28 May 2017


I have a recollection that, at one point, Paul VI wished to add to a Vatican II document a statement that the Pope was not subject to any superior authority, but he was (successfully) resisted by the Business Managers of the Council on the grounds that he was subject to Scripture, Tradition, previous Councils, previous popes.

Can anybody point to a reference?

I am immensely grateful to readers who sorted this out for me. You know who you are!


DeHereticoComburendo said...

The fourth paragraph of this Catholic Herald article: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/issues/november-27th-2015/why-popes-dont-always-get-what-they-want/ makes reference to it but I can't find the primary source.

Jesse said...

Could you be thinking of the Nota explicative praevia interpreting one of the draft sections of what became Lumen gentium? This was circulated "by the mandate of the Supreme Authority" on November 14, 1964, and it offered some qualifications of the notion of episcopal collegiality, including "the pope's freedom from constraint on the part of the episcopal college." (I quote from the summary in Giuseppe Alberigo, A Brief History of Vatican II, trans. Matthew Sherry [Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2006], pp. 73-74.)

Alberigo says that the next day he himself was dispatched by Cardinal Lercaro to discuss the note with Joseph Ratzinger, who was theological consultant to Cardinal Frings, to see if it could be arranged for Frings to speak against the Nota in the council hall. But the Nota was never formally discussed or voted on.

I do not have the Latin text to hand. But the English translation includes the following sentence, which seems to fit with what you're looking for, Father: "The Pope, as supreme pastor of the Church, may exercise his power at any time, as he sees fit, by reason of the demands of his office." (Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, ed. Austin Flannery, 1988 rev. ed. [Northport, NY: Costello, 1987], p. 426.)

Jhayes said...

I have a recollection that, at one point, Paul VI wished to add to a Vatican II document a statement that the Pope was not subject to any superior authority

Dominus Jesus does say that

"2. In this Church of Christ the Roman pontiff, as the successor of Peter, to whom Christ entrusted the feeding of His sheep and lambs, enjoys supreme, full, immediate, and universal authority over the care of souls by divine institution. Therefore, as pastor of all the faithful, he is sent to provide for the common good of the universal Church and for the good of the individual churches. Hence, he holds a primacy of ordinary power over all the churches.

The bishops themselves, however, having been appointed by the Holy Spirit, are successors of the Apostles as pastors of souls.(3) Together with the supreme pontiff and under his authority...

3. Bishops, sharing in the solicitude for all the churches, exercise this episcopal office of theirs, which they have received through episcopal consecration,(6) in communion with and under the authority of the supreme pontiff

Jhayes said...

Sorry, should have wrritten Christus Dominus

Sean Mercer said...

From: https://www.fisheaters.com/notapraevia.html

Nota Praevia to Lumen Gentium of the Second Vatican Council

Note: This was written as a Nota Praevia, a preliminary introductory note, to the document, Lumen Gentium. It was, in defiance of Pope Paul VI's wishes, relegated to the Appendix of the document in published editions of the Second Vatican Council's documents. Nonetheless, though it exists in a less important place, it is still a part of the document. The nota-appendix clearly states that the Council was a pastoral one and clarifies the notion of collegiality in order to prevent Modernists from diminishing the power of the Petrine Ministry while elevating that of the College of Bishops, which Lumen Gentium could be -- and has been -- interpreted to call for. From a footnote on page 88 of The Great Facade, by Christopher A. Ferrara and Thomas E. Woods, Jr. which explains the reason for this Nota: "The most famous example [of the Pope acting decisively to prevent the Second Vatican Council from promulgating outright errors as Catholic doctrine] is Pope Paul's intervention forcing the Council to include the Nota Praevia to Lumen Gentium, which correct's LG's [Lumen Gentium's] erroneous suggestion that when the Pope exercised his supreme authority he does so only as head of the apostolic college, wherein the supreme authority resides. Paul was alerted to this problem by a group of conservative Council Fathers, who finally persuaded him of LG's destructive potential: 'Pope Paul, realizing finally that he had been deceived, broke down and wept.' Wiltgen, The Rhine Flows into the Tiber, p. 232."

John Vasc said...

I didn't find any reference to such a move during the Council, but I did find this commentary in a rather gossipy article in the New Yorker, Nov. 2nd 1968.
'Those who have met Pope Paul recently report that he appears remarkably relaxed—he has a knack of putting people at their ease and of being warm in conversation. However, if the subject of his authority arises, his face and his mood change. The late Father Giulio Bevilacqua, an old friend who died shortly after the Pope made him a cardinal, wrote that whenever they were talking at table and he happened to mention the subject of the Pope’s authority, Paul would not answer but would merely smile wanly. The Pope’s notion of his own office, and of ecclesiastical authority in general, is even more rigorous than that of Pius XII. His sensitivity about his prerogatives as successor to St. Peter is repeatedly revealed. “Whom have you come to Rome to see?” he asks the pilgrims who flock here. “The Vicar of Christ! The successor of the Prince of the Apostles!” In speaking to the Latin-American prelates assembled at Bogotá, he referred to his authority as that of “him who by divine right possesses such a protected and awesome charism” —a phrase impossible to imagine on the lips of John XXIII. It is sometimes said that the difference between Pope John’s attitude and Pope Paul’s is this: John believed so firmly in the divine nature of the Church that he was anxious for everybody to embrace it and share in it; Paul is so deeply aware of its divine nature that he is afraid it may be contaminated.'

