Paul Collins Comments
Here are Paul's latest comments
(1) Signs of the Papal Times - an assessment of the new papacy
(2) Now is the time for lay leadership
(3) Vandalism in an Australian Parish
(4) Vatican II - Unfinished Business
(5) Yves Congar, OP at Vatican II
Signs of the Papal Times – an Assessment of the New
(Uploaded 21 April 2013)
At first all we had to go on were the signs. The first sign was when Pope Bergoglio defined himself by taking the name Francis after the rich man from Assisi who repudiated his wealth to live like Christ, the poor man who had nowhere to lay his head. Then we saw a pope who ‘dressed down’ without the ermine lined, red mozzetta (the short cape worn over the shoulders) and the metres of lace that had characterised the previous papacy. Francis has rejected the trappings of ‘royalty’ moving out of the papal palazzo and into the quite modest, motel-like and accessible Casa Sancta Marta in the Vatican grounds. All the signs pointed not only to a different style but to a substantial change in direction.
Five weeks into his papacy Francis has moved-on from signs and is now confronting faces the hard issues. So far (21 April 2013) he has only appointed eleven bishops and seven of these would have been in the appointment system well before he was elected. But Francis has personally appointed two: Mario Aurelio Poli, 65, to replace him as archbishop in Buenos Aires and Jose Rodriguez Carballo, OFM, 59, former minister general of the Franciscans and President of the International Union of Superiors General, who has been appointed Secretary to the Vatican congregation that oversees religious orders. What are these men like?
Poli was described by Norberto Padilla of the Catholic University of Argentina as someone “who was very close to Bergoglio before he became pope. As a major superior in a mainstream religious order it can be safely assumed that Friar (now Archbishop) Carballo would be an ecclesiological moderate who seeks collaboration rather than confrontation. So while Francis seems to have ‘reaffirmed’ the findings of an on-going Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in the United States, Carballo’s appointment indicates that from Francis’ perspective he wants churchmen sympathetic to religious orders to deal with the whole affair and help overcome the tensions involved in this whole Vatican/US bishops-manufactured fiasco. US Jesuit James Martin says he is convinced that “The LCWR will ... get a fair hearing from Pope Francis” (America, 15 April 2013). Nevertheless this is a still a worrying issue.
If Francis doesn’t understand that US women religious are so much closer to his own ideals of social justice and to the reality of the life experience and aspirations of the vast majority of Catholics in the developed world than the US bishops and hierarchs will ever be, then he has a lot to learn. His closeness to the poor is admirable, but the poor have two aims: firstly to survive and then to achieve middle class status (India is a prime example of this), or to migrate to a developed country. Then they will be facing the same existential issues as we are in a country like Australia; they will be educated Catholics with the same preoccupations as the vast majority of us have. So perhaps the US sisters and the LCWR might become a test case for Pope Francis’ real understanding of the broader church.
In contrast we have Francis’ appointment of eight cardinals to act as a kind of ‘kitchen cabinet’. With a very broad remit, they have clearly been appointed on the basis of geographical regions; several represent regional bishops’ conferences (Asia, Latin American, Europe), and others like George Pell represent specific regions such as Oceania.
According to the Vatican communiqué the group’s function is “to advise [Francis] in the government of the universal church and to study a plan for revising the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, Pastor Bonus.” Perhaps significant are the facts that only one cardinal (Giuseppe Bertello) has been appointed from the Vatican and he comes not from the curia but from the government of the Vatican City State, and that the co-ordinator of the group is Cardinal Óscar Andreś Rodriguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, a highly talented, multi-lingual, outspoken moderate progressive. Vatican commentator, Sandro Magister (www.chiesa.espressonline.it), says that “with the sole exception of the Australian Pell ... all of the other cardinals [belong] ... to the moderate or progressive camp of the College of Cardinals.”
Pastor Bonus was issued by John Paul II in June 1988. It outlines the roles and functions of the Secretariat of State, the congregations, tribunals and pontifical councils and other organs of the Holy See. Essentially it did little more than tinker with the functions of the Secretariat of State and confirmed its leadership role in the governance of the curia, and set out the already existing functions and competencies of the various bodies of the curia. But, as Thomas J. Reese points out, it did re-enforce “the sense that ... [the Roman curia] is the center and the rest of the world is the periphery” (Inside the Vatican, p 159). This assumption that ‘Rome knows best’ is precisely the problem anyone reforming the curia is going to have to confront.
Much more significant even than reform of the curia is the fact that Francis clearly intends that this kitchen cabinet becomes a realization in action of the Vatican II doctrine of collegiality. A key phrase in the communiqué said the cardinals’ task is “to advise [the pope] in the governance of the universal church.” This is a much more radical statement than appears at first sight. In fact, it is unprecedented in the second millennium of papal history.
In the first millennium the pope was advised by the Roman Synod. This “was made up of the bishop of Rome meeting with the bishops of the surrounding area”, as well as the senior priests of Rome diocese, the men who from about the beginning of the sixth century were called ‘cardinals’. The Roman Synod “was unique in that it dealt not only with local ecclesiastical matters, but also with wider issues that had impact beyond the geographical area of central Italy. The popes used the Roman Synod as a forum for discussion and decision-making on issues that had a wider application and impact than the pope’s own metropolitan sphere” (Paul Collins: Upon This Rock. The Popes and Their Changing Role (Melbourne University Press, 2000), p 46).
In the first millennium the essence of church government was collegial and synodal, that is the pope and other hierarchs were obliged to consult more widely among the bishops and clergy before major decisions were taken. This was lost by increasingly ‘high’ papal pretensions in the second millennium culminating in the definitions of papal primacy and infallibility at Vatican Council I (1870).
The whole exercise of appointing a cabinet of cardinals indicates that Francis takes collegiality seriously and, while he might not have the Roman Synod of the first millennium explicitly in mind, he is actually beginning to create a very similar body except that its membership reflects the universal church. This is a genuinely revolutionary move and will in itself help to relativise the curia’s influence and give a voice to local bishops and the wider community of the church.
This group of cardinals will not be meeting formally until 1-3 October 2013. This will be over six months into Francis’ papacy. However, they will be in contact with each other in the meantime and the pope will be able to talk to them personally on the phone, one of his favoured means of communication. Clearly the group is already operative.
