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Doctrines & Morals
 
 
Scripture Corner…

THE PACT AT DOMITILLA CATACOMB

WHILE IN ROME during our conference on Justice and Peace and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC), on March 03, 2018, I was privileged to visit Domitilla Catacomb, which is situated a few kilometres from Vatican City.

It is an amazing site which expresses how human beings have been intelligible throughout the centuries, and also how Christians had to find ways of protecting themselves from their persecutors. It also shows how the persecuted Christians had to bury their dead who were exterminated by those who hated Christianity and Christians. Moreover, the site is a great reminder of what was happening during Vatican II, a Church Council which became revolutionary like a storm shaking the shakeable ones and giving substance and true identity to the Church of Christ. This is a place whereby forty bishops from fifteen countries, concelebrated a Holy Mass on November 16, 1965. "In that holy place of Christian dead they signed a document that expressed their personal commitments as bishops to the ideals of the Council under the suggestive title of the 'Pact of the Catacombs'" (The Divine Mercy Word Missionaries, Double Anniversary of Domitilla Catacomb, p. 1).

The forty bishops were part of the Fathers of the Council who were not ready to sign the 'ready-made documents', which were already prepared by some so-felt, powerful, influential Church authorities, dignitaries or renown and untouchable theologians. The Holy Spirit worked differently through Pope John XXIII; hence, refused to be 'pocketed' by the self-acclaimed 'true thinkers of Faith' for the sake of the Church. The 168 board member committee, which was to determine the commissions, was discarded and new slate of candidates was to be drawn up. As Pope Benedict XVI recounts: "But right away the Fathers said: 'No, we do not simply want to vote for pre-prepared lists. We are the subject.' It was then necessary to postpone the elections, because the Fathers … wanted to prepare the lists themselves. And so it was. Cardinal Liénart of Lille and Cardinal Frings of Cologne had said publicly: no, not this way. We want to make our own lists and elect our own candidates." (Benedict XVI in his address to The Clergy of Rome, February 14, 2013).

This was a shock for those who had prepared the documents (including Marcel Lefebvre), and their supporters, initially thinking that all the Council Fathers were going to simply sign the ready-prepared documents, namely the '72 schemas.' It is stated that: "The 72 schemas were held in high esteem by the true thinkers of the Faith, including Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who had been appointed to the Central Preparatory Committee to check the documents for doctrinal purity before presentation at the Council. According to Lefebvre, the schemas were worthy and orthodox, and should have been used, but to his great dismay the Council … rejected John XXII's outline" (David Martin, The Revolution of Vatican II was Misinterpreted? July 25, 2017). Lefebvre in his naivety and anger of having lost the control of the Council wrote: "Fifteen days after the opening session not one of the seventy-two schemas remained. All had been sent back, rejected, thrown into the waste-paper basket … The immense work that had been found accomplished was scrapped and the assembly found itself empty-handed, with nothing ready. What chairman of a board meeting, however small the company, would agree to carry on without an agenda and without documents? Yet that is how the Council commenced." (Archbishop Lefebvre, Open Letter to Confused Catholics, 1986).

The so called 'true thinkers of Faith' felt that they had lost the battle, and indeed, some of them got confused to the extend of leaving the Church, thinking that they were the owners, the Land-lords of the Church, kicking aside the true head of the Church, Jesus Christ himself. In their confused conviction they reached an extend of stating, "Hence the radical changes of today do not reflect a misinterpretation of Vatican II, but a true interpretation as intended by the original architects. This is why we have all the problems today. The few good parts of the documents penned by the few good people were only allowed as conservative cover to sell the documents to the Council fathers. It was important to Vatican liberals that the documents appeared more orthodox than liberal, because the objective of these scoundrels was to secure the signature of Pope Paul VI, without which their plan would never succeed."

The Spirit of the Lord which leads the Church of Christ cannot and could not be manipulated. On the contrary, the Spirit of the Lord led the true, honest, sincere and genuine followers of Christ, who represented the Church of Christ in the Council of Vatican II as the Fathers of the Church, to elevating her to her proper original status. It was in this very spirit that the forty bishops mentioned above, who were truly at the service of the Church whose members were truly followers of Christ, carrying their crosses in determinative way, unanimously decided to make not only their mission statement but also, and more so, the 'Pact of the Catacombs' at Domitilla Catacomb in Rome. A place where Pope Paul VI visited in September 1965. These were conscious of the deficiencies of their lifestyle in terms of evangelical poverty. Thus, they were motivated by one another in an initiative in which each of them would try to avoid ambition and presumption, while uniting with all their brothers in the episcopacy; hence, rely above all on the grace and strength of the Lord Jesus Christ and on the prayers of the lay faithful and the priests in their respective dioceses. They decided determinatively to place themselves in thought and in prayer before the Trinity, the Church of Christ (and not before the church of the so-called 'True Thinkers of the Faith'), and all the priests and lay faithful of their dioceses. All this was to be done in and with humility and awareness of their weakness while depending entirely on the grace of God, the Master of the world, the Master of Church!

 


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