Melkite Greek Catholic Church
 

Ecumenism The Requirements for Union

On May 10, 1961, while on a visit to Beirut, the patriarch went to see the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Egano Righi Lambertini. Among other things, the nuncio asked him what the Orthodox thought of the council. The patriarch answered his question. The nuncio then asked him to transmit his views in writing to the Central Commission. The patriarch did so in a long letter addressed to Archbishop Felici, dated May 19, 1961.

1. It can be affirmed with certainty that the Orthodox people of our regions of the Near East, with few exceptions, have been filled with enthusiasm at the thought of the union that was to be realized by this council. The people as a whole see no other reason for this council than the realization of this union. It must be said that in view of their delicate position in the midst of a Muslim majority, the Christian people of the Arab Near East, perhaps more than those anywhere else, aspire to Christian unity. For them this unity is not only the fulfillment of Our Lord's desire, but also a question of life or death. During a meeting of rank and file people held last year in Alexandria, which included many Orthodox Christians, who were as enthusiastic as the Catholics in proclaiming the idea of union, we were able to speak these words, "If the union of Christians depended only on the people, it would have been accomplished long ago."

When His Holiness the Pope announced the convocation of this council, our people, whether Orthodox or Catholic, immediately thought spontaneously and irresistibly that the bells were about to ring for the hour of union. The general populace are even surprised that it is taking so long, as they do not understand what interest the ecclesiastical leaders can have in deferring the union that is so eagerly desired. The day that the people realized that the proposed council was not a "council of union," their disappointment was great. Nonetheless, in spite of all the news that they receive setting aside the idea of an immediate union, the people continue to hope that Christian leaders, at this council or later on, will be able to effect official union to which the people will be faithful. Few are the Orthodox Christians who do not fervently wish for union or who see insurmountable obstacles to its realization. The most urgent reform that they hope to see realized by the council is the unification of the date of Easter. In the presence of Muslims, our Christians feel deeply humiliated every time that their paschal computations do not coincide. Our patriarchal synod of August 1959 addressed a more detailed memorandum to the Ante-preparatory Commission on this subject. It is our earnest hope that this point will be studied and resolved as soon as possible. It would be a great step toward union.

2. As for the Orthodox clergy, generally speaking they show much less enthusiasm than do the people. In public they declare that they are not opposed to it in principle, but in their view it seems very difficult to accomplish. They raise the question of divorce. They usually accuse the Roman Church of being an obstacle to union, either because of its doctrinal innovations or because of what they call its human ambitions and its love of domination. The grievances that they have against the Roman Church are almost always the same. However, even in the ranks of the Orthodox clergy one can note a beginning of rapprochement, a little more understanding, as well as a more or less eager desire to be united, which is supported by the growth of the ecumenical movement and by the feelings of the people. In general, it can be said that compared with the clergy of other Orthodox Churches, the Orthodox clergy of our Arab Near East, who are less scholarly, offer a less systematic opposition, but they cannot dissociate themselves from the Russians, the Greeks, and the other Orthodox Christians. The reason for this must be sought above all in the fact that all Christians in our Arab lands are in the minority, and also perhaps in the role of neutrality or of mediation that Melkite patriarchs have traditionally played in the disputes between Byzantium and Rome.

3. What everyone is seeking from the forthcoming council is that it reveal the true face of the Catholic Church, and not only the face of the Latin Church, with which some still want to identify it in practice. Even though the Church is catholic legally and in fact, there can be no doubt that we must all make serious efforts so that this catholicity may be ever more completely realized in our attitudes and in our actions.

Specifically, the support that the latinization of the East still has in certain ecclesiastical circles is a denial of the generous declarations and promises of the popes, who have always affirmed that the restoration of catholic unity did not in any sense signify either in theory or in practice that Eastern Christians should adopt Latinism. Now, to give only one example, the restoration and preservation of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem constitute a practical negation of the very idea of unity, which is not and must not be the absorption of the East by the West, but the union of the East and the West in mutual respect for their diversity.

The Catholic Church must be able to prove that there is room within it for every diversity that does not affect faith, charity, and ecclesiastical communion. It must be able to give concrete proof not only that it accepts Catholics who are not Latin, but also that it condemns those who cannot conceive of a Catholicism that is not Latin. Now, as long as the latinization of the East continues, in its hierarchy and in its discipline, the Orthodox will never believe in the sincerity of declarations of the popes calling for unity. They will always believe that this unity must culminate sooner or later in the absorption of their Churches by the Latin Church.

4. Until now the repeated and stirring calls to union that the popes addressed to our separated brethren simply hardened them more, for these calls always implied more or less the following idea: return to the sheepfold that you have abandoned, acknowledge your faults and your errors, submit, ask forgiveness, and we are ready to welcome you warmly, to hold our arms out to you, to embrace you, etc. Our Orthodox brethren are all the more astonished at this language inasmuch as they are sincerely convinced of having innovated nothing, of having remained faithful to the tradition of the days before the ruptures, and inasmuch as they believe that it is rather the Catholic Church that has strayed from apostolic tradition.

With His Holiness Pope John XXIII, we entered upon a new course. Was it not he who declared on January 29, 1959, four days after the announcement of the council, speaking to the pastors of Rome: "We shall not institute a historical inquiry; we shall not seek to find out who was right and who was wrong. The responsibility is shared by all parties. We shall simply say: ‘Let us come together, let us put an end to dissension.'"

These words of His Holiness will be a landmark in the Church. They open up the true path that leads to union. We think that with an attitude such as this on the part of Catholics, reconciliation with the Orthodox Churches becomes possible.

5. All Catholic ecumenists agree in asking the Western Church to be more open. It is in no sense a question of dogmatic compromises. What is needed is a greater openness of mind, to understand and admit that there can be within the bosom of the catholica something more than is commonly seen, some other representation and some other codification of the same dogma, some other organization of the hierarchy, some other discipline, some other spirituality, other forms of monasticism and of the apostolate, etc.

On all these points, the Latin Church should not insist so much on reducing to its own uniformity the variety of charisms, experiences, needs, and activities that exist in other Churches. In particular, the Eastern Catholics who have not been latinized do not understand why there is still so much insistence on latinizing their discipline, constantly constricting it more. It would have been much more "catholic" to respect their institutions and to let them develop harmoniously, not in the direction of increasingly excessive centralization, but in the direction of a sincere and respectful collaboration between the local hierarchy and the organizations of the Holy See of Rome.

The Orthodox see in Latin Catholicism of the present day what the free peoples see in the regimes behind the Iron Curtain: a great deal of order and organization, but also enslavement of consciences and a human desire for domination.

In answer to a Catholic priest who was speaking to him about union, the late Jacobite Patriarch of Antioch replied, "You wish me to unite with Rome, so that tomorrow, if I wish to remove a priest, he can go and complain to Rome, which will be too happy to demolish me before him!"

6. Christians have had different mentalities in the past, and they still do. In spite of these divergences—we would even say with these divergences—Christ calls them all to unity. One portion of the Church must not prevent the fulfillment of the divine Master's wish by seeking to impose its own mentality and discipline on others at all costs.

Thus it is our sincere belief that the present successor of Peter, who is so evangelical, so modest, and so simple, and the increasingly significant actions that he is taking, are a call to a greater openness of heart and mind, so that all Christians may feel equally loved and thereby rediscover more easily the path to reunion. As far as union is concerned, we believe that the present pope is the greatest gift God has given to His Church.

The Importance of the Secretariat for Christian Unity

In 1962 the Secretariat for Christian Unity had prepared a schema of very modest aspect on "the necessity of prayer for Christian unity, especially in our time." In a memorandum addressed to the Central Commission, dated from Damascus on June 5, 1962, the patriarch expressed his great admiration for the spirit that prevailed in the secretariat. Going beyond the subject, he suggested:

a. that all schemas of the council be submitted to the secretariat in order to be revised from the ecumenical point of view;

b. that the secretariat be maintained after the council and be transformed into a permanent organ of the Roman Curia.)

We simply wish to bring to this schema of the Secretariat for Christian Unity the tribute of our admiration. Its spirit and its tone are worthy of the nascent Catholic ecumenism. It contains no term that could offend any of our separated brethren. The perspective of Christian divisions that it presents is as historically objective as it is pastorally psychological. The tone of this schema, far different from the tone to which official circles have accustomed us until now, should serve as a model whenever the council wishes to speak about Christian unity.

We take this opportunity to make two suggestions: the first is that all schemas of the council be submitted to the Secretariat for Christian Unity, so that it may review their wording and that the council, whose goal is to bring Christians together, may avoid inadvertently widening the gap between them. There is an ecumenical and profoundly catholic way of speaking on all matters when we wish to enter into dialogue with our separated brothers. This manner of speaking, and also perceiving things in depth, has not been adequately mastered by all Catholic theologians, even the most learned. Since this Secretariat for Christian Unity has been instituted by His Holiness, it is good, we believe, for it to establish the tone for the preparatory labors of the council. In particular, we think that the Theological Commission should, more than any other, avail itself of the services that this secretariat is ready to furnish very advantageously.

My second suggestion is an urgent request to His Holiness that the secretariat not disappear after the conclusion of the council, but that it be transformed into a permanent dicastery of the Roman Curia. It would be, as it were, the permanent ecumenical conscience of the Roman See and of the entire Catholic Church.


Union and the Christians of the East

The Eastern Commission, considering the principal mission of the Eastern Catholics to be the fostering of reconciliation between Eastern Orthodoxy and the Holy See of Rome, had prepared a schema entitled: "On the unity of the Church: that all may be one." In a memorandum to the Central Commission, dated from Damascus on June 5, 1962, the patriarch made a few remarks on this schema.

First of all, we wish to praise this schema "De Ecclesiae unitate," which unquestionably constitutes progress over the earlier documents of the Holy See, especially in its mode of expression. So that it may more closely approach perfection, we take the liberty of making the following remarks:

1. In this schema there is still too frequent reference to the "return" of the sheep to the fold of Peter, to "dissident" brothers, etc. The entire text should be carefully reviewed so as to eliminate any offensive allusions. In this way the text will avoid producing on the Orthodox an effect contrary to the one intended. The schema speaks of the psychological means of preparing the way to unity. This is the first means. If one speaks of stray sheep in a sermon or in a small committee, it might be overlooked. But to speak about that in an official conciliar document whose purpose is precisely to bring hearts together, is at the very least proof of a lack of psychology.

2. In speaking about the rights, privileges, dignities, honors, etc., to be safeguarded for the Eastern Church, the text uses general terms, and repeats certain declarations of Pope Leo XIII. However, experience has taught us that this kind of declaration accomplishes nothing. It serves rather to show that administrative practice is contrary to the theoretical affirmations of popes. Instead, the text of the conciliar decree should affirm the rights that patriarchs of the Eastern Churches have been demanding for several years: the rank of the patriarchs in the hierarchy of the Church, their freedom in internal government, a reduction in appeals to the Roman Curia, the preservation of the rite of those who wish to accede to union, etc. That does not seem very clear in the schema that is being proposed to us.

3. We prefer that this schema be prepared, or at least reviewed, by the Secretariat for Christian Unity. That secretariat has specific competence to study these questions, and has available personnel qualified to deal with these kinds of subjects.

4. The word "dissidents" should be avoided everywhere, and all the more the words "heretics" or "schismatics." Instead the terms "separated brethren" or simply "the Orthodox" should be used. Charity requires of us to call everyone by the name that he wishes. This does not mean that we therefore share his inward conviction and the personal meaning he attaches to his name.

5. In No. 7, it is said of the separated brethren that they are deprived "of many means of salvation that are found in the true Church, especially the institutions and directions of the magisterium, without which Christian faith and morals are not perfectly preserved." The wording is exaggerated and even somewhat false. The magisterium of the Church is not only that of the Pope of Rome, and it must not be thought that they are so completely deprived of the means of eternal salvation that their faith and morals are somewhat corrupted. This whole sentence needs to be revised so as to be more conciliatory.

6. No. 24 affirms once more that Eastern Christians who return to Catholic unity will never be forced to become Latin Christians. This is true in theory. In practice, however, everything has been done and continues to be done in certain regions, such as in Palestine and the entire Near East, so that Eastern Christians may in fact become Latin Christians. And this has been going on with the knowledge of the supreme authority, which does not seem to have reacted until now except by renewing theoretical declarations on the preservation of the Eastern rites. The entire process of "latinization" needs to be taken up here.

The council should take concrete and energetic action to condemn forever the "latinization" of the East.

7. No. 45 expresses the wish that the beatification and canonization processes of the "martyrs of the union" be introduced. While we recognize the legitimacy of this desire, we think it is useful to make it known that our patriarchate, in its concern for peaceful relations, avoids pushing the causes of these "martyrs of union" if the Orthodox have played a less than flattering role in them. Let us not forget that Orthodoxy likewise has its martyrs of Catholicism.

8. In agreement with No. 46 of the schema, we urgently ask that the Secretariat for Christian Unity be transformed after the council into a permanent dicastery of the Roman Curia. Eastern Catholic Ecumenists should not be systematically excluded from this dicastery, for while their efforts are discredited at the present time, they will be increasingly efficacious in bringing hearts together.

9. We also desire, with No. 47, the internationalization of the Roman Curia, so as to give the central administration a genuinely catholic, i. e., universal, international point of view. Too often our separated brethren see in the Roman Curia a national occupation of a specific people, like a family patrimony, in which a given nation has all the interests and presses for centralization less out of concern for the Church than for its own interests. This perspective must be refuted.

10. Finally, Nos. 48 through 52 deal with the conditions for the worldwide union of Orthodox Christians of the East with the Holy Catholic Church. In envisioning this hypothesis the schema invites them to occupy the place that belongs to them in the Catholic Church. We do not know when and how a worldwide reunion of this kind will be possible. And yet we know for certain that there are already in the Catholic Church Eastern rite communities with hierarchies. These communities must be given the place that is reserved and promised to the entire East. Orthodoxy watches carefully the behavior of the Holy See of Rome toward these Eastern groups that are in union. Orthodoxy concludes from the way that these Eastern groups are treated in the Catholic Church as to the treatment it will receive if reunion is realized. That is why, when we entreat for the preservation of the rights, privileges, and dignity of the Catholic East, and the rank of its hierarchical leaders within the whole Catholic hierarchy, we are not demanding personal advantages for ourselves. We are pursuing the inherent interests of Christian unity. If this is understood some day, many difficulties will disappear. In No. 50, the schema affirms once more that the Catholic Church intends to respect the discipline peculiar to Eastern Christians, but repeats the unfortunate proviso "omitting only those things which, if they perchance are present, are contrary to correct faith and sound morals." This proviso is offensive. There is absolutely nothing in authentic Eastern discipline contrary to faith and sound morals.

No. 51 promises the Orthodox clerics who return to Catholic unity their continuance in the sacred orders already received, "unless it should be otherwise provided by the Apostolic See in a particular case, for truly serious reasons." This reservation is justified. On the other hand, the current practice of reserving to the Holy Office the admission of every Orthodox cleric indiscriminately seems to us subject to amendment. We think that it is better to leave that to the prudent judgment of the local ordinaries, without denying the right of the Holy See of Rome to intervene, as the schema says, "for truly serious reasons."

The schema "De Ecclesiae unitate" came before the Council on November 27, 1962, during the 28th General Session. That day five Melkite Greek Fathers spoke. It was the patriarch who set the tone. His intervention, read in French, was translated into Latin and read by Archbishop George Hakim. The patriarch reserved the right to make some general remarks on the schema, leaving it to the other prelates of his community to take turns developing detailed comments.

This schema "De Ecclesiae unitate," which directly concerns Eastern Orthodoxy, concerns us collaterally.

In order to remain within the time allotted to each one, I shall limit myself to some general remarks, leaving it to my brother Melkite Greek prelates the task of making more detailed critiques.

This schema, providing that there is a radical reworking of certain paragraphs of Part One and amendments to others, could constitute a basis for a worthwhile discussion.

First remark: This concerns the spirit of the wording, especially Nos. 5 to 12. The definite theological truths are often presented in such a way that they can only antagonize those who are not in our communion. The friendly tone beginning with No. 12 changes nothing of the unfavorable impression already caused. In fact, the contrast it presents with the peremptory and exclusive assertions of Roman authority, without mentioning the painful events of the past, leaves an impression of certain unpleasant biases in the sharing of historical responsibilities.

It must not be forgotten, in fact, that here we are addressing the Eastern Church, a Church that is fully apostolic in its intrinsic elements and clearly distinct from the Latin one. It is a first-born Church of Christ and of the Apostles. Its historical development and organization are the exclusive work of the Fathers, our Greek and Eastern Fathers. It owes what it is to the college of the Apostles, still living in the episcopate in collegiality, with Peter at its center, with its distinctive responsibilities and rights.

Historically, this Church owes to Rome neither its origin, its rites, its organization, nor anything of what constitutes it concretely. In short, no one has begotten it in the faith, except the Apostles; no one, except the Fathers, has established it in its entire patrimony of prayer, organization, and activity. Can it be said that Saints Basil, Gregory, Cyril, Chrysostom, and others are second-class Catholics because they were not Roman in all that they received and in all that they bequeathed?

If we wish to speak effectively to the Orthodox East, we must speak to it first of all about the Catholic doctrine relating to the collegiality of the pastorate of the Church. After that, we shall speak to it about the papacy, which will then appear as the central foundation of this collegiality. This is an absolutely important point. It would be fatal to forget it.

Second remark: The lack of collaboration among the Preparatory Commissions for the council has resulted in bringing us three distinct schemas on the same subject matter: the schema that we are now discussing, prepared by the Commission on the Eastern Churches, the schema "De Oecumenismo," prepared by the Secretariat for Christian Unity, and a chapter with the same title, prepared by the Theological Commission. An Arabic proverb says, "When many hands take part in the cooking, the food is burned." Obviously, these three texts sometimes deal with different aspects of the same question, but it is evident that they are dealing with the same subject matter. It is therefore desirable that a single text be presented to us under the title "On the Union of Christians" or some other title, and that it be worked out by a mixed sub-commission composed of members of the three above-mentioned groups. In that way, the subject matter will be more coherent and the council will save time.

Third remark: The schema that is proposed to us today bears the general title "De Ecclesiae unitate." Yet actually, after a few general considerations, the text speaks only of the means of fostering union with our Orthodox brethren of the East. From this perspective our schema could constitute a special chapter in the general schema "On Ecumenism" that we intend to prepare. It is our view that in this single schema on ecumenism we must set aside a special place for our Orthodox brethren of the East. In fact, while the general principles of ecumenism are identical for everyone, the practical means of opening the dialogue with our Orthodox brethren cannot be the same as those for our Protestant brethren. We are closer to our Orthodox brethren in the faith; we even accept the same methods of transmission of divine revelation. With the exception of papal primacy, we have the same hierarchical organization, the same sacraments, the same liturgy and so many other riches in common, to the point that what unites us is infinitely greater and deeper than what separates us. As for our Protestant brethren, we must seek union with them from other perspectives.

Venerable Fathers, the union of the Churches is for all of us a serious and vital problem. For us in particular, the Eastern Catholics of the Byzantine rite, the schism of the Churches is a constantly bleeding wound that we feel in the very depths of our souls. The union of Churches is our greatest concern, our first task, and the most ardent wish of our hearts. It is the goal toward which we are striving with all our strength and for which we desire to be the redemptive sacrifice when it is accomplished. Working for the union of Churches is as it were our reason for being and the fundamental mission that Providence has entrusted to us individually and collectively. The Orthodox and we, their Byzantine Catholic brothers, constitute, in peoples of diverse nationalities, one single family in its religious mentality, its liturgy, its spiritual history, and in many of its attitudes. We need to be united with them as much as they need to be united with us. The time has come when all Christians must forget the quarrels of the past, in which human interests, on both sides, have often played a more decisive role than dogmatic differences. The time has come to accomplish Christ's wish "That all may be one."

The same day, November 27, 1962, it was the turn of Kyr Philip Nabaa, Metropolitan of Beirut and undersecretary of the council. He proposed the omission of the introduction to the schema, which was of a rather doctrinal nature. He extolled the importance of charity in ecumenical contacts, criticized the concept of a "return" applied exclusively to our Orthodox brethren, and stressed the need of safeguarding the distinctive discipline of the East.

The schema on the decree on the Unity of the Church "Ut unum sit" in the form presented for the discussion of the Fathers, pleases me in a fashion. In fact, it contains a great deal of material and deals with many dogmatic, liturgical, and pastoral questions. However, its arguments are not always thoroughly developed, and there is still room for shortening and necessary amendments. Since this is a subject of major importance that concerns the entire Second Vatican Council and whose solution is awaited by all Christians, it is necessary that this decree, which declares the wishes of the council on union, be presented to the Christian world in a more effective way. In order to help the council in its labors, we have thought that it would be useful to present the following observations:

First observation: The dogmatic portion of the decree should be curtailed and inserted in the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church... Thus the decree "Ut unum sit" will be seen to be the solemn declaration of the Second Vatican Council on union and the firm foundation for general and fruitful collaboration for the realization of this great divine work.

However, this decree on unity does not speak of all the separated Churches, but only of the union of the Eastern Orthodox Churches with the Catholic Church. This method is useful because the Eastern Orthodox Church has much in common with the Catholic Church, in the profession of faith, in the doctrine of the sacraments, in the apostolic succession, etc. Its union with the Catholic Church therefore requires its own specific research and conditions.

Second observation: In order to foster union, the decree proposes various means and divides them into supernatural, theological, liturgical, canonical or disciplinary, psychological, and practical means. These suggestions are well-taken. They can even be considered as a prelude and as a firm stance from which to open dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.

However, when the schema speaks of practical means, it cites a few ordinary and certainly good means, for example, the ecumenical movement, Eastern studies, the special day for awareness of the East (instituted by Pope Pius XI), etc. But it is silent on the most effective means, that is to say, the means that prepare a surer and more suitable way toward a genuine and perfect union. Concerning these more powerful means the schema merely says in paragraph 38, "This Holy and Ecumenical Synod strongly recommends that everyone use the most efficacious means so that the desire for union may produce the desired fruit."

Thus may I, a humble Eastern Catholic bishop, who has been and still is continually in contact with many Orthodox brethren, be permitted to give a few explanations of the practical and effective method of assisting and restoring union. There can be no doubt that this method must be based on truth and charity, or rather on charity for the truth—"in caritate ad veritatem." For there are some very serious difficulties along the paths that lead to union. Only charity will manifest the truth and sing out the victory hymn of union. In many regions of the East, an immediate union is even impossible. It is therefore fitting first to prepare hearts for union, to breathe a new spirit into our relations with our Orthodox brethren, and to expand the scope of charity.

According to this more suitable way, charity counsels and ordains many things for union in the social and religious life. Here are some examples: collaboration with non-Catholics when there is a question of carrying out charitable works, of defending the dignity of the human person, of promoting justice, and of sustaining morality.

Here is another example: the celebration on the same day of the great Christian feasts, and most especially Christmas and Easter. This common celebration is a great sign of charity and union.

In addition, there are certain laws on the communicatio in sacris that are contrary to union or make it very difficult. In my humble opinion, and providing the danger of perversion of the faith is avoided, we must mitigate and even abolish these laws.

With respect to mixed marriages, I dare to propose, for the Eastern Church, the abrogation of the law that forbids these 16 marriages under pain of invalidity, and to return to the law that was in force before the promulgation of the new Eastern Code. As a matter of fact, the law that imposes the Catholic form on mixed marriages, under pain of nullity, is very onerous, morally impossible, and prevents all hope of union. Third observation: In the schema, as in the entire literature pertaining to union, the path to union is called the "return" of the separated brethren to the house that they have forsaken. However, the idea of this return is very debatable. For in this "return" to us, we must consider the state of soul of our separated brethren, the human frailty that has led to the division, and especially historical truth. It will then appear opportune, in order to foster reconciliation, to assume the part we bear in the culpability and divisions of the eleventh and sixteenth centuries. The abuses within the Church at that time have certainly provided the Orthodox and the Protestants with an occasion for separation, without thereby justifying them. If we set aside, then, the question of faith and of morals, it is the Catholics themselves who need to "return" to their Orthodox brethren and to speak to them with a sounder judgment and a kinder feeling. This Catholic return will overcome many difficulties, and a broader fraternal reaction, more favorable to union, will be created. And the merits of our brethren will be recognized.

Fourth observation: In Nos. 25, 26, and 27 of the schema, the solemn declaration of Pope Paul V is evoked and taken up again by other pontiffs, affirming that all the sacred rites and ceremonies of the Eastern Church will be completely safeguarded. What is said of the sacred rites also applies to legitimate discipline, to the rights and privileges of the Eastern Christians, as Pope Leo XIII declared in his motu proprio "Auspicia rerum."

These authentic papal declarations are serious and solemn decisions. They are even, one might say, a commitment on the part of the Roman See to the Eastern Apostolic Church. These decisions must therefore be applied in order to give certain proof of the truth, of the promise, and of the commitment.

They must be applied in order to realize union with dignity. They must be applied in concrete acts: in the recognition of the rights and privileges of the patriarchs, in the restoration of the ancient and venerable discipline of the Eastern Church, in the declaration and strengthening of the true power of bishops and synods. Finally, they must be applied in this great council so that all our Orthodox brethren, seeing truth in action, come back or return to their home and take their places, of which they are most worthy. And that is how all Christian brothers will be "one" in the one and only Church of Christ.

That same day, November 27, 1962, Archbishop Elias Zoghby, Patriarchal Vicar in Egypt and the Sudan, set forth the Eastern and Orthodox point of view on Christian unity.

I shall speak of Christian unity from the Eastern and Orthodox point of view.

The problem of Christian unity is different for the Orthodox and for the Protestants, because their relations with the Latin Church are essentially different. The Protestant Churches separated from the Latin Church, their mother, within which they had been born and of which they were an integral part. The Eastern Church, for its part, while it always recognized a primacy of the Bishop of Rome, even if somewhat vaguely, has never been part of the Latin Church. It does not emanate from it; it does not owe its existence to it, or its subsistence, or its dogmatic and disciplinary development.

The Eastern and consequently the Orthodox Church is a "source" Church, historically speaking, just like the Latin Church in the West. Founded by the Apostles and their immediate disciples, it was born without the consent of any other Church, since it was born before the others. It worked out its discipline and its liturgy without the approval of the West, since its discipline and its liturgies are clearly different from those of the West. Its inherent doctrine, substantially identical to that of the West, is developed and lived out in a different way. As proof of this, we have those Fathers of the Greek Church whose works are represented in our libraries by the side of those of the Latin Fathers, without ever being confused with them. There are two aptitudes, two different Christian inspirations, both going back to the living source of Christ, but whose waters, passing through lands differing in nature, through civilizations and talents that are obviously different, possess characteristics that are different and often incompatible.

It is important not to forget this fact, so as not to reduce the separation merely to an impulsive act, to use the expression of His Beatitude my Patriarch Maximos IV, and in order to measure the possibilities and procedures for a reunion.

To illustrate what I have just said, it will suffice for me to show you briefly how the same Christian mysteries and the same feasts are viewed, understood, and lived differently by the Latin Church on the one hand, and by the Orthodox Church and ourselves, the Eastern Catholics, on the other.

