- More Light on Vatican Council II
This report continues what began in late 2006 in a first installment that surveyed recent scholarly work on Vatican II and then treated in detail three recent books on the Council.1 Here I present four works: first, two editions of personal accounts by Council participants, and, second, two major monographs tracing the genesis of Vatican II documents—namely, Christus Dominus, on the pastoral office and ministry of bishops, and Gaudium et spes, on the Church's response, framed by the centrality of Jesus Christ, to issues presented by major developments and problems in the modern world.2 [End Page 75]
The Personal Vatican II Notes of Gérard Philips
Vatican II specialists and former Louvainians of a certain age, but few others, know of the systematic theologian G. Philips (1899–1972).3 But the significance of his contribution to Vatican II is hard to exaggerate. He had been a member of the Preparatory Theological Commission from 1960 to 1962 and guided the writing of the chapter De laicis in that commission's schema De ecclesia.4 However, Philips had little influence on that text's chapters on the Church militant as visible society, Church membership, the episcopate, ecumenism, and Church-state relations. Later he heard from Cardinal Suenens that leading members of the Council's Central Preparatory Commission had sharply criticized these chapters of De ecclesia when they reviewed them in May and June 1962.
As the Council began, Philips was a peritus of the Belgian bishops and resided with several of them at the Belgian College, along with other experts from Louvain, such as Gustave Thils, Willem Onclin, and Charles Moeller. The bishops had received a booklet of seven draft texts, although De ecclesia had not yet been printed and distributed. But during the Council's first weeks, October 15–31, 1962, Philips carried out Suenens's bold request that he compose the initial chapters of an alternative schema on the Church, with an outline of further chapters.5 He worked in his room at the Belgian College, while [End Page 76] quietly gathering suggestions from reform-minded periti whom Suenens had recommended. This alternative text was ready for use, but known to only a few, when the Preparatory Commission's De ecclesia was distributed on November 23 and came up for evaluation in the Council aula December 1–6.6
The Council debate of early December showed that the Preparatory Commission's schema was not an acceptable ecclesiological base-text. On January 23, 1963, the Commission for Coordinating the Council's Labors, a directorate created by Pope John XXIII, sealed the demise of the first De ecclesia and instructed the Doctrinal Commission to prepare another schema that should treat "the mystery of the Church,"—that is, its place and role in God's saving work—before aspects of the Church as a visible society. Various groups of bishops and periti were already at work in this direction.7 But when an ecclesiological subcommission of seven Doctrinal Commission members met on February 26, it chose the Philips draft as the basis of further work, while specifying that the other proposed drafts should be reviewed for elements to integrate into Philips's base-text.8 Also, Philips was to oversee...