Living Tradition
Editor: Msgr. John F. McCarthy, J.C.D., S.T.D.Distributed several times a year to interested members.
Associate Editor: Rev. Brian W. Harrison, O.S., M.A., S.T.D.  Not to be republished without permission.
Please address all correspondence    e-mail:
Living Tradition, Oblates of Wisdom, P.O. Box 13230, St. Louis, MO 63157, USA

No. 9 Roman Theological Forum | Article Index | Study Program January 1987

The Task of Living Tradition - by John F. McCarthy
Pius IX, Vatican II and Religious Liberty - by Brian W. Harrison
A Marian Year - by John F. McCarthy

by John F. McCarthy

        With the present issue, Living Tradition begins to be published from Sedes Sapientiae Study Center in Rome. It was initiated by Noel and Monica King from Hayes, Middlesex, over a year ago. With Noel's sudden death on May 5, 1986, for reasons hidden in the Providence of God, Monica has had reason now to entrust the publication to us. We are grateful to Noel and Monica King for the good work that they have begun, and we are happy that Monica will continue to act as contributing editor and local representative for the United Kingdom.

        As an organ of the Roman Theological Forum, Living Tradition will maintain solid and constant loyalty to the Pope, the Vicar of Christ, and to the bimillennial Tradition of the Roman Catholic Church. Our theological discussion will aim to defend the dogmatic, moral and mystical Tradition of the Church, and, therefore, to defend also and reinforce the theological traditions that are related to it. This will include unbending loyalty to the historical truth and prophetic vision of the Sacred Scriptures as well as to the authentic Magisterium of the Church. We know that anti-traditional ideas have now found a place in some theological circles and in some policies of pastoral ministry, and so a distinction may be called for here. We aim in this publication to defend the Tradition of the Roman Catholic Church, not as a dead tradition, but as a living tradition, and, therefore, as one which assimilates to itself healthy new elements that may appear and adapts itself consistently to the new situations that it encounters. This is a delicate distinction, given the confusion of the times in which we live, but we are confident that we can observe it well by always keeping the principal factors before our minds. Thus, we shall promote discussions that bring out features of Catholic tradition, but we shall also remain studiously aware of the historic event of the Second Vatican Council with all of its meanings and its implications.

        Thus do I see the task of Living Tradition to be the on-going expression of intelligent orthodoxy and of creative conservatism in matters theological. Living Tradition will support constructive developments in philosophy and in theology, and the sign that a development is truly constructive will be that it betters a situation while at the same time confirming our Faith and solidifying our Tradition.

        Living Tradition welcomes the call of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops of 1985 for pluriformity without pluralism in the Church. We shall work to implement this distinction. The pursuit of "legitimate theological pluralism" in the Church has run its course now and done considerable damage, because it never clarified the terms it used. The pluralism rejected by the Synod is that radical pluralism which is the most anti-Christian of philosophies, because it holds that there is no unity of truth. The difficulty with many ideas that have been presented under the guise of "legitimate theological pluralism" is that often radical pluralism has lurked behind them. It is time that radical pluralism be left behind and the pluriformity potential to the contemporary situation be allowed to flower. We think that the love of Catholic tradition is a worthy part of that pluriformity.

        Many theological circles today tend to deemphasize tradition and emphasize change. A few balancing voices in favor of tradition can be of valuable service. Univocal adherence to theological tradition may tend to be viewed by academic authorities as somewhat "old hat," unenlightened, preconciliar, obsolete, naive, closed-minded, unecumenical, obscurantist, ultramontane, and, in general, obstructive. We are aware of this viewpoint and, to take due account of it, we hope to be able to present approaches that, while upholding tradition to a remarkable degree, will also be seen to be useful, creative, penetrating, relevant, challenging, thought-provocative, coherent, timely, forward-looking, inviting, and suitably sophisticated. In this way we hope to show enough sound pluriformity to present a tenable case for theological orthodoxy as a legitimate option for students of theology floundering at present in the quicksand of modern approaches. We would like to see Tradition restored to its rightful place in the life and thought of the Church, and we hope to be able to present ways in which this can be done. Let us proceed then to the creative task.