Let us consider the dogma of the most Holy Trinity, for example. Our Eastern theology has remained faithful to the doctrinal presentation of the Fathers, worked out at the time of the councils (the First Council of Nicea and the First Council of Constantinople), concerning the circumincession of the divine Persons. It has not allowed itself to be influenced by the Western theses of Augustinian theology that were propagated in the West during the Middle Ages and are still current in the Latin Church. Likewise, the East still holds fast not only to the doctrine of the Christological councils but also to the theological aspect given it by the Fathers who were the contemporaries of those councils. This is notably true on the subject of the incarnation of the Word, conceived above all as a divinization of human nature by Christ, a view that is more difficult to derive from the doctrine of vicarious satisfaction that is prevalent in the Latin Church.

These different ways of understanding and assimilating the same dogmas have had their influence on our liturgy and our feasts, which are the same as those of the Orthodox. For us, the feast of the Nativity of Christ, as well as the feast of the Epiphany, celebrates this divinization of human nature. This is not the case in the Latin Church. I also mention in passing the feast of the Annunciation, which, among us as well as among the Orthodox, commemorates the most solemn event in history, i.e., the incarnation of the Word of God in the womb of the Virgin Mary, whereas the same feast in the Latin Church tends more to celebrate the glories of the Virgin Mary, chosen by God to be the Mother of His Son.

And so, Venerable Fathers, you see by these examples cited at random that since its origins there have been in Christianity two principal currents that channel the riches of the redemption in two parallel directions that can complement each other, mutually enrich one another, without being intermingled. As long as East is East, and West is West, there will always be, as there have always been, two Churches in One. With God's help, they can be united but never commingled; they can coexist in unity but never in uniformity. Each of the two Churches will necessarily retain its own individual character, its physiognomy, its personality. Our Lord told His followers, "Be one as my Father and I are One." Now, while the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are united in the same nature, each of them retains His own distinct personality. There is one God in three Persons. It is in this way that Christ wants to see Christian unity realized: Churches that remain distinct but consubstantially united as one in the Church that is truly and supernaturally one in its hierarchical society.

The Orthodox Churches, insisting on the collegial power of the Apostles, are evolving toward an ever-greater autonomy. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, over the last few centuries has evolved in the opposite direction, toward centralization. Catholics and Orthodox Christians will be able to unite only by maintaining their equilibrium in mutual harmony.

I have set up the comparison between the Orthodox Church and the Latin Church when the question is really one of unity between the Orthodox and the Catholics. Why? Because the Catholic Church is, even today, overwhelmingly Latin, just as the Church of the East or the Churches of the East are, in their very great majority, Orthodox.

This fact is very evident in our Second Vatican Council, in which the Eastern bishops, numbering 130, are lost in an assembly of more than 2,000 Fathers, while the Eastern patriarchs, those of the great apostolic sees that, in the great ecumenical councils of the faith, played the principal role around the legates of the Pope of Rome, are today, in the persons of the Catholic patriarchs of the East, submerged in this imposing assembly and disappear behind the sacred purple of the 100 cardinals who are the honor of the Catholic Church today, but who did not then exist.

There are those who will say that the Church has evolved. That's indeed true! But it has evolved one-sidedly without taking into account those who, through the very will of Christ, are called to be part of it. For our brothers the Orthodox hierarchs, to acquiesce at the outset to the present state of our evolution is to renounce once and for all what they are and to dissolve their being and their Churches into Latinism, whereas the purpose of union is to enrich and not to impoverish.

The Catholic Church of today, assembled at this council blessed by God, appears so universal and so ecumenical with respect to territorial representation, geographically speaking. It looks to the day when Orthodoxy with its 200 million faithful will be represented within it in proportion to the patrimony that the Fathers of its Church, its great doctors and its holy monks, have bequeathed to Christianity, and with which they continue to enrich and nourish the Churches of the East and the West.

There are those who have sought to say that this council is not a council of union. So be it! And yet as long as Christians are divided, no council animated by the Spirit of Jesus Christ can dissociate itself from union. The Second Vatican Council seems to wish to serve the cause of union in a significant way. Indeed, when the new Christian communities everywhere and the ancient Christian communities of the West that received the baptism of the Roman Church, their teacher and mother, will soon have recovered the use of their mother tongue in their worship, and perhaps their national rites, when they have recaptured in their regional and national synods the climate favorable to their development, then the Catholic Church, decentralized, generous to its own children and trusting in those who have received baptism from Roman hands, will have passed through the first stage toward union with those who received from Eastern and Greek apostolic hands the same baptism as their own.

Archbishop Neophytos Edelby also spoke on that day, November 27, 1962, to criticize the doctrinal preamble of this schema.

The schema that is proposed to us for discussion under the title "On the Unity of the Church," when considered in its entirety, presents a practical and pastoral approach rather than a theoretical one. In fact, it deals with the means that seem most appropriate first of all for bringing the hearts of Christians closer together, and more specifically to encourage union with the Eastern Christians separated from the Catholic communion. Various means have been proposed in the schema: supernatural, theological, liturgical, canonical or disciplinary, psychological, or practical.

Before enumerating and explaining these means, the drafters of the schema thought that they should present a general introduction of a rather doctrinal nature on the nature of ecclesiastical unity. This introduction covers the first eleven paragraphs, about which I should like to say a few words.

To speak very simply and at the same time very charitably, I must admit that, while the body of the schema, with a few exceptions, generally deserves praise, the same cannot be said of this doctrinal introduction that is altogether incomplete and indeed not very accurate.

1. First of all (paragraphs 1-5), a few texts are proposed from Holy Scripture on the work of the redemption, on the earthly and heavenly Church, on the hierarchical Church. All this is excellent, but finds its normal place in a treatise "On the Church" rather than in a specific and practical decree on the means of bringing about union. Besides, the texts cited are not used to the best advantage to make possible the deduction of some principles of ecclesiology that provide the basis of the Catholic doctrine of Christian unity.

2. This doctrine seems to be presented in the following paragraphs (6-11), which deal with the visible unity of the Church "under Peter," the indivisible unity of the Church, unity in diversity, etc. I regret to say that these paragraphs, in my humble opinion, are not very satisfactory and must be completely revised, so that the spirit that animates them may be rendered more friendly, the historical perspective more objective, and the theological doctrine more profound. Here are a few explanations:

a. The spirit that animates this part of the schema is far removed from the ecumenical spirit, which is a spirit of truth in charity. The text of these paragraphs reflects here and there a certain animosity against the Eastern Christians that is not consonant with what is said subsequently. Thus, for example, it is unnecessarily and unjustly asserted that all non-Catholic Eastern Christians recognize "the undue right of the temporal regime of a civil government to interfere in the government of the Church." Other examples could be cited.

b. The historical perspective of this part of the schema is neither correct nor just. Thus, for example, the history of the schism is again represented in a very simplistic way, as if certain parts of the Church, namely the Eastern Churches, decided purely and simply out of spitefulness, without any responsibility whatever on the part of others, "to withdraw from the authority of the Vicar of Christ" (p. 253, lines 20-22). The historical reality is far more complex, and the responsibilities are widely shared. In addition, the Catholic Church is presented as if it had never ceased doing everything it could everywhere and unremittingly to foster Christian unity (p. 254, lines 12-25, and p. 255, lines 3-4). Everyone knows that that is not altogether true, since Catholics no less than non-Catholics have often acted contrary to the best interests of union, and, like the nonCatholics, are in need of God's mercy. All of us Christians, Catholics and non-Catholics, must confess that we have sinned grievously against union.

c. As for the theological teaching that is expressed in this part of the schema, it is neither firm nor deep. Very serious questions are considered, but no solution is presented.

Thus, for example, in paragraph 6, the visible unity of the Church is based solely on the primacy of the Roman pontiff. Not a word is said about unity with the hierarchy, about the collegiality of the bishops, or their collective and universal responsibility. Again, in paragraph 7, lines 13-14, the unity of the visible Church is based solely on the submission of the faithful to the authority of the bishops and of the Roman pontiff. This teaching is not false, but it is very incomplete. The bonds of unity among the faithful go beyond the relations of authority between superiors and subjects.

In the same paragraph 7, lines 24-26, the ecclesial character of non-Catholic Christians is not recognized, even though the Roman pontiffs themselves have often proclaimed clearly and distinctly that these Christians constitute true Churches.

In paragraph 9 nothing is said of the relationship of other Christians to the Mystical Body of Christ. It is asserted without distinctions that they are deprived "of several means of salvation," "especially of the institutions and directives of the magisterium, without which Christian faith and morals are not perfectly preserved." The schema seems at times to doubt their eternal salvation. All this is obviously greatly exaggerated and in any case hardly consistent with the ecumenical spirit. It is not even consistent with the schema's mode of expression in its other parts.

From all this it appears that this introduction contained in the first 11 paragraphs is neither necessary, useful, nor well drafted. I therefore humbly propose that the schema begin only with paragraph 12 and form a special chapter in the more general schema "On Ecumenism," which should be prepared in collaboration with the doctrinal commission and the Secretariat for Christian Unity.

Archimandrite Athanasius Hage, Superior General of the Chouerite Basilian Order, was the last of the Melkite Greek speakers for that day, November 27, 1962, making detailed comments on the schema as a whole.

Chapter III of the schema wisely devotes a special section to Eastern Christians and clarifies their particular situation. It is good also that in speaking respectfully of the spirit, history, liturgy, tradition, and discipline that are peculiarly theirs, it recommends that Catholics recognize and jealously preserve this magnificent patrimony.

However, this chapter in particular and the schema in general pass over in silence a very important point for the pursuit of reconciliation and union with the separated brethren. In fact, among the most effective means to this end that the situation of the Eastern Christians requires, absolutely the first in importance and the most urgent is the mitigation of the discipline of communicatio in sacris. It is surprising that this mitigation, which was insistently requested by several Eastern prelates and missionaries, and was voted for in the Preparatory Eastern Commission, has not found its place in the schema "On Ecumenism," and particularly in Chapter III. It is useful, indeed even necessary, to add to the first section of Chapter III a paragraph in which the general principle is set forth that the ecclesiastical discipline in this matter must be alleviated. To illustrate, may I be permitted to offer a few considerations.

1. The Historical Consideration

Formerly, as the documents and acts of the Holy See at the beginning of the 18th century attest, wide latitude was left to the Catholic faithful and to the priests themselves to relate on sacred matters with Eastern non-Catholics. Thus missionaries and the Eastern clergy, with the consent of the Orthodox bishops themselves, celebrated, preached, and conferred the sacraments in Orthodox churches, with the result that the people were spontaneously renewed spiritually. Without any proselytizing on their part, the Catholics drew the Orthodox toward union, and thus the Eastern communities in union were formed and grew over the years.

However, beginning in 1729 and after some violent reactions, the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith forbade any relations in sacris with the Orthodox. But the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office somewhat mitigated this rigid law, especially in 1864 and 1898, and even more in 1959, on behalf of the non-Catholic students who attended Catholic schools. This mitigation shows that certain disciplinary norms concerning communicatio in sacris are of ecclesiastical law and that these norms can and must be changed according to the conditions of place and time.

2. The Ecclesial Consideration

a. Orthodox faithful, with very few exceptions, are separated from Catholic unity only in a material way, that is to say, not because they would have chosen this separation or that they firmly wish it now, but because they were born into it, and that is why they desire union, just as we do, with all their hearts.

b. Besides, Orthodox in general do not formally and without distinction reject primacy, infallibility, the Immaculate Conception, etc. They are like a number of Catholics who are absolutely, invincibly, and inculpably ignorant of the nature of infallibility, primacy, or the Immaculate Conception, and who in a certain sense admit these dogmas implicitly.

c. On the other hand, there is nothing contrary to the Catholic faith in the rites and prayers of the Orthodox. Therefore, there is nothing to fear for the Catholics who in certain circumstances are called to participate in Orthodox rites.

3. The Theological Consideration

Normally, participation in sacred worship with non-Catholics is not permitted. The reason for this prohibition is taken as much from natural law as from ecclesiastical law (Can. 1258).

By divine natural law, active or formal participation, insofar as it includes adherence to a false doctrine, is intrinsically illicit. Passive or material participation that has no heterodox intention is forbidden by ecclesiastical law in order to avoid the dangers of perversion or scandal or of indifferentism. If these dangers are unquestionably imminent, this participation is forbidden by natural law itself. However, since these effects do not appear to be so imminent at times, the Church can permit this participation for the pursuit of a great good, applying the theological principle of the double effect, namely: "It is permissible, if the end in view is honorable, to postulate a good or indifferent case that will produce a double effect, one good and the other bad, provided that the good effect does not result from the bad one, and provided that there is a proportionate serious reason." In fact, participation in sacred matters would in certain cases be a lesser evil than its negation.

Besides, the above-mentioned evils can often be easily avoided, especially in material and passive participation. In fact:

a. No danger to the faith can be feared, since the Orthodox faithful do not profess any error, explicitly and formally.

b. There is no danger of scandal, since Catholics have been living for a long time mingling with non-Catholics, and non-Catholics habitually frequent Catholic churches and often request the sacraments from Catholic priests without causing any surprise at this way of acting. On the contrary, rigorism in this matter causes indignation among Catholics and is harmful both to the salvation of souls and to Christian unity.

c. There is no danger whatsoever of indifferentism; this danger would be imminent if the participation in sacred worship were total and unconditional. But if it is partial and limited, that is to say, in certain cases and done with the necessary precautions, the danger of indifferentism can easily be avoided.

Finally, the notion of the danger of scandal or indifferentism or of perversion, which is often imaginary in our cases—since the paramount positive reason is lacking—must yield to the salvation of the souls of Christians and to the best interests of the Church whenever this is required either for the very salvation of souls, for a great spiritual benefit, or for Christian unity.

4. The Pastoral Consideration

The Church was founded by Christ for the purpose of achieving salvation of all men. Thus, conscious of its supreme mission, the Church has the obligation to provide the means of salvation not only to Catholics but also to non-Catholics, especially those who, being closely linked to it by the sacrament of baptism and the other sacraments, remain its sons, even if they live actually and not formally outside its bosom, as Saint Basil remarks quite clearly in his Canonical Letter I to Amphilochius (P.G. 32, 668, A), when establishing a distinction between those who openly revolt and those who are simply separated and whom he declares to be "still living outside the Church."

Venerable Fathers, in certain regions of the East we have a tragic sociologic-religious situation: in view of the fact that Orthodox clergy are sometimes lacking, the Orthodox faithful are in danger of being de-Christianized. They may flock either to Protestantism or to other sects, or embrace Islam, as is the case in Egypt where numbers of separated Christians accept the Muslim religion every year.

We ask whether it is fitting in these cases that our discipline regarding participation in sacred worship yield, so that Catholic priests, with the consent of the Orthodox hierarchs and with the approbation of their respective Catholic hierarchs, can help the Orthodox clergy or replace them in preaching and in administration of the sacraments, so that the spiritual life in these regions may be revived, strengthened, and preserved until the day when, with God's grace, the perfect union of all Christians in the Catholic Church becomes a reality.

And so it is fitting that the Church have a spirit of charity toward our Orthodox brothers who have as good faith as we (both faithful and hierarchs), offering them very lovingly all those means of salvation that they might need, such as the Sacrifice of the Mass, and especially the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, preaching, etc.

Conclusion

It is our wish, therefore, that in Section I of this chapter that deals with the Eastern Christians, a paragraph be added in which the Council would establish a general principle prescribing that the ecclesiastical law concerning communicatio in sacris with the Eastern Christians be alleviated, especially in certain cases approved by the hierarchs of the areas, such as, for example, the admission of the Orthodox to the sacraments, the authorization for Catholics in certain cases to attend Orthodox ceremonies, and the validity of mixed marriages entered into before Orthodox priests.

The next day, November 28, 1962, the reaction erupted. Some blamed Byzantium and Byzantinism, which were accused of all the ills that the East has suffered. It was stressed that the East is not Byzantium. Even the Patriarchate of Constantinople was attacked, "that little diocese in Turkey," for which the Melkites would like the council to make compromises in the faith and forget the other Catholic Churches of the East. It was repeated that Chalcedonian Orthodoxy is not the entire East, and the Melkites are not the Eastern Church... The Melkite Greek hierarchs, nevertheless, peacefully continued their observations on the schema. Archbishop Michael Assaf of Transjordan, spoke of the "liturgical means suitable for fostering the desired union."

The schema "De Ecclesiae unitate" is one of the most important schemas presented for the study and approbation of this holy council. Besides, it is the primary thinking of our Holy Father Pope John XXIII, who is already deservedly called the "Pope of Unity." And in agreement with our revered Patriarch, His Beatitude Maximos IV, and the entire Melkite Greek Catholic episcopate, we approve it as a whole.

However, may I be permitted to suggest a few amendments to the text of the schema in question and more specifically to the four paragraphs 23-26, relating to the liturgical means suitable for fostering the desired union.

1. Twice, in paragraph 23 and in paragraph 26, the Holy Catholic Church's desire to respect the Eastern rites is emphasized. And yet each time I see an added reservation that seems to me offensive and unwarranted. There it is said, "Provided these rites contain nothing that is contrary to Catholic dogma and to communion with the Holy See." Those who know the Eastern rites are well aware that they contain absolutely nothing that is not completely Catholic and very ecumenical. The disputes among the Churches did not affect the liturgical rites.

I therefore propose that this reservation be eliminated from the final text, even if it literally cites words from Pope Paul V, written under circumstances that are no longer applicable today.

2. In paragraph 24, it is solemnly asserted in lines 34-35 that Eastern Christians will never be forced to abandon their own rite.

Without speaking of the very painful past, when countless Eastern Christians were forced to pass over to the Latin rite, I should like to point out that there are several ways of exerting pressure, and that moral pressure is often more effective than physical pressure. The Roman Church is sincerely anxious to safeguard the Eastern Churches with their entire spiritual patrimony, but it is not enough to reprove every procedure whose purpose is to latinize Easterners. It would be necessary to forbid latinization itself under whatever form it is practiced, reserving to the Apostolic Roman See alone the right to authorize, in exceptional cases, transfer to the Latin rite.

Once again, we are all certain that the Apostolic Roman See does not wish to latinize the East, and yet things are happening as if it could not prevent them. Energetic action is required, therefore, to put into practice the good intentions of the Holy See against biased and self-interested interpretations.

3. Paragraph 25 insinuates that reforms or innovations could be usefully introduced into the Eastern rites. To this end the schema cites the words of Pope Leo XIII in his masterly encyclical "Orientalium Dignitas." Yet it is evident from the context that these words refer to modifications made necessary in the discipline of the Eastern Churches. As far as the liturgical rites themselves are concerned, I must say that our Melkite Greek Catholic Church does not intend to innovate anything in the rite unless in concurrence with our Orthodox brethren, so as to safeguard the unity of the Byzantine rite, and also so that the variations in the rite may not create new and unnecessary differences between our Orthodox brethren and ourselves.

4. Paragraph 25 seeks to pacify the Easterners by assuring them that they will find in the Catholic Church not the house of a stranger but their own home. This declaration is beautiful and also very clear. The reality is less obvious. Too often the Catholic Church still appears, especially in our Eastern lands, as if it consisted of the Latin Church alone. How many examples of this I could cite here. I deliberately refrain from doing so for reasons that your august assembly readily understands. My only wish is that these declarations of good intentions be followed by effective results. We confidently count on the collaboration of everyone, with God's grace.


That same day, November 28, 1962, Kyr Joseph Tawil, Titular Archbishop of Myra and Patriarchal Vicar for Damascus, offered new criticism of the text and proposed amendments that affected the very spirit of the schema.

The first condition for attaining this desired unity is that the paths that lead to this unity be cleared of all unnecessary and harmful human obstacles. It seems that the schema "On the Unity of the Church" has been prepared with this in view. Nevertheless, in order that this work may become truly suitable for taking up ecumenical dialogue, I would set forth these remarks, to be added to the propositions already made by the Fathers.

1. On page 253, paragraph 7, line 20, we read: "Ita ut partes quaedam Ecclesiae se ab auctoritate Vicarii Christi substraxerint et in coetus independentes se constituerunt" (So that certain parts of the Church have withdrawn themselves from the authority of the Vicar of Christ and have set themselves up as independent groups). In this context the word "group" is incorrect, because the Eastern Churches, even those that are separated, are called Churches, and not groups, as is proved in the new schema "On Ecumenism," pages 87 and 88.

It would be preferable that these Eastern separated brethren were simply called Orthodox, as is the common usage and as the word is accepted in the liturgical readings and dictionaries, and as they in fact call themselves. Besides, in the text cited the nature and conditions of this withdrawal are not clearly demonstrated. For, at no time in its history has the Eastern Church been considered to be part of the Western patriarchate. Almost from apostolic times, it has always enjoyed an administrative and disciplinary autonomy that was never disputed.

2. On the same page and in the same paragraph, line 23, we read: "Error multo perniciosior habetur, quando regimini temporali cuiusdam civilis gubernii agnoscitur indebitum jus sese ingerendi in gubernium Ecclesiae..." (An error that is considered much more pernicious when the right of intruding into the administration of the Church is acknowledged to the temporal rule of any civil government...). Inasmuch as the polemical tone of this text does not harmonize at all well with ecumenical dialogue, I think this paragraph should be eliminated.

3. On page 259, paragraph 27, line 35, we read: "Exceptis illis quae periculum generant..." (excepting those things which produce danger...), and in the same vein, page 266, line 35, we read: "Iis tantummodo quae, si forsan adsint, rectae fidei aut bonis moribus adversantur expunctis" (omitting only those things that, if they are perchance present, are contrary to correct faith and sound morals). I frankly acknowledge that I have looked in vain in all Eastern liturgies now in use among us for anything whatever that is contrary to sound morals. I know only that these liturgies have come down to us through the solicitude of the holy Fathers, who are the norms of faith as well as of morals in the universal Church.

4. On page 267, paragraph 52, we read: "Ut tandem omne dubium..." (so that finally all doubt...) This entire paragraph is absolutely deficient with respect to ecumenism, insinuating that the Eastern Churches united to the Holy See do not possess a duly definitive state, while awaiting the union of all the Eastern Churches. We believe, on the contrary, that our Eastern churches never attain their fullest development in the Catholic Church unless they are first truly considered not only for what they are but for what they represent, namely the Orthodox Churches not yet in union.

The provisional state in which the Eastern Churches find themselves, as an ecclesiastical third world that is neither Eastern nor Latin, has a false ring and tends in practice to construct a house on sand. These Churches are, in fact, for the Orthodox, a mirror in which they can sense and see how things will be for them once union has been attained. When His Beatitude Christophorus, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria, learned the hierarchical order recognized for Catholic patriarchs in the new Eastern Code, namely, after cardinals, as well as after apostolic delegates, and far more significantly, after the Latin bishop in his own diocese, did he not exclaim in a pained voice, "Pity! Lord have mercy!"?

All of these things require that the schema "On Unity" be worked on once more and in greater depth in collaboration with the Secretariat for Christian Unity. But it is necessary that once amended it be submitted to the council, since the question "On Unity" is definitely current and urgent because of the present circumstances. It would perhaps be useful for the joint commission to work on the unity of the Church rather than on "Sources of Revelation."

On November 30, 1962, it was the turn of the dean of the Melkite Greek hierarchs, Kyr Eftimios Youakim, Archbishop of Zahle in Lebanon, to speak. He stressed that not all of the East is "separated" and that the West must not equate itself with the Catholic Church.

The schema "On the Unity of the Church" is quite broad in scope and very important. Union is indeed the greatest desire of all of us and also of the Orthodox, who, when they saw us leave for the council, cried out unanimously, "When you return, announce that union has been achieved!" This must therefore arouse the attention of this illustrious assembly, whose members are imbued with the zeal of Christ. Truly, all of us are carrying forward the mission of Christ, the divine Founder of the Kingdom of God on earth. All of us are happy to repeat with great devotion and very frequently Christ's own prayer: that they may be one.

Certainly, the compilers of this schema deserve great praise because of their wide experience and their fervent zeal. That is why I do not hesitate to declare my complete acceptance. I greatly rejoice in particular that, among the useful means for the promotion of union, the supernatural means have not been neglected. Far more, these means must undoubtedly take precedence over all the human means, whatever their power and efficacy. To this end, it seems to me that it is fitting to recall here the doctrine of operating grace and of cooperating grace.

I should like to begin my contribution with these two observations relating to paragraphs 14 and 15:

l. Paragraph 14 begins "lamentably" by saying, "In order to eliminate this lamentable separation, which for centuries has become entrenched between the Eastern Churches, and that continues in our day...," when it would have been better to begin in this way, "In order to nurture and multiply the partial unions already accomplished and that still endure..." Here are the reasons:

a. There are communities in the East whose leaders have turned away from union, but whose faithful, who are also the Church, have retained the spirit of unity.

b. In absolute terms, this expression, "the separation still continues in our day," is one that I do not like. On the contrary, what endures is the dualism and the parallelism, thanks to which there are also on the part of the "separated brothers," "those who have preserved the union" and those who, in this union, have preserved the liturgical rites that constitute as it were a bridge destined to restore this deeply desired union.

c. It seems to me that this same expression traces its origin, at least in part, to a certain Latin-Western group that pretends to consider all Eastern Churches as being separated from it. It is only reasonable that this manner of speaking is ill-suited to a text emanating from a council that speaks in the name of the whole Church, both Latin and Eastern Catholic. That is why I think that the form that I have cited above is more felicitous, namely: "To nurture and multiply the unions already accomplished and that still endure..."

2) Paragraph 15, page 256, in which the novena of prayers and supplications decreed by Leo XIII is recommended, induces me to digress in order to express my joy in having known this great pontiff personally and, above all, in having experienced the very noble spirit of this illustrious common Father of all the faithful in his immortal encyclical "Orientalium dignitas," which was proclaimed after Vatican Council I. Today God is giving us another Leo, his successor John XXIII, to whom we direct our best wishes from the depths of our hearts and for whom we ask a long life so that he may consummate Vatican II with another encyclical like "Orientalium dignitas."

The prayers I cited earlier take the place in my opinion of operating grace. It is "cooperating grace" that is expected of us and which we find in the above-mentioned prayers, providing they are said well and with the true ecumenical spirit, as we wish them to be, that is to say, not only with our lips, without faith or charity of heart, or under the aspect of the return and conversion of the prodigal son, but in the manner of Christ's own prayer, which is unalloyed with human elements but sincerely and truly fraternal.

Our prayers will be heard only if we welcome the praying Christ within us and among us.

That same day Archimandrite Athanasius Hage, Superior General of the Chouerite Basilians, made detailed remarks on the text of the schema, in order to improve it. For lack of time, Kyr John Bassoul, Archbishop of Homs, transmitted this intervention in writing to the secretariat of the council.

We rejoice greatly over the fact that the schema "On the Unity of the Church" speaks in detail of the psychological means that promote unity between the Roman Church and the Eastern Church. The psychological means that always hold in high regard the sincerity of persons and the authentic faith of the Orthodox, foster this mutual understanding that is an indispensable condition for attaining ecclesiastical union.

For this reason, may I be permitted to make these three observations:

l. Expressions like "separated brethren" or "dissident brethren," so often used in this schema to designate the brethren of the Eastern Church, seem ill-adapted to attracting these brethren.

Why not call them by the name they give themselves, namely, "Orthodox brethren"? Indeed, since they have preserved the true and authentic faith against the heterodox, they have reserved for themselves the glorious name of "Orthodox."

