved by a compromise known as the Clementine Peace in 1670. The Jansenist bishops agreed to sign the formula.
The Clementine peace lasted thirty years (1670-1700). During this period Jansenism spread among the diocesan clergy and it can be considered an underground movement in the French Church. Many held Jansen’s teaching to be true. Once again Port-Royal became fashionable. Many were influenced by the men and women of Port-Royal who were described as the angels on earth, saints descended from heaven.
In the beginning of the 18th century the Jansenist controversy was revived and again disturbed the French church for almost thirty years. In 1701 a new pamphlet -case of conscience -appeared. The question was whether absolution could be given to a penitent who maintained a respectful silence on the matter of Jansen’s teaching and signed the Papal formulary with the mental reservation that the five propositions were not to be found in Jansen. This became the subject of discussion among the professors of Sorbonne. Pope Clement XI (1700-1721) condemned it in 1703. At the request of Louis XIV he formally condemned the attitude of respectful silence by the bull Vineam Domini of 15 July 1705. In it he declared that a respectful silence was not enough but that the five sentences of Jansen had to be abjured with mouth and heart. However the bull did not have the desired effect. The clergy in their general assembly in 1705 declared that the constitutions of popes oblige the universal church only when the bishops give their assent. The pope’s disapproval of this declaration passed unnoticed. Since the nuns of Port-Royal refused to accept the bull the convent was again placed under interdict in 1707. In 1709 the government suppressed the community and the building was demolished (1710-12).
Perhaps the papal decree might have ended the jansenist trouble. But meanwhile a learned Oratorian Paschasius Quesnel (1719) published a book “reflexiones morales sur le Nouveau Testament”- moral reflections on the NT in revised edition in 1693. It met with an enthusiastic reception, but was condemned by pope Clement X1 in 1708. It insinuated Jansenism into a set of pious reflections made on each verse of the NT. Cardinal Louis Antoine de Noailles, archbishop of Paris, who as bishop of Chalons-sur Marne, had approved and recommended the book in 1695, now had to withdraw the approval
At the request of the king, pope Clement XI examined the book and issued the bull Unigenitus on 8 September 1713, in which he condemned 101 propositions taken from the Reflexiones. Four French bishops refused to accept the bull. Noailles appealed to a future pope better informed and to a general council. The universities of Paris, Nantes and Reims joined him. France was divided into two camps -the acceptants and the appellants. By the bull Pastoralis officii of 28 August 1718 the pope excommunicated the appellants. But the appellants appealed against the new bull and declared the excommunication null and void. Finally cardinal Noailles in October 1728 declared his unconditional acceptance of the bull. Many followed his example. With this submission Jansenism as an organized movement came to an end. But Jansenism lived on in individuals and it harassed the church throughout the 18th century. It was one of the factors that led to the suppression of the Society of Jesus.
At this point the brilliant highly talented mathematician, philosopher and apologist, Blaise Pascal (+1662) – his sister was a nun in Port-Royal- wrote the letters provinciales (1656-57) against the Jesuits. It was placed on the index in 1657 and was forbidden in France by a royal decree of 1660, but the effect of the work was damaging and lasting. The Jesuits were discredited in France and in all Europe.
The magistrates of the parliament or courts interfered in the affairs of the church. In 1733 for example when certain priests in the diocese of Orleans tried to make the parishioners subscribe to the bull Unigenitus, the parliament called their conduct abusive and requested their bishop to restrain them. The most important quarrel was over the giving of last sacrament to those who refused to accept Unigenitus. Some priests refused to do so, and the parliament took legal action against them. Archbishop Christopher de Beaumont was ordered to appear before the parliament of Paris because he refused to revoke the regulation requiring subscription to unigenitus for receiving the last sacraments. The archbishop’s temporal possessions were confiscated, he was exiled from Paris and priests were forbidden to refuse the last sacraments to recalcitrant. A compromise was reached in 1756 when Pope Benedict XIV required obedience to Unigenitus but stated that the last sacraments need not be denied to any but notorious public sinners.
A small group of jansenists broke away from the church and set up a schismatic group still in existence, the Old Catholics of Holland. In 18th century it did much harm to the Church in France. It introduced into catholic circles a strong puritan note which robbed Catholicism of its richness and its full development.
Jansenism was based on a certain doctrine of justification that proposed rigorous views of human nature and the role of grace in man’s salvation. Jansenists were austere in their morality and they considered any one opposed to them as corrupted enemies of God. Their aim was to purify the Church of all accretions since the time of the primitive Fathers.
Quietism was another heretical movement within the church in France in the 17th century. It also exaggerated and distorted the doctrine of St. Augustine. Jansenism bowed man to the ground before a dreadful God who according to His whim, called some and rejected others. Jansenist morality clouded over and dried up the heart, Quietism reached conclusions much less pessimistic; as they deviated in favour of softness as opposed to the harshness of Port-Royal. It was a natural but extreme reaction to the stress laid on the activity and the role of the will by the Jesuits and the Vincentians.
This movement began in Rome where a Spanish priest Michael Molinos (1628-1696) had for sometime been spiritual director of a group. Molinos was in Rome as the procurator in the beatification cause of Jeronimo Simon. He was highly regarded there. Even pope Innocent XI thought well of him. In 1675 he published a book called “A spiritual guide” in Spanish and Italian. It was also translated into Latin, French and German. In 1685 he was arrested by the Inquisition and two years later Innocent XI condemned 68 propositions from his book.
The spirituality of Quietism culminated in two fundamental themes: absolute passivity and contemplation in complete spiritual tranquility. The soul must aim at mystic death, annihilation in God; allowing God to substitute Himself for the Ego and to dominate the whole being. The soul should have no desire, should make no act of love. In fact every act is displeasing to God because it interrupts the state of passive resignation. Devotion itself is harmful if it is addressed to the visible e.g. the humanity of the Man-Christ, the Blessed Virgin or the saints. Thus one way only was offered to the mystical soul: the inward way. The purgative way was no longer necessary: away with asceticism.
Molinos taught that man must annihilate his will and all his powers so that God is perfectly free to act in the soul. The aim of spiritual life consists in such passivity of the soul that it no longer desires salvation, virtue of perfection, but rests in God without any activity or volition of its own. The perfect state of soul is one of complete passivity. For him it is wrong to resist temptation for this is a positive act of will. In the state of annihilation the soul no longer sins. Vocal prayers, mortification and struggle against temptation are not necessary for a soul that has achieved such passivity.
After a long trial Molinos was sentenced to imprisonment for life. He accepted it humbly and silently. He passed the last nine years of life, until 1696, in prison. At this time a widow Madame Guyon (1648-1717) and her spiritual director Fr. Lacombe (1643-1712) made quietism an important movement in France. Guyon was somewhat unbalanced and claimed to have visions like St. Therese of Avila, when she was five years old and aspired to martyrdom. She said that ‘with a large needle’ she had sewn on her flesh a piece of paper bearing the name of Jesus! She was physically and psychologically abnormal. She married a man 22 years senior to her. On the day after the wedding she declared amidst tears that marriage was to her a hateful sacrifice and that she would rather have been a nun. She lived in a mystical delight which made her forget her real life. She claimed that the Child Jesus had placed on her finger the visible ring of mystical marriage. She together with Lacombe moved from place to place and spread the quietist ideas and attracted considerable attention. She wrote a treatise called Moyen court et tres facile de faire oraison -easy and short ways for prayer. Bishops asked her to leave their dioceses. Finally the archbishop of Paris had her arrested in 1686. Lacombe was also imprisoned for alleged immorality and errors. He died insane.
Charges against Guyon’s moral conduct were never proved. She said that she would abandon her ideas as soon as they were declared false. So there seemed no reason to fear her orthodoxy. After her release, she met Fenelon, the future archbishop of Cambrai who regarded her as a holy woman. When the old rumours about her character and doctrine circulated again, the bishops decided to examine the case more thoroughly. She was arrested. Bossuet, bishop of Noailles studied the case, and drew up 34 articles in which her errors were condemned. Fenelon also signed it.
Quietism did not end when Guyon accepted the condemnation of 1690 because Fenelon and Bossuet continued the dispute. In 1699 pope Innocent XII ended the dispute by condemning 23 propositions taken from Fenelon’s writings. Fenelon submitted with his famous statement: “Please God, it may even be said of us that a pastor ought to bear in mind that he must be more docile than the least of his sheep”. Fenelon read his own condemnation from the pulpit. This put an end to quietism in France, but it damaged the contemplative life.
Decline of the Church and Secularism
In 17th and 18th.centuries the Church lost the initiative in cultural and intellectual life. And it was taken by people who styled themselves as scientists, artists or economists rather than as christians. As a result of this, the western culture was controlled by those who were not directly influential by the church. This phenomenon is labeled secularism. By this, various functions formerly performed by the church were turned over to worldly institutions.
During this period, though there were good popes, they were not able to give the church a forceful leadership. The most capable men of the age were civilians. Their aim was to make the church impotent in everything except the matter of private devotion. As a result of this, religion was pushed more and more out of man’s life, out of his social and political life, out of cultural affairs, out of art and literature and finally out of man’s very consciousness except for stated hours of worship each week. Now we shall study some of these secularizing movements. France was the centre of all these movements. From there it spread to other countries.
Different terminology: Lumieres (French)
The Enlightenment is a way of thinking and acting that ignores and even denies the existence of the supernatural order, revolts against all kinds of dogma, and basing itself exclusively on experience and reason, elaborates a naturalistic and rationalistic conception of the world and life (Villoslada).
Here reason was given absolute sovereignty. Nature takes the place of God and physical laws replace providence. Faith was subverted in the revealed religion. But it had also some positive and beneficial results. It opposed the superstitions and unreasonable incredulity. It exerted great influence on education. It also induced the governments to exercise tolerance towards various religions. It fostered a new spirit of enquiry and criticism which brought wonders in various positive sciences. It created humanitarian interests which resulted in greater material wellbeing.
This movement originated in England in the 17th century. Then it passed to France and Germany. The English philosopher Francis Bacon (+1626) was the one who prepared the way for this movement. He completely divorced reason from revelation, faith from knowledge. He opposed scholasticism. For him the kingdom of man (earthly happiness) has no bond with a supreme being.
The other English men of Enlightenment were:
Lord Herbert of Cherbury (+1648)
John Locke (1630-1704)
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)
David Hume (+1776)
In France the enlightenment did greater harm. Ferdinand Brunetiere says “the 18th century became the most unchristian and the least French of any century in France’s history. In France the most powerful writer was Pierre Bayle (1647-1706). For him not only revealed religion but even natural religion is incompatible with reason. He wrote a book: the historical and critical Dictionary (1695-97).
The chief representative of this movement in France was Voltaire (1694-1778). As a gifted writer and superficial thinker he ridiculed all that is noble and sublime. He wanted to destroy all positive religions especially catholic church. His bitterness towards the church was expressed in his words: “crush the infamous”.
Rousseau (1712-1778) was less hostile towards religion. He became catholic in 1728 and remained so until 1754. According to him true religion consists in the love of good and beautiful and contains only three dogmas: l. existence of God, 2. liberty, 3. immortality. In his book on Social contract he advocated the idea of democracy and sovereignty of the people.
In France the representatives of Enlightenment were called Encyclopedists. Between 1751 to 1780 an encyclopedia was published in France in 28 volumes plus 7 supplementary volumes. Most of the contributors were the representatives of enlightenment.
The Germans were attracted by the enlightenment towards the end of the 17th century. Their leader was Baron Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646-1716). Other leaders in Germany were Christian Wolf (1679-1754), Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) etc. The German enlightenment reached its zenith during the reign of Frederick II. They published a book Allgemeine Deutsche Bibliothek (1765-1805) in 106 volumes. It was followed by many pernicious books. Some of the authors denied trinity and divinity of Christ eg. Edemann(+1767) Reimarus (+1788) presented Moses and Christ as a pair of imposters.
The leading writers of the classical period of German national literature were Lessing (+1781), Herden (+1803), Weiland (+1813), Schiller (+1805) and Goethe (+1832). These people professed a monistic idealistic philosophy, a religion of humanity, which rejected Christianity as revelation and esteemed it only for its esthetic value.
The effects of the enlightenment
1. The new spirit of enquiry and criticism which brought wonders in the various positive sciences and gave a new impetus to the spread and renewal of education at all levels.
2. Its humanitarian interests resulted in greater material wellbeing: great improvement in such matters as roads, new buildings, commerce etc.
3. Some of the pioneers were men of sincere faith, Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), Descartes, La Place (all catholics), Newton and Leibniz (Protestants). Newton believed that his scientific discoveries were communicated to him by the Holy Spirit.
It seems that the Church was not aware of the danger of this movement. The clergy neglected their pastoral duty. There were atheists and deists among the French clergy. The irreligious writings mounted and had penetrated every level of society.
The enlightenment differed slightly from country to country, but essentially it was the same everywhere. It was antireligious; it secularized morality by separating it from a personal God and from any religion. The church had no clever men to defend the religion. Therefore by the end of the 18th century there was a tendency to identify the church with ignorant peasants and the clerical class used to exploit them and to keep them subservient to an absolute monarch. Then the thinking people rebelled against established authority in the Church.
The philosophers, though followed different paths, formed a kind of friendly society within which they maintained constant intercourse, exchanging visits and carrying on a vast correspondence. There was thus a plentiful and fruitful encounter of ideas. Europe was the home of great minds determined to be “free”
As to the origin of freemasonry it derives from the journeymen builders who in the eleventh and twelfth centuries traveled from city to city, from site to site, in return for which popes and princes granted them certain privileges. At that period and until the sixteenth century it was a religious corporation whose members bound themselves to be faithful to God and the church. Virtually inactive everywhere, it took a new lease of life in England after the Great Fire of London in 1666, when the city had to be rebuilt. In London in 1717 a society was organized by stone masons who had been employed in the construction of St. Paul’s and other buildings. They accepted as members others who were not stone masons by trade. James Anderson, and Anglican clergyman drew up the constitution of the society in 1723, in which it was stated that the purpose was to foster humanity and brotherhood. It spread rapidly and was soon established in many cities -Madrid 1728, Paris 1732, Florence 1733, Lisbon, Hague, Rome 1735, Hamburg 1737, Berlin 1740, Vienna 1742. Their houses were known as lodges.
The success of this movement was remarkable. Its members were recruited from the rich, the ruling classes and the enlightened circles. It was veiled in secrecy and rituals. Absolute secrecy was imposed on the members and various oaths were required of them. It has also a lure of a certain philosophical ideal, a certain spiritual aspiration and even a degree of mysticism.
The question ‘whether freemasonry was antichristian’ is disputed. One thing is true that a large number of ecclesiastics were the members of it and they enjoyed the privilege of admission without inquiry as to their respectability, since their profession guaranteed their character. Priests, bishops and monks were its members. Towards the year 1789 a quarter of French freemasons were churchmen; and there is no reason to think that all of them were bad catholics. Great many of them saw no incompatibility between their faith and their Masonic membership. They even regarded freemasonry as a weapon to be employed in the service of religion.
The Jesuits were the first to feel uneasy about the Freemasonry Prompted by them the secular authority itself was hostile from time to time. Some bishops gave public approval to the action of parish priests who refused the sacrament or burial in consecrated ground to notorious freemasons. In 1738 Clement XII condemned freemasonry by his ball In eminenti, and thirteen years later Benedict XIV (1751) renewed it by his bull Providas Romanorum. This condemnation proved almost ineffective, the publication of the bull was prevented in France, no priest resigned from the society. Even in Rome the masons met almost without concealment.
Was freemasonry inimical to christianity? Strictly speaking no – at any rate not to any great extent. there was no violent attack upon the dogmas of the church. They had pious declarations which reveal a strong attachment to the Mass as well as to Our Lady and the saints. A closer look at Masonic religion shows that it had nothing whatever to do with dogma or with an ecclesiastical established order. The rules drawn up by Anderson in the early days are quite explicit on this point: “Each Person may retain his personal beliefs, provided always he observes the precepts of the religion upon which all men are agreed and which enjoin him to be good, sincere, modest and honourable, no matter to what religious denomination he may belong”. So Masonic religion is clearly natural religion, purged of the dogmas, rites and symbols of christianity. Based on a form of Deism which recognizes the existence of a Great Architect, it allows Him no right of intervention in the spiritual and moral life and identifies His activity with that of reason. It is therefore fundamentally the doctrine of the philosophers. Consequently the church condemned it rightfully and dutifully.
Febronianism is a movement in Germany which sponsored episcopalism, which is the theory that in the government of the church the supreme authority resides in the body of bishops. After the council of Trent the authority in the church was more centralized Ad Limina visits were made obligatory every five years, faculties reserved by bishops to dispense in cases reserved to the pope, had to be renewed every five years. The German bishops were not pleased with such arrangements. Febronianism resulted from the exploitation of these grievances.
Justinus Febronius was the pseudonym of John Nicholas von Hontheim (1701-1790), a brilliant prelate who had studied under Van Espen at the University of Louvain, then at the German college in Rome, and had finally been appointed coadjutor bishop of Trier. In 1763 he published a book de statu ecclesiae et legitima. potestate Romani pontificis under the pseudonym Justinus Febronius. It was Rousseau’s Social Contract applied to the church. According to Febronius, authority within the church belongs primarily to the community of the faithful (ecclesia) which possessed the power of the keys conferred by Christ. The pope has no right of jurisdiction, but only a primacy of honour.The bishops are the delegates of the community. The pope was simply the first among the equals and had no primacy. If the church wished it could designate this position to any other bishop, for Roman primacy was simply an administrative office conferred by the church on the pope. He denied papal infallibility. Primacy in the church rests with a general council and the pope is its administrative agent whose powers are limited by its decrees. The abuse of papal powers should be checked by a general council, by national synods and by the secular princes in each country. Febronius considered that the termination of papal abuses would restore Christianity to its original purity and enable dissenters to return to the bosom of the church. His book was translated into French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.
In 1764 pope Clement XIII condemned the book and placed it on the Index, but many bishops refused to publish the prohibition. At the earnest request of Pius VI and the insistence of his archbishop, Febronius agreed to publish a retraction of his theories, perhaps more formal than sincere; and he ended his long life at peace with the church.
Punctuation of Ems
In spite of the condemnation, Febronius’ ideas continued to prosper. The bishops of Cologne, Mainz and Trier adopted them and tried to put them into effect. They took a stand publicly against usurpations on their jurisdiction by the Roman curia. In 1786 they issued twenty three decrees known as the punctuation of Ems in which they made strong demands for Episcopal ‘rights’ against Rome.
1. All exemptions from Episcopal authority enjoyed by convents and monasteries be suppressed.
2. Faculties granted to the bishops every five years be granted in perpetuum.
3. The Episcopal permission be required before papal acts were published in a diocese.
4. The Episcopal oath of office be replaced by a new one.
5. Papal primacy was based on the False Decretals. It was a forgery produced in the diocese of Rheims between 845 and 853 to provide law which could protect the rights of the bishops. In order to strengthen the argument, the authors invoked the principle of supremacy of the pope. Their intention was not to aid the papacy, but in fact it was the papacy which ultimately benefited most. The first pope who made use of it was Nicholas 1 (858-869).
6. They should no longer apply to the Holy See without the royal placet.
7. The pallium and annate taxes (first year’s revenue of See paid to the pope) would no longer be paid to the Curia. The pope and the nuncio Pacca stood firm. The outbreak of French Revolution and the invasion of Germany relegated everything else into the background.
In the second half of the 18th century there occurred a religious revolution, a systematic overthrow of all that the church believed inviolable. The reason was that the church was in a deteriorated situation which forced the state to intervene. In this period we find a tendency “enlightened despotism” that means the sovereigns would reform the church without reference to the pope. Josephism was a typical example of it.
Maria Theresa (1740- 1780) was the mother of Joseph II. She was a prudent and pious woman and devotedly attached to the church. She began a series of reforms to improve the administration of her domains and promote the good of souls. These reforms were in harmony with the antireligious spirit of the age. She had forbidden the founding of new congregations, monasteries and convents or increasing of church property. Religious profession could not be made before the 24th year. The clergy were no longer to enjoy immunity from taxation. Papal enactments could not be published without the placet of the government. The number of holidays was reduced to 24 and the government assumed the censorship of the books, Higher studies were removed from the control of the clergy (Jesuits) and the universities were reorganized (1752) under the direction of the imperial physician Gerhard Van Swieten, a Dutch Jansenist. Since she was greatly loved by her people, her innovations were put into effect without much difficulty.
Joseph 11 (1780 1790)
Joseph dreamt of a unified strong Austrian state. He regarded the church as a mere cog in the state machine. He wanted to emancipate it from Rome and subject it to him. Thus he wanted to create a national church. He interfered in the church affairs fanatically. After 1781 he issued decrees in rapid succession. He fixed the umber of the candles at High Mass, regulated the use of incense, abolished a number of holidays, rearranged the parishes and dioceses in geometric fashion, closed hundreds of convents and monasteries (600) he considered useless. He said: ‘being useless to the world they cannot please to God’. One mass could be said daily in each church; the breviary was censored, the rosary was forbidden, and he amalgamated the confraternities. He set up a commission which reorganized the seminaries (5 general seminaries) and ordered Mass to be said in German. Because of his interference in liturgical matters, Frederick of Prussia called him “the archsacristan of the holy Roman Empire”.
Though Joseph made all these reforms he was not anti-catholic. The only thing he wanted to do was to remove certain things out of the domain of religion which never belonged to it. On certain occasions Joseph behaved as a good servant of the church. For example on one occasion he appointed 1500 carefully chosen priests to found parishes where there were none. He also struggled against superstitious practices and the sale of indulgences. He forbade the use of coffins which were to be replaced by funeral bags!
Cardinal of Vienna, Primate of Hungry etc. protested against these reforms vigourously. Pius VI went in person to Vienna in 1782 to check Joseph’s zeal for reform. But it was in vain. Joseph’s return visit in the following year was just as barren of results. It was only to obtain more concessions from the pope in the matter of episcopal appointment. Vigourous protests came also from the Belgian episcopacy. At the end of his life (20 Feb 1790) Joseph was forced to see the total failure of all his reform plans. He composed a melancholy epitaph for his tomb: “here lies a prince whose intentions were pure, but who had the misfortune to see all his projects fail”.
Josephism was copied by some other rulers especially Leopold II of Tuscany, Joseph’s brother. Bishop Scipio Ricci of Pistoia cooperated with him. He convoked a synod at Pistoia in September 1786 and adopted a number of reform measures; four gallican articles were adopted, Quesnel’s moral reflexions were recommended. Devotion to Sacred Heart, mass stipend etc were renounced. It was decided to banish all religious orders except one to be established after the model of Port- Royal.
All other bishops except Ricci rejected the reform measures. They held a synod at Florence in April-May 1787. Leopold dissolved it. People were against the reforms, they attacked bishop Ricci, who resigned in 1791. Pope Pius VI condemned 85 propositions of Synod of Pistoia by the bull Auctorem fidei on 28 August 1794. After some years of refusal Ricci finally submitted in 1805. He retired and lived as a private person till his death in 1810.
The Suppression of the Society of Jesus (1773-1814)
The suppression of the Society of Jesus shows how feeble the papacy had become under the pressure of the state power. The Jesuits had been rendering most valuable services to the Church in all fields since its origin in 1540. By the middle of the eighteenth century they had about 23,000 members, 800 houses, 700 colleges and 300 missions. It had become the most important and influential religious order in the church. They had also many enemies. The Gallicans and the Jansenists considered them as their chief enemy. Many of other religious orders were jealous of their greater power and influence in varlious fields. Many bishops especially in Spain and Portugal disliked them. Some of the enlightened thinkers like Voltaire considered the suppression of the Society the necessary first step toward destroying the effectiveness of the Church. Unfortunately the papacy was occupied by weak men at this time and eventually they agreed to suppress the society “for the sake of peace within church”.
The first blow against the Jesuits fell in Portugal. The weak and immoral king Joseph Emmanuel (1750-1773) was completely under the influence of the ambitious and irreligious prime minister Marquis de Pombal. Pombal considered the Jesuits the cause of all ills in Portugal. An incident in the South American Jesuit states gave him an opportunity to act against them. As a result of a border treaty between Spain and Portugal 30,000 christian Indiana were forced to migrate in Paraguay, which Portugal obtained from Spain in 1750. The Indians were first resisted and were defeated and forced to submit (1756). Pombal blamed the Jesuits, their spiritual leader, for the natives’ resistance and began a systematic compaign of calumny against them. At the request of the Portuguese government pope Benedict XIV appointed Cardinal Saldanha, a relative of Pombal as a canonical visitor to the Society. Saldauha induced the Patriarch of Lisbon to suspend all Jesuits from preaching and hearing confession.
The Jesuits appealed to Rome. Then the Pombal forged a letter from the pope confirming Saldanha’s decision. The forgery was denounced at Rome. Then the Jesuits were accused of preaching regicide. On 12 January 1759 all the Jesuits in Portugal were arrested. 221 superiors and other high-placed members had to spend the next 18 years -till Pombal’s death -in jail. Theothers were transported to the papal port of Civitavecchia, where they were unloaded “as a present to the pope”. Their houses, colleges and properties were confiscated. When the papal nuncio protested he was expelled and diplomatic relations with Rome was severed.
A similar fate befell on the Jesuits in France. The week king Louis XV was under the influence of Madame Pompadour, his mistress who hated the Jesuits because they refused to sanction her adulterous relationship with the king. She and others were waiting for an opportunity to discredit the Jesuits. It came in a curious way. The Jesuit mission at Martinique failed financially when its cargoes were captured by the English pirates early in the Seven Years’ War (1756). The principal creditor was Fr. La Vallette S.J. who undertook the sale of colonial products in Europe. The importing company in France (Lioney Gauffre) sued the society as collectively responsible. La Valette left a big deficit and applied for money to the Jesuit Procurator General of the Missions. The Society refused to pay the debt. Then the Jesuits appealed to the parliament of Paris. The parliament decided that the society as a body was liable. The society also accused of participation in an assignation attempt on Louis XV in 1757. In August 1762 the parliament passed an act dissolving the Society in France. The king subscribed to it on 1 Dec. 1764. Their property was confiscated.
The next blow was in Spain the stronghold of the Jesuits. When serious riots occurred in 1766, the minister Aranda convinced king Charles 111 (1759-1788) that the Jesuits were to blame for that. An enquiry was conducted in secrecy; no Jesuit was heard. All records of the proceedings were destroyed and decision reached was rendered without any reasons given. Sealed orders were dispatched throughout the kingdom with instructions to open them on the night of April 2, 1767. On the next morning every Jesuit in the country and the empire were arrested and transported to the Papal States.
The king of Naples (son of Charles III) suppressed the society in November 1767; also the Duke of Parma. All these rulers together demanded the pope to suppress the Society. Clement XIII refused. Then they began to confiscate the Papal States and threatened to depose the pope. Clement died while they planned to blockade Rome.
The conclave lasted three months; 23 candidates were excluded on the grounds that they were favourable to the Jesuits. Finally Clement XIV (1769-1774) was elected. He tried to delay the suppression but he yielded to the demands of the rulers and on 21 1 July 1773 he published a Brief “Dominus ac Redemptor” by which he suppressed the Society of Jesus. In this the Pope made no charges against the Jesuits and said that the “Church cannot enjoy true and lasting peace as long as the society remains inexistence”.
The Society continued to subsist in Prussia and Russia. In 1778 Pius VI sanctioned it. In 1801 Pius VII declared the society reestablished for the whole of Russia. They were allowed to accept novices and to live according to their rules. They were also allowed to enter other orders. In 1814 Pius VII (1800-1823) reestablished the society on a universal basis.
The 18th century was an exceedingly difficult period for the church in Europe. The church displayed the appearance of more decadence than of renewal. She possessed enormous wealth, countless and state support, but its authority was shaken. There was the disparity between the world and the church. The world was in the process of full economic, social and cultural development. The church authority was simply incapable of differentiating between the real requirements of faith and the non-essential accessories.
Gallicanism and Febronianism were the doctrinal expression of a sentiment hostile to Rome. Even many members of the clergy accepted the notion that the spiritual supremacy of the pope was nothing more than an honorary privilege. While the enlightened rulers improved the economic, social and education condition of their states, the Papal States were in a vulnerable state in these fields. In fact the popes of the 18th century with the exception of Benedict XIV could not rise above party factions and exercise his authority. Prof. Rogier makes an assessment of the papacy of the 18th century: “in general the actual influence of Rome on international happiness was extremely small; its contributions to the development of thought exhausted themselves in stereotype and sterile protest. Surveying the cultural history of the 18th century, one repeatedly misses the participation of the church and its supreme leadership in the discussions of the burning issues of the period. If Rome contributed at all, it did so only negatively, with an admonition, an anathama, or an exhortation to silence. Regrettably Rome not only failed to join in dialogue with a generation as strongly affected by the currents of the age as that of the eighteenth century, it systematically avoided it”. On the eve of the upheavals of 1789, the 1740 formulation of President Charles de Brosses was still valid: “‘if in Europe the credit of the Holy See is shrinking daily, this loss stems from unawareness by papacy of its antiquated modes of expressions”. The people continued to perform their religious duties without conviction. The nobility and the educated adopted an increasingly emancipated stance.