        Among the special aims of this periodical we shall continue to promote the neo-Patristic interpretation of Sacred Scripture. We see a need to go back carefully over the contributions made by the Fathers of the Church and the Scholastic exegetes, especially as regards their insights into method. The task is to enlarge and deepen contemporary exegetical method by a fuller and more realistic use of historical science in the true sense of the word. A second special aim will be a refinement of contemporary moral theology through recourse to the delicate reasoning and mystical insight of the saints. A third aim, not unrelated to the previous two, will be the development of a new synthesis of philosophy and of theology by the use of new insights applied to an adequate preservation of the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas. A fourth aim would be to bring greater emphasis upon mystical insight in the Liturgy as a counterbalance to the superficial ideas that one often encounters therein today. If the Liturgy must be constantly undergoing reform, then let the mystical dimension of the Liturgy be duly considered in this reform and the unchangeable elements that go with it.

        In the succeeding issues of Living Tradition we hope by discussion and dialogue to clarify issues and, where indicated, correct our own mistakes. We do invite our readers to a far-reaching discussion in which we shall try to keep the central issues in mind and at the same time take up many particular questions that are of interest. Some articles will be critical of other writings; these should be seen as preparatory to the positive construction that is being made. In some ways there has never been so great an opportunity to enlarge and refine our understanding of many theological issues. Let us not be daunted by the myriad mistakes made already in our day. The real challenges are still before us. To go forward well we must first go back. We must learn to know what our tradition is. We must build on the solid construction of the past. And that means the past of our own Catholic tradition. This tradition is vibrant with life. It is as new as it is old. But we must love it before we can enjoy it. Let us embrace it with enthusiasm.

        A concluding note.    The Roman Theological Forum is a learned society dedicated to the dogmatic, moral, and mystical tradition of the Church. It has undertaken a new synthesis of Catholic thought, based especially on the example of St. Thomas Aquinas.


by Brian W. Harrison

        Part I.   The question of religious liberty, so hotly debated more than twenty years ago amongst the Bishops and periti of Vatican Council II, has been in the news again during the last year or two. Rather surprisingly, we have seen Fr. Charles Curran coming out - on one issue - on the side of none other than Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. These two dissidents at opposite ends of the Catholic spectrum have joined forces for once in maintaining that Vatican II's Declaration on Religious Liberty, Dignitatis Humanae, is irreconcilable with preconciliar Catholic doctrine. This alleged conflict pleases Fr. Curran (since he thinks it provides a precedent for his own proposed 'revisions' of Catholic morality), while it scandalizes the Archbishop (who sees it as a reason for rejecting Vatican II).

        Whence arises the difficulty? It would need a whole book to cover this question adequately, but of the pre-conciliar doctrinal statements of the Magisterium which are supposedly incompatible with the teaching of Vatican II, the most commonly cited is probably Pope Pius IX's very emphatic teaching, in the 1864 encyclical Quanta Cura, on the duties of civil authorities towards "violators of the Catholic religion." He condemns as an "evil" opinion - one, in fact, which he "commands" to be "absolutely held (omnino haberi) as reprobated, denounced, and condemned by all the children of the Catholic Church"1   - the view that in the "best" condition of society, such persons are not to be penalized by the government unless they endanger the "public peace" (pax publica).2   Governments can and should be more restrictive than that towards non-Catholic propaganda, teaches the Pope.

