Monday, October 8, 2012

September 1962 – Fifty Years Later
Prior to 1962, the Bishops of some countries -- especially Germany and France -- gathered to make joint suggestions for topics at the Council.  Individually, the Bishops in the United States sent hundreds of suggestions to the Vatican, including:

Doctrinal Concerns: Christ as the world’s Divine Redeemer; the relationship of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition (in light of Pius XII’s Divino Afflante Spiritu); the role of the Blessed Virgin
The Church: The Mystical Body of Christ (as Pius XII taught); prospects for reunion with the Orthodox and with Protestants; infants who die without Baptism; Church-State relations; religious freedom.
Role of Bishops: as Magisterium (teachers of Faith); Bishops’ relationship with men/women religious; relationship to Roman Curia;  the role of national episcopal conferences; use of social communications.
Priests, Deacons, Religious:  promoting vocations; restoration of permanent diaconate, extended to married men; a year of pastoral ministry for seminarians; a rediscovery of religious’ charisms.
The Laity: offer encouragement to the Lay Apostolate; the nature of the Christian family;  providing laypeople with opportunities to study along with the clergy dogma, philosophy, history and morality.
Liturgical Reform: study of the twentieth-century Liturgical Movement; increased use of local languages, while retaining some Latin in liturgy and Church’s daily life; a reform of the Breviary.
Moral Questions:  the need for obedience to legitimate authority; clearer teaching on the ends of marriage; the relationship between morality and psychiatry; the problem of birth control.
Modern War and Peace: the ethics of nuclear weapons; conscientious objection; theory of “just war”;  international relations; the threat of communism as an obstacle to world peace.
Social Justice: expand teaching of Rerum Novarum and Quadragesima Anno; improve race relations; the poor and elderly; growing materialism; atheism; new  challenges from scientific/technological progress.

While several Bishops had replied they had “nothing to propose”,  others were as specific as “defense of the family farm”; as theoretical as “what do to if the enemies of the Church used an atomic bomb to kill all the Cardinal-electors of the Pope”; and as speculative as salvation for “creatures on other planets.” 
            The Council’s Preparatory Commission – under the leadership of Msgr. Pericle Felici -- worked diligently, categorizing the tens of thousands of recommendations from around the world, as one American Bishop suggested, “rejecting both the stubbornness of the antiquarians and the rashness of the innovators.”  Vatican II was to be a reform Council certainly, yet a Council in continuity with the enduring teaching of Jesus Christ and His Church.
 (NEXT WEEK: PHYSICAL PREPARATIONS FOR THE COUNCIL)                                          --       Monsignor John T. Myler

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