Monday, September 8, 2014

When Cardinal Ottaviani squared off with Cardinal Bea on Religious Freedom/Tolerance

Two years after the title for Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity was invented and promptly given to Venerable Pius XII’s confessor Cardinal Bea, a battle of two conflicting understandings of the church’s teaching on the Religious Toleration/Religious Freedom came to ahead.  The story is related in Roberto de Mattei’s  book The Second Vatican Council: An Unwritten Story:

Bea and Ottaviani square off

Buy the Book!!
On June 19, 1962, the next to last day of the final session, Cardinals Ottaviani and Bea came into direct conflict. Two schemas were presented: one from the theological commission and the other from the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. Bea, in presenting his schema, asserted that it was focused on non-Catholics and corresponded to the “aggiornamento” of current living conditions in the Church desired by the pope. Ottaviani vehemently retorted that the secretariat had no right to deal with the question for which the Theological Commission was competent.

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre recalls this episode, of which he was a [sic] eyewitness:

"I must relate to you a minor incident that occurred in 1962, when I was a member of the Central Preparatory Commision of the council. We held our meetings in the Vatican, but the last one was dramatic. Among the papers given to the Central Commission there were two on the same subject: One came from Cardinal Bea, president of the Commission for Unity , and the other from Cardinal Ottaviani, president of the Theological Commission. When we had read them, when I myself had read the two schemas, I said: “It is very stange that there are two completely different points of view on the same subject, that is religious liberty or the Church’s attitude toward other religions.” Cardinal Bea’s was entitled De libertate religiosa; Cardinal Ottaviani’s – De tolerantia religios. Do you see the difference, the profound difference? What was happening? Why two completely different schemas on the same subject? At that moment, during the meeting, Cardinal Ottaviani stood up and , pointing with his finger, said to Cardinal Bea: “Eminence, you did not have the right to compose this schema, you did not have the right to do it because it is a theological schema and therefore within the competence of the Theological Commission.” And as Cardinal Bea stood up he said: “Excuse me, but I did have the right to compose this schema as president of the commission on Unity; if anything concerns unity, certainly religious liberty does.” He added, turning to Cardinal Ottaviani, “I radically oppose what you say in your schema De tolerantia religiosa”… It was the final session of the central commission, and we could clearly perceive, on the eve of the council, displayed in fron of us, the whole battle that would take place during the council. This means that these things had already been prepared before the council. Cardinal Bea certainly did not compose his schema De libertate religiosa without having reached an agreement with other cardinals."

To get around the doctrinal obstacles, the secretariat proposed a new “para-diplomatic” way of expressing the faith, which consisted of couching dogmatic topics in contemporary terms without addressing them from a dogmatic perspective, but rather leaving them vague in the name of the primacy of the pastoral approach.

The Secretary for Promoting Christian Unity expanded his role, moreover, through the influence that he exerted on the “mixed commissions.” Most of these commissions in fact duplicated the curial dicasteries and were composed of bishops who were faithful to Rome. While the Theological Commission rejected all interference by Bea’s secretariat in the composition of the schemas, other commissions agreed to form “mixed commissions” with the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, for instance the Commission for the Discipline of the Sacraments. The best Collaboration Occurred with the Liturgical Commission, whose secretary was Father Annibale Bugnini. Bea’s secretariat asked, in February 1961, for “the widest possible use of the vernacular.” In
April Bea himself intervened: “We must strongly oppose the idea that [liturgical] Latin is a sign of unity. It is more a sign of uniformity than a sign of unity.”

On October 22, eleven days after the opening of the council, John XXIII elevated the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unit to the rank of a commission. This new status gave the organization the right to present schemas to the General Assembly and to correct them. Its role would be decisive.


So for those of you keeping score of what the current Prefect for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kasper, is doing currently with the marriage issue, let not your hearts be troubled, that position is a pile of rubbish and always has been… lol… we are doomed!... no but seriously LOL!


  1. September 9, 2014

    Two Catholic Conferences : Both interpret Vatican Council II with an irrational premise.One accepts the Council the other rejects it

    September 9, 2014
    Muller-Fellay Meeting: Cardinal Muller will not accept Vatican Council II without the irrational premise and he wants the SSPX, FFI to use the false premise with the Council and Catechism ?

    1. First you make the statement that one conference rejects Vatican II... really? Lets make one thing clear both groups accept the council as being a valid ecumenical council, to do otherwise is to place oneself in formal schism with Holy Mother Church. The two differ on the authority inherent in all the documents that came forth from the council which have never been formally defined outside of what was said prior to the council.

      As far as Cardinal Muller goes he is the head of the CDF with enemies at every turn, even from his own homeland seeking to destroy him. His experience with the SSPX in Germany was not a good one and he was not the only one at fault, yet he continues to talk with them. Both sides have made mistakes in the past, healing needs to be had. Im not saying accept every little aspect of the council, especially the things that are abiguous before they are defined with regards to continuity with tradition, but please the attitude of us against them needs to be seen in the light of how Pius X handled the head of the modernists, in good faith.