        To understand precisely what Pius IX had in mind here we need to be aware of the historical background of the encyclical. Quanta Cura was largely a reaffirmation of what Gregory XVI had said thirty years earlier in the 1832 encyclical Mirari Vos. The principal target in that case was the French philosopher-journalist H.F. de Lamennais, whose newspaper, L'Avenir, was demanding from the State, as a matter of universal principle, a liberty for the diffusion of error which it admitted would be virtually unlimited ("on laisse à 1'erreur la faculté illimitée de se produire"). 3   The State, according to L'Avenir, should be totally secular, and may limit propaganda of any sort "only in the order of material interests" ("ne ... que dans l'ordre des interêts matériels").4   Total liberty of propaganda must be granted, so that

The Constitutional power possesses only the right and duty to repress crimes and other offences which would materially attack these liberties (qui attenteraient matériellement à ces libertés) - or other civil and political rights of the citizens.5

        In other words, Lamennais would not allow the State to recognize in any effective way the existence of God or a transcendent, spiritual nature in man - much less the unique truth of the Catholic faith or of Christian moral values. "Total separation" of Church and State was demanded (even in overwhelmingly Catholic countries)6   along with the abolition of all concordats between governments and the Holy See.7   In this system, the avowedly "materialistic" criteria required of the State would allow it to exercise censorship or coercion only in order to prevent incitement to riots, sedition, or revolution, or to forestall physical harm or annoyance to persons or property. In other words, to preserve "public peace."

        Lamennais was condemned and eventually left the Church, but his influence remained strong, especially in France, and Pius IX eventually felt constrained to renew his predecessor's condemnation. It is clearly the same extreme liberalism which Quanta Cura has in mind: the kind which demands that

citizens have the right to all kinds of liberty, to be restrained by no law, whether ecclesiastical or civil, by which they may be enabled to manifest openly and publicly their ideas, by word of mouth, through the press, or by any other means.8

        This historical background is essential for an accurate understanding of what Gregory XVI and Pius IX had in mind when they condemned "liberty of conscience and of worship." Admittedly, the concordats which they and their pre-conciliar successors established with nations such as Spain and certain Latin-American states were a good deal more restrictive towards other religions than any agreement which the Holy See would now be prepared to countenance;9   but all that the early encyclicals condemned as incompatible with Catholic doctrine (that is, with divine law) was this totally permissive and secularist vision of the State which was fashionable, then as now, amongst certain Catholic intellectuals. (It was the pre-conciliar public law of the Church, not pre-conciliar doctrine, which held that in predominantly Catholic countries non-Catholic propaganda as such could be seen as a threat to the common good, and therefore restricted by law.)10

        Now, Vatican II's teaching is not nearly as liberal as that of Lamennais and his followers. It therefore does not fall under the ban of the 19th-century encyclicals which were aimed precisely at those gentlemen. In fact, Dignitatis Humanae, far from contradicting Pope Pius IX, explicitly repeats his teaching that "public peace" is not the only criterion which governments may appeal to in restricting religious (or anti-religious) manifestations or propaganda. According to article 7 of the conciliar Declaration, "public peace" is only one of three criteria which the State may invoke for that purpose. The other two are "the necessary protection of public morality", and "the effective protection of the rights of all citizens" (and the "peaceful settlement of conflicts of rights"). Thanks to an intervention by the young Archbishop Karol Wojtyla, a statement was added to this paragraph insisting that these limits are to be decided and imposed on the basis of the "objective moral order". And it is, of course the Catholic Church which is the unique interpreter of what is objectively moral or immoral.

        Is the Council implying, then, that governments ideally ought to recognize the Catholic Church's unique role in that respect? Yes it is. Not only does article 1 of the conciliar Declaration reaffirm the "traditional Catholic teaching" about the "moral duty" of "societies" (not just individuals) towards the true religion; but the official relator for the schema on religious liberty, Bishop Emil de Smedt, explained to the assembled Fathers that this first article definitely must be understood to reaffirm the duty of "public authority" towards the Catholic Church as the true religion. He pointed out that the previous draft had been revised precisely in order to bring the document more clearly into line with the teaching of the 19th-century Popes. (Until this and other last-minute revisions were made to the schema, persistent conservative criticism - and, we might add, the power of the Holy Spirit - had repeatedly prevented a solid consensus of positive votes from being gained, whenever earlier drafts had been submitted to the judgment of the Council Fathers.)11   Bishop de Smedt's vitally important official commentary (which as far as I know has never been published before in English) is worth quoting. During the 164th general congregation of the Council (19 November 1965) he gave the following explanation:

Some Fathers affirm that the Declaration does not sufficiently show how our doctrine is not opposed to ecclesiastical documents up till the time of the Supreme Pontiff Leo XIII. As we said in the last relatio, this is a matter for future theological and historical studies to bring to light more fully. As regards the substance of the problem, the point should be made that, while the papal documents up to Leo XIII insisted more on the moral duty of public authorities towards the true religion, the recent Supreme Pontiffs, while retaining this doctrine, complement it by highlighting another duty of the same authorities, namely, that of observing the exigencies of the dignity of the human person in religious matters, as a necessary element of the common good. The text before you today recalls more clearly (see nos. 1 and 3) the duties of the public authority towards the true religion (officia potestatis publicae erga veram religionem); from which it is manifest that this part of the doctrine has not been overlooked. However, the special object of our Declaration is to clarify the second part of the doctrine of recent Supreme Pontiffs - that dealing with the rights and duties which emerge from a consideration of the dignity of the human person.12

        Here are the last two sentences of Dignitatis Humanae, article 1, in which we have underlined the words added in this final revision to which Bishop de Smedt was referring:

So while the religious freedom which men demand in fulfilling their obligation to worship God has to do with freedom from coercion in civil society, it leaves intact the traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies towards the true religion and the one Church of Christ. Over and above this, the sacred Council, in dealing with this question of liberty, intends to develop the teaching of recent Popes on the inviolable rights of the human person and on the constitutional order of society.

        The addition to article 3, mentioned by Bishop de Smedt, comes in the last sentence of that section, and makes it clear that governments should not be merely "neutral" or "agnostic" about the value of religious activity. On the contrary, because of its "transcendent" character, they have a duty to "recognize and favour the religious life of citizens."

        In the light of these additions, which were certainly not sought by liberal periti such as Fr. John Courtney Murray, the comment by Murray in Abbott's edition of the Council documents must be seen as both exegetically and doctrinally equivocal. He says there:

The Church does not make, as a matter of right or of divine law, the claim that she should be established as the "religion of the state".13

        We should distinguish two propositions:

        (a) Divine law requires the civic community as such to recognize the Catholic Church as the "religion of state" explicitly, in a written Constitution or law-code;

        (b) Divine law requires the civic community as such to give at least de facto recognition to the Catholic Church as the true religion, and to reflect that recognition in its laws and communal decisions.

        Neither Vatican II nor pre-conciliar magisterial teaching insisted on (a) above, because written constitutions and legal documents are only one historically-determined form of "recognition". Divine law concerns what is true always and everywhere; and in earlier centuries (or theoretically even today) a less modern, less developed, or very small society might have no written laws or Constitution at all. (As the Church's Code of Canon Law recognizes in canons 27 and 28, custom - especially ancient or long-established custom - is a very respectable form of law.) Vatican II deliberately refrained from passing judgment on whether the Catholic Church ought to be constitutionally recognized as the "State religion": article 6 simply makes a brief, very general statement that, if one religion (Catholic or non-Catholic) is given special recognition "in the constitution of a State" (in iuridica civitatis ordinatione), then the religious freedom of others must be respected as well.

        However, proposition (b) above is equivalently reaffirmed in article 1's teaching that "societies" (a general term that covers everything from the most simple nomadic tribe to a modern superpower) have a moral duty towards the true religion - a duty set out more fully in the "traditional" teaching of earlier Pontiffs, which the Council says it intends to leave "intact". With societies, as with individuals, Almighty God is more fundamentally interested in what we actually do than in what promises or guarantees we may happen to make on paper; and as history amply bears out, nations without a constitutional, legal, "establishment" of the Church have sometimes been more favourable in practice towards Catholic principles than some other nations where Catholicism, on paper, is described as the "religion of the State". (Ireland and the Philippines are arguably commendable examples of this). This unchanging Catholic doctrine about the duty of societies as such towards the true religion allows, of course, for the fact that in societies with a plurality of religions, as well as unbelievers, the fulfilment of this social duty will often be politically difficult, or even impossible. Much more so will that be the case, obviously, where some other religion - or even atheism - is firmly "established".