2. Article 34 uses the term "Oves extra ovile vagantes" (Sheep wandering outside the fold) to designate our Orthodox brethren. This expression has a sour ring. In fact, these brethren hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, even though not as carefully as we do, they are sympathetic to the voice of the pope, the vicar of the Good Shepherd, and they follow the Good Shepherd by reason of the fact that they have received from the Shepherd of our souls and still faithfully keep the true faith, the true sacraments, and the true hierarchy, according to the words of the Patriarch Athenagoras in an article published in La Croix, "We have the same Gospel, the same faith, the same traditions, the same sacraments, the same saints..."

3. Article 43 reads: "reditus fratrum separatorum" (return of the separated brethren). I should like this expression to be changed, because it insinuates that the rupture is due to one party only, whereas historically it appears that both parties bear responsibility for this rupture, and that it was born of political and cultural differences rather than of differences of doctrine and worship.

Besides, why not speak of a union to be restored, of a reunion among brethren, all of whom are responsible for the rupture that came about over the centuries? Do we not also have the obligation to follow the road to union? Have we not also the duty to return to our brethren? Then this reunion will not be the return of one party only, but the re-assembling of two parties in the bosom of a single ecclesiastical unity. In this peaceful gathering, there will be neither victor nor vanquished, or rather the victor will be the one who is the first to recognize and embrace his brother.

It is certain that when the Orthodox themselves are convinced that this unity has been restored and established on a solid foundation, all Orthodox Christians can consider that the fundamental psychological condition has been realized in the efforts toward the reunion that is so fervently and eagerly desired by men of good will.

The Ecumenical Movement

At the 1963 Session, the schema "De Unitate Ecclesiae," prepared by the Eastern Commission, had been replaced by a schema "De Oecumenismo" prepared by the Secretariat for Christian Unity. In its "Observations on the Schemas of the Council (1963)," the Holy Synod made some detailed criticisms of this text.

We can only rejoice over the text of this schema and address our warmest praise to the Secretariat for Christian Unity that drafted it.

The reason we take the liberty of making a few observations is in order to contribute to making the text still better, especially from the point of view of the feelings of our Orthodox brethren.

l. The expression "fratres separati" should be corrected everywhere to read "fratres a nobis separati" (brethren separated from us). They are separated from us, as we are separated from them. That does not prejudge the dogmatic question: who was right in separating? We recognize the fact that we are separated from one another. That is if we do not wish to use more simply, as far as Eastern Christians are concerned, the expression "fratres Orthodoxi," which would be simpler, more historical, and more pleasing to the interested parties. In fact, we would be calling them by the name by which they wish to be called, without seeing it as a dogmatic assertion. In the same way, when we say, "the Evangelical Churches," we are not asserting that we are not in that category. We are content to use a designation accepted by the interested parties.

2. Replace "vestigia enim Christi" (indeed the signs of Christ) with "praesentia enim Christi" (indeed the presence of Christ). These brethren who are separated from us have more than signs of Christ, they have His presence.

3. Instead of saying "remota quavis communicatione in cultu officiali" (having avoided any participation in official worship), we prefer to say "remota quavis officiali communicatione in cultu" (having avoided any official participation in worship). In fact, prayer for the union of the Churches can sometimes take on, as it does with us, the aspect of an official liturgical prayer. What remains forbidden is official participation in worship, not participation in official worship.

Likewise, instead of "celebrare" we prefer "concelebrare." What is forbidden is the concelebration of the sacred mysteries, not necessarily attendance at these mysteries.

4. Say "arbitra etiam Sede Romana..."(and also with the Roman See as arbitrator...). In fact, historically, recourse to the arbitration of the Roman See was only one of the means that enabled the Churches to settle their differences. The other means were the councils, imperial authority, etc.

If all the schemas of the council were composed in the same spirit as this schema "De Oecumenismo," it would be a great step forward on the road to Christian unity.

The new schema came under discussion at the Council on November 18, 1963, during the 69th General Session. On that day, His Beatitude the Patriarch, while making a few criticisms, strongly supported it in a memorable intervention.

Considering the schema "De Oecumenismo" as a whole, we wish first of all to express our keen satisfaction with it. We believe that it is the first schema submitted to the examination of the council Fathers that joins in a balanced way doctrinal depth with a pastoral meaning. Even allowing for adjusting certain details, we believe it can be accepted by everyone as an excellent basis for discussion.

Among the qualities that commend it to our approval, certain ones deserve to be pointed out briefly:

l. This schema is the sign that we Catholics have finally emerged from the period of sterile polemics with regard to both our Orthodox brethren of the East and the communities born of the 16th century crisis, polemics that have excessively influenced a unilateral development of theology, discipline, and even of spirituality.

2. Following the same line of thought, this schema is the sign that we have decided to leave behind the impasses of an incorrect proselytism that has as its goal the weakening of one's brother and to enter the path of evangelical emulation and sincere witness to the faith in charity, leaving untouched the freedom of a sincere conscience.

3. This schema also reflects what our late lamented Pope John XXIII and His Holiness Pope Paul VI recommended by their example and their words, namely, to acknowledge our faults, for this opens hearts to dialogue and ecumenism.

4. But above all we are eager to express publicly our joy and, we are sure, that of our Orthodox brethren at the sight at last in this schema of the beginning, still a bit timid but sincere and official, of a true theology of the Church, which has never ceased to be the theology of the entire Eastern tradition: the communion of the Father and of the Son in the Holy Spirit, which, springing from the resurrection of Christ, is unceasingly poured out by the life-giving Spirit through the Divine Liturgy in all the members of the new People of God.

However, these merits must not conceal certain deficiencies that are common to the schema as a whole. May I be permitted to point them out:

l. This schema seems to be a bit too descriptive. We should like the presentation to be also more critical, proceeding from the real causes to the appropriate remedies.

2. The schema is still too much concerned with the causes of the divisions, especially the theological causes that arose in former times. Besides, both in the East and with respect to our Anglican and Protestant brethren, the difficulties of former times have often disappeared, while other new difficulties have arisen since the separation. There is need to pay greater attention to the latter, with a sound, critical perspective.

3. With a view to union, we should perhaps also not be solely concerned with the divisions that affect the structure of the Church, but also point out that within all the Christian communities there are daily clashes that work against unity, that is to say, the sin that kills charity. In the eyes of God and of Christ who will judge us on love, these often invisible ruptures are certainly more serious than the sociological condition in which each of us finds himself when he is born into one or another Christian group.

4. We also point out a fault in form, which can be improved. In certain passages, one cannot know whether it is meant to be the description of the characters of our brethren, or a message addressed to them, or else an exhortation meant only for Catholics. Unity of form could easily be assured if we always placed ourselves in the perspective not of a council of union, but of a council for the renewal of the Catholic Church, which is the first step, that should be repeated constantly, toward a meeting with our brethren.

5. Finally, we must say very clearly—and this is very important—that Chapter IV of this schema that has recently been distributed to us is absolutely irrelevant. Ecumenism is an effort for the reunion of the whole Christian family, that is to say, the gathering of all who are baptized in Christ. It is, therefore, a strictly intimate family matter. Non-Christians have no place in it. And we do not see what role Jews have in Christian ecumenism, and why they have been brought into it.

In addition, it is a serious offense to our brethren who are separated from us when we seem to treat them on that an equal footing with the Jews.

It is therefore urgent that this Chapter IV be removed from the schema "De Oecumenismo."

However, if, for some reason unknown to us, the decision is made to keep this chapter, then the following must be done: a) it must be inserted into another schema in which it would fit more appropriately, for example, in the schema "De Ecclesia" in connection with the history of salvation, or in the schema being prepared on "The Presence of the Church in the Modern World," as the Church's witness against racism of every sort; b) then, if there is a discussion of Jews, other non-Christian religions must also be discussed, especially the religion of the Muslims who number 400 million and in whose midst we live as a minority.

So let us be fair and logical. If we wish to disavow anti-Semitism—and we all disavow it—a short note condemning both anti-Semitism and racial segregation would have sufficed. It is useless to create an injurious agitation in the world.

In conclusion, and repeating our substantial agreement with this schema, we shall emphasize two points.

l. The absolutely unique nature of our relations with our Orthodox brethren, which justifies the special place devoted to them in Chapter III in its paragraph 1. We should rediscover the authentic meaning of the Church held by our Fathers, both Orthodox and Catholic. In former times no one would have dared to speak of a Catholic Church and an Orthodox Church. Only one undivided Church was recognized, even if some of its members were temporarily divided with "shared responsibilities," to use the words of John XXIII. At Lyons and at Florence—regardless of what we think of these councils of union—our brethren the Orthodox bishops participated in the councils as members, and their empty places here should cause us painful anguish and be a still more pressing call to rediscover complete communion in charity.

2. That is why we embrace the wish, expressed unanimously at the last Pan-Orthodox Conference of Rhodes, for the establishment as rapidly as possible of a permanent dialogue on an equal-to-equal basis between Orthodox and Catholic brethren. It is our wish that the Secretariat for Christian Unity effectively initiate this new permanent and direct contact. Let all human passions be silent to hear only the voice of the Lord. Christian people are impatient, with the impatience of the Spirit. We must open ourselves wide to this divine breath, which, as the Prophet Ezekiel has said (37:11), will transform a valley of dry bones into a living, holy people, united in faith to glorify the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


On November 25, 1963, Archbishop Joseph Tawil, Patriarchal Vicar in Damascus, criticized the title of the first chapter, which should speak of the "Catholic principles of ecumenism," and not of the "principles of Catholic ecumenism," since there is only one ecumenism. Then he gave an outline of a "theology of division," and explained in passing why the Eastern Fathers at the council did not always agree among themselves.

I should like to make three comments on the subject of this Chapter I of "De Oecumenismo."

1. In the title "On the principles of Catholic Ecumenism," it seems that there is a typographical error. We were expecting to read "On the Catholic principles of Ecumenism." If, indeed, ecumenism is a movement of all Christians toward greater unity, it cannot be said to be strictly Catholic, Orthodox, or Anglican, or something else. However, we can speak about Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, or other principles of this same ecumenism.

2. Paragraph 2 deals with the divisions in a purely descriptive way, but is completely silent on the theology of the division as such. This is something about which we can find light in the Holy Scripture.

The people of God possess unity when, seeking salvation in faith, they receive the promise. On the contrary, they are divided when, trusting in the flesh, they lose the promise. That is the constant theology of the books of the Law and the Prophets. It is confirmed later in the New Testament in the separation of the larger part of Israel that placed its trust more in faith than in the Law. Then the Church, the new people of God, exposed itself to the temptation to "Judaize," the temptation to "Hellenize" (5th century), to "Latinize" (11th century), and finally to "Romanize" (16th century and subsequently). In the end, the Church found that it was relying on the justification of the flesh and not on the justification of faith (cf. Philippians 3:7-9).

And yet God's gifts are irrevocable (cf. Romans 11:29). He never abandons His people, so that if unity is given through grace, the divisions themselves are directed to a greater grace, so that all of us may obtain mercy. God's wonderful deeds, beginning in the Old Testament and continuing until now, are of such a nature that the divisions that are born of the disavowal of the free gift of salvation are directed to a greater gift. The biblical vision of unity and division of the God's people places everything in the history of the Church in the light of mercy and grace. "For God has consigned all men to disobedience, that He may have mercy upon all" (Romans 11:32).

3. We are in total agreement with what is said in paragraph 3:

"In necessariis unitatem custodiendo, fideles in variis formis vitae spiritualis et disciplinae..." (by maintaining unity in those things that are necessary, while the faithful are in various forms of spiritual life and discipline), and "Hac de causa, synodus omnes catholicos hortatur ut abstineant a verbis, judiciis et operibus quae fratrum separatorum conditioni..." (For this reason, the synod strongly urges all Catholics to refrain from words, judgements, and works that... compare to the condition of our separated brethren...). May I be permitted to develop this idea.

The conciliar Fathers, the great majority of whom are of the Latin rite, have no doubt been surprised that the Eastern Fathers do not always agree among themselves. Let us say first of all that this division is not any more extraordinary than those among the Latin Fathers. It stems from several reasons:

1. From the positive, distinct traditions inherited in common with the Orthodox, such as the Byzantine, Syrian, or Coptic traditions, substantially alike among themselves, but nevertheless noticeably different;

2. From collective psychological residues, due to the establishment of distinct communities long before the conversion of the peoples of Central and Western Europe, that is to say, of the Slavs, the Germans, and the English. Whence their distinct life for the past 1,500 years, or 1,300 years, for example, for the Maronites;

3. Eastern Catholics are also diverse with respect to varying degrees of latinization. We have all been latinized ecclesially. The proof of this is that I must speak to you in Latin in this assembly. What constitutes the Eastern Christian is neither race nor nationality, but the direct, living apostolic tradition, which does not contradict the Latin tradition but is distinct from it. Anyone who has ever taken a course in theology remembers that the arguments from Tradition are given by citing the Greek Fathers on the one hand and the Latin Fathers on the other, as corroborating one another through their distinct origins. Now that this has been said, it can be understood that communities that are strongly latinized by their history are less easily receptive to ecumenical necessities, and that consequently one or another Father, reflecting this mentality, has demanded within Catholicism a single code for the two Churches of the East and the West, and a single jurisdiction, something that is unthinkable for anyone who has preserved the positive meaning of Tradition and of the Orthodox outlook.

Conclusion: All the Catholic Churches of the East taken together represent scarcely two per cent of the total of Orthodoxy, estimated at over 200 million, of whom 180 million belong to the Byzantine rite, 15 million to the Coptic and Ethiopian rite, and 5 million to the Syrian rite. Now, these Churches are of interest, ecumenically speaking, only in relation to Orthodoxy, whose tradition they are supposed to represent. In fact, each of them awaits its fullness, and does not have the right to consider itself as being in a final definitive form, but only as a stage on the road to unity. Now, to ask for the unification of a single code for the Churches of the East and the West, or unification of jurisdiction, is to close all paths which lead to ecumenism, and is to be imprisoned in a deadly isolation, becoming for the universal Church a definite obstacle.

On November 27, 1963, His Beatitude the Patriarch intervened again on the schema "De Oecumenismo" to defend the variety of disciplines in the Church and the preservation of the hierarchy of each particular Church.

Speaking of the discipline that is peculiar to Eastern Christians, No. 16 of our schema "solemnly affirms the principle of diversity in unity." And it adds that, "the perfect observance of this traditional principle, which has not always been carefully respected, is among the absolutely indispensable conditions for any restoration of unity."

We agree fully with this solemn declaration through which the Catholic Church affirms its determination to respect, in the unity of faith, the legitimate diversity of discipline in the Eastern Churches.

On the basis of this principle the Holy Roman See has made considerable efforts to endow the Eastern Catholic Churches with a code of ecclesiastical law distinct from that of the Latin Church. The result is doubtless not perfect, yet the principle at least is safeguarded, namely, the distinction of two codes, the Eastern Code and the Latin Code.

We regret that certain Fathers have thought they had to ask for the unification of the Eastern Code with the Latin Code. This unification, we believe, would inevitably result, whether we wish it or not, either in substituting Latin discipline for Eastern discipline, or in giving Latin discipline such preponderance that it would be impossible to see in this unified code the discipline peculiar to the East. In the ecumenical dialogue it will be most unfortunate if we show our Orthodox brethren that the discipline which awaits them, in case of union with the Roman Church, is not their own but the discipline of the Latin Church or something very similar to it. It is doubtless not realized what harm is done to the cause of ecumenism by the demand for the unification of the Eastern Code with the Latin Code.

This cause of ecumenism also demands, as a second indispensable condition, the preservation of the hierarchy of each particular Church. On several occasions there has been a question in this assembly of plans for the unification of jurisdictions in countries where there are different rites. This idea of unification of jurisdictions is tempting, but if it is pushed to its extreme limits without the appropriate distinctions, it can have serious consequences.

To clarify this question, we believe that three cases must be distinguished.

1. The first case is that of mission countries: China, India, Japan, etc. At the present time, the Latin Church has its hierarchy constituted throughout the world. However, it is only just that Eastern Christians be associated in the work of the missions. Certain territories should be entrusted to them, especially in countries where they have long been permanently established and in those that have such strong ethnic, linguistic, and cultural affinities with theirs that evangelization through them is, as it were, providentially provided. In these countries, unification of jurisdictions can be successfully realized through agreement with the bishops of the localities, with the intervention, if that is necessary, of the Holy Roman See. Is it necessary to ask that in the very interests of the Church, all things being equal, the indigenous Church, the local rite that harmonizes best with the genius and aspirations of the people, should be given preference?

2. The second case is that where Christian communities are already established and where the majority are of the Latin rite, such as, for example, in Europe and in America. There, whenever Eastern Catholics are sufficiently numerous, there must be no hesitation in giving them not only parishes of their own rite, independent of Latin parishes, but also their own hierarchy, as, indeed, is wisely provided for in the schema "De Episcopis et dioecesium regimine" (No. 31).

3. The third case—which concerns us more particularly—is that of the classical East, where for centuries Christianity has existed in a form of community, and where at the head of each Church there is already a distinct, organized hierarchy.

In these countries, where there is already a time-honored organization that has proved its worth, where numerous ecclesiastical authorities live side by side in the same territory in a spirit of understanding and peace, in spite of a few inevitable clashes due to the weakness of human nature, the situation cannot be changed without causing serious disturbances. Even if it is decided to change this state of things, the new situation will not be able to endure, because it is contrary to nature, because the people will not be able to accept it, and because it will create very serious disturbances that will imperil the very life of the Eastern Catholic Churches.

Besides, it must not be forgotten that our present stage of union is not a definitive formula. We are some sort of transitional organization. When worldwide union is accomplished between Orthodoxy and Catholicism, all hierarchical structures will merge of themselves to form a single hierarchy. By what right, then, would have such a jurisdiction have been previously eliminated or another similar one merged into a non-ritual organization where our Orthodox brethren would not recognize themselves?

Any unification of jurisdiction that would result in the absorption of one hierarchy by another must also be rejected. Any fusion or absorption of one hierarchy by another marks the disappearance of a Church. Besides, the Catholic Church desires to safeguard all the Churches that compose it, in particular the Eastern Churches that have the very important mission of restoring Christian unity with the Orthodox branches that correspond to their respective rites. To deprive one or the other of its own hierarchy is to prepare for their disappearance at a more or less early date.

We have transmitted to the secretariat a long study on this entire question. Lack of time does not allow us to do more here than give a very succinct summary of this study.

Rather than debate theoretical solutions, which we know very well to be impossible and dangerous for the tranquility of the Christian people, we should like to make a fraternal appeal that, on the one hand, the established order, with the distinction of communities and hierarchies, be respected, and that, on the other hand, the disadvantages of a multiplicity of jurisdictions be avoided through a still closer cooperation among ecclesiastical leaders in all areas of the apostolate, thanks to an augmentation of inter-ritual synods.

The preservation of a distinct code of canon law for the East and the preservation of a distinct hierarchy for each Church, with maximum collaboration: these are the two indispensable conditions for ecumenical efforts. That is also the guarantee of the presence of the spirit of Christ, who is the spirit of harmony, charity, and peace.

On November 29, 1963, Archbishop Elias Zoghby, Patriarchal Vicar in Egypt and the Sudan, developed in his intervention the causes of the rupture between the East and the West.

If, after ten centuries of schism and separated development, the Latin and the Eastern Churches continue to declare that they are substantially similar, is it possible to suppose that they had major reasons for separating a thousand years ago? Certainly not! The schism would not have taken place if the Churches of the West and of the East had not been morally involved in the conflict that set the two empires against one another.

Indeed, there are times unfavorable to dialogue and times that are favorable. The Schism of the East, which can be called more ecumenically the Great Christian Schism because the responsibility for it is shared, occurred at a time when the Christian East and the Christian West could not enter into a dialogue on a footing of equality and in an effective way.

The minor clashes between the Latin and the Eastern Churches, which had previously been considered mild incidents between brethren of the same family, were increasingly taking on the disturbing proportions of the great conflict between the two empires. The Latin Church was beginning to see in it a resistance to the primatial authority of Peter, and Orthodoxy saw in it an attempt at domination that was not justified by a primacy of service.

The primacy of the Bishop of Rome, which a thousand-year tradition had endorsed as being the bond of unity, was beginning to be understood in the East as the extension of a local Church as the universal Church. That was the beginning of the crisis that culminated in the separation.

Modern Catholic historians of great merit interpret the Great Schism as a failure of efforts to apply Roman centralization to the Churches of the East, accustomed as they were, during ten centuries of union with Rome, to combine a legitimate diversity with unity.

Actually, the Churches of the East were radically opposed to centralization from the start. Why? There are those who say: out of solidarity with the civil power. That is possible. Others say: out of pride. That has not been proven. Eastern Christians have a different view: Eastern Churches had practiced a synodal collegial system of ecclesiastical government during the ten centuries of union with the Holy See of Rome, without the latter having found anything abnormal about that. Besides, Eastern hierarchs did not find in authentic tradition a religious justification for the change that had occurred. Furthermore, the Eastern Churches, which were founded by the Apostles or their immediate successors, and which owed to the Church of the West neither their beginning nor their development, possessed a religious, theological, liturgical, monastic, and disciplinary patrimony that was different from that of the West, without, however, being opposed to it. Now, it is evident that a Church governed by organizations extraneous to its tradition quickly sees this tradition greatly impaired.

And so Roman centralization appeared to the Easterners, and rightly so, as a measure of uniformity that could call into question the legitimacy of their own religious patrimony, which they had received from their Fathers by virtue of an incontestable apostolic succession.

Dialogue was called for at that time in order to clarify, as we are doing today at the Council, the nature of the Mystery of the Church, the relationship between primacy and collegiality, between the local diocese of Rome and the primatial power of the Bishop of Rome. However, this dialogue could not take place either in the 11th century or in Florence because it could not be carried on in a favorable social and political context.

It might have been asked why God did not intervene to prevent this lamentable rupture the way He intervenes to prevent every error of doctrine in the Church. The answer is not hard to find. First of all, Christian unity ought not to be solely the work of God, but also the work of men. Besides, since the primacy of Peter is intended to protect the integrity of the Christian patrimony, God could not wish this primacy to be exercised to the detriment of this integrity. Indeed, the two authentic and apostolic traditions, complementary but different, i.e., Latin and Eastern, are the two halves of the Christian patrimony and together constitute the whole of Christianity, all of which benefits from the promise of divine protection until the end of the ages. Any unity which might be forged to the detriment of one or the other Apostolic tradition would impoverish the Church instead of enriching it.

Catholic unity to which ecumenism is striving will be vaster and more fruitful than that of the present day. Actually, current Catholic unity appears to be partial and rather Latin. It groups the Latin Churches of the West and the Latin Churches founded by them in mission countries, and the modest portions of the Eastern Churches that are in union and that are substantially latinized as a whole, although they have preserved their external liturgical rites. Today only Orthodoxy possesses the authentic Eastern tradition, even if sometimes in a diminished way; only a union with equality between "Latinity" and Orthodoxy can gather together the apostolic tradition and perfect Catholic unity.

I speak of a union with equality because the day union is realized, Orthodoxy will have at least as much to give as to receive. It will thus participate in the government of the reunited Church as an equal with the Latin Church, under the primacy of Peter, you may be sure of it. The dialogue between equals decided on by the Rhodes Conference must be entered into by the Catholic Church with the conviction that it will benefit from it as much as will Orthodoxy.

In fact, the Schism has equally disfigured both of them. The Church of the West lost, together with the communion of the apostolic sees of the East, the most collegial portion of the episcopal college. Centralization was pursued at an exceptional gait without anyone being able to hold it back. The Church of the West has been governed respectively by the consistory, the fragments of the consistory that are the Roman congregations, and finally in practice by the congresso or weekly meeting of Curia officials.

As for the Churches of the East, they lost, because of the Great Schism, communion with the center of unity of the whole Church, namely, the Bishop of Rome. Excessive decentralization has weakened them considerably, making difficult the regular exercise of episcopal collegiality, which however remained their dominant form of government.

And yet, God, who brings good out of evil, has willed that this tragic rupture shelter the Orthodox Churches from the centralization of latinization, to the great benefit of ecumenical dialogue and of the reunited Church.

This dialogue among equals between Latinity and Orthodoxy, which was in practice impossible at the time of the Great Schism, has now become possible, not to say obligatory, in the bosom of a humanity tending more and more to seek unity through the means of international organizations where all peoples are represented on a basis of equality. His Eminence Cardinal Cicognani said this well in his Relation on the subject of the schema "De Oecumenismo."

This dialogue must be accompanied by an effort toward decentralization on the part of the Catholic Church, an effort already undertaken by this holy Council, and, on the part of the Orthodox Churches, by an effort toward relative centralization around the successor of Peter and within the framework of traditional collegiality.

In this dialogue that concerns first of all the Latin and Orthodox Churches, Eastern Churches that are in union will have a secondary but necessary role to play as witnesses. They must, by de-latinizing themselves, at last live more completely as traditional Eastern institutions within Catholicism, in order to familiarize Latin Catholics with these institutions and make dialogue easier and more fruitful. At the present time, this is their only means of being of some use to the Church of Jesus Christ.

"Communicatio in Sacris"

On this important and delicate question, the patriarch, commenting on the draft of a schema prepared by the Oriental Commission, composed in Rome on January 19, 1962, the following note, which he read before the members of the Central Commission.

On this important and serious question of communicatio in sacris with our Orthodox brethren of the East, I am happy to bestow unreserved praise on the schema that is presented to us by the Commission on the Eastern Churches. Such a schema indicates what a good start ecumenism has made in our Catholic circles. If this schema, as I hope, is accepted by your venerable assembly, I believe that a great step will have been taken in the preparation of Christian unity.

The first advantage of this schema is that it gives our Orthodox brethren of the East a special canonical status on this point of communicatio in sacris. Indeed, I hope that a similar approach is likewise made for the discipline of communicatio in sacris with our brethren of the Reformed Churches. Yet it will always be right that for our Orthodox brethren of the East the discipline on this point be eased still more. For we are dealing with Christians who share our faith, who have our sacraments, a hierarchy of divine institution, and the same wellspring of faith as we, namely, Holy Scripture and the Tradition of the Church. In our relations with them, there is question more of reconciliation than of conversion in the strict sense. Now, in order to reconcile a brother in a family where moral responsibilities are divided, does not a multiplying of contacts remain the best approach?

In the second place, the schema, while it justifiably makes the distinction between the formal dissident and the dissident in practice, does not presume, as was too often done until now, that every dissident is a heretic or a formal schismatic until proof is given to the contrary. An objective and psychological knowledge of the souls of our separated brethren makes us presume on the contrary to their absolute good faith and makes us presuppose bad faith only as a very rare exception. Indeed, the schema bases its main portion not on the presumption that they are formal non-Catholics in the absence of proof to the contrary, but that they are non-Catholics in practice, in good faith, in the absence of proof to the contrary. This change in perspective naturally involves a change in canonical attitudes.

In the third place, it must be noted that when heresy or schism arises in the Church, the responsible authorities take very severe measures to try to stifle the evil in its inception and to protect souls whose faith is weak. Then, little by little, a continuing situation is established. Christians are born into a shattered Christian community through no fault of their own. The Church does not adopt the same attitude in both situations. While it is very severe at the moment heresy or schism is born, it is more indulgent once the rupture is entrenched, lest too much severity drive the lost sheep farther away, as the Fathers of the Church tell us.

This explains why on this point of communicatio in sacris with non-Catholics of good faith, the attitude of the Church has not always been absolutely invariable. Moreover, this variation in the discipline of the Church proves to us that the prohibition of ecclesial communion with non-Catholics of good faith is not a matter of divine law but of ecclesiastical law, and hence subject to evolution according to the wisdom of the Church's pastors and to changing circumstances of time and place.

