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The Jurist 70 (2010) 86–113 86 * St. John’s Seminary, Brighton, MA 1 In Christifideles laici Pope John Paul II observed that “we can speak of a new era of group endeavors of the lay faithful . . . so great is the richness and the versatility of resources that the Holy Spirit nourishes in the ecclesial community, and so great is the capacity of initiative and the generosity of our lay people.” Pope John Paul II, post-synodal apostolic exhortation Christifideles laici, December 30, 1988, n. 29: AAS 81 (1989) 444. English translation in Origins (1988–89) 575. 2 Joseph Ratzinger, “The Ecclesial Movements: A Theological Reflection on Their Place in the Church,” in Movements in the Church: Proceedings of the World Congress of the Ecclesial Movements, ed. Pontifical Council for the Laity (Vatican City: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1999) 23–51. This talk was also published as “The Theological Locus of Ecclesial Movements,” Communio 25 (1998) 480–504 3 Pope Benedict XVI, “Encounter with the German Bishops,” L’Osservatore Romano (August 26, 2005) 15. ASSOCIATIONS OF THE FAITHFUL IN THE ANTEPREPARATORY AND PREPARATORY PHASES OF VATICAN II Robert W. Oliver* As the integration of associations of the faithful into the life and mission of local churches continues to be debated in the Church, many observers have been watching carefully for signs of the course Pope Benedict XVI intends to take. As is well known, Pope John Paul II gave much encouragement to the new ecclesial communities and movements.1 Pope Benedict has also expressed support, as evidenced by his detailed reflection on the theological locus of new associations at the 1998 Pentecost gathering of ecclesial movements.2 At the closing of WorldYouth Day in Cologne inAugust 2005, the pontiff encouraged the German bishops that “the Church must value these realities, while guiding them with pastoral wisdom, so that they might contribute their own gifts to the building up of the community in the best way possible.”3 Questions advanced today concerning the relation of associations and particular churches are rooted in a broad range of theological and canonical debates over the past one hundred years. This article analyzes several issues in these debates as they were raised during the antepreparatory and preparatory phases of the Second Vatican Council. The former provides a fascinating panorama of the situation of associations in local churches on the eve of the council. This situation is examined in the first section of this study through the lens of the letters sent to the Antepreparatory Commission by bishops, pontifical faculties of theology and canon law, Roman dicasteries, and several episcopal conferences. The second section analyzes how the material on associations was developed during the preparatory phase, particularly in the work of the two preparatory commissions that received a synthesis of the antepreparatory material on associations, the commission “On the Discipline of the Clergy and the Laity” and the commission “On the Apostolate of the Laity in Everything that concerns Catholic Action, Religious and Social Action.” These examinations provide a basis for interpreting the development of these issues during the subsequent work of the council. The Antepreparatory Phase of Vatican II Shortly after announcing the convocation of an ecumenical council, Pope John XXIII appointed theAntepreparatory Commission to conduct a worldwide consultation of bishops, major superiors of religious institutes , pontifical faculties of theology and canon law, and dicasteries of the Roman Curia.4 The president of the commission, Secretary of State Domenico Cardinal Tardini, sent letters inviting proposals and suggestions concerning areas of doctrine, discipline of the clergy and the Christian people, “matters of greater importance” (negotia maioris momenti), and any other areas which the respondents thought needed to be expounded or clarified by the council.5 Responses to this invitation began to arrive in July 1960 and, by early 1961, soon stretched to more than 1500 pages.6 The responses also included letters from several conferences of bishops, which had not been on associations of the faithful 87 4 Pope John XXIII, “Ad E.mos Cardinales in Urbe praesentes habita,” January 25, 1959: AAS 51 (1959) 65–69. For a critical text of this allocution, see Alberto Melloni, ‘Questa festa ricorrenza.’ Prodromi e preparazione del discorso di annuncio...


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