The church lacked the acuity necessary to develop a new religious anthropology to respond to the message of Revolution as well as the spiritual reorientation of the age. She failed to abolish the system of benefices which was one of the chief sources of dissatisfaction. There were noteworthy problems within the monastic system of the period. The religious atmosphere within the walls was in general rather mediocre. People regarded monasticism as an easy life which provided good incomes to the monks who administered extensive pieces of real estates and undertook expensive construction projects. Many monasteries were half empty and some suffered from a crisis of belief and discipline. The opponents of monastic life felt that some orders are totally useless to society. In their eyes only those orders were acceptable which devoted themselves exclusively to education and care of the sick. Consequently in some countries the governments began to secularize a part of monasteries. In the republic of Venice 127 monasteries were closed between 1748 and 1797. Similar measures were taken in Tuscany, Parma, Lomabardy, Spain etc. In France such an action bad been suggested and organized by the clergy itself despite the protest of the pope. In 1768 a number of steps for the reform of orders were suggested to the king. Consequently 426 monasteries were dissolved; their lands were turned over to the dioceses.
There was also a crisis among the clergy (secular). In some countries their state was very lamentable. A very large number of priests lived from the income of benefices or other sources without performing any pastoral work. The attempt to upgrade the intellectual and spiritual education of the lower clergy by the end of the 18th century could not put an end to the abuses among them. A large number of the clergy in France were interested in Gallicaniam whose goal was to reduce the authority of the pope and the bishops.
In 1775 Pius VI was elected pope (Cad. Gianangelo Braschi, Cesena 1717). He was rather world1y, spent large amount of money for the beatification of Rome. He also revived nepotism, built a splendid palace for his nephew. He introduced reforms in the Papal States, improved roads. He found difficulty to maintain the traditional position of papacy. On the eve of French revolution Pius VI failed to supply a much needed decisive stance. Godechot stated: He displayed more courageous abstinence than real sensitivity”.
In the 18th century France was the country with the largest catholic population. The monastic orders had the largest number of houses. Their theological and spiritual influence was comparatively strong. The Catholic Church in France linked to the state and enjoyed significant political, juridical and financial privileges. Catholic Church was the established religion in France and was supported by the secular powers. Other denominations and religions were not tolerated. The relationship between the church in France and the Holy See based on the concordat of 1516. It conceded certain rights to the king, eg. the right to distribute benefices etc.
The clergy enjoyed a predominant position in every respect. In parliament they constituted an estate general. These delegates met every five years in general convention. There were 135 dioceses 50,000 Priests working in the parishes and between 15,000 and 18,000 canons who served virtually no function. There were also 20,000 to 25,000 monks and 30,000 to 40,000 nuns. The French clergy comprised approximately 120,000 persons. Besides there were a large number of sacristans and chorists, as well as businessmen and staff who took care of worldly concerns. This secular and regular clergy possessed impressive economic power. It owned numerous urban buildings, property etc. They were exempted from tax. Tax privilege was compensated for by heavy expenditures especially costs of education and welfare.
The Revolution, in fact, began as a liberating force completely compatible with the teaching of gospel. Facing bankruptcy, Louis XVI decreed that the Roman Catholic Church and the nobility less than 2 percent of the population, owning a third of France would pay land taxes. Challenging his Authority the nobility forced Louis to convene the estates general, a body of the clergy, nobles and commoners that had not met since 1614. The Estates General met at Versailles on 5 may 1789 after a full catholic ceremony. On the 4th May there was a grand procession and Holy Mass. During the mass they begged God to enlighten the deliberations of Estates General. No one foresaw so dark a future in that hour of glory. The representatives of third estate declared themselves the National Assembly and urged the clergy and the nobility to join them. On 20 June they gathered in an indoor tennis court and took an oath “never to separate until the constitution of kingdom shall be laid and established”. Louis reluctantly accepted the Assembly.
On 11 August 1789: The national Constituent Assembly abolished feudal rights and ecclesiastical Privileges. On 26 August it made Declaration the rights of man and the citizen which included the freedom of belief and worship.
The revolution, then, betrayed its original ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity and began to persecute the believers. In November 1789 the National Assembly nationalized the church property and on 13 February 1790 it suppressed the contemplative orders and banned the solemn vows. On 12 July 1790 it passed the Civil Constitution of the Clergy which contained the old Gallican ideas.
It reduced the number of dioceses to 85 from 135 and they were divided conterminous with the geographic division of the country. There was to be one parish for every 6000 inhabitants
The bishops and priests were to be elected by the electoral colleges on the level of department and districts – all citizens, Protestants, Jews form the electoral college.
Bishops, priests and vicars were to be paid salaries by the state with the condition of performing all religious services free of charge.
Bishops were entitled to inform the pope of their election, the canonical investment of the bishops were to be done by the metropolitans without prior confirmation by the pope. The title ‘archbishop’ was abolished and ten bishops were called metropolitans.
A council of priests was formed to participate in the administration of the dioceses.
All benefices without the care of souls were abolished.
The aim of the Constitution was to make the French church a purely national one and to remove the clergy as far as possible from all contact with Rome. The constitution obliged all the clergy to take an oath of loyalty to the constitution (27 Nov 1790). The weak king Louis sanctioned the constitution on 26 Ajec.1790 excusing himself on the grounds that a refusal would endanger his life and that of his family.
The French church was divided into two camps because of this constitution: 1. the church of constituent clergy 2. the church of non-constituent clergy (they were majority). On 10 March 1791 the pope Pius VI (1775-99) condemned the constitution by “quot aliquantum”. Again on 13 April pope condemned it by his bull Caritas because it based on heretical principles and declared the constituent clergy suspended. He declared that the ordination of the new bishops sacrilegious and prohibited them from performing their offices a d threatened with suspension all priests who refused to recant their oaths. He also condemned the declaration of the rights of man and citizen as contradictory to catholic doctrines regarding the origin of the authority of the state, freedom of religion and social inequality. In 1791 the national Assembly, in reprisal, declared Avignon and Venesian country to be the property of France.
2. Legislative Assembly (1 October 1791 -September 22, 1792)
It composed of people who were farther to the left both politically and religiously. It began to persecute believers. On 29 November 1791 it ordered that clergymen, regardless of their ministry, who did hot take the oath within eight days, would be regarded as rebelling against the law and as having evil intentions against the country. They would lose their pensions, were removed from their residences. On 1 August 1792 all congregations were dissolved, monasteries were closed, property of the church was sold, and clerical dress was prohibited. On 26 August it ordered to depose all priests loyal to Rome. About 20,000 priests were rendered homeless and they found refuge in other European countries. On 2 September 1792 there occurred the September Massacre in the prisons of Paris in which at least 1400 victims including 300 clergymen, 3 bishops, were executed. It was very cruel. Many were cat into pieces by hatchets. Women were brutally violated before being torn to pieces by those tigers; the intestines were cut out and worn as turbans. The victims seemed happy because ‘they went to death as to a wedding’. In the following years about 30000 clergymen fled from the country.
The decapitation machine “Guillotine” was first used on 25 April 1792. It was adopted as humane capital punishment – I a cool breath on the back of the neck”. Its proponent was Dr. Joseph Ignace Guillotin.
3. National Convention: 22 September 1792 -October 1795.
National Convention completed the work of demolition. It abolished the monarch rand declared France a republic. Louis was beheaded as a traitor to the state and nation on 21 January 1793. His wife also met the same fate on 16 October 1793. Both were guillotines. -On 21 June 1791 in servants disguise Louis and his wife attempted to flee France, after midnight for 200 miles dash to Austrian territory ruled by queen’s brother. But on route a postmaster identified Louis. Then 40 miles from the border his royal carriage was halted and they were arrested and brought to France. There was a posted warning: “any one who applauds the king will be beaten, any one who insults him will be hanged”.
During this period many were shot. Divorce was allowed and civil marriage was made obligatory. It passed laws on the marriage of priests and for their protection and support. 12 bishops and 2000 priests got married. The christian calendar was replaced by the Republican calendar, the first year of which was to begin on 22 September 1792, the day of the proclamation of the Republic. Sunday was deleted from the new calendar and the day of rest was every ten days. Civil holiday were substituted for traditional christian feast days. Finally in November 1793 the Convention instituted the cult of Reason and Nature, i.e., atheism. The cathedral of Notre -Dame was desecrated by scandalous rites in honour of the goddess of reason. Some 2400 churches suffered a like-fate. Many of them were used as store-houses and stables.
There were people who were against the extreme reforms. At the suggestion of Robespierre in 1794 the convention agreed to recognize a Supreme Being and immortality of soul. But persecution continued and the members of convention executed him on 28 July
4. The Directory Oct. 1795-1799
The directory was a governing body of five members. During this period there was an outbreak of violent persecution. All the laws against the non-juring priests were reactivated and under the orders of directory, the priests were hunted down all over France. Those captured were deported to French Guiana where they died. A new deistic religion called Theophilanthropism appeared. (deism= belief in the existence of God without accepting revelation, one who professes to unite love to God with love to man). The directory tried to enforce the observance of the republican calendar and decadi. Nevertheless by 1798 divine services had been resumed in about 40,000 parishes.
The faithful became aware of their responsibility to the church. In the absence of the priests, they organized prayer meetings, gave children religious instruction. Former nuns (without habit) encouraged pious girls to devote themselves to religious instructions and charitable work. In 1791 the Daughters of Heart of Mary was founded adjusting to the new conditions. By 1799 there were 267 members in 10 dioceses. They were no external sign, retained their occupations and continued to live with their families.
In 1796 General Napoleon Bonaparte occupied Milan and then the northern portion of Papal States. The directory demanded from the pope the renunciation of the condemnations of the constituent church. Pius VI refused. Negotiations between pope and the French government produced no results. Meanwhile Bonaparte began preparations to march on Rome, and forced the pope on 16 February 1797 to accept the treaty of Tolentino to abandon his rights to Ronagna and to pay 15 million Franca.
On 27 December 1797 the Directory ordered immediate occupation of Papal States. On 15 February 1798 Rome was occupied and was declared republic. Pius VI, 81, pleaded to be allowed to die in peace in Rome. Instead he was forced to flee to the still independent duchy of Tuscany. The pope was declared deposed, carried off first to Sienna then to Florence. In May he was brought to France. He died on 29 August 1799 at Valence.
The next conclave was convoked on 1 December 1799. Of 46 cardinals 35 participated (30 Italians). On 4 March 1800, Cardinal Barnaba Chiaramonti was elected pope Pius VII. He was a man of doctrine and a shepherd of souls, always gave pronounced preference to the religious goals. He had the courage of his convictions, but had great tolerance for opinions which differed from his own. At 14 he joined the Benedictines, studied in Padua, Rome, professor of theology from 1766-75 in Parma, and also at St. Anslem, Rome. He became bishop of Tivoli in 1783, bishop of Imola and Cardinal in 1785. As a diplomatic mediator he had an outstanding ability to hold without braking and to reconcile without bending. At Christmas he declared that the democratic form of the government was not in opposition to the gospel and religions was even more important in a democracy than in any other form of government. He appointed cardinal Consalvi, a conservative reformer as his secretary of State. Due to his diplomatic skill Papal States were restituted.
On 9 November 1799 the general Napoleon by a coup d’etat, overthrew the directory and became the first consul for ten years. His foreign minister was Talleybrand. Napoleon was deist and a stranger to religious practices. He looked upon religion as having only a practical value. It was evident to him that only Christianity was the ethical foundation of European civilization. Therefore, he felt the need of it.
The concordat of Napoleon 15 July 1801
On 5 June 1800 Napoleon stated that it was his firm conviction that religion was an indispensable adjunct to the state and that it was his wish that France be reconciled to the Holy See. Soon thereafter negotiations were begun, but immediately encountered serious obstacles, mainly unreasonable demands of Napoleon himself. Finally a concordat was drawn up on 15 July 1801 by cardinal Consalvi and Napoleon’s foreign minister Talleygrand. It gave the French church legal status, but a status far removed from that she had once enjoyed. Catholic religion was recognized as the religion of “the great majority of French people” and it could be exercised freely and publicly while conforming to police regulations. The dioceses were redistricted into 60 of which 10 would be metropolitans. All bishops must resign and the new bishops were to be named by the First Consul but the pope was to give them canonical institution. All clergy were to take an oath of loyalty to the state. They waived all claim to church property confiscated during the revolution, in view of which the government promised the bishops and parish priests a fitting maintenance. Bishops could redistrict their parishes with the consent of the proper state officials and appoint as pastors only persons acceptable to the government.
The concordat was not appreciated by all. Some bishops refused to abdicate and they considered it as anti-catholic. There was anti-Catholic in the government, who were not content with the concordat on the grounds that it was not sufficiently anti-Catholic. Therefore Napoleon added several further clauses -seventy seven organic articles- to the concordat, which he published at Easter 1802. Most of them were contrary to the terms of the original agreement and to the principles of canon law. The pope protested and pointed out 21 of them which could not be accepted under any conditions, but Napoleon paid no heed to this protest.
The new articles are:
i. All decrees of the pope and the synods outside France require the placet of the government.
ii. Professors of the seminaries are obliged to teach Gallican articles of 1682.
iii. Number of new priests is to be fixed yearly by government
iv. Catechism approved by the government is to be taught.
v. Diocesan or national synods need government authorization.
vi. No representative of the pope enter France without permission
vii. Clerics may appeal to the civil court.
viii. Distinction was made between rural pastors and others.
ix. No feast days other than Sundays.
In the meantime Napoleon restored Sunday in 1802 and abrogated the republican calendar in 1805.
Napoleon as Emperor
In May 1804 Napoleon was elected emperor. He invited pope Pius VII for anointing and coronation. Pius VII yielded to the pressure and anointed Napoleon in Notre Dame Cathedral on 2 December 1804. The coronation was preceded by a religious ceremony Pope was allowed to anoint, but Napoleon insisted on crowing himself. At the coronation ceremony Napoleon seized the crown from the hands of the pope and put it on his head. The pope hoped, in return, two important concessions: 1) the revocation or modification of the organic articles; 2) the removal of divorce from the new code of civil law. But his hopes were blasted. Napoleon and his associates had interpreted the pope’s visit as a sign of weakness which they tried to exploit to the full. The pope returned to Rome humiliated and without obtaining any concession from the emperor.
The pope was requested to declare dissolved the marriage of Napoleon’s brother Jerome Bonaparte to Eize Patterson, an American protestant. A little later the pope refused to annul, Napoleon’s marriage to Josephine Beauharnais. Despite the pope’s refusal members of the French hierarchy gave the emperor the desired annulments. Napoleon had insisted St. Napoleon’s day be observed throughout the empire on 16 August.
Napoleon resumed war for the domination of Europe. And this war brought a rupture in his relations with the pope. The pope refused to approve of Napoleon’s annexation of Naples (Napoleon named his brother Joseph king of Naples).In 1809 Napoleon officially annexed the papal states to his empire and on 17 May 1809 he revoked the donations of Pepin and charlesmagne. The pope answered by excommunicating Napoleon and his associates: “against the robbers of the patrimony of Peter, their advisers, abettors and agents”. During the night between 5 and 6 July 1809, 400 French soldiers entered Rome and arrested Pius VII and carried him off to Savona. The cardinals were taken to Paris.
Meanwhile Napoleon divorced Josephine and married Narie Louise the daughter of Austrian emperor. The decree of divorce was published on 16 December 1809. On 9 January 1810 the diocesan court pronounced the marriage null and void. On 2 April 1810 Napoleon married Marie Louise. Thirteen of 27 cardinals then in Paris refused to attend the wedding. Napoleon “decardinalized” them who were known “black cardinals” and those attended the wedding were known “red cardinals”.
Pius VII suffered much. He was treated most harshly and shame fully; books, pen, ink, ring were taken from him. The longer the conflict the greater become the vacant sees. Napoleon wanted to full them without the approval of the pope. He convoked a national council of the bishops at Paris in June 1811 under the presidency of Napoleon’s uncle cardinal Fesch. There it was decided that metropolitans had the right to confer canonical institutions in case the pope did not do so within six months of a candidate’s presentation.
On 9 June 1812 the pope was moved to Fontainebleau palace near Paris. When Napoleon returned from Russia, defeated and desperate, he met the pope. On 25 January 1813 Pope was forced to sign an agreement known as concordat of Fontainebleau. In this the pope renounced the Papal States and conceded that canonical institution of bishops could be made by the metropolitan if the pope did not act within six months. However, the pope revoked this concession within 24 hours. Napoleon suppressed the revocation kept the pope isolated and published the concordat as valid reconciliation of the church and the state in France.
Napoleon’s power was almost at an end. He was defeated by the allies and was forced to sign his abdication at Fontainebleau on 16 April 1814. He was then sent to the island Elba. He reached there on 4 May. He was given allowance 2,000,000 francs yearly. He had 400 volunteers and the title of emperor. Before he had been sent to Elba, he tried to poison himself. On 20 March 1815 he returned to Paris, and resumed war. But he was defeated at Waterloo on 18 June 1815. On 22 June he abdicated in favour of his son. He wanted to escape to U.S.A., but was prevented and exiled to St. Helena.
On 15 October 1815.Navoleon arrived at St. Helena in southern Atlantic. His life there was hard; breakfast at 10.00 dinner 7-8 p.m. He used to play cards, reading, and writing, study English, and went to bed by midnight. He had difficulty with the governor of the island. His wife did not visit him. She had a son from him, and a lover too. In 1817 he showed the sign of illness -ulcer or cancer of the stomach. In March 1821 he confined to bed. In April he dictated his last will: “I wish my ashes to rest on the banks of the Seine, in the midst of that French people which I have loved so much … I die before my time, killed by the English Oligarchy and its hired assassins”. On 5 May 1821 Napoleon died at the age of 52. He spoke: “my God… the French nation, my son, the head of the army. He died at 5.49 p.m. The stone covering the tomb bore no name but only two words: “cig it”-here lies.
The pope Pius VII was released in March 1814 and on 24 May 1814 he entered Rome amid jubilation of the people. When the pope returned to Rome he said to the people: “let us forget the past”. When napoleon was in exile at St. Helena pope wrote to cardinal Consalvi: “The emperor’s family has informed us through cardinal Fesch that the rocky lsland of St. Helena is fatal to health and the poor exile is dying by inches. We are deeply distressed to hear this and you will certainly share our grief; for we must both remember that to Napoleon more than anyone after God, is due the restoration of our religion in the great kingdom of France. The pious and courageous initiative of 1801 has long ago effaced the memory of later wrongs. Savona and Fontainebleau were only mistakes due to temper, or the errors of an ambitious man; the concordat was the saving act of a christian and a here”. This is perhaps the most charitable estimate ever made of Napoleon’s role in the history of the church. Pope gave refuge to Napoleon’s mother, cardinal Fesch and his two brothers in Rome.
Pius VII lived another eight years after Napoleon’s downfall. In the congress of Vienna (1815) the Papal States were returned to the pope. Concordats and conventions were made with various countries and the prestige of papacy was restored.
The French revolution produced mixed results:
1. The prince-bishop disappeared into the pages of history, when Napoleon secularized the holdings of the church.
2. The monastic orders were reduced to near impotency. This weakened the liturgical life of the church.
3. Church’s influence on cultural and intellectual life was lost when the universities in which ecclesiastical and intellectual life had flourished, had been closed down or were taken by the state.
4. French revolution had put an end to the absolute king and thus the church was free to work out a new set of relationship with the state.
5. Concordats were made for regulating relations between church and the state.
6. French revolution was a political and social solvent. It melted down old institutions, good and bad and enabled the church to begin afresh.
7. It loosed forces hostile to the church: liberalism, nationalism, secularism etc.
The Church after 1815
Napoleon’s system was an artificial one and it collapsed because it rested on the genius and determination of one man. It ruined Europe, displaced frontiers, and subverted the social order. The church suffered materially, lost more than half of her property, which had supported her seminaries and charitable institutions and schools. It affected the parochial life and ecclesiastical administration. Many archives had been dispersed, many universities disappeared. Though the church lost her social influence together with her privileged position, morally she was not impoverished. The martyrs during the popular regimes and the black cardinals are the examples of this.
During this period there were signs of spiritual reawakening. France witnessed a large growth in the number of vocations and a remarkable flowering of regular orders. Between 1820 and 1828 the surplus of ordinations was 2,289. The average annual number of ordinations rose to 3000. Religious congregations were revived. In 1816 the Society of French Missions was founded. There grew a new attachment to the papacy and a new appreciation of the value of a religion independent of the state. There were also a host of new religious orders of women particularly devoted to teaching. The declaration of Catholicism, as the state religion by Louis XVIII on 4 June 1814, the restoration of Society of Jesus in 1814 were good signs.
There was also a sad picture. Faith was not deep rooted. There was hypocrisy and rebellion. Lacordaire asserts that at one state secondary school in France where daily mass was obligatory, thirty youngsters went together to communion in order to obtain consecrated wafers with which to seal their letters.
Pact of Holy Alliance – 1815
On 20 September 1815 , emperor Francis I of Austria, Frederick William III of Prussia, Czar Alexander declared that they wished to base their mutual relations on the sublime truths taught by Christ and firmly resolved to take as their sole rule of conduct the doctrine of the church. They decided to consider themselves as brothers and as fathers towards their subjects. They would be three members of a single family and confessed Christ as their, sovereign to whom all powers properly belong. They also invited others princes to join the pact of holy alliance. This was not approved by the church.
During the thirty years after 1815 the absolute king sought to regain lost ground and the liberals to overturn the settlement of 1815. The first liberal risings in Spain and Italy were easily suppressed. But from 1848 to 1870 liberalism touched its apogee and in Italy it achieved the most spectacular and systematic triumph of all.
The popes as temporal sovereigns were absolutish. They were affected by the political duel between liberalism and absolutism. Liberalism opposed Catholicism. It was really interested in the material betterment of mankind and correction of social abuses. Some of its fundamental postulates were irreconcilable with the catholic teaching.
In 1870 the temporal power of papacy came to an end. The same year witnessed the triumph within the church itself of the old Roman, conception of the papal office. Thus there began a new type of pope. The popes of the nineteenth century restoration (1800-1878) are all of them good men and several are men of real ability. But they are all meant of the eighteenth century or rather of the absolute age of which that century was popularly the symbol.
Pius V11 (1800-1823), Leo XII (1823-29), Pius VIII (1829-30), Gregory XVI (1831-1846), Pius IX (1846-1878), Leo XIII (1878-1903).
None of these really understood the new world which the revolution had produced, understood either how to fight it or how to convert it. Leo XIII was a pope supremely gifted in political understanding and in the diplomatic gifts. He was the greatest papal ruler since Pius 111 (1534-1549). He was a traditionalist and conservative who thought in modern terms and spoke in the modern idioms. His reign was the beginning of a new age of catholic history. During the reign of Pius IX, France was the scene of the heroic life of St. John Mary Vianny (1786-1859), many apparitions of Our Lady -1830, 1846, 1858, 1871, esp. 1858 in Lourdes. Italy had St. John Bosco, Joseph Cottelengo, and Gabriel of Sorrows.
The Popes of the Nineteenth Century
Pius VII (1806 1822)
The settlement after Waterloo restored to the pope the Papal States. But it posed a problem: could they survive? The demand for Italian unity was to grow. How would papacy meet it? Cardinal Consalvi who was dismissed to appease Napoleon, was reappointed as secretary of State on Napoleon’s fall. He was the chief negotiator for the pope of the diplomatic settlements. He introduced several changes which were opposed even by a few cardinals.
The authority of the pope was enhanced by concordats or agreements with several States. Rome was made the centre of European culture, works of art, books and manuscripts were restored. In 1814 Congregation of Extraordinary ecclesiastical Affairs was instituted, renewal of monasteries, religious orders and congregations. Pius VII died on 20 August 1823 at the age of 81.
Leo XII (1823 1829)
Cardinal Consalvi was labeled as too liberal; to some he had seemed dictatorial. So the choice of Consalvi as successor to Pius was opposed. He died on 24 January 1824. His final words: Io sono tranquillo -I am at peace.
Annibale Francesco Clement Melchior Girolomo della Genga, (1760 b.) was elected as Leo XII. He spent large part of his life as nuncio. When Napoleon mistreated Pius VII, he retired to the monastery. After Pius returned to Rome, he called Genga again into his service and was sent to congratulate Louis XVIII on the latter’s restoration. When there was a sharp clash between Consalvi and Genga the latter returned to his monastery. In 1820 he was summoned to Rome. At the time of election he was sick. When he was asked after the vote whether he would accept it, he protested saying that the cardinals were electing a corpse. He surprised his physicians. He guided the church for six years which witnessed several achievements. He brought papal finance into order reduced taxation, urged the bishops to be examples of sound morals and doctrine, to be diligent in pastoral visitation, to pay attention to the seminaries. He fought against Gallicanism and Josephism. In 1825 be proclaimed Jubilee year, the first since 1775.
Leo launched a world wide appeal for the rebuilding of St. Paul Outside the Walls, which had been destroyed by fire in 1823. He left the Quirinal and took residence in the Vatican. He tried to improve the morals of the people and of the clergy. His opposition to nepotism made him unpopular with many among both the officials and others. He put the Church of Rome in a better physical condition and revived the spiritual life of the city. He ordered to cloth the naked statues in Rome. In France he had to face the trends of Gallicanism. In Austria he still faced the traditional Josephism. In Spain and Portugal he was confronted by anticlericalism of the liberals. The pope died on 10 February 1829 at the age of 69. pasquin insulted him with these verses: “Holy Father thrice you have mocked us, by agreeing to become pope, by living long and by dying on Carnival day”. His pontificate was not brilliant, but it revealed the difficult situation with which the church was then confronted. Only a strong, daring and far-sighted genius could have escaped from the dilemma, and it was not the fault of Leo XII that he was no such man.
Pius VIII (1829-1830)
Cardinal Francesco Saverio Castiglioni was elected pope who took the name Pius VIII. He was learned in canon law, Biblical Literature and numismatics. He had had administrative experience in several posts including bishoprics and posts in Rome. He had suffered imprisonment because of his opposition to Napoleon. After his release Pius VII had rewarded him with the cardinal’s hat, and is said to have wished him for his successor. Out of gratitude he took the title Pius. He was mild in temper and not likely to go to extremes or to have particularly vigorous pontificate. He was 67 at the time of election and was not well.
The situation was everywhere disturbing; there was perhaps no catholic country where grave problems did not confront the church. In France she had to face Gallicanism and liberals. In Spain anticlericalism, in Italy hostility towards the church. For the pope the solution was silence and temporization. In the midst of these problems, the pope tried to check the menace of secret societies and advance of indifference. His choice of cardinals also seemed to indicate a desire to rejuvenate the Sacred College. A rescript of November 1829, recommending to catholics, throughout the world the fund for the propagation of the Faith, proved that he had a sense of the chinch’s universality and of her obligation to share in the great movement of western expansion that was then taking place. Pius died on 30 November 1830. Pasquinades greeted his passing: “nacque, pianse, mori, declared the Romans; but no, Pius VIII had done more than be born, weep and die. His death marked the end of an epoch. The attempt made since 1815 to annul the Revolution and return to the past had evidently failed. It was now essential to take account of that new life which awaited the world and the church. Perhaps that failure was foreseen by Joseph de Maistre when he wrote these prophetic words: “a counter revolution must be not a revolution in the contrary direction, but the contrary of a revolution”.
Gregory XVI (1831-1846)
The conclave dragged on for fifty days due to the opposition of two candidates -Pacca and Giustiniani. Then Mauro Cappellari, a Camaldolese monk, austere and pious was elected pope. He took the name Gregory XVI. He was the secretary of Propaganda. He was a stranger of politiacs and the ways of the world and unable to cope with the complicated problems of his time. There were serious revolts in the papal states. In Italy a movement for national unity was growing. The radical party called “Young Italy” founded by Giuseppe Mazzini (+1872) was basically revolutionary and anti religious. They had secret plans to overthrow papal rule. Even some of the clergy were infected with revolutionary ideas. The moderate patriots like Alessandro Manzoni (1873) tried to reconcile the papacy with political liberalism and dreamed of an Italian confederacy of states, with the pope at the head. The consciousness of unity however, continued to grow stronger. Gregory on his part defended the liberty of the church.