Now, it seems that today's circumstances demand that we redouble our charity toward our Orthodox brethren of the East in particular. It is detrimental to the work of union to treat them in the same way as others who do not share our faith, i.e., unbelievers or heretics.

This is neither weakness nor compromise on the part of the Catholic Church. Nor is it a diminution of its prestige. On the contrary, it seems to us that, in this effort at reconciliation that draws Christian Churches toward one another, those who have received the more grace, more light, more charity from God, and who feel stronger in the faith must make the first step.

Let us not constantly and without distinction conjure up the specter of religious indifferentism, of corruption of faith, and of scandal. Doubtless this danger exists, but first of all we must not exaggerate it; then, the shepherds of the Church are there to measure out the concrete amount of modification that it is suitable to grant, and to distinguish between those persons who can or cannot without danger enter into religious contact with our separated brethren. Finally, one must not forget that the scandal that is feared is most often created in the reverse direction; by this I mean that Catholics, quite as much as Orthodox Christians, are rather scandalized not by intercommunion but by its prohibition. We say this on the basis of our long experience.

When the Council was announced, Christians, whether Catholics or not, began to hope that union could again be achieved there, or that, at least, measures would be taken for greater mutual understanding and greater charity among the different Christian confessions. Let us not disappoint the hopes of all those who are expecting from the Council a new direction in relations among Christians, as they are excellently codified in the schema that the Commission on the Eastern Churches proposes to us. It is a truly ecumenical schema for which I am happy to offer the commission my congratulations.

The Very Reverend Hilarion Capucci, then Superior General of the Aleppine Basilian Order, in his intervention before the Council on November 28, 1963, also demonstrated the opportunity for easing the discipline of communicatio in sacris.

In relation to what is said in Chapter 2, No. 7 of the schema "De Oecumenismo," and considering the particular circumstances in which Catholic communities in the East are living and their relations with their Orthodox brethren, may I be permitted to make the following general remarks on the subject of communicatio in sacris with our brethren who are separated from us. The discipline now in force and the text of this same paragraph 7 seem totally inadequate. The ecumenical, social, and apostolic situation in which we live in the East demands a broadening of this discipline and a corresponding text in the schema.

The ecumenical aspect – A broadening of communicatio in sacris truly facilitates the outcome of the ecumenical movement. We are daily witnesses of the reactions of our Orthodox brethren in the face of the current prohibitions: reactions of repugnance, revolt, and antipathy. On the contrary, nothing thaws hearts and brings them closer like united invocation of the same Lord.

The social aspect. Social and familial bonds unite us to our Orthodox brethren. Within the same family do we not often encounter both Orthodox elements and Catholic elements? Now, in the East, the social and the religious are intimately linked, and we often face extremely painful situations for the consciences of Catholics, both clergy and faithful, and for peace and union within the same family. These situations are offensive and repugnant for our separated brethren and scandalous for non-Christians. Our Christians cannot understand how, while we exhort them to be united in matters relating to trade union, social, political, and educational action, and to love and esteem one another, we forbid them in conscience to participate in those religious realities that are the meaning and strength of human life and activity. Thus, there is a scandal that is contrary to the one envisioned by the discipline that strictly forbids communicatio in sacris, which is under discussion. It is not so much communicatio in sacris that causes scandal, but rather its refusal imposed on them in conscience that scandalizes them.

For centuries we have been living side by side with our Orthodox brethren. Far more, even before the official constitution of our hierarchical structure, numerous Catholic elements united to Rome have never ceased existing within the very bosom of general Orthodoxy. Our pastoral experience shows us that it is rather our brethren who come to us, and the very rare cases of Catholics turning to Orthodoxy do not in any way stem from communicatio in sacris. It is thanks to the preaching and the general apostolate of Latin missionaries in Orthodox churches, and to the jurisdiction received by them from Orthodox bishops that the Catholic movement developed.

The apostolic aspect – Our Christian divisions, solidified before the non-Christian public by these rigid barriers in the matter of communicatio in sacris, are a great scandal to non-Christians, our shame and our weakness in their eyes, and one of the major obstacles to their conversion. On the other hand, it is a requirement for the salvation of souls: for Orthodox Christians sometimes left without sacraments; for Catholics in this same situation; for Orthodox students in our schools, accustomed to us, trusting us and depending on us to teach them to live in grace... How can we remain pastorally insensitive in the face of situations such as these?

However:

1. We do not lose sight of the possibility of a danger of indifferentism or scandal, correctly stated, in individual cases.

2. We also understand that the Fathers of the Western Church can have a different attitude from ours, either because the regional circumstances are different or because attitudes toward our separated brethren cannot be uniform, or because in one country or another the problem does not arise or is less severe.

3. We understand that certain Eastern Catholic communities with no Orthodox branch, or that are less closely linked to that branch, are less sensitized in regard to this problem than we are.

Therefore, realizing that the demands of divine law must be strictly observed, and that, on the other hand, the presumption of a common peril of indifference or scandal, correctly stated, which is the basis of this ecclesiastical discipline, is not sufficiently established in practice in our regions and in our relations with our Orthodox brethren, but on the contrary is harmful;

We propose:

1. that communicatio in sacris prohibited by divine law be strictly forbidden, that is to say: a) when this communicatio in sacris means, for the Catholic conscience, formal adherence to schism or to heresy; b) in case there is danger of scandal or indifferentism; or c) when, in the Christian sense, it is the expression of a unity already realized, as would be in concelebration of the Sacred Mysteries;

2. that while purely ecclesiastical legislation in the matter of communicatio in sacris remains intact as a general rule, the power of the Ordinary be recognized in individual cases, and also the power of a patriarchal holy synod or of an episcopal conference for a specific region to dispense from it, motivated by pastoral wisdom and with regard to the multiple circumstances of fact that can legitimize such a dispensation;

3. that legislative measures be taken with the view of removing the clause of invalidity affecting mixed marriages celebrated before a non-Catholic minister.

 

The Missionary Church

"The Missions and the Roman Pontiff," a statement presented by the patriarch at the March-April 1962 meeting of the Central Commission.

In approving as a whole the schemas that are proposed to us by the Commission on Missions, I believe that I must make the following comments:

1. There is found in these schemas, perhaps more than in the others, a certain tendency to flatter the supreme pontiffs, and this flattery at times inspires inappropriate or excessive expressions.

Thus, in the preamble of the schema "De regimine missionum" (On the administration of the missions), historical perspectives are distorted by placing the Roman pontiffs at the head of those who received the missionary torch from the hands of the Apostles. Indeed, one knows that during the first centuries of Christianity not only was the evangelization of unbelieving lands not reserved to the Roman pontiffs, but also that the Roman Church did not always come at the head of the missionary Churches. What should not be forgotten is the missionary work displayed by the great apostolic sees of Antioch , Alexandria , and Constantinople, which brought the faith to Asia, to Africa , and to the Slavic peoples. It is unfair to these apostolic Churches to mention exclusively, in the history of evangelization, the missionary activity of the Roman pontiffs. At the present time there is prevalent in certain Catholic circles a trend toward conscious or unconscious adulation of the Roman pontiffs that distorts all ecclesiastical perspectives.

This tendency to adulation sometimes inspires expressions that may be pleasing to certain circles, but that have a definite result of inflexibility and exaggeration of the dogma of Roman primacy, thus contributing to the needless widening of the gulf that separates us from our Orthodox or Protestant brethren. For instance, in the above-mentioned schema "De regimine missionum," it is probably not very catholic to say that, "all the faithful have the Pope of Rome as their own bishop," and to add that he can "rule the faithful either by himself or through other bishops who possess vicarial power." If the Pope of Rome is their own bishop for the faithful of Constantinople, then the Bishop of Constantinople is only his locum tenens, his proxy, a "prelate possessing a vicarial power," and hence his vicar? And what happens to apostolic succession?

The dogma defined at the First Vatican Council declares that the pope has authority, even immediate authority, over all pastors and faithful. But it does not follow from this that the pope is the immediate bishop of all dioceses and that the bishops of the world are his vicars. Such exaggerations should indeed be condemned by the council, as being contrary to Catholic dogma.

2. In a general way, the schemas of the Commission on Missions do not seem to have anything else in view than to assert to a surfeit the rights of the Roman pontiffs.

Now, when the patria potestas (fatherly power) of the father of a family or of a king is recognized, loved, and respected by his children, what need is there to recall it and affirm it all the time? It would seem that there is a constant fear of seeing it contested, as if his children owed him love, respect, and obedience solely because of his potestas! The constant reminder of this potestas has two disadvantages:

a. With respect to the faithful children of this father-king, they can grow tired of always hearing this reminder, as if their loving fidelity were in doubt.

b. With respect to those of his children who are still separated, this constant reminder of potestas embitters them, and above all frightens them and drives them away. The frequent repetition of the assertion of potestas seems to them to be a constant threat that they could some day easily become victims of possible abuses of this power.

3. It should also be noted that the suggested reforms and recommendations are good not because the supreme pontiffs made them. On the contrary, the supreme pontiffs made them because they were good in themselves. In prescribing them, the council must not rely on the already published acts of the popes, but on the innate goodness of these reforms or recommendations.

These remarks do not affect the essence of the reforms, but only the form in which these reforms must be expressed. The fundamentals are excellent.

For an East That Is Again Missionary

The Eastern Church today, confronted by all sorts of difficulties, has as it were withdrawn within itself as though renouncing as a whole the work of the distant missions. Only the Syro-Malabar Church of India , in the light of its large numbers, seems to be able to devote itself effectively to the missions. Yet it has been prevented from doing so until now by a series of discriminatory measures. In its "Observations on the Schemas of the Council" [1963], the Holy Synod claimed for the East a place in the missionary work of the Church.

Considering the injustice of which the Malabar Church of India is the victim, whose numerous clergy can spread the Gospel outside Malabar only by embracing the Latin rite, we wish to proclaim here the right of our Eastern Churches to cooperate in the work of evangelizing the world without ceasing to be themselves, and to create Christian communities of the Eastern rite. On this subject of evangelization, we wish to call to mind the role played by the Patriarch of Constantinople in the Christianization of the Slavs, or that of the Patriarch of Antioch in the conversion of Asia . We wish to be living, organizing, and dynamic Churches in the great Church of Christ , and not archeological relics, or variations to be maintained because they are interesting and picturesque. Nevertheless, the exercise of this right must be regulated by agreement with the central authority, in conformity with the rules of Christian prudence.


Mission in Eastern Theology

When at the third session of the council the assembly discussed the schema "De activitate missionali Ecclesiae," Archbishop Elias Zoghby, Patriarchal Vicar in Egypt and the Sudan , made a valuable contribution to the debate on November 9, 1964, by stressing the Orthodox concept of mission.

You are perhaps wondering what an Eastern bishop can say about the missions, when the Eastern Churches, because of certain historical vicissitudes, have been obliged to suspend their missionary activity. However, over the centuries the Eastern Churches have themselves also been eminently missionary, and they possess a rich and fruitful mystical life of mission, which our schema seems in great part to disregard.

While giving homage to the intense and admirable missionary activity of the Latin Church, I dare hope that the Eastern Churches will some day be able to resume their missionary drive.

The whole Church is essentially missionary. Our schema should therefore be inspired not only by the Latin tradition, but also by the Eastern traditions, in order to promote the missions in the entire Church. Now, this schema seems more concerned with organizing the already existing Western missionary activities than with deepening the sense of mission and opening up new ways better adapted to the needs of the present-day world. The missionary theology of the Eastern Fathers could perhaps help us to work out a more complete schema. Here is how the Eastern Fathers conceived the mission of Christ and of the Church:

1. Since the first centuries, the Eastern Fathers have considered the mission of Christ in the world to be an epiphany, i.e., a flood of divine light on the work of creation. The mission of the Church consists in perpetuating this Epiphany of the Lord and thus preparing, over the centuries, for the coming of the Kingdom.

2. Another idea dear to the Eastern Fathers is the following: the redemptive mission of Christ and of the Church is carried out for a humanity that has already been made fruitful by the divine sowing, the "seeds of the Word," according to the expression of Saint Justin, of Clement of Alexandria, and of Origen. The Gospel message, when it has reached a land that has not yet been evangelized, does not cast the seed of God's Word into souls that are totally ignorant of the Word of God, but rather into souls that have been prepared over a long period of time by the Holy Spirit, since they received at their creation the creative "seed of the Word," the divine seed that awaits the dew of the new dawn in order to grow and bear fruit.

This progressive preparation of the world for the coming of the Savior was conceived by the Fathers as a "divine pedagogy" in which Saint Irenaeus and Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, among others, saw and admired God's plan from the beginning to save mankind. This traditional concept of Mission has two advantages: a. The first advantage is that it does not isolate the Redeemer-Word from the Creator-Word, or redeemed humanity from created humanity. Mission-epiphany is simply the flooding in the world of the divine light communicated to all men with their life on the day of their creation. As Saint John the Evangelist tells us: "In the beginning was the Word... In Him was life, and the life was the light of men..." (John 1:1,3). Just as the Word, by communicating life, had deposited in every human being the "seed of the Word," so too the Word incarnate, in redeeming humankind, communicated to it the fullness of life. So there was light at the beginning, and the flooding of light at the Incarnation; the seed of the Word at creation, and the fullness of the Word through redemption: "From His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace" (John 1:16).

The mission of the Church, after the example of the mission of John the Baptizer, is to bear witness to "the light that enlightens everyone who comes into the world." But the mission of the Church does not stop there. It transmits to all human beings the fullness of life; and "the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he (John the Baptizer)" (Matthew 11:11).

In thus linking the mission of the Word Incarnate with the mission of the Creator-Word, the Fathers affirmed by that very fact the universal character of the Church's mission.

b. The second advantage of this patristic concept of mission lies in the fact that it invites the missionary Church to respect this "seed of the Word" deposited in every human creature, and this direct action of God in humankind that the Eastern Fathers called the "divine pedagogy."

The Church must begin by discovering in the peoples it evangelizes the divine seed and the natural riches that are the fruit of that Seed. The evangelized peoples must not only receive the Gospel message from the Church: they themselves must also enrich the Church by contributing their own human values, the fruit of this Seed of the Word received from God in the beginning and cultivated by them over the centuries, thanks to the action of the Holy Spirit, the divine Teacher of humankind.

Since the Redeemer-Word is also the Creator-Word of all humankind, He belongs to all men and to all peoples. He must be at home everywhere: everywhere among his own. The missionary Church must therefore not impose on the peoples it evangelizes a ready-made Christ, the Christ of one particular people or one particular civilization. The peoples who receive Jesus Christ must be able to express Him, to reincarnate Him in their image and likeness, so that He may be all things to all. The Church is catholic, that is to say, universal, to the extent that it is capable of recognizing the stripped Christ in the transformed Christ it receives from them.

In our own time, when the young nations are justifiably proud of bringing their own cultural and spiritual patrimony to humanity and to the Church, it is important that our schema develop this traditional theology of missionary activity.

3. Mission is not the only epiphany of the Lord and germination of the Word. There is another aspect of missionary activity that is very dear to the Eastern Fathers: mission is a pasch, a paschal outpouring. The sacramental sign of this outpouring that will be perpetuated until the coming of the Lord is the Eucharist.

Speaking to His Apostles, Jesus said, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you" (Luke 22:20). And so it is around the Eucharist that the Church must ratify the new covenant between God and men. It is through the Eucharist that the Church takes root in a land. Besides, the stages through which unbelievers are introduced into the Church are those of their participation in the Eucharistic office: the liturgy of the catechumens prepares them for baptism, and baptism introduces them into the liturgy of the faithful.

In speaking about the Kingdom of God, did not our Lord more than once evoke the parable of the feast to which the Master of the house invites not only his friends and fellow-citizens—who do not come—but also all who wish to enter?

The Church's mission, wherever it exists, consists first of all in setting the table of the Eucharistic sacrifice, in preparing men to participate in it, in convoking them to assemble around the Lamb. The altar thus becomes the gathering place of the people of God and firmly plants the Church in the new soil.

Furthermore, the Eucharistic presence of the Word incarnate is the first gift that the Church gives to the people it comes to evangelize. The community of charity that unites all those who participate in the Eucharistic meal with one another and with the risen Christ is the beginning and the completion of the mission of the Church until the coming of the Lord. The paschal outpouring is perpetuated in the Church by the Eucharist. And so in the East the celebration of the Eucharist is accompanied every Sunday by the office of the Resurrection. The life of the Church, therefore, is a perpetual Easter, and its presence in the world is a liturgy in which the New Covenant between God and men is sealed by the blood of the Savior.

As we express the wish for a new working out of this schema, we Eastern Christians hope to find in it the Eastern missionary mystical life that will help us to collaborate with our Western brothers in the great work of the missions.



[1] Actually, at the first session of the Council the representatives of the Roman See did not obtain any precedence, but occupied their rightful places as bishops, which is altogether normal.

[2] A few copies of this memorandum were sent to Archbishop Felici in a letter dated September 27, 1962, No. 1435/14.

[3] Here the patriarch unwittingly subscribes to the rhetoric of uniatism from which both the Roman Church (in the Balamand Statement) and the Melkite Church (in the bishop's 1995 Profession of Faith) subsequently distanced themselves.

 

The Church and Other Religions

The Jewish Problem at the Council and Arab Reactions

The reaction of Arab countries to the conciliar declaration on the Jews surpassed in violence the most pessimistic expectations. Like any popular reaction, it at times went too far, above all because of the public's ignorance of the exact tenor of the conciliar text, which, as we know, was still only a draft. But, even independent of all passionate exaggeration, the reaction of the Arabic peoples, Christian and Muslim, Orthodox, Protestant or Catholic, should be an eye-opener. It was not without cause that the Eastern patriarchs warned the Fathers of the council that such a declaration was inopportune. This was not because of pusillanimity or anti-Semitism. It was not enough for the Secretariat for Christian Unity, which prepared this text, to declare that it was in good faith, that it was not playing politics, to justify washing its hands. The secretariat and the world-wide episcopacy cannot ignore the fact that there is a state that calls itself Israel, that that state claims to embody Judaism, that what is said of Judaism as a religion is inevitably interpreted by Israel as being said of itself as a state and a world-wide Zionist movement, that any declaration in favor of Judaism as a religion is exploited by Israel as a support given indirectly to the imperialist and expansionist politics of worldwide Zionism against the Arab countries. Nobody doubts that the council does not wish this interpretation, but Israel wishes it, and the Fathers of the council, as responsible and realistic leaders, must not lend themselves to this maneuver, above all in the circumstances where the tension between the Arab states and Israel is at its maximum, without mentioning that the draft of the text leaves itself open even to criticisms of the theological order. What is said about Judaism is not false, but it does not represent all the revealed truth. Being incomplete, it can easily be also considered partisan, saying only, on the subject of Judaism, what is pleasing to Jews. In the face of what this painful position has done to the Church in Arab countries, where Orthodox and Protestants have broken the ties with Catholicism, causing a substantial lag in the ecumenical movement, which had begun under better auspices, we believe that it is useful, as much to fulfill our responsibilities as to clarify world opinion, to publish the notes, documents, and commentaries that His Beatitude the Patriarch, with the concurrence of the hierarchy of our Church, has made public until now on this subject.

(Note of the Bulletin de Presse of the Patriarchate, dated December 31, 1964).

Note to the Central Commission, dated at Damascus , June 5, 1962

We understand very well the reasons that motivated proposing this "decree." The Church owes it to itself to acknowledge the glories, the promises, and the mission of the Jewish people. It also owes it to itself to eliminate from its liturgy, from the thoughts and actions of its faithful every trace of spite, vengeance, or racial discrimination against the Jewish people.

We would suggest only that, in order to avoid any confusion tending to be of a political character, the text make a clear distinction between the Jewish people as a religious community― the only aspect which interests the council — and the State of Israel, which must be treated according to the same criteria that govern the relations between the Church and civil societies, without any privilege or special consideration on the part of the Church.

We would equally wish that a similar decree be prepared relative to Islam and other monotheist religions. Christians who have frequent relationships with the followers of these religions would be pleased to know some positive teaching of the Church concerning them, beyond purely and simply rejecting them as "errors."

Already before the draft was presented to the council, the synod of our Church held at Ain-Traz, Lebanon, in the month of August, 1962, moved by the Zionist attempts to confuse the ideas of the Christians in connection with the responsibility for the crucifixion of our Lord and in connection with the realization of the prophecies, believed that it had to publish the following communiqué, dated August 31, 1962.

In the meeting held by His Beatitude Maximos IV, Patriarch of Antioch and All-the-East, of Alexandria, and of Jerusalem, and the bishops of the Greek Catholic community in the last week of August, 1962, at the patriarchal residence of Ain-Traz, Lebanon, to study questions concerning the general interest of the Church and that of their faithful, Archbishop Elias Zoghby, Patriarchal Vicar in Egypt and the Sudan, pointed out the attempts made by members of certain sects or by persons with political aims to stir up trouble among the Christians of Arab lands and induce them to doubt the right that their brothers the Palestinian refugees have to return to their country and to recover their land. In their attempts, the propagandists of error resort to texts of the Holy Scripture, which they modify or interpret in a sense that is different from that commonly used by Catholic commentators.

After deliberation, the Fathers of the Holy Synod, while carefully avoiding intervening in political affairs, judged it opportune to draw the attention of their faithful to the danger of these attempts and to publish the following communiqué:

"In recent years, some new and strange opinions have been propagated in the matter of the interpretation of the Holy Scripture in a sense contrary to that of the Fathers of the Church and of Christian tradition as it has been settled since the first centuries, in the East as well as in the West. We wish to point out this grave danger which threatens the belief and the conduct of our faithful, and which consists of the propaganda of those who call themselves "Jehovah's Witnesses," who have distorted the texts of the Old and the New Testaments, and have invented a new religion containing teachings openly contradicting those of Christianity, not only in the matter of belief and worship, but also in the matters of social and patriotic questions. This leads to the belief that they are rather a sect employed by a political organization that, by sabotage and by troubling minds, aims to dominate the world.

Likewise, we must put our faithful on guard against certain recent publications relative to the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament. The promises made by God to the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give them the land of Palestine were realized when the land of Canaan was invaded by Joshua, son of Nun and his successors as leaders of Israel until the time of David and Solomon, that is, from the 12th to the 10th centuries before Jesus Christ. Similarly, the prophecies relative to the return of the Jews to Palestine after the Babylonian exile were realized when they were brought back home by Cyrus, King of Persia, in the 7th century bc.

Consequently, these promises and these prophecies are today deprived of any reality, having been realized many centuries ago. It is not necessary to believe that they are valid forever and that they confer on the Jews an eternal right to possess the Promised Land.

Likewise, we put our faithful on guard against the doubts that have been stirred up by certain persons on the subject of the truth of what the Holy Gospels report concerning the responsibility for the crucifixion of Christ. These persons try by tricks to place the responsibility on the Romans and to acquit the Jews. However, the Holy Gospels are very clear when they affirm that it was the Jews who decreed and demanded Christ's crucifixion, and that the Roman officials authorized and executed it.

Whatever that may be, we believe through our Christian faith that Christ was crucified and died voluntarily for the redemption of the sins of the world. In fact, He said on the cross, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Christianity does not bear any hatred or spite against Jews or Romans for a crime committed by their ancestors nearly two thousand years ago. But there is no right to make the Word of God serve political ambitions and to deny the historical facts related in our revealed books.

In a few words, the Fathers of the synod ask their faithful to be attentive and very much on guard against fine words and sectarian innovations in questions of the Holy Scripture. They should hold fast to the authentic and traditional interpretation of the Holy Scripture that the Church has followed since its origin.

If charity makes it a duty for our Christian faithful to avoid any hatred or spite whatsoever, justice, humanity and patriotism make it a duty for them to place themselves at the sides of their brothers, the Arabs of Palestine, to demand their right to return to what is their land and the land of their ancestors, rejecting any attempt made by interested parties to exploit revelation and religion on behalf of political ambitions which right and conscience condemn."

Communiqué of the Greek Catholic patriarch, dated at Rome, November 11, 1963. This communiqué concerns the first draft, presented to the council on November 8, 1963.

On the subject of the agitation that was displayed in certain Arab countries when the news spread that the Second Vatican Council might examine certain texts relating to the Jewish religion, His Beatitude Patriarch Maximos IV made the following statement:

1. It is correct that the Secretariat for Christian Unity has prepared a short text of less than two pages, distributed to the Fathers of the council in the course of the meeting of November 8, 1963, treating the relationships of the Catholic Church with other religions that are not Christian, in particular with the Jewish religion. But this text has not yet been studied, and nobody can foresee what the outcome will be, for it can be amended, rejected, or even erased from the agenda, exactly as happened to a similar text.

2. The Jewish question can be considered from two viewpoints: the spiritual-religious viewpoint and the civil-political one.

The Church, when it considers Judaism, does so only on the spiritual-religious level. The council has often declared that it does not intervene in civil and political questions.

The Jewish religion, as one knows, is the oldest of the revealed religions. In it were born the great prophets, such as Abraham, Moses, David, as well as others recognized by Christianity, as well as by Islam. Thus there is nothing wrong if the council treats of Judaism as an inspired religion and as one after which Christianity came to substitute for it and to complete it according to the plans of divine providence.

3. The text in question does not make any allusion to the present political situation between the Arab states and the State of Israel, which the Vatican has not yet recognized, in spite of all the attempts and all the efforts made in this direction. It is a religious text, in which no objective criticism can find anything other than an attempt, theoretical and practical, to condemn the racial campaigns and the confessional hatreds in certain regions of the Christian East.

4. Our Arab countries, while struggling against Israel from the political viewpoint as an unjust occupant of Palestine , have not ceased to respect the liberty of all the inspired religions, including Judaism. They protect, in all their territories, the rights of Jewish citizens, and clearly distinguish between Zionism, which is a political movement, and Judaism, which is an inspired religion. If some interested persons try to exploit for unjust political ends the purely religious position that the council takes, let them know that the Arab bishops wish to prevent any prejudice—God forbid—from affecting the interests of their countries.

5. But in return we ask the Arab states to help us accomplish our duty. Israel has been trying for a long time to obtain recognition from the Vatican . It employs, to arrive at that goal, all the effective means, and these means in that matter are considerable. Nevertheless, the Vatican has not recognized it, out of consideration for our Arab countries and to protect Christian interests, while our Arab states are standing with their arms crossed, without any propaganda other than the anger of the newspapers, the anger of speeches, and other ineffective means of that nature, if they do not take, here and there, positions constricting the Christian communities, as is the case in the question of the schools. It is easier today, in certain Arab countries for a Christian religious leader to "grasp the moon in one's hand" (an Arabic expression) than to open a primary school in a small village for the faithful of his community. On this subject, one could say much.

Let us thus be just, let us look at things objectively, and let us work to render reciprocal help, since the sacrifice, if it is indefinitely required from the same side, cannot be continued.

An extract from the intervention of His Beatitude to the council on November 18, 1963, criticizing the first text on the Jews presented by the Secretariat for Christian Unity as a Chapter IV of the schema "On Ecumenism."

We must say very clearly—and this is very important—that Chapter IV of the schema, which has recently been distributed to us, is absolutely extraneous. Ecumenism is an effort for the gathering together of the whole Christian family, that is to say, the consolidation of all those who have been baptized in Christ. It is thus a strictly intimate family affair. Non-Christians are thus not involved. One cannot see what the Jews are going to do in Christian ecumenism, and why they have been introduced into it.

