- Further Light on Vatican Council II
This review article continues two earlier discussions of recent publications of sources and studies on Vatican Council II.1 Presented here are (1) the personal diary kept from 1960 to 1965 by peritus Henri de Lubac, (2) a sociological study of how the Council came to make its major interventions favoring change in the Church, and (3) a collection of studies and reflections on the Catholic Church’s reception over forty years of Vatican II.
The Vatican II Diary of Henri de Lubac (1896–1991)
The existence of de Lubac’s Council diary2 had been known, but few scholars had access to it, whether in the handwritten original or in the typed [End Page 546] text dating from the early 1980s.3 The published text now offers testimony that pinpoints problematic aspects of the Council’s doctrinal preparation, with de Lubac’s astute perceptions of conciliar action during the four working periods and his critical views, late in the Council, about how the Church should engage in dialogue with the world.4
1. Problems in Vatican II’s Doctrinal Preparatory Work
In 1960 de Lubac was appointed, along with Father Yves Marie Joseph Congar, O.P., to work as a consultor of Vatican II’s Preparatory Theological Commission. In this appointment de Lubac saw an indication by Pope John XXIII that it was time to set aside the Vatican difficulties of the early 1950s over theological opinions of certain French Jesuits and Dominicans.5 The [End Page 547] Preparatory Commission prepared seven doctrinal and moral draft texts in 1960–62, which in time met incisive criticism by the Council’s majority.6 About the preparatory work, de Lubac wrote later that a complete chronicle “would not be lacking in picturesque scenes,” but such a chronicle will probably not be written “since most of the participants would have no desire to transmit the memory of it to posterity.”7
Among the scenes of 1960, de Lubac recorded meeting Joaquin Salaverri, S.J., a consultor from Madrid, at the Biblical Institute and candidly telling Salaverri how mistaken he had been about the Jesuit theologate of Fourvière in his critical articles of 1949–51. On November 15, 1960, de Lubac went to the Holy Office, where he met another consultor, Father Marie-Michel Labourdette, O.P., who had in 1946 criticized the Fourvière Jesuits (de Lubac, Jean Daniélou, Henri Bouillard, Gaston Fessard, and Hans Urs von Balthasar) with an article in Revue Thomiste on theology and its sources. Shortly afterward, de Lubac knelt before Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, who sat between two lighted candles with the book of Gospels in his lap, and took an oath to keep the preparatory work secret.8
Beyond picturesque scenes, de Lubac’s diary describes the commission’s controlling mentality, which clashed with convictions underlying de Lubac’s own work of thirty years for theological ressourcement. His Belgian confrere and redactor of the commission’s texts on revelation and faith, Edouard Dhanis of the Gregorian, “has no sense of the simple grandeur of the faith of the Church that we proclaim, and strangely diminishes faith in Jesus Christ.” [End Page 548] Those overseeing the drafting of the schemata manifested negativity, a low intellectual level, and mean-spiritedness, while possessing little sense of the world that awaits the Gospel, as shown in the November 1960 public lecture by Monsignor Antonio Piolanti, the Lateran University rector, who called on the...