La Mannais and papacy
Felicite de La Mennais said: “catholics break for ever with the men whose incorrigible blindness imperils this holy religion. Rejected by the state the church should withdraw from political society and concentrate upon herself, with a view to recovering, along with her essential independence and the fulfillment of her destiny, her pristine and divine strength”. In order to promote his ideas La Mennais founded a jounmal “L’Avenir” whose motto was “God and Liberty”. He had a youthful team- Abbe Gerbet, Harel du Tancrel, Henri Lacordaire (1802-61), Vicomte Charles de Montalembert (1810-70). The first number of L’Avenir appeared on 16 Oct. 1830.
Pius IX (1846-1878)
When Gregory XVI died on 1 June 1846 the political condition of the papal state was tense. The Italian patriots desired to free Italy. The conclave was opened immediately without waiting for the arrival of the foreign cardinals. On the second day of the conclave Cardinal Mastai Ferretti was elected pope who took the name Pius IX in memory of his benefactor Pius VII. Giovanni Maria Mastei-Ferretti was born on 13 May 1792 in Senigallia. He was ordained priest in 1819, bishop of Spoleto in 1827-32, of Imola in 1832-46, cardinal in 1840. He made a journey to South America in 1823-25 which provided him with an insight into the new dimensions of missionary problems and into the difficulties which liberal governments could cause for the church. As archbishop he was known very liberal. One biographer describes him as “the creator of modern papacy”.
Some considered Pius IX as a messenger of God sent to complete the great work of the 19th century the alliance between religion and liberty. Others considered him as a man with the fire of heart but weak in planning and without any real ability to lead.
Pius IX began his pontificate with the intention of meeting the just demands of the people for greater liberty and of establishing new political reforms in the papal states. On 17 July 1846 he granted a general amnesty to more than thousand prisoners and mitigated the censors then in force. This was hailed in Rome and throughout the world as the act of an enlightened ruler. The municipal government of Rome was reorganized and laymen were made eligible for many of the ministerial posts. A number of progressive measures were quickly undertaken, construction of roads, lightening the streets, improvements of prisons etc. Finally on 14 March 1848 a new constitution was proclaimed providing for two chambers, one to be named by the pope, the other to be elected by the people, the college of the cardinals to act as a Senate over both houses. These reforms were hailed with enthusiasm. But the people demanded more radical changes, even unreasonable demands. They also insisted that the pope drive the Austrians out of Italy and create a national state Pope’s prime minister Pellegrino Rossi was murdered on 15 November 1848 as he was ascending the steps of cancellweia to open the parliament. When Pius 1X resisted these demands, a so called constitutional assembly Proclaimes Rome a republic under a triumvirate consisting of Mazzini Saffi and Amellini on 9 February 1849. On the next day Pius himself was besuieged in the Quirinal and threatened. He escaped in disguise and fled to Gaeta in the kingdom of Naples. Pope sought for French help. The French took Rome and restored the papal rule. In April 1850 Pius returned to Rome. Thereupon he left his liberalism.
In 1850 the Roman clergy were ordered to wear the long soutane instead of breeches and frock coat, so as to indicate more clearly the difference between churchmen and men of the age. The bishops were requested to visit the pope at regular intervals. In 1850 an extraordinary jubilee was declared.
Definition of the immaculate caption of BL. Virgin Mary
On 2 February 1849 Pius IX asked the opinion of all the bishops about the definition of Immaculate Conception. Out of 603 bishops 546 urged the doctrinal definition. Then on 8 December 1854 he defined the doctrine of Immaculate Conception by the papal bull “Ineffabilis Deus”. He defined as the infallible teacher in the church in the presence of 54 cardinals and 200 bishops. The pope placed a golden crown on the head of Our Lady’s statue. The city was illumined.
Liberalism and the syllabus of errors: On .8 December 1864 Pius IX issued the encyclical “Quanta cura” with an appended “Syllabus of errors” (catalogue of doctrines). It contained some 80 of the principal errors of the time. The liberals protested it strongly. One of the theses condemned was the statement that “the pope can and should reconcile himself with progress, liberalism and modern civilization”. Here by modern civilization pope meant the attacks on the church, denial of religion, imprisonment of the clergy and closing of catholic schools.
The syllabus of errors contained eighty unacceptable propositions. In it the pope condemned pantheism and rationalism; indifferentism, which regards all religions as equal in value; socialism, which denies the right to private property and subordinates the family to the state; the erroneous concept regarding Christian marriage; Freemasonry, the rejection of temporal power of the pope; Gallicanism, which wanted to make the exercise of the ecclesiastical authority dependent on the authorization by the civil power; statism which insists on the monopoly of education and dissolves religious orders; and naturalism which regards, the fact that human societies no longer have respect for religion as progress and which demands laicization of institutions, separation of church and state, and absolute freedom of relegation and the press.
Dom Butler evaluated the syllabus “as a most inopportune document”. Actually the excitement was not very strong everywhere. The public remained calm, some because long ago they had stopped paying attention to the strictures of the Vatican in political questions, others because they realized that an exact interpretation of the Roman document required careful exegesis. In England the non Catholic public was virtually unanimous in finding the pope’s campaign against modern society totally ridiculous, primarily because he had condemned virtually everything. English Catholics, on the other hand, attempted, not very successfully, to argue that Pius IX had condemned the doctrinal errors and excesses of liberalism, and not the liberal institutions as England knew them. In the Netherlands the document contributed to increasing Protestant hostility to the papacy and to the hastening of the break between Catholics and liberals in parliament.
The Austrian government feared that, encouraged by the encyclical the clergy would demand an even more favourable application of the concordat. Dollinger and friends deplored the syllabus; but the Mainz faction noted the condemnation of atheistic philosophers and of bold theologians with satisfaction. In France agitation lasted for several weeks. Many bishops wrote to Rome, pointing to the dangers of ambiguity, and demanded a clarification. Some of the others persuaded the government to forbid the official publication of the encyclical under the pretext that its condemnations were directed against the constitution of the empire. Dupanloup wrote a mitigating commentary on encyclical and the syllabus in the form of a defense of the pope.
Pius IX was no longer able to see the radical difference between catholic liberalism and liberalism as such. While regular liberalism, even its adherents practiced their religion, was naturalistic and wanted to separate man as much as possible from his religious ties, liberal catholics both intellectually and practically were guided by the demands of their faith and accepted, sometimes somewhat unwillingly, their subjection to the decisions of the church. Pius IX admitted the difference but unwillingly. In 1874 he declared: Catholic liberalism has one foot in the truth and one foot in error one foot in the church and one foot in the spirit of the century, one foot on my side and one foot on the side o my enemies”.
Pius IX and I Vatican Council
A council was suggested to Pius IX as early as 1849 and it matured slowly. At the end of 1864 the pope consulted a number of cardinals about the advisability of the matter. Since their opinion was positive he decided to pursue the issue carefully. He consulted the bishops and other officers in the curia and asked them to submit suggestions for an agenda. Gradually he then formed four commissions to make detailed programme. Since the majority in the curia was not very enthusiastic about the council, the pope hesitated for more than two years. Finally on 26 June 1867 he publicly made known his intention, and invited to Rome on 8 December 1869 all the catholic bishops and those who had the right to participate in a council.
It was suggested to invite the representatives from the non-catholic churches. A letter was directed to all the Orthodox bishops in September 1868, in which they were asked to return to catholic church unity in order to be able to Participate in’ the council; a few days later a global letter was sent to Protestants and Anglicans. From an ecumenical point o f view this was one of the saddest cases of missed opportunities.
In the catholic world the announcement of the council intensified the opposition between Gallicans and liberal Catholics on one side, ultramontane and opponents of the modern freedoms on the other. (Before the council it was reported that the council was going to define the papal infallibility. In Germany Ignaz Dollinger under the Pseudonym of Janus published a critical and partisan book attacking the primacy of the pope and the Roman centralization. In France a heated discussion was done on the question, of infallibility. Bishop Dupanloup insisted that it was inopportune to define the doctrine because of the difficulties it could create.) But several bishops like Deshamps, Manning demanded immediately that the council be utilized solemnly to define the truth of this publicly contested point. The majority of the German bishops at their annual conference at Fulda in September 1869 expressed reservations about the future definition of the personal infallibility the pope.
The council opened on 8 December 1869 in the presence of 700 bishops, 60 from Eastern rites, 200 from outside of Europe (121 from America, 49 US, 41 from India and the Far East, 18 from Oceania, 9 from Africa). The Italians constituted one-third of the assembly, they also provided two-thirds of the consultants and experts, all of the secretaries, and all five presidents, only one important position, that of secretary general, was entrusted to a foreigner, to the Austrian Fessler.
Before the council it was reported that the council was going to define papal infallibility. Then in Germany Prof. Ignaz Dollinger of Munich attacked infallibility on historical grounds. In France a heated discussion was done on the question of infallibility. Bishop Duponloup insisted that it was inopportune to define the doctrine because of the difficulties it could create. Cardinal Newmann supported him.
The council fathers assembled in an atmosphere of tranquility and security. The public sessions were presided over by the pope in person. On 24 April the third session of the council unanimously adopted and published the dogmatic constitution De Fide catholica concerning the fundamental doctrine of christianity and condemning the errors of Rationalism, aetheism, pantheism, traditionalism etc.
The question of infallibility of the pope had called forth much excitement within and outside of the council. It was included in the schema De ecclesia Christi. It became the matter of a heated discussion and it divided the Fathers into two camps:
1. The great majority held that a definition was proper and necessary. The leaders of infallibilists were Deschamps of Belgium and Manning of England. (451).
2. A minority, one fourth, opposed the definition. This group broke down into two groups:
a) Those who thought the doctrine was wrong. (88)
b) Those who believed in papal infallibility but thought its definition was inopportune. (62)
The chapters on the primacy of the pope and his infallibility were brought to a vote on 18 July 1870. 533 Fathers voted placet and two bishops non placet. Sixty bishops were absent for the final vote. After the definition the bishops throughout the world accepted the decision of the council as true and inspired. Do1linger’s supporters in Germany refused to accept the doctrine and they formed a small schismatic group called the Old Catholics.
On 19 July 1870 the Frank-Russian war broke out and many bishops obliged to leave Rome. Then on 20 September the Piedmontese took Rome and made it absolutely impossible to continue the council. Therefore on 20 October 1870 the pope prorogued the council indefinitely to a more Peaceful and favourable time.
The Papacy and Italian Unification
In the 19th century the drive toward national unification in Europe was strong. Attempts were made also in Italy like in other European countries to create a united Italy. When the dream of an Italian confederacy at under pope had proved impractical, the Italian patriots began to direct their gaze toward the ambitious king of Piedmont Sardinia, Victor Emmanuel 11 (1849-1878). They backed the plan of incorporating the various Italian states into Piedmont Sardinia. It was the plan of Camillo Cavour (1852-1861), the Piedmontese prime minister. His slogan was “a free church in a free state”. He made use of the help of the secret societies and revolutionaries to attain his ends.
In 1859 Cavour declared war against Austria and sought of France. The Austrians were easily defeated and Parma, Modena, Tuscany and part of papal states were incorporated into Piedmont. The pope pronounced excommunication in vain. In the newly acquired provinces the church property was confiscated and state schools were established in which the teaching of religion was forbidden. In 1860 Giuseppe Garibaldi conquered Sicily and Naples. Other provinces Umbria and Marches were also conquered. In March 1861 Victor Emmanuel was proclaimed king of Italy.
Only Rome and surrounding territory remained under the pope. The Italian nationalists wanted to make Rome the capital of Italy. Victor Emmanuel sent his envoy to speak with the pope, but pope denied even the possibility of negotiation. He received the royal emissary, read the letter, burst into violent reproaches against the vipers, the whited sepulchers of Florence and replied “non possumus”. On 2 September 1870 Rome and Vatican were seized. The protest and excommunication of the pope had no effect. In June 1871 Rome was proclaimed the capital of the united Italy and Quirinale became the residence of the king.
The pope withdrew to the Vatican as a voluntary prisoner. On 13 May 1871 the Italian government issued the law of Guarantee to settle the affairs of the Holy See. This law invested the pope with personal attributes of sovereign, immunity from arrest, inviolability of his person. He could have a personal military guard, his communications with the bishops and foreign governments would be absolutely free. He should have his own postal and telgrrapgh services. He was given exclusive use of Vatican and Lateran basilicas and palaves, and palaves, and villa of Castel Gondolfo. He was also granted a tax free pension of three and a quarter million lire a year. Pius IX denounced the law of gurantee because it was a unilateral
The opposition to infallibility culminated in the establishment of a new church, Old Catholics. Prof. Dollinger was its leader. Many professors in Germany joined him. They regarded themselves as conservatives adhering to the old catholic faith in the face of erroneous innovations.
In Germany it remained as an elite movement and in the 1870s it reached its peak with about six thousand members. In August 1670, 1300 Rhenish catholics protested against the council. In Nurenburg 32 professors appealed to an ecumenical council, true and free, to be held on this side of the Alps.
In September 1870 the first congress of old catholics was held in Munich with 300 delegates from Germany, Switzerland and Austria, guest participants from Orthodox and Anglican churches. Dollinger was against division, claimed the right to continued equal membership in the catholic church. He never formally joined old catholics, but others called for the establishment of an emergency community, the majority of the congress participants agreed with them.
The second congress was held in 1872 in Cologne. It officially adopted the name “Old Catholics”, decided to establish regular care and appointed a commission for the preparation of the election of a bishop. On 14 June 1871 Pro. Joseph Hubert Reinkens was chosen. He was consecrated by a bishop of Utrecht Church and thus entered into the apostolic succession. He was placed under interdict by Pius IX. Bishop Reinkens established an Episcopal administration in Bonn. He was acknowledged as a catholic bishop by Prussia, Baden etc.
The constitution of the Old Catholics was drafted by Schutte and it granted legislative powers and right to elect bishops to the synods formed of the representatives of clergy and laymen. It was approved by the Third Congress in 1873 in Constance. It was ratified by the first Synod in 1874 in Bonn. After 1880 German was employed in the liturgy of the Mass. In 1879 they abolished celibacy.
In Switzerland in 1875 a new church, Christ Catholic church of Switzerland Was established. In doctrine it followed the German model and its constitution it is more democratic. In 1876 Edward Herzog was elected bishop. They established a church oriented to Bible and Eucharist. In 1874 a university was established in Berne by government with the assistance of Herzog. It became a theological center.
In Austria after 1872 there existed four Old Catholic communities. In 1879 its first synod was held and it adopted the German pattern.
The Old Catholic bishoprics and the Utrecht church, which prior to 1870 had been totally isolated, formed the union of Utrecht in 1889. It is an autonomous union of national churches free from Rome, whose honourary primate is the archbishop of Utrecht. A joint declaration again accepted the faith of the first millennium, and a kind of Roman primacy which then prevailed. It protested against the dogmas of 1854 and 1870. Dollinger’s internationally recognized scholarship and his ecumenical efforts in 1874-75 resulted in the Bonn conference of union, consisting of old Catholics, Russian Orthodox and Anglican theologians. In the 19th century they made a bold attempt at the international theological discussions and thus precursor to ecumenism.
Leo XIII (1878 1903)
The conclave began on 18 February 1878. 60/64 cardinals entered in the conclave. 25 cardinals were non Italians. A strong group of cardinals wanted the election conducted outside of Italy. Finally it was decided to have it in Rome, On 20 Feb. cardinal Gioachino Vincenzo Raffaele Luigi Pecci was elected pope with 44 votes. The new pope chose his name Leo XIII in gratitude to pope Leo XII for furthering his studies at the Roman seminary.
Leo did not deliver the benediction Urbi et Orbi from the outer loggia towards the St. Peters square, but toward the basilica. His coronation was held in Sistine chapel and not in St. Peter’s because there was no guarantee for security from the government. Pope’s choice of a name inspired the mockery: “Non e Pio, non e Clemente, ma Leone senza dente’. He sent individual inaugural letters to catholic as well as non catholic as well as non-catholic heads of the states, in which he indicated his desire to settle disputes. The Italian government was ignored and in turn the government did not recognize the new pope officially.
Pope Leo was born on 2 March 1810 in Carpineto, central Italy. His brother was a Jesuit. Leo was ordained priest in 1837, had doctorate in Theology. He was papal nuncio in Belgium from 1843-46. He was appointed bishop Of Perugia in 1846, cardinal in 1853, Camerlengo in 1877.
All agree that Leo XIII was a great pope. He was a humanist in the best sense of the word. He possessed a keen intelligence and political ability and experience. He was prudent in his dealings with governments and was able to adjust differences amicably without sacricing the principles.
1. Leo XIII and the Italian problem
Leo seemed intractable in his dealings with Italy. He did not yield to the insulting attitude of the Italian government. His stand on the Roman question was the same as his predecessor’s. He refused to accept the Law of guarantee. He condemned the injustice of the government and exhorted the catholics not to participate in the national elections.
The Italian attack on the Church can be summed up under three classes of measures:
(1) Those intended to annoy and insult the pope and make a mockery’ of the catholic faith. The government officials were forbidden to attend thanksgiving services for the election of Leo, wanton attack of government supported hoodlums (street rowdy) on the funeral cortege (funeral procession) of Pius IX, when his body was removed in 1881 from St. Peter’s to the cemetry of San Lorenzo; permitting the newspapers and magazines to carry outrageous anti-catholic blasphemies etc. All these caused Leo to think of leaving Rome and he even entered into preliminary negotiations to take up residence in Austria.
(2) Those measures against church property. The government confiscated the wealth of the suppressed religious orders. In 1881 it took over control of the property of Propaganda Congregation. It also took over the administration of the properties of the charitable associations.
(3) The anticlerical measures designed to hamstring (cripple) the Church and prevent her from carrying out her religious work. The Clergy were drafted into the army as soldiers, religious teaching was banned from the schools nomination of the bishops was hindered. The regulation of public worship was put under government control and police surveillance. Leo XIII found it impossible to do anything effective toward solving the Roman question. He bore them patiently and was very careful not to do anything that might appear to condone (overlook) these outrages against the Church.
2. Leo XIII and German Kulturkampf
Kulturkampf means battle for culture. It is a title used to describe a series of laws passed in Germany to weaken the ties between the church in Germany and the papacy and to bring the German church under the control of the absolute state. It began in 1871 with Bismark. Two series of events inaugurated the Kulturkampf. (i) The growing strength of the catholic centre party which the pope refused to condemn at the request of the German government. (ii) The protest made by the bishops and in the universities and colleges.
In 1871 the Catholic Church was put under the control of the government. The government issued the “pulpit laws” which forbade any criticism of the government or the constitution under penalty of heavy fine and a year’s imprisonment. In 1873 a series of laws known as May Laws was passed to put the clergy under the government control. Candidates for priesthood had to spend three years in a state university and Pass a state examination in various non-theological subjects. Seminaries were put under the control of the state inspectors and government asserted its right to appoint and dismiss parish priests. Bishops and priests who disobeyed these laws were deposed.
In 1875 religious orders except those engaged in hospital work were expelled. Hundreds of priests were fined or imprisoned; several bishops were deposed, exiled or imprisoned. Bismark operated these laws with brutal and mechanical efficiency. The strength of centre party grew and endangered the legislative plans of Bismark. And there was a feeling by 1878 that Kulturkampf was a rather shameful thing and there was no real justification for it.
When Bismark needed the support of the central party against the socialists, he entered into diplomatic relations with the pope. Finally in 1887 Bismark revoked the Kulturkampf and spoke eloquently of the pope as an agent of peace. The central party loyally attached to the Church. Its basic idea was that modern constitutions guarantee all citizens freedom of religion. This attitude of the centre party made the Kulturkampf a failure and an active and strong body of catholics grew at the end of 19th century in Germany.
3. Leo XIII and the Secular laws (Lois Laigues) of France
Leo faced a different situation in France. The Lois Laiques the counterpart of Kultutkampf were more thourough, more vicious and more successful.
The French Revolution divided France into two nations: (i) Liberals (Republicans), (ii) Catholies (monarchists). The events of the 19th century made the difference between these two nations deeper and more bitter and the attempts of the liberal catholics like Ozanam and Duponloup failed to bring the two parties together. In 1877 the Republicans won the election. They formed the Third Republic. Gambetta became the prime minister. His slogan was “clericalism the enemy”.
The catholics were not sincere supporters of the church. There were professed atheists among them. They supported the church as an instrument to further their political views. They were divided into different groups bitterly opposing each other. On the other hand the republicans were disciplined +united.
The third republic declared war against the church. The clergy were expelled from all charitable institutions which were entrusted to laymen. Schools were laicized; military service was imposed on seminarians. Sunday labour was authorized and divorce courts were established. These laws were known as Ferry laws.
The laicization of education was accomplished step by step. In 1880 the Jesiuts were expelled and their schools and colleges (28) were closed. All “non-authorized” congregations must apply within three months for authorization, submitting their statutes, rules and number of the members. Only those authorized by the government were to continue teaching. In 1882 all religious was excluded from the primary schools. In 1884 February Leo published an encyclical “nobilissima Gallorum Gens” in which he regretted that the eldest daughter of the Church had departed from its tradition. But the government continued its anti-Catholic activities. In 1886 all nuns were excluded from the government supported schools.
Gradually the government had to stop their process of laicization because of two reasons: (i) the attempt to drive the church out of French life did not meet with widespread support. Less than 3% of the children were enrolled in the laicized state supported schools. (ii) The mild attitude of Leo. On 16 February 1892 the pope released his encyclical “au milieu des solicitudes” to the French bishops and their flocks. It was to end the dissensions among the French Catholics and to remove all pretexts of anticlericalism among the enemies of the church. In his Brief on 10 January 1890 “Saplunltiae christianae” the pope exhorted the French Catholics to be loyal to any form of the government and that they had an obligation to accept the Third Republic as duly established government and to work within it to protect the church’s interests and the common welfare. He said that the church was not opposed to any form of the government so long as religion and moral discipline were untouched and the church would not side with any party.
Again between 1901 and 1905 the French government enacted a series of anticlerical laws known as the “lois laiques”-secular laws – to drive the church out of French political, social and intellectual life. An Association Act of 1901 provided that any religious order wishing to continue work in France must obtain specific authorization from the government and submit to periodical inspection. A law of 1904 provided that within ten years no member of a religious congregation could teach in any French school, public or private. The separation Act of 1905 abrogated unilaterally the concordet of 1801. So the church was deprived of government support. The administration of church properties was entrusted to lay associations. Leo’s efforts in France had ‘failed but he had from time to time moderated the storm against the church and contributed to lessening the divisions among the faithful.
4. Leo XIII as the teacher of the Church
In the midst of tribulations and problems pope Leo performed successfully his function as the head of the Church. He issued a series of masterful encyclicals. The Kulturkampf, Lois Laiques and the Italian measures have all been rescinded and have melted into history. But the encyclicals of Leo are still read, studied and quoted’. He wrote on such current topics as marriage, errors of the day, the temporal power and the church and civilization. The great encyclicals are his most enduring memorial.
– Inscrutabili Dei (878) on the evils affecting modern society, their causes and remedies.
– Quod apostolici muneris (1878) defended the right of private property, sanctioned by the law of nature. He focused his attention on socialists, communists etc.
– Humanum Genus (1884) against Freemasonry and secret societies.
– Aeterni Patris (1879) on scholastic philosophy.
– Rerum Novarum (15 May 1891) on labour problem.
– Immortale Dei (1885) on basic political problems, the church and the state are two perfect societies.
– Libertas praestantissimum on liberty as gift of God.
– Providentissimus Deu’s (1893) on study of S.Scripture.
– Diuturnum Illud (1881) people have the right to choose their form of the government.
– Sapintiae Christianaeon, the chief duties of christians as citizens.
– Divinum Illud, on devotion to the Holy Spirit.
– Mirae Caritatis, on Eucharist.
1881 – He opened Vatican archives to all scholars. 1886 – He instituted the Latin hierarchy in India (Kerala). 1887 – Ritual separation the Syrians and Latins in Kerala. Two vicariates for Syrians.
Pius X (1903-1914)
On 4 August 1903 Joseph Melchior Sarto, the Cardinal and Patriarch of Venice was elected pope. He took the name Pius X. He was a man of deep piety with a purely pastoral background. “Instaurare omnia in Christo” was his motto.
Joseph Sarto was born in 1835 as a son of a postmaster of Riese on Venetian plains. He was ordained priest at 23. He had experience as a pastor, chancellor and spiritual director of the seminary. He was ordained bishop of Mantua in 1884 and became patriarch of Venice and cardinal in 1893. The government delayed his elevation for sixteen months. He took a round trip ticket when he went for the conclave. He was elected pope on the fourth voting. It was complained that he was a bishop rather than a statesman because of his simplicity. His secretary of the State was Raphael Merry de Val.
Pius X and Modernism
Modernism is difficult to define because they did not agree among themselves on what they believed. For them believing was unimportant whereas religious experience and pious living were the essence of the religion. Pius X summed up the teachings of modernism under 65 condemned propositions. He called Modernism “the synthesis of all heresies”.
The errors of Modernism are summed up under three headings: 1. Agnosticism: supernatural truths cannot be known with certainty by human reason. Holy Scripture could be interpreted subjectively. 2. Immanentism: S Scripture and tradition do not contain revelations of God, but expression of feelings and inner experience of extremely religious persons. For them religion is a purely inner experience. 3. Evolutionism: The church is a result of gradual evolution as it evolves it should adopt itself to changing times.
By his decree “Lamentabili” (1907) Pius X condemned modernism. He renewed it in “Pascendi Domini Gregis”. He suggested appropriate remedies: sound training in the seminaries, careful scrutiny of professors in seminaries and universities, careful control of the bishopsover the catholic journals and news papers, creation of the diocesan board of censures, diocesan committee to safeguard teaching of religion in schools. In 1910 he published a motu proprio which obliged all priests to take an explicit anti-modernistic oath. The condemnation of modernism, though salutary, put a temporary check on the study of scripture.
Pius X and the codification of Canon Law
At Vatican I several bishops requested to revise the canon law. Pius IX and Leo XIII had made attempts in this respect. The canonists also suggested the church, legislation be revised and codified. On 19 March 1904 Pius X appointed a commission of cardinals, canonists and theologians to prepare a new code with the suggestions from all bishops. Cardinal Gasperi was appointed the secretary of the commission. To speed up the work, the commission was divided into two; one led by Gasperi another by cardinal De Lai. Books were published on:
Books I, II – 20 March 1912
III – 01 April 1913
IV – 15 Nov. 1914
V – 01 July 1913
At the time of Pius’ death the major work had already been accomplished. The final conclusive version was published by Benedict XV in 1917.
Spiritual reforms of Pius X
1. Frequent and daily communion. In the beginning of 20th century there was a dispute between the advocates of frequent communion and its opponents. Leo XIII encouraged frequent communion Pius X also defended it and several decrees and letters in favour of it were published. In June 1905 he approved a prayer “for the propagation of the pious custom of daily communion, bringing to mind that Jesus meant to be the daily remedy and the daily food for our daily shortcomings. On 20 December 1905 the congregation for the council specified two conditions for receiving Holy Communion. 1. The state of grace, 2. Proper intention. He asked all faithful to communicate frequently and daily. On 8 October 1910 he issued the decree “Quam Singulari” declaring that it is sufficient for children to have the age of reason to receive the First Holy Communion. In April 1905 he founded the teague of Priests to enforce the application of the decree about the frequent communion.
2. International Eucharistic Congress. The first Eucharistic congress was convoked in 1881. It was organized by Miss Tamisier, a French Lady, and a disciple of St. Peter Julian Eymard. The name Eucharistic congress was suggested by Msgr. Mermier. Msgr. Seigur was also associated with it.
Originally international congresses were meant to be public manifestations to inspire the devotion to Bl. Sacrament and to have a public witness to Christ’s kingdom. Pius X wanted these congresses be an occasion to encourage faithful to receive Holy Communion frequently even daily. This was especially pertinent at the Congress of Metz in 1907. In 1914 at Lourdes Eucharistic children’s crusade was founded. By then the Eucharistic congress became more international in character, besides, national congresses were also conducted.
3. Liturgical renewal. a) Church music. No significant renewal was done after the council of Trent. On 22 Nov. 1903 by “tra se sollicitudine” Pius X wrote on church music. It was qualified as the ‘charter of the liturgical movement’. He opposed the orchestral opera music. Gregorian chant was presented as perfect model of church music. He wanted music provide a prayer with a beautiful background. b) Revision of breviary (1911) C) yearly liturgical conventions
4. Concern for pastoral improvements. Pius X tried his best to improve the spiritual and moral level of the clergy and to inspire their pastoral enthusiasm. Under the direction of Consistorial Congregation a questionnaire was prepared in 1909 focusing on clergy’s observance of their duties and situation in the seminaries. He constantly reminded the bishops to use stricter standards when recruiting the priests. He prevented priests from participating in activities of an economic or political nature.
