Here are the controversies, contestants, and non-Catholic observers involved as the historic Ecumenical Council resumes for the fourth and final session September 14

Vatican Council II resumes in Rome September 14 with the fourth session, scheduled to be the finale. The agenda for the months ahead is laden with significant, controversial issues.

General attention is focused on two schemas (draft statements), one on religious liberty and the other on the attitude toward non-Christians, including Jews.

Catholic liberals are optimistic that these statements will pass easily, and in substantially the same form as last year’s proposals. But they also expected final votes last year. The Curia (church administration) interceded and pope Paul VI upheld postponement of voting, despite an appeal from more than 1,000 bishops. The session ended on a note of discord and disillusionment.

The council has dramatized the split between the Curia and its allied conservatives, on one side, and Catholic liberals chafing for change. The Pope’s sympathies here are unclear. Looking ahead to the session last month, he told thousands of pilgrims at his Castel Gandolfo retreat that the council’s task is to “restore the conscience” of Christians, many of whom “easily absorb the worldly ideas of their time.”

The American bishops have been the backbone of liberal ranks, but leadership has seemed lacking. Albert Cardinal Meyer of Chicago appeared to be filling the gap during last year’s religious liberty debate, but he has since died.

Boston’s blunt Richard Cardinal Cushing said recently that if the liberty issue were avoided, the entire ecumenical movement would collapse. The World Council of Churches’ Executive Committee has urged the council to adopt the revised statement without weakening its content or restricting its interpretation.

Religious News Service says there is “every likelihood” the council will adopt a statement essentially the same as last year’s.

As for the declaration that all mankind, not Jews alone, carries the blame for Christ’s death, passage seems assured in the opinion of Dr. Claud D. Nelson, ecumenical consultant of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York also has said passage and promulgation of these two key statements is “a practical certainty.”

Of the other pending business, three items are of particular interest to Protestants: the wide-ranging “Church in the Modern World,” which is addressed to all men and not just Catholics, and the documents on laymen and on sources of divine revelation.

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In a sense, the laity statement covers a revolution already under way. As Father Karl Rahner, German theologian, said recently on NBC radio, the council has already “said to the layman, you are the Church!”

The statement on revelation began as “an effort to force the opinion of a single theological school on the council.” in the words of Father Edward Duff, an official Vatican observer at the 1961 assembly of the World Council of Churches. The current version attempts a consensus between traditionalists and liberals.

Criticisms of the council to date have ranged from Protestant liberals’ disappointment at draft statements on war and conscientious objectors to Cardinal Cushing’s lament that without adequate translation systems, he has a hard time figuring out what’s going on.

The council has unleashed a swarm of statements by Catholics on all sorts of issues, such that Father Francis X. Weismer of Boston College has warned the faithful not to absorb everything they hear about change and reform.

“Let us reserve judgment, remain calm, and not change our opinions and practices because of statements made by priests or lay people in their own name,” he cautions.

Among comments by Protestants also evincing wariness, that of the Rev. Allan McArthur of Edinburgh, a Reformed observer in Rome last year, is typical:

“The glaciers are melting, but the Alps still stand firm. One may speak of aggiornamento [updating], but not of renewal.…

Specific effects of the council have already been seen in formal ecumenical talks with Protestants and in liturgy changes that have spurred some dissension during the year.

Whatever the results of the final session. Vatican II is assured a chapter in church history. There is the still-amazing fact that the council was called at all. There is the long-range effect of recognition of the bishops’ role in shaping the church. And there is the Catholics’ broad new spirit both of looking outward and of looking inward. The results are at least as surprising as the original call for the council by Pope John XXIII 6½ years ago.

Inside Outsiders In Rome

Non-Catholics at Vatican II are either official “observer-delegates” of world organizations, “guest observers” invited by the Vatican, or interested individuals.

This year’s observers (all official delegates unless otherwise noted) include:

ANGLICAN—The Archbishop of Canterbury, Arthur Michael Ramsey, has appointed six delegate-observers: Dr. Clement W. Welsh, canon theologian of Washington (D. C.) Cathedral; Peter F. Day, ecumenical officer, Episcopal Executive Council; Bishop John Moorman, Ripon, England; Bishop Najib A. Cuba’in, Jerusalem; Dr. Eugene R. Fairweather, Trinity College, Toronto; and John W. Lawrence of London, editor of Frontier.
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BAPTIST—The Baptist World Alliance decided in 1962 not to send representatives. However, several individuals will attend, including W. Barry Garrett, reporter for Baptist Press.
CONGREGATIONAL—The International Congregational Council: Dr. Douglas Horton, Randolph, New Hampshire, former dean of Harvard Divinity-School; and Dr. George Caird, Oxford, England.
DISCIPLES—The World Convention of Churches of Christ (Disciples): Dr. W. B. Blakemore, Divinity House, the University of Chicago; and Dr. Basil Holt, Johannesburg.
EASTERN ORTHODOXY—Several observers are expected to be named by various national churches, but have not been announced yet.
EVANGELICAL CHURCH IN GERMANY (EKID)—Dr. Edmund Schlink, Heidelberg University.
JUDAISM—The Vatican has not invited members of non-Christian religions. Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum, national director, Interreligious Affairs Department, American Jewish Committee, was the only rabbi in Rome during most of the 1963 session and said there is a “strong possibility” he will return.
LUTHERANS—The Lutheran World Federation: Drs. Vilmos Vajta and Friedrich Kantzenbach, Foundation for Inter-Confessional Research. Strasbourg, France; Dr. Warren A. Quanbeck. Luther Theological Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota; Dr. Kristen-Einer Skydsgaard, University of Copenhagen; Dr. Seppo A. Teinonen, general secretary, Finnish Ecumenical Council.
The Vatican has invited guest observers from the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod: Dr. Walter F. Wolbrecht. Synod executive director; Dr. Carl S. Meyer, Concordia Seminary; and Dr. Oswald C J. Hoffmann of the “Lutheran Hour.”
MENNONITE—The Mennonite World Conference: Dr. Cornelius J. Dyck of the Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Indiana, will be a guest observer.
METHODIST—The World Methodist Council: Bishop Fred P. Corson of Philadelphia; Dr. Albert C. Outler of Southern Methodist University; Dr. Harold Roberts, Richmond College, Surrey, England; Dr. William R. Cannon, dean, Emory University’s Candler School of Theology; Dr. Robert E. Cushman, dean, Duke University Divinity School; Dr. Jose Miquez, president, Union Theological Seminary, Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Dr. Emerito Nacpil, Union Theological Seminary, Manila, the Philippines.
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NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES—As guest observers: Rev. William A. Norgren, executive director, Department of Faith and Order; and Rev. Robert C. Dodds, associate secretary, Division of Christian Unity.
PRESBYTERIAN-REFORMED—From the Presbyterian World Alliance and Alliance of Reformed Churches: Dr. Richard H. N. Davidson, Toronto, Canada; Prof. J. K. S. Reid, University of Aberdeen, Scotland; and Prof. Vittorio Subilia, dean, Waldensian Theological Faculty, Rome.
QUAKERS—The Friends World Committee: Dr. Douglas V. Steere, chairman, Committee for Consultation.
WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES—Returning will be Dr. Lukas Vischer, research secretary, Faith and Order Department; and Dr. Nikos Nissiotis, now director of WCC’s Ecumenical Institute. A third delegate position will be rotated among other WCC leaders.
The Phenomenon Of Noise

“Who are the Beatles?” asked a bewildered Mother Abbess when a suggestion that one of their records be played was put forward by a visitor at an open house held by an enclosed community of nuns known as the Poor Clares. Many of the nuns have had no contact with the outside world for up to sixty years, and the first electrically powered horseless carriage had just appeared when the Mother Abbess entered the convent in York, England.

Designed to celebrate the centenary of the foundation of the community and to show gratitude to those who had supported it over past years, the open house was made possible only by a special indult from the Holy See. Hundreds wandered round the convent, and the nuns experienced constant noise, an unusual phenomenon in a place where normally only thirty minutes of conversation is allowed each day.

A notice seen hanging on the wall in one of the corridors calls on all the nuns to pray for three warships, “Duke of York,” “Sluys,” and “Rotherham,” all of which are now out of action. The Poor Clares have had no opportunity to discover this, but when told of it showed no concern. Said one sister: “We pray just the same. We pray for every ship.”



Floor debate is scheduled on four drafts that have been rewritten since last fall’s session:

• RELIGIOUS LIBERTY—First item on the agenda and a vital concern of Protestants. Cancelation of expected vote by council presidency last year produced an uproar, but insiders say changes are not major.

• THE CHURCH IN THE MODERN WORLD—Second council topic. An omnibus on such topics as international relations, culture, politics, economics, and family life. Three times longer than last year’s version, and now most elaborate document still before council.

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• MISSIONARY ACTIVITY—Though introduced by Pope Paul himself last year, this draft was much criticized, has undergone extensive revision and expansion.

• THE PRIEST’S LIFE AND MINISTRY—Also rewritten and lengthened from last year’s brief text.

Seven drafts have been debated and are ready for voting, but revisions could occur before final passage:

• THE ATTITUDE OF THE CHURCH TOWARD NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS—Though statements on attitude toward the Jews in relation to Christ’s death have captivated interest, this confronts all major world religions. Generally accepted last year, and no major changes expected.