        Part II.   Let us return to the question of legal limits on religious liberty. Vatican II, as we saw, teaches that governments can and should restrict activity carried out in the name of religious freedom not only when "public peace" is endangered, but also when public morality or any other rights of citizens are jeopardized by such activity. "All these matters", says the Council, "constitute the fundamental part of the common good (partem boni communis fundamentalem constituunt) and belong to what is called public order".14   These "other rights" of citizens are not defined exhaustively, but the Council itself gives some examples. Any kind of religious propaganda - especially amongst the poor and uneducated - which even "seems to savour" (sapere videatur) of what is "coercive, dishonest, or unworthy" must "at all times" be avoided.15   Then, in another last-minute "tightening-up" of the document, a statement was added that such propaganda is "an infringement of the rights of others".16   This addition made it clear that governments might justly ban such coercive, dishonest, or unworthy activity as an offence against public order, as defined in article 7.

        It should be clear by now that Dignitatis Humanae, that alleged precedent for radical doctrinal change which Fr. Curran finds so encouraging (and Archbishop Lefebvre so alarming), escapes quite unscathed from the thunderbolts hurled by Pio Nono against Lamennaisian liberalism. A very significant range of "violations of the Catholic religion" could in fact be penalized by governments acting in line with Vatican II, over and above the kinds of propaganda which might disturb or endanger the "public peace".

        Atheistic and anti-religious propaganda, for instance, can scarcely appeal to Vatican II in seeking to justify a "right" to legal protection. What the Declaration intends to protect are "the private and public acts of religion by which men direct themselves to God according to their convictions".17   That clearly does not include acts of irreligion, by which men direct themselves (and others) away from God.

        Not only pornographic material, but what Msgr. John McCarthy has aptly termed "pornology", could be legally suppressed, according to Vatican II, insofar as it undermines "public morality". ("Pornology" means literature which, while it may not be directly lurid or erotic and may purport to be serious and scholarly - nevertheless sets out to persuade people that they may justifiably engage in certain kinds of sexual activity which, in point of fact, are contrary to the "objective moral order").

        Someone may object that the Council would not want governments to let the Catholic Church be the arbiter of what is (or is not) in accordance with this "objective moral order", since it says that in deciding what limits to set, they should avoid "the unfair practice of favouritism" (to use the translation given in the Flannery edition). However, apart from the fact that it would be impossible for a Council of the Catholic Church to insinuate that some authority other than the Church herself might be a better judge of what is "objectively" right or wrong, the Latin text does not carry Flannery's possible hint that favouring one side is, as such, necessarily unfair. It just says that in deciding what sort of activity to forbid or permit, governments are to avoid "unfairly favouring one side" (uni parti inique favendo).18   That the chief signatory of Dignitatis Humanae, Paul VI, did not understand the Declaration to teach that it is "unfair" to favour the Catholic "side" (or what is popularly seen as the "Catholic side") became clear three years later. Most people are unaware that the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae did not merely reaffirm the immorality of contraception as a private activity, but also exhorted "Rulers of Nations ... not (to) tolerate any legislation" which would permit the distribution of contraceptives.19   His call found receptive ears in Ireland, at least until a year or two ago.

        The more virulent forms of Protestant and other propaganda against the Catholic Church could certainly be legally banned in accordance with Vatican II's strictures against "dishonest" and "unworthy" forms of promoting religion. As we saw, religious publicity, according to the Council, should not even "seem to savour" of such defects. But some current expressions of fundamentalism are positively reeking with "dishonesty" and "unworthiness"! Jack Chick's anti-Catholic comic books, for instance, contain at least one travesty of Catholic doctrine per page. They also accuse the Jesuits of brain-washing would-be converts to Protestantism while keeping them locked in padded cells; while Catho1ic Action, we are told, sends attractive girls to infiltrate Protestant seminaries and parish congregations, spurred on by promises of generous mitigations of their time in Purgatory for every pastor or seminarian they can seduce and corrupt!