In order to improve the quality of the clergy, Pius X turned his attention to the seminaries including the minor seminaries. In 1907 a programme of studies was published. In 1908 norms for the organization of the seminaries in regard to education and discipline. It paid attention to minute details. It had many shortcomings – a life without much contact with outside world. The Roman regulations could not be executed due to lack of suitable men, finance etc.
Pius X was very careful in the selection of bishops. St. Anselm was represented as the ideal bishop. He revised the methods of studied each one personally before the final decision. He issued regulations on their adlimina visits – a detailed report of the diocese every five years.
Reforms of Pius X
The London Times wrote after the death of Pius X: “It is not an exaggeration to say that Joseph Sarto instituted more changes in the administration of the Catholic Church than any of his predecessors since the council of Trent”.
Reorganization of the Roman Curia
The organization of the Roman Curia was instituted by pope Sixtus V on 21 January 1588 by his bull Immensa aeterni. There were 15 congregations. In the course of 300 years it turned into a heterogeneous assemblage of thirty seven agencies whose rights and responsibilities were often totally undefined and who were constantly in conflict with each other. Moreover the elimination of temporal authority rendered some of these agencies totally superfluous. Furthermore the administrative methods were completely obsolete, inflexible, out of date, costly etc. Many in the curia consider their work as a carrier to have the cardinal’s hat. The reform in the curia was very urgent. In 1903 Pius X suspended Congregation De eligendis episcopis and entrusted the appointment of the bishops to the Holy Office. In 1906 he suspended Congregation Super disciplina regulari and De Statu Regularum and entrusted everything concerned Religious Orders to Congregation of Bishops and Regulars.
On 29 June 1906 Pius X reorganized the Roman Curia by the Constitution “Sapiente consilio”. The new curia consisted of 11 congregations, three tribunals and five offices. I.Conareagtions
i. Cong. for Doctrine of Faith
ii. cong. of Consistory: in charge of bishops, seminaries
iii. cong. of the Sacraments
iv. cong. of the Council – general discipline of clergy and faithful
v. cong. of the Religious
vi. cong. of the Propagation of Faith
vii. cong. of Rite
viii. cong. of Ceremonies
ix. cong. for Extraordinary Affairs
x. congregation for Seminaries and Universities
xi. cong. of the Index (abolished in 1917)
i. Romana Rota -highest court of appeal.
ii. Apostolica Signatura – highest court of administrative and reversal of judgment.
iii. Sacred Penitentiary – the curial court of grace for the internal forum. Since it predominantly grants pardon, it should be considered rather as an administrative office than as a court.
i. Apostolic Chancery – responsible for the preparation and dispatching of bulls.
ii. Apostolic Datary -competent for the conferring of lesser ecclesiastical benefices (c.261).
iii. The Apostolic Camera (Chamber) – for the administration of temporal property and rights of the Holy See (c.262).
iv. The Secretariat of the State responsible for the direction of the policy of the Holy See.
v. The Secretariat of Briefs.
It is remarked that the basic structure of Sixtus V’s organization was not essentially (decisively) changed.
Pius I reorganized the papal conclave so as to insure absolute freedom in the election of the pope. He abolished the system of veto in 1904 (5 Dec.) and imposed absolute secrecy on the conclave’s deliberations under penalty of excommunication. On 19 May 1914 he created 13 new cardinals to give the College of Cardinals an even balance of Italians and non Italians.
Pius X ordered to teach catechism on Sundays and Holy days and to establish confraternity of Christian doctrine in every parish. He also pointed out the necessity of lay action in the Church (Il fermo proposito – 11 June 1905). He promoted the study of Bible. In 1909 he established the Biblical Institute in Rome.
St. Pius X did not possess the diplomatic ability and versatility of his predecessors. He permitted the Catholics to take part in the parliamentary elections provided the diocesan bishops approved. Pius X lived to see the outbreak of World War I, of which he spoke forebodingly. The war broke out late in the summer of 1914 and within three weeks the pope died on 20 August 1914. His kindness, simplicity and genuine piety had won for him the love off Catholics and the esteem of the non-Catholics.
Benedict XV (1914-1922)
Giacomo Paulo Battista Della Chiesa, the archbishop of Bolonga, was elected pope on 3 September 1914. He took the name Benedict XV in memory of his predecessor Benedict XIV (Lambertini). His coronation was on a September at Sixtine chapel.
Benedict XV was born on 21 November 1854 at Genoa. He had two brothers and a sister. He was ordained priest on 21 December 1878. In 1882 he was appointed to the cong. for extraordinary affairs, then as secretary to Card. Rampola. In 1887 he was appointed minutante of Secretariat of State. In 1901 he became the Sostituto, in 1907 archbishop of Bolonga. He was ordained bishop by Pius X at the Sixtine chapel. In 1914 he was made cardinal. When his mother complained about not promoting him to cardinalate, Pius X said to her: “your son takes few but long steps”.
Benedict was the ideal choice. He had experience in Roman curia as well as in pastoral work. He continued the reform works of Pius X. In 1914 he created a commission on the correction of the Vulgate and in 1915 he issued an encyclical on preaching. In 1915 he created a congregation for seminaries and in 1917 the congregation for the Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Oriental Institute.
Benedict XV and the World War I
The First World War (1914-1918) broke out in the summer of 1914. It is called a world war for nearly every nation of the world became involved in it. Since Italy was neutral the conclave could be done in tranquility.
The war caused the pope great pain. He followed a fourfold policy: perfect neutrality, protest violations of the moral law, perform works of charity for suffering humanity, attempt to end the conflict and to bring peace. He perused this with diplomatic skill and with a heart full of charity.
Benedict XV issued several documents appealing all to peace. In his encyclical Ad Beatissimi (I Nov.1914) the pope speaks of four causes of unrest that produced the war: 1. a general contempt has developed for authority, 2. mutual love no longer governs human relations, 3. class relations are dominated by injustice, 4. people are possessed of a universal fever to amass riches. The pope’s appeal to peace went unheard. Again on 28 July 1915 he exhorted all to end the conflict and to make peace.
Unable toymaker peace, the pope concentrated on charity work. He converted the church’s organization to the relief of suffering and the minimizing of the hardships attendant upon the war. He sent alms to help those areas devastated by the war. In December 1914 the pope set up a Prisoners of War bureau in the Vatican. This office obtained the lists of the missing soldiers and informed the missing men’s families. Arrangements were made through the bureau for communication between prisoners and their families.
Benedict XV also offered to mediate peace between the belligerents. On 1 August 1917 he invited all to agree upon his seven peace points:
1. The moral force of right should replace the material force of arms.
2. Simultaneous and reciprocal disarmament.
3. Acceptance of arbitration with proper sanctions to punish nations that did not abide by the decisions.
4. Freedom of the seas.
5. A general and reciprocal condonation as regards damages and cost of the war.
6. The reciprocal restitution of territory.
7. The promise to examine territorial disputes in a conciliatory spirit and taking into account the aspirations of the people concerned.
The pope’s note was not even answered. The war continued more than a year later. Then the peace was signed at Versailles, but Papacy was excluded from the negotiations. It was at the request of Italian government which, afraid that Vatican would bring up the Roman question and place it on the agenda for discussion.
After the peace of Versailles, Pope Benedict wrote his encyclical Pacem Dei Munus expressing his joy and pointing out that there can be no lasting peace unless there be a return of mutual charity to appease hate and banish enemity. He stated explicitly that Christian peace alone can work a reconciliation that will be just and lasting. He promised Church’s full support to the Leagge of Nations.
The neutral policy of Benedict was appreciated by all. It resulted in a number of steps in various countries toward reconciling the church and the government. Meanwhile Holy See’s diplomatic prestige had increased. England appointed an ambassador to Vatican in 1914, Holland in 1916, and France in 1920. Political persons visited the pope. A statue of pope was erected in Constantinople. Its inscription reads: “To the great pope of world tragedy, Benedict XV, a benefactor of peoples without distinction of nationality or religion, the East, in token of gratitude 1914-1919. He died on 22 January 1922 at the age of 68.
Pius XI (1922-1939)
On 6 February 1922 the cardinal archbishop Of Milan Ambrose Damian Achille Ratti, was elected pope. He took the name Pius XI. Achille Ratti was born in Desio near Monza on 31 May 1857. He was ordained priest on 20 December 1879. From 1882 to 1886 he was professor in Milan Seminary, prefect of Ambrosian Library from 1888 to 1907, then prefect of Vatican library. In 1918 he was appointed apostolic visitor and nucio to Poland and in 1921 he was named archbishop of Milan and cardinal. He had doctorate in Canon Law and Philosophy. He was a strong man with keen intelligence and universal interest. He had vast encyclopedic knowledge of the modern world.
Pius XI was a compromising candidate. Cardinals Lafontaine of Venice and Gasparri were the candidates. In the 14th ballot Ratti obtained 42 votes out of 53. He took the motto “Pax Christi in Regno Christi”. He was the scholarly pope since Benedict XIV (1740-58). He had considerable knowledge of languages and acquaintance with modern scientific investigation. Re was pious and active in pastoral care. As nuncio he acquired experience of ecclesiastical politics. He had excellent health, had a regular walk in Vatican garden.
“Life in action” was one of his maxims. Another one was: “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can today”. It seems that he was born to command. He had a strong consciousness of authority. His model was St. Ambrose. He used to say “Laws are to be observed, not to be dispensed with”. He was strongly against nepotism. He received his relatives in the official reception hall. The first blessing of the pope from the external loggia shows a move toward a solution of the Roman question.
Pius XI and the Room question
The Roman question was settled in 1929. It was largely the, personal work of Pius XI. It ended the 59 years of anomalous existence the church had endured since 1870.
In October 1922 Fascism under the leadership of Benito Mussolini seized the power in Italy and soon eliminated all other parties. Fascism- from the word fasci or clubs – was organised by Mussolini in the industrial centers. Its members wore black shirts and had as their symbol the fasces or bundles of rods enclosing a battle axe and saluted Mussolini as il duce with outstretched hand in Roman manner – took a friendly attitude toward the church which it considered primarily of course as an element Of natural culture. Religion instruction again became obligatory in the elementary schools; clerics were granted exemption from military service, military chaplains were appointed; the crucifix was returned to a place of honour in the schools, hospitals and law courts; churches and cloisters, that had been seized were given back, catholic holidays were acknowledged by law. Mussolini fully recognized the immense importance of a settlement of the differences with papacy. So he was very anxious to settle the Roman question. He wanted the full support of all Italians and he knew that this was impossible until the church officially accepted the loss of Rome and Italy recognized the papacy as a sovereign state. He believed that he could identify Catholicism and Italian nationalism to enhance his own power and prestige. Since Italian people is almost totally catholic, he explained, and Catholicism is the ancient glory and tradition of Italy, the state which is the judicial organization of the Italian nation, the representative of its spirit and the heir of its traditions, is not and can not be aught but catholic”.
Pius XI on his part intimated at the beginning of his pontificate that the church would accept much lose than the city of Rome and she recognized the unification of Italy as an accomplished fact. He explained that he needed only a little corner of the earth. In his first blessing he expressed his desire to negotiate with Italy. Then in his first encyclical he invited the Italian government to settle the question.
Informal negotiations were begun in August 1926. Francesco Paccelli, brother of Pius Pius XII, represented the Holy See, Dominico Barone, the Italian government. Both had 110 conversations. And they prepared a draft treaty in April 1927. Then the last stages of negotiations were carried on by Mussolini and Cardinal Gasparri. Finally after two and half years of negotiations on 11 February 1929 was concluded the Lateran Treaty.
This treaty has three parts: 1. The treaty proper, 2. A financial settlement, 3. A concordat.
1. The Treaty proper. It is a bilateral settlement. Pope’s sovereignty was recognized by Italy. It created Vatican City, a sovereign state governed by pope. It has 108 acres. It declared the person of the pope sacred and inviolable and acknowledged his right to send and receive diplomatic embassies. The pope, on his side, recognized the kingdom of Italy with Rome as its capital. The treaty also provided for the extra territoriality and immunity of many buildings outside Vatican City including the major Roman basilicas (Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul) the palaces of various Roman congregations and papal summer residence at Castel Gondolfo. It also recognized the cardinals as princes of the Church.
2. The financial settlement. The treaty also made a financial settlement. The state had seized tremendous amount of church property since 1870. Italy promised to pay the pope 1750 million Lire for the loss.
3. A concordat. The treaty included a concordat between the Holy See and the Italian government. It established the catholic religion as the state religion of Italy. It granted to the bishops full freedom in the exercise of their pastoral office, it placed Christian marriage, Christian schools and religious societies under the protection of the state. The state promised to recognize the holydays established by the church. The church, on her part, promised to recite liturgical prayers for the king of Italy and the Italian nation.
The Lateran treaty was a great achievement of pope Pius XI. It brought to the foreground the religious and pastoral functions of the papacy and pushed into background its worldly and political interests.
Pius XI and the Concordats
Pius XI believed that the church could effect a contribution to the consolidation of the new political situations and to the peaceful and cultural development of Europe. Therefore he entered into general concordats with various European powers. In this work he was supported by his Secretary of the State Cardinal Gasparri (+1934) and his successor Eugenio Paccelli. Pius XI concluded concordats with Latvia (1922.), Bavaria (1924), Poland (1925), Lithuania (1927), Romania (1927) Prussia (1929) Italy (1929). Baden (1932), Austria (1933), Germany (1933), Yugoslavia (1935- not ratified). So his pontificate can be called a new era of concordats.
The results of the concordats
1. The church obtained legal autonomy and freedom from secular rulers.
2. Provision is made for the nomination of bishops. Pope is free to nominate anyone he wishes and submits his name to government to make sure he is not politically a persona non-grata.
3. Freedom to exercise public worship, recognition of right of the church to promulgate laws binding on all Catholics.
4. Full freedom for communication between Holy See and bishops in the country, between bishops and their faithful.
5. Ecclesiastical organizations obtained official recognition and legal right to acquire and manage property. These organizations are recognized as corporate persons.
6. Freedom for religious orders to operate as cooperate entities within the country.
7. Special status of ecclesiastics according to the canon law was accepted: clerics are free from military service and from duties and public offices that are unbecoming to clerical status.
8. Some measure of the state support for the church in return for property confiscated in days gone by.
9. Various arrangements are made for matters that are a concern to both church and state eg. Education, marriage etc.
10. The concordat guaranteed the church the right to follow its divinely appointed mission freely in return the church recognized the legitimacy of certain political and social interests of the state as education.
Pius XI and fascism
Fascism was a source of trouble to Pius XI almost from the beginning. Certain accomplishments of the fascist government for eg, suppression of secret societies, its protest against materialism etc. deserved to be applauded, but fascist violence could never be condoned. Its doctrine of the state was a modern form of idolatry. Against this Pius XI said; “It is not the function of the state to absorb, to swallow up, to annihilate the individual and the family. This would be absurd, contrary to the nature of things, for the family existed before the state, as it existed before the society”.
In 1930 and 1931 Mussolini conducted an insulting campaign against papacy and catholic action groups. Therefore on 5 July It 1931, the pope wrote the indignant and strong encyclical “Non abbiamo bisggno”. In it the pope described fascism as an ideology which openly resolves itself into a true, real pagan worship of the state. Then Mussolini withdrew the decrees against the catholic action and never dared to declare open war against Vatican and the church.
Pius II and Nazism
In Germany the church was persecuted by Nazism under Hitler. Pius XI condemned the doctrine of Nazism and its terrorist activities. In France there was an ultranationalist movement called L’action Francaise which aimed at the restoration of monarchy. Its activities were anticlerical. Pius XI condemned it in 1927. In Spain the Revolution of 1931 overthrew the royal rule and passed several antireligious and anticlerical laws. The church’s legal rights were abolished, the ecclesiastical property was put under the state control, the religious instruction was excluded from education and provision was made for the suppression of religious orders. Churches were burned, priests murdered, nuns outraged and slain by the radicals. The government watched passively. On 3 June 1933 the pope condemned this anticlerical legislation. Pius XI and Catholic Action
Pius XI realized that the priests cannot by themselves adequately perform their apostolate in the modern world and that they need the help of laity. He defined catholic action as the participation of the laity in the work of hierarchy. He reminded the laymen of their obligation and duty to preach the gospel to all people. Catholic action groups are formed to spread gospel. Its aim was to create a sacred militia that would bring true, spiritual and moral principles to bear on the problems of the time. Catholic action stands above and beyond all party politics for it aims at the common good of the souls rather that at the welfare of particular bodies. The members of catholic action are always to remain under the bishops’ authority and subject to their jurisdiction. Pope obtained legal recognition of catholic action groups in many countries. Thus different youth groups developed in Europe.
Other activities of Pius X1
Pius XI was able to take the lead in every field of ecclesiastical and religious life and to reveal to all the world the eminent mission of the apostolic see. In line with his motto in 1925 he introduced the feast of Christ the King together with the consecration of the human race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He presided over many canonizations: St. Therese of Lisieux, St. John Mary Vianney, St. Robert Bellarmine, St. John Bosco, St. John Fisher, St. Thomas More etc. In impressive encyclicals he gave clear instructions for the defense of human dignity and Christian personality. Thus in the encyclicals “Divini illius magistri (1929) and Casti connubi (1930) he demanded support for christian education and christian marriage against the modern errors and abuses. On the 40th anniversary of the encyclical of Leo XIII Rerum Novarum, he issued a new and most important encyclical Quadragessimo anno (1931). It gives an outline of a reasonable social order. It reiterates the basic principles of rerum novarum and brings their application up to date. Within a few years Q.A. was known throughout the world, and many of its principles became commonplace among the sociologists and economists.
Main points of Quadragessimo anno.
-the church had the right and duty of exerting its authority in social and economic matters.
-pope points out the errors of socialism and communism on the one hand and rugged individualism on the other.
-pope established the right of private property which has a social character and cannot be employed against the common welfare.
-pope insists that ownership of property entails obligations as well as rights. He lists e rights and unjust claims of capital and labour.
-he dwells on the reconstruction of the social order on the basis of vocational groups and respects for the principles of subsidiarity.
The other encyclicals of Pius XI are:
Ron abbiamo bisogno– a powerful protest against fascism. In this the pope accused Italian government of attempting to monopolize all the young from the tenderest years up to manhood and womanhood.
Mit brennender sorge- a more incisive indictment of Nazism. Pope denounced the neopagan exaltation of race and blood.
Divini Redemptoris– a denunciation of atheistic communism.
Divini illius magistri- a classic statement of the catholic theory of education. Pope says: “there can be no ideally perfect education that is not a christian education for sound education must take into consideration man’s final goal in life. It must deal with the whole man.
Casti connubi- the pope states the traditional catholic doctrine on marriage.
1922- Celebrated tercentenary of Propaganda
1922- Authorized the transfer of the headquarters of Propaganda from France to Rome, and placed it more directly under papal supervision.
1923- Institution of Syro-Malabar hierarchy.
1923- First indigenous bishop in India for Latin rite, Tuticorir
1924- Cardinals -New York and Chicago.
1925- Jubilee year, instituted the solemnity of Christ king missionary exposition and founding of a missionary and theological museum in Lateran.
1926- Officiated at the consecration of six Chinese bishops in St. Peter’s.
1929- Extraordinary Jubilee on the occasion of the golden Jubilee of the pope.
1930- Cardinal -Rio do Janeiro.
20 Sept. reunion of Jacobites in Kerala.
1931- Jubilee of council of Ephesus.
1932- 11 June institution of Syro-Malankara hierarchy.
1933-34- Jubilee of Incarnation and redemption of Christ.
1935- Cardinals Buenos Aires, pat. of Antioch.
1936- Foundation of the academy of science.
The pontificate of Pius XI was a fruitful period. The missions were solidly organized and the church began to spread outside Europe. Internally also the church grew greater and stronger. Pius XI also did all he could to facilitate the reunion of the Eastern Churches. The Oriental Institute in Rome was given strong papal support. The pope ordered that all seminaries institute course dealing with the Eastern Church to help to do away with the mutual ignorance and scorn, which have perpetuated the schism. He published his encyclical “Rerun Orientalium” of 1928 on this question.
Pope Pius XI died on 10 February 1939 after 11 years in papacy. At his death the New York Times wrote: “He was a man of ample and various gifts, a humanist, a quiet scholar… a singularly able administrator, a lover of antiquity, his settlement of the Roman question will always be memorable…”
Pius XI made his little domain – larger he would not have -a centre of freedom and of the defense of religion against the new cult of worship of the state. In this defense he was as brave as he was wise. The free men and women whose battle he fought will not forget him”. Pius XI wanted all to bring all into the kingdom of God. The institution of Archaeological Institute in Rome and instruction to the bishops to preserve existing archives show his love for antiquity. He instituted a historical section for completing of the process of beatification and canonization as a part of the congregation for the Rites.
Pope Plus III (1939 1258)
On 2 March 1939 Cardinal Eugenio Paccelli was elected pope. The conclave lasted but one day. He took the name Pius XII
Eugenio Pacelli was a Roman by birth. He was born on 2 March 1876, He attended the state secondary school Visconti and, after finishing these, he pursued philosophy at the Gregoriana from 1804 to 1899, while he was a member of Collegio Capranica. He studied theology at Sant Appollinare as an extern, but at the same time for an entire year he heard lectures at the state university of Sapienza. He was ordained to the priesthood on 2 April 1899 by the cardinal vicar of Rome in the latter’s private chapel.
After the completion of legal studies at Sant’Appollinare (1899-1902), Pacelli entered the congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs as a minutante in 1904. Pacelli became its undersecretary in 1911 and secretary of the congregation in 1914. From 1909 to 1914 he was also teaching at The Academia dei Nobili and performing pastoral work as confessor, preacher and lecturer.
In 20 April 1917 Pacelli was appointed nuncio in Germany. Benedict XV himself ordained him as archbishop of Sardes on 13 May 1917 in the Sistine chapel. After the overthrow of the monarchy, Pacelli was on 22 June 1920 made the first nuncio to the German Republic. In 1925 he moved to Berlin. He was qualified as the most skilful diplomat of the Curia.
He was recalled to Rome and on 16 December he was created Cardinal. On 7 February he became Gasparri’s successor as secretary of state. He became known to the universal church through legations to Buenos Eires in 1934, Lourdes and Lisieux in 1935 and 1937 respectively, and Budapest in 1938. In 1936 he visited the United States in a private capacity.
Pacelli spoke a variety of languages. Though he had no experience as the administrator of a diocese, he had a long experience in dealing with men. He had a high intelligence, a combination of charm and dignity in public and private address. He was ascetic and religious and had great devotion to Blessed Virgin Mary. He consecrated human race to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1946 and defined the Assumption of Mary in 1950. When he was in the curia he used to hear confession in a parish and teach catechism. He had a sense of duty and sought to make the church more Catholic.
Pius XII was the man of the hour He possessed the diplomatic skill and experience of Leo XIII and Benedict XV. He was deeply religious like Pius X. He was a teacher on the model of Pius XI. He added sensitivity to changing social and economic conditions.
The beginning of the Pontificate of Pius XII was overshadowed by the impending outbreak of the World War II. Pius XII worked and prayed incessantly to avert the outbreak of the conflict.
The three main concerns of Pius XII were:
2. Protection of Church’s rights throughout the world
3. Adaptation to changing conditions in the world
1. Peace efforts of Pius XII
Peace was a great concern for Pius XII. He worked a programme for a true, just and lasting peace. In the first months of his pontificate he tried desperately to prevent war. He prayed and pleaded for peace. He also employed church’s world wide organization to relieve suffering caused by the war.
Before the war the pope launched a crusade of prayer to Bl. Virgin Mary and to Sacred Heart of Jesus to prevent the war. He also made a direct appeal to the leaders of the nations, for eg. the radio message of August 24 said: “nothing is lost with peace, all may be lost with war”. In spite of his appeals and peace efforts, the pope hurried I. diplomatic efforts to reconcile the great powers. He proposed to hold an international conference to settle the German -Polish and French-Italian disputes, but it was turned down. (The Germans invaded Poland on l Sept.1939).
At the outbreak of war Pius XII published his first encyclical “Summi Pontificatue” on 27 Oct 1939 –analyzing the dangers that confront the church and the pressing problems of modern time. He asked: “what age has been for all its technical and purely civic progress, more tormented than ours by spiritual emptiness and deep-felt interior poverty”.
The pope points out two principal errors that lie at the source of all troubles: 1. the denial or forgetfulness of the unity of the human race, 2. the divorce of civil auth it from dependence on God. From these derive nationalism and totalitarian state which denies human, family and even divine rights. The pope stressed the role of the church and her obligation to build up a new world order based on the truth. In the hour of darkness of war he was optimistic saying: “God can do all things. He, therefore, exhorted the Catholics to pray for a lasting Peace based on charity and justice.
Pius XII can truly be called a pope of peace. The problem of peace was always nearest his heart. His Christmas eve address on peace constitute the most complete analysis of the nature of peace. Peace is fundamentally a spiritual and moral condition -”a tranquil living together in order” (St. Augustine). Peace is a threefold thing: 1. it is an interior state of soul and condition of mind within each individual, 2. it is a domestic matter within each nation, social peace among the classes within the country, 3. it is a tranquil living together in order by all the various nations of the world.
In his Christmas message of 1939 Pius XII laid down the essential points of international peace:
i. the right to life and independence of all nations
ii. Deliverance from the economic and psychological slavery.
iii. Creation of some international institution to guarantee agreements entered into by the nations of the world.
iv. Satisfying the real needs and just demands of all nations and all minorities.
v. striving by all people and governments to attain justice rather than promoting selfish interests.
Pope said that the mutual distrust and suspicion are the grounds in which the seeds of war are fruitfully cultivated.
According to Pius XII there are certain victories which are preliminary to any lasting peace:
i. victory over the hatred which divides the nation in our day.
ii. Victory over distrust which makes honest understanding among nations impossible.
iii. Victory over the “dismal principle that utility is the foundation and aim of law, that might can create right”.
iv. Victory over conflicts arising from an unbalanced world economy.
v. Victory over nationalistic selfishness.
Pope stressed that lasting peace must be based on justice among the nations and among the classes within nations and that its foremost foundation lays in the principles given to mankind by Christ.
In the Christmas eve message of 1942 pope laid emphasis on the development and perfection of the human person, on the rights of the family, the dignity and prerogatives of labour and the christian concept of the state. In the Christmas eve message of 1944 pope showed that the same democracies, accepting right political principles can solve international problems and promote peace in the world.
The Church and the War
The war interrupted the normal communications within the church. Many priests were forced into armed services; thousands more left their dioceses to serve as chaplains. Several priests were killed. Millions of faithful suffered and millions were found themselves behind the iron curtain.
Pius XII followed two lines of action in regard to the war. He mobilized the church’s resources for relief work and he used his moral prestige and diplomatic service to shorten the war and advocate terms on which a sound peace could be reached.
1. A Pontifical Relief Commission was set up to help the devastated areas of Poland. Then new relief stations were set up as the war spread into other countries. Food, medicine and clothing were passed out by Vatican relief workers to people of all creeds and nationalities.
2. Protection of refugees: After 1943 when the allies began the invasion of Italy the pope found Rome a particularly pressing problem. There were half a million refugees in Rome and Vatican served them meals at the cost of about $7000 a day. The relief centers helped thousands to find a permanent settlement.
3. Looking after the prisoners of war. Vatican looked after the prisoners of war in many countries. Vatican representatives were given free access to the camps of the prisoners everywhere except in the Russian territory. They contacted the prisoners personally and provided them with all possible helps.
4. Information service. Vatican also set up an information service whose aim was to supply information about the missing persons to their relatives. It started with two volunteers and by 1945 it had a staff of 600 full-time volunteers.
5. Appeal for peace. Throughout the war the pope used his office to mitigate the harshness of the war. In 1940 he appealed for a Christmas truce. 24 November 1940 was declared a day of penance and prayer: for those who died, for those who mourned, and that “true peace may unite as brothers all peoples of the holy family’. May of 1941 was made a crusade for peace month; a special prayer was composed by the pope.
Pius XII negotiated with both sides to have Rome declared an open city. But it was not done; Rome was subjected to several severe bombings until it was taken by the American troops.
The loss of the Church
The church suffered serious losses in personnel and property during the war. Three bishops and at least 2000 priests had died or been killed in Poland and 1597 German priests had been killed and similar numbers of religious had lost their lives in the other countries of Europe. Japan had killed many missionaries in China. War damages to the church alone estimated at more than six billion.