Perhaps the delay in getting them together is caused by Francis’ emphasis on being bishop of Rome. Maybe he wants to get a handle on the problems besetting his own diocese before he tackles wider problems and the dysfunctionality of the curia. He has, after all, strongly emphasized that he is the bishop of Rome, another unequivocal return to the tradition of the first millennium church.
Catholicism in Rome faces the same pastoral problems as Catholicism throughout Western Europe: poor church attendance, religious indifference, secularism and anticlericalism, declining numbers of priests and religious and a pervasive feeling that the church is irrelevant to real life. In 1994 the then Papal Vicar for Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini referred to Rome as “a de-Christianized city.” Most tourists only see the historical centre of the city and miss the sprawling and often ugly suburbs where congestion, high density living, pollution, immigration and population growth make life difficult. So if Francis’ priority is on being bishop of Rome then he is going to have to deal with these issues. Certainly his style as archbishop of Buenos Aires was not confrontational but consultative, and perhaps he wants to take his time to discern in the best Ignatian fashion the direction he should take first as Rome’s local bishop and only then as pope.
Certainly reform of the curia is a priority and this was made clear by many cardinals before the conclave. However, personally I think it would be a mistake for Francis to concentrate all his energy on this moribund body. As I suggested in my book Papal Power (Harper Collins, 1997) probably the best thing he could do would be to abolish it entirely and set-up a small, more efficient papal secretariat. Then he could begin to take collegiality seriously and delegate major decisions such as liturgical translations, appointment of bishops, dealing with sexual abuse and other local issues to national and regional bishops’ conferences where traditionally such decisions belong.
Given that this is an unlikely scenario, what issues concerning the curia will the group of eight be considering? No doubt they will be looking at cutting down the size of the curia. It has grown considerably since Vatican II and its tentacles extended into all areas of church life. At the beginning of the twentieth century there were fewer than 200 people working in the Roman Curia; in November 2011 there were 2,832 working within the curia, and a further 1,876 working for the Vatican City State. Clearly the size of the curia needs to be tackled and bodies such as the Secretariat of State needs to be trimmed in size and Congregations like Causes of Saints, Clergy and Catholic Education abolished. Many of the Pontifical Councils should be combined and others like the Councils for the Family and the so-called ‘New Evangelization’ closed down. They serve no useful purpose.
Secondly, the curia needs to learn to work co-operatively. At present it acts like a series of feudal baronies involved in endless, low level and often vicious internecine warfare. In other words, the curia needs to learn to act collegially. Thirdly, the curia has to learn that it doesn’t own the church, lock, stock and barrel. It is there to assist the pope, not to act as a universal, bureaucratic micro-manager of every aspect of Catholicism. Sando Magister says it needs to be “less suffocating” of the local churches. To achieve these aims the papal kitchen cabinet and Pope Francis will need to act decisively. Only time will tell whether they have been successful.
But what we do know for sure is that a sea change has occurred with the advent of Pope Bergoglio. His election has shifted the emphasis in Catholicism from a preoccupation with irrelevant and peripheral internal issues like reunion with Lefebvre’s schismatics, liturgical minutiae and translation, denunciation of ‘secularism’, and endless culture wars over gender and sexual issues. No longer are moderate or progressive Catholics going to be beaten over the head with nonsensical claims about so-called ‘cafeteria Catholicism’ and the ‘hermeneutics of rupture’, as though we thought that somehow Catholicism had been re-founded completely during Vatican II.
Francis has challenged the church to leave the sacristy to those who love lace and baroque dress-ups. Genuine Catholics live in the real world and deal with the central issues facing us: ecological disaster, poverty, racism, inequality, hunger, social justice. He has refocused the church on these truly important issues.
And the emphasis on collegiality means more than just pope and bishops working together. It also includes lay people and priests co-operating with each other and with the bishops in the ministry and the leadership of the Church. It challenges all of us to work co-operatively to build up both the community and the kingdom of God. Having left the sacristy it is now our responsibility to make conscientious decisions trusting that the Spirit of God informs the whole Christian community, not just the Roman curia or the hierarchy. As Cardinal Newman said it is about time the people of God were “consulted”.
Whether or not he lives up to present expectations, Pope Francis has already lifted a burden from our shoulders that has been there since the 1978 election of John Paul II and freed and encouraged us once again to be proud ‘Vatican II Catholics’!
The week of 11 to 17 November 2012 was one of the worst in the history of Australian Catholicism. It was the week in which the Royal Commission into Institutional Sexual Abuse was called. And the institution that was right in the front line was the Catholic Church. The bishops were falling over themselves to assure everyone who would listen that they would co-operate as they issued more and more of their meaningless apologies. But as Cardinal George Pell’s disastrous press conference showed, they still don’t get it. Following their November week-long conference they issued a statement that still doesn’t acknowledge that they themselves not only protected priest child abusers and covered up their crimes and moved them to other parishes where they abused more children. They are still in complete denial about the fundamental flaws in the church’s structure and governance.
You might have expected that Benedict XVI and the prelates of the Vatican would have been pro-active in confronting the issue of child sexual abuse and reaching out sympathetically to assist and support Australian Catholics in confronting it. But they weren’t.
They were obsessed with their own issues. On 19 November the papal Secretary of State, Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, issued a memo that prohibited clergy from wearing secular dress and imposed the wearing of the cassock. He particularly pointed out that the cassock was obligatory for Cardinals and Bishops working the Vatican during office hours and that the cassock or clerical dress was also obligatory for priests. Religious must wear their habit always. Bishops visiting Rome must always wear the cassock. The world synod on the so-called ‘new evangelization’ had concluded a few weeks earlier in Rome. Clearly wearing the cassock was much more ‘important’ for both evangelization and Australian Catholics!
Preoccupation with clerical dress is a symptom of the very thing – clericalism and a closed in-group mentality - that created the problems that the Australian Church faces in the first place. The papacy and the Vatican has become so self-engrossed that they are already in a kind of practical ‘schism’, by which I mean they are cut-off from the reality of the rest of the Church as they retreat into an absurd dressed-up world of their own creation. They imagine that all truth and wisdom is revealed to them and through them – increasingly in practice senior Vatican staff see themselves as sharing in papal infallibility – and that the rest of the Church community is merely the passive recipient of their pronouncements.