        Blasphemy, too, is an obviously "unworthy" form of "religious" expression. As recently as 1985, Pope John Paul II aligned himself with Gregory XVI and Pius IX in calling for action against this particular form of "violating the Catholic religion": he protested against the public showing in Rome of the notorious film "Hail Mary", even though neither he nor anyone else tried to claim that it was a menace to "public peace".

        Let us summarize. With Vatican II, Catholic doctrine, or divine law, remains as always that societies and their public authorities are morally obliged to act, legislate, and govern in accordance with the principles of the true religion. (The Council's Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity also reaffirms that teaching in its article 13, which says that Catholics should "strive to infuse a Christian spirit into the mentality, customs, laws, and structures" of their community). This same unchanging divine law entails the right and duty of public authorities to penalize those who attack the true religion - to the extent that the common good requires.

        But to what extent, precisely, does the common good require such coercive measures? That can vary a great deal according to historic, social, and political circumstances; and the Church's infallibility does not extend to this area, which is one not of basic principle, but of deciding on proportionate means towards a given end. The Church's pre-conciliar public law applied the above doctrinal principles by ruling that in overwhelmingly Catholic countries, all non-Catholic religious activity in public should, as such, be considered a danger to the common good, and hence as deserving of legal prohibition.

        Vatican II, however, in highlighting another aspect of divine law - the natural right of all men to be left free (within due limits) to practice their own religion without human interference - has in effect substantially changed this earlier ecclesiastical law (not doctrine). In the same way, the Church has often changed many other aspects of her previous legislation or discipline when they no longer seemed appropriate, or appeared to be giving rise to injustices in practice.20   Since Vatican II, understood especially in the light of how the Holy See has applied the conciliar Declaration, the new law is that even in the most predominantly Catholic countries, the right of at least the more moderate and upright non-Catholic groups to immunity from government interference takes precedence over the right of Catholics not to be "led into temptation" towards sins against their faith, as a result of the public diffusion of heresy or infidelity.21   This immunity, according to the Council, is itself an aspect of the common good - understanding that term in the broadest sense. As far as civil restriction goes, then, the Church now interprets and applies the divine law less severely than before: in matters of religion, the common good now permits and requires coercive measures only if its most fundamental features are assailed - the features which are grouped together in Dignitatis Humanae: 7 under the term "public order". In other words, even in a strongly Catholic country, the public diffusion of non-Catholic ideas or practices should not now (according to Vatican II) be considered a punishable threat to the common good simply insofar as they are non-Catholic. Rather, in order to merit that classification they would usually have to be the kinds of anti-Catholic propaganda which also assault or threaten (by virtue either of their content or their methods) those norms of truth, honesty, civic responsibility, sexual morality, and respect for other persons which can be validly argued and established on human and rational grounds alone, without appealing to the supernatural authority of divine revelation.

        In short, all Catholics who love and honour the Church's Magisterium can take heart. We do not have to rest content with the none-too-reassuring position that Vatican II has not been "proven guilty" of contradicting Pope Pius IX's Quanta Cura. Once we read the relevant documents with due care, in the original Latin, with a correct historical understanding of what they intended by the choice of certain expressions, and bearing in mind the crucial distinction between the Church's doctrine on the one hand, and her mutable public law on the other, only one verdict is possible: the Council is "proved innocent" of that charge.


1. Denzinger-Schönmetzer 2896.

2. Quanta Cura: 3. Latin text from p. Gasparri (ed.) Codicis Iuris Canonici Fontes, Vol. II. Rome, Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1924, p. 995. In two recent articles, Fr. William G. Most has quoted from an inaccurate translation of Quanta Cura, which wrongly attributes the expression "public order" to Pius IX in this passage. Cf. Fr. Most's articles, "Religious Liberty: What the Texts Demand", Faith & Reason, Vol. IX No. 3, Fall 1983, pp. 201, 206; and "Vatican II on Religion and the State", The Wanderer, 23 October 1986, p. 4. This faulty translation creates needless difficulties for the Catholic who wishes to defend Vatican II from the charge of having contradicted previous doctrine, because Vatican II does in fact teach very clearly that a "just public order" (iustus ordo publicus) is the only admissible criterion for limiting religious liberty (cf. Dignitatis Humanae: 2, 3 and 7).