Besides, it is gravely offensive to our separated brethren that they seem to be treated on the same footing as the Jews.

It is thus urgent that this Chapter IV be removed from the schema "On Ecumenism."

If one nevertheless clings to retaining it for some reason, of which we are ignorant, it is necessary:

a) First, to insert it in another schema where it will be more at home, for example in the schema "On the Church," in speaking of the history of salvation, or in the schema in preparation "On the Church in the Modern World," as testimony of the Church against racism of whatever kind;

b) Then, if one speaks of the Jews, it is also necessary to speak of the other non-Christian religions, and above all of the Muslims, who number 400 million, and among whom we live as a minority.

Let us then be just and logical. If we wish to disavow anti-Semitism—and all of us disavow it—a short note condemning both anti-Semitism and racial segregation would be sufficient. It is useless to create harmful; agitation in the world.

A note on the undesirability of making special mention of the Jews in the general declaration on non-Christians. This note, drawn up by the holy synod, concerns the second draft of the "Declaration on the Jews and non-Christians." Dated September 3, 1964, it was sent to all the authorities of the council.

1. In the various interventions at the beginning of the second session of the council, the Eastern patriarchs have particularly insisted on the undesirability of a special mention of the Jews in the general declaration on non-Christians, influenced by the highly excited sensibilities of the Arab states and the Muslims, who could not understand and interpret such a mention except as a political support that the Roman See and the whole council wished to give to Zionist claims against the Arabs. The consequences of such an interpretation would be serious for the Christian minority in the said countries. It is not a matter of promulgating a declaration of a speculative type, but of seeing if it is proper for the Church, at the risk of arousing fifty million Arab Muslims against the Christian minority of five to seven million living scattered in their midst, to make declarations that cannot be understood by the interested parties—Jews, Christians, and Muslims of the East except as expressing pro-Israel political tendencies.

2. Given the great skill of the Israelis in exploiting politically in their favor the slightest word pronounced by Christian authorities, numerous groups of Christians—Catholics and others—are not able to understand why Cardinal Bea and some other bishops now wish to make this declaration. They are scandalized and begin to have doubts about the teaching of the Church. Besides there are "bad ones" who unjustly accuse the Holy See of having been bought by the money of the Jews and of Americans who are tools of the Jews. Is it necessary, then, to discontent Christians and to promote dissension among them, in order to satisfy the Jews?

3. As long as other Christians—Orthodox and Protestant—do not publish a similar declaration at the same time as the Catholics and with them, this will confirm in the minds of the non-Catholics that the Catholic Church always acts alone, without taking other Christians into account. Is this not one of the reproaches often addressed to it?

4. These same Christians, above all those in Islamic countries, address to us the following language: "If the pope and his council believe that they have the right to make Eastern Catholics run the risk of vexations resulting from a pro-Israeli declaration, they do not have the right to expose us, the Orthodox of these countries, to the same risk, for the Arab States and the Muslims do not distinguish between the different Christian confessions and will not fail to make us undergo the same vexatious measures."

5. Such a declaration will be exploited not only politically by Israel against the Arabs but also religiously by the judaizing sects (Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses) who will cause the Church even more trouble.

6. The actual and collective responsibility of the Jews, who condemned and killed our Lord—even though the death was voluntary—is an undeniable historical fact. Jews of all times and all places recognize that fact. The Bible and the Liturgy also assert it in explicit and severe terms. Why is there today a desire to acquit them of this crime? The Church today is made to bear the responsibility for the errors committed at other times by some of its men (the abuses of the Inquisition, St. Bartholomew's Day, the Albigensians...); people are made to bear the responsibility for errors committed at other times by their ancestors or by certain ones of their leaders. Why does one not wish to have the Jews bear the moral responsibility for a crime committed by their ancestors and the leaders of their nation? Is it to prevent their being persecuted? But it isn't for this crime that certain peoples reject them nowadays; it is for reasons that are social, racial, economic, political, etc. Now that the pope himself feels the need and the appropriateness for not acquitting men of the Church of errors of other times, why is there an insistence on officially acquitting the Jews of the blood of Jesus Christ, whom they crucified? Why is there an insistence on this official declaration of their innocence, when they themselves, through the mouths of their ancestors, said in the Gospel, "His blood be on us and on our children" (our posterity)? All that seems truly astonishing on the part of this great council.

It is not because of anti-Semitism that we ask the Holy Roman See and the holy council to omit mentioning the Jews and their innocence, since we ourselves are Semites, both by blood (we belong to the descendents of Shem) and by religion (the New Testament is the continuation of the Old). What makes us act is the desire to avoid having the Church of our times make a declaration susceptible to creating trouble for the Christians of Arab and Muslim countries, and of being exploited politically by Zionists.

Besides, it is evident that we have nothing against the Jewish religion as a revealed religion or against the Jews as human beings. Arab countries have Jewish citizens, who enjoy full religious liberty and the free exercise of their rights.

What we can admit is that there is an exploitation of these considerations of a strictly religious kind in order to serve the interests of Zionism, which is a political and imperialist movement, upon which weighs the responsibility for more than a million Palestinian refugees, driven from their country and deprived of their property: a human problem for which the state of Israel refuses to consider an equitable solution.

We clearly distinguish between Judaism and Zionism, and we do not wish that, under the pretext of speaking about the Jewish religion and the Jews, one in fact favors Zionism, the unjust invader with obvious expansionist aims.

Extracts from an intervention at the council by Archbishop Joseph Tawil, Patriarchal Vicar General at Damascus , on September 29, 1964.

We do not see the precise object of this schema, and where it is leading.

- Is it a matter of affirming that the Church arises from the synagogue and that Christ, His Mother, and the Apostles came forth from the Chosen People, the people of the Holy Scriptures and of the Prophets? There is no dispute.

- Is it a matter of cleansing the Jewish nation of this epoch of the murder of Christ? But Christ himself pardoned them, and every Christian worthy of the name must do likewise.

- Is there a desire to prevent having the crime of their ancestors placed on the Jews of our days? But they are as little responsible for this crime as the whole of humanity is for original sin and for so many national crimes, so many genocides.

- Finally, is there a desire to condemn, by a conciliar declaration, anti-Semitism in all its forms, and racial and religious discrimination? But in this case, why limit it to the Jews?

This Council has always considered with great diligence the repercussions of its acts and its declarations. Now, does not this declaration of sympathy with the Jews, in spite of all the precautions that have been taken, stir up a burning problem that has not yet been extinguished? Does it not risk the explosion of the powder keg that is unfortunate Palestine , where no less than a million Arabs have been unjustly and violently chased from their lands by those to whom the council makes advances? Doesn't it risk by the same action the alienation of all movement of sympathy by these same peoples to the Catholic Church? And from then on what value would there be in a declaration made by the council on the subject of the Muslims when it will have already lost their friendship? Now, is that what the council is seeking? And hasn't His Eminence Cardinal Bea declared from the beginning that it is necessary to choose the practice of the open door? And isn't action of this sort closing it?

Statement of the Greek Catholic Patriarchate on the affair of the exoneration of the Jews, November 30, 1964.

There is today in the Arab countries a great clamor on the subject of the reports that claim that the Second Vatican Council, held at Rome, has given to the Jews an act acquitting them of the blood of Christ.

It is painful for us to see the press and the radio become agitated, the pens and the tongues become inflamed, the crowds become enthusiastic to criticize, to menace, to accuse the Church and the greatest religious and moral authority on earth on the subject of a question that they do not understand, that they have not studied in its text and its context, but about which they have simply heard something said.

In this tumult, we have a word to say, a word of truth and of justice, to all those who desire to know the truth, and that not only from love of the truth, but also to protect the reputation of our countries, for fear that they may be accused of having an immature attitude.

A similar agitation took place last year, when His Holiness Pope Paul VI, impelled by sentiments of charity, piety, ecumenism, and reconciliation among peoples, decided to visit the holy places in Palestine . It was said at that time in our Arab countries that the pope, upon arriving at the entrance to occupied Jerusalem , would be solemnly received by the head of state, to whom he would deliver an act or a document acquitting the Jews of the death of Christ. This childish manner of thinking was not borne out by the actual events. Today all the talk is about the document "on the exoneration of the Jews of the blood of Christ." On this subject we must assert the following: 1. The declaration of this council has a purely religious character: it studies the relationship of the Catholic Church with non-Christian religions. The Church has likewise stated precisely its relationships with the other Churches and ecclesial communities that are non-Catholic. It is enough to read the title of this declaration to be convinced: "Relationships of the Church with non-Christian religions."

The Catholic Church today is in a position of dialogue: dialogue with itself, dialogue with other Churches, dialogue with the world that has its multiple human and social problems, dialogue with whomever seeks God in his own manner. And this dialogue aims to strengthen human solidarity and the unity of God's family, on the road toward the object of its existence. Arab countries, since Zionism was established as a state in Palestine , have known how to distinguish Judaism as a religion and Zionist Judaism as a political movement. They have respected the first and fought the second.

2. Certainly there were some among the leaders of Israel and the Pharisees who, with their partisans, plotted Christ's doom, the death on the cross. The responsibility for this crime falls on those who committed it, not on those who did not commit it, who were the majority of the nation. Consequently, the Jews of that time who lived in Jerusalem or elsewhere in Palestine, among whom were also some Sanhedrin such as Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, as also the Jews dispersed then in the four corners of the Roman Empire, and the millions of Jews who have lived since these events or live now, all of these cannot be held as personally responsible for the death of Christ, and consequently cannot be subjected to acts of vengeance or to destruction through hatred or spite, although a sign of a stigma remains graven on their foreheads insofar as they remain far from Christ the Savior promised and announced by the prophets of the Old Testament. But this mark does not constitute a personal crime for which innocent persons would be responsible and should pay the price through their blood. These are the evident truths that no reasonable man would know how to deny. Thus if this council has proclaimed these truths, moved by sentiments of humanity, justice, and evangelical pardon, following the greatest massacre that history has known, intended to wipe out an entire people, under the regime of the Nazis in Germany and in Europe, has it thus acquitted the Jews, murderers of Christ, of their abominable crime? Can one believe that the council has repealed the Holy Gospel? Can it destroy the foundations of Christian dogma based on redemption through Christ's blood? Is that not childish language?

3. If the Roman See had in mind recognizing the state of Israel , as is insinuated here and there through ignorance or bad faith, it would have done so after the establishment of that state sixteen years ago. But it has not done so, and it will not do so, out of regard for the Arab attitude and out of good will for the cause of the Arab refugees from Palestine , unjustly driven out of their country. We are absolutely sure of what we say.

Here one may object, saying, if the text of the declaration does not in any way contradict religious belief, why have we, Arab religious leaders, insisted on rejecting it entirely, so that there may be no mention at all made of Israel.

Here are the reasons for our attitude:

a. The Jewish question is a thorny one. It is a silk cover on a bunch of brambles. No matter how you grasp it, you cannot get loose from it without bloodying your fingers. Besides, it is not a question that the council cannot avoid treating. Why then take chances by studying it?

b. The Jews try by all means to identify Judaism, a divine religion from which the prophets came forth, with Zionism, an unjust aggressor, and that in order to gain world sympathy.

c. The Jews are very skillful in their propaganda, so much the more because they hold in their hands the reins of opinion. They modify the facts as they wish, and know how to exploit every word in favor of their political interests.

d. The Arab ecclesiastical leaders are faithful to their respective fatherlands in both good and bad circumstances, in everything that does not contradict their religious belief. They feel with their fellow citizens. Now, the Arab world experiences a profound repugnance, not in regard to Judaism, which is a divine religion, but in regard to Zionism—an aggressor, with unlimited imperialistic ambitions, an implacable enemy of Arab nationalism.

That is the pure truth. The rest is demagoguery, which our countries would do well to avoid, for that contributes to harm them politically, socially, and economically.

Let us then have some maturity and common sense!

To finish, may we be permitted to state again that Israel cannot be vanquished by talk, anger, or demonstrations. Rights will not be re-established and Israel vanquished except by the loyalty, the solidarity, and the unity of the Arab front and the effort to induce the international groups that support it to understand the position of the Arabs and their inalienable rights. Likewise, Israel cannot be vanquished by Arab estrangement from the Holy See of Rome. The whole world knows how great is the weight of the Vatican in the balance of international moral forces. Such an attitude would weaken the Arab position.

We stop here, and we declare again that, in spite of the lack of attention, in spite of suspicion and the bad reception, we shall not cease to defend firmly, courageously, and without ostentation our country, on whose welfare we spend ourselves without any limit. God and the fatherland appreciate our intentions and our acts.

Observations on the draft of the declaration "On the Jews and non-Christians." A note presented by the holy synod in August 1964.

We do not have any fundamental objection on the theological level in opposing this draft of the declaration. But from a practical viewpoint, we maintain that there should be added to No. 32 a last paragraph, with the following wording:

"This holy council insists on emphasizing that the present declaration—which is a purely religious act inspired only by theological considerations—has no political motive or any political aim. This holy council condemns in advance any tendentious interpretation that would try to give the present declaration any political meaning whatsoever in favor of anyone or against anyone."

The reasons for which we hold that this paragraph should be added to the relevant declaration are the following:

1. Because of the exacerbation of the feelings of the Arab and Muslim states due to the Jewish invasion that has driven from occupied Palestine a million Arab refugees, and because of the skill of the Israelis in exploiting politically in their favor the least word pronounced by Christian authorities...

2. In this state of mind, the least word pronounced by the Fathers of the council can stir up a storm of protestations and risk exciting the fifty million Muslim Arabs against the Christian minority of five to seven million living among them. And among the non-Catholics, there are many who say, "The Church of Rome, through its declarations, can expose its followers to the troubles of insecurity, but it does not have the right to expose us also to such an eventuality."

3. We also deem it is necessary to affirm and reaffirm publicly the absence of any political intention or import in this conciliar act that is the "Declaration on the Jews."

4. It is true that the authors of the text submitted for our approval strove to expurgate from it any expression of a nature that would offend the sensitivities of the Arabs. In spite of everything, two short passages can still leave it open to criticism. These are

a) lines 20, 21, and 22 of No. 32, with respect to which the Arabs can say that it is also necessary to deplore the injustices committed by the Jews;

b) lines 31 and 32 of the same section, to which there will be no failure to give a pro-Israeli interpretation, for anti-Semitism does not have for its cause the responsibility of the Jews in Christ's passion, but rather it has causes that are political, social, racial, economic, etc. To avoid any possible criticism of the text of No. 32 as a whole, we propose to add the paragraph placed at the head of our present observations.

5. Let us not say that it is understood that in principle the council does not occupy itself with politics, and that consequently the paragraph in question is useless. No, it is very useful, it is even necessary, for the council cannot make decrees simply in a speculative manner, without considerations of time and place; on the contrary, it must take into account the historic circumstances in which we live. And let us not say that a declaration along this line made by an official of the Church in an interview or a press conference would be sufficient. No, it must be inserted into the text itself of the "Declaration on the Jews." From this point of view no precaution is too much.

6. We are not acting out of anti-Semitism; we are not, and we cannot be anti-Semites, since we are Semites by blood (we belong to the descendants of Shem) and by religion (the New Testament is a continuation of the Old). But we do not wish that the Church, mother and mistress of all nations, mistress of justice, charity, and peace, make a declaration that can be considered, evenly incorrectly, as taking sides in an international political conflict, in which considerable vital interests are involved.

 

Marriage and the Family

Indissolubility of Marriage

In an intervention on September 29, 1965 concerning the schema "The Church in the Modern World," Archbishop Elias Zoghby, Patriarchal Vicar for Egypt and the Sudan, spoke to the council about the trauma of the innocent spouse and asked whether a solution could be provided in the Catholic Church, especially in view of tradition in the Orthodox Church, which considers adultery a cause for the dissolution of marriage. Here is the complete text of Archbishop Zoghby's intervention.

There is a problem even more agonizing than that of birth control: it is the problem of the innocent spouse who, in the prime of life and through no fault of his or her own, is left alone through the other spouse's fault.

Shortly after entering into a marriage that seems to be happy, one of the spouses, through weakness or with premeditation, abandons the family and contracts a new union. The innocent spouse comes to his or her pastor or bishop and receives only one answer, "I can do nothing for you. Pray and be resigned to live alone and to practice continence for the rest of your life!" This solution presupposes heroic virtue, a rare faith, and an exceptional temperament. It is not, therefore, a solution that everyone can accept.

The young man or woman who had married because he or she did not feel called to perpetual continence is thus very often driven, in order not to become a bundle of nerves, to contract a new and illegitimate union outside the Church. Although up to then a practicing Catholic, he or she is henceforth doomed to be tortured in conscience. Only one choice is offered: either become an exceptional soul overnight or... perish!

We know on this subject that this solution of perpetual continence is not one for the ordinary Christian. In other words, we know that we leave these young victims without an answer. We ask them to depend on faith that works miracles; but faith that works miracles is not given to everyone. Many among us, bishops of the Church, still have to struggle hard and pray in order to obtain it.

Therefore, the question that these anguished souls are asking the council today is this: has the Church the right to answer an innocent faithful, whatever the nature of the problem that is torturing him or her, "Make the best of it; I have no solution for your case!" Or can the Church in this case offer only an exceptional solution that it knows is meant only for exceptional persons?

The Church has certainly received from Christ sufficient authority to offer all its children the means of salvation proportionate to their strength, and, of course, with the help of divine grace. Heroism, the state of perfection, has never been demanded by Christ under pain of damnation. Christ says, "If you wish to be perfect" ... if you wish it!

The Church therefore cannot lack sufficient authority to protect the innocent spouse against the consequences of sins of the other spouse. It does not seem normal that perpetual continence, which belongs to the state of perfection, can be imposed, like a punishment, on the innocent spouse because the other spouse has been unfaithful.

The Eastern Churches have always been aware of having this authority, and they have always exercised it in favor of the innocent spouse.

The bond of matrimony has certainly been made indissoluble by the positive law of Christ, but, as the Gospel of Saint Matthew indicates (5:32, 19:9) "except on the grounds of adultery." It is up to the Church to judge the meaning of this clause; even though the Church of Rome has always interpreted it in a restrictive sense, the same has not been true in the East, where the Church interpreted it, from the earliest times, in favor of the possible remarriage of an innocent spouse.

It is true that the Council of Trent in its 24th Session (Canon 7 of De Matrimonio) sanctioned the restrictive Roman interpretation. However, it is widely known that the formula adopted at that holy council in that canon has been revised intentionally so as not to exclude the Eastern tradition that followed a practice contrary to that of the Church of Rome. Credit for this is due to the Venetian orators who were well acquainted with the Greek tradition based on the interpretation of the Greek Fathers, and even of certain Western Fathers such as St. Ambrose of Milan .

We know how much the Fathers of the Eastern Church tried to dissuade widowers and widows from a second marriage, thus following the Apostle's advice, but they have never wished to deprive the innocent spouse who has been unjustly abandoned of the right to remarry. This tradition, preserved in the East, and which was never reproved during the ten centuries of union, could be accepted again and adopted by Catholics. Progress in patristic studies has indeed brought to the fore the doctrine of the Eastern Fathers who were no less qualified exegetes or moralists than the Western ones.

Pastoral concern for sorely tried spouses has been manifested among the Western canonists in another way. By means of a subtle casuistry that sometimes borders on acrobatics, they have applied themselves to detecting all possible impediments that could vitiate the marriage contract. They have certainly done this out of pastoral concern, but the result sometimes been detrimental to souls. For instance, if it happens that after ten or twenty years of marriage a previously unsuspected impediment of affinity is discovered, it is permitted to resolve everything as if by magic. The jurists find this quite normal and natural, but we pastors must admit that it sometimes amazes and scandalizes our faithful.

Is not the tradition of the Eastern Fathers, cited above, more appropriate than these impediments to marriage for granting divine mercy to Christian spouses?

Abuses are always possible, but abuse of authority does not eliminate authority.

In this age of ecumenism and dialogue, may the Catholic Church recognize the immemorial tradition of the Eastern Church, and may theologians apply themselves to the study of this problem, in order to bring a remedy to the anguish of innocent spouses permanently abandoned by their spouses, and in order to deliver them from the danger that seriously threatens their souls.

On October 2, 1965, Patriarch Maximos gave some "clarifications" to La Croix on the delicate subject of the indissolubility of marriage. When he was consulted in regard to the intervention of Archbishop Elias Zoghby, his Vicar General in Egypt and the Sudan , on the indissolubility of marriage in the event of infidelity of one of the spouses, he offered La Croix the following clarifications:

Archbishop Zoghby, like all Fathers of the council, enjoys full freedom to say what he thinks. And although he is our vicar in Egypt , he naturally speaks only for himself personally.

As for me, I knew about this intervention only at the time I heard it at the session of the council.

With respect to the heart of the problem, the Church must hold fast to the indissolubility of marriage, for, even though in certain cases the innocent spouse is sorely tried because of this law, the whole of family life would be shaken and ruined without this law. Moreover, if divorce in the strict sense were to be allowed on the grounds of adultery, nothing would be easier for less conscientious spouses than to create this cause.

The contrary practice of the Eastern Orthodox Churches can be supported by a few texts by certain Fathers. But these texts are contradicted by others and do not in every case constitute a sufficiently constant and universal tradition to induce the Catholic Church to change its discipline on this point.

Nevertheless, this question, with the proper nuances, could have been brought before the council as a serious difficulty to be resolved in the dialogue with Orthodoxy. Yet, presented as it is now, without the necessary precision, it can create confusion in many minds.

On October 4, 1965, in a new intervention at the council, Archbishop Zoghby made his ideas more precise.

Since certain publications have attached too much importance to my last intervention at the council concerning the frequent and unfortunate particular case of the innocent spouse abandoned by his or her spouse, and since they have broadcast the text of this intervention throughout the world, I have asked to speak again in the assembly, not to retract or change what I have said, but to call to mind briefly the following:

1. The purpose of my intervention was strictly pastoral, i.e., to discover a solution to the problem of so many young spouses condemned to live alone, in forced continence, through no fault of their part.

2. I clearly affirmed in my intervention the immutable principle of the indissolubility of marriage, and I intentionally avoided using the word "divorce," because in Catholic usage this word signifies an infraction of the immutable principle of the indissolubility of marriage.

3. This indissolubility of marriage is so deeply rooted in the tradition of Eastern and Western Churches , both Catholic and Orthodox, that it could not be called into question in a conciliar intervention. In fact, Orthodox tradition has always held marriage to be indissoluble, as indissoluble as the union of Christ and His Spouse, the Church, a union that remains the "exemplary model" of the monogamic and sacramental marriage of Christians.

In Orthodox theology, divorce is simply a dispensation granted to the innocent spouse in very clearly defined cases and with a purely pastoral concern, by virtue of what the Orthodox call the "principle of economy," which signifies "dispensation," or better, "condescension." This dispensation does not exclude the principle of indissolubility of marriage. It is even placed at its service, like the dispensation from valid and consummated marriages granted by the Catholic Church by virtue of the Petrine privilege. We shall not speak about the abuses, which are always possible but do not change the theological reality.

4. It is therefore a "dispensation" in favor of the innocent spouse that I was suggesting in my intervention. Referring to the traditional interpretation in the East of Saint Matthew's texts (Chapters 5 and 19), I envisioned the possibility of adding to the grounds for a dispensation already accepted by the Catholic Church those of fornication and of permanent abandonment of one spouse by the other, to avert the peril of damnation that threatens the innocent spouse. Such a dispensation would not have the effect of placing the validity of the indissolubility of marriage in doubt any more than the other dispensations.

5. This is not a frivolous proposal. It is based on the incontestable authority of the holy Fathers and of the holy Doctors of the Eastern Churches, who cannot without rashness be accused of having yielded to political or human considerations when they interpreted the Lord's words in the way they did.

6. It is in this perspective, in the East as in the West, of universal fidelity to the principle of the indissolubility of marriage, that the Roman Church, during the long centuries of union as well as after the separation, has not contested the legitimacy of the Eastern discipline favorable to the remarriage of the innocent spouse.

That is the meaning, the tenor of my last intervention at the council. It involves an exegetical, canonical, and pastoral problem that must not be disregarded. As to the opportuneness of accepting new grounds for a dispensation, analogous to those already introduced by virtue of the Petrine privilege, it is up to the Church to decide.

After studying the entire file of the question reopened by the intervention of Archbishop Zoghby, Patriarch Maximos IV wrote the following memorandum in Paris during the month of November 1966, which he requested be inserted in this anthology. "The important thing," he declared, "is that the door on further research should not be closed."

The interventions made at the conciliar assembly on the subject of the dissolution of a marriage when one of the two spouses is abandoned by the other have had worldwide reverberations and stirred up reaction among people and in the press. Yet they had no practical effect on the council or even held its attention, for we find no trace of them in the explanations of the amendments or in those of the modi. Moreover, it seems that they have hardened the contrary position, when it might have been possible, by revealing this difficulty with the required prudence and discretion, to open the door to a study or even to an ecumenical dialogue that could have thrown more light on it.

It seems that this difficulty could have been set forth to the council in the following way, in the hope of holding its attention:

1. The indissolubility of marriage has been solemnly defined by the Council of Trent. It is an object of faith for every Catholic and closes the door to all discussion. Period.

2. In the Catholic Church, as well as in the world, there are cases, which civilization and the love of well-being make increasingly frequent, cases of truly revolting injustice that forces human beings, whose vocation is to live in a normal state of marriage according to the laws of nature created by God, and who are unjustly prevented from doing so through no fault of their own, to endure this abnormal state for the remainder of their lives, although they are not able to do so, humanly speaking. Generally speaking, the world has found a way out of this impasse either by divorce or by other means that the Church does not accept. As for Catholics who find themselves in this situation, they turn their anxious eyes toward the Church, their mother, because they wish to be able to live honorably in the world according to their consciences.

3. Concerning laws that govern the Church spiritually and temporally, there have been created over the centuries and according to specific and varied modes what we might call safety valves for protecting the normal life of the Church and the life of its children. In the East, which is mystical by nature and inclined in its spirituality to consider everything within the mystery of the Church, this safety valve is called oikonomia (economy). This alters, or rather elevates, the difficulties that seem inextricable to it, and centers them on Christ, who is the fullness of the Church. In the Western Church , whose basis is more juridical, this safety valve is called a "privilege." Thus we have in the Church the "privilege" known as the "Pauline privilege," with a scriptural basis. But we have other safety valves that have no basis either in Scripture or in Tradition, such as the privilege to dissolve a marriage that has not been consummated, even though it is completely religious. Likewise, the privilege to dissolve a marriage between a baptized person and a non-baptized one through what is called the "Petrine privilege," which is also foreign to Holy Scripture and Tradition.

4. This being the case, we do not ask that the general teaching of the Church be disregarded or that we be given an immediate reply or even one in the near future. What we are asking is simply whether it would not be opportune on the occasion of the Second Vatican Council, which desires the union of the Churches and the peace of mind of souls, to seek to settle, or at least to clarify to a greater extent, this great question by creating a commission composed, if possible, of eminent members of the two Churches, Eastern and Western, in order to conduct a study in the light of faith, in a spirit of openness and charity, taking into account Holy Scripture, theology, Tradition, the Fathers, and the conduct of the Church through the centuries, by having recourse to either the oikonomia of the Eastern Church or to the "privilege" of the Western Church, in order to alleviate the unjust suffering of such a large number of souls.