Over the last 150 years and especially during the last two papacies a whole new phenomenon in church history has emerged: a kind of omnipotent and omnipresent papacy whereby the pope is seen as the ‘bishop of the world’ with local bishops as mere branch managers of head office. Under John Paul II (1978-2005) and Benedict XVI (2005-) an absolutist, monarchical papacy is increasingly taking on the lineaments of a multinational corporation. All authority is centred at the top and descends from above. Absolute loyalty to the priorities and policies of head office are the desired hallmarks of regional branch managers (bishops) and local managers (priests) with the Catholic community as passive consumers. Regional managers now answer almost exclusively to head office; the traditional sense that their primary responsibility is to their dioceses has been almost entirely lost.
Such a structure is the complete antithesis of what was intended by the Constitution on the Church (Lumen gentium) of Vatican II. The primacy of the local community has been swallowed-up by a centralized structure that is unique in church history. Never before has the Church been so centralized. Accountability to the Catholic community is absolutely foreign to a structure of this nature. Given the dominance of an Italianate-Latin mentality in the higher echelons of the hierarchy it is understandable that there is no sense of accountability of the leadership to the community.
Significantly there is no real word in Italian for the English word ‘accountability’. Italian dictionaries will translate ‘accountability’ as responsibilitá which translates as ‘responsibility’ in English and principally refers to obligation of the subject rather than an emphasis on leaders answering to the stakeholder community as to how the Church is administered. The leadership answers only to God Who can be remarkably silent and absent when leaders’ own biases and fancies come into play.
Catholicism, unlike the Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant Churches, has no structure whatsoever that resembles the synods that gather together bishops, clergy and laity to discern the call of God and the leadings of the Holy Spirit. The contermporary Catholic Church is the absolute antithesis of the church in the New Testament and the first centuries of church history which remain normative for all subsequent developments. Popes like Leo I the Great (440-461) and Gregory I the Great (590-604) would consider the present government structures of Catholicism, including the papacy, to be so out of kilter with what they understood of the nature of the church as to be heretical. Medieval theologians would have shared this view.
It is difficult to see ourselves as Catholics in historical perspective because we tend to assume that what we experience now as the norm. But the reality is the church at present is so centralised and out of balance as to be completely beyond traditional norms, let alone the norms of Jesus. As the great reformer Martin Luther said crux probat omnia – ‘the cross is the test of everything’.
The forthcoming Royal Commission provides Australian Catholics with a unique opportunity to demand that the Australian bishops begin the process of returning to the mainstream of historical Catholicism where there is a balance between all of the elements that go to make-up the Catholic community. The voice of the laity has to be heard and accountability has to be demanded from hierarchs. The Royal Commission can’t do this for us; only we can achieve that. But it does give us an opportunity and, given the complete failure of the bishops, it is the laity that must show leadership.
I’m writing this in the middle of the latest explosive “blow-up” of calls for a national royal commission into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. For someone like me who has been publicly calling for structural reform in the Church for almost thirty years, it is hard to discern which way to jump. For while sexual abuse is a painful personal tragedy for those who have suffered from it, in the end it is a symptom of a deeper malaise in the Church: an unaccountable, self-interested and self-enclosed hierarchical-clerical system that essentially answers to itself alone and not to the body of the Catholic faithful, let alone to secular authorities. And while a royal commission might be helpful in confronting and weakening clerical self-interest and punishing wrong-doers, it will not be the civil law that reforms the Church; that is the task of committed, faithful Catholics.
Lack of unaccountability, clericalism, abuse of power and, above all, the loss of focus on the message of Jesus, the abandonment of the values of the Gospel and the retreat from the renewal called for by Vatican Council II, are a series of massive issues facing worldwide Catholicism. The situation is made so much worse by the fact that the senior leadership of the Church from the papacy downwards seems totally unaware of the predicament facing faithful Catholics who live in a pluralist democracy like Australia. All of this is vividly illustrated in a new book by Jane Anderson. Published by D Books in Sydney, it is entitled Souled Out. Power and Protest in a Catholic Parish (2012).
The book tells the true story of how a large and effective Australian parish that was committed to the full ministerial participation of the laity in the spirit of Vatican II was relatively quickly changed into a dysfunctional and polarised community with many parishioners driven out. When the story begins the parish, which Anderson situates in a regional city called ‘Haughton’, is led by a strongly-pastoral priest who was committed to accountability and for whom Gospel values were paramount. Using pseudonyms to protect locations and identities (a wise move given the explosive nature of the story), Anderson weaves a dramatic narrative around the gradual demolition of effective ministry and good work by many faithful Catholic people and a good priest. She uses actual documents to support the historical accuracy of the story.
To give the story perspective Anderson, who is a research fellow in social anthropology at the University of Western Australia, interrupts the narrative in places to outline broader ecclesiological and sociological perspectives. It is an effective way of showing that what is happening in Haughton parish is not an isolated event but fits into a much wider context as reactionary forces – which are becoming increasingly more sophisticated and powerful - try to roll back the reforms of Vatican II.
At the centre of the story is ‘Father Tom McCaffrey’, an Irish-born religious order priest who after many years service in West Africa has devoted the last years of his active ministry to helping out in a priest-short rural Australian diocese. Building on the work of his predecessor, Tom turns Haughton into a model Vatican II parish. But, as in many parishes, there is a small group of individuals who are determined to drag the parish backwards and reverse what they see as the heresies and perversions of Vatican II. They will sacrifice anything – or anyone – to achieve what they see as a smaller, purer Church. The Haughton reactionaries are emboldened by the arrival of ‘Father Joab’, an East African priest belonging to the same order as Tom. Status and material possessions are important for Joab; he sees the priesthood as placing him above the ‘ordinary’ faithful. One key symbol of status for him is driving a more powerful car – preferably a six cylinder model!
This sets-up a situation which Anderson deftly explores which includes most, if not all of contemporary issues facing Australian Catholicism. The undue influence of tiny and unrepresentative reactionary groups who manipulate parochial situations for their own so-called ‘orthodox’ ends; the culturally inappropriate and at times manipulative behaviour of foreign priests from tribal cultures who have no understanding of a pluralist and democratic society like Australia; the heavy-handed, hierarchical political shenanigans of local bishops who think they own the Church, lock, stock and barrel; and the quite extraordinary behaviour of religious orders which are often only too ready to sacrifice a member whom they cast in the role of an ‘outsider’ in order to protect the imagined ‘good name of the community’.