3. L'Avenir, cited in Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, Vol. IX, Part I, Paris, Librairie Letouzey et Ané, 1926, s.v. "Libéralisme Catholique", column 536.

4. Ibid., c. 550.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid., c. 539.

7. Ibid., c. 541.

8. Quanta Cura: 3, loc. cit. (emphasis added)

9. The Holy See's 1953 concordat with Spain, for instance, recognized article 6 of the then Spanish constitution which forbade public manifestations of any non-Catholic religion. Cf. Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Vol. 45 (1953), pp. 651-52.

10. See, for instance, Fr. F. M. Cappello's standard pre-conciliar manual of the Church's public law: Summa Iuris Publici Ecclesiastici. Rome, Gregorian University Press, 1936 (4th edition), p. 369.

11. When the second-last draft was voted upon, for instance, on 27 October, 1965, there were 65 "no" votes and 534 "yes-with-reservations" votes on articles 1 to 5 of the schema on religious liberty. That meant that nearly three out of every ten Council Fathers - a significant minority - were still more or less uneasy about that vital section of the document (cf. Acta Synodalia S. Conc. Vat. II, Vol. IV, Part VI, p. 724.) After hearing Bishop de Smedt's explanation of the revised draft a month later, they were asked to vote again - this time a straight "yes" or "no" only. The result was 89% "yes" and 11% "no". When it became clear that Paul VI was going to approve that draft, the opposition dropped to 70 Bishops - about 3% - in the final, formal vote. (After the Pope actually signed it, I believe that only Archbishop Lefebvre refused to add his signature).

12. Acta Synodalia, op. cit., p. 719.

13. Note 53, p. 693, W.M. Abbot (ed.) The Documents of Vatican II.

14. Dignitatis Humanae: 7.

15. Ibid., 4.

16. Ibid.

17. Ibid., 3.

18. Ibid., 7.

l9. Humanae Vitae: 23.

20. Bishop de Smedt pointed this out to the Council Fathers, mentioning by way of illustration and precedent the fact that Pope Benedict XIV, in 1745, had repudiated explicitly the mediaeval discipline which had not always respected personal liberties, and had sometimes allowed undue pressure or coercion on persons, in connection with embracing the priesthood or religious life. Cf. Acta Synodalia, Vol. IV, Part V, p. 101.

21. Someone might object that, in approving the recently revised Concordat with the Italian Republic, which no longer recognizes Catholicism as the "religion of State", the Holy See is implicitly adopting the position that constitutional separation of Church and State is now the preferred model, or ideal, even in Catholic countries. This inference would be quite unwarranted. The Holy See's decision in this case - obviously a prudential, practical, and non-infallible one - has to be seen in the light of the fact that Italy is now de facto a quite pluralistic society, embracing not only minority groups of Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses and Muslims, but large numbers of people with no real religious commitment at all. (Italy has the largest Communist Party of any Western nation). Cardinal Casaroli, the chief architect (from the Vatican side) of the revised Concordat, doubtless had in mind Vatican II's teaching in Gaudium et Spes: 76, which observes that the Church "never places its hopes in any privileges accorded to it by civil authority", and that it is prepared to "give up the exercise of certain legitimate rights whenever it becomes clear that their use will compromise the sincerity of its witness, or whenever new circumstances call for a renewed approach". However, it is quite clear that the Holy See is not suggesting that what it deems best in the case of Italy is necessarily the best constitutional arrangement for all other countries. On the contrary, the Vatican's post-conciliar (1973) concordat with Colombia - probably the most solidly Catholic nation in Latin America - continues to give a much more positive constitutional recognition to the Church. In fact, it reflects in no small measure what Dignitatis Humanae reaffirms about the "moral duty" of "societies" towards the true religion. Article 1 of the new Colombian concordat reads, "The State, out of regard for the traditional Catholic sentiment of the Colombian nation, considers the Catholic, and Roman religion as a fundamental element of the common good, and of the integral development of the national community".


