Today we have as our guest, Pope John XXIII. I read for you the whole of John’s address to the opening of the Second Vatican Council, a speech called Gaudet Mater Ecclesia, of 11 October 1962. We hear a little of the Latin too!
The whole speech is imbued with a sense of hope and optimism. John describes the situation of the Church in the modern world as he saw it the. He spoke about how the Council was announced. He describes in poetic terms what it felt like to be there in that moment, in the Vatican Basilica. The most important thing he said, however, was
The manner in which sacred doctrine is spread, this having been established, it becomes clear how much is expected from the Council in regard to doctrine. That is, the Twenty-first Ecumenical Council, which will draw upon the effective and important wealth of juridical, liturgical, apostolic, and administrative experiences, wishes to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion, which throughout twenty centuries, notwithstanding difficulties and contrasts, has become the common patrimony of men. It is a patrimony not well received by all, but always a rich treasure available to men of good will.
Our duty is not only to guard this precious treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves with an earnest will and without fear to that work which our era demands of us, pursuing thus the path which the Church has followed for twenty centuries. [...]
… But from the renewed, serene, and tranquil adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness, as it still shines forth in the Acts of the Council of Trent and First Vatican Council, the Christian, Catholic, and apostolic spirit of the whole world expects a step forward toward a doctrinal penetration and a formation of consciousness in faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another. And it is the latter that must be taken into great consideration with patience if necessary, everything being measured in the forms and proportions of a magisterium which is predominantly pastoral in character.
He goes on to speak about how in dealing with errors in the past, the Church had often issued severe condemnations. Now, however, “the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity.”
Decide for yourselves how well that has worked.
Also, I found noteworthy for consideration in our own time:
She consider that she meets the needs of the present day by demonstrating the validity of her teaching rather than by condemnations Not, certainly, that there is a lack of fallacious teaching, opinions, and dangerous concepts to be guarded against an dissipated. But these are so obviously in contrast with the right norm of honesty, and have produced such lethal fruits that by now it would seem that men of themselves are inclined to condemn them, particularly those ways of life which despise God and His law or place excessive confidence in technical progress and a well-being based exclusively on the comforts of life. They are ever more deeply convinced of the paramount dignity of the human person and of his perfection as well as of the duties which that implies. Even more important, experience has taught men that violence inflicted on others, the might of arms, and political domination, are of no help at all in finding a happy solution to the grave problems which afflict them.
John’s speech rings with optimism about human nature.
If you have troubles listening through the imbeded player, which is a little twitchy, you can download it here or from iTunes.