In a way it was the behaviour of Tom McCaffrey’s religious order that scandalised me most – and I say this as an ex-member of a religious order (the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart) who have always treated me with goodness, generosity and respect. The pretty internal politics of an all-male religious community are understandable even if pathetic for grown men (including even the repetition of vicious gossip concerning Tom’s relationship with his women friends). But it is the way in which the particular religious order in Souled Out treated a life-long, hard-working missionary priest that beggars understanding. Again issues of the accountability and of the need for structures of reconciliation are paramount.
This is the story of a structure in crisis, a model of Church that emerged in its present form in the late-sixteenth, early-seventeenth century and that worked well until about the early-nineteenth century. But it has outlived its usefulness by 200 years or more. As Anderson’s book so clearly demonstrates what we have now is smothering the faith of the people right down to the level of the local parish. But it is up to us to change it. The higher one reaches in the hierarchy, the less likely they are to change anything; there is far too much vested interest.
I recommend this book highly.
*The details again: Jane Anderson: Souled Out. Power and Protest in a Catholic Parish. Sydney: D Books. 2012. AVAILABLE as a book or ebook. ORDER through Dymocks Stores or from Dymock’s website: http://www.dymocks.com.au/ProductDetails/ProductDetail.aspx?R=9781743350447#.UKCJN4YavbI
Vatican II – Unfinished Business
This is material that Paul Collins first delivered at a seminar organized by the Aggiornamento Movement in Perth, WA on Sunday, 21 October 2012
For many Catholics the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) has the feel of a wake. The temptation is to drink a last toast to the late-lamented, deceased Council, to mourn a lost opportunity. Looking around the Catholic Church today, especially in the developed West, that temptation seems justified. The large majority of Catholics have disengaged from the institutional church and the hierarchy, and the community is infected with a profound sense of disappointment and disillusionment.
Perhaps this is understandable but, as Robert Blair Kaiser (Time correspondent in Rome during the Council) says, we should also “celebrate what Vatican II has already done for us.” It gave us, he says, a new, more humane vision of the Church as our community, the place where as followers and disciples of Jesus we could be more geared to the service of the world that God loves. As responsible, adult, lay Catholic Christians the Council called us to form and exercise freedom of conscience and to embrace a new, confident vision of leadership in the wider world and within the Church itself.
We also need to recall that Vatican II remains unfinished business. In his recently translated Council Journal Yves Congar says that he felt that historically Vatican II came twenty-five years ‘too early’, that only the youngest bishops had imbibed the renewed theological, historical and scriptural studies that underpinned the conciliar documents. The result: the Council was forced to compromise on several important issues and we are still working through the consequences of those compromises. From today’s perspective it is also significant that Congar thought the Council “had stopped half-way on many questions. It began a task that is not completed.” Karl Rahner has commented that while ecumenical councils sometimes resolve theological or faith issues from the past, they are almost always the beginning of new discussions within the Church.
In the same vein the French writer Pierre Dentin describes Vatican II as “an unfinished symphony” and “a Copernican revolution”; he claims that “never before had the world know so remarkable deliberative assembly.” In other words it was a tremendous effort of the ecclesiological imagination that was open and consultative. But it remains incomplete because its compromises have crippled us and its ecclesiological revolution has never been enshrined in structures. Vatican II – including its meaning and interpretation – is still an unfinished, on-going event. For us to continue that process we need to look critically at the Council and its aftermath and to analyse forensically its successes and failures in order to find a way forward.
Clearly its overwhelming success was to give Catholics a renewed, dynamic vision of the Church in which everyone is called to share in ministry. But lurking within the Council documents are disjunctions that have become increasingly problematic over the last fifty years. For instance we have interiorised the Church as a community, a communion in which we all play a part. We think of the Church as a home in which we have a place and a say – but then we run into the clerical, legalistic, structured hierarchical Church in which we have no say whatsoever (we can’t even have a choice in who should be our PP – let alone our bishop or pope) and we discover that the hierarchy, in fact, own the Church, lock, stock and barrel. Every Catholic today is caught between two ecclesiologies which are mutually incompatible and with which we are going to have to deal if we are to move beyond the impasse in which we are presently trapped.
How did this happen? The only way to answer this conundrum is to examine calmly and forensically what happened during Vatican II (it opened on 11 October 1962) and what has happened since the Council closed on 6 December 1965. This will involve us in historical analysis, but one which is very pertinent to our present situation. This analysis will show that the compromises made at Vatican II have subsequently involved us in situations that have become increasingly toxic and destructive. But we need to see what happened in perspective for history has the wonderful ability to free us, for if we understand where we have come from we can get some clues as to where we should go.
Vatican II Compromises
So let’s look first at the compromises made at Vatican II itself. A prime example lies in the Council’s key document on the Church, Lumen gentium (LG). It presents two images. In the first chapter of LG the Church is envisaged as a sacramental mysterium, a contemporary incarnation of Christ in the world. Behind this idea is what Karl Rahner calls the Ursakrament, the primal or basic sacrament. In chapter two of LG the Church is imaged as a koinonia, a communion, or community of people called together by the Spirit to represent Christ in the world. Each member of the community has Spirit-given gifts for the service of both the Church and the world. The community is symbol of the continuing presence of Christ in history. This model is essentially scriptural and traditional in the sense that it is found in both the New Testament and the early church.
In contrast the third chapter of LG presents the church as a hierarchical, self-enclosed ‘perfect society’ which already has The Truth (with capital ‘Ts”). It is the custodian of the sacraments (the primal sources of grace) and is governed by clergy who represent Christ in varying degrees. This model reflects the absolutist and monarchical conceptions of society that dominated Europe before the French Revolution. It has more in common with King Louis XIV of France than it does with the New Testament.
These models are mutually incompatible images that have become increasingly corrosive, despite the argument that they can somehow sit beside each other. Also the simple fact is that the model reflected in the first two chapters of LG has never been encapsulated in structures. The result is that many Catholics experience a real disjunction between their interiorised vision of the church as a community and their ecclesial experience at the institutional level.
A second example of the kind of compromises that Vatican II made focuses on the priesthood involving the common priesthood of all believers and the ordained priesthood. This can be found in both LG and the ‘Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests’, Presbyterorum Ordinis (PO). Interestingly it was Archbishop Guilford Young of Hobart from 1955 to 1988 who introduced PO in Walter Abbott’s English edition of the documents of Vatican II.