We also believe that as long as the Church does not resolve, through its leaders, to do absolutely everything in its power to find a way out of this impasse, it is not entitled to enjoy a peaceful conscience; and its conscience cannot be liberated before God and man unless, after this conscientious work, it turns out to be true that the status quo is indispensable.


Birth Control

Text of the patriarch's intervention pronounced on October 29, 1964, concerning No. 21 of the schema on "The Church in the Modern World."

Today I should like to draw the attention of your venerable assembly to a special point of morals, birth control.

The fundamental virtue that is required of us, pastors assembled in a council that intends to be pastoral, is the courage to come face-to-face with the problems of the hour, in the love of Christ and of souls. Now, among the agonizing and painful problems that disturb the multitudes today, the problem of birth control stands out. It is an urgent problem if there ever was one, for it is at the root of a serious crisis of Catholic conscience. There is a situation of a variance between the official doctrine of the Church and the contrary practice of the immense majority of Christian families. The authority of the Church is called into question on a broad scale. The faithful find themselves driven to live in a state of rupture with the law of the Church, without the sacraments, in constant anxiety, for lack of finding a viable solution between two contradictory imperatives: conscience and normal conjugal life.

Besides, on the social level, demographic pressure in certain countries, especially those with teeming populations, militates under present circumstances against any rise in the standard of living and condemns hundreds of millions of human beings to a shameful and hopeless poverty.

The council must bring a valid solution to this situation. That is its pastoral duty. It must declare whether God really desires this impasse that is depressing and against nature.

Venerable Fathers, since we are aware, in the Lord who died and rose again for the salvation of men, of the painful crisis of conscience which our faithful are now suffering, let us have the courage to grapple with it without any bias.

Frankly, should not the official positions of the Church on this matter be revised in the light of modern science, theological as well as medical, psychological, and sociological?

In marriage, the development of the human being and his or her integration into the creative plan of God form a single whole. The finality of marriage must not be dissected into a primary finality and a secondary finality. This consideration opens up the horizon to new perspectives concerning the morality of conjugal behavior considered as a whole.

Besides, are we not correct in asking ourselves if certain official positions are not tributary to outworn concepts, and perhaps also, to a psychosis of celibates who are strangers to this sector of life? Are we not, without wishing to be, under the influence of that Manichean concept of man and the world, for which sexual intercourse is corrupt in itself and therefore tolerated only for having a child?

Is the external biological rectitude of acts the only criterion here of morality, independently of family life, of its conjugal and familial moral climate, and of the serious imperatives of prudence, the fundamental rule of all our human activity?

Furthermore, does not present-day exegesis urge us to greater prudence in the interpretation of two passages in Genesis—"Be fruitful and multiply," and that of Onan, which have been used so long as classical scriptural proofs of the basic condemnation of birth control?

How relieved was the Christian conscience when His Holiness Pope Paul VI announced to the world that the problem of birth control and of family morality "is under study, a study as broad and deep as possible, that is to say, as serious and honest as the great importance of this subject requires. The Church will have to proclaim this law of God in the light of scientific, social, and psychological truths that, during these recent times, have been the object of studies and documentation" (Doc. Cath. July 5, 1964).

In addition, given the extent and gravity of this problem that concerns the entire world, we ask that this projected study be carried out by theologians, physicians, psychologists, and sociologists, with the viewpoint of finding the normal solution that is needed. The collaboration of exemplary married Christians also seems necessary. Besides, is it not in harmony with the ecumenical path of the council to enter into a dialogue on this subject with other Christian Churches , and even with thinkers of other religions? Why fall back on ourselves? Are we not facing a problem that affects all humanity? Must not the Church be open to the world, both Christian and non-Christian? Is not the Church the leaven that will make the dough rise? It must also achieve positive results that give peace of conscience in this area as well as in all other areas that concern humankind.

Far be it from me to minimize the delicacy and gravity of the subject, as well as possible future abuses. But here as elsewhere, is it not the duty of the Church to educate the moral sense of its children, to train them in personal and community moral responsibility that is profoundly matured in Christ, rather than to envelop them in a network of regulations and commandments, and to ask them purely and simply to conform to them with closed eyes? As for us, let us open our eyes and be practical. Let us see things as they are and not as we would wish them to be. Otherwise we would risk talking in a desert. This involves the future of the mission of the Church in the world.

And so let us loyally and effectively put into practice the declaration of Pope Paul VI at the opening of the second session of the council, "Let the world know: the Church looks out on it with profound understanding, with sincere admiration, sincerely disposed not to subjugate it, but to serve it; not to depreciate it, but to give it greater value; not to condemn it, but to give it support and to save it."

At the fourth session of the council, a public discussion of the problem was avoided. In the appropriate commission, at the last minute, the accent was placed on fertility and its primacy in marriage, calling to mind exclusively the doctrine of the encyclical of Pius XI "Casti connubii" and the discourse of Pius XII to Italian midwives. There was therefore a danger of closing the path to any possibility of evolution in the discipline of the Church on this point. The patriarch decided to write directly to the pope [letter of November 29, 1965] to entreat him not to close the door to a possible evolution.

Mixed Marriages

In its "Observations on the Schemas of the Council" [1963], the Holy Synod said what it thought about a plan for the regulation of mixed marriages, valid especially for the Latin Church, since the Eastern Commission likewise dealt with this question concerning mixed marriages between Eastern Catholics and Orthodox Christians.

We begin by asking the question: Does this chapter "on mixed marriages" apply to Easterners as well? In fact, the subject is dealt with again, in what concerns them, in the schema "On the Eastern Churches." In this case, one of the two chapters or paragraphs is a duplicate and should be eliminated. If, on the contrary, this chapter is limited to the Latin Church alone, it must be clearly stated.

However, even if this chapter were to apply only to the Latin Church, we think that it is drafted in a tone that is needlessly severe and often offensive to our non-Catholic brethren. Needlessly severe, since the percentage of mixed marriages is continuing to grow in every country, and harsh words can do nothing to prevent this. Often offensive, since it considers the non-Catholic party as necessarily being a danger, whatever his or her personal behavior may otherwise be.

At a time when Christian Churches are opening themselves to ecumenical dialogue, it is not fitting, it seems to us, for the council to speak so superficially of a very serious problem that touches the life of the faithful and of the Church itself. It is a chapter that must be reworked completely from beginning to end, in a perspective that is at once more realistic and more ecumenical.

1. We must start from the principle that mixed marriages are inevitable. Let us think above all of countries where Catholics are in a minority, or even equal in number to other Christian confessions. It is normal for love to blossom among young persons belonging to different religious faiths.

2. Mixed marriages are not necessarily bad. Everything depends on the attitudes of the contracting parties. Neither Scripture nor the Fathers absolutely forbids them.

3. Marriages between Catholics and non-Catholic Christians must not be grouped in the same classification as marriages between Catholics and non-Christians. For a young Catholic girl, there is a great difference between marrying an Orthodox Christian and marrying a Muslim. Canon Law must take this into account not only theoretically but also in a practical way, by not requiring the same conditions for the one case as for the other.

4. The Church must never countenance hypocrisy. Mixed marriages are often, from the religious point of view, a conflict between two sincerities. The Catholic spouse rightly thinks that he or she must contract the marriage in the Catholic Church, baptize the children in the Catholic Church, and then educate them in the Catholic faith. The non-Catholic spouse makes the commitment to respect the religious convictions of his or her Catholic spouse. And yet, in conscience, he or she cannot renounce his or her own religious convictions. And so he or she will also wish to baptize the children and have them educated in his or her own faith. What is to be done? Current Catholic canon law requires that the non-Catholic spouse commit himself or herself in conscience to do things against his or her conscience. Is that moral? What actually happens? If the non-Catholic spouse is an unbeliever or indifferent, he or she promises everything that is asked. And so the marriage is authorized, and on the Catholic side this mixed marriage is considered a success, when it is really based on irreligion and hypocrisy. But if, on the other hand, the non-Catholic spouse, conscious of his or her obligations, claims his or her rights, which are subjectively not less than that of the other spouse, namely, to baptize and educate the children in his or her faith, the authorization is refused. At the very least, this is an abnormal attitude.

5. Besides, might we not succeed, with a little good will on both sides, in seeing in mixed marriages not necessarily a danger but an opportunity for bringing Christians together, an apostolate, the pursuit of ecumenism? Where our Eastern countries are concerned, we frankly declare that our Christians, both Orthodox and Catholic, are shocked by the rigidity that Catholic discipline demonstrates in the authorization of mixed marriages. What scandalizes the faithful is not the fact that Christians belonging to different confessions marry one another, but the fact that they have so many difficulties getting married.

6. Finally, the concept of the cautiones ("guarantees") required by current canon law must be completely re-examined. It is normal to require that the Catholic party make a commitment to do what he or she can on behalf of his or her faith. But it is not normal to require a commitment to do what does not depend on him or her, or that he or she make the commitment to bring the non-Catholic spouse to do what his or her conscience forbids him or her to do.

This chapter on mixed marriages must be studied by the council on entirely different bases from those of the present schema, which still holds to the hypothesis of a Catholicism lived in isolation and bitterly regretting any contact with the outsider, whether he be an infidel or a non-Catholic. Fortunately, we have gotten far beyond that. If the council is to achieve a work of aggiornamento, it is certainly to be in this domain. It is necessary to see realities as they are, and to bring to them Christ's response. Harshness arising from an imaginary situation only serves to aggravate the trouble.

Now here are a few detailed remarks:

1. Why the adverb "rashly" in the expression "de matrimonio mixto temere non contrahendo" (on not contacting a mixed marriage rashly), and other similar terms? It would be better to say: "de matrimonio mixto imprudenter non contrahendo" (on not contracting a mixed marriage imprudently). The word "temere" is offensive.

2. The drafters of the schema set out to explain the reasons why the number of mixed marriages has increased, but they do it in such a simplistic way that the council risks being held up to derision if their text is adopted.

The first reason, it is claimed, is the migration of peoples which has brought Catholic populations in contact with non-Catholic populations, and this is seen as regrettable. This may be true of certain regions of Germany . However, for the world's nations taken as a whole this reason is as old as the world. Almost everywhere Catholics live side by side with non-Catholics, and that is a good thing.

The second reason, it is said, is "that it is often not possible to prevent Catholics from entering into social contacts with non-Catholics, and that these friendly relations lead to marriages." Could it be otherwise?

Finally, the third reason, it is said, is "the decline of piety." Therefore, mixed marriages are an evil, and a Catholic who wishes to be devout must abstain for that very reason from contracting marriage with a non-Catholic, and that independently of any personal attitude of the non-Catholic party. On the contrary, we think that mixed marriages are the expression of more extensive relations among Christians belonging to different confessions than in the past. It is a sign of the times.

3. As a necessary condition for authorizing a mixed marriage, it is required "that the Catholic party sincerely guarantee that he or she will fulfill his or her duty to baptize the children and to educate them in the Catholic religion." How can the Catholic party make a commitment to something whose fulfillment does not depend solely on him or her? The Catholic party must not be asked to commit himself or herself to more than he or she can do.

Rationally speaking, we must be content to ask the Catholic party to make the commitment to do everything that he or she can, sincerely and honestly, so that the children belong to his or her Church and share his or her faith. He or she cannot promise more than that.

4. The non-Catholic is required "se non repugnaturum ut proles catholice baptizetur eiusque catholicae educationi provideatur" (that he or she will not resist having the children baptized as Catholics, and that there will be provision for their Catholic education). How can a non-Catholic Christian, if he or she is sincere and deeply committed to his or her faith, make such a promise?

Only an unbeliever, an indifferent person, or a liar will do that. Thus, vices have been encouraged, in order to satisfy canon law. That is not normal.

5. Then there is the intent to show ill humor to the very end. Since mixed marriages cannot be prevented, an effort is made to show that they are authorized only reluctantly. As a result, provision is made for a diminished, private, humiliating rite. Why all that? If the mixed marriage has been authorized, it is because all the requisite conditions have been fulfilled. There is need only to bless this marriage like all others.

 

The Sacraments of the Church

The Minister of the Sacrament of Confirmation in Eastern Theology

Commenting on a draft of a schema "On the Sacraments" prepared by the Eastern Commission, the patriarch dwelt more particularly on the delicate question of the minister of the sacrament of confirmation, or holy chrism [myron], in Eastern theology and discipline. This note was presented at the Central Commission in its session of January, 1962.

A. The preamble placed at the head of this chapter seems to need revision which takes into account the following observations:

1. The author of the preamble presents the grace associated with this sacrament as being exclusively a grace of power and of combat, "by which, made fit for the fight against enemies of the soul, they may gain victory." This concept, insofar as it is too exclusive, is inspired by Western theology, which in turn has erected it on the basis of the Latin usage, according to which holy chrism is a sacrament for those of adult age, conferred at the time of life when the Christian should begin to struggle. Eastern usage remains more faithful to the ancient tradition that considers chrismation as being an integral part of the three sacraments of "Christian initiation." Following that tradition, the Orthodox East continues to confer these three sacraments at the same time: baptism, chrismation, and the Eucharist, not only to adults but also to infants. In this perspective, the statement of the preamble is no longer adapted to the disciplinary canons that follow. It is much better to present chrismation as a sacrament whose aim is to confer on the one baptized the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, among which there is naturally the gift of fortitude.

2. The bishop is said to be the only ordinary minister of chrismation. I am fully in agreement with the doctrine that this formula intends to express. But I propose that the words "ordinary minister" be replaced by the words "primary or authentic minister." In Western usage, it is in fact the bishop who ordinarily administers this sacrament; the formula of Western theology thus conforms with usage. But in the East it is the priest who ordinarily and since the oldest times confers this sacrament at the same time as baptism and the Eucharist. To say of the Eastern priest that he is the "extraordinary minister" is to use an expression that does not in any way correspond with reality. It is true that to say "ordinary minister" does not necessarily say minister who ordinarily confers this sacrament. But why not then find a less equivocal expression, and say, as I propose, the minister who is primary. original authentic of his own right, etc.?

3. The Latin text of the preamble states: "It is well known that in Eastern regions from ancient times the practice has prevailed with the consent of the Apostolic See, that even simple priests, with chrism prepared by the bishop, have administered this sacrament to their faithful when conferring baptism, and they still administer it." This text requires several remarks.

a. "...from ancient times the practice has prevailed." Eastern discipline on this point is presented as a "usage contrary to or outside the law," tolerated because it is very ancient, from time immemorial. The historic reality is otherwise: in the East the priests have confirmed since the time when they baptized separately from the bishop.

b. "...with the consent of the Apostolic See." This is a gratuitous assertion that does not rest on any historical fact. Never, before the deductions of Western theologians and canonists, have the popes thought that Eastern priests confirm in reliance on exceptional powers that they have granted. This clause has been invented by Latin canonists or even Uniates in order to retain a logical connection with the principles from which they wish to proceed, namely that only the pope can authorize a simple priest to confirm: "Well, the Eastern priests confirm, thus they do so through the authorization of the pope". The reasoning is correct, but it is deficient in its basis; its major premise is the matter of an important distinction. Only the pope can authorize a simple priest to confirm: in the West, yes. As far as the East is concerned, nothing in Holy Scripture or in the ancient and authentic tradition substantiates this. Historically this administration has been performed in reliance on customary usages. There is no need to impart to the popes things that they have not even suspected, and besides, one should not bend history to preconceived principles, but rather establish principles in conformity with the facts of history.

c. "...to his faithful." The author of the preamble seems to wish to limit the valid application of the Eastern discipline on this point only to subjects of the priest who confirms. In reality, if the Eastern priest confirms according to the discipline of his Church, his confirmation, like his baptism, is logically valid, no matter who the subject of the confirmation may be. It is only in proceeding from principles dictated by the different discipline of the West that one denies the validity of confirmation administered by an Eastern priest to a faithful who is not of his rite.

4. It is asserted that the popes, for the good of souls, have sometimes limited this privilege that Eastern priests have to confer the sacrament of confirmation. It is known that these limitations and these revocations of the legitimate Eastern usage of Eastern priests have been, in reality, a concession made by the popes to the prejudices of Western canonists who do not wish to admit that there can be in the Holy Church anything other than that which they are accustomed to see where they live. It is useless to make this a question of the good of souls, as if the Eastern usage were a harmful exception.

This presentation of the Eastern discipline is also very little consistent with the wording of the disciplinary canons that follow. One might say that the writer of the preamble wishes, by using principles as a basis for certain restrictions, to weaken the freedom of the proposed disciplinary measures.

B. On the subject of the canons, I would take the liberty of making the following observations:

1. Can. I. Change the term "ordinary minister" in accordance with what has been said above.

2. Can. II. "with chrism blessed by the bishop." The blessing of holy chrism is reserved to patriarchs. It would at least be necessary to say "by the patriarch or bishop..." 3. Can. II. "Unless a particular law should enjoin otherwise." This clause should be explained. The particular law that still exists in certain regions of the West and according to which it is forbidden for an Eastern priest to confirm along with baptism cannot be tolerated. As for the particular law of certain Eastern Churches, as, for example, the Maronites, one must respect it, although it would have been better to call upon these Churches to return to the pure tradition of the East on this point.

The Sacrament of Penance

At the January, 1962, meeting of the Central Commission, the patriarch expressed what he thought of the "jurisdiction" for confessions, of the "secrecy of the Holy Office," and of reserved sins.

1. The West has no doubts that for the validity of absolution it is required that the confessor have a certain jurisdiction over the penitent. Doubtless this conviction springs from the fact that the West, having equated the absolution of sins to a judgment, has wished to find in absolution all the conditions of a human judgment in the strict sense. Well, it seems to us that the sacrament of penance is not a judgment, except by analogy. It thus does not require for its validity all the conditions of a true judicial procedure. In particular, the classical East believes that a priest approved by his bishop for confessions—thus constituted as a spiritual father—can absolve everywhere the faithful who make their confessions to him.

Ecclesiastical proprieties require of him that he should exercise this power only in the territory that has been entrusted to him, or with the permission of the priest of the place, but the validity of the sacrament always remains unharmed. I have taken the liberty of explaining this classical Eastern Christian discipline for two reasons:

a) to avoid pressing too closely the comparison between confession and judicial procedures;

b) to support doctrinally the widening of the present Catholic discipline.

2. Among the hierarchs who have the privilege of hearing confessions everywhere, it is also fitting to mention patriarchs.

3. As for the censures attached to revealing the "secrets of the Holy Office," I am personally opposed not only to these censures but also to the "secrecy of the Holy Office" itself as it is practiced nowadays. May the Holy Office pardon me if I say troublesome things that many think but do not dare to say. We owe it to the Church to speak the whole truth in its solemn meetings. The affairs of the Church certainly require much discretion. But there is long distance between this indispensable discretion and the "secrecy of the Holy Office" as it is practiced today. The latter has given certain ecclesiastical administrations the character of a true Freemasonry, and this has been abused more than once to condemn certain persons "from an informed knowledge," as it is called, that is to say without interrogating them or without giving them the elementary possibility of defending themselves. Besides, it seems to me that a radical reform of the Holy Office is today necessary, for the Holy Office is still too reminiscent of the "Holy Inquisition." Its time has passed.

4. There is a question of reforming the penal system of the Church. We could not overemphasize the necessity of bringing about this reform. The present penal system of the Church almost reduces it to a secular society, more especially since the majority of the penalties are absolutely inappropriate.

Penitential Discipline of the Church

A proposal of the Melkite Greek Catholic episcopate presented to the pope on October 14, 1965.

Responding to the wishes of His Holiness, Pope Paul VI, who invited the different episcopal conferences to demonstrate to him their opinions on a draft of unification of the Church's penitential discipline, His Beatitude Patriarch Maximos IV convoked a study meeting. This meeting took place in Rome on Tuesday, October 12, 1965. After having taken into consideration the documents furnished by the Holy Congregation of the Council, the Holy Synod expressed the following opinions:

1. We are all, in principle, favorable to an adaptation of the law of fasting and abstinence to present circumstances.

2. We wish that in fasting there may be a part that is strictly obligatory, and another part that is only recommended, which constitutes a minimum.

3. We wish that this law, in its strictly obligatory part, be unified for the whole Catholic Church, both Eastern and Western.

4. The days of fasting and abstinence that are simply recommended will remain different according to the diversity of rites.

5. Once the Latin Church has adapted and unified its discipline in the matter of fasting and abstinence, it will behoove the superior legislative authority of each Eastern Church to promulgate the rules of fasting and abstinence for its faithful, agreeing, insofar as possible, with those of the other Eastern Churches and of the Latin Church.

6. We maintain the distinction between fasting and abstinence, nevertheless adding that abstinence is equally obligatory on days of fasting. In other words, for us fasting is always accompanied by abstinence.

7. We are in agreement that there should be in the course of the year only three days of strictly obligatory fasting. These three days are: the first day of Lent, Holy Friday, and Holy Saturday. We prefer not to include Christmas Eve.

8. As for the days on which abstinence is strictly obligatory, we prefer that they be fixed as all Fridays of the year without any exception and without any distinction between Fridays of Lent and ordinary Fridays, among laity and secular priests on the one hand, and religious, male and female, seminarians, etc., on the other.

9. As for the nature of fasting, it consists for us of the absence of all nourishment or drink (except water) from midnight to noon. Abstinence consists of abstaining from meat or the gravy of meat.

10. We are in agreement with the discipline of the Code of Canon Law concerning the age limits of the obligation for fasting and abstinence.

11. We are equally in agreement in recommending to the faithful certain practices compensating for the mitigation of the Church's penitential discipline.

Indulgences

The Sacred Penitentiary had prepared a draft of the recasting of indulgences. The episcopal conferences had been consulted, toward the end of the fourth session of the council. On November 10, 1965, the patriarch read before the conciliar assembly the opinion of his synod. It raised the doctrinal point underlying the discipline of indulgences. The discussion passed beyond the framework of the discipline to enter the field of dogma. The discussion was brought to an end.

I speak in the name of the synod of the Melkite Greek Catholic episcopate, and I wish to begin by declaring what follows: It is undeniable that the Church can add a supplementary propitiatory value to the pious acts of Christians, relying on the infinite merits of Christ and the communion of saints, for, united with Christ its leader, the Church has a power of universal intercession.

It is also undeniable that the Church's power of intercession can obtain from God a partial or total remission of the punishment due to pardoned sin. That is equivalent to asserting that the Church can obtain from God a remission, that one can call an "indulgence," partial or total, of penalties on behalf of its repentants.

As for establishing an exact equation between the intercession of the Church and the remission by God of the penalty due to sin, that is not only without theological foundation, but also has been the cause of innumerable and serious abuses, which have caused irreparable damage to the Church. Thus it is necessary that that be positively abolished. In fact, nothing in the early and universal tradition of the Church proves that indulgences were known and practiced, as they have been since the Western Middle Ages. In particular, during the eleven centuries, at least, that the union of the Church of the East and the Church of the West lasted, there is no trace of indulgences in the usual modern sense of the word. Today the Orthodox Church, faithful to early tradition, is still ignorant of indulgences, as the West understands them.

The theological reasoning that seeks to justify the belated introduction of indulgences in the West constitutes, in our opinion, a group of deductions in which each conclusion goes a bit beyond its premises.

In reality, indulgences are tied historically to the ancient penitential discipline of the Church. For each serious external fault the Church provided a public penance, more or less lengthy, more or less painful. Sometimes a mitigation of this sanction was granted, whether at the recommendation of a pious person, or on behalf of external acts, such as a pilgrimage or other act. Naturally, the fulfillment of these canonical sanctions is accompanied by a corresponding diminution of the punishment by which God wishes, in his goodness and his justice, to chastise the sin, whether down here or in the hereafter. But in imposing these sanctions, or mitigating them, the early Church did not intend in any way to interfere in God's judgments, to induce Him to cancel all punishment, or to reduce it in a fixed manner.

When in the Church's discipline the usage of public canonical sanctions was suppressed, there normally should also have been a suppression of the concession of indulgences, which had for their precise goal to moderate or remove these canonical sanctions. By retaining them there was a passing, improper and too rigid, from the human and canonical basis to the divine basis.

In the Middle Ages, indulgences were subject to innumerable abuses, that were grave scandals for Christianity. But even in our days, it seems to us that the practice of indulgences too often, among the faithful, leans toward fetishism, superstition, the feeling of religious "capitalization," a kind of pious bookkeeping, with forgetfulness of what is essential, namely the sacred and the personal exercise of repentance.

That is why we would wish that the Church, if it holds to the course of not purely and simply suppressing indulgences, by a positive act on its part, would readjust its practices for indulgences to make them more acceptable:

1. By eliminating all counting of days, years, or centuries; the amended schema has already reached this point.

2. By eliminating, in the concept of a partial indulgence, all conformity with a mathematical equation between the merit of the penitent and the satisfying capacity of the Church, for the Church does not multiply the merit of its faithful by a fixed coefficient.

3. By eliminating, even for plenary indulgences, any idea of automatic assurance of total acquittal.

4. By developing a theology in which the accent would be placed on the personal reparation of the faithful, strengthened and elevated by Christ's merits.

Thus the faithful are made to understand that the Church adds, in fact, to the intrinsic worth of their prayers and their good works the infinite worth of the merits of Christ and of his Body, which is the Church, and that is from the very fact that, belonging to the Church as its members, they participate in the divine life that animates the whole Body.

By doing this, the Catholic Church avoids the doctrinal difficulties with the Reformed Churches, difficulties that are at least disciplinary with the Orthodox, and pastoral difficulties with the Catholics themselves. Also thus, the prayer of the faithful is not isolated, but united with Christ and the Church.

"Indulgences" thus consist of this: the faithful will bear their punishments, whether imposed or voluntary, with Christ, who gives them an infinite value of redemption. As for the temporal punishment that their sins deserve, the Church does not affect it by canonical sanctions. The faithful will accept chastisement from her maternal hand, in all submission and confidence, and will spontaneously do penance from love for their Father. They will also pray for their departed ones, without seeking to know exactly either the punishment that the latter suffer or the exact measure, full or partial, of the help that they can supply for them. In this light, one will better understand the worth of a blessing given by a bishop or a priest, the worth of a pilgrimage, the wearing of a pious object, the participation in an office recommended by the Church, etc. These are the incontestable truths which by themselves can create in the soul a truly Christian sense of sin and satisfaction.

Thus, summing up everything in a few words, we shall say that the propitiatory power of the Church intervenes through the infinite merits of Christ, instead of entering into details of accounting, where errors and abuses have free play. Christ is, and must remain, the cornerstone, the alpha and omega, of the whole of our holy religion, in which all must be brought back to Him.

Mass Stipends

This is a statement presented by the patriarch to the June, 1962, session of the Central Commission on a draft of the schema "On Mass stipends."

No. 1 of this schema appears to us as incomplete, in that there is not presented to the faithful a sufficient doctrinal basis for the practice of Mass stipends as such. It speaks only of the necessity of providing for the needs of the priests. For our part, we would be satisfied with it. If we speak about it, it is to put the theologians on guard against the framework of the theories that they have devised, distinguishing among the different "fruits" of the Mass, in order to reserve certain ones of them to the person who offers the Mass stipend. This framework does not have any foundation in the Church's tradition, and it savors of the abuses of the Middle Ages. In reality, the holy sacrifice of the Eucharist is always offered to the Holy Trinity for all humanity, redeemed by the blood of the Redeemer. That does not prevent a faithful person from asking the priest to make a special commemoration at the Lord's altar. On this occasion, he may, if he wishes, offer alms to the priest, to the church, also to the deacon. But the sacred rite is not the only occasion of alms. Such alms may equally be offered on the occasion of funerals, of vespers, of any other office. No causal link must be placed between the alms and any "fruit of the Mass," without having the poor, who cannot offer as much alms as the rich, receive less grace from the holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is necessary to return, on this point as on so many others, to the ancient tradition of the Church and avoid indulging in the rather partisan and trite ideas of the theologians of the Middle Ages.