Yet this is merely anecdotal. If Pope Paul had made an *official* attempt to bolster his authority at the Council, surely it would have been reported at the time, in just such an article as this? There were observers of all kinds, and a lively journalistic presence: little could be kept secret.

It's difficult for anyone who can recall the Council and its grisly aftermath to read through this post-Humanae Vitae article without a jaded smile - particularly the citation of the 'usual suspects', and the carefully-worded carping that subsequently became less cautious, and more evidently unorthodox.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

ABS could not fine what you requested but he does know that it was during 1962-1965 BCE (Bestest Council Ever) that the Magisterium repealed the principle of non-contradiction:



ON NOVEMBER 21, 1964

22. Just as in the Gospel, the Lord so disposing, St. Peter and the other apostles constitute one apostolic college, so in a similar way the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter, and the bishops, the successors of the apostles, are joined together. Indeed, the very ancient practice whereby bishops duly established in all parts of the world were in communion with one another and with the Bishop of Rome in a bond of unity, charity and peace,(23*) and also the councils assembled together,(24*) in which more profound issues were settled in common, (25*) the opinion of the many having been prudently considered,(26*) both of these factors are already an indication of the collegiate character and aspect of the Episcopal order; and the ecumenical councils held in the course of centuries are also manifest proof of that same character. And it is intimated also in the practice, introduced in ancient times, of summoning several bishops to take part in the elevation of the newly elected to the ministry of the high priesthood. Hence, one is constituted a member of the Episcopal body in virtue of sacramental consecration and hierarchical communion with the head and members of the body.

But the college or body of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head. The pope's power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power. The order of bishops, which succeeds to the college of apostles and gives this apostolic body continued existence, is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church,

In teaching that two subjects each have supreme power, Vatican Two liberated us all from the shackles of the non-contraditction.

Matthew Hazell said...

After a little digging, I believe I have found what you are looking for. The following is from the Acta Synodalia Sacrosancti Concilii Oecumenici Vaticani Secundi. Vol. III: Periodus tertia. Pars I (Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1973), p. 247. It is part of the relatio generalis given on ch. 3 of Lumen gentium at the 80th General Congregation on 15th September 1964:

In Suggestionibus autem a Papa missis proponitur, ut in fine eiusdem numeri loco verborum: « dummodo Caput collegii eos ad actionem collegialem invitet » dicatur: « dummodo ipse (Papa), uni Domino devi(n)ctus, eos ad actionem collegialem vocet ». Haec ultima expressio « vocet » libenter acceptatur, quia etiam in iuramento Episcoporum adhibentur. Incisum autem « uni Domino devinctus » Commissioni non placuit:

a) quia duae priores novae insertiones eam inutilem reddunt, scilicet: « Papa semper libere agere potest », et: « potestas Episcoporum independenter a Romano Pontifice exerceri nequit ». Sensum enim insertiones « uni Domino devinctus » videtur in intentione suggerentium praecise excludere altiorem auctoritatem humanum, quam Romanus Pontifex observare deberet;

b) quia formula est nimis simplificata: Romanus Pontifex enim etiam observare tenetur ipsam Revelationem, structuram fundamentalem Ecclesiae, sacramenta, definitiones priorum Conciliorum, etc. Quia omnia enumerari nequeunt. Formulae huiusmodi de « solo » vel « uno » cum maxima circumspectione tractandae sunt; secus innumerabiles excitant difficultates. Unde ne postea longiores et complicatae explicationes de tali formula praeberi debeant, Commissio censuit melius ab illa abstineri. Ratio est etiam ordinis psychologici, ne, unam partem pacificantes, alteram in novam anxietatem inducamus, praesertim quod spectant relationes cum Orientalibus, ut apparet ex historia aliae formulae, nempe « ex sese et non ex consensu Ecclesiae ».

Jhayes said...

ABS, I believe the contradiction is removed in the missing continuation of the sentence.

"The order of bishops, which succeeds to the college of apostles and gives this apostolic body continued existence, is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church, provided we understand this body together with its head the Roman Pontiff and never without this head."

Tony V said...

Thanks to Matthew H for providing this citation. I first became aware of this when I found it referenced it referenced in Patrick Granfield's The Limits of the Papacy (1987), pp.62-63. (Granfield of course had a different axe to grind.) But unfortunately, here in the wilds of east Kent, no local library has a copy of the Acta Synodalia.

I know that some of them have been uploaded to Internet Archive (thanks again Matthew), but I don't think this one is up there yet. Have been waiting...hope it's coming soon!