The priesthood of all believers is an unequivocal New Testament doctrine, whereas the ordained priesthood is a later development. In the New Testament baptism marks a new birth into the life structure of Christ Himself, an entry into the bodily personhood of Jesus existence. As a result all Christians, the First Letter of Peter says, form “a holy priesthood” (2:5), and Peter later refers to the baptised as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people set apart” (2:9). Baptism is the condition of entry into that priesthood of Christ. While PO acknowledges the existence of the priesthood of all believers in a brief reference, it proceeds as though it didn’t exist and that the only ‘real’ priesthood was that of the ordained.
The simple fact is that the NT doctrine of the priesthood of all believers has, in practice, been ‘forgotten’. And it has been replaced by the ordained priesthood, even though this is a development largely of the fourth and fifth centuries. Martin Luther tried to revive the notion of the priesthood of all believers during the Reformation. In reaction the Council of Trent (1545-1563) defined the ‘ontological’ superiority of the clerical priesthood over that of the laity. In PO Vatican II, in a way, took this further by arguing that the clerical priesthood is essentially different from that of the priesthood of all believers; it is not merely a difference in degree. So, in fact, the institutional Church has the priest undergoing a ‘metamorphosis’ from an ordinary Christian to become a superior sacred ‘super-Christian’ whose priesthood is essentially different to that of the baptized. This is re-enforced by celibacy.
This disjunctive notion of the priest as ‘super-Christian’ is highlighted in PO with an added dose of schizophrenia. The French Dominican Christian Duquoc correctly says that there is an inherent conflict between the post-Tridentine theology of a cultic priesthood outlined in PO, and the same decree’s emphasis that priestly ministry consists in a “profound involvement in everyday life ... [and] service of the poor.” Duquoc argues, correctly in my view, that this places the priest in an irreconcilable bind between the demands of modern ministry and an outdated theology and spirituality. He believes this tension underlies all the problems related to the contemporary priesthood.
Vatican II and the Papacy
Vatican II also failed to deal with the papacy. Pierre Dentin speaks of La solitude du pape, where the pope lives in solitary infallible splendour at the peak of the hierarchical triangle. Over the last millennium we have seen the papacy move away from heart of the church, the touchstone of its orthodoxy and last court of appeal, to a situation where the pope is seen as a kind of ‘bishop of the whole world’ and as a form of Delphic Oracle, that is the source of all knowledge in the Church. This has been re-enforced by the ‘superstar’, omni-present papacy of John Paul II. Nowadays the pope is not seen as primus inter pares, ‘first among equals’, but primus solus, ‘first alone’.
This is vividly illustrated in what has happened to Vatican II’s essentially still-born doctrine of collegiality. The Council clearly teaches that the role of bishops in the Church is twofold. They are primarily responsible for their local Church and, at the same time, co-responsible as a college for the government of the universal Church, primarily through synods and ecumenical councils. There is a sense in which collegiality was one of the most important issues discussed by Vatican II because the teaching on the role of bishops was meant to act as a balance and counterweight to the Vatican I (1870) teaching on the primacy and infallibility of the pope. But at Vatican II the teaching on collegiality was fatally compromised by the constant repetition of the phrase “not without its [papal] head”, as though this had not already been over-emphasized at Vatican I. There was a small reactionary minority at Vatican II from both the Curia and from among the bishops (including the later-schismatic and heretical Marcel Lefebvre) that was utterly determined to resist collegiality at all costs.
In order to maintain unanimity and to save face for the reactionaries Pope Paul VI (1963-78) imposed the now notorious Nota explicativa praevia (‘A Presupposed Explanatory Note’) on chapter three (particularly paragraph 22 on collegiality) of Lumen gentium on 14 November 1964 near the end of the third session. The Nota was designed to exclude any possibility of encroachment of collegiality on the doctrine of papal primacy. Pericle Felici (Secretary of the Council) said that the bishops had to understand the text and vote in terms of the Nota. In a real sense the Nota rendered collegiality meaningless and most certainly interfered with the guaranteed freedom of the Council which, in turn, probably rendered it invalid because the freedom of a ecumenical council is guaranteed. This became one of the real crisis points of Vatican II. Paul VI imposed the Nota because he wanted moral unanimity and he knew the minority would never agree to collegiality without the Nota. He also wanted to protect their feelings and pride and to maintain their sense of bella figura; for people of Latin extraction maintaining a good impression is extremely important.
As a kind of compensation Paul VI ‘gave’ the Council a Synod of Bishops which he proclaimed at the beginning of the last session of Vatican II for ‘consultation and collaboration’. However, it is important to note that the Synod of Bishops was not a product of the deliberations and decision of Council itself, but a kind of ‘concession’ made by Paul VI. The Synod might have become a real point of direct dialogue between the world’s bishops and the papacy, but it quickly degenerated into just another papal rubber-stamp. The pope called it, presided over it, determined its agenda and formulated and communicated its conclusions. It has become a papal lap-dog.
Celibacy and ‘the Pill'
The ‘solitude of the papacy’ was further highlighted by Paul VI during Vatican II by his withdrawal of two key issues from debate by the Council. The first of these was the celibacy of priests. This issue had been debated on the fringes by some bishops and theologians, but there was great fear of a media beat-up even among the more progressive leaders of the Council. During the latter part of the third session and throughout the fourth session there was a “strong desire for a speedy end to the Council which would be hindered if so important a question [as celibacy] were raised during these decisive days” (G. Alberigo (ed): History of Vatican II, Vol 5, p 234). The only exception was the Dutch-born Bishop Pedro Paulo Koop MSC of Lins, Brazil who spoke out on the issue and his views were later published in Le Monde. As a result Paul VI intervened: “In very clear language the Pope made know his desire to avoid a public discussion of celibacy and ... his intention to safeguard this ‘ancient, sacred and providential law” (op.cit., Vol 5, p 233). This was a disastrous mistake by both the pope and the progressive leaders of the Council, and we are still dealing with the toxic consequences of that decision today.
The contraceptive pill only became available in the early sixties and it was not until near the end of the Council that the issue of contraception really arose. It came-up during the discussion of Gaudium et spes, the document on the church in the modern world, when there was widespread exhaustion among the bishops. While there was substantial support for a wide-ranging discussion of the morality of contraception as a sub-set of issues clustering around questions of the meaning and purpose of marriage, the tiredness of many bishops and the pressure to bring the Council to a successful conclusion, gave an opening to the gad-fly moralists buzzing around Paul VI. Underlying all their arguments was the encyclical Casti conubii (1930) of Pius XI which outlawed artificial contraception. The emphasis was on the consistency of papal teaching; they argued, obviously persuasively that Paul VI could not contradict Pius XI. Nevertheless it was clear that the vast majority of the bishop of the Council wanted an ‘open’ finding on the morality of contraception, but Paul VI unilaterally reserved the issue to himself. He then asked the advisory committee he had set-up to make a recommendation, and then disagreed with their findings. The result was the encyclical Humanae vitae (1968). The gad-flies had won the day.