by John F. McCarthy

        LIVING TRADITION welcomes the proclamation by Pope John Paul II on January 1, 1987, Solemnity of Mary, the Most Holy Mother of God, of a MARIAN YEAR to begin on June 7, 1987, Solemnity of Pentecost, and to continue until August 15, 1988, Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven. To prepare itself better for the coming third millennium of the Christian era, says the Pope, the Church turns its eyes toward Our Lady with the intention of celebrating a special year dedicated to her. Every diocese is called upon to undertake special initiatives, aimed at entering more deeply into the mystery of Our Lady and at nourishing devotion to her in renewed commitment of adherence to the will of God according to the example which she gave as the Handmaid of the Lord.

        This will be the second Marian Year, following the one proclaimed by Pope Pius XII and observed from December 8, 1953, to December 8, 1954. The new Marian Year will coincide also with the celebration of the six-hundredth anniversary of the "Baptism of Lithuania." The fact of the dolorous subjection today of Lithuania to the Russian Soviet could well provide a further occasion for the specific solemn entrustment of Russia and of Lithuania to the Immaculate Heart of Mary during this new Marian Year by the Holy Father in union with all of the bishops and all of the faithful throughout the world. There could be no better step than this towards the global peace so ardently looked for in the coming era.

        The First Marian Year produced many memorable manifestations of private and public devotion to Our Lady, many pilgrimages to her shrines, many learned conferences and congresses, many articles and books about the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our Mother. Now a second great effort of Marian initiative is being called for in the wake of Lumen Gentium and of the proclamation of Mary as Mother of the Church. This universal action of renewal is intended among other things to awaken the semi-dormant hearts of those whose Catholic fervor has been cooled by unorthodox ideas and demoralizing intellectual movements in recent times. Catholic action needs now to be warmed, intensified in the furnace of Marian devotion in order to bring the believing community forward courageously in an enormous effort of spiritual renewal for the coming third millennium of the Christian era. The key to this renewal - its opening technique - as Pope John Paul II points out, is vibrant recourse to the Maternal Heart of Blessed Mary ever Virgin.

        Significant new undertakings in the field of thought and writing are called for during the Second Marian Year. The Virgin Mother, who "kept in mind all these things, pondering them in her heart" (Lk 2:19) with gracious gesture invites her willing and capable children of today to join in bringing the thoughts of the Catholic Christian Community and of its members more fully within the entire context of divine revelation, more completely into the light of the supernatural realities that underpin the Christian Faith. This includes a call to Catholic teachers and writers to sweep away from their systems the errors circulating in the academic community and to raise their perspectives to the level of the whole truth made accessible by our Faith.

        What would be the expectations of such an effort? Assuredly, the aim and object is to know, to love, and to serve God the better, and, therefore, to know, to love, and to serve Our Divine Lord the better, and thus to love and serve our neighbors all the more. Our hearts must open wide to Jesus in the love of the Holy Spirit. But this essential object will not in fact be attained throughout the Church without the new impulse of Marian devotion called for by Pope John Paul II.

        For our part we would like to see during the coming Marian Year the rise of a greater appreciation of the role played by Mary in the first origins of the Church and in the development of the Gospel Tradition. We would thus like to see a truer and more accurate presentation by exegetes and other theologians of the role of Mary in the Infancy Narratives of St. Matthew and St. Luke and in the Gospel genre as a whole. We would like to see the role of Mary given its due place in many areas of theology apart from the tract on Mariology itself. Thus do we hope and pray that one of the great graces of this Marian Year will be a greater theological awareness of the role of Mary in the life of the contemporary Church and in the unfolding of its mission.

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