Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Constitution on the Church

The History of the Schema

For the Constitution on the Church

The Latin title of the Vatican II constitution on the Church is known by its first words, "Lumen Gentium," or the "Light of the Nations." It is Jesus who is the Light of the Nations and the Church shares in this mission through its incorporation into him. As I pointed out in a previous blog, any attempt by the council to modernize or renew the Church was based a rediscovery or resourcement of the Church's past. The new is connected to an organic growth in Tradition. As Cardinal Dulles points out, "Every renewal of the Church," for the council, "essentially consists in an increase of fidelity to her own calling" (UR 6). (Vatican II: Renewal Within Tradition, p. 26).

The outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War had prevented Vatican I from debating its planned constitution on the church. Only the constitutions on the Catholic faith (Dei Filius) and a second on the papacy (Pastor Aeternus) were promulgated at Vatican I. A preparatory schema for the constitution was prepared entitled De Ecclesia, which had eleven chapters.

Chapter 1: The Nature of the Church Militant

Chapter 2: Church Membership and Necessity of Church for Salvation

Chapter 3: The Episcopate as Highest Grade of Holy Orders; The Presbyterate

Chapter 4: Residential Bishops

Chapter 5: The States of Evangelical Perfection

Chapter 6: The Laity

Chapter 7: The Teaching Office (Magisterium) of the Church

Chapter 8: Authority and Obedience in the Church

Chapter 9: Church State Relations and Religious Tolerance

Chapter 10: The Necessity of Proclaiming the Gospel to All Peoples of the World

Chapter 11: Ecumenism

Its teaching was a blend of the teaching of Pope Pius XII in his encyclicals, Mystici Corporis and Humani Generis and the neo-scholastic ecclesiology of the Roman seminaries. This schema was not well received and a sub-commission was set up comprised of some of bishops and periti (experts) to rework the text. A number of alternate texts had already been written, and the subcommittee chose to follow the proposed text of the Belgian peritus GĂ©rard Philips. The title of the first chapter changed in the second draft of the Schema. Philips recalls the title shifted from , "the nature of the Church militant" to the Pauline term mysterium with its Latin equivalent sacramentum. ("History of the Constitution," p. 111)

Another critical development occurred under the influence of the Belgian Cardinal Suenens, and the Commission for the Lay Apostolate. Borrowing from a distinction in Trinitarian theology, the actions of the Church were described as ad intra, and ad extra. The current schema, De Ecclesia, was concerned with the works within the Church, while the Theological Commission was asked to create a second schema concerning the ad extra works of the Church.

The Second schema comprised of four chapters:

Chapter 1: The Mystery of the Church

Chapter 2: The Hierarchical Constitution of the Church and the Episcopate in Particular

Chapter 3: The People of God and the Laity in Particular

Chapter 4: The Call to Holiness in the Church

There was an immediate proposal to split chapter 3 into the People of God and the Laity and to make the section on the People of God the second Chapter which after some debate was eventually followed as the proposal incorporate a section on Mary into the schema as a sixth chapter. Under the direction of Pope Paul VI a series of "straw" votes were held to pole the bishops on some controversial issues such as collegiality and the nature of the Bishops authority. At the end of the second session the evolving schema now was comprised of six chapters:

Chapter 1: The Mystery of the Church

Chapter 2: The People of God

Chapter 3: The Hierarchical Constitution of the Church and the Episcopate in Particular

Chapter 4: The Laity

Chapter 5: The Universal Call to Holiness

Chapter 6: The Role of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the Mystery of Christ and the Church

Further revision of the schema was made during the 1964 intersession. Chapter five on holiness was separated into two chapters, one chapter on the universal call to holiness and a second chapter on professed religious life. The completed schema on the church was sent to the council fathers on July 3, 1964, by Pope Paul VI and with very slight revisions resulted it the following;

Chapter 1: The Mystery of the Church

Chapter 2: The People of God

Chapter 3: The Hierarchical Constitution of the Church and the Episcopate in Particular

Chapter 4: The Laity

Chapter 5: The Universal Call to Holiness in the Church

Chapter 6: Religious

Chapter 7: The Eschatological Nature of the Pilgrim Church

and Its Union with the Heavenly Church

Chapter 8: The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the Mystery of Christ and the Church

No comments:

Post a Comment