The Council closed on 6 December 1965, but it was clear that many, while tired wanted it to continue with at least one more session. But that was seen as a threat to papal primacy and the Curia wanted it closed as soon as possible. They had their way.
What Happened After Vatican II?
Once the bishops and theologians returned home the implementation of Vatican II began. Some of it was highly successful such the implementation of the decree on the liturgy. But there were some serious post-conciliar compromises and failures.
One of the most dramatic ‘scenes’ of Vatican II was the confrontation during the second session between Cardinals Josef Frings (Cologne) and Alfredo Ottaviani (Holy Office) on 8 November 1963. The context here is important; there had already been a lot of criticism of the Curia by bishops and even some defence of it. Then Frings arose and attacked the Curia generally and the Holy Office specifically. He said that it still acted inquisitorially, condemned people without clear charges or even a chance to put their defence and spoke of “...methods and behaviour which are a scandal to the world”. This was greeted with long and sustained applause. He went on to say that lay people could do much of the work of the Curia – more applause. Ottaviani was furious and with a breaking voice he argued that such attacks were based on ignorance and that to attack the Holy Office was to attack the pope “...because the pope was its prefect”.
But despite widespread criticism during the Council concrete nothing concrete was actually done by Vatican II and root and branch reform of the Curia was put-off until after the Council when it was expected that the pope would carry out the reform. This was a disastrous mistake.
After 1965, despite desultory attempts, nothing really happened regarding curial reform. A decade of token and cosmetic changes concluded with the Apostolic Constitution Regimini Ecclesiae Universae (1976). There had been tinkering at the edges; a whole new set of secretariats and other bodies were tacked onto the Curia and the Secretariat of State was split into two sections (Ordinary Affairs (which dealt with everything except foreign affairs) and Relations with States (which dealt with foreign affairs)). In fact the Secretariat of State became a kind of curia within the curia. The Holy Office became the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and half-hearted attempts were made to ‘reform’ it. But the staff remained the same and fundamental attitudes didn’t change. As the polymath Belgian Monsignor Charles Moeller commented “It was like asking the Mafia to reform the Mafia.”
Giuseppe Alberigo comments that during the decade after 1967 the restructuring of the curia was abandoned and the new curial offices in fact brought more aspects of church life under Vatican scrutiny and control. “After 10 years the overall characteristics of the Pauline reform can be assessed. The abandonment of a re-structuring, let alone a re-thinking of the Curia in terms of collegiate government of the Church [took] ... the impetus away from the whole exercise, leading to results on a smaller scale than those envisaged by Paul VI himself. On the other hand, problems that he did not wish to bring have assumed even greater importance, such as the ever-expanding size of the workforce and a new centralization of authority in areas that a few years ago were immune from curial interference, such as lay organizations” (G. Alberigo in P. Huizing and K. Walf: The Roman Curia and the Communion of Churches, 1079, pp 24-5). Before Vatican II the staff of the Roman Curia numbered about 400; today more than 2600 staff work there.
The result was an increased ‘hegemony of the curia’. The Roman Curia under Paul VI and John Paul II did everything possible to “‘normalize’ the situation and weaken the effects of the Council. In particular the implementation of episcopal collegiality was weakened” (Abbot Giovanni Franzoni of St Paul’s Outside the Walls). The Vatican still thinks of itself as enjoying a kind of extension of papal infallibility. For instance in 1994 Ratzinger’s CDF felt it could offer an ‘authoritative interpretation’ of the so-called ‘infallible status’ of John Paul II’s declaration excluding the possibility of the ordination of women to the priesthood in Ordinatio sacerdotalis (22 May 1994)).
Meanwhile the Curia has, in fact, been internationalized. Nevertheless it seems that the foreigners are often more Italian than the Italians. As a result the Curia is still dominated by antiquated Italianate approaches to church government. What is significant is the way in which the Italian psyche impacts on the way the Curia does business and makes decisions and develops theology. First, it works on a patronage system: it is who you know rather than what you know. Thus people who know absolutely nothing about the issues involved are still appointed to powerful and influential positions in bureaucracies dealing with those very issues. it. For example Cardinal Franc Rode, with no experience of religious orders was appointed to the curial Congregation dealing with religious orders, and the then-archbishop Malcolm Ranjith was appointed to the Congregation for. Worship even though he had no professional qualifications in liturgy. As John Allen says, “In the small world of the Vatican personnel is always policy.”
As the late Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini pointed out the Vatican is still obsessed with bella figura, with the concern that things ‘look right’. This leads to the propagation of an unreal idealism. It doesn’t matter that something doesn’t work; what matters is that it fulfils the need for a good image. The curia doesn’t worry about infringements of church law, failures of policy, serious sin, or betrayal of vows until someone disturbs the ‘spotless image’ with public exposure and complaints. Then the issue becomes a matter of using power and dissimulation to restore order and make things look right again. This, as Martini says, totally inhibits genuine dialogue.
Another obsession of the Vatican is control and this comes to the surface especially in the business of appointing bishops. For most of church history the role of the papacy in episcopal appointment was minimal. It was only in the nineteenth century that the Vatican gradually gained control of the process. Nowadays the process of episcopal appointment lacks all transparency and accountability as more and more ‘company men’ are appointed. (For an outline of how the process works see my ‘Vatican Secrets – Selection of Bishops’ on the Catholics for Ministry webpage). The result was that by the end of the Wojtyla papacy if an ecumenical council or even a gathering of the world’s bishops were to be held there would be none of the vitality and leadership that appeared from the very first day of Vatican II. It would be a gathering of company ‘yes men’.