• DIVINE REVELATION—Statement on the meaning of Bible and tradition. Vital to Protestants, and the only issue debated at all three previous sessions. Accepted in general in 1964, but voting on each chapter scheduled; further amendments possible.

• THE LAY APOSTOLATE—Emphasis on laymen’s role in church has Protestant overtones. Draft coming from committee in semi-final form. Reservations in voting could force further changes.

• ON RELIGIOUS—Deals largely with vows and orders. Minor revisions and quick final vote predicted by Catholic writers.

• THE PRIESTLY FORMATION—Statement on seminary life will be voted on by sections; experts anticipate final approval.

• CHRISTIAN EDUCATION—General list of principles which observers expect to get routine approval after minor changes.

• THE PASTORAL FUNCTION OF BISHOPS—Issue is major: relation of bishops to church bureaucracy in Rome. An extension of church constitution approved last year. Only minor changes from 1964 anticipated by insiders.

The following have been approved by previous sessions of the council and promulgated by the Pope:






A Controversial Shepherd

Bishop James A. Pike of California was scheduled to face heresy charges this week at a meeting of the Episcopal House of Bishops in Glacier National Park. The charges stem from a petition signed by fourteen clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona who said they were “weary of seeing the sheep dispersed by one of their own shepherds.” They requested that Pike be challenged on his theological teachings and asked to repudiate them publicly.

“Should he fail to do so,” the petition declared, “we request that he be brought to trial and, if found guilty of heresy, deprived of his bishopric.”

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Talks With Christian Scientists

Mainstream Protestantism is involved in unpublicized informal discussions, presumably the first ever, with representatives of a cult.

For a year and a half, leaders of the United Presbyterian Church, and, later, the United Church of Christ, have been talking with top Christian Scientists.

No conclusions have been announced. The Protestants involved emphasize the tentative nature of the conversations, saying they are just talking as friends; but the implications are startling. Both sides traditionally have viewed each other as outside the true faith.

From the Protestant side, Christian Science normally is considered as non-Christian for its rephrasing, reinterpretation, or elimination of most orthodox doctrines.

Richard L. Davies, a layman who chairs the Presbyterian Committee on Ecumenical Relations, said the talks are unlike those his committee has held with other Protestants or even Roman Catholics, where there is a large body of common belief and the denominations have named official representatives. But he added that he and other participants now believe Christian Scientists are “part of the body of Christ” and “seem to have a charismatic gift in their sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, and in healing.”

For Christian Science, the talks are part of a new effort to restructure their image with outsiders—a major concern at this year’s Mother Church meeting. (See “Joining the Bandwagon,” July 2, 1965, issue.)

Clayton Craig, a participant and one of the five board members of the Church of Christ, Scientist, said that “Christian Science is not generally understood. When it is understood, we find no opposition to what we stand for.”

The Presbyterians are “just beginning to understand,” he said.

Healing—the trademark of Christian Science to outsiders—“could be a point of unity,” Craig said, but proper “spiritual understanding” must come first.

Dr. John Coventry Smith, general secretary of the Presbyterian Commission on Ecumenical Mission and Relations, said conversations were started particularly to discuss healing, “without compromising our theological position.”

Smith’s assistant for ecumenism, Miss Margaret Shannon, has participated in the talks. (Smith has not, but has read reports on them.) She said there is a search for a common theme, outside of healing, for theological discussion.

As described by Davies, the meeting was germinated in a dinner conversation at the National Council of Churches’ General Assembly in Philadelphia in December, 1963.

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The Rev. Fred S. Buschmeyer, secretary of the United Church of Christ, and a few of his colleagues began attending last year. Buschmeyer declined comment on the progress of the discussions but, through his office, stressed he is not an official representative and has filed no reports.

Presbyterian scholars at the talks have included Dr. Lewis S. Mudge, Jr., chaplain of Amherst College, and Dr. Edward David Willis, an instructor at Princeton Theological Seminary.

Meetings were held last year in Washington and Princeton and this year in New York and Boston, with the list of participants varying. The next meeting has not been scheduled.

David Sleeper, manager of the Christian Science Committees on Publication, who has joined Craig at the talks, said one motive is to establish Christian Scientists as Christians. If outsiders don’t understand this, he said, it is his church’s fault for “failing to communicate.”

Smith said participants are far from ready to make any recommendations to his commission in the matter, or to proclaim that Christian Scientists are indeed Christians. “Our deepest theological concern is their almost complete lack of emphasis on the nature of sin,” he said.

But he said this has impressed Presbyterians: “The people who have talked to us are truly spiritually concerned. And they are surprised we have an interest in the healing ministry.”