The reconstruction of the church
Pius XII began to rebuild the church on a world-wide basis. He increased the number of the cardinals and gave to the College of Cardinals a universal character. The Italians lost the majority. (23/70). On 18 February 1946 he created 33 cardinals.
Russia thwarted the reconstruction works of the church. The church behind the iron curtain was cut off from Rome. 53 millions of the 425 million Catholics in the world are in this church of silence. The Holy See was powerless to offer more than prayers and encouragement to them. The influence and guidance of the pope checked the communist advance in Italy in the years after the war.
Pius XII and adaptation to a changing world
Pius XII was deeply concerned with keeping the church abreast (up-to-date) of the times. As bishop of Rome he took possession of the basilica of St. John of Lateran, the first pope since 1846. In 1939 he visited the king of Italy in Quirinale.
Pius XII also effected changes in certain aspects of ecclesiastical life. He encouraged the religious congregations to modernize their dress and suggested some reforms to effectively fulfill their duties. In 1952 the superiors of 200 Congregations met in Rome.
Pius XII insisted that the renewal of religious life should be marked by fidelity to the traditional heritage as well as by courage for wise adaptation. He strongly emphasized the obligation not to attack the essentials of religious life and of the particular institute, and not to be unduly influenced by the current views and opinions.
The Roman congregation of the Religious took up the aim of renewal of religious life in accord with the time. In the Holy Year 1950 it convened at Rome an International Congress for male religious. This general Congress discussed the life and cloistral discipline of religious, their formation and apostolic work. Two years later a congress of superioresses General took place at Rome which also treated the question of reform of the institutes. In 1957 the Congregation summoned the second general congress and discussed the theme “the timely renewal of the state of perfection”.
National and international conferences were instituted in various countries to reform the religious life;
1. Union of superiors general for male -1957
2. International union of the superioresses general for female religious -1965
3. Confederation of Latin-American religious 1959, Bogota. On 21 November 1950 the pope published the apostolic constitution Sponsa Christi on nuns. It was followed two days later by the directives for its implementation from the Congregation of Religious. These documents first underscored the inalterability of the contemplative life, the propriety of solemn vows, and the unrenounsable papal enclosure for all nuns. In adaptation to new requirements the rules on the enclosure were modified, namely, by the creation of the so-called little papal enclosure, which permitted a meeting of nuns and outsiders in an area of the enclosure that was intended for work directed to the outside. A high apostolic value was acknowledged in the very life of the nuns and definite works of apostolate were approved in so far as the constitutions provided. These documents also recommended the uniting of autonomous monasteries of nuns into federations so that they could give effective help to one another in this work of renewal.
Pius XII was very much concerned for a good formation of religious, especially of the Priests. On 31 May 1956 he published the apostolic constitution Sedes Saplentiae and it was followed on 7 July by general statutes of the congregation of Religious in the form of directives for its implementation. These documents treated not only the formation of the candidates, but attributed great importance to their education in pastoral theology as good shepherds of souls. One additional year devoted to pastoral introduction and practice and a sort of second novitiate were prescribed. In order to equip the orders of women the Congregation of Religious on 31 May 1955 erected the papal institute Regina Mundi at Rome with a three year course for sisters.
On the liturgy in 1947 Pius XII published an encyclical Mediator Dei. In this the pope explains the nature and purpose of liturgical services and encourages active participation in them by the faithful. He introduced some significant reforms, including the approval of numerous rituals with vernacular texts and songs, the introduction of a new translation of the psalms, but especially the renewal of the Holy Week and Easter Vigil liturgies. In Mediator Dei the pope made use of the keyword of “active and personal participation”. The liturgy is “the public worship which our redeemer, the Head of the church, gives to the heavenly Father and which the community of believers offers to its Founder and through him to the eternal Father… It displays the total public worship of the Mystical body of Jesus Christ, namely, the Head and his members”. The precept of the Eucharistic fast was greatly mitigated in 1953 and 1957 and thereby the way for the general permission for evening mass was opened. He permitted to use native languages for certain sacraments. The faithful were allowed to receive Holy Communion on Good Friday. Reading of epistle and gospel in the vernacular was permitted.
In 1928 pope Pius XI instituted the feast of Sacred Heart of Jesus by his encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor. He also recommended the devotion to Sacred Heart of Jesus as a means of salvation in the encyclical Caritate Christi compulsi of 3 May 1932. Under Pius XII the devotion to Sacred Heart of Jesus reached a climax especially in regard to teleology. On 15 May 1956 he published encyclical Haurietis aquas which made clear that the devotion to the Sacred Heart “can look back to an advanced age in the church and has in the Gospels themselves a solid foundation, so that tradition and liturgy clearly favour it”. The reason for this cult which is distinguished as the most effective school of the love of God”, is twofold: the first consists in this, that Christ’s heart, “the noblest part of human nature, is hypostatically united with the person of the divine Word; hence to it must be paid the same worship of adoration by which the church honours the person of the incarnate Son of God … The second reason results from this that his heart more than all other members of his body, is a natural indication or symbol of his unending love for the human race”.
Marian devotion: Pius XI and Pius XII promoted the Marian devotion. Appearances of Mary at Fatima in 1917, in the Belgian localities of Beauraing in 1932-33, and Banneux in 1933 obtained ecclesiastical approbation. At Fatima Mary demanded especially the praying of the rosary for the peace of the world, the consecration of Russia to her immaculate heart, and communion of reparation on the first Saturday of each month. Pius XII (ordained on 13 May 1917) regarded himself throughout his life as bound to the aims at Fatima in a special way. On 8 December 1942 he consecrated the entire human race to the immaculate Heart of Mary. On 7 July 1952 he dedicated all people of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. To spread the aims of Fatima there was established, at the urging of the Canadian bishop Dignan, a “Rosary Crusade”. In 1947 there arose in Vienna, under the Franciscans the Rosary Atonement Crusade.
The Legion of Mary founded by Frank Duff in Dublin in 1921 spread rapidly on all the continents. Then there appeared also the Militia of the Immaculate Conception founded in 1917 by Fr. Maximillian Kolbe (1894-1941), the Blue Army of Mar founded in 1947 by Harold von Colgan. Pius XII by his apostolic constitution Bis seculari of 1948 encouraged the lay apostolate of Marian congregations. In 1953 was founded the World Association of Marian Congregations. The Pallotines, the Schonetatt Movement by Joseph Kentenich (1885-1968), Marian sisters, Marian brothers, Schonstatt priests are the agents of the work
In 1931 Pius XI in the encyclical Ingravescentibus malis recommended rosary, with clear allusion to Fascism and communism, in view of the threatening world situation. A series of Marian feasts was introduced:
i. 1931 -feast of the maternity of the Bl. Virgin Mary on 11 October.
ii. 1944 -feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on 22 Aug.
iii. 1954 -feast of Mary our Queen on 31 May.
The climax of the papal initiatives came with the proclamation of the dogma of the bodily Assumption of Mary into heaven on 1 November 1950. In the dogmatic bull Pius XII stated that Mary who was already a share in the full redemption, is a sign for the mankind, threatened in a secularistic world of materialism; mankind should recognize in Mary that human fulfillment is to be found only in God; it is to be hoped, said the pope, that through the contemplation of the glorious example of Mary there may grow ever stronger the insight into what high value human life has, when it is used to carry out the will of the heavenly Father and to act for the welfare of the fellow man. And it can also be … expected that the truth of Mary’s Assumption may show to all clearly to what noble end we are destined in body and soul. Finally faith in the bodily Assumption of Mary into heaven will strengthen faith also in our resurrection and lead to energetic activity” (Munificentissimus Deus).
There was a powerful increase of Marian literature and it reached its climax in the 1950s. Thus between 1948 and 1957 about one thousand titles per year appeared. The theologians treated Mary in the framework of the divine economy of salvation. Thus Mariology was seen in its relations to Christology, ecclesiology and eschatology.
Marian congresses were organized on regional, national and international levels. Further there were formed societies for Marian studies and in 1950 an international Marian Academy was founded. In France the Institut Catholique at Paris received a special chair for Mariology; at Rome Mariological Academy was made a papal academy by John XXIII on 8 December 1959. Pius XII declared Marian Years 1950, 1954, 1958 (centenary of Mary’s appearance at Lourdes).
Pius XII on 18 February 1946 named thirty two cardinals from all parts of the world. Then on 19 January 1953 he internationalized the College of Cardinals by promoting twenty-four cardinals. He canonized thirty-three saints including St. Pius X in 1954.
The encyclicals of Pius XII
–Mystici Corporis Christi, 29 June 1943
–Divino afflante Spiritu on Holy Scripture, 30 Sept.1943
–Sacramentum Ordinis, on 30 November 1947, defined as the essence of the sacrament of orders the invocation of the Holy Spirit through the imposition of hands; the symbolic presentation of chalice and patent do not pertain to it.
–Muniticentissimus Deus, on 1 Nov 1950, defined dogma of Assumption of Mary.
–Sempiternus Rex, Sept. 1951
–Haurietis aquas, 15 May 1956 on devotion to Sacred Heart.
–Humani generis, 12 August 1950, accepted theological progress, but warned against the relativization of dogmas and the all too close accommodation to the trends of day
–Sedes Sapientiae, 31 May 1956, extended the circle of theological departments of study in accord with the demands of modern pastoral work.
Numerous are the carefully prepared addresses of Pius XII. He spoke on human dignity, formation of conscience, marriage family, mass media, sacraments, ecumenical movement etc.
–Mediator Dei, 20 Nov 1947, on liturgy
–Christus Dominus, 6 Jan. 1953 on Eucharist.
–Provida Mater Ecclesia, 2 Feb.1947, rules for secular institutes.
September 1956 -the first liturgical World congress at Assisi. The pope also issued new decrees on he conclave and the papal election: photographic and radio apparatus could not be brought in, and television speakers and writers could not be employed; one vote over the two thirds majority was needed to elect the pope ( Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis on 8 December 1945). In the constitution Episcopalis consecration is of 30 November 1944 he clarified the role of the two consecrators in Episcopal ordination; in the constitution Spiritus Sancti munera of 14 Aept.1, 1946 the priests were given authorization to administer the sacrament of confirmation in the territory of their parish, to the faithful who as a result of a serious illness are in danger of death. The motu proprio Sacram communionem of 19 March 1957 brought further mitigations of the Eucharistic fast and the extension of the faculty to permit evening mass. The premarital investigations were minutely regulated in 1941. The constitution Exsul Familia of 2 Aug 1952 introduced and exhaustive ordering of the pastoral care of refugees, exiles and emigrants.
Under Pius XII the codification of the canon law of the eastern churches reached its maturity. The following parts were promulgated; on 22 January 1949 the law of marriage; on 6 Jan. 1950 the law of trials, on 9 Feb.1952 the law of religious institutes and of property as well as the stipulating of specified concepts; on 2 June 1957 the constitutional law.
Neutrality of papacy in the world war
Reasons:-neutrality of Benedict XV
– The characteristic of Pius XII. He was a diplomat and an outspoken man of peace.
– The international law. In the Lateran treaty the Holy See had assumed the obligation of holding itself aloof from the properly political problems of international politics.
Pius XII preferred the term “impartiality”. He declared to the cardinal of Munich: “Neutrality could be understood in the sense of a passive indifference, which in a period of war such as this was unbecoming to the head of the church. Impartiality means for us judgment of things in accord with truth and Justice”. He declared that the church “does not have the function of intervening and taking sides in purely earthly affairs. She is a mother. Do not ask a mother to favour or to oppose the part of one or other of her children”.
Pius XII observed the policy of impartiality almost rigoristically. During the war he refrained with difficulty from any explicit condemnation of many aggression of the part of Germany, Italy, Soviet Union and other Allies. He was likewise careful to see that Vatican did not become entangled in any crusade propaganda of one of the warring sides. Even the term “communism” disappeared from the vocabulary of the Holy See.
The war made impossible the communication with the rest of the world. Mussolini withdrew the extraterritoriality of the papal buildings contrary to the Lateran Treaty. The curia continued to function in the Vatican itself. Though there were restrictions and limitations the central authority of the universal church could continue to operate essentially intact and keep contact with its nuncios and the bishops. During the German occupation of Rome in 1943 the pope managed to hidden the papal documents in his palace and microfilm photographs of others sent to Washington in order to save them.
Pius XII was without doubt was the most brilliant Pope. He appeared as the perfect Pontifex. In the most difficult days of war he stayed with his people and had been their single protector. Although he had three Germans in his immediate entourage -the Jesuits Robert Leiber and Augustine Bea, and Ludwig Kaas, the former leader of central party, and his housekeeper Sr. Pasqualina, he was far from favouring Germany or even of pursuing a pro-German policy. After the death of his secretary of state, Maglione, on 22 August 1944, he appointed no successor and governed in direct contact with the heads of the two departments of the secretariat of state, Montine and Tardini.
The pontificate of Pius XII was remarkable. The international prestige of papacy reached a new height under him. The administration of the church was vastly improved; its spiritual Life had grown richer. The homage paid to him on his 80th birthday (2 March 1956), and the deep and universal mourning at his passing proved his greatness. Pius X11 died at Castel Gondolfo on 9 October 1958.
Pope John XXIII (1956-1963)
Angelo Giuseppe Cardinal Roncalli, patriarch of Venice was elected pope on 26 October 1958 after a brief conclave (25-28 Oct). Roncalli was born in Sotto il Montel province of Bergamo) on 25 November 1861, the fourth of fourteen children of the farmer Battista (d.1935) and his wife Marianna Mazzola (d.1939). After attending the minor and major seminaries at Bergamo from 1892 to 1900, he continued his theological studies at the Roman Seminary of Sant’Apollinare from 1901 to 1905, interrupted by one year of military service at Bergamo,”un vero purgatorio” as he wrote to the rector of the seminary. From his professor of church history Benigni, he received the advice “Read little but well”. He took a doctorate in theology on 13 July 1904 and was ordained priest on 10 August 1904. In 1905 he was appointed secretary to the bishop of Bergamo and from October 1906 he also lectured on church history in the seminary and later on petrology and apologetics and edited the ecclesiastical journal La vita diocesana. He also began editing the visitation documents of St. Charles Borromeo. After the death of his bishop Radini Tedeschi, he wrote his biography (1914). During the world war he served as a military chaplain (1915-18). Then he served as the spiritual director of the seminary (1918 20). Then he went to Rome for four years as president of the Italian work of the Propagation of the Faith. On 3 March 1925 he became apostolic visitor in Bulgaria and on 19 March was ordained as titular archbishop of Areopolis and as his motto he selected “obedientia dt pax”, Baronius’s motto.
Roncalli’s stay at Sofia was not so easy. It was a period of “acute, intime sofferense”. After ten years he was, on 24 Nov. 1934, named apostolic delegate in Turkey and Greece and at the same time administrator of the vicariate apostolic of Istanbul. This activity satisfied him: “I feel young in body and mind” he wrote in 1939 in his spiritual diary. On 27 May 1939 he visited the ecumenical patriarch.
On 22 December 1944 Roncalli was made nuncio to France. He was made cardinal on 12 January 1953 and three days later named patriarch of Venice. When he was elected pope at 78, the people thought that he would be a papa il passagio. In fact, he became a pope of aggionrnamento.
Personality of John XXIII
John XXIII had a different temperament and experience of life unlike his predecessor. His temperament was to rejoice in the good and to be slow to rebuke. His experience of life-Sotto il Monte, Bulgaria, Istanbul, Paris -had led him to accept the world as it is and to recognize and try to build upon the good in all men both inside and outside the church. It was his experience among the non-Catholics that nurtured within him the seeds of a new ecumenical attitude which ultimately found expression in the decrees of Vatican Il.
Pope John’s motto was obedientia et pax. He believed in the strict observance of law and his temperament was conservative. This is seen in his life especially in liturgical discipline etc. But he wanted certainly a renewal of the life of the church and especially a new approach on the part of the church to the world outside. But he did not look to any relaxation of the inner discipline of the catholic life.
There is a great intellectual difference between John XXIII and his predecessors. John did not attach much importance to differences of philosophy. When his predecessors had seen implacable the liberals and the communists, whose philosophy, if tolerated, must subvert the church, John XXIII was more inclined to see men and women, of greater or less good will, in error, certainly, but an error which contact might help to correct, or at, least would not tend to harden, as would ostracism and estrangement.
John’s spirituality was thoroughly traditionally catholic. He frequently read The Imitation of Christ and regularly made the Ignatian exercises. He recited rosary daily, breviary, mass, a half hour’s meditation, weekly confession. His spiritual models were Francis de Sales and Philip Neri and as a pastor, Charles Borromeo. He lived a simple life. I am one of you, he said to the faithful of a Roman suburban community. He himself wanted “to be born poor and to die poor”.
Though John served the Roman curia for a long time, he was no “curialist” but constantly desired to be only a “good shepherd”. On I August 1959 he published an encyclical on the Cur d’Ars, imago sacerdotis.
John XXIII, Pope of “aggiornomento”
Aggiornomento means bringing up-to-date. It was an attempt to ensure that the church was fully and sympathetically aware of the changing character of the contemporary world. Pope John disagreed with the attitude of the curia that the world was going further and further astray. In his encyclical Mater et Magistra he made it clear. The world, he insisted, gave great cause of encouragement and hope. The movements among the emergent people of Africa and Asia, for example, for natural independence, were to be welcomed. The wind of change was a wind that brought life. It was colonization that was wrong. It was the duty of the wealthiest nations to assist the poorer, helping them to win their political and economic independence, and moreover, to do so without imposing their own cultural ideas or setting up a new economic control over them. Once the church allowed herself to become identified with the ruling political power, when the ruling power was overthrown, she had to suffer the same fate.
In his programme of aggiornamento pope John was not departing from the teaching of his predecessors, but rather he was building upon the foundation they had laid, bringing their teaching up-to-date in the light of modern developments.
Pope John was more revolutionary that he cared to admit it. This is evident in matters social and political and in his determination to enter into fruitful dialogue with other christians. For him it was high time to recognize the Orthodox and the Protestants not as schismatics or heretics but as fellow workers in the vineyard of the Lord, He was very font of repeating the prayer of the Lord “ut unum sint”. This now attitude or approach was a part of the teaching of the church. It was a turning of the attention of the Catholics towards something that had been neglected. There had been a tendency to warn and censure, but” Pope John’s tendency was to encourage and pursue it dwelling on the positive side.
From his experience pope John understood that the work of renewal must be begun within the church. He knows that the development of the church was being impeded by over-centralized and ultra-cautious control from the Roman curia. The solution for this -to enable the church to find her own voice- was a general council according to Pope John. “He was a man sent from God whose name was John” (Pat. Athanagoras of Constantinople about Pope John).
Pope John XXIII and Vatican II
The convoking of the II Vatican council was the action of Pope John XXIII. In the presence of the cardinals on 25 January 1959 he announced a Roman diocesan synod and an ecumenical council. He understood the council as the challenge of God, divinum incitamentum, but not in no way was it the implementation of a long prepared plan. There is no evidence that he resumed the project of a general council pondered by Pius XII. He wanted to carray out the will of God to follow the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Pope John intended to convoke a general council of the Catholic Church, but from the start he expressed his desire for the particlization of the Christians separated from Rome as a first step toward church unity. On the basis of the suggestions collected from the whole catholic world, the pope by his motu proprio Superno Dei nutu of 5 June 1960 introduced the proximate preparation of the council. It determined for the first time the name of the future council: The Second Vatican Council. Then ten preparatory commissions were formed to work out the draft of decrees to be laid before the council.
1. Theological commission -Holy Office
2. The commission for bishops and the governments of dioceses -consistorial congregation
3. The commission for the discipline of clergy and the Christian people -congregation of the council
4. The commission for the discipline of the sacraments
5. The commission for ecclesiastical studies and seminaries
6. The commission for sacred liturgy
7. The commission for the Eastern churches
6. The commission for the Missions
9. The commission for the Apostolate of the laity
After the preparatory work the council was opened on 11 October 1962. 2540 council fathers with the right to vote took part in it. The opening ceremony was very solemn. In his opening talk the pope repeated the conviction that the summoning of the council followed an inspiration from above and to bring to mankind the sacred wealth of tradition in the most effective way, with regard for changed conditions of life and social structures, not to condemn errors but fully to declare the strength of church’s life. This two main aims of the council were: an aggiornamento of the church and the unity of the Christians.
The events of the first session of the council made it clear that there existed a conservative group of bishops and a progressive majority of bishops. The first session was also significant. 1. It was the first time that so vast an assembly of bishops from all over the world gathered together (they numbered 2540, Africa- 296, Latin America -600, Far East -100t U.S.A.- 217 etc. 2. The meeting together of these bishops was an event of unique significance. They have faith in common, but had enormous differences of experiences and ideas. What they decide, is going to affect the direction of each policy everywhere. The fathers of the council could acquire a different perspective about Church’s attitude towards the schematics, Protestants and the Communists. The so-called schematics and the Protestants were seen occupying the best seats in St. Peter’s and were provided with the council’s agenda papers. They were received with every mark of respect and affection by Pope John at Vatican. They were pope’s friends.
Many council fathers encountered a twofold challenge. The first one was a challenge to their traditional habit of difference towards the curia, the second a challenge to their traditional attitude towards the enemies of the church. They were invited to think afresh about their own responsibilities which given to them by God, and not by the Vatican. Schemas on liturgy, sources of revelation, communication, christian unity, nature of the church were discussed, but no conclusion was taken on them. In these circumstances the first session was closed on 8 December 1962. Pope exhorted the Fathers to work hard during the interval.
Pope John could not see his brother bishops again when they assembled. The six months after the first session he was fully preoccupied with the urgency of seeking after peace. The dangerous confrontation between America and Russia over Cuba disturbed the peace of the world. Pope John’s passionate appeals for peace had impressed the world. In March 1963 the Balzan peace prize was awarded to him. Soviet representatives were present there. Some of the bishops behind the iron curtain were released. In April 1963 John issued his most famous encyclical Pacem in terris – in which he extended his appeal for peace on earth to all men of good will. It insisted in clear tones, upon the right to religious freedom of all men of upright conscience, It encouraged Catholics to work together with all men of good will for the good of the mankind.
Pope John died on 3 June 1963 offering up his severe final sufferings to obtain abundant blessing for the ecumenical council, for the holy church and for the mankind as whole which yearns for peace. The whole world loved his transparent goodness.
Paul VI (1963-1978)
The cardinals assembled on 19 June 1963 to elect Pope John’s successor. On the 6th ballot they elected Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini, archbishop of Milan who assumed the name Paul VI. The Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano observed that Paul VI is “a symbol of ecumenical unity”.
Montini was born on 26 September 1897 at Brescia, Italy. He was ordained priest on 29 May 1920. He was created cardinal on 5 December 1958. He had spent most of his time in Rome. He was in the secretariat of State from 1924-1954. In 1954 he was appointed archbishop of Milan. In that large industrial centre Montini had his first experience of diocesan work. He vigourously undertook a renewal of his archdiocese. He was known for his patient intelligent and a sympathetic work at the Vatican. He was also a strong supporter of Pope John’s intention to summon a general council.
Pope Paul VI opened the second session of the council on 29 September 1963. He showed a keen interest in the work of the council. The constitution on sacred liturgy was promulgated (4 Dec.63) in this session. It led to the adoption of the vernacular in the Mass, its deeper purpose was no less than to remodel the prayer of the church. The constitution had chapters on:
1. General principles for the restoration and promotion of S.L.
2. The most sacred mystery of the Eucharist.
3. The other sacraments and sacramentals.
4. The divine office.
5. The liturgical year.
6. Sacred music.
7. Sacred art.
In an essay in response to the Const. on Sacred Liturgy, Prof. Jaroslav J. Pelican of York University says: If the constitution can be translated into action creatively and imaginatively- and that still remains to be seen- it will indeed, as the council Fathers hope, “contribute to the unity of all who believe Christ”. The second session ended on 8 December 1963.
The third session started on 14 September 1964. It passed and promulgated the important document of Vatican II: the constitution on the Church, the decrees on Ecumenism and the Eastern Catholic Churches. It also discussed the documents on religious freedom, the Jews, lay apostolate and the Church in the modern world. The constitution on the Church is considered the most important work of Vatican II. Its purpose is “to unfold more fully to the faithful of the church and to the whole world its own inner nature and universal mission”. It has eight chapters:
1. The mystery of the Church.
2. The people of God.
3. The hierarchical structure of the church with special reference to the episcopate- collegiality.
4. The laity.
5. The call of the whole church to holiness.
6. The religious.
7. The eschatological nature of the pilgrim church and her union with the heavenly church.
8. The role of the Bl. Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the mystery of Christ and the church.
The principle of Episcopal collegiality has not in any way diminished the authority of the pope. This college of bishops exists only when the pope is present as its head. This principle has already led to the setting up of national Episcopal conferences. Pope promised to convoke an Episcopal synod to meet at R me and to advise him on policy. Accordingly given bishops’ synods were convoked by Paul VI.
1. 1967 -on the present danger of faith, Canon Law, Seminary, mixed marriage, liturgy.
2.1969 -on Holy See and Episcopal conferences.
3.1971 -on ministerial priesthood, justice in the modern world
4.1974 -on Evangelization.
5.1977 -on Catechism.
The fourth session of the council started on 14 September 1965. The constitution on the Church in the modern world emerged during this session. It reflected the mind of John XXIII. It looked however tentatively, to a new and more positive relationship between the church and the contemporary society and it promised the establishment of an organization to promote the study by Catholics of the special problems of the underdeveloped countries. The matter of birth control was not touched and it was decided to entrust it to a special committee.
The pope and most of the bishops wanted to conclude the council with the fourth session. So the procedures were accelerated and on 8 December 1965 the council was dispersed.
Pope Paul VI had two things to say about the council after its close: 1. He disapproved the attitude of those who wanted to go back to their old ways of doing the religious and moral habits. He also disapproved the attitude of those who wanted to continue to bring into perpetual discussions truths and laws already clarified and established. He says: the true task is to study, understand and apply the councils work. 2. The conciliar renewal was to be measured not so much by the changes in outward usages and rules as but by a shaking off of habits of inertia and an opening of the heart to the truly Christian spirit. The conversion of the heart was what counted.
The pontificate of Pope Paul and the period of Vatican II witnessed a revolution in the life of the church. During these years the whole approach of the Catholics to the vital questions affecting the church changed. A new ecumenical attitude was formed. A new secretariat for Christian unity was set up for this end in view. Pope John was concerned to encourage rather than to condemn. Pope Paul followed the same policy.
The Church after Vatican II
The results of Vatican II are:
1. Great increase of open-mindedness
2. Some sober self-criticism.
3. A new enthusiasm for discussion
4. An enthusiasm for joint action with its own members and other people
5. A new sense of political responsibility-a tolerance and sympathy for political option.
The post conciliar Church has undergone a crisis of authority. The renewal has worked tension and impatience as well as enthusiasm. There is a division between the traditionalist and reformist elements. This is confirmed by Pope Paul’s teaching on birth control, celibacy, his approach to ecumenical movement. Catholic Church is still not a member of the World Council of Churches.
In 1969 a group of leading theologians published in Concilium a declaration that “the freedom of theologians and theology in the service the church regained by Vatican II” must not be lost again”. In the same year cardinal Suenens called for a reappraisal of authority at All levels (in co-responsibility in the church). Paul responded that the attacks on the curia were tantamount to attacks on himself. There are important contributions to the catholic theology on the nature and structure of the church: The Church (1967), Infallible? An enquiry (1971), Fallible? A balance sheet (1972) – Hans Kung, Structural change in the Church (1972) -Karl Rahner.
The papal rulings on birth control and celibacy were issues of major importance. The Humanae Vitae in 1968 provoked a major crisis. The encyclical condemned all forms of contraception except the rythm method on the ground that they were contrary to natural law. The reaction ranged from protest to disappointment. “It might provoke scandal or even revolt or laughter” (French Jesuit). The pope has won the applause of the future (Spain). There were demonstrations in USA. In Western Europe many priests advised the faithful to practice contraception where in conscience they felt it was right.
The celibacy encyclical sacerdotaliscaelibatus (1967) caused considerable tension within the church. In France and Holland priests left the ministry and many clergy openly disagreed with the ruling. A survey of priests in the USA suggested that the majority were against compulsory celibacy and expected a change in the law. In Italy 40 percent hoped for relaxation of the rule and 15 per cent might marry if allowed to. In 1970 the Dutch pastoral council voted for abolition of the rule. In 1971 the National Federation of priests’ council in the USA voted in favour of abolition. The Congolese bishops and a meeting of European priests in Geneva supported the ordination of married men. The Latin American Bishops’ council called for an abolition of the rule. But pope criticized his opponents for “the moral mediocrity by which they pretend it is natural and logical to break a long premeditated promise”.