The Impact of John Paul II and Benedict XVI
If Paul VI had substantially failed to implement Vatican II in terms of the reform of structures, it was during the papacy of John Paul II that the rolling-back of Vatican II, the so-called ‘reform of the reform’, really got under way. Wojtyla was elected on 16 October 1978 after the sudden death of John Paul I after a papacy of just thirty-three days. One of the shortest papacies was followed by the second longest in church history (almost 27 years from October 1978 to April 2005). In many ways John Paul’s exercise of the papal role was unprecedented in church history. His travels de facto cast him in the role of a kind of ‘bishop of the whole world’. He brought the sense of identity between church and papacy to its apogee. Medieval popes like Innocent III may have thought of themselves as lords of the world, but Pope Wojtyla used modern communications media effectively to make himself bishop of the whole church. Collegiality was completely side-lined and Church and papacy became identified in the popular mind. It is modern communications and the media that creates this possibility and modern popes, if they have the talent for it, can make themselves world bishops through media and travel. The result is an “omnipresent papacy” as I have called it.
The omnipresent John Paul II simply sidelined the doctrine of the role of the college of bishops. Instead of the function of bishop being enhanced as the local leader of the church with co-responsibility for the national church through conferences of bishops and for the universal church through the synod of bishops, they were reduced to mere ciphers whose primary line of responsibility was to the pope, not to their dioceses or to the wider Church. When the pope hit town the local bishop became an altar boy in purple. It was a complete distortion of Vatican II’s teaching on collegiality.
But it is only in the last decade that the process of rolling back Vatican II has occurred openly. The clearest and most vivid example of this is the Vatican’s 1998 imposition of new norms of translating of worship texts and the replacement of the post-Vatican II translations with the imposition of so-called more ‘sacred’ translations on the major language groups. This is essentially an attempt to re-interpret the Council in a way which negates all of its reformist zeal.
This re-interpretation first really surfaced in the early 1990s. It originated within an intra-mural Italian theological dispute and in an attempt to lessen the influence of the extraordinary Vatican II theologian, Giuseppe Dossetti. He had been a partisan against the Fascists and Nazis during World War II, a prominent Christian Democrat politician, then a priest, monk, and the man who “has most inspired Italy’s Catholic culture during the second half of the twentieth century” (Sandro Magister). He had a profound influence on Vatican II as peritus to Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro (Bologna) and inspired the magisterial History of Vatican II edited by Giuseppe Alberigo, founder of the Institute for Religious Studies in Bologna, the ‘Bologna School’. (The English editor of the History is Joseph Komonchak of the Catholic University in Washington, D.C.). Alberigo’s History has been accused of giving the Council a pronounced ‘progressive bias’ by elements in the Italian hierarchy opposed to the influence of Dossetti, such as Cardinal Camillo Ruini, John Paul’s Vicar for Rome diocese. The History is caricatured as representing a so-called “hermeneutic of rupture” interpretation of Vatican II. This has now become the ‘accepted dogma’ in Vatican and hierarchical circles. It is, in fact, complete nonsense.
Co-terminus with the emergence of criticism of Dossetti and Alberigo’s History, there surfaced much talk about the so-called “Hermeneutics of Continuity and Rupture”. The word ‘hermeneutic’ according to the Shorter Oxford Dictionary means “of or pertaining to theories of interpretation”. It is derived from the Greek hermeneuo (related to the god Hermes), meaning to translate or interpret. Essentially, it’s just a ‘classy’ word to use when you really mean ‘interpretation’. This latest attempt to re-interpret the Council comes clothed in this utterly false dichotomy and caricature between a pretended adichotomy between so-called “continuity” and so-called “rupture” at Vatican II. As presented by people like Ruini the ‘rupture’ school is said to believe that everything changed at Vatican II with a kind of completely ‘new church’ emerging. In contrast the continuity school holds that nothing substantial changed at Vatican II and that business as usual is completely justified.
There was an excellent editorial in The Tablet (6 October 2012) pointing out that Benedict XVI was quite nuanced in his remarks in 2005 when interpreting the Council. The Tablet says “He fully acknowledged the tension between continuity and reform that characterised much of the Council’s debates, with more continuity in one place, more reform in another. There is no papal mandate for imposing a hermeneutic of continuity on all of it – the view that the Council fundamentally changed nothing. Such a serious distortion of the council’s work would amount to a rejection of it.” Needless to say this led to many explosive attacks on The Tablet in the reactionary Catholic blog-sphere. Also I think it needs to be said that these remarks were made in B16’s ‘progressive’ stage just after he had been first elected pope. He was still talking even to Hans Küng at that stage. His position in 2012 is considerably ‘harder-edged’.
So Where Do We Go from Here? The simple answer is that as baptised and full members of the Church we have to assume authority and responsibility for our community’s future. The bishops have either given-up (the sexual abuse crisis, exhaustion, lack of leadership ability); or they have no realistic ministerial priorities and take refuge in world youth days, calls to ‘new evangelization’, ‘years of grace’, or catechisms. Because none of these actually analyse ‘the signs of the times’ they have no chance of influencing many of our contemporaries. They move from presuppositions based on assumptions of what people ‘need’, what ‘Truth’ they need to be told, rather than what questions they are actually asking, what values and spiritualities they already have and upon which we can build.
At the beginning I said that this Golden Jubilee of the Council is not a wake for a lost opportunity. In fact it is a key transition point in the implementation of Vatican II as we negotiate our way though the inevitable reaction to the forces of Spirit released between 1962 and 1965. Hans Küng says that we have already experienced “that this church can change, that we have opened the window for modern times that we can concentrate more on the Christian message [and] be ecumenically-minded and hospitable.” We have rediscovered the Bible, we had an authentic liturgy (until the Vatican recently stole it from us), that national bishop’s councils have been and still can be effective, even if collegiality has been, in fact, largely jettisoned.
Above all we know that we are all the People of God baptised into full union with Christ and as full members of the Church have the privilege, indeed the responsibility to assume a proper leadership role in the community that is our home.
It’s rare that one of the century’s most important Catholic theologians has you laughing out loud. But that is precisely what Dominican Yves Congar often achieves in his massive My Journal of the Council, newly translated into English. Congar is without doubt one of the twentieth century’s most important theologians and his influence on the Second Vatican Council’s (1962-5) vision of the nature of the church is definitive.
The Journal is his personal record of Vatican II. It’s about the people he met and the contributions he made to all of the most important documents of the Council. Few people had his level of access to the inner workings of this immense international assembly and his knowledge of the personalities involved. Many of his characterizations of people are very funny and deliciously critical.