Rodentia Roulette

Put mouse in box. Place cup over mouse. Turn him round and round. People bet on whiche exit hole he’ll choose. Release mouse. Mouse scurry out. Pay off. Jolly way for an Anglican church fair in Surrey, England, to raise money, but the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was disgusted. The vicar couldn’t understand the fuss over a mouse when thousands of humans suffer all over the world. Besides, he said, “the sideshow was attended by 200 responsible citizens, not one of whom raired a squeak. Nor did the mice.”

Witnessing At The Palace

After a fifteen-year interval the International Council of Christian Churches of Dr. Carl McIntire returned to Geneva last month for its sixth Plenary Congress. In the Hotel Intercontinental’s conference hall (hired at a cost of $4,500 for the week), some 540 visitors from forty countries faced a platform over which was inscribed the congress theme: “Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

The ICCC’s purpose, said Dr. Raymond Hamilton, American secretary, is to present historic Christianity in its true perspective; its “basic reason for existing is our belief in the Bible as the sole authority in all matters of faith and practice.” The assembly aimed to give most of its sessions to preaching of the Scriptures and “paralleling prophetic interpretations with contemporary events.”

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Communism has become a worldwide threat to the Christian witness and “has succeeded in making many churches instruments of its program,” said a resolution which went on to describe the WCC as “the foremost example of Communist infiltration and exploitation of a religious body.” The WCC allegedly: represented a false concept of Christian unity, had no biblical basis, included men who have apostatized from the faith, betrayed the glorious heritage of the Reformation, and acted as an instrument for building a super-church.

Denominations and church bodies participating in ICCC now number 103, with the acceptance of eighteen new member churches. The latter comprise the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster; the Korean Presbyterian Church; the Free Methodist Church of Korea; the Voice of the Nazarene Church, Inc., Pennsylvania; the Lighthouse Fellowship of Churches, Liberia; the Bible Presbyterian Church of Guatemala; and twelve Nigerian groups. It was resolved to invite non-WCC Lutherans to discuss doctrine and the possibility of ICCC-affiliation. The next ICCC congress was scheduled for August 14–24, 1968, at Cape May, New Jersey, where McIntire and his colleagues operate a hotel.

Concurrent with the main gathering, 240 members and associates from twenty-four countries met for the second World Assembly of International Christian Youth. They saw rising in Geneva “the specter of an alien ecumenical movement grounded on a strange self-created foundation,” and were convinced that the city of John Calvin needed a new reformation.

The alien ecumenical movement referred to had its new headquarters just up the road, and many walked along to inspect it. Some collected ammunition in the form of ecumenical literature made freely and good-humoredly available, scoffed at “the palace of antichrist,” and “witnessed” in the visitors’ book—like the Irishman who defiantly if obscurely wrote “No surrender” after his name. Others, including some African visitors, had a more mundane purpose: they found that for the price of the plushy Intercontinental’s orange juice (sixty cents plus fifteen per cent for the effort involved in pushing it across the counter) they could get a satisfying two-course meal in the WCC’s subsidized cafeteria. The ecumenical implications are unthinkable.

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Promoting Short-Term Missionaries

Until recent years, foreign missionary service has been carried out largely on a lifetime career basis. But the shortage of recruits, and the success of the Peace Corps in attracting young people to serve two-year stints, is causing a growing number of missions executives to look more favorably on the enlistment of short-term personnel. As a result, new organizations are springing up to act as clearing houses and liaison agencies between missionary boards and candidate prospects.

One such organization, which began receiving applications last month, is appropriately dubbed “Short Terms Abroad.” It represents, in essence, a new step of cooperation between the once-rival Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association and the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association, inasmuch as officials of both groups serve on the STA board. STA offices are at 129 North Main Street in Wheaton, Illinois.

A similar service agency for short-term missionary volunteers is the Christian Service Corps, which grew out of an article in CHRISTIANITY TODAY (July 17, 1964, issue) by the Rev. Robert N. Meyers, a United Presbyterian minister. The CSC, now in the process of development, has offices at 1501 Eleventh Street, Washington, D. C.

Baptizing Their Victim’S Children

It was an ironic but joyous baptism in the Amazon jungles of Ecuador. Two Auca Indians involved in the spear-slaying of five missionaries returned to the scene and conferred baptism on children of one of their victims, Kathy Saint, 16, and Steve, 14.

Kimu and Duwi, two of the many savages who became Christians after the murder, prayed for fifteen minutes each, instructed Steve, Kathy, and two Auca youths, and then performed the rite in the Curaray River, which had washed away the blood of Nate Saint in 1956.

The government of Ecuador recently honored Saint and the other four martyrs with five commemorative stamps.

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