Peace efforts of Paul VI
Paul VI made repeated pleas for an ending of the American bombing in Vietnam. He conferred with the leaders of USA, Vietnam, Russia and China. He offered prayers for the peaceful settlements in Northern Ireland and Middle East.
According to Paul VI peace can be achieved only through justice. The elimination of hunger and misery must be the first step towards bringing Christian values and social justice to the developing world. In 1966 he set up a Vatican agency to fight world poverty and 1967 he devoted a major encyclical Populorum Progressio to the welfare of the developing nations. He visited Latin America Africa, Far East and Australia.
In some of countries the church’s work of justice has been handicapped by ultra conservative factions in the hierarchies. In Brasil in 1970 the government accused the bishop of Volta Radonda of subversion activities. When Rome protested the government retaliated by threatening to take actions against archbishop Holder Camera who had recently returned from Europe on ground that he had defamed Brazil. As a result cardinal Rossi stated that “one can not attribute to the government responsibility for isolated acts of torture”. In 1971 he was removed from his post and given a Roman curial appointment. It was a sign that Paul VI disapproved his action -support to the government. In 1969 the hierarchies of Brazil, Peru and Argentina denounced their governments. Fr. Camillo Torres, a revolutionary guerrilla priest said “the only true christian is a revolutionary”. He became a secular martyr. In South Africa the church kept silence about the oppression of the black community.
Latin America has also originated the major new theology of the decade -the theology of liberation founded by Gustavo Gutierriez. The theology of liberation attempts to reflect on the experience and meaning of the faith based on the commitment to abolish injustice and to build a new society; this theology must be verified by the practice of that commitment, by active effective participation in the struggle which the exploited social classes have undertaken against their oppressors.
In Spain , too, there are signs that the church is aligning itself with the oppressed. In 1966 a group of Spanish priests accused the hierarchy of compromising with the regime and demanded the implementation of the council’s decrees on religious and political liberty. In 1968 Basque priests were goaled for taking part in May Day demonstrations and in 1970 the bishops called for freedom of assembly and for representative trade unions.
In Rhodesia the bishops’ pastoral “Crisis in conscience” (1970) openly defied the government. They said: “we can not in consideration and will not in practice accept any limitation on our freedom to deal with all people irrespective of race, as members of the one human family”. In South Africa individual Catholics condemned the situation, but the hierarchy kept silence. In USA the priests were gaoled for their opposition to Vietnam War in 1970. In 1972-73 the missionaries revealed to the world the massacre techniques of Portuguese colonialism in Africa.
The catholic approach to ecumenical movement has been cautious. In 1969 Paul VI attended the world council of churches in Geneva. He spoke of it “as a truly blessed encounter, a prophetic movement, dawn of a day to come and yet waited for centuries. In 1967 Paul VI met patriarch Athanagoras, in 1968 archbishop Makarios. Catholic observers attended the World council of Churches in Uppsala. The Christian churches agreed to a mutual recognition of baptism and the catholic ruling on mixed marriages has been relaxed.
The publications of common Bible (1973), first Protestant Catholic Catechism (1975) are important steps in the ecumenical movement. A major contribution to it has been the reform of the liturgy. Simplified vernacular rites have been introduced with a new emphasis on participation and understanding. In the celebration of the Eucharist importance is given to a sense of community and fellowship.
Adult catechism has been given importance and there has been a movement for concretization of the underprivileged masses in Latin America which owes much to the new catholic social awareness. The number of the vocations to the priesthood and to the religious life has fallen, but catholics are expected to be more conscious of the social implications of their faith, and to practice their responsibility. One of the major secular watchwords of the age, “truth is concrete”- has been seen in its religious reference too. What looks like a serious crisis may “mark the moment of a new life … for identity consists only on its variability, its continuity only in changing circumstances its permanence in varying outward appearances” (Hans Kung).
Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on August 2, 2012
VATICAN II AND ECCLESIOLOGY
In early centuries the Church was vividly experienced and believed in, but her nature was not analysed. Even in the great age of scholasticism there was no treatise “De Ecclesia”: none will be found in St.Thomas’ “Summa Theologica”. Such a treatise first appeared at the end of the Middle ages, but chiefly as a creation of Canon Law. Then came the reformation and the need to oppose the Protestant concept of the Invisible Church and to prove that the Roman Church was the only true one. To do this the idea of the Church as a “perfect society” was much developed, and a fully visible society – “as visible as the Kingdom of France” said St.Robert Bellarmine, the leading counter-reformation controversialist. Moreover, in discussing the nature of this society little was considered beyond its governmental aspect, and that was seen again in secular terms: those of monarchical government. Thus a sort of typical ecclesiology for the period from the 16th to 19th century grew up.
To sum it up:
– It was apologetic in approach.
– It defined the church as a “perfect society” understood in terms similar to those of a secular state.
– It was mostly concerned with the visible aspect of the Church.
– It spoke chiefly of the governmental side of the society.
– It explained that government in terms of monarchy.
The best way to show this ecclesiology from which the Second Vatican Council has now finally delivered us is to give an example. So, here is a brief summary of the “De Ecclesia Christi” of Cardinal Billot, 4th edition, 1921. Billot was probably the most distinguished and influential Catholic theologian of the first quarter of this century. His treaties has 870 pages, divided into three parts. Namely;
– The first part (267 pages) is straightforward apologetics. It proves that the Roman Catholic Church is true and all sects separated from her false.
– The second part is the most important; its 450 pages are devoted to the Church’s internal constitution. The first chapter is on the members of the Church (all the baptized except those cut off by heresy or schism.)
All the other nine chapters are on ecclesiastical authority: first in general, then the powers of order, of teaching, of jurisdiction. There follow 200 pages on the monarchical character of the Church and on the Roman Pontiff. Finally there are 13 pages divided between bishops and councils.
The third part considers the relationship of the Church with civil society, the two ‘powers’. Its first chapter deals with the error of Liberalism, the second proves that the State is (indirectly) subordinate to the Church, the third and the last speaks of the Church’s immunity.
Why go into all this? Because it shows us so clearly what is new in the “New Ecclesiology”. The old ecclesiology – the teaching of most manuals up till a few years ago – had a terribly juridical and rather secular view of what the Church is. One finds in Billot’s work no account of the people of God or even of the body of Christ; no reference to the sacraments other than the initiation of baptism; not concern with the laity or even with the priests except as ‘subjects’ for authority; no treatment of the Church’s mission, etc. The old ecclesiology appeared as principally concerned with power in the Church and then chiefly with that of the Pope. Bishops and councils between them got a bare 13 pages. The central thesis of the whole thing was undoubtedly ‘the Church’s monarchy as instituted in St. Peter’ even though Billot – unlike many theologians of his time did temper this by recognizing the existence of a true ‘college of bishops’. The old ecclesiology was not wrong in its chief affirmations; we cannot reject the visible hierarchical and papal aspects of the Church – but it was very one-sided.
Twentieth Century Developments
In the forty years following 1921 ecclesiology has been in a constant state of change as the influences of Scripture, the Fathers and Liturgy have been growing, in place of those of canon Law, apologetics and comparisons with civil government. In particular we may note the following developments:
– The theology of the “Mystical Body” coming back especially in the years after 1925.
– The Lay Apostolate Movement, greatly encouraged by Pope Pius XI and Pius XII
– The theology of the People of God, coming in chiefly after 1940.
– A closer linking up of the Church with sacramental theology.
– The beginning of ecumenical contacts with non-Catholics.
The manuals of theology written or revised in those years often tried to bring in some of these new ideas (especially, of course, that of the mystical body after the encyclical of 1943), but on the whole they stuck to the old framework and you get some odd results as when the mystical body is mentioned indeed but in a ‘corollarium’!
The first text of the “De Ecclesia” to appear at the Council, that produced after much discussion by the Preparatory Commission and debated during the last week of the first session, did much of this.
Many new ideas appeared here and there but the general impression was still strongly of the old point of view in its order, its stresses and its terminology. The bishops strongly criticized it as too heavily institutional and juridical. Although not specifically rejected by the Fathers it was clear that this draft was not acceptable, and it was almost entirely rewritten by the Doctrinal Commission between the first and second sessions.
This new draft (B) was an enormous improvement. It was very carefully discussed in the second session and a great many further amendments and additions many of them of the first importance, were proposed. It was also decided to add two further chapters, one eschatological, the other Marian. This resulted in a further extremely careful writing or rewriting of the various parts; these were prepared in a number of sub-commissions which included many of the most distinguished international theologians. The new draft (now eight chapters) was sent out to the Fathers in July, 1964. Further small but significant amendments had still to be made to it during the third session and in that form it was finally voted on and approved.
Let us compare the order of the three chief drafts by chapter divisions.
PRINCIPAL DRAFTS OF DE ECCLESIA
A B C
Presented in Session I Presented in Session II Presented in Session III
8. The role of Mary in the mystery of Christ and the Church
IT MAY BE NOTED THAT:
– The original text clearly what we may call ‘Billot’s general order and approach’ while inserting some new sections in what seems a rather arbitrary way.
– However, text A did already include many ideas of the ‘New Ecclesiology’, e.g. the terms ‘people of God’ and ‘body of Christ’ appear at once in c. l. ; lay people were given a separate chapter which speaks of the universal priesthood.
– Yet the ‘old approach’ was still too clear: four different chapters were devoted to the organs of clerical authority, while the tone of the actual text was in many places very juridical.
– The later texts have put everything that was to be said about the ‘hierarchical ministry’ into a single chapter (a long one).
– The final text develops the idea of ‘God’s people’ before speaking of the hierarchy.
– The Church’s spiritual and invisible purpose, ‘holiness’, appears clearly in the later texts.
– ‘The Laity’ were treated after religious in the first text before them in the second and third.
– The traditional chapter on the two ‘potestates’ (powers) ‘Church and State’- is simply left out in the later texts; other matters such as the Church’s missionary character, which appears in the first text as a sort of ‘corollarium’ are integrated into the general treatment; on the other hand quite new themes (especially concerning invisible aspects of the Church) make their appearance.
– The term ‘militant’ falls out; the term ‘pilgrim’ comes in.
– Already this brief analysis of Chapter headings shows us quite a lot about the way thinking on the Church developed during the Council. But to understand that development properly what we must examine is the text itself of the final constitution, for, the whole ‘new theology’ of Christian life in the church is really to be found within its chapters.
DOGMATIC CONSTITUTION ON THE CHURCH
A Brief Commentary
Chapters 1 and 2
I. Ecclesia a.1. Introduction: the Council intends to set
de Trinitate forth the nature of the Church
a. 1-4. a.2. the Father’s work.
a.3. the Son’s.
a.4. the Holy Spirit’s.
of God’s gift
a.5. Jesus’ preaching of the Kingdom.
a.6. Images of the Church:
sheepfold, flock, olive tree, vineyard;
building, temple of God, holy city;
bride of Christ.
II. Aspects of the mystery
a.5-8 a.7. the body of Christ.
a.8. a visible, hierarchial society; but one of
service not of power.
III. Nature of the people
a. 9-12 a.9. constituted by the new covenant with
Christ as head.
a.12. prophetic character, including charisms.
IV. Relationship a.13. universality of the people.
with the human race. a.14. fullness of incorporation.
a.13-17. a.15. separated Christians.
a.17. the mission of universal
The conciliar documents, like papal encyclicals, are to be known by the first words of their latin text, and so special care was presumably taken to make these significant. The words LUMEN GENTIUM which open the constitution on the Church appeared with the 1963 text. That of 1962 began AETERNUS UNIGENITI PATER, rather reminiscent of Vatican I’s PASTOR AETERNUS. The words LUMEN GENTIUM look outwards and stress the universal mission of both Christ and the Church. They are an implicit quotation from Isa. 42:6, but ‘gentes’ here of course no longer means the gentiles in opposition to Israel but simply all the peoples of the world. We may be especially glad that this phrase entitles the Council’s greatest document not only because of its missionary significance but also because it was a phrase very dear to Pope John, and was used as the key words of his radio message to the world on 11 September, 1962, just before the Council opened. It is Christ who is the light of the nations, but his light shines through the Church.
Common theme of these two chapters:
The first two chapters of the constitution stand together, providing a rich basic theology of the Church. In draft B of the document the order followed was: c.1, Mystery of the Church; c.2, the Hierarchy; c.3, the People of God and the Laity. But it was pointed out in the second session that the term ‘People of God’ includes the whole Church, the hierarchy as well. Laity and hierarchy are divisions within God’s people, and therefore a study of the People of God must come before one of the hierarchy. PEOPLE OF GOD, in fact, is an important name for the Church, while the hierarchy is a ministry within the Church (or rather, those performing that ministry). We have to see the Church as a whole before we speak of a ministry within her. Hence a chapter on the People of God was placed before that on the hierarchy.
The matter of c.2 might in fact have been merged into c.1. It was kept apart both to stop c.1 from becoming too long and then because of a certain difference of approach: c.1 deals more with the divine, c.2 with the human side of the Church’s nature. The Church on earth is a gathering of men by God: he forms and gives this gathering its special characteristics. So, in studying the Church’s nature, there are two aspects to be considered – that of the gift, and that of those who receive it. Roughly speaking, c.1 deals with the first aspect: the Church’s mystery as a gift of God; c.2 deals with the second aspect: the human community, the people of God. But the two sides are so completely inter-involved that not only is there of course no division between them, but even a distinction should not be pressed.
The very existence of these two well-developed chapters on the Church’s general nature, placed before any treatment of the hierarchy, is the first and possibly even the most important contribution of the constitution to our understanding of the Church. Never again will others be able to say that we seem only to speak about the governmental side of the Church; in the past that was often almost true. From now on it cannot be. In these two chapters on the nature of the Church there is no detailed mention of the hierarchy at all. The body of the Church is described, and only when that has been done does the constitution go on to speak in detail of the ministry within the Church.
Note that each of these two chapters is fairly clearly divided into half, as in the summary above; if the four units are seen as such a study of the main lines of thought will be greatly assisted.
Chapter – 1:
The essence of the Church is very finely expressed in a.1. The Church is the sacrament of UNION WITH GOD and of unity among men. That is where we start from – not a juridically conceived ‘perfect society’ but ‘union with God’, of which the Church as we know her is the sacrament, that is to say the visible sign and embodiment.
Union with God means union with the three persons of God, Father, Son, Holy Spirit. The Church is indeed DE TRINITATE. In order to gather men into this unity of God, the Father sent the Son in whose life and especially in whose death and paschal sacrifice the Church is inaugurated. It is in the eucharistic sacrifice and sacrament that what Christ did then is continually expressed and made effective for us: in this way the unity of men, the body of Christ, is brought about. But it is the Holy Spirit who continually vivifies, sanctifies, and rejuvenates the Church of God: Christ provides the ‘shape’ of the Church, the Spirit the breath of life.
This opening section is concluded with the fine sentence: ‘Thus the universal Church is revealed as “a people brought into unity from the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” (a.4). These four opening articles really provide an exquisite summa of essential ecclesiology and deserve deep meditation.
a.5 provides an extension of a.3: the historical work of Christ especially in terms of the kingdom. The meaning of the kingdom is not easy to express precisely. The kingdom of God is the fullness of humanity’s service of God. Preaching the kingdom, Jesus inaugurates the Church, and the Church is continually bringing the kingdom nearer to realization, but the two cannot simply be identified – at least until the end of time.
In a.6 we find the presentation of a wide variety of scriptural images for the Church. Drawn from the life of the countryside and the common trades they can be specially valuable for catechetical work in non-industrialized societies. The images given in a.6 could very well form the basis for a course of sermons. Note that the ‘body of Christ’ in a.7 is not given simply as another image. This title cannot be put on the same level as the images previously referred to, as it has a deeper and more precise theological meaning.
In a.8 for the first time we meet the word ‘society’. The Church is indeed a visible society. We live in a visible world. Christ was a visible man and the divine communion he came to bring, which has been described up till now, must take a visible and social form. It involves the gathering of men in a human society which requires leadership, etc. like other human societies. Therefore the divine fellowship, the body of Christ existing in the visible world, must take the form of a visible society, the earthly (hierarchical) Church. The identity of the two was stressed in Pius XII’s encyclicals MYSTICI CORPORIS and HUMANI GENERIS; it is repeated here, but in a modified form. The single Church of Christ cannot be simply and absolutely identified with the one visible Roman communion, for the Council recognizes important ‘ecclesial elements’ separated from the latter. The visible Church as sacrament (manifest and effective sign) of union with God is one and exclusive, but what it signifies extends beyond its visible frontiers. Hence, whereas draft B stated unequivocally ‘This Church is the Roman Catholic Church’, the final text declares ‘This Church SUBSISTS in the R.C. Church’. The implications of this tiny verbal modification may be very great.
Chapter – 2:
a.9 is a fundamental one. The PEOPLE OF GOD is the Councils characteristic name for the Church. Note that the description of the people starts with the fact of the covenant. The Church is God’s new people. Why? Because Christ instituted a new eternal covenant in his blood of cross and Eucharist. We cannot understand this term ‘people of God’ without the covenant idea: the historical agreement whereby a group of men are made into God’s chosen people.
God’s people is ‘a kingdom of priests’. Until recently we have greatly neglected the truth of the priesthood of all the faithful, so stressed by Lutherans. Here it is called the ‘common priesthood’ as distinguished from the ‘ministerial priesthood’ of holy orders. Note that both are sacramental in origin and expression and, of course, that all ministers share in the common or universal priesthood. This is a real participation in Christ’s Priesthood, and it is actuated in the whole of the Church’s worship centred upon offering the Eucharist, to which every Christian is called.
The final paragraph of a.11 speaks of the universal vocation of Christians to perfect sanctity; it anticipates the theme of c.5.
Besides the priestly and prophetic gifts which are common to all the christian people, there are many other special one to this person or that which are given by the Holy Spirit for the good of the Church. These are called ‘charisms’’; some may be remarkable others very simple. They are to be welcomed by the hierarchical ministry, but their genuineness and proper use may require testing.
Articles 13-17 must again be seen as a unit. The key to all five is the initial sentence: ‘All men are called to belong to the new People of God’. The whole section works out the implications of this statement. The picture of God’s people is one of an ever richer diversity in unity as the universality of its vocation is little by little realized through historical growth. Catholics in a state of grace and the communion of Rome are fully incorporated into the unity of the one people, but non-Catholic Christians too are joined to it in many ways – by baptism and the Scriptures and faith and the Holy Spirit: a.15 must, of course, be studied with the Decree on Ecumensim. Non-Christians as well (Jews, Muslims, everyone) are positively related to the one people in one way or another, for all God’s sons have been called to membership of the new people. Nevertheless here and now they still lack much; to give it to them and so achieve the desired fullness missionary work is absolutely necessary. This is not a valuable extra in Church life. On the contrary: “Proclaiming saving truth to the ends of the earth’ expresses the very purpose and being of the Church and without it the Church would not indeed be here self. Only thus can we bring to achievement the Catholicity and unity of God’s people: all humanity fully within the one Church, and the one Church fully diversified with the variety of mankind.
Notice that we have said ‘Roman Catholics in a state of grace are FULLY incorporated into the one people’. Draft B of a.14 had declared that ONLY Catholics are REALLY incorporated into the Church (‘Reapse et simpliciter…illi tantum’); this was a repetition of the words of the encyclical MYSTICI CORPORIS (‘Reapse illi soli’). But the Fathers preferred to replace the above words with ILLI PLENE. Full membership, to the mind of the Council, furthermore implies not only fulfilling the external conditions of belonging to the Roman communion, but also includes possession of the Spirit of Christ: ‘Dead” members cannot be ‘full’ members. If Catholics are incorporated into the ‘full communion’ of the visible Church, non-Catholic Christians are truly but not fully members of the visible communion. This does not PER SE limit their sharing in the fellowship of faith and love which is signified, but at the sign level at least their communion with the great Church is not complete. This is an important advance on earlier official teaching.
This beautiful treatise on the Church ends as it began, with the three persons of God, from whom (in a.1) our eucharistic communion and mission comes and to whom (a.17) it returns. The universal mission must bring about a universal Eucharist-in the prophetic words of Malachi, ‘In every place there is a sacrifice’-that in this way ‘the fullness of the whole world may pass into the People of God, the Body of the Lord and the Temple of the Holy Spirit, that in Christ, the head of all things, all honour and glory may be rendered to the creator, the Father of the universe’.
Chapter 3 HIRARCHICAL MINISTRY:
1. Introduction. a.18. purpose of the chapter
I. Its origin a.19. the apostolic college.
a.20. bishops are the apostles’
successors by divine institution.
a.21. entry through consecration-the
fullness of Holy orders.
2. The Episcopate II. Its nature a.22. the Episcopal college and the
Position of its head.
a.23. mutual relations of bishops;
world missionary responsibilities
III. Its work a.24. the ministry in general.
a.25. teaching, and ecclesial infallibility
a.27. pastoral rule.
a.28. the priesthood.
3. Lesser Orders a.29. the diaconate.
Chapter 3 is the longest in the constitution. Certain points in it were discussed very extensively and finally formulated with great precision, but it would be a mistake to limit the significance of this chapter to those points. The chapter as a whole is very rich in its teaching. Its general characteristics are as follows: It is clear in the New Testament that Christ entrusted the direction of His Church to the twelve as a body, a collective unit, and they acted as such in the early days described in the Acts. To them was given full authority: Peter was one of the twelve , their leader. He could not act except as an apostle because that is what he was; but he was not merely their president. What was given to the Twelve collectively, was explicitly given to him individually. The one fullness of authority bestowed by Christ was given both to the college and to its head – they not being their collective whole without him, while he in principle acted always as leader of the Twelve.
Peter’s primacy was passed to the popes; the apostles’ ministry to the bishops. Catholics have never doubted that. What has not been so clear is that bishops have not merely succeeded individually to a limited charge, but also collectively to the universal one-to a real shared responsibility for the whole Church. It should have been clear, of course, because it was implied by the whole long history of ecumenical councils. What this chapter now teaches us is just how the character of the Church’s ministry has remained, as it was in apostolic times, collective-cum-individual. Papal authority is no less than Vatican I defined it, but it looks rather different when seen as the divinely planned headship of a continuing college.
It will take time to shape the Church’s concrete institutions effectively according to this new vision of collegiality. We can say in fact that the administration of the Church in the last two or three centuries has been rather un-collegial: instead it has been over-centralized and curial. Pope Paul’s establishment of the Synod of Bishops in 1965 and its first meeting in October, 1967, is a step in the direction of a regular, practiced collegiality, though of course Pope John’s calling of the Council itself was the first great modern recognition that the Church really needs collegial leadership.
The old ecclesiology frequently described the Church as MONARCHICAL. Neither the word ‘monarchy’ nor its adjective appear anywhere in the constitution. We may judge that they are not really very suitable words for our subject, for two reasons: firstly, the concept of a monarchy is too different from that of a college, whose head has indeed a quite unique authority, but of which he is still a member. Secondly, ‘Monarchy’ is a too secular term, brought in from comparison with civil government; its use was rather characteristic of the general secularization of ecclesiology after the fourteenth century. Some people today are saying ‘Monarchy is out; democracy is in’. That is not the sense of the constitution. These terms fit the government of civil states, but neither really suits the Church, though doubtless they can both in some way be used of her. “Hierarchical’ is a more helpful word, just because it is not used so characteristically of civil society, and because its general sense is not in itself precise. To describe what sort of pattern the Church’s hierarchical ministry takes, we may now use the word ‘collegial’. But its precise meaning is to be ascertained from revelation, not from secular parallels: it signifies that unique balance, first existing between the twelve apostles and their leader, now perpetuated in the permanent pattern of the Church’s ministry.
a.18. Note again the immediate stress on pastoral ministry and service in the opening paragraph. The job of the hierarchy is ‘to serve its brothers’. This theme is taken up again later, especially in the last para of a.20, in a.24, and in a.27 where its repetition balances and softens the juridical statement that bishops have proper, ordinary and immediate ecclesiastical authority.
The purpose of the Council here is to follow up Vatican I, proclaimed the ministry of the pope, Peter’s successor and the visible principle of unity in the Church, by speaking of that of the bishops, the successors of the apostles. Most of a.18 (except the first paragraph) is in fact taken word for word from Vatican I.
At the end of a.20 comes the first of the particular truths which the Fathers wished to state definitely in this chapter and around which their earlier discussions had centred: ‘Bishops have by divine institution taken the place of the apostles as pastors of the Church’.
In a.21 comes the second precise point of teaching: ‘The fullness of the sacrament of Orders is conferred by Episcopal consecration’. This fullness includes not only the ministry of sanctifying (i.e. the power to administer certain sacraments) but also that of teaching and ruling. The ‘high priesthood’ of bishops, as received in their consecration, implies this whole circle of work, being a true presentation amid the faithful of the high priesthood of Jesus Christ himself. It cannot be seen, then, as simply a gift of ‘orders’ to which jurisdiction may be added, even though its actual exercise does require subsequent (normally territorial) delimitation to be settled by the Episcopal college or (as generally at present) its head.
Note that almost nothing is said about whether bishops have specifically sacramental functions (e.g. ordination) absolutely proper to them, that is to say which other priests cannot perform: only episcopal consecration itself is mentioned: it is for bishops to consecrate other bishops. Even here, however, an earlier text which read that ‘only bishops can admit…. was modified to say simply ‘it is for bishops to admit’. The sacramental fullness of the episcopate is not to be seen, then, in terms of some isolated sacramental powers but as the sacramental imparting of a total office and function in the Church.
a.22 gives us the heart of the doctrine of Episcopal collegiality and merits especially careful reading. (The authoritative comment entitled the NOTA PRAEVIA and attached to the constitution at its end bears especially upon the interpretation of this article). As Peter and the apostles formed one apostolic college, in a similar way the pope and the bishops form one Episcopal college. Membership of this college depends on consecration AND hierarchical communion with its head and members (a consecrated bishop could exclude himself or be excluded from the college on account of failure to co-operate in the work of the hierarchical ministry). Both the college and its head permanently possess the fullness of Church authority, but the college is not meaningful without its head and cannot act without at least his approval or concurrence.
a.23 deals with the continuous ‘collegial’ aspect of a bishop’s work-his extra-diocesan responsibilities of one kind and another, including that of helping missionary work; a bishop is by his nature not only a minister for the communion, he is also a minister for the mission.
a.25 is another long and important one. It presents a summary of doctrine on the Church’s magisterium. The first section deals with the ordinary non-infallible teaching authority of bishops and pope; the second part with infallible authority seen both in the universal episcopate and in the pope.
What should be particularly noted are the following two points:
The stress is on ECCLESIAL infallibility, on what the Council calls’ the Church’s charism of infallibility’ present both in the pope and in general council. Whereas draft A, having spoken of papal infallibility, went on to say that the definitions of a general council enjoyed the same infallibility as those of the pope, the final text stresses that ‘the infallibility promised to the Church’ is present in the body of bishops as in the pope. This is in fact in strict line with the way of speaking of Vatican I.
The text twice stresses the relationship between the infallible teaching authority of the Church and the deposit of revelation. The former extends as far as the latter and is ruled by it. It is very important to be clear about this because there have been tendencies to interpret the Church’s infallible authority as extending far beyond revelation, and this was indeed proposed also in draft A.
a.26-27 speak of other sides of the bishop’s work. Note that every bishop is called a ‘vicar of Christ’; also that the meaning of a bishop’s office is expressed in terms of a local church centred upon the Eucharist.
The last two articles (28 and 29) speak of the ministry of priests and deacons, who also form part of the Church’s divinely instituted hierarchy and share in almost every side of the bishops’ ministry. Let us note that the general pattern of collegiality is seen as applying to the particular church (the diocese) as well as to the universal Church. The priests of the diocese form, with their bishop, a sort of sacerdotal college, a single PRESBYTERIUM, which does not limit the bishop’s authority but indicates the way his ministry should be mediated to his whole flock across the co-operation of his co-workers. The old idea of a ‘monarchical episcopate’ is as misleading as that of the monarchical papacy.
Article 29 quietly indicates what brings about a further revolution in the ministry in coming years. For long the DIACONATE has been no more than a stage in seminary life. This article points out its real purpose in the service of the people of God, and of how many functions – at present in practice reserved to priests – deacons can carry out. With the present growing shortage of priests, it would be most valuable in many countries to have a permanent diaconate restored, but as it would surely be difficult to find many unmarried men for this work the Council envisages the ordination of married men as deacons in the future.
As with priests, bishops, the pope himself, their ordination and status will be for the service of God’s people, the building up of the body of Christ. (For further treatment of collegiality see the decree on Bishops).