Born in 1904 in Sedan in northern France, he joined the Dominicans, was ordained in 1930, served a medical orderly in World War Two, was a prisoner of war in Germany from 1940-5 and after the war became one of the most creative minds in French theology. From early in his career he was deeply interested in the history of the church and its government and was profoundly shaped by his study of past models of how the church conceived of itself and interacted with culture. Congar’s theology looked outward to society and to the communication of the Gospel.
That is why ecumenism was so important to him. Throughout the 1930s he was deeply involved with both Orthodox and Protestant churches and theologians and was the author of Chrétiens Désunis (Divied Christians (1938)). After the war he published True and False Reform in the Church (1950) which was censured by Rome and he was ordered to withdraw the book. In 1953 he published his definitive study Lay People in the Church. He argued that the true tradition of the church was often buried under recent accretions that were ‘less profound and of lesser value.’
In the mid-1950s he lived under threat from the inquisitorial Holy Office and was removed from lecturing, publishing and teaching. He was exiled to Jerusalem and Cambridge. But in January 1959 Pope John XXIII (1958-63) announced the Second Vatican Council.
Given his previous experiences with Rome, Congar had little time for Vatican and papalist theology. Speaking of Pius XII and the curia he says they ‘produced a bottomless paternalism and stupidity.’ Nevertheless he was eventually appointed peritus (expert) on the Doctrinal Commission preparing for the Council presided-over by Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani. Despite his appointment Congar said that ‘I am still not free of the fears attached to a man who is suspect, sanctioned, judged, discriminated against.’
But as the Council got underway he became increasingly influential working on formulating three of the major documents and six other documents issued by the Council. The Journal details his extensive formulation-work and the many people with whom he worked. Underpinning his attitude was that the church was being challenged ‘by the world to rejoin it in order to speak validly of Jesus Christ.’ From his perspective the key issues ‘are being addressed to the church [from] ... the world and ... Others’ - ‘Others’ here referring to other non-Catholic Christians.
He felt that historically the Council came twenty-five years ‘too early’; that is only the youngest bishops had imbibed the renewed theology and historical and scriptural studies that underpinned the Council’s documents. From today’s perspective it is significant that he thought that the Council ‘had stopped half-way on many questions. It began a task that is not completed.’
Congar was rather reserved and often in poor health. At the beginning in 1962-3 he was ‘enormously depressed’ that John XXIII had kept all Pius XII’s Vatican ‘old guard’ in place. ‘The Council’, he said, ‘was to be mastered, dominated, emasculated [by them] as soon as it had been born and before it had ever lived.’
The Journal is full of fascinating personal details like his constant travel back and forth from Paris to Rome by train and increasingly by plane. Much of the time, despite trouble with his legs, he had to walk around Rome or cadge a lift in a car (only groups seemed to go in taxis). His work was often interrupted by bishops and others trying to see him, including ‘a young French couple on their honeymoon who didn’t know where to stay.’ Congar could be very impatient and often found the Council’s procedures very slow and frustrating.
Among his visitors was Archbishop Guilford Young from Hobart whom he describes as ‘young [and a] mixture of straight-talking and solemnity ... He told me how terribly disappointed he was in the schemata [presented by the Curia] and in the [opening] ceremony in St Peters, indeed almost to the point of being scandalized.’ He also occasionally mentions other Australians like Cardinal Norman Gilroy and speeches by Bishop Thomas Muldoon and Archbishop James Carroll who he says had ‘a nasal tone, slow, a bit soporific.’
He couldn’t stand the Dominican Master-General and later cardinal Michael Browne. ‘Browne is a mule’, he says. He describes the Jesuit historian (also later cardinal) Jean Daniélou as ‘very superficial and banal’, and the theologian René Laurentin, who specialised in Mariology, ‘seemed to me to have become impossible, buzzing about like a bee in a bottle, pouncing on everything that he could make use of, everything that he can turn to his own advantage. If I did not know him I would say: a schemer.’ Of Hans Küng he says he is ‘full of intelligence, health, youth and insistent demands. He is extremely critical ... He charges at things; he goes straight ahead like an arrow.’ There are many references to bishops leaving the aula (council hall) for the coffee bar when bishops were boring or spoke for too long.
He pulls no punches describing Cardinal Giuseppe Pizzardo, head of the Roman Congregation of Seminaries and Universities. ‘That an imbecile, a sub-human like Pizzardo should be in charge of the department for universities and seminaries is scandalous and extremely serious.’ He was shocked that ‘this wretched freak, this sub-mediocrity with no culture, no horizon, no humanity ... This Pizzardo, who has red pyjamas and underpants, ... who haggles over the purchase of a newspaper ... This man in charge of the curial department for studies and research’! And Congar accuses Küng of being ‘extremely critical’!
The Journal’s great strength is the clear explanation that it often gives of the core theological issues facing the Council. Running through all four sessions is the ecclesiological tension between what Congar calls the ‘PAPA pole’ and the ‘ECCLESIA pole’, that is the people of God pole. He defines the ‘Papa pole’ as ‘a simplistic and false ecclesiology according to which everything is derived from the pope’ and the church is ‘a vast centralised administration.’ During the first session he commented that ‘this tension is latent in the council and it is more than likely that one day it will come into the open.’ It certainly did on several occasions at Vatican II and it remains a problem that has yet to be resolved in the government of the Church. In fact it is possibly even worse now than it was before the council because modern means of communication have made papal centralization much easier. With the kind of papal travel we had the likes of John Paul II we now have a kind of ‘omnipresent’ papacy.
The Journal is well translated into excellent idiomatic English with informative and helpful footnotes. Several excellent introductory essays help to contextualise Congar both theologically and historically. This book will be an indispensible adjunct for anyone seriously studying Vatican II. We are very much in the debt of ITF Theology who got this very large book translated and published in English.
Congar lived for another thirty years after Vatican II. He died in 1995 after having been made a cardinal the year before by John Paul II. No doubt he would have found such an appointment ironic.
Here are the details of the book: Yves Congar: My Journal of the Council, Adelaide: ATF Theology, 2012. lxi and 979 pp. ISBN: 978-192181744-1. RRP: A$69.95.
Paul Collins is an historian, broadcaster and writer. A Catholic priest for thirty-three years, he resigned from the active priestly ministry in 2001 due to a dispute with the Vatican over his book Papal Power (1997). He has also worked in varying capacities in TV and radio with the ABC since 1986, and for three years was Specialist Editor- Religion. He is also often heard on SBS and commercial radio and TV. He is the author of thirteen books.
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