No. 4 speaks of a "privileged" altar. It is better, it seems to us, to eliminate this privilege, to avoid arousing superstitious confusion in the minds of simple persons.

We would also ask that the practice of "Gregorian" Masses (No. 6) be eliminated, in order to remove from today's faithful an occasion of superstition. These two institutions, the privileged altar and Gregorian Masses, in addition to being completely unknown in the East, are rarely well understood, cause superstitions, and bring about accusations that the Church is mercenary. The council would do well, it seems, to eliminate them purely and simply. However, if it is thought that their practice has been imbedded so firmly in the minds of the Latin faithful that it is difficult to eliminate them purely and simply by a decision of the council, we would only propose that they be not mentioned in the decrees of the council, and to keep them in the lists of indulgences, like the other indulgences.


Non-Catholic Ministers and Their Admission to Holy Orders

This is a statement presented by the patriarch to the June, 1962 session of the Central Commission on a draft of the schema entitled "On admitting to Holy Orders those who were non-Catholic pastors or ministers."

The conditions set down for receiving into holy orders married Protestant ministers appear to us to be too harsh. In particular, we do not see why it is necessary to ban them from holy orders if their spouse does not wish to embrace Catholicism. In fact, if she respects the religion and does not hinder the Catholic upbringing of their children, why should her husband be deprived of the grace of ordination? The text can appear to wish to put pressure on the spouse's conscience to make her follow her husband in his conversion, with the penalty of refusing holy orders to her husband. Likewise, it is not humane to require that children who have not followed their father in his conversion live away from the family home. Such measures cause the Catholic Church to be accused of intransigence in the matter of social life, which is something that should be avoided at any cost. One would say that the fact that these ministers are married frightens the Catholic lawgiver to the point that he no longer knows how much severity to employ in order to make this exception to the rule of celibacy forgotten. It is good to honor ecclesiastical celibacy, but not to the point of belittling priests whom God never called to celibacy. In this schema, and in others, every time that it is a matter of priestly celibacy, excessive expressions are used, which are too much conditioned by the fear of someday seeing married priests in the Latin Church. The council should simply assert things, in particular the dignity of celibacy for Christ, without seeming to scorn married priests, for this scorn would reflect—do not forget this—on Saint Peter himself, who was married.

In Paragraph XII the schema discusses not non-Catholic ministers who wish to receive holy orders, but priests ordained outside the Church who now wish to return to the Catholic Church. First, this paragraph cannot logically be entered under the heading of the schema in which the subject is the ordination of ministers who have not yet been ordained, when it is a matter of recognizing ordinations made outside the Catholic Church. Then, on behalf of these priests, it is necessary to provide particular legislation. It is not enough to say "The same things are understood, by ascribing like things to other like things." Something else must be provided. In particular, their case should not be reserved to the Holy Office, as today, but left to the prudent judgment of the ordinary of the place or, all the better, of the patriarch, who is in a better position to judge each case in particular.

 

Catholic Teaching

The Infallible Magisterium

A statement presented by the patriarch at the June 1962 session of the Central Commission with respect to a draft of a schema "On respect for the magisterium of the Church."

No. 6 distinguishes in the Church between the infallible and immutable magisterium of the pope and an ecumenical council and the "non-infallible" magisterium, which requires not only a respectful silence but also an "internal religious compliance," so much so that "when the Roman pontiffs in their actions concerning a matter that had hitherto been controversial, having given their attention to it, lay down a decision, that matter, according to the thinking and wishes of the same pontiffs, can no longer be considered a question for free disputation among the theologians." May we be permitted to make the following remarks on this subject:

1. The "non-infallible" magisterium is, by the very strength of the term and by definition, "fallible," and thus susceptible to error. If it is susceptible to error, like every other human teaching, even the most authoritative, the intervention of the pope cannot give to the doctrine that he proposes either the force of a dogma of faith or such a certitude that it removes every basis for possible discussion. Otherwise this "fallible" or "noninfallible" teaching would be practically equivalent to an "infallible" definition. The schema must explain clearly what the internal and essential difference is between the "infallible" teaching of the Roman pontiffs and their teaching that is theoretically called "fallible" but that still is to be considered as practically infallible, not allowing discussion. We do not wish to deny the assertion of the schema, but we ask that a clarification be presented, for, apparently, such an assertion seems to have no other goal than to extend surreptitiously the scope of pontifical infallibility and to transform into immutable certitudes, and thus practically dogmas, all the teaching of the popes, which, as is well known, includes, especially in recent years, almost all the field of human knowledge.

2. It is necessary to specify whether this exceptional authority of the pontifical teaching also extends, and if so to what extent, to all the dicasteries of the Roman Curia and to the persons who constitute it. Some of our separated brethren complain at times that in the Catholic Church everyone considers himself somewhat infallible.

3. It is also necessary to state precisely that this practical infallibility claimed for the teaching of the popes, even outside every dogmatic definition as such, does not extend to disciplinary measures taken by the Roman Curia, measures susceptible of being based on inexact information or on human motives.

4. While safeguarding the deposit of the faith, it is necessary, it seems to us, to avoid a continuously increasing constriction of the area of truths that are called in our Eastern tradition theologoumena: truths that have not yet been transformed into dogmas and whose reasoned discussion constitutes the proper work of theology. Their denial is not reasonable, but it does not automatically draw the thunderbolt of ecclesiastical censures. In other words, there should be no fear of leaving the widest possible field to the freedom of reasoned theological reflection, but with the way open for intervention if the domain of dogma is in danger. Certain Catholic authorities behave as if, for them, everything must be certain and evident. There is a violent reaction when what to them appears evident is not so in others' eyes. Many troubles in the Church would be avoided if persons knew how to be firm on dogmas and definite truths, while respecting freedom of theological thought for all other matters.


Thomism

A statement presented by the patriarch at the session of the Central Commission in June 1962.

It is our opinion that, in spite of the very high regard that one must have for St. Thomas Aquinas, it is not fitting that this council should declare that his doctrine is purely and simply the very doctrine of the Church or of the council. Therein is the risk that the Angelic Doctor be substituted for all the teaching and the entire Tradition of the Church. From the viewpoint of bringing Christians together, there is more than one disadvantage in the pure and simple adoption of the whole Thomistic system as the Church's own doctrine. Here are a few examples:

1. The Thomistic system, in fact, cannot be called universal in the Church. The East, in particular, possesses another theological system, which must not be cast aside from Catholic thought.

2. Thomistic terminology does not always conform with that in traditional usage in the Eastern Church, especially on the subject of the sacraments.

3. There is an involuntary risk of giving St. Thomas ' doctrine more consideration than the collective thought of the Fathers who constitute the ecclesial Tradition. In addition, the patristic thought of St. Thomas , although commendable for his epoch, is deficient on certain points compared with modern research.

4. St. Thomas is of his epoch and shares a good number of the prejudices of his time in regard to Easterners. He must not be utilized in dialogue with the Orthodox except with discretion.

5. Finally, Scholasticism, which is dependant on St. Thomas , has gradually made certain positions of its master more inflexible, and renders dialogue with the Orthodox still more difficult.

However that may be, Thomism is perhaps the most perfect expression of the theological evolution of the West in the Middle Ages. But Eastern theology does not die easily. It is better to leave the framework of the Church's universal theology open to a number of currents. Thus while recommending St. Thomas for the study of theologians, the council must avoid making it something absolute. Divinity is infinitely rich and varied. Nothing is more impoverishing than to contemplate it from a single viewpoint

Extracts from the "Observations of the Holy Synod on the Schemas of the Council" (1963)

It is impossible to accept in a text emanating from this council, and thus of universal significance both as to time and as to place, a constantly repeated call for the adoption in Catholic teaching of the doctrine, the method, and the principles of St. Thomas . Although dogma, as a revealed given fact, cannot change, its human expression, on the contrary, is subject to variation. It is the fruit of each people's own cultural spirit, a result of its mental inclination, its traditions, and of the circumstances under which its history has unfolded. In right and in fact, a number of currents of theological thought have existed and will exist in the Church, without prejudice to the fundamental unity of dogma. To tie dogma to a human culture necessarily coexistent with the particular civilization of a people, is unlawful and actually impossible, because it is against nature. Besides, that is to impoverish it, reduce it, whereas it is the message of God to men, all men. It is agreed that Thomism, itself an heir of Aristotelian philosophic thought, has contributed much to the Church, and that present day theological expression owes much to it, and it is only just to recognize it; but one cannot impose it, bind it to dogma, above all in a conciliar document.

 

Codification of Canon Law

Against the Drawing up of a Single Code for the Eastern and Western Churches

A letter addressed to His Holiness Pope Paul VI by His Beatitude Patriarch Maximos IV on November 22, 1963.

Most Holy Father:

Replying to the invitation that Your Holiness extended to us, in the course of the audience of November 11, 1963, to inform him of everything that could facilitate drawing closer to our Orthodox brethren, I, in the name of all the conciliar Fathers of our Melkite Greek patriarchate, would like to explain the following to Your Holiness:

We have learned incidentally that a campaign is presently being conducted for the drawing up of single code of canon law, which would be equally binding on the Eastern Churches as on the Latin Church. In this single code it would be considered sufficient to point out, where it was relevant, the particularities of the law that are specific for the Easterners.

We are sure that our position, and that of all ecumenists and of all those who have at heart the harmonious progress of the Christian East along its proper path, coincides with that adopted, after a long examination, by the Roman See itself, namely, the drawing up of a special code of canon law for the Eastern Churches.

The arguments in favor of this position are the following:

1. Canon law is one of the principal and formal expressions of that "diversity in unity" that is a characteristic mark of the Catholic Church. While safeguarding the unity of faith, of the sacramental life, and of the hierarchy, the Catholic Church has always proclaimed its desire to protect entirely not only the diversity of the liturgical rites of the Christian East but also the diversity of its discipline. Well, making a single Code of law for the Eastern Churches and for the Western Church necessarily ends in the following results:

a) Either the Latin discipline will be almost entirely imposed on Easterners, which in actual fact means the pure and simple latinization of the East, against which Easterners, as well as the Holy See, have struggled for a long time;

b) Or the Latin discipline will be so prevalent in this single code that one will not be able to see in it, in any manner, the expression of the specific discipline of the East; for, in every place that the two disciplines are different, it can be foreseen that the Latin discipline will not be made to yield to the Eastern discipline, but vice versa. This will be a new—and most serious —manifestation of the latinization of the East, concerning which all those who know and love the East complain.

2. In the ecumenical dialogue, it will be truly catastrophic to show to our Orthodox brethren that the discipline which awaits them, in the unity with the Roman Church, is not theirs, but that of the Latin Church. The unification of the two codes is contrary to the ecumenical orientation of Vatican II and destroys the whole schema "On Ecumenism."

3. The Holy See has made a considerable effort since 1929 to attempt to give the Eastern Churches a code of law that would be as consistent as possible with their own discipline. Cardinal Massimi, who, with Cardinal Coussa, has labored the hardest in this work, said to our late predecessor, Patriarch Cyril IX, "I wish that when the Orthodox shall see our Eastern code, they will be able to say, ‘That is truly the discipline of our Fathers!'" It is necessary to acknowledge that, in spite of the definite good will and the immense labor that has been performed, the result has not always conformed to the expectations of the Easterners and has been accused of hybridism and latinization. This criticism will be based on much stronger grounds if a single code, with a Latin emphasis, is imposed on the Easterners.

4. Too many elements distinguish the Eastern law from the Latin one to make it possible to unite them in a single code, without sacrificing one or the other, and the law that will be sacrificed will certainly be the Eastern law. Let one think of the frequent differences in terminology, as also the institutions that pertain exclusively to the East, like those of the patriarchate, synods, rite, episcopal elections, etc. Let one think of the institutions that do not exist at all in the authentic Eastern law, like those of canons, benefices, censures latae sententiae, etc. Thus, while in Latin law one single canon suffices to regulate the patriarchal institution considered simply as an honor, in the Eastern law more than 200 canons are required to define the patriarchal institution. In contrast, in the authentic Eastern law, the treatment of "on sins and their satisfaction" can be covered in four pages. Thus, how is it possible to draw up a single code where there are such different elements?

5. Those who ask for a single code for the Eastern and the Latin Churches appear to us to be either latinizers, who wish to absorb the East, not in Catholicism but in Latinism, or Easterners with latinized mentalities, who do not realize how much harm their deviation from the authentic Eastern discipline does to the cause of growing closer to our Orthodox brethren.

For all these reasons, may Your Holiness permit us:

a.) to remain steadfast to the very wise position adopted by the Holy See, in ordering the drawing up of a special code for the Eastern Churches;

b.) to desire ardently that this special code for the Eastern Churches be reviewed to make it even more consistent with the authentic Eastern discipline;

c.) that this code be written according to authentically Eastern criteria, by competent jurists chosen among non-latinized Easterners, Latins friendly to the East, and ecumenists;

d.) that this question be not treated in the hall of the council, since many Fathers of the council are not aware of the gravity of the problem.

 

The Church in the Modern World

For a New Presentation of Morals

An intervention of the Patriarch on October 27, 1964.

The Church, whose role in the world is to lead all peoples to Christ, must at the very first be interested in the vital problems of its children, its witnesses in the world, to instruct them in the full knowledge of Christ. And if it wishes to engage in dialogue with the modern world through its faithful, they must be formed and treated according the fundamental principle of conduct enunciated by Christ: "No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15). If the Church also wishes to contribute to the construction of the heavenly city in a manner fit for propagating the faith, it must necessarily form its faithful according to Christ's law, which is a law of grace and of love, so that all arrive at a profound responsibility in the liberty of the children of God.

This education to maturity and responsibility is also a need of the times in which we live. These times are no longer those of the Middle Ages. The age of infancy has been passed. Today the world asks, with tenacity and force, for the recognition of human dignity in all its fullness, social equality of all classes. This world enjoys an intense intellectual culture; it witnesses scientific discoveries that yesterday were inconceivable; it is in love with freedom, and has—at least among its elites—awareness of its responsibilities. Well! We can no longer impose laws on this world, without demonstrating to it their positive significance and wisdom. Doe not this state of mind of today's society call out for a revision of the presentation of the teaching of morality? In fact, this teaching, especially since the sixteenth century, has been adapted too much to the legalism and the immaturity of a closed and absolutist society. Present teaching is marked too much by the legalism of a former era and completely impregnated with the Roman law.

Now, our Christian morality must have a Christocentric character with an expression of love and of freedom. It must bring forth in everyone a sense of personal and communitarian responsibility. Consequently, a profound revision of many of our disciplines—changing also their nature—is obligatory. It goes without saying that this is not a matter of immutable dogmas, which, however, need to be explained well. This revision is necessary for the sake of the sanctification of our people by the encouragement, the respect, and the purification of this desire for a responsibility that is deeper and more courageous. Many things of the good old times, accepted by our simple and pious ancestors, are no longer accepted today. We need only to cite, for example, the presentation in our catechisms of the commandments of the Church. According to our catechisms, to miss Sunday Mass without good cause, or to eat meat on Friday, constitutes a mortal sin, deserving eternal damnation as a consequence. Is this reasonable? How many Catholics believe this? The Church is a mother; would a stepmother impose such an obligation, under the penalty of eternal damnation? And isn't the person, with a right conscience and a sincere mind, who does not believe, correct in taking pity on us? We could also say many things concerning the sacrament of penance. Revision is indispensable. There can be no doubt about that. Besides, the commandments should be the way to blessedness rather than to condemnation, "Keep the commandments and you will live," says the Book of Proverbs (7:2). Would it mot be more evangelical, more efficacious, and even more practical to present the commandments not as orders under the pain of sin, but as counsels that attract, like a light that produces love? A mother wins over her children, not by blows of a rod, but by the warmth of her love. In addition, twentieth-century man is rebellious against any and all coercion. As for ourselves, how much has our conduct in regard to our children undergone change? Why would it be otherwise for the Church in regard to the faithful?

The legalistic spirit obstructs the energy of priests and faithful, who should be courageously employed for the salvation of the world and for the building of a better earthly city that is freer and more brotherly. Moreover, isn't this spirit of a wide opening that of our Lord, according to whom "the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath"? Isn't it that of Saint Paul , who freed the Gentiles? Isn't it also that of the Fathers of the Church? And if many of us Eastern Catholics are not unharmed by this excessively legalistic spirit that we point out, it is a result of the influence of the books on canon law and morals that we studied in our youth.

The Church, in revising its position in regard to its positive laws, is not submitting to a bending of Catholic doctrine on behalf of modern and capricious ideas, but adapting its Christian pedagogy to the needs of the present epoch. Didn't Pope John XXIII, of blessed memory, talk of adapting the Church to the needs of the social and religious life of our times, and didn't he state before his death, "We have not yet discovered the requirements of charity"?

This presentation of morals should be not at the level of man bent back on himself, but that of plainspoken man, responsible artisan of the universe. Today's world awaits this presentation by the Church.

Having said this, we propose the creation of a fairly large commission of informed theologians to study, in the light of the Gospel and of the Tradition of the Fathers, in openness of heart and sincerity of faith, the teaching of morals in general and of the commandments of the Church in particular, to put them in tune with our real life of the present time, so that the Church may no longer be accused, as it often is, of being a suppressor, but that it may rather be a beacon of truth and of light to enlighten everyone coming into this world.


The Profound Causes of Atheism

An intervention of the patriarch on September 27, 1965.

The schema on "The Church in the Modern World" is fundamentally good, both in the intention that instigated it and in the spirit that animates it.

Numerous voices in the council have asked for a text that is properly centered on Christ and displays a spirit of love to the world. That is essential, and in that the present schema has given them satisfaction, in our opinion. It seems to us, nevertheless, that this spirit is somewhat lacking on two points: on the subject of atheism and on the subject of war.

Today I shall speak only on the first point.

Number 19 on atheism is, in our opinion, too negative. It decries Marxism without naming it, but clearly enough and in a rather summary fashion. It condemns, it goes without saying, that atheistic doctrine, those who defend it, and the civil authorities that support it. But it is clear that one does not save humanity from atheism by condemning Marxism.

To save humanity from atheism, it is also necessary—and this is the new and constructive element—to denounce the causes that instigate atheism, by proposing above all a dynamic theology and a vigorous social morality, demonstrating Christ as the source of workers' efforts towards their true liberation.

This number could be advantageously replaced by the passage, so strong and so positive, of our dear and venerated Pope Paul VI in his encyclical "Ecclesiam Suam":

"We see atheists also moved sometimes by good sentiments, disgusted with mediocrity and with the selfishness of so many contemporary social groups, and borrowing from our Gospel forms and language of solidarity and of human compassion. Will we not some day be capable of leading these expressions of moral values back to their true sources, which are Christian?"

And Paul VI in "Pacem in Terris" returns to the words of John XXIII, saying: "The doctrines of these atheistic movements, once they have been worked out and defined, remain always the same, but the movements themselves cannot avoid evolving and undergoing even profound changes. We should not lose hope of seeing them one day opening another dialogue with the Church, one that is positive and different from the present dialogue, which is necessarily limited to deploring and complaining.

These texts of Paul VI and John XXIII seem to us to be preferable to the present text of the schema, which is "limited to deploring and complaining."

We all know from experience that many of those who call themselves atheists are not really opposed to the Church. There are among them those who are very close. In reality, as Paul VI says, they seek a truer presentation of God, a religion harmonizing with the historical evolution of humanity, and above all a Church supporting not only the poor but also the effort for solidarity with the poor. They are often scandalized by a mediocre and self-centered Christianity, entangled with money and false riches, defending, even with arms, not its faith, which can never be defended by force, but its interests and its short-term security.

Certain persons have claimed that the schema denounces the sins of the world. But here is the great, the enormous sin of the world, which Jesus denounced ceaselessly in his Gospel, namely selfishness and the exploitation of man by man.

Certain persons would wish that this text speak to a greater extent of the necessity of carrying one's cross, of enduring one's lot with resignation. But, who do in fact carry the cross more than the laboring and miserable masses who try to emerge from their misery by work, solidarity, indeed even by socialism?

It is only regrettable that they do so in atheistic systems. But, isn't it the selfishness of certain Christians that has provoked and still provokes, to a large extent, the atheism of the masses?

Jesus puts us on guard against scandalizing the little ones, that is to say the humble ones: "Woe to the man through whom scandal comes!" Jesus said that at the conclusion of the parable of the rich man and poor Lazarus. Many of these atheists are simply like Lazarus, scandalized by the rich who call themselves Christians.

Let us then have the courage to "lead back" to their true sources, which are Christian, these moral values of solidarity, fraternity, and social unity. Let us show that true socialism is Christianity integrally lived in the just sharing of goods and the fundamental equality of all. These modern forms of the economy and sociology need, not condemnation, but the leaven of the Gospel to extricate themselves from atheism and to fashion themselves in a harmonious manner. Instead of condemning them ceaselessly, let us restore them to their true meaning, which is Christian. Above all, let us apply ourselves to the Gospel of sharing and of fraternity, and help others to do so. If we had lived it, if we had preached it fully, the world would have been spared atheistic Communism.

Thus, rather than a commonplace condemnation, which is already well known, let us send to the working world a much larger number of priests and laity, ready to share the life of labor and the social endeavors of men of our times, making themselves all things for all people, to reveal to them this God whom they reject, but whom they seek gropingly, drawn by Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter, Savior of the world and "Lover of Mankind."

The Servant Church

An intervention by Archbishop Elias Zoghby, Patriarchal Vicar in Egypt and in the Sudan , on October 27, 1964.

I would like to make five observations on Chapter II, which lacks warmth and love:

1. Chapter II of this schema begins by presenting the Church's mission of service: it is, in fact, at the service of mankind to assure their salvation and to convey to them the evangelical message. I suggest that this second chapter begin by presenting the Church's mission of love. It is more touching and truer. In fact, Christ began his ministry with works of mercy, healing the sick, consoling the afflicted, and distributing bread to the hungry. He began by relieving the corporal miseries that presented some resemblance to death and led to death, announcing by this victory His victory over the death of sin and over the death of the body. Christ accordingly opened His ministry with works of mercy and thus prepared the crowds to accept His message of salvation. The Church was instituted to continue Jesus Christ's mission of love. I propose that that be mentioned at the beginning of Chapter II of this schema.

2. In presenting the Church in this fashion, let us remind the world right at the start that the Church, like a mother, has been solicitous, following Christ's example, for the temporal and material well-being of mankind, not to lead them cunningly to the faith, but because it loves them and wishes to comfort them. Therefore, before saying that the Church has for its mission assuring the eternal salvation of mankind, let us present it to the world as being demonstrated as the author of so many works of mercy spread out through the world: hospitals, asylums, schools, etc., which relieve so many miseries and do so much good. This is most efficacious for opening the hearts of men to what is good. How many religious men and women have, through their apostolate of charity, opened to God minds that the apostolate of the word has never been able to open.

3. In doing this, let us use a language that is less didactic, less solemn, more spontaneous: the language of the Mother-Church that presents itself to its children and to those who are called to become its children. Let us address ourselves to the heart as much as to the mind.

4. In Chapter II, paragraph 2, after having spoken of the mission of the Apostles and their successors, let us insist more on our authority of service, for the world accuses us of wishing rather to exercise an authority of domination. Let us say clearly that we are men, chosen among men, with our limitations and our weaknesses. Salvation is not an ecclesiastical undertaking that we impose on the world, nor is paradise a feudal estate that belongs to us and for which we want to conquer mankind. We ourselves must struggle to achieve our salvation. This schema must call to mind that we do not seek to impose our domination on the world, nor to offer our salvation to mankind, but rather to set forth humbly the salvation that comes from Christ and the means that He himself has placed at our disposal.

5. Our testimony can reach the modern world only if it is carried out in simplicity and poverty, and in a direct contact with the poor. The world, believing or unbelieving, today gathers together around the poor and the undernourished. It is there above all that we must be present. It is necessary that this presence of the Church among the poor be asserted in Chapter II of the schema and in the concrete life of the men of the Church.

Let us then be present among the poor, frequently visiting the houses of charity in our dioceses. But let us also arrange our episcopal residence so that it may, if possible, shelter a work of charity and appear to be truly the house of the poor. It is urgent to achieve in some manner the presence of the Church among the poor, if we wish it to be present in the modern world.

And since the world no longer recognizes any authority other than that of service, let us avoid the titles and the insignia that too frequently call to mind the honors and the spirit of domination. Let us also spare the pope, the first vicar of Jesus crucified, the pain of hearing us style him as "gloriously reigning." The popes call themselves the servants of servants and seek to be such in fact. When one says "Holy Father," is there a need to add anything?

To conclude, to speak only of the deceased, let us remember that the one whom the world calls "Good Pope John" demonstrated by his simplicity, his humility, and above all by his love, the presence of the Church in the world. He laid out the dominant path of this schema, when he said these memorable words: "I have loved all men whom I have encountered in my life."


The Church of the Poor

An intervention of Archbishop Elias Zoghby, Patriarchal Vicar of Egypt and the Sudan , on October 21, 1964.

If this council is a blessing for the Church and for the world, it is also a blessing for us bishops. It brings us back to the pure spirit of the Gospel and to the methods of the apostolate of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Certain conciliar Fathers have insisted on the obligation of the bishops to be poor. Others have insisted on his duty to advance the works that look after the poor. Permit me to add that that the Church must also love the company of the poor, and appear to the world as surrounded with the poor. Why? I shall not limit myself to the example of Our Lord, who preferred the company of the poor, nor to the spiritual advantages that a bishop can draw from fellowship with the poor. I would rather insist on the fact that the company of the poor is today for the apostle, the bishop, the priest, or the layperson, the best means of bringing his witness to the world.

In fact, the Christian and non-Christian world is on the way to mobilize all its energies to come to the help of the poor class, whose number and misery cause a scandal. Men of good will, baptized and not baptized, have set a rendezvous in the places where misery abounds. They have adopted service to the poor as a new form of religious practice, the only one for many of them. The only man of the Church whom they approach and who interests them is the one they see involved in this apostolate and who can help them in it, becoming an intermediary between them and the poor. Well, nobody is better suited to be this intermediary than the man of the Church.

The time has passed in which the Christian world saw in the bishop the "prince" of the Church who in order to preserve his prestige, had to remain distant and withdrawn in what was called the "episcopal palace." A bishop should renounce his isolation and his comfort, to be present where modern men have established the place of their meeting. Presiding in charity, the bishop should act, not only in the manner of an able administrator of the works of charity, but in the manner of Jesus Christ, who, in multiplying the bread, distributed the loaves with his own hands: "He gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the people." It is there, in the distribution of bread, that the pastor will encounter both the poor who need to be served and the others who desire to serve.

That being so, permit me to suggest modestly what follows:

As we are sometimes obliged to participate in official receptions, to sit at the tables of the rich, and to meet the important persons of this world, we should be, as much as possible, present among the poor and those who suffer, mingling with those in our orphanages, in our asylums, and in the hospitals. Why should we not visit more frequently the houses of charity, sharing the bread with the poor and living a few hours of their lives? By doing so, we shall often draw men to us, we shall be able to converse with them and lead them to the light of the Gospel. This witness will sometimes have more effect than our pastoral letters and the most sparkling acts of our ministry.