Chapter 4 THE LAITY:
a.31. What we mean by laity.
a.32. Their ecclesial character in general.
a.33. Their apostolate in general.
a.34. The laity share in the priesthood of Christ.
a.35. They share in his prophetic office.
a.36. They share in his kingly power.
a.37. Co-operation with the clergy.
Note that this chapter on the laity is linked very closely both with c.2 (they were originally joined together) and with the decree on the lay apostolate where, of course, its practical implications are developed.
In a.31 the meaning of the word ‘laity’ is considered under two aspects:
NEGATIVELY – all the faithful who are not in the hierarchy or religious orders.
POSITIVELY – the laity are those of the people of God who have a properly secular character, their normal activities being the activities of the world. Whereas the characteristic activity of the clergy derives materially from the nature of the Church, the characteristic activity of the laity derives materially from the nature of the world, of ordinary human society . Both must equally seek the kingdom of God.
a.32. The laity are full members of the body of Christ, of the people of God. Variety of functions in the body causes no inequality in essentials; what unites clergy and laity is of far greater importance than what distinguished them. What unites them is Christian brotherhood in grace and a common call to perfection; what distinguishes them is diversity in service and function. Note how here as in a.30, the theology of the laity grows naturally out of the doctrine of the Church as the body of Christ: the unity of many diverse members.
The basic sense of the lay apostolate is established in a.33. The laity have an apostolate because they are laity. They share in the mission of the Church just because they are living members of the people of God; appointed to this mission by the very fact of their consecration in baptism and confirmation. In the past the lay apostolate was sometimes defined as ‘the co-operation of the laity in apostolate of the hierarchy’. This was not a good definition. The hierarchy have an apostolate proper to them and so have the laity. The lay apostolate comes primarily, not from a special offer to do part of the hierarchy’s job for it, but from the obligation of every baptized Christian to share actively in the mission of Christ. Evidently many laymen are called over and above this to join in the apostolate of the hierarchy, and this work may be very important. But basically the lay apostolate is precisely that apostolate which is proper to laity as laity, i.e. as Christians not sharing in the hierarchical ministry.
a.34 is really a repeat of a.10 – 11, and a.35 in part of a.12. They were inserted when the old chapter on ‘the People of God and the laity’ was split into two and the former sections dealing with the priestly and prophetical aspects of Christian living were carried to c.2.
However a.35 adds some special stresses on the most characteristic lay aspects of implementing Christ’s prophetic role. In many circumstances evangelization, witnessing to Christ, can be done only by them; moreover, at the very heart of human life-the family – it is for married people to be witnesses of Christian faith and give love to one another and to their children.
Laymen have a special function in the carrying through of the royal work of Christ (a.36). This work entails the re-ordering of the earth and of human society so that across the attainment by the terrestrial city of human culture, distributive justice, personal freedom, the light of Christ will be manifested and creation enabled to give greater glory to God. But all this work belongs principally to the laity – the ensuring that the kingdom of Christ is advanced not only by the progress of the Church but also by the progress of the world.
a.37 earnestly advocates a truly active co-operation between clergy and laity, even though its style remains rather clericalist. While all Christians have a duty of respect and obedience in Church matters towards their pastors, they have also a duty of free action and personal responsibility. What is required is a two–way traffic. Suggestions, initiatives, criticisms, if given in the right way, are needed from the laity who, when competent, must be ready to speak out and act with confidence and courage. The health of the Church depends upon mutual trust and sharing of responsibilities between hierarchy and laity.
The whole chapter stresses the outward-looking side of the Church. In Pope Paul’s words ‘the Church is for the world’. Now this world-serving character of the Church is born especially by the laity. It is in a way for the clergy to serve the laity, the laity to serve the whole human society. This theme of course is developed in the constitution on the Modern World and in the decree on the Lay Apostolate. The present chapter is the link between the constitution on the Church and those other more obviously ‘outward-looking’ documents. The layman, it concludes, must be the sacrament of the living God before the world. What the soul is in the body, let Christians be in the world.
‘The apostolate which deals with the temporal order itself and seeks to imbue it with a Christian spirit is normally the special responsibility of the layman, so that in this task he has a larger role than the cleric, whose first responsibility is that of preaching the word of God and dispensing the divine mysteries. In the relation of the faithful to the Church hierarchy the principle of subsidiarity should be followed…..This means that those things which parish priests can do by themselves should not be taken over by the bishop’s curia, and just as those things which – leaving the hierarchical structure of the Church intact-can be done by bishops or bishops’ conferences should be left to them, so also those things which the layman can accomplish on his own initiative and responsibility should not be taken over by the clergy, always with the proviso that the hierarchical structure of the Church is preserved’. (From a council speech of Bishop Hoffner of Munster).
Chapters 5 and 6 HOLINESS:
5. The universal call to holiness a.39. the Church is holy with the holiness of
Christ, her spouse and head.
a.40. all her members are called to share in this
a.41. every condition of life has its own way to
a.42. but the heart of holiness for everyone is love.
6. The particular call through the
religious life a.43. definition of the religious state: a stable way of
life embodying the evangelical counsels.
a.44. personal and ecclesial reasons for its existence
a.45. relation to ecclesiastical authority.
a.46. relation to human society.
History of the text:
The 1962 text of the constitution followed the order: bishops, priests, religious, laity; and the chapter on religious was entitled ‘the states of perfection’. As we saw, in the course of the council this order was changed. The hierarchy – laity division is basically part of the essential structure of the Church, and should therefore be treated first. Religious, on the other hand, as the constitution states, are really divided between hierarchy and laity: some belong to one group, some to the other. Their special state can be better understood when the positive characteristics of both hierarchy and laity have been explained. Hence the 1963 text adopted the order: hierarchy, laity, religious. However, the last chapter was given a quite new title, “The Vocation to Holiness in the Church’, and its first section spoke briefly of that vocation as universal’. The passage ‘Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect’ was quoted, and as referring to all men. Its second section then spoke of the particular vocation to religious life, still described as the ‘state of perfection’.
This was not the end of the story. As a result of the discussions of the second session, further drastic alterations were undertaken. Among them we may note: (a) The section on the universal vocation to holiness was greatly enlarged, ceasing to be little more than an ‘opener’ to a treatment of religious. It had become the most striking part of the chapter. (b) All reference to the ‘state of perfection’ (or ‘state of acquiring perfection’) was dropped from the text of the section on religious, as (previously) it had been dropped from the title – though traditional, it is a misleading term, for all men are called to perfection, not just religious; equally in this life no one attains it. The term had a juridical rather than a theological meaning. (c) This second section now stresses the ecclesial and eschatological significance of the religious life.
Questions still remained, however, on the dividing and placing of this matter. Should it continue to form a single chapter, or be divided clearly into two? Again, many urged that now a fine section on the universal vocation to sanctity had been written, it was in fact in the wrong place. It should not follow the chapters on the hierarchy and the laity and precede that on religious; it should precede all these chapters and be linked with that on the people of God. The order would then have been:
The People of God.
Its vocation to sanctity.
In principle this might well have been the best and most logical plan. However, it would have involved a very big rewriting of many sections of the constitution at a late date, and would also have cut in half the treatment of matters which were really linked together in the two sections of this chapter. It was agreed therefore to retain the existing order, while inserting in c.2, a.11 a brief paragraph pointing forward to c.5 Secondly, it was decided (by a general vote of the fathers in the third session, 30 September, 1964) to constitute these two sections as two separate chapters. This division shows the importance of the religious life for the Church as a whole, and that surely corresponds to the facts of the case. Many fathers had feared that, with the new stress on the universal vocation to holiness, there was a danger of minimizing the significance of the religious vocation. They felt that a separate chapter would counteract this danger. The chapter as finally written shows this significance as a truly theological ore; the religious state, as canonically established in the church, constitutes a sign-a visible human embodiment-of the deep things of spiritual life and of the other-worldliness of the Church of God.
The Church is essentially holy, as we affirm in the Creed. This holiness is of God, not of men. She is holy because Christ, her lord and her head, has made her holy. Being a member of her necessarily means being called to share in this holiness; one cannot be a Church member and not be so called. Though given by God, the holiness of the Church will then be manifested in the lives of her members. Called to grace in baptism and faith, all Christians must develop in their lives the holiness they have received from God. This chapter really offers a very fine SUMMARY OF CHRISTIAN MORAL THEOLOGY-of a morality wholly informed by love. God is love; being given his life means being invited to love and to grow up into a fullness of charity-love of God, love of one’s fellow men. For bishops and priests this takes a predominantly pastoral form; for married people a faithful commitment to the family, for workers, for the disabled, for every group and every individual person the holiness of love takes on its special form. It is a pity that the sentence in a.41 referring to the widowed and the unmarried from this point of view is so very weak. In fact the treatment of the variety of people described in a.41 on `the forms and tasks of life` is very over-weighted on the clerical side. This is a point where the Council`s intended width of view did not quite come across in the form of words used. But anyway the whole of the preceding chapter was really concerned with the holiness of the laity and the principle is here: diversity of human life and character combined with unity in the transforming love that comes from God to be the very life and purpose of the Church. One and all we are called to `the pursuit of perfect love`.
Christ gave his disciples both counsels and commands. There is no clear distinction between them, but Christian writers and ecclesiastical tradition concentrated on three of the former as the foundation for a special life of detachment from the world and christened them `the evangelical counsels`-virginity, poverty, obedience. In fact there are many counsels in the New Testament, though obedience is not clearly among them. The vows are means approved by the Church as of special value upon the road to holiness; but the counsels are elements in Christ`s teaching which concern the whole Christian community, and are therefore spoken of in c.5 and not only in c.6
Nevertheless the exteriorization of the counsels in a clearly visible form has an importance of its own for the Church. And that is what has happened. Historically they have been embodied in various `stable ways of life`, proper to different religious orders and societies, whose membership can be most helpful for attaining the full supernatural end of man; sound teaching, a fraternal communion, the continual harmonizing of freedom with obedience, fidelity to vowed resolutions-all these things can help man greatly on `the road of love`.
A chapter on the religious life in a constitution DE ECCLESIA must, however, necessarily consider it not so much from the personal viewpoint as from that of the strict ecclesial significance of this particular form of living. The immediate purpose of the profession of the evangelical counsels is two-fold: to cut away hindrances to the service of God and to be consecrated positively and wholly to that service. Now, for the baptized, the service of God has always to be given in and across the life of the Church. Christian spirituality is personal, but personal IN THE CHURCH. The ecclesial sense of religious profession can be summed up in three points: Firstly, it is an explicitation and affirmation, by a most deliberate human action, of the baptismal consecration of this Christian and of every Christian; by it the fruit of the original consecration can become more abundant. Secondly, it is a visible sign of the Church`s nature-both of her bridal union with Christ and of her `other-worldliness`. The Church transcends the needs and aspirations of the earthly city. True religious manifest this transcendance in their lives. Thirdly, it is made effectively fruitful for the whole Church by the kind of life and work proper to each institute: prayer, teaching, nursing……No religious society may be `useless` as regards the life of the whole body, but this does not mean that each society must undertake external apostolic activities. Contemplatives are at least as ecclesially fruitful as active orders.
In the past there has been an age-old rivalry between `seculars` and `regulars` between the local diocese and its authority and the `exempt` international religious society. Councils have traditionally been an occasion for bishops to try and bring EXEMPTION to an end, by imposing Episcopal authority upon the local members of a religious order. This Council witnessed something of the kind but like previous attempts it was largely rejected. The need for exemption is restated in a.45. As a matter of fact, if members of religious orders have often seemed uninterested in the pastoral needs of the local church, members of the secular clergy have often seemed uninterested in the wider missionary and intellectual needs of the universal Church. The solution of such rivalries and misunderstandings is not to be found in a chance of legislation, but rather in a greater awareness upon both sides of the fullness of the body of Christ and the variety of its needs. Religious societies must indeed be willing to share in the life and work of the local church under the authority of its bishop, but the general good of the whole Church requires too wider organizations which could not function without some measure of canonical exemption of congregations from local authorities.
There is a paradox in religious life which parallels and indeed reflects a paradox in the Church`s own nature-the linking of retreat from the world and from some ordinary human patterns of living with the SERVICE OF THE WORLD and of human society. In the nature of the Church one may say that laity and religious manifest opposite aspects: the function of the lay state is the service of God within the pattern of the most normal human life and the consecration thereby of the human city to God; the function of the religious state is the renunciation of much normal human life and the erection of a sign that the Church believes in another world and that `the people of God has here no lasting city` (compare a.44 with a.36). Nevertheless any individual Christian, in either state, has to live the fullness of the Christian vocation, not just that side of it which is symbolized by his state: thus the layman needs to practise supernatural hope, the religious must reach spiritual maturity across a truly human development. Each state has its own temptations to be avoided, related to an unbalanced grasping of its own particular ideal. Hence (in a.46) the Council stresses that the religious life, when accepted and lived in the right way, is opposed neither to human maturity, nor to spiritual freedom, nor to the service of human society. On the contrary. It is because the Church is essentially other-worldly that she can so disinterestedly and fruitfully serve this one. The religious life must be the visible sign of both these things. The more fully religious live the meaning of their vows, the more effective will be their ministry among their fellow men. In it the Church wishes to portray, in a specially manifest way, Christ and his ministry.
Chapter 7 LOOKING TOWARDS HEAVEN:
A chapter on this theme was explicitly asked for by Pope John, but it only materialized late in the council’s deliberation. In fact there was no discussion on c.7 in general congregation until the third session. The text had only been prepared in theological commissions in the course of that year, 1964, and it was little changed in the third session, except for some substantial additions in a.48. The fact that it did not elicit much controversy does not lessen its importance in helping to provide a really full picture of what the Church is.
Its aim is not to describe the Church in heaven or in purgatory, so much as to show how the pilgrim Church on earth is journeying towards heaven and remains united with those who have gone before us to pass from earth to purgatory or the contemplation of God. We are ‘seeking the city which is to come’, the condition of the Church as we know it is essentially temporary; we are on our way to something perfect and eternal. This chapter is concerned with the whole vista of the ‘beyond’ and our relationship to it – a beyond whose fall pattern is future and collective: a ‘renewal of all things’ with the manifest perfecting of the universe and the whole human race under the kingship of Christ.
Concern with all this is what we mean by ESCHATOLOGY-a key word in modern theology and scripture interpretations: the doctrine of the last things.
Eschatology deals then with the ‘last things’: death, judgement, hell and heaven. However, if we compare the eschatology which we find in the scriptures (located chiefly in Matt. 24 and 25, 1 and 2 Thess., and Rev.) with the usual treatises of theological manuals on this subject we cannot help noticing that the former is much more collective in its concern, the latter individualist. The manuals lay more stress upon the individual’s judgement and eternal reward in heaven or punishment in hell; the scriptures the ‘last times’ of the world, the collective judgement, the full establishment of the kingdom of Christ, the new heaven and the new earth. In fact the initial draft constitutions, sent to the bishops, before the Council began, included one on the deposit of faith which had a chapter devoted to the ‘last things’. This was very much akin to the approach of the manuals, an individualistic approach; it included a lengthy section on the punishments of hell. This draft constitution never, in fact, got discussed at all, but the last things reappeared two years later in our c.7, but now with an altered approach.
It is vitally important in eschatology to balance the collective with the individual, and the future with the present. It is this that c.7 tries hard to do. A teaching on the ‘last things’ cannot be silent upon the fate of the individual: the judgement that follows death, the states that can follow judgement-and a.48 speaks explicitly of all this. Nevertheless the fate of the individual, to be understood aright, must be seen within the context of the fate of the body to which he belongs. What this chapter shows so finely is that a treatise ‘on the last things’ must be an ecclesial treatise, that the body of Christ itself has a future and a final condition. The beatitude of the individual only makes full sense within the context of the wedding feast of the Lamb and his bride, the new Jerusalem. Moreover, the new Jerusalem is not only the Church perfected, but also the world. Eschatology is a doctrine about the cosmos: all things must be renewed.
Every aspect of the pilgrim Church must be seen in the light of the heavenly Church, not as two parallel organizations, but as sign and reality, or as that which is in process of becoming and that which it will finally be. However, if this is a relationship between present and future, it is also true that it involves a relationship within the present, because the heavenly Church does already exist. Many missions of members of the body of Christ have passed out of the state of wayfaring into that of glory and the Church on earth shares their active communion. This is the difficulty in eschatology: it is dealing both with the final state of completeness when the pilgrim Church will no longer exist and the whole of creation is reformed in Christ, and with the already arrived heavenly state of the holy dead and of their relations with the still existing pilgrim Church. Hence eschatology refers both to the future and to something already realized in the present, and concerns both the collective fate of Church and world at the end of time and the individual fate of the human person whose span of earthly pilgrimage is short and quickly over.
All this is difficult, but eschatology is notoriously difficult. Nevertheless the Council refused to leave it aside, and we cannot either. The above considerations should help in understanding the themes which have been brought together in this brief but beautiful chapter so full of scriptural passages and liturgical references. Let us note too that the eschatological aspect of the Church is not confined to this chapter; it is woven into the whole constitution- for example, in the last sentences of a.2, 8 and 42 (see also L.a.8, MW. A.39, etc.). Furthermore a.44 suggests the eschatological significance of the consecrated religious life and a.68 that of the Virgin Mary: she is the sign offered in hope to the pilgrim Church of how the final perfection will be.
While a.48 is more concerned with the future, a.49 and 50 treat chiefly of the earthly Church’s present communion with the Church beyond the grave. If the visible Church is a human society with ministry and sacraments, all this is a sign of the wider communion of all who are of Christ and share his Spirit. This ultimate communion is one of charity and worship: we love and we glorify God.
The union of the pilgrim Church on earth with the Church in heaven has then the following characteristics.
It is a UNION OF MUTUAL LOVE. The saints are our friends and co-heirs in Jesus Christ, and their example shows us the way to grow in perfect union with Christ.
It is a UNION OF MUTUAL PRAYER. We on earth pray for and to the dead. We pray to the saints that they may pray for us; we know very well that they have no power outside Christ to hear or help us, but we know too that we and they form one body in Christ, that it is a body of mutual concern, and that this is what our head desires.
It is a UNION IN LITURGY. Just as the whole constitution teaches that the life of the pilgrim Church is centred upon the Eucharist, so this chapter emphasizes that the union of the earthly and heavenly Churches is above all a liturgical one, and that it is in the celebration of the Eucharist that we are most united with the saints when we are most fully offering worship to God (cf.L.a.8). For this reason the treatment of the subject is closed in a.50 with the words of the Roman canon.
The point of a.51 is pastoral. Having stated the doctrine of the communion of saints (for which see also L.a.104), the Council recognizes that in fact there have been abuses whereby the cult of the saints has become almost disengaged from its essential Christological and ecclesiological context. In reaction some have tended to deny all point to prayer and communion with them. The Council wishes such wrong attitudes to be corrected: a truly Catholic sense of union with all the blessed should rather excite in us a still greater determination to praise and glorify God both now and for ever in the heavenly Jerusalem.
Chapter 8 VIRGIN AND MOTHER:
History of the Text:
Chapter eight is entitled ‘The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God in the mystery of Christ and the Church’. As other parts of the constitution this text stands at the end of a lengthy evolution, but one of its own. In 1962 the Fathers were given a draft text for a dogmatic constitution on ‘The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of Men’. This text (A) was never debated but was reissued in April, 1963, with a new title-‘The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church’. In the second session, when the second text of DE ECCLESIA was being extensively discussed, it was proposed that no separate document should be produced on Mary, but instead that a chapter devoted to her should be included in that constitution. It was argued that this would better show Mary’s organic place within the pattern of redemption. Others argued strongly to retain a separate Marian constitution as more in line with the various Marian developments of the last century. The bishops voted on the question on 29 October, 1963. By 1,114 votes to 1,074 it was decided to speak of her within the DE ECCLESIA.
A new text was therefore needed, which would fit in with the rest of the constitution. A theological sub-commission, representing both tendencies, set to work and in March, 1964, after four previous versions, brought forth a fifth (B) which they judged satisfactory. Very little of A remained in it. B was then considerably revised in June by the Doctrinal Commission to produce C. Then B and C were together dispatched to the bishops and C was discussed at the beginning of the third session. Some further changes were made, to give us D, the final text, which was approved almost unanimously.
Clearly, the very considerable difficulties encountered in producing this text arose from the existence of two contrasting attitudes in the Church with regard to Mariology. One point of view is more plainly Mariological, in an evident way. It has rejoiced in the increasing number of Marian definitions, declarations, feasts and congresses of the last hundred years, and it hoped for a further notable ‘advance’ in Marian teaching from the Council.. For years this body of opinion has been concentrating on the title ‘Mediatrix of all graces’ and it expected the Council to produce a constitution firmly enshrining this idea.
The other point of view is more closely linked with the biblical, liturgical and ecumenical movements. It has urged the return on all sides of the Church’s life to a more scriptural and liturgical way of viewing things, and it has wanted to apply this also to Marian teaching and devotion. It has argued that while everything in Modern Marian developments and expression may be capable of theological justification, yet the impression given is still very different from that of scripture and the liturgy, and that a good deal of popular Marian devotion has been clearly unbalanced. The need today is not so much to advance as to deepen and purify Marian devotion. Moreover this point of view has stressed ecumenical considerations. Protestants are very suspicious of Mariology. Every Marian ‘advance’ seems to them to dig a new ditch between us and them. The opportune thing for the life of the Church today is not then to press Marian doctrine to all its logical conclusions, but so to express it in such a scriptural and traditional way as to commend it to all non-Catholic Christians.
Both these points of view have full right to exist when the Church, and of course many people would hold a bit to both. Nevertheless clearly two opposing tendencies have been present and it was the Council’s duty to produce a statement which, so far as possible, would prove satisfactory to all important bodies of opinion. That it managed to obtain an almost unanimous final vote, after a practically fifty-fifty division one year before, is a measure of the balance of this chapter and also, surely, of docility to the guiding of the Holy Spirit.
Clearly the basic decision to include a Marian text within the Church constitution had to be adhered to and this naturally determined the general treatment to some extent. It was decided to make of it the final chapter. This seemed the natural place. The other chapters have a certain internal cohesion, leading up, in c.7, to the vision of the heavenly Church. c.8 relates to this in two ways. Firstly, it is clearly related to c.7. Much of what is said there about the saints in general applies in a special way to Mary. Paragraphs in c.7 on their position in the Church, intercession and cult prepare the way for comparable ones in c.8. Secondly, this last chapter somehow sums up the whole constitution. May as the type of the Church bears within her all its varied characteristics. Having treated of them in the life of all Christians in the preceding chapters, the constitution concludes by showing them in her who most perfectly fulfilled the Church’s whole vocation in faith, charity and obedience.
It is explicitly stated in a.54 that the Church did not intend to say EVERYTHING about Mary or to rule out all approaches or ideas not appearing in the constitution. It does appeal for balance and the awareness of ecumenical needs, but its aim is not to condemn those who would like to express their love for the Virgin Mary in rather different terms. The freedom which the Council has called for in so many other fields surely applies here too.
This chapter offers a broad, rounded teaching about OUR LADY. There is certainly no minimizing tendency. It speaks of all the chief aspects of Marian doctrine and draws them together in a simple but beautiful synthesis. Never before has a council of the Church offered such an extensive or profound statement upon the position of Mary in the plans of God.
The tone is nevertheless very MODERATE and restrained, though no less devoted for that. There is nothing here to jar on the ears of non-Catholics unless, of course, they are rather uncritically anti-Marian. It is interesting to see that there is no single reference in text or notes to St Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Alphonsus Liguori or St. Louis-Marie De Montfort, the three great Marian writers of the post-patristic period, some of whose expressions nevertheless seem to some a bit extreme or overemotional.
Instead the text is extremely SCRIPTURAL and PATRISTIC. References to the early Fathers, both Greek and Latin, abound and so do quotations from the New Testament, beginning with a brief but basic Pauline text. Every effort has been made to show that Marian devotion is not-as critics have maintained-ainti-scriptural.
It is clearly shown how Marian doctrine and devotion fit into a completely CHRISTO-CENTRIC scheme of things. In no way can Mary detract from Christ`s work or from the closeness of the union of Christians with him. On the contrary she manifests just how perfectly a simple human being can be united with her saviour.
It is ECCLESIAL. This indeed is its most striking positive characteristic as of course befits a chapter within DE ECCLESIA. A rediscovery of patristic doctrine on the deep relationship of Mary and the Church has been a key aspect of modern scientific Mariology. In the fullest way we here see Mary standing in all her glorious humility both in and for the Church.
Finally, as has been indicated, there is a deep ECUMENICAL PREOCCUPATION running through the text and stressed explicitly in a.67. Everything is to be done to help other Christians see the truth about Mary. That should be the great Marian `advance` of our time: not a new doctrine but the rediscovery by all believers of her place in the redemption. Eastern Christians already venerate her most devoutly (a.69), as do very many Anglicans` and growing number of other Protestants. We should pray that the teaching of this chapter will help to increase their number still more in years to come . In the past, as a matter of fact, Marian devotion has been a cause of division. Instead we must make it today a cause of unity.
POINT OF DOCTRINE:
The central doctrine concerning Our Lady is shown to be the divine maternity. All else follows from this that she was `the Mother of God` (a.53) and that she freely accepted to be so: she gave her assent to the World of God, committing herself whole-heartedly to his will in faith obedience (a.56). The constitution stresses her faith: she did not understand everything but unhesitatingly she `advanced in her pilgrimage of faith` (a.58). Just as in philosophy we find that AGERE SEQUITUR ESSE, so in theology it is universally true that the more we receive God’s grace, the more we share in the giving of it. Mary` s singular adherence to God` s will made of her a singular sharer in her Son` s work of giving divine life to all men. The fullness of her personal acceptance permitted a fullness of active co-operation and made of her truly the mother of men, especially the faithful (a.54, 60-62)
A word here must be said about the title `MOTHER OF THE CHURCH`. It does not appear in the constitution. It was part of draft A, especially with its revised title, but had no place in B or C. However, in one of the final changes of the third session an addition was made to the end of a.53 which in some way hints at this title without quite using it. At the clost of the third session, 21 November, 1964, Pope Paul proclaimed the Virgin Mary ‘Mother of the Church, that is to say of all the people of God, of the faithful as well as of the pastors’. It is clear that a majority of the fathers preferred not to use this title in the constitution, doubtless because in itself it is rather untraditional. On the other hand the pope was perfectly free to make use of it himself if he saw fit; it is clearly only the phrase, not the idea, which is untraditional. That Mary is the MATER FIDELIUM is most traditional, and ‘the faithful’ is only another way of saying ‘ the People of God’. Now that we are stressing the human side of the Church and that ‘the People of God’ is a highly fitting name for the Church, it is clearly the same thing to say ‘Mother of the faithful’ and ‘Mother of the Church’. Pope Paul stressed this way of looking at it by repeating twice ‘the Church, that is to say the people of God’. Mary remains a member of the Church, just as the mother of a family remains a member of the family. That the mother of Jesus is the mother of all his brethren is simply the full meaning of John 19: 26-7.
Type of the Church:
Mary is the type of the Church. For many Catholics this may well be the most striking affirmation of this chapter. It is stated explicitly in three separate articles (a.53, 63, 65). It must be understood within a whole developing context. First of all, in her full acceptance of the word of God, Mary represents humanity itself. She is ‘the daughter of Adam’, the new Eve, as many of the earliest Fathers of the Church asserted (a.56). Representing all humanity in its passive need for God and potential active acceptance of his gift, she specially represented the chosen people of God, the children of Abraham, who had been prepared for the coming of the saviour. She is not only ‘daughter of Adam’ but ‘daughter of Sion’ (a..55), faithfully accepting the promise made to her fathers.
The Church is the new Sion the new Israel. Mary is a member of both the old people and the new, and she represents both. Her undeviating faith and charity, her virginal surrender to God of her whole self, her fruitful motherhood, her presence at the foot of the cross: all this typifies the Church, virgin and mother. Mary’s life on earth perfectly represents the life of the pilgrim Church, and her life in heaven perfectly represents the final fullness of the celestial Church after the resurrection of the dead. God chose to manifest the character of humanity’s acceptance of his Son not only through the multiple community of the redeemed but also through the example of a single historical personality, who typifies the perfection of the whole in the more easily understood career of one individual. And for this he chose his mother.
In this way the constitution treats of Mary’s position less in terms of static privileges than as a dynamic sharing in the history of salvation.
a.62 touching on Mary as mediatrix ( or mediator) was undoubtedly a focal point of argument. Some fathers were much in favour of proclaiming Mary mediatrix of graces, others were equally opposed to it. The history of the texts is significant. A included a strong section on the subject including the title ‘Mediatrix of all graces’. Text B omitted the word entirely. C put it in a very restrained sentence. Finally, in the third session, it was retained but joined with the title of ‘advocate, helper, benefactress’ which takes away from a technical sense. Furthermore, a new paragraph (‘No creature could ever….’) was added at this last stage to prevent any possible misunderstanding in the use of the title.