Why should we not share our episcopal residences with a work of charity or a small group of the unfortunate ones, even if only symbolically, thus transforming the home of the bishop into a house of charity, where one will recognize the presence of Christ and of His vicars? Did not Pope St. Gregory the Great have a dozen of the poor at his table each day? Are there not already among the bishops those who share their table with these chosen ones of Jesus Christ and live their life?

It is common in the East to see the bishopric or the patriarchate, where the clergy dwell, become the home of a community of the faithful, always opening the doors to the Christian people. It is there that charitable works originate and are organized with the cooperation of the faithful, and it is from there that they distribute their benefits over the whole region. It is there, in the residence of the pastor, that these charitable works have their secretariat, it is there that they hold their meetings and receive the poor at all hours. The bishop or priest who thus opens his house and his heart to all truly appears as being the father of the poor

I know that time may be lacking for many of us, but I believe that all our activities put together cannot have the effectiveness of this living testimony. Let us entrust to our co-workers, priests, deacons, and laypersons, the care of filling in our stead certain of our obligations, but when it is a matter of service to the poor, let us not renounce the honor that comes to us from being in the first row.

In a rather legalistic system, it is enough for the bishop to be a good administrator in order to be a good bishop. In a pastoral system, that is not enough. Never has "good administrator" been synonymous with "good pastor."

As the modern world does not recognize more than one single authority, that of service, let us avoid the expressions "prince of the Church" and "episcopal palace," which bring to mind honors and domination. Let us cease to style the foremost vicar of Jesus crucified as "gloriously reigning". The popes call themselves the servants of the servants of God, and today behave as such. When one has said "Holy Father," is there need to add anything else? I conclude, venerable Fathers! I have said that this council is a blessing for us bishops. It is also a gift of God to the world. Everything demonstrates to us that divine providence has positively wished it and has entrusted it to us. Have we the right to wish absolutely to finish our business at any price? Certainly, the progress that has been realized until now is admirable, but the world moves very quickly, and it becomes hard to please, and fortunately we all are hard to please. Nearly all our schemas need amendments. Neither the religious, nor the priests, nor the missionaries, nor the Eastern Churches, nor the laity, nor the world are yet satisfied with the schemas that concern them. Now, if all find that the schemas are backward in our time, how will they be considered in twenty years, and how will our council be judged?

Let us not object that our dioceses are waiting for us. Do we believe that our priests feel very much deprived because we are far away? Do you believe that something has changed in the life of our faithful because we are not near them?

Do our faithful see us that often when we are at home? For my part, I believe that we have never been as present to our priests, to our faithful, and to the world as at this time of the council, where at Rome we work more efficaciously than ever for our priests, our faithful, and for the world.


The Church and Human Rights

An intervention by Archbishop George Hakim of Saint John of Acre and of All- Galilee , on November 10, 1964.

Since our message to the world, the message with which we inaugurated the work of this council, the world has not ceased to wait for the conciliar response of the Church to the grave problems whose profusion and severity overwhelm it. Woe to the Church and to the world if this expectation and this hope should be disappointed!

The schema that is presented to us, and which is of a pastoral urgency of the highest level, while containing many excellent things, does not seem to us to respond to this expectation.

Far from being the charter of a council of modern times, the schema appears to us to be hesitant, paternally full of exhortations, when we would have wished to find in it clear and frank assertions, which would be the directing principles for the future of the relations of Christians with the present world. We would desire a conciliar assertion, according to the model of the first councils, which would settle the following points mentioned in paragraphs 23 to 25:

1. Of the meaning of human labor in the divine plan:

- By their labor, men perfect creation and man himself.

- In Jesus Christ, labor is dignified and finds its place in the spiritual life and in the Redemption.

- Men have a primordial right to make, through their work, their lives and those of their families consistent with their true dignity as men and as sons of God.

- The worker is infinitely superior to all money.

- It is intrinsically wrong to control work in such fashion that men are by their work, or the conditions of this work, led to be less than men.

- The pay of workers should correspond to personal and social justice, and be in harmony with the superiority of the worker over money, in harmony with the diverse parts of product of the work, and in harmony with modern progress.

2. Of the meaning of ownership and of money:

- Ownership of the goods of production should not in any fashion contribute to the domination of men, but, on the contrary, should help everyone's progress.

- This ownership is not an untouchable axiom and an absolute to which the social doctrine would be tied, but a way destined to bring about the common object of the goods.

- The Church is not tied to any economic, social, or political system. It encourages the collaboration of all men to promote the common good.

3. Of materialism and atheism:

- Materialism and atheism are theoretical and practical at the same time.

- Under these two forms, materialism and atheism are condemned, for, in many ways, they arouse the spirit of domination, luxury, and hedonism, and because their principles are spreading more and more in regions that are called Christian.

- But the various regimes called socialist, spread out in several regions, are not condemned with Marxist atheism without differentiation.

4. Of equality among men:

- All discrimination based on race, religion, or social condition is condemned, both in laws and in customs.

- Men who exploit other men, whether it be economically, socially, or politically, are condemned.

5. Of international solidarity and peace:

- All nuclear, bacteriological, or chemical war is condemned, all of which affect mankind without discrimination.

- The hunger of a multitude of mankind cries to the rich peoples, so that through action, through technology, and through fraternal charity without stinginess or avarice, they may aid the less developed peoples.

- All works of social and international peace, founded on justice, liberty, and fraternity, are praised.

- Institutions, whether social or international, in which men work together for true human progress are encouraged.

- Let the faithful be encouraged to have, with prudence and simplicity, an active part in all these institutions.

6. Various points:

- All mankind has the right to associate for the common good.

- Totalitarianism is contrary to the dignity of the human person.

- In the light of the separation between the Church and workers, existing in several nations, and already denounced by Pius XI in his encyclical "Quadrigesimo Anno," let there be encouragement for all attempts, started by the laity or by priests, which lead to the true evangelization of the poor.

Mankind today is awaiting clear and frank words, without ambiguity. I have humbly tried to propose an example along this line, while knowing that it is indeed imperfect. Let the experts work for a better method of expression.

Venerable Fathers, on October 13, 1962, in our message to the world, indicated above, we said: "Having come together from all the nations that are under heaven, we carry in our hearts the corporal and spiritual distresses, the sufferings, the aspirations, the hopes of the people who are entrusted to us. We are very attentive to the vexatious problems that beset them. That is why our solicitude desires to extend first to the humblest, the poorest, the feeblest. Like Christ, we feel ourselves moved with compassion at the sight of crowds that suffer from hunger, misery, and ignorance; and we always remember all those who, not having the desired help, have not yet attained a life worthy of human nature."

For three years we have been in laborious sessions, and what have we proposed? Have we decided on the practical and redeeming examples by which we ourselves would begin the reforms that the modern world expects of us, in our stations, our way of life, our customs, our habits?

In the absence of concrete examples, let us at least give clear and frank responses to the problems of our times.


Condemnation of War

An intervention of the patriarch on November 10, 1964.

A menace of destruction hovers over humanity; it is nuclear armament. And this menace grows from day to day through the increasing number of these infernal devices.

Without entering into physical and scientific considerations, which are beyond us and which cannot be expanded here, we believe that we must raise our voices, for we feel that we are oppressed. From our hearts there springs forth a cry of alarm, a cry of agony, I would even say a cry of despair... And we pray you to do all that is in our power, with whatever effect it may have, to ward off such an evil.

The intervention in favor of peace of two thousand bishops, spread out through the entire world, can be capable of changing the course of history and defending the fate of mankind.

There is talk of a just war. What adequate reason can justify, in sound morality, a destruction which constitutes a true worldwide cataclysm? Can a civilization and peoples be annihilated under the pretext of defending them? And if mankind must disappear in an instant, what is the good of this pastoral on which we have been working so laboriously since the announcement of Vatican II, and for whom is it intended?

Should not the concept of just war in modern times be lived and reconsidered in the light of the present situation? Should not national sovereignty have limits? Should the human community be completely ignored?

Venerable Fathers, all humanity is gasping as it looks to us with haggard eyes, to see what we are going to do. We cannot be silent because of considerations of whatever nature they may be. As faithful guardians of the souls of our peoples, we still have duties in regard to their earthly life. We must speak, speak boldly, speak courageously, like John the Baptist before Herod, like Ambrose before Theodosius, to condemn the use of these infernal devices.

Our Holy Father John XXIII, of blessed memory, has done so in his encyclical "Pacem in Terris." The schema that we are studying "On the Church in the Modern World" also does it in a manner that is clear, but a little platonic. But that is not enough. We must make on behalf of the council a declaration "to the city and to the world" that is clear, frank, and precise.

This radical condemnation on the part of the Church can grow like a snowball, since all truth contains a force of penetration and of expansion in souls. Other authorities, civil or religious, will be able to follow our example. A worldwide swell of opinion could oblige rulers, shut up in their national concepts, to reflect further. Sanctions of various natures could be foreseen. But always we cannot be silent under the peril of disappointing the world, of disappointing what is noblest in ourselves, and of rendering our ministry fruitless among the peoples.

For the love of Christ, Lover of Mankind and King of Peace, we pray and beseech you to make a solemn and energetic condemnation of all nuclear, chemical, and bacteriological warfare. Let this council address a message to the world, according to the example of the one through whom our conciliar labors began. Let this council condemn, in principle, all nuclear warfare in all its forms, and to demand that the billions saved through disarmament be employed for the relief of a poor humanity, of whom two-thirds do not eat enough to relieve their hunger, and who needs everything.

Venerable Fathers, the history of the past two thousand years has not ceased to view the bishop as "the defender of the city." More than ever, the world today needs these disinterested and courageous defenders. Let us not disappoint the world in this regard. The Church is expected to remain always a pillar of strength and of truth.

 

Divine Revelation

The Sources of Revelation

On November 14, 1962, the 19th General Session undertook the study of the dogmatic schema "On the Sources of Revelation." A strong opposition to this schema, and, more generally, to all the dogmatic schemas, had already been apparent for several weeks. It was felt that there was too docile an attitude towards the ideas of certain Roman groups, an unjustified hostility to the great theologians of the hour, a too scholarly mentality, anxious to hunt out heresies everywhere, and making the dialogue with non-Catholics more inflexible. The patriarch took the floor to reject this schema in its entirety.

May I be permitted to express, on the subject of the schema of the dogmatic constitution "De Fontibus Revelationis," a general opinion, inspired above all by pastoral and ecumenical considerations.

The criterion for choosing the subjects to be submitted to the deliberations of the Fathers in council is not that of their objective importance, but their relationship with the life of the Church. Thus, as the Holy Father has stressed more than once and even in his speech opening the council, he wished to see all questions dealt with from the pastoral angle. Now, I ask, what present and pastoral interest is there for the council to discuss the question of the sources of Revelation from the narrow, negative, and polemical angle with which it is being presented to us? I shall explain:

1) First of all, we may well wonder in what measure this schema "De Fontibus Revelationis" truly responds to the desires and wishes of the bishops and Catholic universities. The suspicion comes spontaneously to mind that this text was written rather to put an end to quarrels between theological schools. It seems to me that the council should keep its distance from these quarrels.

2) As for the specific matter of the doctrine of the Church on the sources of Revelation, no danger is truly menacing the Church. There is no need to proceed to new definitions of faith or to dogmatic declarations, which would risk stiffening traditional positions or arresting the harmonious development of dogma. In fact, certain ideas, such as those that concern the relationship between Scripture and Tradition, or the interpretation of certain passages of the books of the Old and of the New Testament, have been for some years the objects of research and in depth discussions among specialists both in the empirical sciences and in sacred studies. Do we today have all the necessary knowledge which would permit us to settle definitively the current debates? These discussions, in our opinion, have not yet reached a sufficiently mature stage to justify imposing definitive solutions.

3) Certain parts of the schema, it is true, repeat the traditional teaching of the Church on points that are certain, but this certain teaching is presented in a rather negative form, of condemnations and polemics. Now, that is not acceding to the wishes of the pope or the expectations of the faithful who await from us a statement that is serene, constructive, and rich in the history of our salvation, to nourish their Christian life.

4) On the ecumenical level, one must regret that the schema does not strive to prepare the way for further dialogue with other Christians, but is content to repeat the dated formulas of the "Counter Reformation" and of "Anti-Modernism."

For all these reasons, and without wishing to go into detail, I propose that the council reject purely and simply the examination and the adoption of this schema.

The teaching of the Church on this point should be explained in a positive and pastoral manner, and the way should remain open to the research of specialists, among whom are Catholic scholars and theologians of great renown, in whom the Church normally would place its trust.

The Absence of Eastern Theology

On November 17, 1962, during the 21st General Session, Archbishop George Hakim of St. John of Acre and of all Galilee, returned to the charge and rejected the schema "Concerning the Sources of Revelation," but for a more general reason, namely: this schema, like all the dogmatic schemas presented to the council, took into account only one theological tradition: that of the West. Eastern theology was not recognized.

If I intervene now, it is not to repeat what numerous and eminent prelates have already said perfectly on these doctrinal schemas. I am only expressing my explicit adherence to the criticism that they have formulated, and which lead them to think that these schemas should be not only amended but rewritten, if we wish to remain faithful to the apostolic goals of this council.

I only wish to let the council hear a voice of the East and of its patristic tradition, and to say that the doctrinal schemas presently being studied are foreign to that venerable and authentic tradition, in their wording, in their structure, in their perspective, and in their conceptualization.

These schemas certainly contain riches and values of Latin theology, and we are pleased to pay fervent homage to the magnificent intellectus fidei that this theology has provided for the Church. Nevertheless, we regret that, completely ignoring Eastern catechesis and theology, that of Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, Maximos the Confessor, John of Damascus, and so many others, the drafters have apparently monopolized the universal faith for the benefit of their particular theology, and seem to wish to erect as exclusive conciliar truth what is a valid expression, but a local and partial one, of God's Revelation.

In Eastern theology, where the liturgy is the efficacious place for the transmission of the faith, where initiation occurs within the sacramental mystery, and not in an abstract instruction without any symbolic links, the mystery of Christ is set forth directly as an economia. It unrolls in the history of the preparation in the Old Covenant, the accomplishment in Christ, and the realization in the time of the Church. Theoretical explanations, however legitimate and necessary they may be, are never separated from the warp and woof of Scripture and the testimony of the Fathers.

This concrete character of the Word of God manifests its presence in the world. The Church, the Body of Christ, is precisely the authentic site and the living magisterium of its transmission. Any separation, or even the appearance of separation, between Scripture and Tradition, as occurs in the draft of "De Fontibus" now being submitted to this Council, will be judged by many as doing violence to the authentic unity of the paths of transmission, which are never separated in Eastern theology, and which we cannot conceive of as being separated.

The schemas that have been presented are exclusively the fruit of scholasticism — good and true fruit, certainly — but produced by only certain elements of the Tradition of the Church. The character of this council invites us to avoid confining the word of God within particular categories, and to avoid eliminating another intellectus fidei by disregarding it.

Here are some examples that illustrate what I am saying:

Eastern theology gives full emphasis to the definition of man as image of God, which leads it to conceive in a manner different from that of the Latins the abstract distinction between nature and grace, and thus the relationship of God and men, as it is presented in Revelation.

Another example: Eastern theology considers the Paschal mystery in its unique totality—death and resurrection—while Latin theology dwells more on the aspect and the theory of satisfaction.

I enumerate quickly these examples to demonstrate the Catholic presence of Eastern theology, whose truth and orthodoxy are clearly indisputable.

That is why I, nourished by this authentic tradition, feel myself a stranger to the terminology and the structure of the proposed schemas, and I understand still more clearly the criticisms that have been made from the evangelical and pastoral perspectives, and with which I am in complete agreement.

Growth and Progress of the Living Tradition in the Church

Under this title, the Melkite Greek Patriarchate published at Rome, on October 3, 1964, as a supplement to the sessions of the council, a note stressing the notion of living Tradition, referred to in the new schema, and explaining in what sense it can grow and develop.

In its new form, the schema on Revelation shows not only an improvement, not only a substantial change, but a complete reversal of the earlier schema "De Fontibus Revelationis." Its primary merit consists in the affirmation of the unity of the revealed object. This object is God himself, intervening in the lives of men and manifesting himself to them through Jesus Christ, in Jesus Christ. The mystery of Christ is the whole of revelation. As the author and perfecter of our faith, Jesus Christ, in the indissoluble unity of his being, is at once the one who reveals and who is revealed. The overwhelming majority of the Fathers seem to be very much pleased with themselves for making such an affirmation. Several of them even ask that it be stressed still more, such as Bishop Zoughaie of Upper Volta, who cites on this subject the beautiful chapter of Saint John of the Cross in The Ascent of Mount Carmel.

Another datum of the Catholic faith is that the revelation of Christ is definitive; it is a truth ordinarily expressed by saying that revelation "ended with the death of the last of the Apostles," witnesses of Christ. When revelation is seen as only the communication of a series of pronouncements, one can adhere to this truth of faith; however, it is not so understood. One does not see, in fact, that which would render impossible the communication of new pronouncements in the future. On the other hand, if one holds that all revelation is summed up in the mystery of Christ, one understands immediately that God, having spoken his one and only Word to us, having spoken it to us (insofar as it is possible for us in our earthly condition to hear it) in its totality, has henceforth nothing more to say to us, in the same way that having given us his only Son, He has nothing more to give to us. It then becomes impossible to imagine any new revelation in the future, that of the incarnation of a new Son of God. The New Testament is truly, in the strictest sense, the "last" and the "eternal" one ("novissimum et aeternum").

For this very reason, we can understand at the same time that a limitless field is open to Christian reflection, which can and should be unremittingly pursued, with the view of exploring and cultivating what Saint Paul calls the "unfathomable riches of Christ." This is in fact not a question of dead formulas to be preserved in the intellect, like precious stones in a jewel box, although the irreformable formulas have an essential role to play. The Word of God reechoes perpetually in the bosom of the Church, as the perpetual truth of life. Now, the conditions of human life (historical, intellectual, social, and cultural) are subject to change. In each generation, in each place, in the face of each new situation, we must draw from this Word the light to illuminate our journey to God. It is to this task that the Church applies itself, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Jesus Christ. The Spirit does not provide a new object, but introduces us "into all truth," that is to say, into all the truth of Christ.

However, we must really understand that this ever-new fruitfulness of the revealed "object" is in no way comparable to a continuation. Revelation, as we have already said, is unique and final. The magisterium of the Church, which has the responsibility for safeguarding it, cannot add anything to it. The conceptual clarifications and the developments, even the doctrinal ones, which have appeared in the course of the ages in response to the needs of the times, through the influence of various factors, and in conformity with the laws of the human intellect, are only a means of better preserving and analytically encompassing an object, who, in himself, does not have to grow and indeed cannot grow. Thus they never constitute more than an advance "secundum quid." The Church preserves and transmits the preaching of the Apostles in the two forms in which it has been embodied: Scripture and Tradition, without ever claiming to make additions, under one of these forms or under the other. Scripture and Tradition, whatever may be our method of visualizing their relationship (in any case their intimate connection must be recognized, since one and the other both express the single Mystery), contain divine revelation and constitute the absolute and indispensable norm of our faith. Just as there is nothing to add to Scripture, there is likewise nothing more to add to apostolic tradition. Just as the effort to "examine the Scriptures," which is pursued from age to age, does not claim to enrich the treasures of the Scriptures, so, too, the living Tradition of the Church, which is expressed from age to age in various forms, does not claim to enrich the treasure of the Tradition received from the Apostles. It discloses and develops their inexhaustible resources, to bring their light to bear on the successive aspects of human life and to provide for the salvation of successive generations. For Christ is the universal Savior: "Jesus Christ yesterday, today and forever."

It is perhaps this that paragraph 8 of Chapter II, devoted to the description of Tradition, does not stress sufficiently. This was a particularly difficult task because the idea of apostolic tradition does not offer to the intellect the same readily evident consistency as does the idea of Scripture. While it is easy for us to distinguish, through the words themselves, Scripture and its interpretation, the same word serves as a matter of course to designate (apostolic) tradition and its subsequent transmission. These last two ideas seem to converge to form the idea of "living tradition," as set forth in this paragraph 8. Thus by saying that this living tradition "grows" and "develops," we seem to imply more or less that the apostolic tradition—that is to say, in fact, divine Revelation itself, the Word of God—"grows" and "develops."

A few slight editorial modifications would undoubtedly suffice to prevent such an interpretation, which certainly does not represent the thinking of the drafters.

Yet these corrections seem to be all the more imperative because there is confusion today in the minds of many. It is not entirely absent from one or another intervention that is otherwise excellent. It threatens to gain ground. There is a tendency in certain theories of progress to interpret various phases of development as a sort of continuous revelation. Thus the uniqueness of the Revelation of God in Jesus Christ would be compromised, drowned in a universal flood. We therefore have reason to rejoice that a number of Fathers, coming from the most antithetical points of the theological spectrum, have agreed on the same request, that the language of paragraph 8 be made more precise. It was Cardinal Leger who in our opinion requested this with the loftiest thoughts, greatest doctrinal rigor, and most compelling power in his speech of October 1, in defense of the transcendence of the deposit of Revelation.

Scripture and Tradition in the Eastern Perspective

On October 5, 1964, at the 94th General Session, during the debate on the second part of the schema on Divine Revelation, Kyr Neophytos Edelby, Archbishop of Edessa and Patriarchal Counselor, spoke to the Council about the relationship between Scripture and Tradition according to the theological perspective of the East.

Number 12, which deals with the interpretation of Holy Scripture, contains excellent elements concerning the contribution of sciences to exegesis, particularly literary criticism. It seems, however, that the second paragraph (i.e. lines 21 to 32, page 28) is too weak compared with the first, and requires a few developments in conformity with the principles contained in Chapter II. It is on the subject of the specifically theological principles for the interpretation of Scripture that we would like to offer the testimony of the Eastern Churches. Our Orthodox brethren will recognize in it our common faith in its purest form.

The timidity of this paragraph is without doubt explained by the difficulty of the Latin Church has had in freeing itself from the post-Tridentine frame of mind. Now, the age of the controversy with the Reformation has passed; it was always extraneous to the Eastern Churches, as it is to the new Churches of Asia and Africa. We must definitively overcome this obsession and enter into the totality of the mystery of the Church, for this schema concerns the whole Church, and not subtle and sterile scholarly debates.

Certainly the Reformers set up Scripture in opposition to the Church, but the reason for that is that the Latin Church, in which they were born, had allowed the authentic Tradition, in which the East and the West had lived together during the first millennium, to atrophy. In separating itself from its Eastern sources, the Latin Church had ended up in the sterility of the 16th Century, and in the pseudo-problems which trouble us, in particular with regard to the interpretation of Scripture.

The best remedy is for us to return once more to the heart of the Mystery of the Church. We must break away from the mentality that is too juridical, even nominalist, in which the Reformed Churches and the Latins have imprisoned themselves. Already in the Middle Ages this mentality had opposed the combination of the consecration and the epiclesis; it is this that recently thought of the primacy and collegiality as separate realities. It is always this, which here reappears in juxtaposing Scripture and Tradition. The question is badly posed. We must return to the mystery of the Church, which is the heart of the council. We cannot separate the mission of the Holy Spirit from that of the incarnate Word. It is there that the foremost theological principle of all interpretation of Holy Scripture is found.

We need to recall that, beyond all the auxiliary sciences, the goal of Christian exegesis is the spiritual understanding of Scripture in the light of the risen Christ, as the Lord himself instructed his Apostles according to Chapter 24 of Saint Luke.

Here is another principle: Scripture is a liturgical and prophetic reality, a proclamation before being a book, the testimony of the Holy Spirit on the event of Christ, whose privileged moment is the Eucharistic Liturgy. It is through this testimony of the Spirit that the whole "economia" of the Word reveals the Father. The post-Tridentine controversy has above all seen in Scripture a written norm; the Eastern Churches see there the consecration of the history of salvation in the form of human words but inseparable from the Eucharistic consecration, in which all history is recapitulated in the Body of Christ.

Still another principle: this consecration needs an epiclesis, and it is the Holy Tradition. Tradition is the epiclesis of the history of salvation, the theophany of the Holy Spirit without which this history remains incomprehensible and Scripture a dead letter. This is what should be developed under the term "In viva Ecclesiae traditione" (I. 23). Our schema is at the heart of the mystery of the Church, that is to say of the People of God assembled by the Holy Spirit to become the Body of Christ in its full stature.

From this follows another principle: Scripture must be interpreted within the totality of the history of salvation. In an earlier time the Spirit of God raised up saving events and a community that was the witness of and the performer of these events, and the writings of the Old Testament are as it were the first epiphany of God to his people. In a second era, the saving event and the community were realized one time for all in Christ: it is the economia of the incarnate Word, of whom the writings of the New Testament are as it were the one and only epiphany. In yet a third era, the final days in which we live, the Holy Spirit is poured out personally in order to make present for all history the economia of the incarnate Word and the power of his Resurrection. This is the economia of the Spirit, or Tradition in the age of the Church.

We see thus that Tradition, that is to say the Church in transmitting the outpouring of the economia of the Word, is essentially liturgical. "Lex orandi, lex credendi." We opened this council with the mystery of the Liturgy; we have deepened it in the sacramentality of collegial episcopate. It remains for us to draw conclusions on the total mystery of Tradition.

One of the applications of the interpretation of Scripture concerns the living criterion of this interpretation, for the Spirit is not disincarnate, but truly the Spirit of the Body of Christ. Tradition must be seen and lived first of all in the light of the sacrament of apostolicity, that is to say of the episcopate. This liturgical and prophetic sign is also an epiclesis of the unity of the infallible faith of the People of God. And how desirable it would be, let us say in passing, that the infallibility of the successor of St. Peter be more clearly explained according to this mystery of epiclesis! Authority, as a juridical reality, derives from authority as liturgical and prophetic reality; it is not the source, any more than the canonical mission is the source of the episcopal order.

Finally, let us mention one last principle, which is not the least important: the sense of mystery. The God who reveals himself is the "hidden God." Revelation must not let us lose sight of the unfathomable depths of the life of God the Trinity, lived by his people but always inexhaustible. The East declares that Revelation is first of all "apophatic," that is to say, lived in mystery before being uttered in words. This apophatic aspect of Revelation is for the Church the basis of the always-living richness of Tradition. One of the causes of theological deadlocks in recent centuries has been the effort to imprison the mystery within the framework of formulas. Indeed, the mystery in its plenitude exceeds, not only theological formulation, but even the limits of the letter of Scripture. Thus, although the council does not have to take sides on the question of the "full" sense of Scripture, it should affirm the necessity of reading Holy Scripture "spiritually," that is, in the Spirit. There is a question here of far more than the analogy of the faith, there is a question of the meaning of the totality of the risen Christ, whose testimony and parousia the Holy Spirit is progressively actualizing in the Church.

 

The Lord's Last Supper is commemorated on this day, together with his humility and love as He washed an kissed his disciples' feet.

Carrying the Crucifix Service

Carrying the Crucifix Service

Carrying the Cross and Body of Christ

Carrying the Cross and Body of Christ

The Crucifixion

The Crucifixion

Raising the Cross on Golgotha

Raising the Cross on Golgotha

Placing the Cross on Golgotha

Placing the Cross on Golgotha

Veneration of the Cross

Veneration of the Cross

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