This extra paragraph is in fact an important one for it expresses very clearly the principle of the active co-operation of the redeemed in every aspect of the redeemer’s work. We all share in his priesthood (mediation and priesthood are, moreover, very closely connected concepts), we share in his kingship, we share in his redemption – not only in receiving, but in giving. Mary is not unique in this role. It is part of the Christian vocation, But she is unique in the fullness of her response to it.
The concluding section of the chapter refers first to the liturgy and pastoral requirements of Marian devotion. a.66 and 67 can be compared with a.51, the point being the same: not emotion or vain credulity but solid faith and a special care to avoid scandalizing separated Christians. Finally the Council proclaims Mary as a sign of hope and comfort for the pilgrim Church. As the Church is the sign of salvation lifted up among the nations, so is she a sign within the Church: a sure sign of how faith is fulfilled in beatitude, of the perfection to come, of the final transformation of humanity in the light of Christ to the glory of God.
‘In the Blessed Virgin the Church learns to love the concrete and the limited: a basic antidote to pride’– (Cardinal Silva papal legate to the 1965 Mariological Congress).
‘You should concentrate on a deeper understanding and love of the mysteries of Mary rather than on theological extensions which are questionable and lead to division rather than union ……You must restrain unbalanced and not very enlightened sentimentalities….You should encourage a serious and living devotion which moves within the great coherent framework of the liturgy’ (Pope Paul to the Mariological Congress of San Domingo, 1965).
Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on June 23, 2012
13 – 15 June 2006
The Liturgy of the Blessings in the Syro-Malabar Church
Before we deal with “Blessings”, we need to have some understanding about what is meant by ‘blessing’. Are ‘sacramentals’ and ‘blessings’ the same? What are ‘para-liturgical’ services? Can we make a distinction between ‘major’ blessings and ‘minor’ blessings? Which are the blessings ‘reserved’ to the bishops and priests? Are deacons of the Eastern Churches permitted to administer blessings? Which is the type of blessings that lay people may administer? As far as I know, the Syro-Malabar Church has not formally addressed these questions. Therefore, this paper is based on certain assumptions and practices that need to be clarified in order to arrive at acceptable conclusions in view of understanding the very idea of ‘Blessings’ and eventually preparing the ritual for the same.
Before trying to understand the Syro-Malabar Blessings, I feel that we need to have some general notions about the Sacramentals and Blessings in the light of Church documents and history of Blessings, including those of the Western tradition. Part One, therefore, is a survey in order to understand the meaning and areas of ‘Blessings’ and Part Two deals specifically with the Syro-Malabar Blessings.
1. Vatican II and Sacramentals
Vatican II has not given specific principles and norms regarding the Blessings. However, its references to the Sacramentals give us some hints to understand the Blessings.
After explaining the meaning of the sacraments, SC 60 says about the sacramentals the following: “These (sacramentals) are sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the Church’s intercession. By them men are disposed to receive the chief effects of the sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy”. For well-disposed members of the faithful, notes the document, “the liturgy of the sacraments and sacramentals sanctifies almost every event of their lives with the divine grace which flows from the paschal mystery of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ. From this source all sacraments and sacramentals draw their power (SC 61). However, in the course of history some features have crept into the rite of the sacramentals and sacraments which have rendered their nature and purpose ‘far from clear to the people of today’ (SC 62). Then the Council proposes that the sacramentals be revised in such a way as to ‘enable the faithful to participate in them intelligently, actively and easily considering the circumstances of our times’ (SC 79). It also suggests to have provision for administering ‘some of the sacramentals’ at least ‘in special circumstances’ by ‘qualified lay persons’ at the ‘discretion of the bishops’ (SC 79).
Two of the sacramentals specifically mentioned in the Council document are the profession of the religious (SC 80) and the funeral rite (SC 81, 82).
2. Catechism of the Catholic Church and Sacramentals
According to CCC, the sacramentals are ‘instituted for the sanctification of certain ministries of the Church, certain states of life, a great variety of Christian life, and the use of many things helpful to man’ and they respond to the ‘needs, culture and special history of the Christian people of a particular region or time’ (CCC 1668).
What is the distinction between sacraments and sacramentals? In the words of CCC, ‘sacramentals do not confer the grace of the Holy Spirit in the way that the sacraments do, but by the Church’s prayer, they prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it’ (CCC 1670).
Who is the celebrant of the sacramentals? Sacramentals derive from ‘baptismal priesthood’ and hence every baptized person is “called to be a blessing and to bless” (CCC 1669. Cf. Gen. 12,2; Lk 6,28; Rom. 12,14; 1 Pet. 3,9). Consequently, also lay people may preside at ‘certain blessings’ (CCC 1669).
CCC identifies the following categories of sacramentals:
- Blessing of Persons: Abbot and Abbess of monastery, the consecration of Virgins, the Rite of Religious Profession and the blessing of certain ministries of the Church such as readers, acolytes and catechists.
- Blessing of Objects: Holy oils, vessels, vestments, bells etc.
- Blessing of Places: Church, cemetery etc.
- Blessing of Meals:
Besides these sacramentals proper, there are also various forms of piety and popular devotions ‘surrounding the Church’s sacramental life’ such as the veneration of the relics, visits to sanctuaries, pilgrimages, processions, the Stations of the Cross, religious dances, the rosary, medals etc. (CCC 1674). However, they do not replace liturgy, but are ‘extensions of the liturgical life of the Church’ (CCC 1675).
Referring to the Latin American Bishops’ Conference CELAM, the CCC notes that the popular piety of the Christian people is a ‘storehouse of values that offers answers of Christian wisdom to the great questions of life’ (CCC 1676).
3. Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches and Sacramentals
According to CCEO 867/1 the sacramentals are “sacred signs, which in a way imitate the sacraments and signify effects, especially spiritual ones, which are obtained through the impetration of the Church. Through the sacramentals people are disposed to receive the principal effects of the sacraments and the various circumstances of their life are sanctified”. The detailed norms concerning the sacramentals are left to the Particular Law of each Individual Church sui iuris.
The Latin Code of Canon Law is more specific regarding the sacramentals. It speaks about the sacramentals which can be administered by lay people (CIC 1168), the role of the deacons in imparting blessings (CIC 1169/3), the possibility of extending blessings to non-Catholics (CIC 1170) etc.
4. Syro-Malabar Particular Law and Sacramentals
The Particular Law of SMC has the following to say about the sacramentals and their administration.
After stating that the bishops, priests and deacons are the ordinary ministers of the sacramentals (No. 153), the Law gives the following directives:
- The priest can delegate the power of administering the sacramentals, except funeral service, blessing of houses and exorcism, to minor clerics as per eparchial statutes (No. 154/1).
- When a deacon or a minor cleric is the minister of sacramentals, he can say the final prayer (Huttama), but shall not impart the blessing with the Sign of the Cross which is reserved to priests (No.154/2).
- The following are some of the sacramentals: Dedication (Adima), funeral service, office of the dead and exorcism (No. 154/3).
5. Instruction for Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches and Sacramentals
Sacramentals and popular devotions often respond to the religious sensibility of the peoples. According to the Instruction, the Eastern Churches are known for their ability to integrate the elements of their devotions into their liturgies. So much so, they have “their own devotional forms or formulas, less precise, more individual and probably easier, such as exclamatory prayers, celebration of the divine office with their own particular content, veneration of the most Holy Cross, of icons, of relics, of sanctuaries, the use of candles, incensing, and sometimes even the offering of animals” (No. 38). These manifestations of piety have usually remained “linked with the liturgical life” (No. 38).
I think that three observations are in order here.
(i) Eastern popular piety is less precise and more individual. This was the case also in the development of the liturgy. The fluid liturgical celebrations of individual pioneers were later codified and introduced. Such a process in popular piety too was a felt-need. Hence, it is natural that the popular devotions in the SMC are codified and have adopted a communitarian dimension.
(ii) Eastern manifestations of popular piety were linked with the liturgical life. But, in the course of history, we find an attempt, both in the East as well as in the West, to make a distinction between liturgy and popular piety. The general trend in the SMC too is to separate popular piety from liturgy, rather than to integrate it with the liturgical life.
(iii) After mentioning the influence of Latin popular devotions on the Eastern Catholic Churches and the spiritual benefits they have obtained due to this influence, the Instruction states that in any event it should be kept in mind that which has been established by CCEO 656/2 according to which the prayer books of popular devotions should have ecclesiastical permission (No. 38). It seems to me that the Instruction is taking the ‘Latin influence’ as a fait-accompli and hence future attempts should be to integrate them properly without endangering one’s own liturgical traditions.
6. Blessings: A Short Historical Survey
To ‘bless’ (benedicere, eulogein) means ‘to say a good word’. However, it is generally understood as a ‘praise to God’ or an ‘invocation to God’. This two-fold movement is the meaning of blessing in the liturgical tradition. The former (praising God) is very clear in the Eucharistic celebration and the divine office. The latter form of blessing (invoking God) is found in a variety of forms like the blessing of the ashes or palms, the blessing of oil and water, the blessing of sacred images or vessels, the blessing of persons or places etc. Among these there are those which are administered by the ordained ministers and which forms part of Church’s euchological patrimony. There are also popular practices of blessings that have roots in the Bible and in the faith of the people.
In the past when people were basically rural, they invoked God’s blessings over all aspects of their lives, from birth to death. Making the sign of the cross on oneself, prayer on rising in the morning and before retiring at night, prayer before and after meals, blessing of children, the sick etc. are examples.
Blessings have developed also on the basis of the rhythms of the universe. Prayers on the occasions of sowing, harvest, natural disasters etc. were human responses to God’s omnipresence and omnipotence. Blessings for protection against the evil spirits are yet another development in history. Some of them later led to superstitious and magical practices. Certain types of exorcism are consequent upon this mentality. In course of time some blessings became ‘private’ functions of the priest without any participation of the community. This has caused cases where ‘magical effects’ are attributed to Blessings.
Till the 13th century we do not find a ‘definition’ of the sacramentals. In fact, the term ‘sacramental’ and its quasi-definition was introduced for the first time by Guglielmo d’ Auvergne (+ 1249), a professor of Paris University and later an Archbishop. Later its understanding was made clearer by St Thomas Aquinas who held that the sacramentals were not instituted by Christ and that they did not confer grace and were left to the institution of the faithful. Suarez, Bellarmino and others tried to clarify this concept further. Eventually the sacramentals were understood as visible signs, instituted by the Church, for the spiritual and material benefit of the faithful.
In early times a distinction was made between ‘Constitutive Blessing’ (e.g. Blessing of the baptismal font) whose effect is guaranteed through the mediation of the Church and ‘Invocative Blessing’ (e.g. Blessing of a sick person) whose effect depends on the desire of the recipient and the will of God.
The roots of Christian liturgical blessings are found in the anaphoral prayers. They are the highest forms of Blessings. For example, in the four G’hanta cycles of the anaphora of Mar Addai and Mar Mari, the Father, the Holy Trinity, Christ and the Holy Spirit are ‘blessed’ respectively. There are other blessings too in the Eucharistic celebration. The blessing of the catechumens before their dismissal, the blessing before Holy Communion, the final blessing (Huttama) etc. and the blessing with the Gospel book, the blessing before the exchange of peace etc. are examples.
Two representative ancient documents which reveal the nature of the Blessings are Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus of Rome in the West and Euchologion of Serapion in the East. In the Apostolic Tradition there are two Blessings: one for the light when the lamps are brought to the dining room before the evening meal and the other for the first fruits. The Euchologion of Serapion contains Blessing of persons (catechumens, lay persons, the sick etc.) and objects (oil for the sick, water for Baptism, oil for post-baptismal anointing etc.).
The history of Blessings in the Eastern tradition reveals that there is no dearth of borrowings from various texts such as Apostolic Tradition and even apocryphal sources. It is true also with regard to their style and content.
‘Blessing’ sometimes expresses the idea of ‘permission’ in the West as well as in the East. Thus ‘Bless me, Lord, (Barekmar) in the liturgy of the Word can mean ‘Do you allow me?’
7. Blessings and Inculturation
The field of ‘Blessings’ is an area where there is great scope for inculturation and adaptation. As Catechism of the Catholic Church states, the sacramentals respond to the “needs, culture and special history of the Christian people of a particular region or time” (CCC 1668). The “Book of Blessings” of the Latin Rite notes that provision should be made for legitimate variations adaptations of the Rite of Blessings to different groups, peoples and regions. The Bishops’ Conferences are authorized to take necessary steps in this regard.
As far as the Eastern Churches are concerned, inculturation is a hallmark of their tradition. As the Congregation for Catholic Education once remarked, the Eastern Churches have a long tradition of inculturation teaching Christian peoples to praise God in their own language. The process of inculturation in the East sometimes reached such a point that their cultural life was ‘identified with the manner of Christian living’. The study of this process, the document added, ‘can serve as an example and guide for those involved in a similar process today’.
The Syro-Malabar Church is no exception to this rule. Various Rites connected with birth, baptism, marriage, funeral etc. are all well known. In fact, the Syro-Malabar bishops have on different occasions expressed the need of adapting liturgy to the needs of places and times. Following this trend the eparchy of Chanda has given shape to some inculturated sacramentals.
8. Nestorian Rituals
George Percy Badger in his “The Nestorians and Their Rituals” gives references to the following sacramentals of the Nestorians.
- Kahneeda which is the burial service for those who die in holy Orders and Anneedha which is the burial service for lay people (p. 24)
- Thaksa d’husaya or ‘Office of Pardon’ which contains the service used to restore the sinners to the Church. It includes also prayers said before admitting them to Holy Communion. And Badger notes that ‘there are several short offices of this kind in use among the Nestorians’ (p. 25).
- Malka is the tradition of the renewal of the holy Leaven on Maundy Thursday which is considered to be a sacramental(?) rite (p. 161)
- The chapter on sacraments does not mention any sacramental as such. However, there is an appendix to this chapter which refers to the importance of the Cross with which all sacraments are ‘sealed and perfected’. It seems that the ‘sign of the Cross’ is almost equated to a sacramental (p. 162).
- Some Blessings are mentioned in connection with marriage, namely the blessing of bridal chamber (a service usually said in the evening before the bridegroom and the bride retire to rest for the night) and the ‘churching’ of women (a blessing to be said over the child and the mother when they are brought to the Church after child-birth (p. 271, 250).
9. Latin Rite and the Book of Blessings
The Book of Blessings of the Latin Rite says that the Blessings hold “a privileged place among all the sacramentals created by the Church for the pastoral benefit of the people of God”. As a liturgical action, they ‘lead the faithful to praise God and prepare them for the principal effects of the sacraments’. Through blessings the faithful can ‘sanctify various situations and events in their lives’. Further it says that the blessings are established by the Church ‘as a kind of imitation of the sacramentals’ and that their effects are achieved ‘through the intervention of the Church’. And the blessings are meant ‘for praising God through Christ in the Holy Spirit and for calling on divine help’.
The following observations and recommendations of the “Book of Blessings’ are very relevant:
- All superstitious practices should be eschewed in the celebration of the Blessings (No.13).
- Though God’s help is invoked on the objects and places in the blessings, they are actually in view of the people who use these objects or frequent those places (No.12)
- The celebration of the blessings is prohibited without the participation of at least some of the faithful (No.17).
- There should be provision for legitimate variations and adaptations in the celebration of the blessings according to different groups, peoples and regions (No.24).
- Certain blessings can be administered along with the Eucharistic celebration (Nos. 28,29).
- Lay people may administer certain blessings because of their universal priesthood (No.18).
The Latin Rite divides the Blessings into five categories:
(i) Blessings directly pertaining to Persons (e.g. Sick persons, travellers etc.)
(ii) Blessings related to Buildings and to various forms of Human Activity (e.g. Houses, Hospitals, Shops, Fields etc.)
(iii) Blessings of Objects that are designed or erected for use in Churches, either in the Liturgy or in Popular Devotions (e.g. Baptismal font, Confessional, Tabernacle, Cross, Holy Water, Sacred Images, Cemetery etc.)
(iv) Blessings of Articles meant to foster the Devotion of the Christian People (e.g. Religious articles, Rosaries, Medals etc.)
(v) Blessings for various Needs and Occasions (e.g. Thanksgiving on Year-End, Beginning of the New Year, Anniversaries, Jubilees etc.)
In general, the Latin formularies have the following pattern: Introduction, Scriptural readings, Responsorial Song, Homily, Intercessions, Prayer of Blessing, Concluding Blessing and Dismissal.
The second part of this paper is an attempt to understand the idea the Syro-Malabar Church has about “Blessings”. The available data could be of help to prepare a ‘Book of Blessings’ for the Syro-Malabar Church.
1. Blessings in the Syro-Malabar Church
As in any Christian tradition we come across Sacramentals and Blessings for various occasions in the Syro-Malabar Church. Though no systematic study and research have been undertaken to understand their origin and development, some general and universal trends can be found in their development.
The Eastern Churches are said to have developed their own specific forms of devotions in history.Among them the veneration of the Cross, devotion to the relics., visit to the sanctuaries, incensing etc. seem to have been practiced also by the Syro-Malabarians. The ‘blessing’ of the sick with the ‘relics’ of the tomb of St.Thomas at Mylapore appears to be a specific example of indigenous Syro-Malabar tradition.
History reminds us that there was no dearth of borrowing among the Churches in the case of devotions.A number of Western devotions prevalent in the Syro-Malabar Church today can be easily understood in this background.
Christian tradition of the Blessings is not an ‘original’ contribution of the early Christians. In fact, they received it from the Jews and continued to use it spontaneously, without much theological reflection and keep it in diverse forms. This seems to be true with regard to the Western devotions in the Syro-Malabar Church too.
The term ‘benediction’ (Berakah) had at least three meanings in the Jewish understanding. It could be (i) Blessing coming from God (ii) Blessing of praise to God and (iii) Prayer or wish of blessing by man. These three dimensions are found also in the Syro-Malabar Blessings. For the Jews, however, the second dimension – blessing of praise to God for His marvellous deeds – was more important. But the Syro-Malabar Blessings are more in line with the third dimension, that is, petitions for God’s blessings.
A close examination of the history of Blessings will reveal that their development took two directions: One is the ‘shape’ of these Blessings in the Jewish tradition and the other the human-religious sentiments contained in them. Already by the second century there was a shift of emphasis from ‘praise of God’ to ‘sanctification of objects’. Today this emphasis is reiterated. This can be ascertained from the spectacular popularity of pious devotions.
2. Syro-Malabar Rituals of Blessings
Here below is given a list of Rituals of Blessings now in use in the Syro-Malabar Church. The list is not exhaustive.
(1) Blessings (Vencherippukal): This is one of the first Ritual of Blessings published from Ernakulam in 1974. It has 6 parts and an appendix.
Part 1: Blessing of ‘Sacred Places’: ( Chapel, Cemetery etc.)
Part 2: Blessing of ‘Buildings and Places’: (Houses, Hospitals, Schools, Shops etc)
Part 3: Blessing of ‘Persons’: (Children, Sick persons etc.)
Part 4: Blessing of ‘Sacred Objects’: (Vestments, Vessels, Religious articles etc)
Part 5: Blessing of ‘Animals’.
Part 6: Other ‘Useful Objects’: (Vehicles, Food etc).
The appendix has the prayer of ‘consecration of the family’ to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Litany of Our Lord, a prayer-service that can be used when the priest visits a family etc.
(2) Blessings (Asirvadhaprarthanakal): This book was published by Denha Services, Kottayam, in 1988. The book has a sub-title too, namely “Sacramentals”(Koodasanukaranangal).
The preface of the Ritual states that the book is prepared making use of the sources and taking into consideration the present needs of the Syro-Malabar Church. It defines the sacramental as the rites which are ‘formed from the sacraments and are similar to them in spirit and structure’. It also opens the way for adapting them according to the circumstances. The sacramentals being communitarian celebrations, it is recommended that at least a few people should be present when they are administered. According to the Ritual, the priests are the celebrants of the sacramentals though the deacons can substitute them in their absence.
The book has three parts and an appendix.
Part 1: It is entitled ‘Blessings’ (Venchirippukal). There are 18 items in this category beginning with ‘House Blessing’. Other Blessings are of holy water, religious articles, buildings, animals, vehicles etc. It includes also the betrothal ceremony, exorcism etc.
Part 2: Blessing of the sick and the dying.
Part 3: Blessings to be used on ‘Special Occasions’ which includes prayer before and after meals, for good harvest, on birthday etc.
The appendix gives a rite for the ‘Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament” integrating the Ramsa prayer.
(3) Blessings (Venchirippukal): This Ritual was published from Ernakulam in 1992 by the Inter-diocesan Committee for Liturgy. A special feature of this book is the addition of an inculturated Rite of House Blessing into which some traditional Indian elements like Arathi, Bhajans etc are incorporated.
The book has 7 parts divided as follows:
Part 1: Buildings and Institutions (Houses, Chapels, Shops etc.)
Part 2: Sacred Objects (Altar, Sacred Images, Rosaries, Medals etc.)
Part 3: Various Objects (Food items, Boats etc.)
Part 4: Vehicles
Part 5: Animals
Part 6: Food Offerings
Part 7: Holy Water
(4) A Collection of Various Booklets of Blessings
(i) A “Collection of Prayers” (Prarthanasamaharam) by Cardinal Joseph Parecattil, Ernakulam 10980. It contains 42 prayers or prayer-services for various occasions.
(ii) An Order for Blessing the Houses of the Religious and Priests, Denha Services, Kottayam 1984.
(iii) Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction, Denha Services, Kottayam 1984.
(iv) Betrothal, Oottunercha, Rite of Healing the Sick, Ernakulam 1985.
(v) Prayer- service in honour of Blessed Chavara and Alphonsa, Denha Services, Kottayam 1986.
(vi) Rite of Christmas Celebration, Denha Services, Kottayam 1987.
(vii) Christmas Celebration, Sandesanilayam, Changanacherry (No date)
(viii) Message of Christmas, Prayer on Year-End, Prayer at the Beginning of the Year, Ernakulam 1987.
(ix) Sacred Rites in the Church (Devalayathirukkarmangal), Inter-diocesan Committee for Liturgy, Ernakulam 1991.
(5) Prayer for the Dead
Various diocesan committees have published a series of prayer books under the title ‘Prayer for the Dead’.
(i) Prayers during and after Death, Ernakulam 1969.
(ii) Prayer Service for the Dead, Ernakulam 1980
(iii) Commemoration of the Dead, Ernakulam 1984
(iv) Anuthaparchana, Changanacherry 1992
(v) From the Valley of Death, Kottayam 1996
(vi) Prayer for the Dead, Irinjalakuda 1997
(vii) Prayer for the Dead, Thamarassery 2003
(viii) Prayer Service for the Dead, Ernakulam 2006
(6) Home Liturgy
In the history of Syro-Malabar Blessings a new path was opened by Fr.Jacob Aeranat who published his “Home Liturgy” (Kudumbaliturgy) in 1980. Two books are now available in this category.
(i) Home Liturgy (Kudumbaliturgy) by Fr.Jacob Aeranat, Ernakulam 1980.
This book got a very enthusiastic reception in the Syro-Malabar families. In 2003 it had its 11th reprint. The book has about 130 Blessings and prayers for various occasions.
(ii) Family Rites (lKudumbasusrooshakal) By Fr.Thomas Mathasseril CMI, Kottayam 2002.
This book has 200 Blessings and prayer- services under 28 headings. The approach of this book is a little different from that of ‘Home Liturgy’ in some respects. For example, there are 42 prayer- services connected with marriage and family alone. (e.g. Vivaham Urappikkal, marriage, after marriage, child-birth, baptism etc.)
3. Some Remarks
An examination of “Blessings” in the Syro-Malabar Church brings out the following categories:
(i) Blessings reserved to the Bishops (Muron, Church, Deppa(?) etc.). They are often called ‘consecrations’.
(ii) Blessings reserved to the Bishops or priests (Ashes, Palms, Water, House etc.).
(iii) Quasi-blessings the deacons may administer. (Generally, the deacons do not impart any blessing in the Eastern tradition. However, the Particular Law of the Syro-Malabar Church allows the deacons to be official witness at the betrothal).
(iv) M’samsana, Hevpadyakna and Karoya are allowed by the Syro-Malabar Particular Law to be the ministers of the sacramental of Adima though they are not allowed to impart blessing with the Sign of the Cross.
(v) The Syro-Malabar faithful ‘administer’ the so-called ‘Home Liturgies’ with a prayer of invocation to God for His blessings in connection with various domestic religious occasions like marriage, baptism, holy communion etc.
Among the various categories of Blessings in the Syro-Malabar Church we may identify the following:
(i) Persons: (Children, Sick persons etc.)
(ii) Buildings: (Presbytery, Religious Houses, Corner-stone etc.)
(iii) Objects (Tools): ( Food Vehicles, Boats etc.)
(iv) Sacred Objects: (Altar, Baptismal Font, Cross, Sacred Vessels, Holy Water, Sacred Images, the Stations of the Cross etc.)
(v) Places: ( Cemetery, Fields etc.)
(vii) Various Occasions: (Home Liturgies)
In today’s secularised and secularising world how far do the Blessings influence the people? It is true that the progress of science, technology, urbanization etc. have made certain Blessings lose their original Christian meaning. At the same time, we find also a growth of various Blessings, some of them even slipping into near-superstitious and magical practices.
Another phenomenon is the shift of emphasis regarding the content of Blessings. The original meaning of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord has given way to prayers of petitions. Though the petitions do part of the Blessing, we need to rediscover the original meaning of Christian Blessings. The karozutha prayers of the Syro-Malabar Qurbana is a right indicator in this direction. The response of each petition is “Lord, have mercy on us”.
 Here the document mentions the sacramentals before the sacraments which, in my judgement, implies that the sacramentals are more vitiated than the sacraments in the historical process.
 No example is given in CCC. The blessing of ‘Pesaha Appam’ could be an example.
 When the Church publicly and authoritatively asks that a person be protected from the dominion of the power of the Evil One, it is called exorcism.
 This translation is taken from George Nedungatt, A Companion to the Eastern Code, Rome 1994, p.204.
 Congregation for the Eastern Churches, Instruction for Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, Rome 1996
 Cf. Mario Righetti, Storia Liturgica IV: Sacramenti e Sacramentali, Milano 1959, p.474
 Cf. Ibid, p. 476
 Cf. Reiner Kaczynski, Blessings in Rome and the Non-Roman West, in A.J. Chupungco (ed.), Handbook for Liturgical Studies IV, Collegeville 2000, p. 398
 Cf. Ibid, p. 399
 Cf. Elena Velkova Velkovska, Blessings in the East, in A.J.Chupungco 9ed.), Handbook for Liturgical Studies, p. 388
 Cf. Ibid, p. 384
 ICEL, Book of Blessings, Washington DC 1987, General Instructions No. 24
 Ibid, General Instructions No. 39
 Cf. Circular Letter Concerning Studies of the Oriental Churches, L’Osservatore Romano, 6 April 1987, p. 12
 Cf. SMBC Report of 19 June 1973, p. 1-2; Report of 14 August 1974, p. 1; Report of 6 December 1980, p. 1; Report of 7 November 1985, p. 3; Report of 3 December 1986, p. 5; Report of the Synod of November 1999 etc.
 G.P. Badger, Nestorians and Their Rituals, Vol. II, London 1852
 Cf. Book of Blessings, Preface, p.7.
 Book of Blessings, General Instructions, No.10.
 Ibid., No.13
 Examples: Blessing of altar, chalice, paten etc.; Jubilee celebration of marriage, Blessing of bed-ridden sick persons at home etc.
 However, when a priest or a deacon is present, the ministry of blessing should be left to them.
 Congregation for the Eastern Churches, Instruction, No.38. See above, p.3.
 See above, Footnote No.9.
 For example, the Jewish domestic liturgy of Birkat ha Mazon which was a prayer of thanksgiving was not meant simply for the food, but also for all the gifts of Yahweh.
 This Ritual is translated into English, but without the appendix. ‘Blessings and Prayers (Sacramentals), Denha Services, Kottayam 1990.
 Andres Torres Queiruga, Beyond Prayer of Petitions, in Concilium, 1/2006, pp.63-75.
Posted in Liturgy | Tagged: Catholic, Catholic Church, CCC, Christ, Christianity, Church, eastern churches, Eucharist, religion, sacramentals, sacred signs, second vatican council, Syro-Malabar Church, theology | Leave a Comment »